I liked the way my character, Shane, was first introduced. You get introduced to her through this sexual action, and I thought that was so cool and just kind of summed up what she enjoys and who she is, to a certain extent. She's a complete sexual being and the great thing is that she doesn't apologize for it. It's just who she is. We rarely see women be able to do that on television.
The First Time You Denied My Touch
The first time you denied my touch...
I knew it was getting closer to over,
The first time you denied my touch...
Our relationship had ran out of 'fizz'.
What did it?
Did you know I was just expecting sex without love?
Then when I'm done,
You knew that!
You had to.
I was taking you for granted,
And this you knew!
The first time you denied my touch...
It was me.
And I knew it too well!
The first time you denied my touch.
I felt an ache slowly creeping up inside,
I tried to breathe soft and slow,
So you wouldn't know it.
The first time you denied my touch.
My tears came to fall.
And that was not easy....
Faking a rest,
After a grueling crawl.
I am not preparing for the Olympics.
I'm just laying here to meditate on the ground,
For a moment.'
The first time you denied my touch.
Love was not there to respond.
The first time you denied my touch,
I knew you felt it too inside...
I was gone!
And I knew it then,
I had been gone too long!
Too long for you to deny me,
Of what's mine!
Repeat that! '
The first time you denied my touch...
I knew it was getting closer to over,
The first time you denied my touch...
Our relationship had ran out of 'fizz'.
What did it?
Did you know I was just expecting sex without love?
Then when I'm done,
'That's not what you said.
But you're getting to the point.
I'm in the bed and going to sleep.
What you do with your needs,
That's up to you.'
We just need time to get our booty better!
Repeat that! '
The first time you denied my touch,
I knew you felt it too inside...
I was gone!
And I knew it then,
I had been gone too long!
Too long for you to deny me,
Of what's mine!
- quotes about Olympics
- quotes about time
- quotes about pain
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about school
- quotes about love
- quotes about seasons
- quotes about dance
The Real Thing
Key : - r:- ray
R: its the real thing that makes your body swing
Open your ears for the techno rap sing
Back on the track, no my name aint jack
You try to criticize, so now step back
I travelled the world all round and round
Make a lot of heads go upside down
If it aint rough, no, it aint no thing
Just let yourself go cause youre rolling with the real thing
A: were going for the real thing
R: go! go! let yourself go
Go! go! let yourself go
A: searchin for the real thing
R: do this! do this!
A: come on, come on
R: do this! do this!
A: no more waiting, anticipating
Were searching for the real thing
No more waiting, anticipating
Were going for the real thing
R: I select the thoughts and need from peoples minds
Combine it with my own style, I aint blind
One of a kind make sure Ill find
A way to gain and win cause its the real thing
The music flows, I lay these rhymes
Time for some action, cause its about time
Pay close attention, are you out, are you in?
cause if you roll, youre rolling with the real thing
A: searchin for the real thing
R: do this! do this!
A: come on, come on
R: do this! do this!
A: were going for the real thing
R: go! go! let yourself go
Go! go! let yourself go
A: no more waiting, anticipating
Were searching for the real thing
No more waiting, anticipating
Were going for the real thing
And were not gonna stop
Until we reach the highest top
We dont need, to stop
Well keep on searchin till we drop
A: never stop the real thing
Give me the real thing
R: cheer, cheer, cheer
Let yourself go
Let yourself go
Go! go! go! go! go! go!
A: no more waiting, anticipating
Were searching for the real thing
No more waiting, anticipating
Were going for the real thing
And were not gonna stop
Until we reach the highest top
We dont need, to stop
Well keep on searchin till we drop
R: go! go! go! go! go! go!
For What She Had Done
She had to die.
This Omoo knew.
He also knew he could not kill her.
Not even try to kill her.
Those eyes. Would look at him. Not even try.
So, what to do?
There was one Ung. Who lived in a cave.
Beyond the hard mountain. A foul cave.
Far from the village.
Ung, who hunted with stones.
Who killed with his hands.
Who had killed two saber-tooths.
And one great bear, whose skin he now wore hanging from his hairy shoulders.
And Ung had killed men. Many men.
And, it was said, a woman.
Ung, who took the fresh meat left upon the flat rock for the Spirit of the Sky.
And the Spirit of the Sky would go hungry.
And bring pain and darkness to the village.
But none dare say words to Ung.
Who had killed two saber-tooths.
And one great bear. And men, many men.
And, it was said, a woman.
He went to Ung.
Yes, said Ung, I will kill her.
For what she has done, said Omoo.
For equal weight, said Ung, in bear meat or lizard skins.
She is a large woman, said Omoo.
Equal wait, said Ung. Now you must come and show her to me, that I may kill her.
I cannot, said Omoo.
Then how will I know her?
Her hair is long, said Omoo.
Her eyes burn like the pools of night.
Many have the long hair, said Ung.
Many have eyes like the pool of night.
She will be bathing, said Omoo.
Tomorrow, as the sun dies,
She will be bathing. Washing her long hair at the falling water.
Many women will be bathing, said Ung.
Many long-haired, night-eyed women.
How will I know it is she?
Ah, he said, she will be carrying flowers.
Bright hill flowers, that I shall gather and place in her hands, before she goes to bathe at the falling water.
Then you will know her.
Then you will kill her.
For equal weight, said Ung.
Yes, said Omoo, for equal weight.
And so was begun the custom
Of giving bouquets and corsages.
- quotes about equality
- quotes about men
- quotes about death
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about water
- quotes about sky
- quotes about mountains
- quotes about future
What She Said When I Said I Love Her
it was on the phone
long distance of long time ago
when i called her and
i still love her
(there was silence
and i guess she was covering the mouthpiece
with a handkerchief
and then she answered-
'who's this please? '
and i think i know what she meant.
i put down the phone
and rang another number
this one, perhaps still remembers...
Grandma Knew What She Put Into the Oven
Crime is rampant
Children are out of control
Corruption is mainstream
Mental chaos is the norm...
And the people say
How could this be?
Where were they upon this delivery?
'Someone' had to want what's going on!
If they did not...
These things would not exist!
People only have what they want.
When did it occur to them,
These disturbances were not of their making?
Even grandma knew what she put into the oven!
She had to!
Sometimes I was there when she took it out!
She might have left the stove on once or twice...
But someone was always there to turn it off!
Thats What She Said
There are people who say what you wanna hear
Even on a rainy day they tell you the sky is clear
When you really really love someone
Am I right when I say that you want them near?
And if you care you even tell them things that they wanna hear
Oh things she said
Never say never
The simple lies that she fed
I will never leave you
All the love I thought she had
But can you blame me, no
Cuz thats what she said
Thats what she said
She told me wed see forever
Thats what she said
She said, yeah
And there are people that say what they really
She said shed always be there
She said shed always care
But just when you think that you can trust that someone you love
Tell me why do you know
How stars can fall from above
Thats what she said
She told me wed see forever
Thats what she said
Ohhhh yeah yeah
Thats what she said
She told me wed be together
Thats what she said
She said, yeah
cause you made promises that you couldnt keep
But youre not hurting yourself but only hurting me (youre only hurting me)
Why would you say things that you really didnt mean (didnt mean)
Oh how can I make you see just what you did to me
You said how much you really cared
Just when I thought I was in love
Girl how could you dare
If I were you I could not lie even once
To the face of those that I love so much
Thats what she said
She told me wed see forever
Thats what she said
Ohhh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Thats what she said
She told me wed be together
Thats whats she said
Oh thats what she said
What She Said
What she said :
How come someone hasnt noticed
That Im dead
And decided to bury me ?
God knows, Im ready !
What she said was sad
But then, all the rejection shes had
To pretend to be happy
Could only be idiocy
What she said was not for the job or
Lover that she never had
No no no ...
What she read
All heady books
Shed sit and prophesise
(it took a tattooed boy from
To really really open her eyes)
What she read
All heady books
Shed sit and prophesise
(it took a tattooed boy from
To really really open her eyes)
What she said :
I smoke cos Im hoping for an
And I need to cling to something !
What she said :
I smoke cos Im hoping for an
And I need to cling to something !
No no no no ...
Rubber Ring / What She Said
What she says :
"how come someone hasn't noticed
That i'm dead
And decided to bury me ?
God knows, i'm ready !"
What she said was sad
But then, all the rejection she's had
To pretend to be happy
Could only be idiocy
What she said was not for the job or
Lover that she never had
No no no ...
What she read
All heady books
She'd sit and prophesise
(it took a tattooed boy from
To really really open her eyes)
What she read
All heady books
She'd sit and prophesise
(it took a tattooed boy from
To really really open her eyes)
What she said :
"i smoke because i'm hoping for an
And i need to cling to something !"
What she said :
"i smoke because i'm hoping for an
And i need to cling to something !"
No no no no ...
What she wrote was beautiful
The way she writes
Is like the way she carries herself
Indeed she writes beautifully
Words like tendrils
Tenaciously clinging to
Of trees where blooms of orchids
Like her way of swaying and
Sitting on an easy chair
Her white long legs resting
On top of the other
She chooses her words
She’s choosing pebbles
Those pearly ones
And takes only what
So she puts only the best
To make her
it will take her
Days and days
Her work is diamond
Indeed she puts
all her life
In that work which
Is so beautifully
I am so
It is so
A Butterfly Who Can't Get Out of His Cocoon
There was a mother butterfly
Who wished to have a female child
But out of his lain eggs in the meadow
She wasn’t sure if her wish was granted though
Then one baby caterpillar came out
From his broken shell he crawled up
With so much blessings around him
He grew faster and changed his skin
The caterpillar then became a pupa
Hung upside down on a woody plant
He surpassed the strong wind
Through the calamity of life he stays in
The time has come for the pupa
After slowly changing his shape inside
He has to crack his own cocoon
He has to let his wings out soon
But he prefers to stay inside his room
He just made a small hole in his cocoon
Through this he gazed and took a scene
He fears the outside world may not admit him
He noticed his mother butterfly
Patiently waiting outside
She’s very much excited
For her child to come out
Though the young butterfly
Experienced pains and struggles inside
He decided to stay in the cocoon
Than to give his mother a great frustration
How can he get out of his world?
He wanted to hide his true color!
He will ignore the longings of his heart,
His love for the bees than flowers with nectar.
Mahabharat- The Great War Epic
Unrivalled in breadth and depth
It is greater than Iliad or Odysseus, Homer's Greek epic
Blend of human realism and bright values and idealism is it's very strength.
Every hero or character is flawed
Due to curse or inner weakness
Fraudulent greedy, arrogant or ill-starred
Dropadee shared by five husbands, is gambled of in a manner, sick and shameless.
Mutely witnessed by wise elders she is stripped in open 'Darbaar'
Her friend Krishna the God -incarnates saves her by endless extension
of Saari, by his miraculous act and decision
The most infamous scene in history, it was soon followed by the Great War.
Bhagwad Geeta, the brightest jewel in the bloody crown
Of Mahabharat, is a book of great renown
Teaching karma not entangle with fear of future or mishaps of past
But with quality and values of dharma; and justice, never let down.
Hamletesque Arjuna is motivated to fight for values and justice
Even his respected elders, Guru, friend and relative
With courage and Dharmik motive
For a lasting value- based peace.
Mahabharat is both, realistic and fantastic
With men who are great warriors and donors yet with lust arrogance and misplaced vows and loyalties
It has integrity and yet cunning, politic.
women, beautiful and polyandrous, not known for chastities.
Good wise men are weak and bad are' blind' and strong
Geeta is a celestial war song
knowledge and superstition, logic and miracle strategy and crooked tectics
Mahabharat is a knowledge bank, a national library and epic, condensed yet long.
Who I'm Starting To See
i use to let you tell me what to do,
i don't know why,
maybe because at the time,
i couldn't think for myself,
it was just something about you,
that made me feel special,
but, now i see what you doing,
little by little,
i see where i went wrong,
giving up part of my power,
and letting you have what you want,
i feel as if you can't trust me,
you snoop through my phone,
when i'm not looking,
just to see who i dial,
i caught you one or twice,
but you thought it was fun and games,
what is wrong with you?
little by little,
i'm starting to think i will be better off,
if only i wasn't with you,
i'm starting to feel trapped,
rather than free and opened,
my friend seem to say,
you're abit controling,
am i being blind sided?
can't really see,
what's in front of me, the whole time?
i think back of when you notice me,
it wasn't until you realize,
what you were slowly losing,
that you put in a little effort,
just to try and be with me,
but, in my eyes,
i'm starting to think it was fake,
you put up a front,
rather than just be yourself,
people don't see,
what i'm starting to see,
a guy who does more talk,
rather than take action,
i don't know why i'm still with you,
i know i'm better than this,
but, i get sucked in,
when you tell me that you miss me,
i don't know why, maybe because,
i don't like the feeling of being alone,
i've been through so much,
at times you helped me through,
other times you made jokes,
about the mistakes i made,
what kind of help are you?
you wanted to perade it,
like it was you business to tell,
what kind of friend are you?
slowly i'm starting to see the real you,
the part i lost sight on,
when everything fell apart,
to make me think,
you just wasn't the one for me.
Copyright © 2009
Otho The Great - Act IV
AURANTHE and CONRAD discovered.
Conrad. Well, well, I know what ugly jeopardy
We are cag'd in; you need not pester that
Into my ears. Prythee, let me be spared
A foolish tongue, that I may bethink me
Of remedies with some deliberation.
You cannot doubt but 'tis in Albert's power
To crush or save us?
Auranthe. No, I cannot doubt.
He has, assure yourself, by some strange means,
My secret ; which I ever hid from him,
Knowing his mawkish honesty.
Conrad. Curs'd slave!
Auranthe. Ay, I could almost curse him now myself.
Wretched impediment! Evil genius!
A glue upon my wings, that cannot spread,
When they should span the provinces! A snake,
A scorpion, sprawling on the first gold step,
Conducting to the throne, high canopied.
Conrad. You would not hear my council, when his life
Might have been trodden out, all sure and hush'd;
Now the dull animal forsooth must be
Intreated, managed! When can you contrive
The interview he demands?
Auranthe. As speedily
It must be done as my brib'd woman can
Unseen conduct him to me; but I fear
Twill be impossible, while the broad day
Comes through the panes with persecuting glare.
Methinks, if 't now were night I could intrigue
With darkness, bring the stars to second me,
And settle all this trouble.
Conrad. Nonsense! Child!
See him immediately; why not now?
Auranthe. Do you forget that even the senseless door-posts
Are on the watch and gape through all the house?
How many whispers there are about,
Hungry for evidence to ruin me ;
Men I have spurn 'd, and women I have taunted?
Besides, the foolish prince sends, minute whiles,
His pages so they tell me to enquire
After my health, entreating, if I please,
To see me.
Conrad. Well, suppose this Albert here;
What is your power with him?
Auranthe. He should be
My echo, my taught parrot! but I fear
He will be cur enough to bark at me ;
Have his own say ; read me some silly creed
'Bout shame and pity.
Conrad. What will you do then?
Auranthe. What I shall do, I know not: what L would
Cannot be done; for see, this chain her-floor
Will not yield to the pick-axe and the spade,
Here is no quiet depth of hollow ground.
Conrad. Sister, you have grown sensible and wise,
Seconding, ere I speak it, what is now,
I hope, resolv'd between us.
Auranthe. Say, what is 't?
Conrad. You need not be his sexton too: a man
May carry that with him shall make him die
Elsewhere, give that to him; pretend the while
You will to-morrow succumb to his wishes,
Be what they may, and send him from the Castle
On some fool's errand; let his latest groan
Frighten the wolves!
Auranthe. Alas! he must not die!
Conrad. Would you were both hears'd up in stifling lead!
Auranthe. Conrad, hold! I would not bear
The little thunder of your fretful tongue,
Tho; I alone were taken in these toils,
And you could free me; but remember, sir,
You live alone in my security:
So keep your wits at work, for your own sake,
Not mine, and be more mannerly.
Conrad. Thou wasp!
If my domains were emptied of these folk,
And I had thee to starve
Auranthe. O, marvellous!
But Conrad, now be gone; the Host is look'd for;
Cringe to the Emperor, entertain the Lords,
And, do ye mind, above all things, proclaim
My sickness, with a brother's sadden'd eye,
Condoling with Prince Ludolph. In fit time
Return to me.
Conrad. I leave you to your thoughts. [Exit.
Auranthe (sola) Down, down, proud temper! down,
Why do I anger him when I should kneel?
Conrad! Albert! help! help! What can I do?
wretched woman! lost, wreck'd, swallow'd up,
Accursed, blasted ! O, thou golden Crown,
Orbing along the serene firmament
Of a wide empire, like a glowing moon;
And thou, bright sceptre! lustrous in my eyes,
There as the fabled fair Hesperian tree,
Bearing a fruit more precious! graceful thing.
Delicate, godlike, magic! must I leave
Thee to melt in the visionary air,
Ere, by one grasp, this common hand is made
Imperial? I do not know the time
When I have wept for sorrow; but methinks
I could now sit upon the ground, and shed
Tears, tears of misery. O, the heavy day!
How shall I bear my life till Albert comes?
Ludolph! Erminia! Proofs! O heavy day!
Bring me some mourning weeds, that I may 'tire
Myself, as fits one wailing her own death:
Cut off these curls, and brand this lilly hand,
And throw these jewels from my loathing sight,
Fetch me a missal, and a string of beads,
A cup of bitter'd water, and a crust,
I will confess, O holy Abbot How!
What is this? Auranthe! thou fool, dolt,
Whimpering idiot! up! up! act and quell!
I am safe! Coward! why am I in fear?
Albert! he cannot stickle, chew the cud
In such a fine extreme, impossible!
Who knocks? [Goes to the Door, listens, and opens it.
Albert, I have been waiting for you here
With such an aching heart, such swooning throbs
On my poor brain, such cruel cruel sorrow,
That I should claim your pity! Art not well?
Albert. Yes, lady, well.
Auranthe. You look not so, alas!
But pale, as if you brought some heavy news.
Albert. You know full well what makes me look so pale.
Auranthe. No! Do I? Surely I am still to learn
Some horror; all I know, this present, is
I am near hustled to a dangerous gulph,
Which you can save me from, and therefore safe,
So trusting in thy love; that should not make
Thee pale, my Albert.
Albert. It doth make me freeze.
Auranthe. Why should it, love?
Albert. You should not ask me that,
But make your own heart monitor, and save
Me the great pain of telling. You must know.
Auranthe. Something has vexed you, Albert. There are times
When simplest things put on a sombre cast;
A melancholy mood will haunt a man,
Until most easy matters take the shape
Of unachievable tasks; small rivulets
Then seem impassable.
Albert. Do not cheat yourself
With hope that gloss of words, or suppliant action,
Or tears, or ravings, or self-threaten 'd death,
Can alter my resolve.
Auranthe. You make me tremble;
Not so much at your threats, as at your voice.
Untun'd. and harsh, and barren of all love.
Albert. You suffocate me! Stop this devil's parley,
And listen to me; know me once for all.
Auranthe. I thought I did. Alas! I am deceiv'd.
Albert. No, you are not deceiv'd. You took me for
A man detesting all inhuman crime;
And therefore kept from me your demon's plot
Against Erminia. Silent? Be so still;
For ever! Speak no more; but hear my words,
Thy fate. Your safety I have bought to-day
By blazoning a lie, which in the dawn
I expiate with truth.
Auranthe. O cruel traitor!
Albert. For I would not set eyes upon thy shame;
I would not see thee dragg'd to death by the hair,
Penanc'd, and taunted on a scaffolding!
To-night, upon the skirts of the blind wood
That blackens northward of these horrid towers,
I wait for you with horses. Choose your fate.
Auranthe. Albert, you jest; I'm sure you must.
You, an ambitious Soldier! I, a Queen,
One who could say, Here, rule these Provinces!
Take tribute from those cities for thyself!
Empty these armouries, these treasuries,
Muster thy warlike thousands at a nod !
Go! conquer Italy!
Albert. Auranthe, you have made
The whole world chaff to me. Your doom is fix'd.
Auranthe. Out, villain! dastard!
Albert. Look there to the door!
Who is it?
Auranthe. Conrad, traitor!
Albert. Let him in.
Do not affect amazement, hypocrite,
At seeing me in this chamber.
Albert. Talk not with eyes, but speak your curses out
Against me, who would sooner crush and grind
A brace of toads, than league with them to oppress
An innocent lady, gull an Emperor,
More generous to me than autumn's sun
To ripening harvests.
Auranthe. No more insult, sir!
Albert. Aye, clutch your scabbard; but, for prudence sake,
Draw not the sword; 'twould make an uproar, Duke,
You would not hear the end of. At nightfall
Your lady sister, if I guess aright,
Will leave this busy castle. You had best
Take farewell too of worldly vanities.
Albert. To-morrow, when the Emperor sends
For loving Conrad, see you fawn on him.
Good even !
Auranthe. You'll be seen!
Albert. See the coast clear then.
Auranthe (as he goes). Remorseless Albert! Cruel,
[She lets him out.
Conrad. So, we must lick the dust?
Auranthe. I follow him.
Conrad. How? Where? The plan of your escape?
Auranthe. He waits
For me with horses by the forest-side,
Conrad. Good, good! he dies. You go, say you?
Conrad. Be speedy, darkness! Till that comes,
Fiends keep you company! [Exit.
Auranthe. And you! And you!
And all men! Vanish!
[Retires to an inner Apartment.
SCENE II. An Apartment in the Castle.
Enter LUDOLPH and Page.
Page. Still very sick, my Lord; but now I went
Knowing my duty to so good a Prince;
And there her women in a mournful throng
Stood in the passage whispering: if any
Mov'd 'twas with careful steps and hush'd as death;
They bid me stop.
Ludolph. Good fellow, once again
Make soft enquiry; prythee be not stay'd
By any hindrance, but with gentlest force
Break through her weeping servants, till thou com'st
E'en to her chamber door, and there, fair boy,
If with thy mother's milk thou hast suck'd in
Any diviner eloquence ; woo her ears
With plaints for me more tender than the voice
Of dying Echo, echoed.
Page. Kindest master!
To know thee sad thus, will unloose my tongue
In mournful syllables. Let but my words reach
Her ears and she shall take them coupled with
Moans from my heart and sighs not counterfeit.
May I speed better! [Exit Page.
Ludolph. Auranthe! My Life!
Long have I lov'd thee, yet till now not lov'd:
Remembering, as I do, hard-hearted times
When I had heard even of thy death perhaps,
And thoughtless, suffered to pass alone
Into Elysium! now I follow thee
A substance or a shadow, wheresoe'er
Thou leadest me, whether thy white feet press,
With pleasant weight, the amorous-aching earth,
Or thro' the air thou pioneerest me,
A shade! Yet sadly I predestinate!
O unbenignest Love, why wilt thou let
Darkness steal out upon the sleepy world
So wearily; as if night's chariot wheels
Were clog'd in some thick cloud. O, changeful Love,
Let not her steeds with drowsy-footed pace
Pass the high stars, before sweet embassage
Comes from the pillow 'd beauty of that fair
Completion of all delicate nature's wit.
Pout her faint lips anew with rubious health
And with thine infant fingers lift the fringe
Of her sick eyelids ; that those eyes may glow
With wooing light upon me, ere the Morn
Peers with disrelish, grey, barren, and cold.
Enter GERSA and Courtiers.
Otho calls me his Lion should I blush
To be so tam'd, so
Gersa. Do me the courtesy
Gentlemen to pass on.
Courtier. We are your servants.
Ludolph. It seems then, Sir, you have found out the man
You would confer with; me?
Gersa. If I break not
Too much upon your thoughtful mood, I will
Claim a brief while your patience.
Ludolph. For what cause
Soe'er I shall be honour 'd.
Gersa. I not less.
Ludolph. What may it be? No trifle can take place
Of such deliberate prologue, serious 'haviour.
But be it what it may I cannot fail
To listen with no common interest
For though so new your presence is to me,
I have a soldier's friendship for your fame
Please you explain.
Gersa. As thus for, pardon me,
I cannot in plain terms grossly assault
A noble nature ; and would faintly sketch
What your quick apprehension will fill up
So finely I esteem you.
Ludolph. I attend
Gersa. Your generous Father, most illustrious Otho,
Sits in the Banquet room among his chiefs
His wine is bitter, for you are not there
His eyes are fix'd still on the open doors,
And every passer in he frowns upon
Seeing no Ludolph comes.
Ludolph. I do neglect
Gersa. And for your absence, may I guess the cause?
Ludolph. Stay there! no guess? more princely you must be
Than to make guesses at me. ‘Tis enough,
I'm sorry I can hear no more.
Gersa. And I
As griev'd to force it on you so abrupt;
Yet one day you must know a grief whose sting
Will sharpen more the longer 'tis concealed.
Ludolph. Say it at once, sir, dead, dead, is she dead?
Gersa. Mine is a cruel task : she is not dead
And would for your sake she were innocent
Ludolph. Thou liest! thou amazest me beyond
All scope of thought; convulsest my heart's blood
To deadly churning Gersa you are young
As I am ; let me observe you face to face ;
Not grey-brow'd like the poisonous Ethelbert,
No rheumed eyes, no furrowing of age,
No wrinkles where all vices nestle in
Like crannied vermin no, but fresh and young
And hopeful featured. Ha! by heaven you weep
Tears, human tears Do you repent you then
Of a curs'd torturer's office! Why shouldst join
Tell me, the league of Devils? Confess confess
Gersa. Lie!- but begone all ceremonious points
Of honour battailous. I could not turn
My wrath against thee for the orbed world.
Ludolph. Your wrath, weak boy? Tremble at mine unless
Retraction follow close upon the heels
Of that late stounding insult: why has my sword
Not done already a sheer judgment on thee?
Despair, or eat thy words. Why, thou wast nigh
Whimpering away my reason: hark ye, Sir,
It is no secret; that Erminia,
Erminia, Sir, was hidden in your tent;
O bless 'd asylum! comfortable home!
Begone, I pity thee, thou art a Gull
Erminia's last new puppet
Gersa. Furious fire!
Thou mak'st me boil as hot as thou canst flame!
And in thy teeth I give thee back the lie!
Thou liest! Thou, Auranthe's fool, a wittol
Ludolph. Look! look at this bright sword;
There is no part of it to the very hilt
But shall indulge itself about thine heart
Draw but remember thou must cower thy plumes,
As yesterday the Arab made thee stoop
Gersa. Patience! not here, I would not spill thy blood
Here underneath this roof where Otho breathes,
Thy father almost mine
Ludolph. O faltering coward
Stay, stay, here is one I have half a word with
Well What ails thee child?
Page. My lord,
Ludolph. Good fellow
Page. They are fled!
Ludolph. They who?
Page. When anxiously
I hasten 'd back, your grieving messenger,
I found the stairs all dark, the lamps extinct,
And not a foot or whisper to be heard.
I thought her dead, and on the lowest step
Sat listening; when presently came by
Two muffled up, one sighing heavily,
The other cursing low, whose voice I knew
For the Duke Conrad's. Close I follow'd them
Thro' the dark ways they chose to the open air;
And, as I follow'd, heard my lady speak.
Ludolph. Thy life answers the truth!
Page. The chamber's empty!
Ludolph. As I will be of mercy! So, at last,
This nail is in my temples!
Gersa. Be calm in this.
Ludolph. I am.
Gersa. And Albert too has disappeared;
Ere I met you, I sought him everywhere ;
You would not hearken.
Ludolph. Which way went they, boy?
Gersa. I'll hunt with you.
Ludolph. No, no, no. My senses are
Still whole. I have surviv'd. My arm is strong
My appetite sharp for revenge! I'll no sharer
In my feast; my injury is all my own,
And so is my revenge, my lawful chattels!
Terrier, ferret them out! Burn burn the witch!
Trace me their footsteps! Away!
Otho The Great - Act V
A part of the Forest.
Enter CONRAD and AURANTHE.
Auranthe. Go no further; not a step more; thou art
A master-plague in the midst of miseries.
Go I fear thee. I tremble every limb,
Who never shook before. There's moody death
In thy resolved looks Yes, I could kneel
To pray thee far away. Conrad, go, go
There! yonder underneath the boughs I see
Conrad. Aye, and the man.
Auranthe. Yes, he is there.
Go, go, no blood, no blood; go, gentle Conrad!
Auranthe. Farewell, for this Heaven pardon you.
Conrad. If he survive one hour, then may I die
In unimagined tortures or breathe through
A long life in the foulest sink of the world!
He dies 'tis well she do not advertise
The caitiff of the cold steel at his back.
Enter LUDOLPH and PAGE.
Ludolph. Miss'd the way, boy, say not that on your peril!
Page. Indeed, indeed I cannot trace them further.
Ludolph. Must I stop here? Here solitary die?
Stifled beneath the thick oppressive shade
Of these dull boughs, this oven of dark thickets,
Silent, without revenge? pshaw! bitter end,
A bitter death, a suffocating death,
A gnawing silent deadly, quiet death!
Escaped? fled? vanish'd? melted into air?
She's gone! I cannot clutch her! no revenge!
A muffled death, ensnar'd in horrid silence!
Suck'd to my grave amid a dreamy calm!
O, where is that illustrious noise of war,
To smother up this sound of labouring breath,
This rustle of the trees!
[AURANTHE shrieks at a distance.
Page. My Lord, a noise!
This way hark!
Ludolph. Yes, yes! A hope! A music!
A glorious clamour! How I live again! [Exeunt.
SCENE II. Another part of the Forest,
Enter ALBERT (wounded).
Albert. O for enough life to support me on
To Otho's feet
Ludolph. Thrice villainous, stay there
Tell me where that detested woman is
Or this is through thee!
Albert. My good Prince, with me
The sword has done its worst; not without worst
Done to another Conrad has it home
I see you know it all
Ludolph. Where is his sister?
AURANTHE rushes in.
Ludolph. Ha! There! there! He is the paramour I
There hug him dying! O, thou innocence,
Shrine him and comfort him at his last gasp,
Kiss down his eyelids! Was he not thy love?
Wilt thou forsake him at his latest hour?
Keep fearful and aloof from his last gaze,
His most uneasy moments, when cold death
Stands with the door ajar to let him in?
Albert. O that that door with hollow slam would close
Upon me sudden, for I cannot meet,
In all the unknown chambers of the dead,
Ludolph. Auranthe! what can he mean?
What horrors? Is it not a joyous time?
Am I not married to a paragon
'Of personal beauty and untainted soul'?
A blushing fair-eyed Purity! A Sylph,
Whose snowy timid hand has never sin'd
Beyond a flower pluck'd, white as itself?
Albert, you do insult my Bride your Mistress
To talk of horrors on our wedding night.
Albert. Alas! poor Prince, I would you knew my heart.
'Tis not so guilty
Ludolph. Hear you he pleads not guilty
You are not? or if so what matters it?
You have escap'd me, free as the dusk air
Hid in the forest safe from my revenge;
I cannot catch you--You should laugh at me,
Poor cheated Ludolph, make the forest hiss
With jeers at me You tremble; faint at once,
You will come to again. O Cockatrice,
I have you. Whither wander those fair eyes
To entice the Devil to your help, that he
May change you to a Spider, so to crawl
Into some cranny to escape my wrath?
Albert. Sometimes the counsel of a dying man
Doth operate quietly when his breath is gone
Disjoin those hands part--part, do not destroy
Each other forget her our miseries
Are equal shar'd, and mercy is
Ludolph. A boon
When one can compass it. Auranthe, try
Your oratory your breath is not so hitch'd
Aye, stare for help
[ALBERT groans and dies.
There goes a spotted soul
Howling in vain along the hollow night
Hear him he calls you Sweet Auranthe, come!
Auranthe. Kill me.
Ludolph. No! What? upon our Marriage-night!
The earth would shudder at so foul a deed
A fair Bride, a sweet Bride, an innocent Bride!
No, we must revel it, as 'tis in use
In times of delicate brilliant ceremony:
Come, let me lead you to our halls again
Nay, linger not make no resistance sweet
Will you Ah wretch, thou canst not, for I have
The strength of twenty lions 'gainst a lamb
Now one adieu for Albert come away.
SCENE III. An inner Court of the Castle.
Enter SIGIFRED, GONFRED, and THEODORE meeting.
Theodore. Was ever such a night?
Sigifred. What horrors more?
Things unbeliev'd one hour, so strange they are,
The next hour stamps with credit.
Theodore. Your last news ?
Gonfred. After the Page's story of the death
Of Albert and Duke Conrad?
Sigifred. And the return
Of Ludolph with the Princess.
Gonfred. No more save
Prince Gersa's freeing Abbot Ethelbert,
And the sweet lady, fair Erminia,
Theodore. Where are they now? hast yet heard?
Gonfred. With the sad Emperor they are closeted ;
I saw the three pass slowly up the stairs,
The lady weeping, the old Abbot cowl'd.
Sigifred. What next?
Thedore. I ache to think on't.
Gonfred. ‘Tis with fate.
Theodore. One while these proud towers are hush'd as death.
Gonfred. The next our poor Prince fills the arched rooms
With ghastly ravings.
Sigifred. I do fear his brain.
Gonfred. I will see more. Bear you so stout a heart?
[Exeunt into the Castle.
SCENE IV. A Cabinet, opening towards a Terrace.
OTHO, ERMINIA, ETHELBERT, and a Physician, discovered.
Otho. O, my poor Boy! my Son! my Son! My Ludolph!
Have ye no comfort for me, ye Physicians
Of the weak Body and Soul?
Ethelbert. ‘Tis not the Medicine
Either of heaven or earth can cure unless
Fit time be chosen to administer
Otho. A kind forbearance, holy Abbot come
Erminia, here sit by me, gentle Girl;
Give me thy hand hast thou forgiven me?
Erminia. Would I were with the saints to pray for you!
Otho. Why will ye keep me from my darling child?
Physician. Forgive me, but he must not see thy face
Otho. Is then a father's countenance a Gorgon?
Hath it not comfort in it? Would it not
Console my poor Boy, cheer him, heal his spirits?
Let me embrace him, let me speak to him
I will who hinders me? Who's Emperor?
Physician. You may not, Sire 'twould overwhelm him quite,
He is so full of grief and passionate wrath,
Too heavy a sigh would kill him or do worse.
He must be sav'd by fine contrivances
And most especially we must keep clear
Out of his sight a Father whom he loves
His heart is full, it can contain no more,
And do its ruddy office.
Ethelbert. Sage advice;
We must endeavour how to ease and slacken
The tight-wound energies of his despair,
Not make them tenser
Otho. Enough! I hear, I hear.
Yet you were about to advise more I listen.
Ethelbert. This learned doctor will agree with me,
That not in the smallest point should he be thwarted
Or gainsaid by one word his very motions,
Nods, becks and hints, should be obey'd with care,
Even on the moment: so his troubled mind
May cure itself
Physician. There is no other means.
Otho. Open the door: let's hear if all is quiet
Physician. Beseech you, Sire, forbear.
Erminia. Do, do.
Otho. I command!
Open it straight hush! quiet my lost Boy!
My miserable Child!
Ludolph (indistinctly without). Fill, fill my goblet,
Here's a health!
Erminia. O, close the door!
Otho. Let, let me hear his voice; this cannot last
And fain would I catch up his dying words
Though my own knell they be this cannot last
O let me catch his voice for lo! I hear
This silence whisper me that he is dead!
It is so. Gersa?
Physician. Say, how fares the prince?
Gersa. More calm his features are less wild and flushed
Once he complain'd of weariness
'Tis good 'tis good let him but fall asleep,
That saves him.
Otho. Gersa, watch him like a child
Ward him from harm and bring me better news
Physician. Humour him to the height. I fear to go;
For should he catch a glimpse of my dull garb,
It might affright him fill him with suspicion
That we believe him sick, which must not be
Gersa. I will invent what soothing means I can.
Physician. This should cheer up your Highness weariness
Is a good symptom, and most favourable
It gives me pleasant hopes. Please you walk forth
Onto the Terrace; the refreshing air
Will blow one half of your sad doubts away.
SCENE V. A Banqueting Hall, brilliantly illuminated, and set forth
with all costly magnificence, with Supper-tables, laden with services
of Gold and Silver. A door in the back scene, guarded by two Soldiers.
Lords, Ladies, Knights, Gentlemen, &c., whispering sadly,
and ranging themselves; part entering and part discovered.
First Knight. Grievously are we tantaliz'd, one and all
Sway'd here and there, commanded to and fro
As though we were the shadows of a dream
And link'd to a sleeping fancy. What do we here?
Gonfred. I am no Seer you know we must obey
The prince from A to Z though it should be
To set the place in flames. I pray hast heard
Where the most wicked Princess is?
First Knight. There, Sir,
In the next room have you remark'd those two
Stout soldiers posted at the door?
Gonfred. For what?
First Lady. How ghast a train!
Second Lady. Sure this should be some splendid burial.
First Lady. What fearful whispering! See, see, Gersa there.
Gersa. Put on your brightest looks; smile if you can;
Behave as all were happy; keep your eyes
From the least watch upon him ;
if he speaks
To any one, answer collectedly,
Without surprise, his questions, howe'er strange.
Do this to the utmost, though, alas! with me
The remedy grows hopeless! Here he comes,
Observe what I have said, show no surprise.
Enter LUDOLPH, followed by SIGIFRED and Page.
Ludolph. A splendid company! rare beauties here!
I should have Orphean lips, and Plato's fancy,
Amphion's utterance, toned with his lyre,
Or the deep key of Jove's sonorous mouth,
To give fit salutation. Methought I heard,
As I came in, some whispers, what of that?
'Tis natural men should whisper; at the kiss
Of Psyche given by Love, there was a buzz
Among the gods! and silence is as natural.
These draperies are fine, and, being a mortal,
I should desire no better; yet, in truth,
There must be some superiour costliness,
Some wider-domed high magnificence!
I would have, as a mortal I may not,
Hanging of heaven's clouds, purple and gold,
Slung from the spheres; gauzes of silver mist,
Loop'd up with cords of twisted wreathed light,
And tassell'd round with weeping meteors!
These pendent lamps and chandeliers are bright
As earthly fires from dull dross can be cleansed;
Yet could my eyes drink up intenser beams
Undazzled, this is darkness, when I close
These lids, I see far fiercer brilliances,
Skies full of splendid moons, and shooting stars,
And spouting exhalations, diamond fires,
And panting fountains quivering with deep glows!
Yes this is dark is it not dark?
Sigifred. My Lord,
'Tis late; the lights of festival are ever
Quench'd in the morn.
Ludolph. 'Tis not to-morrow then?
Sigifred. ‘Tis early dawn.
Gersa. Indeed full time we slept;
Say you so, Prince?
Ludolph. I say I quarreled with you ; We did not tilt each other, that's a blessing,
Good gods! no innocent blood upon my head!
Sigifred. Retire, Gersa!
Ludolph. There should be three more here:
For two of them, they stay away perhaps,
Being gloomy-minded, haters of fair revels,
They know their own thoughts best.
As for the third,
Deep blue eyes semi-shaded in white lids,
Finished with lashes fine for more soft shade,
Completed by her twin-arch'd ebon brows
White temples of exactest elegance,
Of even mould felicitous and smooth
Cheeks fashioned tenderly on either side,
So perfect, so divine that our poor eyes
Are dazzled with the sweet proportioning,
And wonder that 'tis so, the magic chance!
Her nostrils, small, fragrant, faery-delicate;
Her lips -I swear no human bones e'er wore
So taking a disguise you shall behold her!
We'll have her presently; aye, you shall see her,
And wonder at her, friends, she is so fair
She is the world's chief Jewel, and by heaven
She's mine by right of marriage she is mine!
Patience, good people, in fit time I send
A Summoner she will obey my call,
Being a wife most mild and dutiful.
First I would hear what music is prepared
To herald and receive her let me hear!
Sigifred. Bid the musicians soothe him tenderly.
[A soft strain of Music.
Ludolph. Ye have none better no I am content;
'Tis a rich sobbing melody, with reliefs
Full and majestic; it is well enough,
And will be sweeter, when ye see her pace
Sweeping into this presence, glisten'd o'er
With emptied caskets, and her train upheld
By ladies, habited in robes of lawn,
Sprinkled with golden crescents; (others bright
In silks, with spangles shower'd,) and bow'd to
By Duchesses and pearled Margravines
Sad, that the fairest creature of the earth
I pray you mind me not 'tis sad, I say,
That the extremest beauty of the world
Should so entrench herself away from me,
Behind a barrier of engender 'd guilt!
Second Lady. Ah! what a moan!
First Knight. Most piteous indeed!
Ludolph. She shall be brought before this company,
And then then
First Lady. He muses.
Gersa. O, Fortune, where will this end?
Sigifred. I guess his purpose! Indeed he must not have
That pestilence brought in, that cannot be,
There we must stop him.
Gersa. I am lost! Hush, hushl
He is about to rave again.
Ludolph. A barrier of guilt! I was the fool.
She was the cheater! Who's the cheater now,
And who the fool? The entrapp'd, the caged fool,
The bird-limy raven? She shall croak to death
Secure! Methinks I have her in my fist,
To crush her with my heel! Wait, wait! I marvel
My father keeps away: good friend, ah! Sigifred!
Do bring him to me and Erminia
I fain would see before I sleep and Ethelbert,
That he may bless me, as I know he will
Though I have curs'd him.
Sigifred. Rather suffer me
To lead you to them
Ludolph. No, excuse me, no
The day is not quite done go bring them hither.
Certes, a father's smile should, like sunlight,,
Slant on my sheafed harvest of ripe bliss
Besides, I thirst to pledge my lovely Bride
In a deep goblet: let me see what wine?
The strong Iberian juice, or mellow Greek?
Or pale Calabrian? Or the Tuscan grape?
Or of old Ætna's pulpy wine presses,
Black stain'd with the fat vintage, as it were
The purple slaughter-house, where Bacchus' self
Prick'd his own swollen veins? Where is my Page?
Page. Here, here!
Ludolph. Be ready to obey me; anon thou shalt
Bear a soft message for me for the hour
Draws near when I must make a winding up
Of bridal Mysteries a fine-spun vengeance!
Carve it on my Tomb, that when I rest beneath
Men shall confess This Prince was gulled and cheated,
But from the ashes of disgrace he rose
More than a fiery Phoenix and did burn
His ignominy up in purging fires
Did I not send, Sir, but a moment past,
For my Father?
Gersa. You did.
Ludolph. Perhaps 'twould be
Much better he came not.
Gersa. He enters now!
Enter OTHO, ERMINIA, ETHELBERT, SIGIFRED, and Physician.
Ludolph. O thou good Man, against whose sacred head
I was a mad conspirator, chiefly too
For the sake of my fair newly wedded wife,
Now to be punish'd, do not look so sad!
Those charitable eyes will thaw my heart,
Those tears will wash away a just resolve,
A verdict ten times sworn! Awake awake
Put on a judge's brow, and use a tongue
Made iron-stern by habit! Thou shalt see
A deed to be applauded, 'scribed in gold!
Join a loud voice to mine, and so denounce
What I alone will execute!
Otho. Dear son,
What is it? By your father's love, I sue
That it be nothing merciless!
Ludolph. To that demon?
Not so! No! She is in temple-stall
Being garnish'd for the sacrifice, and I,
The Priest of Justice, will immolate her
Upon the altar of wrath! She stings me through!-
Even as the worm doth feed upon the nut,
So she, a scorpion, preys upon my brain!
I feel her gnawing here! Let her but vanish,
Then, father, I will lead your legions forth,
Compact in steeled squares, and speared files,
And bid our trumpets speak a fell rebuke
To nations drows'd in peace!
Otho. To-morrow, Son,
Be your word law forget to-day
Ludolph. I will
When I have finish 'd it now! now! I'm pight,
Tight-footed for the deed!
Erminia. Alas! Alas!
Ludolph. What Angel’s voice is that? Erminia!
Ah! gentlest creature, whose sweet innocence
Was almost murder'd; I am penitent,
Wilt thou forgive me? And thou, holy Man,
Good Ethelbert, shall I die in peace with you?
Erminia. Die, my lord!
Ludolph. I feel it possible.
Physician. I fear me he is past my skill.
Otho. Not so!
Ludolph. I see it, I see it I have been wandering
Half-mad not right here I forget my purpose.
Bestir, bestir, Auranthe! ha! ha! ha!
Youngster! Page! go bid them drag her to me!
Obey! This shall finish it! [Draws a dagger.
Otho. O my Son! my Son!
Sigifred. This must not be stop there!
Ludolph. Am I obey'd?
A little talk with her no harm haste ! haste !
Set her before me never fear I can strike.
Several Voices. My Lord! My Lord!
Gersa. Good Prince!
Ludolph. Why do ye trouble me? out-out-out away!
There she is! take that! and that! no, no-
That's not well done Where is she?
The doors open. Enter Page. Several women are seen grouped
about AURANTHE in the inner room.
Page. Alas! My Lord, my Lord! they cannot move her!
Her arms are stiff, her fingers clench'd and cold
Ludolph. She's dead!
[Staggers and jails into their arms.
Ethelbert. Take away the dagger.
Gersa. Softly; so!
Otho. Thank God for that!
Sigifred. I fear it could not harm him.
Gersa. No! brief be his anguish!
Ludolph. She's gone I am content Nobles, good night!
We are all weary faint set ope the doors
I will to bed! To-morrow [Dies.
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
The Odyssey: Book 16
Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd had lit a fire in the hut and
were were getting breakfast ready at daybreak for they had sent the
men out with the pigs. When Telemachus came up, the dogs did not bark,
but fawned upon him, so Ulysses, hearing the sound of feet and
noticing that the dogs did not bark, said to Eumaeus:
"Eumaeus, I hear footsteps; I suppose one of your men or some one of
your acquaintance is coming here, for the dogs are fawning urn him and
The words were hardly out of his mouth before his son stood at the
door. Eumaeus sprang to his feet, and the bowls in which he was mixing
wine fell from his hands, as he made towards his master. He kissed his
head and both his beautiful eyes, and wept for joy. A father could not
be more delighted at the return of an only son, the child of his old
age, after ten years' absence in a foreign country and after having
gone through much hardship. He embraced him, kissed him all over as
though he had come back from the dead, and spoke fondly to him saying:
"So you are come, Telemachus, light of my eyes that you are. When
I heard you had gone to Pylos I made sure I was never going to see you
any more. Come in, my dear child, and sit down, that I may have a good
look at you now you are home again; it is not very often you come into
the country to see us herdsmen; you stick pretty close to the town
generally. I suppose you think it better to keep an eye on what the
suitors are doing."
"So be it, old friend," answered Telemachus, "but I am come now
because I want to see you, and to learn whether my mother is still
at her old home or whether some one else has married her, so that
the bed of Ulysses is without bedding and covered with cobwebs."
"She is still at the house," replied Eumaeus, "grieving and breaking
her heart, and doing nothing but weep, both night and day
As spoke he took Telemachus' spear, whereon he crossed the stone
threshold and came inside. Ulysses rose from his seat to give him
place as he entered, but Telemachus checked him; "Sit down, stranger."
said he, "I can easily find another seat, and there is one here who
will lay it for me."
Ulysses went back to his own place, and Eumaeus strewed some green
brushwood on the floor and threw a sheepskin on top of it for
Telemachus to sit upon. Then the swineherd brought them platters of
cold meat, the remains from what they had eaten the day before, and he
filled the bread baskets with bread as fast as he could. He mixed wine
also in bowls of ivy-wood, and took his seat facing Ulysses. Then they
laid their hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon
as they had had enough to eat and drink Telemachus said to Eumaeus,
"Old friend, where does this stranger come from? How did his crew
bring him to Ithaca, and who were they?-for assuredly he did not
come here by land"'
To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "My son, I will tell
you the real truth. He says he is a Cretan, and that he has been a
great traveller. At this moment he is running away from a
Thesprotian ship, and has refuge at my station, so I will put him into
your hands. Do whatever you like with him, only remember that he is
"I am very much distressed," said Telemachus, "by what you have just
told me. How can I take this stranger into my house? I am as yet
young, and am not strong enough to hold my own if any man attacks
me. My mother cannot make up her mind whether to stay where she is and
look after the house out of respect for public opinion and the
memory of her husband, or whether the time is now come for her to take
the best man of those who are wooing her, and the one who will make
her the most advantageous offer; still, as the stranger has come to
your station I will find him a cloak and shirt of good wear, with a
sword and sandals, and will send him wherever he wants to go. Or if
you like you can keep him here at the station, and I will send him
clothes and food that he may be no burden on you and on your men;
but I will not have him go near the suitors, for they are very
insolent, and are sure to ill-treat him in a way that would greatly
grieve me; no matter how valiant a man may be he can do nothing
against numbers, for they will be too strong for him."
Then Ulysses said, "Sir, it is right that I should say something
myself. I am much shocked about what you have said about the
insolent way in which the suitors are behaving in despite of such a
man as you are. Tell me, do you submit to such treatment tamely, or
has some god set your people against you? May you not complain of your
brothers- for it is to these that a man may look for support,
however great his quarrel may be? I wish I were as young as you are
and in my present mind; if I were son to Ulysses, or, indeed,
Ulysses himself, I would rather some one came and cut my head off, but
I would go to the house and be the bane of every one of these men.
If they were too many for me- I being single-handed- I would rather
die fighting in my own house than see such disgraceful sights day
after day, strangers grossly maltreated, and men dragging the women
servants about the house in an unseemly way, wine drawn recklessly,
and bread wasted all to no purpose for an end that shall never be
And Telemachus answered, "I will tell you truly everything. There is
no emnity between me and my people, nor can I complain of brothers, to
whom a man may look for support however great his quarrel may be. Jove
has made us a race of only sons. Laertes was the only son of
Arceisius, and Ulysses only son of Laertes. I am myself the only son
of Ulysses who left me behind him when he went away, so that I have
never been of any use to him. Hence it comes that my house is in the
hands of numberless marauders; for the chiefs from all the
neighbouring islands, Dulichium, Same, Zacynthus, as also all the
principal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the
pretext of paying court to my mother, who will neither say point blank
that she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end, so they
are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so with
myself into the bargain. The issue, however, rests with heaven. But do
you, old friend Eumaeus, go at once and tell Penelope that I am safe
and have returned from Pylos. Tell it to herself alone, and then
come back here without letting any one else know, for there are many
who are plotting mischief against me."
"I understand and heed you," replied Eumaeus; "you need instruct
me no further, only I am going that way say whether I had not better
let poor Laertes know that you are returned. He used to superintend
the work on his farm in spite of his bitter sorrow about Ulysses,
and he would eat and drink at will along with his servants; but they
tell me that from the day on which you set out for Pylos he has
neither eaten nor drunk as he ought to do, nor does he look after
his farm, but sits weeping and wasting the flesh from off his bones."
"More's the pity," answered Telemachus, "I am sorry for him, but
we must leave him to himself just now. If people could have everything
their own way, the first thing I should choose would be the return
of my father; but go, and give your message; then make haste back
again, and do not turn out of your way to tell Laertes. Tell my mother
to send one of her women secretly with the news at once, and let him
hear it from her."
Thus did he urge the swineherd; Eumaeus, therefore, took his
sandals, bound them to his feet, and started for the town. Minerva
watched him well off the station, and then came up to it in the form
of a woman- fair, stately, and wise. She stood against the side of the
entry, and revealed herself to Ulysses, but Telemachus could not see
her, and knew not that she was there, for the gods do not let
themselves be seen by everybody. Ulysses saw her, and so did the dogs,
for they did not bark, but went scared and whining off to the other
side of the yards. She nodded her head and motioned to Ulysses with
her eyebrows; whereon he left the hut and stood before her outside the
main wall of the yards. Then she said to him:
"Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, it is now time for you to tell
your son: do not keep him in the dark any longer, but lay your plans
for the destruction of the suitors, and then make for the town. I will
not be long in joining you, for I too am eager for the fray."
As she spoke she touched him with her golden wand. First she threw a
fair clean shirt and cloak about his shoulders; then she made him
younger and of more imposing presence; she gave him back his colour,
filled out his cheeks, and let his beard become dark again. Then she
went away and Ulysses came back inside the hut. His son was
astounded when he saw him, and turned his eyes away for fear he
might be looking upon a god.
"Stranger," said he, "how suddenly you have changed from what you
were a moment or two ago. You are dressed differently and your
colour is not the same. Are you some one or other of the gods that
live in heaven? If so, be propitious to me till I can make you due
sacrifice and offerings of wrought gold. Have mercy upon me."
And Ulysses said, "I am no god, why should you take me for one? I am
your father, on whose account you grieve and suffer so much at the
hands of lawless men."
As he spoke he kissed his son, and a tear fell from his cheek on
to the ground, for he had restrained all tears till now. but
Telemachus could not yet believe that it was his father, and said:
"You are not my father, but some god is flattering me with vain
hopes that I may grieve the more hereafter; no mortal man could of
himself contrive to do as you have been doing, and make yourself old
and young at a moment's notice, unless a god were with him. A second
ago you were old and all in rags, and now you are like some god come
down from heaven."
Ulysses answered, "Telemachus, you ought not to be so immeasurably
astonished at my being really here. There is no other Ulysses who will
come hereafter. Such as I am, it is I, who after long wandering and
much hardship have got home in the twentieth year to my own country.
What you wonder at is the work of the redoubtable goddess Minerva, who
does with me whatever she will, for she can do what she pleases. At
one moment she makes me like a beggar, and the next I am a young man
with good clothes on my back; it is an easy matter for the gods who
live in heaven to make any man look either rich or poor."
As he spoke he sat down, and Telemachus threw his arms about his
father and wept. They were both so much moved that they cried aloud
like eagles or vultures with crooked talons that have been robbed of
their half fledged young by peasants. Thus piteously did they weep,
and the sun would have gone down upon their mourning if Telemachus had
not suddenly said, "In what ship, my dear father, did your crew
bring you to Ithaca? Of what nation did they declare themselves to be-
for you cannot have come by land?"
"I will tell you the truth, my son," replied Ulysses. "It was the
Phaeacians who brought me here. They are great sailors, and are in the
habit of giving escorts to any one who reaches their coasts. They took
me over the sea while I was fast asleep, and landed me in Ithaca,
after giving me many presents in bronze, gold, and raiment. These
things by heaven's mercy are lying concealed in a cave, and I am now
come here on the suggestion of Minerva that we may consult about
killing our enemies. First, therefore, give me a list of the
suitors, with their number, that I may learn who, and how many, they
are. I can then turn the matter over in my mind, and see whether we
two can fight the whole body of them ourselves, or whether we must
find others to help us."
To this Telemachus answered, "Father, I have always heard of your
renown both in the field and in council, but the task you talk of is a
very great one: I am awed at the mere thought of it; two men cannot
stand against many and brave ones. There are not ten suitors only, nor
twice ten, but ten many times over; you shall learn their number at
once. There are fifty-two chosen youths from Dulichium, and they
have six servants; from Same there are twenty-four; twenty young
Achaeans from Zacynthus, and twelve from Ithaca itself, all of them
well born. They have with them a servant Medon, a bard, and two men
who can carve at table. If we face such numbers as this, you may
have bitter cause to rue your coming, and your revenge. See whether
you cannot think of some one who would be willing to come and help
"Listen to me," replied Ulysses, "and think whether Minerva and
her father Jove may seem sufficient, or whether I am to try and find
some one else as well."
"Those whom you have named," answered Telemachus, "are a couple of
good allies, for though they dwell high up among the clouds they
have power over both gods and men."
"These two," continued Ulysses, "will not keep long out of the fray,
when the suitors and we join fight in my house. Now, therefore, return
home early to-morrow morning, and go about among the suitors as
before. Later on the swineherd will bring me to the city disguised
as a miserable old beggar. If you see them ill-treating me, steel your
heart against my sufferings; even though they drag me feet foremost
out of the house, or throw things at me, look on and do nothing beyond
gently trying to make them behave more reasonably; but they will not
listen to you, for the day of their reckoning is at hand.
Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart, when Minerva shall
put it in my mind, I will nod my head to you, and on seeing me do this
you must collect all the armour that is in the house and hide it in
the strong store room. Make some excuse when the suitors ask you why
you are removing it; say that you have taken it to be out of the way
of the smoke, inasmuch as it is no longer what it was when Ulysses
went away, but has become soiled and begrimed with soot. Add to this
more particularly that you are afraid Jove may set them on to
quarrel over their wine, and that they may do each other some harm
which may disgrace both banquet and wooing, for the sight of arms
sometimes tempts people to use them. But leave a sword and a spear
apiece for yourself and me, and a couple oxhide shields so that we can
snatch them up at any moment; Jove and Minerva will then soon quiet
these people. There is also another matter; if you are indeed my son
and my blood runs in your veins, let no one know that Ulysses is
within the house- neither Laertes, nor yet the swineherd, nor any of
the servants, nor even Penelope herself. Let you and me exploit the
women alone, and let us also make trial of some other of the men
servants, to see who is on our side and whose hand is against us."
"Father," replied Telemachus, "you will come to know me by and by,
and when you do you will find that I can keep your counsel. I do not
think, however, the plan you propose will turn out well for either
of us. Think it over. It will take us a long time to go the round of
the farms and exploit the men, and all the time the suitors will be
wasting your estate with impunity and without compunction. Prove the
women by all means, to see who are disloyal and who guiltless, but I
am not in favour of going round and trying the men. We can attend to
that later on, if you really have some sign from Jove that he will
Thus did they converse, and meanwhile the ship which had brought
Telemachus and his crew from Pylos had reached the town of Ithaca.
When they had come inside the harbour they drew the ship on to the
land; their servants came and took their armour from them, and they
left all the presents at the house of Clytius. Then they sent a
servant to tell Penelope that Telemachus had gone into the country,
but had sent the ship to the town to prevent her from being alarmed
and made unhappy. This servant and Eumaeus happened to meet when
they were both on the same errand of going to tell Penelope. When they
reached the House, the servant stood up and said to the queen in the
presence of the waiting women, "Your son, Madam, is now returned
from Pylos"; but Eumaeus went close up to Penelope, and said privately
that her son had given bidden him tell her. When he had given his
message he left the house with its outbuildings and went back to his
The suitors were surprised and angry at what had happened, so they
went outside the great wall that ran round the outer court, and held a
council near the main entrance. Eurymachus, son of Polybus, was the
first to speak.
"My friends," said he, "this voyage of Telemachus's is a very
serious matter; we had made sure that it would come to nothing. Now,
however, let us draw a ship into the water, and get a crew together to
send after the others and tell them to come back as fast as they can."
He had hardly done speaking when Amphinomus turned in his place
and saw the ship inside the harbour, with the crew lowering her sails,
and putting by their oars; so he laughed, and said to the others,
"We need not send them any message, for they are here. Some god must
have told them, or else they saw the ship go by, and could not
On this they rose and went to the water side. The crew then drew the
ship on shore; their servants took their armour from them, and they
went up in a body to the place of assembly, but they would not let any
one old or young sit along with them, and Antinous, son of
Eupeithes, spoke first.
"Good heavens," said he, "see how the gods have saved this man
from destruction. We kept a succession of scouts upon the headlands
all day long, and when the sun was down we never went on shore to
sleep, but waited in the ship all night till morning in the hope of
capturing and killing him; but some god has conveyed him home in spite
of us. Let us consider how we can make an end of him. He must not
escape us; our affair is never likely to come off while is alive,
for he is very shrewd, and public feeling is by no means all on our
side. We must make haste before he can call the Achaeans in
assembly; he will lose no time in doing so, for he will be furious
with us, and will tell all the world how we plotted to kill him, but
failed to take him. The people will not like this when they come to
know of it; we must see that they do us no hurt, nor drive us from our
own country into exile. Let us try and lay hold of him either on his
farm away from the town, or on the road hither. Then we can divide
up his property amongst us, and let his mother and the man who marries
her have the house. If this does not please you, and you wish
Telemachus to live on and hold his father's property, then we must not
gather here and eat up his goods in this way, but must make our offers
to Penelope each from his own house, and she can marry the man who
will give the most for her, and whose lot it is to win her."
They all held their peace until Amphinomus rose to speak. He was the
son of Nisus, who was son to king Aretias, and he was foremost among
all the suitors from the wheat-growing and well grassed island of
Dulichium; his conversation, moreover, was more agreeable to
Penelope than that of any of the other for he was a man of good
natural disposition. "My friends," said he, speaking to them plainly
and in all honestly, "I am not in favour of killing Telemachus. It
is a heinous thing to kill one who is of noble blood. Let us first
take counsel of the gods, and if the oracles of Jove advise it, I will
both help to kill him myself, and will urge everyone else to do so;
but if they dissuade us, I would have you hold your hands."
Thus did he speak, and his words pleased them well, so they rose
forthwith and went to the house of Ulysses where they took their
Then Penelope resolved that she would show herself to the suitors.
She knew of the plot against Telemachus, for the servant Medon had
overheard their counsels and had told her; she went down therefore
to the court attended by her maidens, and when she reached the suitors
she stood by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the
cloister holding a veil before her face, and rebuked Antinous saying:
"Antinous, insolent and wicked schemer, they say you are the best
speaker and counsellor of any man your own age in Ithaca, but you
are nothing of the kind. Madman, why should you try to compass the
death of Telemachus, and take no heed of suppliants, whose witness
is Jove himself? It is not right for you to plot thus against one
another. Do you not remember how your father fled to this house in
fear of the people, who were enraged against him for having gone
with some Taphian pirates and plundered the Thesprotians who were at
peace with us? They wanted to tear him in pieces and eat up everything
he had, but Ulysses stayed their hands although they were
infuriated, and now you devour his property without paying for it, and
break my heart by his wooing his wife and trying to kill his son.
Leave off doing so, and stop the others also."
To this Eurymachus son of Polybus answered, "Take heart, Queen
Penelope daughter of Icarius, and do not trouble yourself about
these matters. The man is not yet born, nor never will be, who shall
lay hands upon your son Telemachus, while I yet live to look upon
the face of the earth. I say- and it shall surely be- that my spear
shall be reddened with his blood; for many a time has Ulysses taken me
on his knees, held wine up to my lips to drink, and put pieces of meat
into my hands. Therefore Telemachus is much the dearest friend I have,
and has nothing to fear from the hands of us suitors. Of course, if
death comes to him from the gods, he cannot escape it." He said this
to quiet her, but in reality he was plotting against Telemachus.
Then Penelope went upstairs again and mourned her husband till
Minerva shed sleep over her eyes. In the evening Eumaeus got back to
Ulysses and his son, who had just sacrificed a young pig of a year old
and were ready; helping one another to get supper ready; Minerva
therefore came up to Ulysses, turned him into an old man with a stroke
of her wand, and clad him in his old clothes again, for fear that
the swineherd might recognize him and not keep the secret, but go
and tell Penelope.
Telemachus was the first to speak. "So you have got back,
Eumaeus," said he. "What is the news of the town? Have the suitors
returned, or are they still waiting over yonder, to take me on my
"I did not think of asking about that," replied Eumaeus, "when I was
in the town. I thought I would give my message and come back as soon
as I could. I met a man sent by those who had gone with you to
Pylos, and he was the first to tell the new your mother, but I can say
what I saw with my own eyes; I had just got on to the crest of the
hill of Mercury above the town when I saw a ship coming into harbour
with a number of men in her. They had many shields and spears, and I
thought it was the suitors, but I cannot be sure."
On hearing this Telemachus smiled to his father, but so that Eumaeus
could not see him.
Then, when they had finished their work and the meal was ready, they
ate it, and every man had his full share so that all were satisfied.
As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, they laid down to
rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.
O Bacchus, what a world of toil, both now
And ere these limbs were overworn with age,
Have I endured for thee! First, when thou fled’st
The mountain-nymphs who nursed thee, driven afar
By the strange madness Juno sent upon thee;
Then in the battle of the Sons of Earth,
When I stood foot by foot close to thy side,
No unpropitious fellow-combatant,
And, driving through his shield my winged spear,
Slew vast Enceladus. Consider now,
Is it a dream of which I speak to thee?
By Jove it is not, for you have the trophies!
And now I suffer more than all before.
For when I heard that Juno had devised
A tedious voyage for you, I put to sea
With all my children quaint in search of you,
And I myself stood on the beaked prow
And fixed the naked mast; and all my boys
Leaning upon their oars, with splash and strain
Made white with foam the green and purple sea,--
And so we sought you, king. We were sailing
Near Malea, when an eastern wind arose,
And drove us to this waste Aetnean rock;
The one-eyed children of the Ocean God,
The man-destroying Cyclopses, inhabit,
On this wild shore, their solitary caves,
And one of these, named Polypheme. has caught us
To be his slaves; and so, for all delight
Of Bacchic sports, sweet dance and melody,
We keep this lawless giant’s wandering flocks.
My sons indeed on far declivities,
Young things themselves, tend on the youngling sheep,
But I remain to fill the water-casks,
Or sweeping the hard floor, or ministering
Some impious and abominable meal
To the fell Cyclops. I am wearied of it!
And now I must scrape up the littered floor
With this great iron rake, so to receive
My absent master and his evening sheep
In a cave neat and clean. Even now I see
My children tending the flocks hitherward.
Ha! what is this? are your Sicinnian measures
Even now the same, as when with dance and song
You brought young Bacchus to Althaea’s halls?
CHORUS OF SATYRS:
Where has he of race divine
Wandered in the winding rocks?
Here the air is calm and fine
For the father of the flocks;--
Here the grass is soft and sweet,
And the river-eddies meet
In the trough beside the cave,
Bright as in their fountain wave.--
Neither here, nor on the dew
Of the lawny uplands feeding?
Oh, you come!—a stone at you
Will I throw to mend your breeding;--
Get along, you horned thing,
Wild, seditious, rambling!
An Iacchic melody
To the golden Aphrodite
Will I lift, as erst did I
Seeking her and her delight
With the Maenads, whose white feet
To the music glance and fleet.
Bacchus, O beloved, where,
Shaking wide thy yellow hair,
Wanderest thou alone, afar?
To the one-eyed Cyclops, we,
Who by right thy servants are,
Minister in misery,
In these wretched goat-skins clad,
Far from thy delights and thee.
Be silent, sons; command the slaves to drive
The gathered flocks into the rock-roofed cave.
Go! But what needs this serious haste, O father?
I see a Grecian vessel on the coast,
And thence the rowers with some general
Approaching to this cave.—About their necks
Hang empty vessels, as they wanted food,
And water-flasks.—Oh, miserable strangers!
Whence come they, that they know not what and who
My master is, approaching in ill hour
The inhospitable roof of Polypheme,
And the Cyclopian jaw-bone, man-destroying?
Be silent, Satyrs, while I ask and hear 85
Whence coming, they arrive the Aetnean hill.
Friends, can you show me some clear water-spring,
The remedy of our thirst? Will any one
Furnish with food seamen in want of it?
Ha! what is this? We seem to be arrived
At the blithe court of Bacchus. I observe
This sportive band of Satyrs near the caves.
First let me greet the elder.--Hail!
O Stranger! tell thy country and thy race.
The Ithacan Ulysses and the king
Oh! I know the man,
Wordy and shrewd, the son of Sisyphus.
I am the same, but do not rail upon me.--
Whence sailing do you come to Sicily?
From Ilion, and from the Trojan toils.
How, touched you not at your paternal shore?
The strength of tempests bore me here by force.
The self-same accident occurred to me.
Were you then driven here by stress of weather?
Following the Pirates who had kidnapped Bacchus.
What land is this, and who inhabit it?--
Aetna, the loftiest peak in Sicily.
And are there walls, and tower-surrounded towns?
There are not.--These lone rocks are bare of men.
And who possess the land? the race of beasts?
Cyclops, who live in caverns, not in houses.
Obeying whom? Or is the state popular?
Shepherds: no one obeys any in aught.
How live they? do they sow the corn of Ceres?
On milk and cheese, and on the flesh of sheep.
Have they the Bromian drink from the vine’s stream?
Ah! no; they live in an ungracious land.
And are they just to strangers?—hospitable?
They think the sweetest thing a stranger brings
Is his own flesh.
What! do they eat man’s flesh?
No one comes here who is not eaten up.
The Cyclops now--where is he? Not at home?
Absent on Aetna, hunting with his dogs.
Know’st thou what thou must do to aid us hence?
I know not: we will help you all we can.
Provide us food, of which we are in want.
Here is not anything, as I said, but meat.
But meat is a sweet remedy for hunger.
Cow’s milk there is, and store of curdled cheese.
Bring out:--I would see all before I bargain.
But how much gold will you engage to give?
I bring no gold, but Bacchic juice.
Tis long since these dry lips were wet with wine.
Maron, the son of the God, gave it me.
Whom I have nursed a baby in my arms.
The son of Bacchus, for your clearer knowledge.
Have you it now?—or is it in the ship?
Old man, this skin contains it, which you see.
Why, this would hardly be a mouthful for me.
Nay, twice as much as you can draw from thence.
You speak of a fair fountain, sweet to me.
Would you first taste of the unmingled wine?
’Tis just—tasting invites the purchaser.
Here is the cup, together with the skin.
Pour: that the draught may fillip my remembrance.
Papaiapax! what a sweet smell it has!
You see it then?--
By Jove, no! but I smell it.
Taste, that you may not praise it in words only.
Babai! Great Bacchus calls me forth to dance!
Did it flow sweetly down your throat?
So that it tingled to my very nails.
And in addition I will give you gold.
Let gold alone! only unlock the cask.
Bring out some cheeses now, or a young goat.
That will I do, despising any master.
Yes, let me drink one cup, and I will give
All that the Cyclops feed upon their mountains.
Ye have taken Troy and laid your hands on Helen?
And utterly destroyed the race of Priam.
The wanton wretch! she was bewitched to see
The many-coloured anklets and the chain
Of woven gold which girt the neck of Paris,
And so she left that good man Menelaus.
There should be no more women in the world
But such as are reserved for me alone.--
See, here are sheep, and here are goats, Ulysses,
Here are unsparing cheeses of pressed milk;
Take them; depart with what good speed ye may;
First leaving my reward, the Bacchic dew
Of joy-inspiring grapes.
Ah me! Alas!
What shall we do? the Cyclops is at hand!
Old man, we perish! whither can we fly?
Hide yourselves quick within that hollow rock.
’Twere perilous to fly into the net.
The cavern has recesses numberless;
Hide yourselves quick.
That will I never do!
The mighty Troy would be indeed disgraced
If I should fly one man. How many times
Have I withstood, with shield immovable.
Ten thousand Phrygians!—if I needs must die,
Yet will I die with glory;--if I live,
The praise which I have gained will yet remain.
What, ho! assistance, comrades, haste, assistance!
[THE CYCLOPS, SILENUS, ULYSSES; CHORUS.]
What is this tumult? Bacchus is not here,
Nor tympanies nor brazen castanets.
How are my young lambs in the cavern? Milking
Their dams or playing by their sides? And is
The new cheese pressed into the bulrush baskets?
Speak! I’ll beat some of you till you rain tears--
Look up, not downwards when I speak to you.
See! I now gape at Jupiter himself;
I stare upon Orion and the stars.
Well, is the dinner fitly cooked and laid?
All ready, if your throat is ready too.
Are the bowls full of milk besides?
So you may drink a tunful if you will.
Is it ewe’s milk or cow’s milk, or both mixed?--
Both, either; only pray don’t swallow me.
By no means.--
What is this crowd I see beside the stalls?
Outlaws or thieves? for near my cavern-home
I see my young lambs coupled two by two
With willow bands; mixed with my cheeses lie
Their implements; and this old fellow here
Has his bald head broken with stripes.
I have been beaten till I burn with fever.
By whom? Who laid his fist upon your head?
Those men, because I would not suffer them
To steal your goods.
Did not the rascals know
I am a God, sprung from the race of Heaven?
I told them so, but they bore off your things,
And ate the cheese in spite of all I said,
And carried out the lambs—and said, moreover,
They’d pin you down with a three-cubit collar,
And pull your vitals out through your one eye,
Furrow your back with stripes, then, binding you,
Throw you as ballast into the ship’s hold,
And then deliver you, a slave, to move
Enormous rocks, or found a vestibule.
In truth? Nay, haste, and place in order quickly
The cooking-knives, and heap upon the hearth,
And kindle it, a great faggot of wood.--
As soon as they are slaughtered, they shall fill
My belly, broiling warm from the live coals,
Or boiled and seethed within the bubbling caldron.
I am quite sick of the wild mountain game;
Of stags and lions I have gorged enough,
And I grow hungry for the flesh of men.
Nay, master, something new is very pleasant
After one thing forever, and of late
Very few strangers have approached our cave.
Hear, Cyclops, a plain tale on the other side.
We, wanting to buy food, came from our ship
Into the neighbourhood of your cave, and here
This old Silenus gave us in exchange
These lambs for wine, the which he took and drank,
And all by mutual compact, without force.
There is no word of truth in what he says,
For slyly he was selling all your store.
I? May you perish, wretch--
If I speak false!
Cyclops, I swear by Neptune who begot thee,
By mighty Triton and by Nereus old,
Calypso and the glaucous Ocean Nymphs,
The sacred waves and all the race of fishes--
Be these the witnesses, my dear sweet master,
My darling little Cyclops, that I never
Gave any of your stores to these false strangers;--
If I speak false may those whom most I love,
My children, perish wretchedly!
I saw him giving these things to the strangers.
If I speak false, then may my father perish,
But do not thou wrong hospitality.
You lie! I swear that he is juster far
Than Rhadamanthus--I trust more in him.
But let me ask, whence have ye sailed, O strangers?
Who are you? And what city nourished ye?
Our race is Ithacan--having destroyed
The town of Troy, the tempests of the sea
Have driven us on thy land, O Polypheme.
What, have ye shared in the unenvied spoil
Of the false Helen, near Scamander’s stream?
The same, having endured a woful toil.
Oh, basest expedition! sailed ye not
From Greece to Phrygia for one woman’s sake?
’Twas the Gods’ work—no mortal was in fault.
But, O great Offspring of the Ocean-King,
We pray thee and admonish thee with freedom,
That thou dost spare thy friends who visit thee,
And place no impious food within thy jaws.
For in the depths of Greece we have upreared
Temples to thy great Father, which are all
His homes. The sacred bay of Taenarus
Remains inviolate, and each dim recess
Scooped high on the Malean promontory,
And aery Sunium’s silver-veined crag,
Which divine Pallas keeps unprofaned ever,
The Gerastian asylums, and whate’er
Within wide Greece our enterprise has kept
From Phrygian contumely; and in which
You have a common care, for you inhabit
The skirts of Grecian land, under the roots
Of Aetna and its crags, spotted with fire.
Turn then to converse under human laws,
Receive us shipwrecked suppliants, and provide
Food, clothes, and fire, and hospitable gifts;
Nor fixing upon oxen-piercing spits
Our limbs, so fill your belly and your jaws.
Priam’s wide land has widowed Greece enough;
And weapon-winged murder leaped together
Enough of dead, and wives are husbandless,
And ancient women and gray fathers wail
Their childless age;—if you should roast the rest--
And ’tis a bitter feast that you prepare--
Where then would any turn? Yet be persuaded;
Forgo the lust of your jaw-bone; prefer
Pious humanity to wicked will:
Many have bought too dear their evil joys.
Let me advise you, do not spare a morsel
Of all his flesh. If you should eat his tongue
You would become most eloquent, O Cyclops.
Wealth, my good fellow, is the wise man’s God,
All other things are a pretence and boast.
What are my father’s ocean promontories,
The sacred rocks whereon he dwells, to me?
Stranger, I laugh to scorn Jove’s thunderbolt,
I know not that his strength is more than mine.
As to the rest I care not.—When he pours
Rain from above, I have a close pavilion
Under this rock, in which I lie supine,
Feasting on a roast calf or some wild beast,
And drinking pans of milk, and gloriously
Emulating the thunder of high Heaven.
And when the Thracian wind pours down the snow,
I wrap my body in the skins of beasts,
Kindle a fire, and bid the snow whirl on.
The earth, by force, whether it will or no,
Bringing forth grass, fattens my flocks and herds,
Which, to what other God but to myself
And this great belly, first of deities,
Should I be bound to sacrifice? I well know
The wise man’s only Jupiter is this,
To eat and drink during his little day,
And give himself no care. And as for those
Who complicate with laws the life of man,
I freely give them tears for their reward.
I will not cheat my soul of its delight,
Or hesitate in dining upon you:--
And that I may be quit of all demands,
These are my hospitable gifts;—fierce fire
And yon ancestral caldron, which o’er-bubbling
Shall finely cook your miserable flesh.
Ai! ai! I have escaped the Trojan toils,
I have escaped the sea, and now I fall
Under the cruel grasp of one impious man.
O Pallas, Mistress, Goddess, sprung from Jove,
Now, now, assist me! Mightier toils than Troy
Are these;—I totter on the chasms of peril;--
And thou who inhabitest the thrones
Of the bright stars, look, hospitable Jove,
Upon this outrage of thy deity,
Otherwise be considered as no God!
For your gaping gulf and your gullet wide,
The ravin is ready on every side,
The limbs of the strangers are cooked and done;
There is boiled meat, and roast meat, and meat from the coal,
You may chop it, and tear it, and gnash it for fun,
An hairy goat’s-skin contains the whole.
Let me but escape, and ferry me o’er
The stream of your wrath to a safer shore.
The Cyclops Aetnean is cruel and bold,
He murders the strangers
That sit on his hearth,
And dreads no avengers
To rise from the earth.
He roasts the men before they are cold,
He snatches them broiling from the coal,
And from the caldron pulls them whole,
And minces their flesh and gnaws their bone
With his cursed teeth, till all be gone.
Farewell, foul pavilion:
Farewell, rites of dread!
The Cyclops vermilion,
With slaughter uncloying,
Now feasts on the dead,
In the flesh of strangers joying!
O Jupiter! I saw within the cave
Horrible things; deeds to be feigned in words,
But not to be believed as being done.
What! sawest thou the impious Polypheme
Feasting upon your loved companions now?
Selecting two, the plumpest of the crowd,
He grasped them in his hands.--
Soon as we came into this craggy place,
Kindling a fire, he cast on the broad hearth
The knotty limbs of an enormous oak,
Three waggon-loads at least, and then he strewed
Upon the ground, beside the red firelight,
His couch of pine-leaves; and he milked the cows,
And pouring forth the white milk, filled a bowl
Three cubits wide and four in depth, as much
As would contain ten amphorae, and bound it
With ivy wreaths; then placed upon the fire
A brazen pot to boil, and made red hot
The points of spits, not sharpened with the sickle
But with a fruit tree bough, and with the jaws
Of axes for Aetnean slaughterings.
And when this God-abandoned Cook of Hell
Had made all ready, he seized two of us
And killed them in a kind of measured manner;
For he flung one against the brazen rivets
Of the huge caldron, and seized the other
By the foot’s tendon, and knocked out his brains
Upon the sharp edge of the craggy stone:
Then peeled his flesh with a great cooking-knife
And put him down to roast. The other’s limbs
He chopped into the caldron to be boiled.
And I, with the tears raining from my eyes,
Stood near the Cyclops, ministering to him;
The rest, in the recesses of the cave,
Clung to the rock like bats, bloodless with fear.
When he was filled with my companions’ flesh,
He threw himself upon the ground and sent
A loathsome exhalation from his maw.
Then a divine thought came to me. I filled
The cup of Maron, and I offered him
To taste, and said:—‘Child of the Ocean God,
Behold what drink the vines of Greece produce,
The exultation and the joy of Bacchus.’
He, satiated with his unnatural food,
Received it, and at one draught drank it off,
And taking my hand, praised me:—‘Thou hast given
A sweet draught after a sweet meal, dear guest.’
And I, perceiving that it pleased him, filled
Another cup, well knowing that the wine
Would wound him soon and take a sure revenge.
And the charm fascinated him, and I
Plied him cup after cup, until the drink
Had warmed his entrails, and he sang aloud
In concert with my wailing fellow-seamen
A hideous discord—and the cavern rung.
I have stolen out, so that if you will
You may achieve my safety and your own.
But say, do you desire, or not, to fly
This uncompanionable man, and dwell
As was your wont among the Grecian Nymphs
Within the fanes of your beloved God?
Your father there within agrees to it,
But he is weak and overcome with wine,
And caught as if with bird-lime by the cup,
He claps his wings and crows in doting joy.
You who are young escape with me, and find
Bacchus your ancient friend; unsuited he
To this rude Cyclops.
Oh my dearest friend,
That I could see that day, and leave for ever
The impious Cyclops.
Listen then what a punishment I have
For this fell monster, how secure a flight
From your hard servitude.
O sweeter far
Than is the music of an Asian lyre
Would be the news of Polypheme destroyed.
Delighted with the Bacchic drink he goes
To call his brother Cyclops--who inhabit
A village upon Aetna not far off.
I understand, catching him when alone
You think by some measure to dispatch him,
Or thrust him from the precipice.
Nothing of that kind; my device is subtle.
How then? I heard of old that thou wert wise.
I will dissuade him from this plan, by saying
It were unwise to give the Cyclopses
This precious drink, which if enjoyed alone
Would make life sweeter for a longer time.
When, vanquished by the Bacchic power, he sleeps,
There is a trunk of olive wood within,
Whose point having made sharp with this good sword
I will conceal in fire, and when I see
It is alight, will fix it, burning yet,
Within the socket of the Cyclops’ eye
And melt it out with fire—as when a man
Turns by its handle a great auger round,
Fitting the framework of a ship with beams,
So will I, in the Cyclops’ fiery eye
Turn round the brand and dry the pupil up.
Joy! I am mad with joy at your device.
And then with you, my friends, and the old man,
We’ll load the hollow depth of our black ship,
And row with double strokes from this dread shore.
May I, as in libations to a God,
Share in the blinding him with the red brand?
I would have some communion in his death.
Doubtless: the brand is a great brand to hold.
Oh! I would lift an hundred waggon-loads,
If like a wasp’s nest I could scoop the eye out
Of the detested Cyclops.
Ye know the close device—and when I call,
Look ye obey the masters of the craft.
I will not save myself and leave behind
My comrades in the cave: I might escape,
Having got clear from that obscure recess,
But ’twere unjust to leave in jeopardy
The dear companions who sailed here with me.
Come! who is first, that with his hand
Will urge down the burning brand
Through the lids, and quench and pierce
The Cyclops’ eye so fiery fierce?
SEMICHORUS 1 [SONG WITHIN]:
Listen! listen! he is coming,
A most hideous discord humming.
Drunken, museless, awkward, yelling,
Far along his rocky dwelling;
Let us with some comic spell
Teach the yet unteachable.
By all means he must be blinded,
If my counsel be but minded.
Happy thou made odorous
With the dew which sweet grapes weep,
To the village hastening thus,
Seek the vines that soothe to sleep;
Having first embraced thy friend,
Thou in luxury without end,
With the strings of yellow hair,
Of thy voluptuous leman fair,
Shalt sit playing on a bed!--
Speak! what door is opened?
Ha! ha! ha! I’m full of wine,
Heavy with the joy divine,
With the young feast oversated;
Like a merchant’s vessel freighted
To the water’s edge, my crop
Is laden to the gullet’s top.
The fresh meadow grass of spring
Tempts me forth thus wandering
To my brothers on the mountains,
Who shall share the wine’s sweet fountains.
Bring the cask, O stranger, bring!
One with eyes the fairest
Cometh from his dwelling;
Some one loves thee, rarest
Bright beyond my telling.
In thy grace thou shinest
Like some nymph divinest
In her caverns dewy:--
All delights pursue thee,
Soon pied flowers, sweet-breathing,
Shall thy head be wreathing.
Listen, O Cyclops, for I am well skilled
In Bacchus, whom I gave thee of to drink.
What sort of God is Bacchus then accounted?
The greatest among men for joy of life.
I gulped him down with very great delight.
This is a God who never injures men.
How does the God like living in a skin?
He is content wherever he is put.
Gods should not have their body in a skin.
If he gives joy, what is his skin to you?
I hate the skin, but love the wine within.
Stay here now: drink, and make your spirit glad.
Should I not share this liquor with my brothers?
Keep it yourself, and be more honoured so.
I were more useful, giving to my friends.
But village mirth breeds contests, broils, and blows.
When I am drunk none shall lay hands on me.--
A drunken man is better within doors.
He is a fool, who drinking, loves not mirth.
But he is wise, who drunk, remains at home.
What shall I do, Silenus? Shall I stay?
Stay—for what need have you of pot companions?
Indeed this place is closely carpeted
With flowers and grass.
And in the sun-warm noon
’Tis sweet to drink. Lie down beside me now,
Placing your mighty sides upon the ground.
What do you put the cup behind me for?
That no one here may touch it.
You want to drink;--here place it in the midst.
And thou, O stranger, tell how art thou called?
My name is Nobody. What favour now
Shall I receive to praise you at your hands?
I’ll feast on you the last of your companions.
You grant your guest a fair reward, O Cyclops.
Ha! what is this? Stealing the wine, you rogue!
It was this stranger kissing me because
I looked so beautiful.
You shall repent
For kissing the coy wine that loves you not.
By Jupiter! you said that I am fair.
Pour out, and only give me the cup full.
How is it mixed? let me observe.
Give it me so.
Not till I see you wear
That coronal, and taste the cup to you.
Thou wily traitor!
But the wine is sweet.
Ay, you will roar if you are caught in drinking.
See now, my lip is clean and all my beard.
Now put your elbow right and drink again.
As you see me drink--...
Ye Gods, what a delicious gulp!
Guest, take it;--you pour out the wine for me.
The wine is well accustomed to my hand.
Pour out the wine!
I pour; only be silent.
Silence is a hard task to him who drinks.
Take it and drink it off; leave not a dreg.
Oh that the drinker died with his own draught!
Papai! the vine must be a sapient plant.
If you drink much after a mighty feast,
Moistening your thirsty maw, you will sleep well;
If you leave aught, Bacchus will dry you up.
Ho! ho! I can scarce rise. What pure delight!
The heavens and earth appear to whirl about
Confusedly. I see the throne of Jove
And the clear congregation of the Gods.
Now if the Graces tempted me to kiss
I would not—for the loveliest of them all
I would not leave this Ganymede.
I am the Ganymede of Jupiter.
By Jove, you are; I bore you off from Dardanus.
[ULYSSES AND THE CHORUS.]
Come, boys of Bacchus, children of high race,
This man within is folded up in sleep,
And soon will vomit flesh from his fell maw;
The brand under the shed thrusts out its smoke,
No preparation needs, but to burn out
The monster’s eye;—but bear yourselves like men.
We will have courage like the adamant rock,
All things are ready for you here; go in,
Before our father shall perceive the noise.
Vulcan, Aetnean king! burn out with fire
The shining eye of this thy neighbouring monster!
And thou, O Sleep, nursling of gloomy Night,
Descend unmixed on this God-hated beast,
And suffer not Ulysses and his comrades,
Returning from their famous Trojan toils,
To perish by this man, who cares not either
For God or mortal; or I needs must think
That Chance is a supreme divinity,
And things divine are subject to her power.
Soon a crab the throat will seize
Of him who feeds upon his guest,
Fire will burn his lamp-like eyes
In revenge of such a feast!
A great oak stump now is lying
In the ashes yet undying.
Come, Maron, come!
Raging let him fix the doom,
Let him tear the eyelid up
Of the Cyclops—that his cup
May be evil!
Oh! I long to dance and revel
With sweet Bromian, long desired,
In loved ivy wreaths attired;
Leaving this abandoned home--
Will the moment ever come?
Be silent, ye wild things! Nay, hold your peace,
And keep your lips quite close; dare not to breathe,
Or spit, or e’en wink, lest ye wake the monster,
Until his eye be tortured out with fire.
Nay, we are silent, and we chaw the air.
Come now, and lend a hand to the great stake
Within—it is delightfully red hot.
You then command who first should seize the stake
To burn the Cyclops’ eye, that all may share
In the great enterprise.
We are too far;
We cannot at this distance from the door
Thrust fire into his eye.
And we just now
Have become lame! cannot move hand or foot.
The same thing has occurred to us,--our ankles
Are sprained with standing here, I know not how.
What, sprained with standing still?
And there is dust
Or ashes in our eyes, I know not whence.
Cowardly dogs! ye will not aid me then?
With pitying my own back and my back-bone,
And with not wishing all my teeth knocked out,
This cowardice comes of itself—but stay,
I know a famous Orphic incantation
To make the brand stick of its own accord
Into the skull of this one-eyed son of Earth.
Of old I knew ye thus by nature; now
I know ye better.—I will use the aid
Of my own comrades. Yet though weak of hand
Speak cheerfully, that so ye may awaken
The courage of my friends with your blithe words.
This I will do with peril of my life,
And blind you with my exhortations, Cyclops.
Hasten and thrust,
And parch up to dust,
The eye of the beast
Who feeds on his guest.
Burn and blind
The Aetnean hind!
Scoop and draw,
But beware lest he claw
Your limbs near his maw.
Ah me! my eyesight is parched up to cinders.
What a sweet paean! sing me that again!
Ah me! indeed, what woe has fallen upon me!
But, wretched nothings, think ye not to flee
Out of this rock; I, standing at the outlet,
Will bar the way and catch you as you pass.
What are you roaring out, Cyclops?
For you are wicked.
And besides miserable.
What, did you fall into the fire when drunk?
’Twas Nobody destroyed me.
Why then no one
Can be to blame.
I say ’twas Nobody
Who blinded me.
Why then you are not blind.
I wish you were as blind as I am.
It cannot be that no one made you blind.
You jeer me; where, I ask, is Nobody?
Nowhere, O Cyclops.
It was that stranger ruined me:--the wretch
First gave me wine and then burned out my eye,
For wine is strong and hard to struggle with.
Have they escaped, or are they yet within?
They stand under the darkness of the rock
And cling to it.
At my right hand or left?
Close on your right.
CHORUS:Near the rock itself.
You have them.
Oh, misfortune on misfortune!
I’ve cracked my skull.
Now they escape you--there.
Not there, although you say so.
Not on that side.
They creep about you on your left.
Ah! I am mocked! They jeer me in my ills.
Not there! he is a little there beyond you.
Detested wretch! where are you?
Far from you
I keep with care this body of Ulysses.
What do you say? You proffer a new name.
My father named me so; and I have taken
A full revenge for your unnatural feast;
I should have done ill to have burned down Troy
And not revenged the murder of my comrades.
Ai! ai! the ancient oracle is accomplished;
It said that I should have my eyesight blinded
By your coming from Troy, yet it foretold
That you should pay the penalty for this
By wandering long over the homeless sea.
I bid thee weep—consider what I say;
I go towards the shore to drive my ship
To mine own land, o’er the Sicilian wave.
Not so, if, whelming you with this huge stone,
I can crush you and all your men together;
I will descend upon the shore, though blind,
Groping my way adown the steep ravine.
And we, the shipmates of Ulysses now,
Will serve our Bacchus all our happy lives.
(A SATYRIC DRAMA TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK OF EURIPIDES./Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824; dated 1819. Amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian there is a copy, 'practically complete,' which has been collated by Mr. C.D. Locock. See “Examination”, etc., 1903, pages 64-70. 'Though legible throughout, and comparatively free from corrections, it has the appearance of being a first draft' (Locock).)
The Great Hunger
Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move
Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men.
If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove
Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book
Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs
And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.
Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?
Or why do we stand here shivering?
Which of these men
Loved the light and the queen
Too long virgin? Yesterday was summer. Who was it promised marriage to himself
Before apples were hung from the ceilings for Hallowe'en?
We will wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain,
Till the last soul passively like a bag of wet clay
Rolls down the side of the hill, diverted by the angles
Where the plough missed or a spade stands, straitening the way.
A dog lying on a torn jacket under a heeled-up cart,
A horse nosing along the posied headland, trailing
A rusty plough. Three heads hanging between wide-apart legs.
October playing a symphony on a slack wire paling.
Maguire watches the drills flattened out
And the flints that lit a candle for him on a June altar
Flameless. The drills slipped by and the days slipped by
And he trembled his head away and ran free from the world's halter,
And thought himself wiser than any man in the townland
When he laughed over pints of porter
Of how he came free from every net spread
In the gaps of experience. He shook a knowing head
And pretended to his soul
That children are tedious in hurrying fields of April
Where men are spanning across wide furrows.
Lost in the passion that never needs a wife
The pricks that pricked were the pointed pins of harrows.
Children scream so loud that the crows could bring
The seed of an acre away with crow-rude jeers.
Patrick Maguire, he called his dog and he flung a stone in the air
And hallooed the birds away that were the birds of the years.
Turn over the weedy clods and tease out the tangled skeins.
What is he looking for there?
He thinks it is a potato, but we know better
Than his mud-gloved fingers probe in this insensitive hair.
'Move forward the basket and balance it steady
In this hollow. Pull down the shafts of that cart, Joe,
And straddle the horse,' Maguire calls.
'The wind's over Brannagan's, now that means rain.
Graip up some withered stalks and see that no potato falls
Over the tail-board going down the ruckety pass -
And that's a job we'll have to do in December,
Gravel it and build a kerb on the bog-side. Is that Cassidy's ass
Out in my clover? Curse o' God
Where is that dog?.
Never where he's wanted' Maguire grunts and spits
Through a clay-wattled moustache and stares about him from the height.
His dream changes like the cloud-swung wind
And he is not so sure now if his mother was right
When she praised the man who made a field his bride.
Watch him, watch him, that man on a hill whose spirit
Is a wet sack flapping about the knees of time.
He lives that his little fields may stay fertile when his own body
Is spread in the bottom of a ditch under two coulters crossed in Christ's Name.
He was suspicious in his youth as a rat near strange bread,
When girls laughed; when they screamed he knew that meant
The cry of fillies in season. He could not walk
The easy road to destiny. He dreamt
The innocence of young brambles to hooked treachery.
O the grip, O the grip of irregular fields! No man escapes.
It could not be that back of the hills love was free
And ditches straight.
No monster hand lifted up children and put down apes
'O God if I had been wiser!'
That was his sigh like the brown breeze in the thistles.
He looks, towards his house and haggard. 'O God if I had been wiser!'
But now a crumpled leaf from the whitethorn bushes
Darts like a frightened robin, and the fence
Shows the green of after-grass through a little window,
And he knows that his own heart is calling his mother a liar
God's truth is life - even the grotesque shapes of his foulest fire.
The horse lifts its head and cranes
Through the whins and stones
To lip late passion in the crawling clover.
In the gap there's a bush weighted with boulders like morality,
The fools of life bleed if they climb over.
The wind leans from Brady's, and the coltsfoot leaves are holed with rust,
Rain fills the cart-tracks and the sole-plate grooves;
A yellow sun reflects in Donaghmoyne
The poignant light in puddles shaped by hooves.
Come with me, Imagination, into this iron house
And we will watch from the doorway the years run back,
And we will know what a peasant's left hand wrote on the page.
Be easy, October. No cackle hen, horse neigh, tree sough, duck quack.
Maguiire was faithful to death:
He stayed with his mother till she died
At the age of ninety-one.
She stayed too long,
Wife and mother in one.
When she died
The knuckle-bones were cutting the skin of her son's backside
And he was sixty-five.
O he loved his mother
Above all others.
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the bank of some summer stream;
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
And two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh.
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an appearance.
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.
Poor Paddy Maguire, a fourteen-hour day
He worked for years. It was he that lit the fire
And boiled the kettle and gave the cows their hay.
His mother tall hard as a Protestant spire
Came down the stairs barefoot at the kettle-call
And talked to her son sharply: 'Did you let
The hens out, you?' She had a venomous drawl
And a wizened face like moth-eaten leatherette.
Two black cats peeped between the banisters
And gloated over the bacon-fizzling pan.
Outside the window showed tin canisters.
The snipe of Dawn fell like a whirring stone
And Patrick on a headland stood alone.
The pull is on the traces, it is March
And a cold black wind is blowing from Dundalk.
The twisting sod rolls over on her back
The virgin screams before the irresistible sock.
No worry on Maguire's mind this day
Except that he forgot to bring his matches.
'Hop back there Polly, hoy back, woa, wae,
From every second hill a neighbour watches
With all the sharpened interest of rivalry.
Yet sometimes when the sun comes through a gap
These men know God the Father in a tree:
The Holy Spirit is the rising sap,
And Christ will be the green leaves that will come
At Easter from the sealed and guarded tomb.
Primroses and the unearthly start of ferns
Among the blackthorn shadows in the ditch,
A dead sparrow and an old waistcoat. Maguire learns
As the horses turn slowly round the which is which
Of love and fear and things half born to mind
He stands between the plough-handles and he sees
At the end of a long furrow his name signed
Among the poets, prostitutes. With all miseries
He is one. Here with the unfortunate
Who for half-moments of paradise
Pay out good days and wait and wait
For sunlight-woven cloaks. O to be wise
As Respectability that knows the price of all things
And marks God's truth in pounds and pence and farthings.
April, and no one able to calculate
How far it is to harvest. They put down
The seeds blindly with sensuous groping fingers
And sensual dreams sleep dreams subtly underground.
Tomorrow is Wednesday - who cares?
'Remember Eileen Farrelly? I was thinking
A man might do a damned sight worse …' That voice is blown
Through a hole in a garden wall -
And who was Eileen now cannot be known.
The cattle are out on grass
The corn is coming up evenly.
The farm folk are hurrying to catch Mass:
Christ will meet them at the end of the world, the slow and the speedier.
But the fields say: only Time can bless.
Maguire knelt beside a pillar where he could spit
Without being seen. He turned an old prayer round:
'Jesus, Mary, Joseph pray for us
Now and at the Hour.' Heaven dazzled death.
'Wonder should I cross-plough that turnip-ground.'
The tension broke. The congregation lifted it head
As one man and coughed in unison.
Five hundred hearts were hungry for life-
Who lives in Christ shall never die the death.
And the candle-lit Altar and the flowers
And the pregnant Tabernacle lifted a moment to Prophecy
Out of the clayey hours
Maguire sprinkled his face with holy water
As the congregation stood up for the Last Gospel.
He rubbed the dust off his knees with his palm, and then
Coughed the prayer phlegm up from his throat and sighed: Amen.
Once one day in June when he was walking
Among his cattle in the Yellow Meadow
He met a girl carrying a basket
And he was then a young and heated fellow.
Too earnest, too earnest! He rushed beyond the thing
To the unreal. And he saw Sin
Written in letters larger than John Bunyan dreamt of.
For the strangled impulse there is no redemption.
And that girl was gone and he was counting
The dangers in the fields where love ranted
He was helpless. He saw his cattle
And stroked their flanks in lieu of wife to handle.
He would have changed the circle if he could,
The circle that was the grass track where he ran.
Twenty times a day he ran round the field
And still there was no winning-post where the runner is cheered home.
Desperately he broke the tune,
But however he tried always the same melody lept up from the background,
The dragging step of a ploughman going home through the guttery
Headlands under an April-watery moon.
Religion, the fields and the fear of the Lord
And Ignorance giving him the coward's blow,
He dared not rise to pluck the fantasies
From the fruited Tree of Life. He bowed his head
And saw a wet weed twined about his toe.
Evening at the cross-roads -
Heavy heads nodding out words as wise
As the ruminations of cows after milking.
From the ragged road surface a boy picks up
A piece of gravel and stares at it-and then
Tosses it across the elm tree on to the railway.
He means nothing.
Not a damn thing
Somebody is coming over the metal railway bridge
And his hobnailed boots on the arches sound like a gong
Calling men awake. But the bridge is too narrow -
The men lift their heads a moment. That was only John,
So they dream on.
Night in the elms, night in the grass.
O we are too tired to go home yet. Two cyclists pass
Talking loudly of Kitty and Molly?
Horses or women? wisdom or folly?
A door closes on an evicted dog
Where prayers begin in Barney Meegan's kitchen :
Rosie curses the cat between her devotions;
The daughter prays that she may have three wishes -
Health and wealth and love -
From the fairy who is faith or hope or compounds of.
At the cross-roads the crowd had thinned out:
Last words were uttered. There is no to-morrow;
No future but only time stretched for the mowing of the hay
Or putting an axle in the turf-barrow.
Patrick Maguire went home and made cocoa
And broke a chunk off the loaf of wheaten bread;
His mother called down to him to look again
And make sure that the hen-house was locked. His sister grunted in bed
The sound of a sow taking up a new position.
Pat opened his trousers wide over the ashes
And dreamt himself to lewd sleepiness.
The clock ticked on. Time passes.
Health and wealth and love he too dreamed of in May
As he sat on the railway slope and watched the children of the place
Picking up a primrose here and a daisy there -
They were picking up life's truth singly.
But he dreamt of the Absolute envased bouquet -
AIl or nothing. And it was nothing. For God is not all
In one place, complete
Till Hope comes in and takes it on his shoulder -
O Christ, that is what you have done for us:
In a crumb of bread the whole mystery is.
He read the symbol too sharply and turned
From the five simple doors of sense
To the door whose combination lock has puzzled
Philosopher and priest and common dunce.
Men build their heavens as they build their circles
Of friends. God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday -
A kiss here and a laugh again, and sometimes tears,
A pearl necklace round the neck of poverty.
He sat on the railway slope and watched the evening,
Too beautifully perfect to use,
And his three wishes were three stones too sharp to sit on,
Too hard to carve. Three frozen idols of a speechless muse.
'Now go to Mass and pray and confess your sins
And you'll have all the luck,' his mother said.
He listened to the lie that is a woman's screen
Around a conscience when soft thighs are spread.
And all the while she was setting up the lie
She trusted in Nature that never deceives.
But her son took it as literal truth.
Religion's walls expand to the push of nature. Morality yields
To sense - but not in little tillage fields.
Life went on like that. One summer morning
Again through a hay-field on her way to the shop -
The grass was wet and over-leaned the path -
And Agnes held her skirts sensationally up,
And not because the grass was wet either.
A man was watching her, Patrick Maguire.
She was in love with passion and its weakness
And the wet grass could never cool the fire
That radiated from her unwanted womb in that metaphysical land
Where flesh was thought more spiritual than music
Among the stars - out of reach of the peasant's hand.
Ah, but the priest was one of the people too -
A farmers son - and surely he knew
The needs of a brother and sister.
Religion could not be a counter-irritant like a blister,
But the certain standard, measured and known
By which man might re-make his soul though all walls were down
And all earth's pedestalled gods thrown.
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He didn't care a damn.
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head
And inconsequently sang.
While his world withered away,
He had a cigarette to smoke and a pound to spend
On drink the next Saturday.
His cattle were fat
And his horses all that
Midsummer grass could make them.
The young women ran wild
And dreamed of a child
Joy dreams though the fathers might forsake them
But no one would take them;
No man could ever see
That their skirts had loosed buttons,
O the men were as blind as could be.
And Patrick Maguire
From his. purgatory fire
Called the gods of the Christian to prove
That this twisted skein
Was the necessary pain
And not the rope that was strangling true love.
But sitting on a wooden gate
Sometime in July
When he was thirty-four or five
He gloried in the lie:
He made it read the way it should,
He made life read the evil good
While he cursed the ascetic brotherhood
Without knowing why.
Sitting on a wooden gate
All, all alone
He sang and laughed
Like a man quite daft,
Or like a man on a channel raft
He fantasied forth his groan.
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He rode in day-dream cars.
He locked his body with his knees
When the gate swung too much in the breeze.
But while he caught high ecstasies
Life slipped between the bars.
He gave himself another year,
Something was bound to happen before then -
The circle would break down
And he would carve the new one to his own will.
A new rhythm is a new life
And in it marriage is hung and money.
He would be a new man walking through unbroken meadows
Of dawn in the year of One.
The poor peasant talking to himself in a stable door
An ignorant peasant deep in dung.
What can the passers-by think otherwise?
Where is his silver bowl of knowledge hung?
Why should men be asked to believe in a soul
That is only the mark of a hoof in guttery gaps?
A man is what is written on the label.
And the passing world stares but no one stops
To look closer. So back to the growing crops
And the ridges he never loved.
Nobody will ever know how much tortured poetry the pulled weeds on the ridge wrote
Before they withered in the July sun,
Nobody will ever read the wild, sprawling, scrawling mad woman's signature,
The hysteria and the boredom of the enclosed nun of his thought.
Like the afterbirth of a cow stretched on a branch in the wind
Life dried in the veins of these women and men:
'The grey and grief and unloved,
The bones in the backs of their hands,
And the chapel pressing its low ceiling over them.
Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight,
A narrow slice of divine instruction.
Going along the river at the bend of Sunday
The trout played in the pools encouragement
To jump in love though death bait the hook.
And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes.
Stretch-legged and lingering staring -
A man might take one of them if he had the courage.
But 'No' was in every sentence of their story
Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece.
The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes
On rocks in the middle of ploughing
Was a bright spoke in the wheel
Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at -
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again.
Talk in evening corners and under trees
Was like an old book found in a king's tomb.
The children gathered round like students and listened
And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb
And was not blown.
Their intellectual life consisted in reading
Reynolds News or the Sunday Dispatch,
With sometimes an old almanac brought down from the ceiling
Or a school reader brown with the droppings of thatch.
The sporting results or the headlines of war
Was a humbug profound as the highbrow's Arcana.
Pat tried to be wise to the abstraction of all that
But its secret dribbled down his waistcoat like a drink from a strainer.
He wagered a bob each way on the Derby,
He got a straight tip from a man in a shop -
A double from the Guineas it was and thought himself
A master mathematician when one of them came up
And he could explain how much he'd have drawn
On the double if the second leg had followed the first.
He was betting on form and breeding, he claimed,
And the man that did that could never be burst.
After that they went on to the war, and the generals
On both sides were shown to be stupid as hell.
If he'd taken that road, they remarked of a Marshal,
He'd have … O they know their geography well
This was their university. Maguire was an undergraduate
Who dreamed from his lowly position of rising
To a professorship like Larry McKenna or Duffy
Or the pig-gelder Nallon whose knowledge was amazing.
'A treble, full multiple odds … That's flat porter …
Another one … No, you're wrong about that thing I was telling you. .
Did you part with your filly, Jack? I heard that you sold her.…'
The students were all savants by the time of pub-close.
A year passed and another hurried after it
And Patrick Maguire was still six months behind life -
His mother six months ahead of it;
His sister straddle-legged across it: -
One leg in hell and the other in heaven
And between the purgatory of middle-aged virginity -
She prayed for release to heaven or hell.
His mother's voice grew thinner like a rust-worn knife
But it cut venomously as it thinned,
It cut him up the middle till he became more woman than man,
And it cut through to his mind before the end.
Another field whitened in the April air
And the harrows rattled over the seed.
He gathered the loose stones off the ridges carefully
And grumbled to his men to hurry. He looked like a man who could give advice
To foolish young fellows. He was forty-seven,
And there was depth in his jaw and his voice was the voice of a great cattle-dealer,
A man with whom the fair-green gods break even.
'I think I ploughed that lea the proper depth,
She ought to give a crop if any land gives …
Drive slower with the foal-mare, Joe.'
Joe, a young man of imagined wives,
Smiles to himself and answered like a slave:
'You needn't fear or fret.
I'm taking her as easy, as easy as …
Easy there Fanny, easy, pet.'
They loaded the day-scoured implements on the cart
As the shadows of poplars crookened the furrows.
It was the evening, evening. Patrick was forgetting to be lonely
As he used to be in Aprils long ago.
It was the menopause, the misery-pause.
The schoolgirls passed his house laughing every morning
And sometimes they spoke to him familiarly -
He had an idea. Schoolgirls of thirteen
Would see no political intrigue in an old man's friendship.
The heifer waiting to be nosed by the old bull.
That notion passed too - there was the danger of talk
And jails are narrower than the five-sod ridge
And colder than the black hills facing Armagh in February.
He sinned over the warm ashes again and his crime
The law's long arm could not serve with time.
His face set like an old judge's pose:
Respectability and righteousness,
Stand for no nonsense.
The priest from the altar called Patrick Maguire's name
To hold the collecting-box in the chapel door
During all the Sundays of May.
His neighbours envied him his holy rise,
But he walked down from the church with affected indifference
And took the measure of heaven angle-wise.
He still could laugh and sing,
But not the wild laugh or the abandoned harmony now
That called the world to new silliness from the top of a wooden gate
When thirty-five could take the sparrow's bow.
Let us be kind, let us be kind and sympathetic:
Maybe life is not for joking or for finding happiness in -
This tiny light in Oriental Darkness
Looking out chance windows of poetry or prayer.
And the grief and defeat of men like these peasants
Is God's way - maybe - and we must not want too much
The twisted thread is stronger than the wind-swept fleece.
And in the end who shall rest in truth's high peace?
Or whose is the world now, even now?
O let us kneel where the blind ploughman kneels
And learn to live without despairing
In a mud-walled space -
Illiterate unknown and unknowing.
Let us kneel where he kneels
And feel what he feels.
One day he saw a daisy and he thought it
Reminded him of his childhood -
He stopped his cart to look at it.
Was there a fairy hiding behind it?
He helped a poor woman whose cow
Had died on her;
He dragged home a drunken man on a winter's night
And one rare moment he heard the young people playing on the railway stile
And he wished them happiness and whatever they most desired from life.
He saw the sunlight and begrudged no man
His share of what the miserly soil and soul
Gives in a season to a ploughman.
And he cried for his own loss one late night on the pillow
And yet thanked the God who had arranged these things.
Was he then a saint?
A Matt Talbot of Monaghan?
His sister Mary Anne spat poison at the children
Who sometimes came to the door selling raffle tickets
For holy funds.
'Get out, you little tramps!' she would scream
As she shook to the hens an armful of crumbs,
But Patrick often put his hand deep down
In his trouser-pocket and fingered out a penny
Or maybe a tobacco-stained caramel.
'You're soft,' said the sister; 'with other people's money
It's not a bit funny.'
The cards are shuffled and the deck
Laid flat for cutting - Tom Malone
Cut for trump. I think we'll make
This game, the last, a tanner one.
Hearts. Right. I see you're breaking
Your two-year-old. Play quick, Maguire,
The clock there says it's half-past ten -
Kate, throw another sod on that fire.
One of the card-players laughs and spits
Into the flame across a shoulder.
Outside, a noise like a rat
Among the hen-roosts.
The cock crows over
The frosted townland of the night.
Eleven o'clock and still the game
Goes on and the players seem to be
Drunk in an Orient opium den.
Midnight, one o'clock, two.
Somebody's leg has fallen asleep.
What about home? Maguire, are you
Using your double-tree this week?
Why? do you want it? Play the ace.
There's it, and that's the last card for me.
A wonderful night, we had. Duffy's place
Is very convenient. Is that a ghost or a tree?
And so they go home with dragging feet
And their voices rumble like laden carts.
And they are happy as the dead or sleeping …
I should have led that ace of hearts.
The fields were bleached white,
The wooden tubs full of water
Were white in the winds
That blew through Brannagan's Gap on their way from Siberia;
The cows on the grassless heights .
Followed the hay that had wings -
The February fodder that hung itself on the black branches
Of the hill-top hedge.
A man stood beside a potato-pit
And clapped his arms
And pranced on the crisp roots
And shouted to warm himself.
Then he buck-leaped about the potatoes
And scooped them into a basket.
He looked like a bucking suck-calf
Whose spine was being tickled.
Sometimes he stared across the bogs
And sometimes he straightened his back and vaguely whistled
A tune that weakened his spirit
And saddened his terrier dog's.
A neighbour passed with a spade on his shoulder
And Patrick Maguire bent like a bridge
Whistled-good morning under his oxter
And the man the other side of the hedge
Champed his spade on the road at his toes
And talked an old sentimentality
While the wind blew under his clothes.
The mother sickened and stayed in bed all day,
Her head hardly dented the pillow, so light and thin it had worn,
But she still enquired after the household affairs.
She held the strings of her children's Punch and Judy, and when a mouth opened
It was her truth that the dolls would have spoken
If they hadn't been made of wood and tin -
'Did you open the barn door, Pat, to let the young calves in?'
The priest called to see her every Saturday
And she told him her troubles and fears:
'If Mary Anne was settled I'd die in peace -
I'm getting on in years.'
'You were a good woman,' said the priest,
'And your children will miss you when you're gone.
The likes of you this parish never knew,
I'm sure they'll not forget the work you've done.'
She reached five bony crooks under the tick -
'Five pounds for Masses - won't you say them quick.'
She died one morning in the beginning of May
And a shower of sparrow-notes was the litany for her dying.
The holy water was sprinkled on the bed-clothes
And her children stood around the bed and cried because it was too late for crying.
A mother dead! The tired sentiment:
'Mother, Mother' was a shallow pool
Where sorrow hardly could wash its feet …
Mary Anne came away from the deathbed and boiled the calves their gruel.
'O what was I doing when the procession passed?
Where was I looking? Young women and men
And I might have joined them.
Who bent the coin of my destiny
That it stuck in the slot?
I remember a night we walked
Through the moon of Donaghmoyne,
Four of us seeking adventure,
It was midsummer forty years ago.
Now I know
The moment that gave the turn to my life.
O Christ! I am locked in a stable with pigs and cows for ever.
The world looks on
And talks of the peasant:
The peasant has no worries;
In his little lyrical fields He ploughs and sows;
He eats fresh food,
He loves fresh women, He is his own master
As it was in the Beginning
The simpleness of peasant life.
The birds that sing for him are eternal choirs ,
Everywhere he walks there are flowers.
His heart is pure, His mind is clear,
He can talk to God as Moses and Isaiah talked
The peasant who is only one remove from the beasts he drives. '
'The travellers stop their cars to gape over the green bank into his fields: -
There is the source from which all cultures rise,
And all religions,
There is the pool in which the poet dips
And the musician.
Without the peasant base civilisation must die,
Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer's singing is useless.
The travellers touch the roots of the grass and feel renewed
When they grasp the steering wheels again.
The peasant is the unspoiled child of Prophecy,
The peasant is all virtues - let us salute him without irony
The peasant ploughman who is half a vegetable -
Who can react to sun and rain and sometimes even
Regret that the Maker of Light had not touched him more intensely.
Brought him up from the sub-soil to an existence
Of conscious joy. He was not born blind.
He is not always blind: sometimes the cataract yields
To sudden stone-falling or the desire to breed.
The girls pass along the roads
And he can remember what man is,
But there is nothing he can do.
Is there nothing he can do?
Is there no escape?
No escape, no escape.
The cows and horses breed,
And the potato-seed
Gives a bud and a root and rots
In the good mother's way with her sons;
The fledged bird is thrown
From the nest - on its own.
But the peasant in his little acres is tied
To a mother's womb by the wind-toughened navel-cord
Like a goat tethered to the stump of a tree -
He circles around and around wondering why it should be.
No crash, No drama.
That was how his life happened.
No mad hooves galloping in the sky,
But the weak, washy way of true tragedy -
A sick horse nosing around the meadow for a clean place to die.
We may come out in the October reality, Imagination,
The sleety wind no longer slants to the black hill where Maguire
And his men are now collecting the scattered harness and baskets.
The dog sitting on a wisp of dry stalks
Watches them through the shadows.
'Back in, back in.' One talks to the horse as to a brother.
Maguire himself is patting a potato-pit against the weather -
An old man fondling a new-piled grave:
'Joe, I hope you didn't forget to hide the spade .
For there's rogues in the townland.
Hide it flat in a furrow.
I think we ought to be finished by to-morrow.
Their voices through the darkness sound like voices from a cave,
A dull thudding far away, futile, feeble, far away,
First cousins to the ghosts of the townland.
A light stands in a window. Mary Anne
Has the table set and the tea-pot waiting in the ashes.
She goes to the door and listens and then she calls
From the top of the haggard-wall :
'What's keeping you
And the cows to be milked and all the other work there's to do?'
'All right, all right
We'll not stay here all night '
The curtain falls.
From the homing carts and the trees
And the bawling cows at the gates.
From the screeching water-hens
And the mill-race heavy with the Lammas floods curving over the weir
A train at the station blowing off steam
And the hysterical laughter of the defeated everywhere.
Night, and the futile cards are shuffled again.
Maguire spreads his legs over the impotent cinders that wake no manhood now
And he hardly looks to see which card is trump.
His sister tightens her legs and her lips and frizzles up
Like the wick of an oil-less lamp.
The curtain falls -
Maguire is not afraid of death, the Church will light him a candle
To see his way through the vaults and he'll understand the
Quality of the clay that dribbles over his coffin.
He'll know the names of the roots that climb down to tickle his feet.
And he will feel no different than when he walked through Donaghmoyne.
If he stretches out a hand - a wet clod,
If he opens his nostrils - a dungy smell;
If he opens his eyes once in a million years -
Through a crack in the crust of the earth he may see a face nodding in
Or a woman's legs.
Shut them again for that sight is sin.
He will hardly remember that life happened to him -
Something was brighter a moment. Somebody sang in the distance
A procession passed down a mesmerized street.
He remembers names like Easter and Christmas
By colour his fields were.
Maybe he will be born again, a bird of an angel's conceit
To sing the gospel of life
To a music as flighty tangent
As a tune on an oboe.
And the serious look of his fields will have changed to the leer of a hobo.
Swaggering celestially home to his three wishes granted.
Will that be? will that be?
Or is the earth right that laughs haw-haw
And does not believe
In an unearthly law.
The earth that says:
Patrick Maguire, the old peasant, can neither be damned nor glorified:
The graveyard in which he will lie will be just a deep-drilled potato-field
Where the seed gets no chance to come through
To the fun of the sun.
The tongue in his mouth is the root of a yew.
Silence, silence. The story is done.
He stands in the doorway of his house
A ragged sculpture of the wind,
October creaks the rotted mattress,
The bedposts fall. No hope. No lust.
The hungry fiend
Screams the apocalypse of clay
In every corner of this land.
Metamorphoses: Book The Third
WHEN now Agenor had his daughter lost,
He sent his son to search on ev'ry coast;
And sternly bid him to his arms restore
The darling maid, or see his face no more,
But live an exile in a foreign clime;
Thus was the father pious to a crime.
The Story of The restless youth search'd all the world around;
of Cadmus But how can Jove in his amours be found?
When, tir'd at length with unsuccessful toil,
To shun his angry sire and native soil,
He goes a suppliant to the Delphick dome;
There asks the God what new appointed home
Should end his wand'rings, and his toils relieve.
The Delphick oracles this answer give.
"Behold among the fields a lonely cow,
Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plow;
Mark well the place where first she lays her down,
There measure out thy walls, and build thy town,
And from thy guide Boeotia call the land,
In which the destin'd walls and town shall stand."
No sooner had he left the dark abode,
Big with the promise of the Delphick God,
When in the fields the fatal cow he view'd,
Nor gall'd with yokes, nor worn with servitude:
Her gently at a distance he pursu'd;
And as he walk'd aloof, in silence pray'd
To the great Pow'r whose counsels he obey'd.
Her way thro' flow'ry Panope she took,
And now, Cephisus, cross'd thy silver brook;
When to the Heav'ns her spacious front she rais'd,
And bellow'd thrice, then backward turning gaz'd
On those behind, 'till on the destin'd place
She stoop'd, and couch'd amid the rising grass.
Cadmus salutes the soil, and gladly hails
The new-found mountains, and the nameless vales,
And thanks the Gods, and turns about his eye
To see his new dominions round him lye;
Then sends his servants to a neighb'ring grove
For living streams, a sacrifice to Jove.
O'er the wide plain there rose a shady wood
Of aged trees; in its dark bosom stood
A bushy thicket, pathless and unworn,
O'er-run with brambles, and perplex'd with thorn:
Amidst the brake a hollow den was found,
With rocks and shelving arches vaulted round.
Deep in the dreary den, conceal'd from day,
Sacred to Mars, a mighty dragon lay,
Bloated with poison to a monstrous size;
Fire broke in flashes when he glanc'd his eyes:
His tow'ring crest was glorious to behold,
His shoulders and his sides were scal'd with gold;
Three tongues he brandish'd when he charg'd his
His teeth stood jaggy in three dreadful rowes.
The Tyrians in the den for water sought,
And with their urns explor'd the hollow vault:
From side to side their empty urns rebound,
And rowse the sleeping serpent with the sound.
Strait he bestirs him, and is seen to rise;
And now with dreadful hissings fills the skies,
And darts his forky tongues, and rowles his glaring
The Tyrians drop their vessels in the fright,
All pale and trembling at the hideous sight.
Spire above spire uprear'd in air he stood,
And gazing round him over-look'd the wood:
Then floating on the ground in circles rowl'd;
Then leap'd upon them in a mighty fold.
Of such a bulk, and such a monstrous size
The serpent in the polar circle lyes,
That stretches over half the northern skies.
In vain the Tyrians on their arms rely,
In vain attempt to fight, in vain to fly:
All their endeavours and their hopes are vain;
Some die entangled in the winding train;
Some are devour'd, or feel a loathsom death,
Swoln up with blasts of pestilential breath.
And now the scorching sun was mounted high,
In all its lustre, to the noon-day sky;
When, anxious for his friends, and fill'd with
To search the woods th' impatient chief prepares.
A lion's hide around his loins he wore,
The well poiz'd javelin to the field he bore,
Inur'd to blood; the far-destroying dart;
And, the best weapon, an undaunted heart.
Soon as the youth approach'd the fatal place,
He saw his servants breathless on the grass;
The scaly foe amid their corps he view'd,
Basking at ease, and feasting in their blood.
"Such friends," he cries, "deserv'd a longer date;
But Cadmus will revenge or share their fate."
Then heav'd a stone, and rising to the throw,
He sent it in a whirlwind at the foe:
A tow'r, assaulted by so rude a stroke,
With all its lofty battlements had shook;
But nothing here th' unwieldy rock avails,
Rebounding harmless from the plaited scales,
That, firmly join'd, preserv'd him from a wound,
With native armour crusted all around.
With more success, the dart unerring flew,
Which at his back the raging warriour threw;
Amid the plaited scales it took its course,
And in the spinal marrow spent its force.
The monster hiss'd aloud, and rag'd in vain,
And writh'd his body to and fro with pain;
He bit the dart, and wrench'd the wood away;
The point still buried in the marrow lay.
And now his rage, increasing with his pain,
Reddens his eyes, and beats in ev'ry vein;
Churn'd in his teeth the foamy venom rose,
Whilst from his mouth a blast of vapours flows,
Such as th' infernal Stygian waters cast.
The plants around him wither in the blast.
Now in a maze of rings he lies enrowl'd,
Now all unravel'd, and without a fold;
Now, like a torrent, with a mighty force
Bears down the forest in his boist'rous course.
Cadmus gave back, and on the lion's spoil
Sustain'd the shock, then forc'd him to recoil;
The pointed jav'lin warded off his rage:
Mad with his pains, and furious to engage,
The serpent champs the steel, and bites the spear,
'Till blood and venom all the point besmear.
But still the hurt he yet receiv'd was slight;
For, whilst the champion with redoubled might
Strikes home the jav'lin, his retiring foe
Shrinks from the wound, and disappoints the blow.
The dauntless heroe still pursues his stroke,
And presses forward, 'till a knotty oak
Retards his foe, and stops him in the rear;
Full in his throat he plung'd the fatal spear,
That in th' extended neck a passage found,
And pierc'd the solid timber through the wound.
Fix'd to the reeling trunk, with many a stroke
Of his huge tail he lash'd the sturdy oak;
'Till spent with toil, and lab'ring hard for
He now lay twisting in the pangs of death.
Cadmus beheld him wallow in a flood
Of swimming poison, intermix'd with blood;
When suddenly a speech was heard from high
(The speech was heard, nor was the speaker nigh),
"Why dost thou thus with secret pleasure see,
Insulting man! what thou thy self shalt be?"
Astonish'd at the voice, he stood amaz'd,
And all around with inward horror gaz'd:
When Pallas swift descending from the skies,
Pallas, the guardian of the bold and wise,
Bids him plow up the field, and scatter round
The dragon's teeth o'er all the furrow'd ground;
Then tells the youth how to his wond'ring eyes
Embattled armies from the field should rise.
He sows the teeth at Pallas's command,
And flings the future people from his hand.
The clods grow warm, and crumble where he sows;
And now the pointed spears advance in rows;
Now nodding plumes appear, and shining crests,
Now the broad shoulders and the rising breasts;
O'er all the field the breathing harvest swarms,
A growing host, a crop of men and arms.
So through the parting stage a figure rears
Its body up, and limb by limb appears
By just degrees; 'till all the man arise,
And in his full proportion strikes the eyes.
Cadmus surpriz'd, and startled at the sight
Of his new foes, prepar'd himself for fight:
When one cry'd out, "Forbear, fond man, forbear
To mingle in a blind promiscuous war."
This said, he struck his brother to the ground,
Himself expiring by another's wound;
Nor did the third his conquest long survive,
Dying ere scarce he had begun to live.
The dire example ran through all the field,
'Till heaps of brothers were by brothers kill'd;
The furrows swam in blood: and only five
Of all the vast increase were left alive.
Echion one, at Pallas's command,
Let fall the guiltless weapon from his hand,
And with the rest a peaceful treaty makes,
Whom Cadmus as his friends and partners takes;
So founds a city on the promis'd earth,
And gives his new Boeotian empire birth.
Here Cadmus reign'd; and now one would have
The royal founder in his exile blest:
Long did he live within his new abodes,
Ally'd by marriage to the deathless Gods;
And, in a fruitful wife's embraces old,
A long increase of children's children told:
But no frail man, however great or high,
Can be concluded blest before he die.
Actaeon was the first of all his race,
Who griev'd his grandsire in his borrow'd face;
Condemn'd by stern Diana to bemoan
The branching horns, and visage not his own;
To shun his once lov'd dogs, to bound away,
And from their huntsman to become their prey,
And yet consider why the change was wrought,
You'll find it his misfortune, not his fault;
Or, if a fault, it was the fault of chance:
For how can guilt proceed from ignorance?
The In a fair chace a shady mountain stood,
Transformation Well stor'd with game, and mark'd with trails of
of Actaeon blood;
into a Stag Here did the huntsmen, 'till the heat of day,
Pursue the stag, and load themselves with rey:
When thus Actaeon calling to the rest:
"My friends," said he, "our sport is at the best,
The sun is high advanc'd, and downward sheds
His burning beams directly on our heads;
Then by consent abstain from further spoils,
Call off the dogs, and gather up the toils,
And ere to-morrow's sun begins his race,
Take the cool morning to renew the chace."
They all consent, and in a chearful train
The jolly huntsmen, loaden with the slain,
Return in triumph from the sultry plain.
Down in a vale with pine and cypress clad,
Refresh'd with gentle winds, and brown with shade,
The chaste Diana's private haunt, there stood
Full in the centre of the darksome wood
A spacious grotto, all around o'er-grown
With hoary moss, and arch'd with pumice-stone.
From out its rocky clefts the waters flow,
And trickling swell into a lake below.
Nature had ev'ry where so plaid her part,
That ev'ry where she seem'd to vie with art.
Here the bright Goddess, toil'd and chaf'd with
Was wont to bathe her in the cool retreat.
Here did she now with all her train resort,
Panting with heat, and breathless from the sport;
Her armour-bearer laid her bow aside,
Some loos'd her sandals, some her veil unty'd;
Each busy nymph her proper part undrest;
While Crocale, more handy than the rest,
Gather'd her flowing hair, and in a noose
Bound it together, whilst her own hung loose.
Five of the more ignoble sort by turns
Fetch up the water, and unlade the urns.
Now all undrest the shining Goddess stood,
When young Actaeon, wilder'd in the wood,
To the cool grott by his hard fate betray'd,
The fountains fill'd with naked nymphs survey'd.
The frighted virgins shriek'd at the surprize
(The forest echo'd with their piercing cries).
Then in a huddle round their Goddess prest:
She, proudly eminent above the rest,
With blushes glow'd; such blushes as adorn
The ruddy welkin, or the purple morn;
And tho' the crowding nymphs her body hide,
Half backward shrunk, and view'd him from a side.
Surpriz'd, at first she would have snatch'd her
But sees the circling waters round her flow;
These in the hollow of her hand she took,
And dash'd 'em in his face, while thus she spoke:
"Tell, if thou can'st, the wond'rous sight
A Goddess naked to thy view expos'd."
This said, the man begun to disappear
By slow degrees, and ended in a deer.
A rising horn on either brow he wears,
And stretches out his neck, and pricks his ears;
Rough is his skin, with sudden hairs o'er-grown,
His bosom pants with fears before unknown:
Transform'd at length, he flies away in haste,
And wonders why he flies away so fast.
But as by chance, within a neighb'ring brook,
He saw his branching horns and alter'd look.
Wretched Actaeon! in a doleful tone
He try'd to speak, but only gave a groan;
And as he wept, within the watry glass
He saw the big round drops, with silent pace,
Run trickling down a savage hairy face.
What should he do? Or seek his old abodes,
Or herd among the deer, and sculk in woods!
Here shame dissuades him, there his fear prevails,
And each by turns his aking heart assails.
As he thus ponders, he behind him spies
His op'ning hounds, and now he hears their cries:
A gen'rous pack, or to maintain the chace,
Or snuff the vapour from the scented grass.
He bounded off with fear, and swiftly ran
O'er craggy mountains, and the flow'ry plain;
Through brakes and thickets forc'd his way, and
Through many a ring, where once he did pursue.
In vain he oft endeavour'd to proclaim
His new misfortune, and to tell his name;
Nor voice nor words the brutal tongue supplies;
From shouting men, and horns, and dogs he flies,
Deafen'd and stunn'd with their promiscuous cries.
When now the fleetest of the pack, that prest
Close at his heels, and sprung before the rest,
Had fasten'd on him, straight another pair,
Hung on his wounded haunch, and held him there,
'Till all the pack came up, and ev'ry hound
Tore the sad huntsman grov'ling on the ground,
Who now appear'd but one continu'd wound.
With dropping tears his bitter fate he moans,
And fills the mountain with his dying groans.
His servants with a piteous look he spies,
And turns about his supplicating eyes.
His servants, ignorant of what had chanc'd,
With eager haste and joyful shouts advanc'd,
And call'd their lord Actaeon to the game.
He shook his head in answer to the name;
He heard, but wish'd he had indeed been gone,
Or only to have stood a looker-on.
But to his grief he finds himself too near,
And feels his rav'nous dogs with fury tear
Their wretched master panting in a deer.
The Birth of Actaeon's suff'rings, and Diana's rage,
Bacchus Did all the thoughts of men and Gods engage;
Some call'd the evils which Diana wrought,
Too great, and disproportion'd to the fault:
Others again, esteem'd Actaeon's woes
Fit for a virgin Goddess to impose.
The hearers into diff'rent parts divide,
And reasons are produc'd on either side.
Juno alone, of all that heard the news,
Nor would condemn the Goddess, nor excuse:
She heeded not the justice of the deed,
But joy'd to see the race of Cadmus bleed;
For still she kept Europa in her mind,
And, for her sake, detested all her kind.
Besides, to aggravate her hate, she heard
How Semele, to Jove's embrace preferr'd,
Was now grown big with an immortal load,
And carry'd in her womb a future God.
Thus terribly incens'd, the Goddess broke
To sudden fury, and abruptly spoke.
"Are my reproaches of so small a force?
'Tis time I then pursue another course:
It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die,
If I'm indeed the mistress of the sky,
If rightly styl'd among the Pow'rs above
The wife and sister of the thund'ring Jove
(And none can sure a sister's right deny);
It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die.
She boasts an honour I can hardly claim,
Pregnant she rises to a mother's name;
While proud and vain she triumphs in her Jove,
And shows the glorious tokens of his love:
But if I'm still the mistress of the skies,
By her own lover the fond beauty dies."
This said, descending in a yellow cloud,
Before the gates of Semele she stood.
Old Beroe's decrepit shape she wears,
Her wrinkled visage, and her hoary hairs;
Whilst in her trembling gait she totters on,
And learns to tattle in the nurse's tone.
The Goddess, thus disguis'd in age, beguil'd
With pleasing stories her false foster-child.
Much did she talk of love, and when she came
To mention to the nymph her lover's name,
Fetching a sigh, and holding down her head,
"'Tis well," says she, "if all be true that's said.
But trust me, child, I'm much inclin'd to fear
Some counterfeit in this your Jupiter:
Many an honest well-designing maid
Has been by these pretended Gods betray'd,
But if he be indeed the thund'ring Jove,
Bid him, when next he courts the rites of love,
Descend triumphant from th' etherial sky,
In all the pomp of his divinity,
Encompass'd round by those celestial charms,
With which he fills th' immortal Juno's arms."
Th' unwary nymph, ensnar'd with what she said,
Desir'd of Jove, when next he sought her bed,
To grant a certain gift which she would chuse;
"Fear not," reply'd the God, "that I'll refuse
Whate'er you ask: may Styx confirm my voice,
Chuse what you will, and you shall have your
"Then," says the nymph, "when next you seek my
May you descend in those celestial charms,
With which your Juno's bosom you enflame,
And fill with transport Heav'n's immortal dame."
The God surpriz'd would fain have stopp'd her
But he had sworn, and she had made her choice.
To keep his promise he ascends, and shrowds
His awful brow in whirl-winds and in clouds;
Whilst all around, in terrible array,
His thunders rattle, and his light'nings play.
And yet, the dazling lustre to abate,
He set not out in all his pomp and state,
Clad in the mildest light'ning of the skies,
And arm'd with thunder of the smallest size:
Not those huge bolts, by which the giants slain
Lay overthrown on the Phlegrean plain.
'Twas of a lesser mould, and lighter weight;
They call it thunder of a second-rate,
For the rough Cyclops, who by Jove's command
Temper'd the bolt, and turn'd it to his hand,
Work'd up less flame and fury in its make,
And quench'd it sooner in the standing lake.
Thus dreadfully adorn'd, with horror bright,
Th' illustrious God, descending from his height,
Came rushing on her in a storm of light.
The mortal dame, too feeble to engage
The lightning's flashes, and the thunder's rage,
Consum'd amidst the glories she desir'd,
And in the terrible embrace expir'd.
But, to preserve his offspring from the tomb,
Jove took him smoaking from the blasted womb:
And, if on ancient tales we may rely,
Inclos'd th' abortive infant in his thigh.
Here when the babe had all his time fulfill'd,
Ino first took him for her foster-child;
Then the Niseans, in their dark abode,
Nurs'd secretly with milk the thriving God.
The 'Twas now, while these transactions past on
of Tiresias And Bacchus thus procur'd a second birth,
When Jove, dispos'd to lay aside the weight
Of publick empire and the cares of state,
As to his queen in nectar bowls he quaff'd,
"In troth," says he, and as he spoke he laugh'd,
"The sense of pleasure in the male is far
More dull and dead, than what you females share."
Juno the truth of what was said deny'd;
Tiresias therefore must the cause decide,
For he the pleasure of each sex had try'd.
It happen'd once, within a shady wood,
Two twisted snakes he in conjunction view'd,
When with his staff their slimy folds he broke,
And lost his manhood at the fatal stroke.
But, after seven revolving years, he view'd
The self-same serpents in the self-same wood:
"And if," says he, "such virtue in you lye,
That he who dares your slimy folds untie
Must change his kind, a second stroke I'll try."
Again he struck the snakes, and stood again
New-sex'd, and strait recover'd into man.
Him therefore both the deities create
The sov'raign umpire, in their grand debate;
And he declar'd for Jove: when Juno fir'd,
More than so trivial an affair requir'd,
Depriv'd him, in her fury, of his sight,
And left him groping round in sudden night.
But Jove (for so it is in Heav'n decreed,
That no one God repeal another's deed)
Irradiates all his soul with inward light,
And with the prophet's art relieves the want of
The Fam'd far and near for knowing things to come,
Transformation From him th' enquiring nations sought their doom;
of Echo The fair Liriope his answers try'd,
And first th' unerring prophet justify'd.
This nymph the God Cephisus had abus'd,
With all his winding waters circumfus'd,
And on the Nereid got a lovely boy,
Whom the soft maids ev'n then beheld with joy.
The tender dame, sollicitous to know
Whether her child should reach old age or no,
Consults the sage Tiresias, who replies,
"If e'er he knows himself he surely dies."
Long liv'd the dubious mother in suspence,
'Till time unriddled all the prophet's sense.
Narcissus now his sixteenth year began,
Just turn'd of boy, and on the verge of man;
Many a friend the blooming youth caress'd,
Many a love-sick maid her flame confess'd:
Such was his pride, in vain the friend caress'd,
The love-sick maid in vain her flame confess'd.
Once, in the woods, as he pursu'd the chace,
The babbling Echo had descry'd his face;
She, who in others' words her silence breaks,
Nor speaks her self but when another speaks.
Echo was then a maid, of speech bereft,
Of wonted speech; for tho' her voice was left,
Juno a curse did on her tongue impose,
To sport with ev'ry sentence in the close.
Full often when the Goddess might have caught
Jove and her rivals in the very fault,
This nymph with subtle stories would delay
Her coming, 'till the lovers slip'd away.
The Goddess found out the deceit in time,
And then she cry'd, "That tongue, for this thy
Which could so many subtle tales produce,
Shall be hereafter but of little use."
Hence 'tis she prattles in a fainter tone,
With mimick sounds, and accents not her own.
This love-sick virgin, over-joy'd to find
The boy alone, still follow'd him behind:
When glowing warmly at her near approach,
As sulphur blazes at the taper's touch,
She long'd her hidden passion to reveal,
And tell her pains, but had not words to tell:
She can't begin, but waits for the rebound,
To catch his voice, and to return the sound.
The nymph, when nothing could Narcissus move,
Still dash'd with blushes for her slighted love,
Liv'd in the shady covert of the woods,
In solitary caves and dark abodes;
Where pining wander'd the rejected fair,
'Till harrass'd out, and worn away with care,
The sounding skeleton, of blood bereft,
Besides her bones and voice had nothing left.
Her bones are petrify'd, her voice is found
In vaults, where still it doubles ev'ry sound.
The Story of Thus did the nymphs in vain caress the boy,
Narcissus He still was lovely, but he still was coy;
When one fair virgin of the slighted train
Thus pray'd the Gods, provok'd by his disdain,
"Oh may he love like me, and love like me in vain!"
Rhamnusia pity'd the neglected fair,
And with just vengeance answer'd to her pray'r.
There stands a fountain in a darksom wood,
Nor stain'd with falling leaves nor rising mud;
Untroubled by the breath of winds it rests,
Unsully'd by the touch of men or beasts;
High bow'rs of shady trees above it grow,
And rising grass and chearful greens below.
Pleas'd with the form and coolness of the place,
And over-heated by the morning chace,
Narcissus on the grassie verdure lyes:
But whilst within the chrystal fount he tries
To quench his heat, he feels new heats arise.
For as his own bright image he survey'd,
He fell in love with the fantastick shade;
And o'er the fair resemblance hung unmov'd,
Nor knew, fond youth! it was himself he lov'd.
The well-turn'd neck and shoulders he descries,
The spacious forehead, and the sparkling eyes;
The hands that Bacchus might not scorn to show,
And hair that round Apollo's head might flow;
With all the purple youthfulness of face,
That gently blushes in the wat'ry glass.
By his own flames consum'd the lover lyes,
And gives himself the wound by which he dies.
To the cold water oft he joins his lips,
Oft catching at the beauteous shade he dips
His arms, as often from himself he slips.
Nor knows he who it is his arms pursue
With eager clasps, but loves he knows not who.
What could, fond youth, this helpless passion
What kindled in thee this unpity'd love?
Thy own warm blush within the water glows,
With thee the colour'd shadow comes and goes,
Its empty being on thy self relies;
Step thou aside, and the frail charmer dies.
Still o'er the fountain's wat'ry gleam he stood,
Mindless of sleep, and negligent of food;
Still view'd his face, and languish'd as he view'd.
At length he rais'd his head, and thus began
To vent his griefs, and tell the woods his pain.
"You trees," says he, "and thou surrounding grove,
Who oft have been the kindly scenes of love,
Tell me, if e'er within your shades did lye
A youth so tortur'd, so perplex'd as I?
I, who before me see the charming fair,
Whilst there he stands, and yet he stands not
In such a maze of love my thoughts are lost:
And yet no bulwark'd town, nor distant coast,
Preserves the beauteous youth from being seen,
No mountains rise, nor oceans flow between.
A shallow water hinders my embrace;
And yet the lovely mimick wears a face
That kindly smiles, and when I bend to join
My lips to his, he fondly bends to mine.
Hear, gentle youth, and pity my complaint,
Come from thy well, thou fair inhabitant.
My charms an easy conquest have obtain'd
O'er other hearts, by thee alone disdain'd.
But why should I despair? I'm sure he burns
With equal flames, and languishes by turns.
When-e'er I stoop, he offers at a kiss,
And when my arms I stretch, he stretches his.
His eye with pleasure on my face he keeps,
He smiles my smiles, and when I weep he weeps.
When e'er I speak, his moving lips appear
To utter something, which I cannot hear.
"Ah wretched me! I now begin too late
To find out all the long-perplex'd deceit;
It is my self I love, my self I see;
The gay delusion is a part of me.
I kindle up the fires by which I burn,
And my own beauties from the well return.
Whom should I court? how utter my complaint?
Enjoyment but produces my restraint,
And too much plenty makes me die for want.
How gladly would I from my self remove!
And at a distance set the thing I love.
My breast is warm'd with such unusual fire,
I wish him absent whom I most desire.
And now I faint with grief; my fate draws nigh;
In all the pride of blooming youth I die.
Death will the sorrows of my heart relieve.
Oh might the visionary youth survive,
I should with joy my latest breath resign!
But oh! I see his fate involv'd in mine."
This said, the weeping youth again return'd
To the clear fountain, where again he burn'd;
His tears defac'd the surface of the well,
With circle after circle, as they fell:
And now the lovely face but half appears,
O'er-run with wrinkles, and deform'd with tears.
"Ah whither," cries Narcissus, "dost thou fly?
Let me still feed the flame by which I die;
Let me still see, tho' I'm no further blest."
Then rends his garment off, and beats his breast:
His naked bosom redden'd with the blow,
In such a blush as purple clusters show,
Ere yet the sun's autumnal heats refine
Their sprightly juice, and mellow it to wine.
The glowing beauties of his breast he spies,
And with a new redoubled passion dies.
As wax dissolves, as ice begins to run,
And trickle into drops before the sun;
So melts the youth, and languishes away,
His beauty withers, and his limbs decay;
And none of those attractive charms remain,
To which the slighted Echo su'd in vain.
She saw him in his present misery,
Whom, spight of all her wrongs, she griev'd to see.
She answer'd sadly to the lover's moan,
Sigh'd back his sighs, and groan'd to ev'ry groan:
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," Narcissus cries;
"Ah youth! belov'd in vain," the nymph replies.
"Farewel," says he; the parting sound scarce fell
From his faint lips, but she reply'd, "farewel."
Then on th' wholsome earth he gasping lyes,
'Till death shuts up those self-admiring eyes.
To the cold shades his flitting ghost retires,
And in the Stygian waves it self admires.
For him the Naiads and the Dryads mourn,
Whom the sad Echo answers in her turn;
And now the sister-nymphs prepare his urn:
When, looking for his corps, they only found
A rising stalk, with yellow blossoms crown'd.
The Story of This sad event gave blind Tiresias fame,
Pentheus Through Greece establish'd in a prophet's name.
Th' unhallow'd Pentheus only durst deride
The cheated people, and their eyeless guide.
To whom the prophet in his fury said,
Shaking the hoary honours of his head:
"'Twere well, presumptuous man, 'twere well for
If thou wert eyeless too, and blind, like me:
For the time comes, nay, 'tis already here,
When the young God's solemnities appear:
Which, if thou dost not with just rites adorn,
Thy impious carcass, into pieces torn,
Shall strew the woods, and hang on ev'ry thorn.
Then, then, remember what I now foretel,
And own the blind Tiresias saw too well."
Still Pentheus scorns him, and derides his skill;
But time did all the prophet's threats fulfil.
For now through prostrate Greece young Bacchus
Whilst howling matrons celebrate the God:
All ranks and sexes to his Orgies ran,
To mingle in the pomps, and fill the train.
When Pentheus thus his wicked rage express'd:
"What madness, Thebans, has your souls possess'd?
Can hollow timbrels, can a drunken shout,
And the lewd clamours of a beastly rout,
Thus quell your courage; can the weak alarm
Of women's yells those stubborn souls disarm,
Whom nor the sword nor trumpet e'er could fright,
Nor the loud din and horror of a fight?
And you, our sires, who left your old abodes,
And fix'd in foreign earth your country Gods;
Will you without a stroak your city yield,
And poorly quit an undisputed field?
But you, whose youth and vigour should inspire
Heroick warmth, and kindle martial fire,
Whom burnish'd arms and crested helmets grace,
Not flow'ry garlands and a painted face;
Remember him to whom you stand ally'd:
The serpent for his well of waters dy'd.
He fought the strong; do you his courage show,
And gain a conquest o'er a feeble foe.
If Thebes must fall, oh might the fates afford
A nobler doom from famine, fire, or sword.
Then might the Thebans perish with renown:
But now a beardless victor sacks the town;
Whom nor the prancing steed, nor pond'rous shield,
Nor the hack'd helmet, nor the dusty field,
But the soft joys of luxury and ease,
The purple vests, and flow'ry garlands please.
Stand then aside, I'll make the counterfeit
Renounce his god-head, and confess the cheat.
Acrisius from the Grecian walls repell'd
This boasted pow'r; why then should Pentheus yield?
Go quickly drag th' impostor boy to me;
I'll try the force of his divinity."
Thus did th' audacious wretch those rites profane;
His friends dissuade th' audacious wretch in vain:
In vain his grandsire urg'd him to give o'er
His impious threats; the wretch but raves the more.
So have I seen a river gently glide,
In a smooth course, and inoffensive tide;
But if with dams its current we restrain,
It bears down all, and foams along the plain.
But now his servants came besmear'd with blood,
Sent by their haughty prince to seize the God;
The God they found not in the frantick throng,
But dragg'd a zealous votary along.
The Mariners Him Pentheus view'd with fury in his look,
transform'd to And scarce with-held his hands, whilst thus he
"Vile slave! whom speedy vengeance shall pursue,
And terrify thy base seditious crew:
Thy country and thy parentage reveal,
And, why thou joinest in these mad Orgies, tell."
The captive views him with undaunted eyes,
And, arm'd with inward innocence, replies,
"From high Meonia's rocky shores I came,
Of poor descent, Acoetes is my name:
My sire was meanly born; no oxen plow'd
His fruitful fields, nor in his pastures low'd.
His whole estate within the waters lay;
With lines and hooks he caught the finny prey,
His art was all his livelyhood; which he
Thus with his dying lips bequeath'd to me:
In streams, my boy, and rivers take thy chance;
There swims, said he, thy whole inheritance.
Long did I live on this poor legacy;
'Till tir'd with rocks, and my old native sky,
To arts of navigation I inclin'd;
Observ'd the turns and changes of the wind,
Learn'd the fit havens, and began to note
The stormy Hyades, the rainy Goat,
The bright Taygete, and the shining Bears,
With all the sailor's catalogue of stars.
"Once, as by chance for Delos I design'd,
My vessel, driv'n by a strong gust of wind,
Moor'd in a Chian Creek; a-shore I went,
And all the following night in Chios spent.
When morning rose, I sent my mates to bring
Supplies of water from a neighb'ring spring,
Whilst I the motion of the winds explor'd;
Then summon'd in my crew, and went aboard.
Opheltes heard my summons, and with joy
Brought to the shore a soft and lovely boy,
With more than female sweetness in his look,
Whom straggling in the neighb'ring fields he took.
With fumes of wine the little captive glows,
And nods with sleep, and staggers as he goes.
"I view'd him nicely, and began to trace
Each heav'nly feature, each immortal grace,
And saw divinity in all his face,
I know not who, said I, this God should be;
But that he is a God I plainly see:
And thou, who-e'er thou art, excuse the force
These men have us'd; and oh befriend our course!
Pray not for us, the nimble Dictys cry'd,
Dictys, that could the main-top mast bestride,
And down the ropes with active vigour slide.
To the same purpose old Epopeus spoke,
Who over-look'd the oars, and tim'd the stroke;
The same the pilot, and the same the rest;
Such impious avarice their souls possest.
Nay, Heav'n forbid that I should bear away
Within my vessel so divine a prey,
Said I; and stood to hinder their intent:
When Lycabas, a wretch for murder sent
From Tuscany, to suffer banishment,
With his clench'd fist had struck me over-board,
Had not my hands in falling grasp'd a cord.
"His base confederates the fact approve;
When Bacchus (for 'twas he) begun to move,
Wak'd by the noise and clamours which they rais'd;
And shook his drowsie limbs, and round him gaz'd:
What means this noise? he cries; am I betray'd?
Ah, whither, whither must I be convey'd?
Fear not, said Proreus, child, but tell us where
You wish to land, and trust our friendly care.
To Naxos then direct your course, said he;
Naxos a hospitable port shall be
To each of you, a joyful home to me.
By ev'ry God, that rules the sea or sky,
The perjur'd villains promise to comply,
And bid me hasten to unmoor the ship.
With eager joy I launch into the deep;
And, heedless of the fraud, for Naxos stand.
They whisper oft, and beckon with the hand,
And give me signs, all anxious for their prey,
To tack about, and steer another way.
Then let some other to my post succeed,
Said I, I'm guiltless of so foul a deed.
What, says Ethalion, must the ship's whole crew
Follow your humour, and depend on you?
And strait himself he seated at the prore,
And tack'd about, and sought another shore.
"The beauteous youth now found himself betray'd,
And from the deck the rising waves survey'd,
And seem'd to weep, and as he wept he said:
And do you thus my easy faith beguile?
Thus do you bear me to my native isle?
Will such a multitude of men employ
Their strength against a weak defenceless boy?
"In vain did I the God-like youth deplore,
The more I begg'd, they thwarted me the more.
And now by all the Gods in Heav'n that hear
This solemn oath, by Bacchus' self, I swear,
The mighty miracle that did ensue,
Although it seems beyond belief, is true.
The vessel, fix'd and rooted in the flood,
Unmov'd by all the beating billows stood.
In vain the mariners would plow the main
With sails unfurl'd, and strike their oars in vain;
Around their oars a twining ivy cleaves,
And climbs the mast, and hides the cords in leaves:
The sails are cover'd with a chearful green,
And berries in the fruitful canvass seen.
Amidst the waves a sudden forest rears
Its verdant head, and a new Spring appears.
"The God we now behold with open'd eyes;
A herd of spotted panthers round him lyes
In glaring forms; the grapy clusters spread
On his fair brows, and dangle on his head.
And whilst he frowns, and brandishes his spear,
My mates surpriz'd with madness or with fear,
Leap'd over board; first perjur'd Madon found
Rough scales and fins his stiff'ning sides
Ah what, cries one, has thus transform'd thy look?
Strait his own mouth grew wider as he spoke;
And now himself he views with like surprize.
Still at his oar th' industrious Libys plies;
But, as he plies, each busy arm shrinks in,
And by degrees is fashion'd to a fin.
Another, as he catches at a cord,
Misses his arms, and, tumbling over-board,
With his broad fins and forky tail he laves
The rising surge, and flounces in the waves.
Thus all my crew transform'd around the ship,
Or dive below, or on the surface leap,
And spout the waves, and wanton in the deep.
Full nineteen sailors did the ship convey,
A shole of nineteen dolphins round her play.
I only in my proper shape appear,
Speechless with wonder, and half dead with fear,
'Till Bacchus kindly bid me fear no more.
With him I landed on the Chian shore,
And him shall ever gratefully adore."
"This forging slave," says Pentheus, "would
O'er our just fury by a far-fetch'd tale:
Go, let him feel the whips, the swords, the fire,
And in the tortures of the rack expire."
Th' officious servants hurry him away,
And the poor captive in a dungeon lay.
But, whilst the whips and tortures are prepar'd,
The gates fly open, of themselves unbarr'd;
At liberty th' unfetter'd captive stands,
And flings the loosen'd shackles from his hands.
The Death of But Pentheus, grown more furious than before,
Pentheus Resolv'd to send his messengers no more,
But went himself to the distracted throng,
Where high Cithaeron echo'd with their song.
And as the fiery war-horse paws the ground,
And snorts and trembles at the trumpet's sound;
Transported thus he heard the frantick rout,
And rav'd and madden'd at the distant shout.
A spacious circuit on the hill there stood.
Level and wide, and skirted round with wood;
Here the rash Pentheus, with unhallow'd eyes,
The howling dames and mystick Orgies spies.
His mother sternly view'd him where he stood,
And kindled into madness as she view'd:
Her leafy jav'lin at her son she cast,
And cries, "The boar that lays our country waste!
The boar, my sisters! Aim the fatal dart,
And strike the brindled monster to the heart."
Pentheus astonish'd heard the dismal sound,
And sees the yelling matrons gath'ring round;
He sees, and weeps at his approaching fate,
And begs for mercy, and repents too late.
"Help, help! my aunt Autonoe," he cry'd;
"Remember, how your own Actaeon dy'd."
Deaf to his cries, the frantick matron crops
One stretch'd-out arm, the other Ino lops.
In vain does Pentheus to his mother sue,
And the raw bleeding stumps presents to view:
His mother howl'd; and, heedless of his pray'r,
Her trembling hand she twisted in his hair,
"And this," she cry'd, "shall be Agave's share,"
When from the neck his struggling head she tore,
And in her hands the ghastly visage bore.
With pleasure all the hideous trunk survey;
Then pull'd and tore the mangled limbs away,
As starting in the pangs of death it lay,
Soon as the wood its leafy honours casts,
Blown off and scatter'd by autumnal blasts,
With such a sudden death lay Pentheus slain,
And in a thousand pieces strow'd the plain.
By so distinguishing a judgment aw'd,
The Thebans tremble, and confess the God.
The End of the Third Book.
Translated into English verse under the direction of
Sir Samuel Garth by John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison,
William Congreve and other eminent hands
Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.
MY wanton lines doe treate of amorous loue,
Such as would bow the hearts of gods aboue:
Then Venus, thou great Citherean Queene,
That hourely tript on the Idalian greene,
Thou laughing Erycina, daygne to see
The verses wholly consecrate to thee;
Temper them so within thy Paphian shrine,
That euery Louers eye may melt a line;
Commaund the god of Loue that little King,
To giue each verse a sleight touch with his wing,
That as I write, one line may draw the tother,
And euery word skip nimbly o're another.
There was a louely boy the Nymphs had kept,
That on the Idane mountains oft had slept,
Begot and borne by powers that dwelt aboue,
By learned Mercury of the Queene of loue:
A face he had that shew'd his parents fame,
And from them both conioynd, he drew his name:
So wondrous fayre he was that (as they say)
Diana being hunting on a day,
Shee saw the boy vpon a greene banke lay him,
And there the virgin-huntresse meant to slay him,
Because no Nymphes did now pursue the chase:
For all were strooke blind with the wanton's face.
But when that beauteous face Diana saw,
Her armes were nummed, & shee could not draw;
Yet she did striue to shoot, but all in vaine,
Shee bent her bow, and loos'd it streight againe.
Then she began to chide her wanton eye,
And fayne would shoot, but durst not see him die,
She turnd and shot, and did of purpose misse him,
Shee turnd againe, and did of purpose kisse him.
Then the boy ran: for (some say) had he stayd,
Diana had no longer bene a mayd.
Phoebus so doted on this rosiat face,
That he hath oft stole closely from his place,
When he did lie by fayre Leucothoes side,
To dally with him in the vales of Ide:
And euer since this louely boy did die,
Phoebus each day about the world doth flie,
And on the earth he seekes him all the day,
And euery night he seekes him in the sea:
His cheeke was sanguine, and his lip as red
As are the blushing leaues of the Rose spred:
And I haue heard, that till this boy was borne,
Rose grew white vpon the virgin thorne,
Till one day walking to a pleasant spring,
To heare how cunningly the birds could sing,
Laying him downe vpon a flowry bed,
The Roses blush'd and turn'd themselues to red.
The Rose that blush'd not, for his great offence,
The gods did punish, and for impudence
They gaue this doome that was agreed by all,
The smell of the white Rose should be but small.
His haire was bushie, but it was not long,
The Nymphs had done his tresses mighty wrong:
For as it grew, they puld away his haire,
And made abilliments of gold to weare.
His eyes were Cupids: for vntill his birth,
Cupid had eyes, and liu'd vpon the earth,
Till on a day, when the great Queene of loue
Was by her white doues drawn fro[m] heauen aboue,
Vnto the top of the Idalian hill,
To see how well the Nymphs their charge fulfill,
And whether they had done the goddesse right,
In nursing of her sweet Hermaphrodite:
VVhom when she saw, although complete & full,
Yet she complaynd, his eyes were somewhat dull:
And therefore, more the wanton boy to grace,
She puld the sparkling eyes from Cupids face,
Fayning a cause to take away his sight,
Because the Ape would sometimes shoot for spight.
But Venus set those eyes in such a place,
As grac'd those cleare eyes with a clearer face.
For his white hand each goddesse did him woo:
For it was whiter then the driuen snow:
His legge was straighter then the thigh of Ioue:
And he farre fairer then the god of loue.
When first this wel-shapt boy, beauties chiefe king,
Had seene the labour of the fifteenth spring,
How curiously it paynted all the earth,
He 'gan to trauaile from his place of birth,
Leauing the stately hils where he was nurst,
And where the Nymphs had brought him vp at first:
He lou'd to trauaile to the coasts vnknowne,
To see the regions farre beyond his owne,
Seeking cleare watry springs to bathe him in:
(For he did loue to wash his iuory skinne)
The louely Nymphes haue oft times seene him swimme,
And closely stole his clothes from off the brim,
Because the wanton wenches would so fayne
See him come nak'd to ask his clothes againe.
He lou'd besides to see the Lycian grounds,
And know the wealthy Carians vtmost bounds.
Vsing to trauaile thus, one day he found
A cristall brook, that tril'd along the ground,
A brooke, that in reflection did surpasse
The cleare reflection of the clearest glasse.
About the side there grew no foggy reedes,
Nor was the fount compast with barren weedes:
But liuing turfe grew all along the side,
And grasse that euer flourisht in his pride.
Within this brook a beauteous Nymph did dwell,
Who for her comely feature did excell;
So faire she vvas, of such a pleasing grace,
So straight a body, and so sweet a face,
So soft a belly, such a lustie thigh,
So large a forehead, such a cristall eye,
So soft and moyst a hand, so smooth a brest,
So faire a cheeke, so well in all the rest,
That Iupiter would reuell in her bowre,
Were he to spend againe his golden showre:
Her teeth were whiter then the mornings milke,
Her lip was softer then the softest silke,
Her haire as farre surpast the burnisht gold,
As siluer doth excell the basest mold:
Ioue courted her for her translucent eye,
And told her, he would place her in the skye,
Promising her, if she would be his loue,
He would ingraue her in the heauen aboue,
Telling this louely Nymph, that if he would,
He could deceiue her in a showre of gold,
Or like a Swanne come to her naked bed,
And so deceiue her of her maiden-head:
But yet, because he thought that pleasure best,
Where each consenting ioynes each louing brest,
He would put off that all-commaunding crowne,
Whose terrour strooke th'aspiring Giants downe,
That glittereing crown, whose radia[n]t sight did tosse
Great Pelion from the top of mighty Osse,
He would depose from his world-swaying head,
To taste the amorous pleasures of her bed:
This added he besides, the more to grace her,
Like a bright starre he would in heauens vault place her.
By this the proud lasciuious Nymph was mou'd,
Perceiuing by great Ioue shee was belou'd,
And hoping as a starre she should ere long,
Be sterne or gracious to the Sea-mans song,
(For mortals still are subiect to their eye,
And what it sees, they striue to get as hie
She was contented that almighty Ioue
Should haue the first and best fruits of her loue:
(For women may be likened to the yeere,
Whose first fruits still do make the dayntiest cheere)
But yet Astræa first should plight her troth,
For the performance of Ioues sacred oth.
(Iust times decline, and all good dayes are dead,
When heauenly othes had need be warranted)
This heard great Iupiter and lik'd it well,
And hastily he seeks Astræas cell,
About the massie earth searching her towre:
But she had long since left this earthly bowre,
And flew to heauen aboue, lothing to see
The sinfull actions of humanitie.
Which when Ioue did perceiue, he left the earth,
And flew vp to the place of his owne birth,
The burning heauenly throne, where he did spy
Astræas palace in the glittering skie.
This stately towre was builded vp on hie,
Farre from the reach of any mortall eye;
And from the palace side there did distill
A little water, through a little quill,
The dewe of iustice, which did seldome fall,
And when it dropt, the drops were very small.
Glad was great Ioue when he beheld her towre,
Meaning a while to rest him in her bowre;
And therefore sought to enter at her dore:
But there was such a busie rout before;
Some seruing men, and some promooters bee,
That he could passe no foote without a fee:
But as he goes, he reaches out his hands,
And payes each one in order as he stands;
And still, as he was paying those before,
Some slipt againe betwixt him and the dore.
At length (with much adoo) he past them all,
And entred straight into a spacious hall,
Full of dark angles, and of hidden wayes,
Crooked Maranders, infinite delays;
All which delayes and entries he must passe,
Ere he could come where iust Astræa was.
All these being past by his immortall wit,
Without her doore he sawe a porter sit,
An aged man, that long time there had beene,
Who vs'd to search all those that entred in,
And still to euery one he gaue this curse,
None must see Iustice but with emptie purse.
This man searcht Ioue for his owne priuate gaine,
To haue the money which did yet remaine,
Which was but small: for much was spent before
On the tumultuous rout that kept the dore.
When he had done, he broght him to the place
Where he should see diuine Astræas face.
Then the great King of gods and men in went,
And saw his daughter Venus there lament,
And crying lowd for iustice, whom Ioue found
Kneeling before Astræa on the ground,
And still she cry'd and beg'd for a iust doome
Against blacke Vulcan, that vnseemely groome,
Whome she had chosen for her onely loue,
Though she was daughter to great thundering Ioue:
And thought the fairest goddesse, yet content
To marrie him, though weake and impotent;
But for all this they alwayes were at strife:
For euermore he ralyd at her his wife,
Telling her still, Thou art no wife of mine,
Anothers strumpet, Mars his concubine.
By this Astræa spyde almighty Ioue,
And bow'd her finger to the Queene of loue,
To cease her sute, which she would hear anon,
When the great King of all the world was gone.
Then she descended from her stately throne,
Which seat was builded all of Iasper stone,
And o're the seat was paynted all aboue,
The wanton vnseene stealths of amorous Ioue;
There might a man behold the naked pride
Of louely Venus in the vales of Ide,
When Pallas, and Ioues beauteous wife and she
Stroue for the prise of beauties raritie:
And there lame Vulcan and his Cyclops stroue
To make the thunderbolts for mighty Ioue:
From this same stately throne she down descended,
And sayd, The griefs of Ioue should be amended,
Asking the King of gods what lucklesse cause,
What great conte[m]pt of states, what breach of lawes
(For sure she thought, some vncouth cause befell,
That made him visit poore Astræas cell)
Troubled his thought: and if she might decide it,
VVho vext great, Ioue, he deareley should abide it.
Ioue onely thankt her, and beganne to show
His cause of comming (for each one doth know
The longing words of Louers are not many,
If they desire to be inioyd of any.
Telling Astræa, It might now befall,
That she might make him blest, that blesseth all:
For as he walk'd vpon the flowry earth,
To which his owne hands whilome gaue a birth,
To see how streight he held it and how iust
He rold this massy pondrous heape of dust,
He laid him downe by a coole riuer side,
Whose pleasant water did so gently slide
With such soft whispering: for the brook was deepe,
That it had lul'd him in a heauenly sleepe.
When first he laid him downe, there was none neere him:
(for he did call before, but none could heare him)
But a faire Nymph was bathing when he wak'd,
(Here sigh'd great Ioue, and after brought forth) nak'd,
He seeing lou'd, the Nymph yet here did rest,
Where iust Astræa might make Ioue be blest,
If she would passe her faithfull word so farre,
As that great Ioue should make the mayd a starre.
Astræa yeelded: at which Ioue was pleas'd,
And all his longing hopes and feares were eas'd.
Ioue tooke his leaue, and parted from her sight,
Whose thoughts were ful of louers sweet delight,
And she ascended to her throne aboue,
To heare the griefes of the great Queene of loue.
But she was satisfide, and would no more
Rayle at her husband as she did before:
But forth she tript apace, because she stroue,
With her swift feet to ouertake great Ioue,
She skipt so nimbly as she went to looke him,
That at the palace doore she ouertooke him,
Which way was plaine and broade as they went out,
And now they could see no tumultuous rout.
Here Venus fearing, lest the loue of Ioue
Should make this mayd be plac'd in heauen aboue,
Because she thought this Nymph so wondrous bright,
That she would dazel her accustom'd light:
And fearing now she should not first be seene
Of all the glittering starres as shee had beene,
But that the wanton Nymph would eu'ry night
Be first that should salute eche mortal sight,
Began to tell great Ioue, she grieu'd to see
The heauen so full of his iniquity,
Complayning that eche strumpet now was grac'd,
And with immortall goddesses was plac'd,
Intreating him to place in heauen no more
Eche wanton strumpet and lasciuious whore.
Ioue mad with loue, harkned not what she sayd,
His thoughts were so intangled with the mayd,
But furiously he to his palace lept,
Being minded there till morning to haue slept:
For the next morne, as soone as Phoebus rayes
Should yet shine coole, by reason of the seas,
And ere the parting teares of Thætis bed,
Should be quite shak't from off his glittring head,
Astræa promis'd to attend great Ioue,
At his owne Palace in the heauen above,
And at that Palace she would set her hand
To what the loue-sick god should her command:
But to descend to earth she did deny,
She loath'd the sight of any mortall eye,
And for the compasse of the earthly round,
She would not set one foot vpon the ground.
Therefore Ioue meant to rise but with the sunne,
Yet thought it long vntill the night was done.
In the meane space Venus was drawne along
By her white Doues vnto the sweating throng
Of hammering Black-smithes, at the lofty hill
Of stately Etna, whose top burneth still:
(For at that burning mountaynes glittring top,
Her cripple husband Vulcan kept his shop)
To him she went, and so collogues that night
With the best straines of pleasures sweet delight,
That ere they parted, she made Vulcan sweare
By dreadfull Stix, an othe the gods do feare,
If Ioue would make the mortall mayd a starre,
Himselfe should frame his instruments of warre,
And tooke his othe by blacke Cocitus Lake,
He neuer more a thunder-bolt would make:
For Venus so this night his sences pleas'd,
That now he thought his former griefs were eas'd.
She with her hands the black-smiths body bound,
And with her Iu'ry armes she twyn'd him round,
And still the faire Queene with a prety grace,
Disperst her sweet breath o're his swarty face:
Her snowy armes so well she did display,
That Vulcan thought they melted as they lay.
Vntill the morne in this delight they lay:
Then vp they got, and hasted fast away
In the white Chariot of the Queene of loue,
Towards the Palace of great thundring Ioue,
Where they did see diuine Astræa stand,
To passe her word for what Ioue should command.
In limpt the Blacke-smith, after stept his Queene,
Whose light arrayment was of louely greene.
When they were in, Vulcan began to sweare
By othes that Iupiter himselfe doth feare,
If any whore in heauens bright vault were seene,
To dimme the shining of his beauteous Queene,
Each mortall man should the great gods disgrace,
And mocke almightie Ioue vnto his face,
And Giants should enforce bright heauen to fall,
Ere he would frame one thunderbolt at all.
Ioue did intreat him that he would forbeare.
The more he spoke, the more did Vulcan sweare.
Ioue heard his words, and 'gan to make his mone,
That mortall men would pluck him from his throne,
Or else he must incurre this plague, he said,
Quite to forgoe the pleasure of the mayd:
And once he thought, rather than lose her blisses,
Her heauenly sweets, her most delicious kisses,
Her soft embraces, and the amorous nights,
That he should often spend in her delights,
He would be quite thrown down by mortal hands,
From the blest place where his bright palace stands.
But afterwards hee saw with better sight,
He should be scorn'd by euery mortall wight,
If he should want his thunderbolts, to beate
Aspiring mortals from his glittering seate:
Therefore the god no more did woo or proue her,
But left to seeke her loue, though not to loue her.
Yet he forgot not that he woo'd the lasse,
But made her twise as beauteous as she was,
Because his wonted loue he needs would shew.
This haue I heard, but yet scarce thought it true.
And whether her cleare beautie was so bright,
That it could dazel the immortall sight
Of gods, and make them for her loue despaire,
I do not know; but sure the maid was faire.
Yet the faire Nymph was neuer seene resort
Vnto the sauage and the bloudy sport
Of chaste Diana, nor was euer wont
To bend a bow, nor euer did she hunt,
Nor did she euer striue with pretie cunning,
To ouergoe her fellow Nymphs in running:
For she was the faire water-Nymph alone,
That vnto chaste Diana was vnknowne.
It is reported, that her fellowes vs'd
To bid her (though the beauteous Nymph refus'd)
To take, or painted quiuers or a dart,
And put her lazy idlenesse apart.
Nor tooke she painted quiuers, nor a dart,
Nor put her lazy idlenesse apart,
But in her cristall fountaine oft she swimmes,
And oft she washes o're her snowy limmes:
Sometimes she com'b her soft discheuel'd hayre,
Which with a fillet tide she oft did weare:
But sometimes loose she did it hang behind,
When she was pleas'd to grace the Easterne wind:
For vp and downe it would her tresses hurle,
And as she went, it made her loose hayre curl:
Oft in the water did she looke her face,
And oft she vs'd to practise what quaint grace
Might well become her, and what comely feature
Might be best fitting so diuine a creature.
Her skinne was with a thinne vaile ouerthrowne,
Through which her naked beauty clearly shone.
She vs'd in this light rayment as she was,
To spread her body on the dewy grasse:
Sometimes by her owne fountaine as she walkes,
She nips the flowres from off the fertile stalkes,
And with a garland of the sweating vine,
Sometimes she doth her beauteous front in-twine:
But she was gathering flowres with her white hand,
When she beheld Hermaphroditus stand
By her cleare fountaine, wondring at the sight,
That there was any brooke could be so bright:
For this was the bright riuer where the boy
Did dye himselfe, that he could not enioy
Himselfe in pleasure, nor could taste the blisses
Of his owne melting and delicious kisses.
Here she did see him, and by Venus law,
She did desire to haue him as she saw:
But the fayre Nymph had neuer seene the place,
Where the boy was, nor his inchanting face,
But by an vncouth accident of loue
Betwixt great Phoebus and the sonne of Ioue,
Light -headed Bacchus: for vpon a day,
As the boy-god was keeping on his way,
Bearing his Vine leaues and his Iuie bands,
To Naxos, where his house and temple stands,
He saw the Nymph, and seeing, he did stay,
And threw his leaues and Iuie bands away,
Thinking at first she was of heauenly birth,
Some goddesse that did liue vpon the earth,
Virgin Diana that so liuely shone,
When she did court her sweet Endimion:
But he a god, at last did plainely see,
She had no marke of immortalitie.
Vnto the Nymph went the yong god of wine,
Whose head was chaf'd so with the bleeding vine,
That now, or feare or terrour had he none,
But 'gan to court her as she sate alone:
Fayrer then fayrest (thus began his speech)
Would but your radiant eye please to inrich
My eye with looking, or one glaunce to giue,
Whereby my other parts might feede and liue,
Or with one sight my sences to inspire,
Far liuelier then the stole Promethean fire;
Then I might liue, then by the sunny light
That should proceed from thy thrise-radiant sight,
I might suruiue to ages; but that missing,
(At that same word he would haue faine bin kissing)
I pine, fayre Nymph: O neuer let me dye
For one poore glaunce from thy translucent eye,
Farre more transparent then the clearest brooke.
The Nymph was taken with his golden hooke:
Yet she turn'd backe, and would haue tript away;
But Bacchus forc't the louely mayd to stay,
Asking her why she struggled to be gone,
Why such a Nymph should wish to be alone?
Heauen neuer made her faire, that she should vaunt
She kept all beautie, it would neuer graunt
She should be borne so beauteous from her mother,
But to reflect her beauty on another:
Then with a sweet kisse cast thy beames on mee,
And Ile reflect then backe againe on thee.
At Naxos stands my Temple and my Shrine,
Where I do presse the lusty swelling Vine,
There with green Iuie shall thy head be bound,
And with the red Grape be incircled round;
There shall Silenus sing vnto thy praise,
His drunken reeling songs and tickling layes.
Come hither, gentle Nymph. Here blusht the maid,
And faine she would haue gone, but yet she staid.
Bacchus perceiued he had o'ercome the lasse,
And downe he throwes her in the dewy grasse,
And kist the helplesse Nymph vpon the ground,
And would haue stray'd beyond that lawful bou[n]d.
This saw bright Phœbus: for his glittering eye
Sees all that lies below the starry skye;
And for an old affection that he bore
Vnto this louely Nymph long time before,
(For he would ofttimes in his circle stand,
To sport himselfe vpon her snowy hand)
He kept her from the sweets of Bacchus bed,
And 'gainst her will he sau'd her maiden-head.
Bacchus perceiuing this apace did hie
Vnto the Palace of swift Mercury:
But he did find him farre below his birth,
Drinking with theiues and catch-poles on the earth;
And they were drinking what they stole to day,
In consultation for to morrowes prey.
To him went youthful Bacchus, and begun
To shew his cause of griefe against the Sunne,
How he bereft him of his heauenly blisses,
His sweet delights, his Nectar-flowing kisses,
And other sweeter sweetes that he had wonne,
But for the malice of the bright-fac't Sunne,
Intreating Mercury by all the loue,
That had bene borne amongst the sonnes of Ioue,
Of which they two were part, to stand his friend,
Against the god that did him so offend:
The quaint-tongu'd issue of great Atlas race,
Swift Mercury, that with delightfull grace,
And pleasing accents of his fayned tongue,
Hath oft reform'd a rude vnciuill throng
Of mortals; that great messenger of Ioue,
And all the meaner gods that dwell aboue:
He whose acute wit was so quicke and sharpe
In the inuention of the crooked Harpe:
He that's so cunning with his iesting slights,
To steale from heauenly gods or earthly wights,
Bearing a great hate in his grieued brest,
Against that great commaunder of the West,
Bright-fac't Apollo: for vpon a day,
Yong Mercury did steale his beasts away:
Which the great god perceiuing, streight did shew
The pearcing arrowes and the fearefull bow
That kild great Pithon, & with that did threat him,
To bring his beast againe, or he would beat him.
Which Mercury perceiuing, vnespide,
Did closely steale his arrowes from his side.
For this olde grudge, he was the easlyer wonne
To helpe young Bacchus 'gainst the fierie Sunne.
And now the Sunne was in the middle way,
And had o'ercome the one halfe of the day,
Scorching so hot vpon the reeking sand,
That lies vpon the neere Egyptian land,
That the hot people burnt e'ne from their birth,
Do creepe againe into their mother earth,
When Mercury did take his powerfull wand,
His charming Cadusæus in his hand,
And a thick Beuer which he vs'd to weare,
When ought from Ioue he to the Sunne did beare,
That did protect him from the piercing light,
Which did proceed from Phoebus glittering sight.
Clad in these powerfull ornaments he flies,
With out-stretcht wings vp to the azure skies:
Where seeing Phoebus in his orient shrine,
He did so well reuenge the god of wine,
That whil'st the Sun wonders his Chariot reeles,
The craftie god had stole away his wheeles.
Which when he did perceiue, he downe did slide,
(Laying his glittering Coronet aside)
From the bright spangled firmament aboue,
To seeke the Nymph that Bacchus so did loue,
And found her looking in her watry glasse,
To see how cleare her radiant beauty was:
And, for he had but little time to stay,
Because he meant to finish out his day,
At the first sight he 'gan to make his mone,
Telling her how his fiery wheeles were gone;
Promising her, if she would but obtaine
The wheeles, that Mercury had stolne, againe,
That he might end his day, she should enioy
The heauenly sight of the most beauteous boy
That euer was. The Nymph was pleas'd with this,
Hoping to reape some vnaccustom'd blisse
By the sweet pleasure that she should enioy,
In the blest sight of such a melting boy.
Therefore at his request she did obtaine
The burning wheeles, that he had lost, againe:
VVhich when he had receiu'd, he left the land,
And brought them thither where his Coach did stand,
And there he set them on: for all this space,
The horses had not stirr'd from out their place.
VVhich when he saw, he wept and 'gan to say,
VVould Mercury had stole my wheeles away,
When Phaeton my hare-brain'd issue tride,
What a laborious thing it vvas to guide
My burning chariot, the[n] he might haue pleas'd me,
And of one fathers griefe he might haue eas'd me:
For then the Steeds would haue obayd his will,
Or else at least they would haue rested still.
When he had done, he tooke his whip of steele,
Whose bitter smart he made his horses feele:
For he did lash so hard, to end the day,
That he was quickly at the Westerne sea,
And there with Thætis did he rest a space,
For he did neuer rest in any place
Before that time: but euer since his wheeles
Were stole away, his burning chariot reeles
Tow'rds the declining of the parting day:
Therefore he lights and mends them in the sea.
And though the poets fayne, that Ioue did make
A treble night for faire Alcmena's sake,
That he might sleepe securely with his loue;
Yet sure the long night was vnknowne to Ioue:
But the Sunnes wheeles one day disordred more,
Were thrise as long amending as before.
Now was the Sunne inuiron'd with the Sea,
Cooling his watrie tresses as he lay,
And in dread Neptunes kingdome while he sleeps,
Faire Thætis clips him in the watry deeps,
The Mayre-maids and the Tritons of the West,
Strayning their voyces, to make Titan rest.
And while the blacke night with her pitchie hand,
Tooke iust possession of the swarfie land:
He spent the darkesome howres in this delight,
Giuing his power vp to the gladsome night:
For ne're before he was so truely blest,
To take an houre or one poore minutes rest.
But now the burning god this pleasure feeles,
By reason of his newly crazed wheeles,
There must he stay vntill lame Vulcan send
The fierie wheeles which he had tooke to mend.
Now al the night the Smith so hard had wrought,
That ere the Sunne could wake, his wheeles were brought.
Titan being pleas'd with rest, and not to rise,
And loth to open yet his slumbring eyes:
And yet perceiuing how the longing sight
Of mortals wayted for his glittring light,
He sent Aurora from him to the skie,
To giue a glimsing to each mortall eye.
Aurora much asham'd of that same place
That great Apollos light was wont to grace,
Finding no place to hide her shamefull head,
Paynted her chaste cheeks with a blushing red,
Which euer since remain'd vpon her face,
In token of her new receiu'd disgrace:
Therefore she not so white as she had beene,
Lothing of eu'ry mortall to be seene,
No sooner can the rosie fingred morne
Kisse eu'ry flowre that by her dew is borne,
But from her golden window she doth peepe,
When the most part of earthly creatures sleepe.
By this, bright Titan opened had his eyes,
And 'gan to ierke his horses through the skies,
And taking in his hand his fierie whip,
He made AEous and swift AEthon skip
So fast, that straight he dazled had the sight
Of faire Aurora, glad to see his light.
And now the Sunne in all his fierie haste,
Did call to mind his promise lately past,
And all the vowes and othes that he did passe
Vnto faire Salmacis, the beauteous lasse:
For he had promis'd her she should enioy
So louely faire, and such a well shapt boy,
As ne're before his owne all-seeing eye
Saw from his bright seate in the starry skye:
Remembring this, he sent the boy that way,
Where the cleare fountain of the fayre Nymph lay.
There was he co[m]e to seeke some pleasing brooke.
No sooner came he, but the Nymph was strooke:
And though she hasted to imbrace the boy,
Yet did the Nymph awhile deferre her ioy,
Till she had bound vp her loose flagging haire,
And ordred well the garments she did weare,
Fayning her count'nance with a louers care,
And did deserue to be accounted fayre.
And thus much spake she while the boy abode:
O boy, most worthy to be thought a god,
Thou mayst inhabit in the glorious place
Of gods, or maist proceed from human race:
Thou mayst be Cupid, or the god of wine,
That lately woo'd me with the swelling vine:
But whosoe're thou art, O happy he,
That was so blest, to be a sire to thee;
Thy happy mother is most blest of many,
Blessed thy sisters, if her wombe bare any,
Both fortunate, and O thrise happy shee,
Whose too much blessed breasts gaue suck to thee:
If any wife with thy sweet bed be blest,
O, she is farre more happy then the rest;
If thou hast any, let my sport be sto'ne,
Or else let me be she, if thou haue none.
Here did she pause a while, and then she sayd,
Be not obdurate to a silly mayd.
A flinty heart within a smowy brest,
Is like base mold lockt in a golden chest:
They say the eye's the Index of the heart,
And shewes th'affection of each inward part:
There loue playes liuely, there the little god
Hath a cleare cristall Palace of abode.
O barre him not from playing in thy heart,
That sports himselfe vpon eche outward part.
Thus much she spake, & then her tongue was husht.
At her loose speach Hermaphroditus blusht:
He knew not what loue was, yet loue did shame him,
Making him blush, and yet his blush became him:
Then might a man his shamefast colour see,
Like the ripe apple on the sunny tree,
Or Iuory dide o're with a pleasing red,
Or like the pale Moone being shadowed.
By this, the Nymph recouer'd had her tongue,
That to her thinking lay in silence long,
And sayd, Thy cheeke is milde, O be thou so,
Thy cheeke, saith I, then do not answere no,
Thy cheeke doth shame, then doe thou shame, she sayd,
It is a mans shame to deny a mayd.
Thou look'st to sport with Venus in her towre,
And be belou'd of euery heauenly powre.
Men are but mortals, so are women too,
Why should your thoughts aspire more than ours doo?
For sure they doe aspire: Else could a youth,
Whose count'nance is so full of spotlesse truth,
Be so relentlesse to a virgins tongue?
Let me be woo'd by thee but halfe so long,
With halfe those tearmes doe but my loue require,
And I will easly graunt thee thy desire.
Ages are bad, when men become so slow,
That poore vnskillful mayds are forc't to woo.
Her radiant beauty and her subtill arte
S deepely strooke Hermaphroditus heart,
That she had wonne his loue, but that the light
Of her translucent eyes did shine too bright:
For long he look'd vpon the louely mayd,
And at the last Hermaphroditus sayd,
How should I loue thee, when I doe espie
A farre more beauteous Nymph hid in thy eye?
When thou doost loue, let not that Nymph be nie thee;
Nor when thou woo'st, let not that Nymph be by thee:
Or quite obscure her from thy louers face,
Or hide her beauty in a darker place.
By this, the Nymph perceiu'd he did espie
None but himselfe reflected in her eye,
And, for himselfe no more she meant to shew him,
She shut her eyes & blind-fold thus did woo him:
Fayre boy, thinke not thy beauty can dispence
With any payne due to a bad offence;
Remember how the gods punisht that boy
That scorn'd to let a beauteous Nymph enioy
Her long wisht pleasure, for the peeuish elfe,
Lou'd of all other, needs would loue himselfe.
So mayst thou loue, perhaps thou mayst be blest;
By graunting to a lucklesse Nymphs request:
Then rest awhile with me amid these weeds.
The Sunne that sees all, sees not louers deeds;
Phoebus is blind when loue-sports are begun,
And neuer sees vntill their sports be done:
Beleeue me, boy, thy blood is very stayd,
That art so loth to kisse a youthfull mayd.
Wert thou a mayd, and I a man, Ile show thee,
With what a manly boldnesse I could woo thee,
Fayrer then loues Queene, thus I would begin,
Might not my ouer-boldnesse be a sinne,
I would intreat this fauor, if I could,
Thy rosiat cheeke a little to behold:
Then would I beg a touch, and then a kisse,
And then a lower, yet a higher blisse:
Then would I aske what Ioue and Læda did,
When like a Swan the craftie god was hid?
What came he for? why did he there abide?
Surely I thinke hee did not come to chide:
He came to see her face, to talke, and chat,
To touch, to kisse: came he for nought but that?
Yea, something else: what was it he would haue?
That which all men of maydens ought to craue.
This sayd, her eye-lids wide she did display:
But in this space the boy was runne away:
The wanton speeches of the louely lasse
Forc't him for shame to hide him in the grasse.
When she perceiu'd she could not see him neere her,
When she had cal'd and yet he could not heare her,
Look how when Autumne comes, a little space
Paleth the red blush of the Summers face,
Tearing the leaues the Summers couering,
Three months in weauing by the curious spring,
Making the grasse his greene locks go to wracke,
Tearing each ornament from off his backe;
So did she spoyle the garments she did weare,
Tearing whole ounces of her golden hayre:
She thus deluded of her longed blisse,
With much adoo at last she vttred this:
Why wert thou bashfull, boy? Thou hast no part
Shewes thee to be of such a female heart.
His eye is gray, so is the mornings eye,
That blusheth alwayes when the day is nye.
Then his gray eye's the cause: that cannot be:
The gray-ey'd morne is farre more bold then he:
For with a gentle dew from heauens bright towre,
It gets the mayden-head of eu'ry flowre.
I would to God, he were the rosiat morne,
And I a flowre from out the earth new-borne?
His face was smooth; Narcissus face was so,
And he was carelesse of a sad Nymphs woe.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
Youthfull Narcissus was more bold then he,
Because he dide for loue, though of his shade:
This boy nor loues himselfe, nor yet a mayd.
Besides, his glorious eye is wondrous bright;
So is the fierie and all-seeing light
Of Phœbus, who at eu'ry mornings birth
Blusheth for shame vpon the sullen earth.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
The fierie Sunne is farre more bold then he;
He nightly kisseth Thætis in the sea:
All know the story of Leucothoe.
His cheeke is red: so is the fragrant Rose,
Whose ruddie cheeke with ouer-blushing gloes:
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot bee:
Eche blushing Rose is farre more bold then he,
Whose boldnesse may be plainely seene in this,
The ruddy Rose is not asham'd to kisse;
For alwayes when the day is new begun,
The spreading Rose will kisse the morning Sun.
This sayd, hid in the grasse she did espie him,
And stumbling with her will, she fel down by him,
And with her wanton talke, because he woo'd not,
Beg'd that, which he poore nouice vnderstood not:
And, for she could not get a greater blisse,
She did intreate a least a sisters kisse;
But still the more she did the boy beseech,
The more he powted at her wanton speech.
At last the Nymph began to touch his skin,
Whiter then mountaine snow hath euer bin,
And did in purenesse that cleare spring surpasse,
Wherein Acteon saw th'Arcadian lasse.
Thus did she dally long, till at the last,
In her moyst palme she lockt his white hand fast:
Then in her hand his wrest she 'gan to close,
When through his pulses strait the warm bloud gloes,
Whose youthfull musike fanning Cupids fire,
In her warme brest kindled a fresh desire.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his brest,
A part as white and youthfull as the rest,
Where, as his flowry breath still comes and goes,
She felt his gentle heart pant through his clothes.
At last she tooke her hand from off that part,
And sayd, It panted like anothers heart.
Why should it be more feeble, and lesse bold?
Why should the bloud about it be more cold?
Nay sure, that yeelds, onely thy tongue denyes,
And the true fancy of thy heart belyes.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his chin,
And prays'd the prety dimpling of his skin:
But straight his chin she 'gan to ouerslip,
When she beheld the rednesse of his lip;
And sayd, thy lips are soft, presse them to mine,
And thou shalt see they are as soft as thine.
Then would she faine haue gone vnto his eye,
But still his ruddy lip standing so nie,
Drew her hand backe, therefore his eye she mist,
'Ginning to claspe his neck, and would haue kist;
But then the boy did struggle to be gone,
Vowing to leaue her and that place alone.
But then bright Salmacis began to feare,
And sayd, Fayre stranger, I wil leaue thee here
Amid these pleasant places all alone.
So turning back, she fayned to be gone;
But from his sight she had no power to passe,
Therefore she turn'd and hid her in the grasse,
When to the ground bending her snow-white knee,
The glad earth gaue new coates to euery tree.
He then supposing he was all alone,
(Like a young boy that is espy'd of none)
Runnes here, and there, then on the bankes doth looke,
Then on the cristall current of the brooke,
Then with his foote he toucht the siluer streames,
Whose drowsy waues made musike in their dreames,
And, for he was not wholy in, did weepe,
Talking alowd and babbling in their sleepe:
Whose pleasant coolnesse when the boy did feele,
He thrust his foote downe lower to the heele:
O'ercome with whose sweet noyse, he did begin
To strip his soft clothes from his tender skin,
When strait the scorching Sun wept teares of brine,
Because he durst not touch him with his shine,
For feare of spoyling that same Iu'ry skin,
Whose whitenesse he so much delighted in;
And then the Moone, mother of mortall ease,
Would fayne haue come from the Antipodes,
To haue beheld him naked as he stood,
Ready to leape into the siluer flood;
But might not: for the lawes of heauen deny,
To shew mens secrets to a womans eye:
And therefore was her sad and gloomy light
Confin'd vnto the secret-keeping night.
When beauteous Salmacis awhile had gaz'd
Vpon his naked corps, she stood amaz'd,
And both her sparkling eyes burnt in her face,
Like the bright Sunne reflected in a glasse:
Scarce can she stay from running to the boy,
Scarce can she now deferre her hoped ioy;
So fast her youthfull bloud playes in her vaynes,
That almost mad, she scarce herselfe contaynes.
When young Hermaphroditus as he stands,
Clapping his white side with his hollow hands,
Leapt liuely from the land, whereon he stood,
Into the mayne part of the cristall flood.
Like Iu'ry then his snowy body was,
Or a white Lilly in a christall glasse.
Then rose the water Nymph from where she lay,
As hauing wonne the glory of the day,
And her light garments cast from off her skin,
Hee's mine, she cry'd, and so leapt spritely in.
The flattering Iuy who did euer see
Inclaspe the huge trunke of an aged tree,
Let him behold the young boy as he stands,
Inclaspt in wanton Salmacis's hands,
Betwixt those Iu'ry armes she lockt him fast,
Striuing to get away, till at the last,
Fondling, she sayd, why striu'st thou to be gone?
Why shouldst thou so desire to be alone?
Thy cheeke is neuer fayre, when none is by:
For what is red and white, but to the eye:
And for that cause the heauens are darker at night,
Because all creatures close their weary sight;
For there's no mortall can so earely rise,
But still the morning waytes vpon his eyes.
The earely-rising and soone-singing Larke
Can neuer chaunt her sweete notes in the darke,
For sleepe she ne're so little or so long,
Yet still the morning will attend her song.
All creatures that beneath bright Cinthia be,
Haue appetite vnto society;
The ouerflowing waues would haue a bound
Within the confines of the spacious ground,
And all their shady currents would be plaste
In hollow of the solitary vaste,
But what they lothe to let their soft streames sing,
Where non can heare their gentle murmuring.
Yet still the boy regardlesse what she sayd,
Struggled apace to ouerswimme the mayd.
Which when the Nymph perceiu'd she 'gan to say,
Struggle thou mayst, but neuer get away.
So graunt, iust gods, that neuer day may see
The separation twixt this boy and mee.
The gods did heare her pray'r and feele her woe;
And in one body they began to grow.
She felt his youthfull bloud in euery vaine;
And he felt hers warme his colde brest againe.
And euer since was womans loue so blest,
That it will draw bloud from the strongerst brest.
Nor man nor mayd now could they be esteem'd:
Neither, and either, might they well be deem'd,
When the young boy Hermaphroditus sayd,
VVith the set voyce of neither man nor mayd,
Swift Mercury, the author of my life,
And thou my mother Vulcans louely wife,
Let your poore offsprings latest breath be blest,
In but obtayning this his last request,
Grant that whoe're heated by Phoebus beames,
Shall come to coole him in these siluer streames,
May neuermore a manly shape retaine,
But halfe a virgine may returne againe.
His parents hark'ned to his last request,
And with that great power they the fountaine blest.
And since that time who in that fountaine swimmes,
A mayden smoothnesse seyzeth half his limmes.
Merlin And Vivien
A storm was coming, but the winds were still,
And in the wild woods of Broceliande,
Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old
It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,
At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.
For he that always bare in bitter grudge
The slights of Arthur and his Table, Mark
The Cornish King, had heard a wandering voice,
A minstrel of Caerlon by strong storm
Blown into shelter at Tintagil, say
That out of naked knightlike purity
Sir Lancelot worshipt no unmarried girl
But the great Queen herself, fought in her name,
Sware by her--vows like theirs, that high in heaven
Love most, but neither marry, nor are given
In marriage, angels of our Lord's report.
He ceased, and then--for Vivien sweetly said
(She sat beside the banquet nearest Mark),
'And is the fair example followed, Sir,
In Arthur's household?'--answered innocently:
'Ay, by some few--ay, truly--youths that hold
It more beseems the perfect virgin knight
To worship woman as true wife beyond
All hopes of gaining, than as maiden girl.
They place their pride in Lancelot and the Queen.
So passionate for an utter purity
Beyond the limit of their bond, are these,
For Arthur bound them not to singleness.
Brave hearts and clean! and yet--God guide them--young.'
Then Mark was half in heart to hurl his cup
Straight at the speaker, but forbore: he rose
To leave the hall, and, Vivien following him,
Turned to her: 'Here are snakes within the grass;
And you methinks, O Vivien, save ye fear
The monkish manhood, and the mask of pure
Worn by this court, can stir them till they sting.'
And Vivien answered, smiling scornfully,
'Why fear? because that fostered at THY court
I savour of thy--virtues? fear them? no.
As Love, if Love is perfect, casts out fear,
So Hate, if Hate is perfect, casts out fear.
My father died in battle against the King,
My mother on his corpse in open field;
She bore me there, for born from death was I
Among the dead and sown upon the wind--
And then on thee! and shown the truth betimes,
That old true filth, and bottom of the well
Where Truth is hidden. Gracious lessons thine
And maxims of the mud! "This Arthur pure!
Great Nature through the flesh herself hath made
Gives him the lie! There is no being pure,
My cherub; saith not Holy Writ the same?"--
If I were Arthur, I would have thy blood.
Thy blessing, stainless King! I bring thee back,
When I have ferreted out their burrowings,
The hearts of all this Order in mine hand--
Ay--so that fate and craft and folly close,
Perchance, one curl of Arthur's golden beard.
To me this narrow grizzled fork of thine
Is cleaner-fashioned--Well, I loved thee first,
That warps the wit.'
Loud laughed the graceless Mark,
But Vivien, into Camelot stealing, lodged
Low in the city, and on a festal day
When Guinevere was crossing the great hall
Cast herself down, knelt to the Queen, and wailed.
'Why kneel ye there? What evil hath ye wrought?
Rise!' and the damsel bidden rise arose
And stood with folded hands and downward eyes
Of glancing corner, and all meekly said,
'None wrought, but suffered much, an orphan maid!
My father died in battle for thy King,
My mother on his corpse--in open field,
The sad sea-sounding wastes of Lyonnesse--
Poor wretch--no friend!--and now by Mark the King
For that small charm of feature mine, pursued--
If any such be mine--I fly to thee.
Save, save me thou--Woman of women--thine
The wreath of beauty, thine the crown of power,
Be thine the balm of pity, O Heaven's own white
Earth-angel, stainless bride of stainless King--
Help, for he follows! take me to thyself!
O yield me shelter for mine innocency
Among thy maidens!
Here her slow sweet eyes
Fear-tremulous, but humbly hopeful, rose
Fixt on her hearer's, while the Queen who stood
All glittering like May sunshine on May leaves
In green and gold, and plumed with green replied,
'Peace, child! of overpraise and overblame
We choose the last. Our noble Arthur, him
Ye scarce can overpraise, will hear and know.
Nay--we believe all evil of thy Mark--
Well, we shall test thee farther; but this hour
We ride a-hawking with Sir Lancelot.
He hath given us a fair falcon which he trained;
We go to prove it. Bide ye here the while.'
She past; and Vivien murmured after 'Go!
I bide the while.' Then through the portal-arch
Peering askance, and muttering broken-wise,
As one that labours with an evil dream,
Beheld the Queen and Lancelot get to horse.
'Is that the Lancelot? goodly--ay, but gaunt:
Courteous--amends for gauntness--takes her hand--
That glance of theirs, but for the street, had been
A clinging kiss--how hand lingers in hand!
Let go at last!--they ride away--to hawk
For waterfowl. Royaller game is mine.
For such a supersensual sensual bond
As that gray cricket chirpt of at our hearth--
Touch flax with flame--a glance will serve--the liars!
Ah little rat that borest in the dyke
Thy hole by night to let the boundless deep
Down upon far-off cities while they dance--
Or dream--of thee they dreamed not--nor of me
These--ay, but each of either: ride, and dream
The mortal dream that never yet was mine--
Ride, ride and dream until ye wake--to me!
Then, narrow court and lubber King, farewell!
For Lancelot will be gracious to the rat,
And our wise Queen, if knowing that I know,
Will hate, loathe, fear--but honour me the more.'
Yet while they rode together down the plain,
Their talk was all of training, terms of art,
Diet and seeling, jesses, leash and lure.
'She is too noble' he said 'to check at pies,
Nor will she rake: there is no baseness in her.'
Here when the Queen demanded as by chance
'Know ye the stranger woman?' 'Let her be,'
Said Lancelot and unhooded casting off
The goodly falcon free; she towered; her bells,
Tone under tone, shrilled; and they lifted up
Their eager faces, wondering at the strength,
Boldness and royal knighthood of the bird
Who pounced her quarry and slew it. Many a time
As once--of old--among the flowers--they rode.
But Vivien half-forgotten of the Queen
Among her damsels broidering sat, heard, watched
And whispered: through the peaceful court she crept
And whispered: then as Arthur in the highest
Leavened the world, so Vivien in the lowest,
Arriving at a time of golden rest,
And sowing one ill hint from ear to ear,
While all the heathen lay at Arthur's feet,
And no quest came, but all was joust and play,
Leavened his hall. They heard and let her be.
Thereafter as an enemy that has left
Death in the living waters, and withdrawn,
The wily Vivien stole from Arthur's court.
She hated all the knights, and heard in thought
Their lavish comment when her name was named.
For once, when Arthur walking all alone,
Vext at a rumour issued from herself
Of some corruption crept among his knights,
Had met her, Vivien, being greeted fair,
Would fain have wrought upon his cloudy mood
With reverent eyes mock-loyal, shaken voice,
And fluttered adoration, and at last
With dark sweet hints of some who prized him more
Than who should prize him most; at which the King
Had gazed upon her blankly and gone by:
But one had watched, and had not held his peace:
It made the laughter of an afternoon
That Vivien should attempt the blameless King.
And after that, she set herself to gain
Him, the most famous man of all those times,
Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts,
Had built the King his havens, ships, and halls,
Was also Bard, and knew the starry heavens;
The people called him Wizard; whom at first
She played about with slight and sprightly talk,
And vivid smiles, and faintly-venomed points
Of slander, glancing here and grazing there;
And yielding to his kindlier moods, the Seer
Would watch her at her petulance, and play,
Even when they seemed unloveable, and laugh
As those that watch a kitten; thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained, and she,
Perceiving that she was but half disdained,
Began to break her sports with graver fits,
Turn red or pale, would often when they met
Sigh fully, or all-silent gaze upon him
With such a fixt devotion, that the old man,
Though doubtful, felt the flattery, and at times
Would flatter his own wish in age for love,
And half believe her true: for thus at times
He wavered; but that other clung to him,
Fixt in her will, and so the seasons went.
Then fell on Merlin a great melancholy;
He walked with dreams and darkness, and he found
A doom that ever poised itself to fall,
An ever-moaning battle in the mist,
World-war of dying flesh against the life,
Death in all life and lying in all love,
The meanest having power upon the highest,
And the high purpose broken by the worm.
So leaving Arthur's court he gained the beach;
There found a little boat, and stept into it;
And Vivien followed, but he marked her not.
She took the helm and he the sail; the boat
Drave with a sudden wind across the deeps,
And touching Breton sands, they disembarked.
And then she followed Merlin all the way,
Even to the wild woods of Broceliande.
For Merlin once had told her of a charm,
The which if any wrought on anyone
With woven paces and with waving arms,
The man so wrought on ever seemed to lie
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower,
From which was no escape for evermore;
And none could find that man for evermore,
Nor could he see but him who wrought the charm
Coming and going, and he lay as dead
And lost to life and use and name and fame.
And Vivien ever sought to work the charm
Upon the great Enchanter of the Time,
As fancying that her glory would be great
According to his greatness whom she quenched.
There lay she all her length and kissed his feet,
As if in deepest reverence and in love.
A twist of gold was round her hair; a robe
Of samite without price, that more exprest
Than hid her, clung about her lissome limbs,
In colour like the satin-shining palm
On sallows in the windy gleams of March:
And while she kissed them, crying, 'Trample me,
Dear feet, that I have followed through the world,
And I will pay you worship; tread me down
And I will kiss you for it;' he was mute:
So dark a forethought rolled about his brain,
As on a dull day in an Ocean cave
The blind wave feeling round his long sea-hall
In silence: wherefore, when she lifted up
A face of sad appeal, and spake and said,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and again,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and once more,
'Great Master, do ye love me?' he was mute.
And lissome Vivien, holding by his heel,
Writhed toward him, slided up his knee and sat,
Behind his ankle twined her hollow feet
Together, curved an arm about his neck,
Clung like a snake; and letting her left hand
Droop from his mighty shoulder, as a leaf,
Made with her right a comb of pearl to part
The lists of such a board as youth gone out
Had left in ashes: then he spoke and said,
Not looking at her, 'Who are wise in love
Love most, say least,' and Vivien answered quick,
'I saw the little elf-god eyeless once
In Arthur's arras hall at Camelot:
But neither eyes nor tongue--O stupid child!
Yet you are wise who say it; let me think
Silence is wisdom: I am silent then,
And ask no kiss;' then adding all at once,
'And lo, I clothe myself with wisdom,' drew
The vast and shaggy mantle of his beard
Across her neck and bosom to her knee,
And called herself a gilded summer fly
Caught in a great old tyrant spider's web,
Who meant to eat her up in that wild wood
Without one word. So Vivien called herself,
But rather seemed a lovely baleful star
Veiled in gray vapour; till he sadly smiled:
'To what request for what strange boon,' he said,
'Are these your pretty tricks and fooleries,
O Vivien, the preamble? yet my thanks,
For these have broken up my melancholy.'
And Vivien answered smiling saucily,
'What, O my Master, have ye found your voice?
I bid the stranger welcome. Thanks at last!
But yesterday you never opened lip,
Except indeed to drink: no cup had we:
In mine own lady palms I culled the spring
That gathered trickling dropwise from the cleft,
And made a pretty cup of both my hands
And offered you it kneeling: then you drank
And knew no more, nor gave me one poor word;
O no more thanks than might a goat have given
With no more sign of reverence than a beard.
And when we halted at that other well,
And I was faint to swooning, and you lay
Foot-gilt with all the blossom-dust of those
Deep meadows we had traversed, did you know
That Vivien bathed your feet before her own?
And yet no thanks: and all through this wild wood
And all this morning when I fondled you:
Boon, ay, there was a boon, one not so strange--
How had I wronged you? surely ye are wise,
But such a silence is more wise than kind.'
And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said:
'O did ye never lie upon the shore,
And watch the curled white of the coming wave
Glassed in the slippery sand before it breaks?
Even such a wave, but not so pleasurable,
Dark in the glass of some presageful mood,
Had I for three days seen, ready to fall.
And then I rose and fled from Arthur's court
To break the mood. You followed me unasked;
And when I looked, and saw you following me still,
My mind involved yourself the nearest thing
In that mind-mist: for shall I tell you truth?
You seemed that wave about to break upon me
And sweep me from my hold upon the world,
My use and name and fame. Your pardon, child.
Your pretty sports have brightened all again.
And ask your boon, for boon I owe you thrice,
Once for wrong done you by confusion, next
For thanks it seems till now neglected, last
For these your dainty gambols: wherefore ask;
And take this boon so strange and not so strange.'
And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O not so strange as my long asking it,
Not yet so strange as you yourself are strange,
Nor half so strange as that dark mood of yours.
I ever feared ye were not wholly mine;
And see, yourself have owned ye did me wrong.
The people call you prophet: let it be:
But not of those that can expound themselves.
Take Vivien for expounder; she will call
That three-days-long presageful gloom of yours
No presage, but the same mistrustful mood
That makes you seem less noble than yourself,
Whenever I have asked this very boon,
Now asked again: for see you not, dear love,
That such a mood as that, which lately gloomed
Your fancy when ye saw me following you,
Must make me fear still more you are not mine,
Must make me yearn still more to prove you mine,
And make me wish still more to learn this charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
As proof of trust. O Merlin, teach it me.
The charm so taught will charm us both to rest.
For, grant me some slight power upon your fate,
I, feeling that you felt me worthy trust,
Should rest and let you rest, knowing you mine.
And therefore be as great as ye are named,
Not muffled round with selfish reticence.
How hard you look and how denyingly!
O, if you think this wickedness in me,
That I should prove it on you unawares,
That makes me passing wrathful; then our bond
Had best be loosed for ever: but think or not,
By Heaven that hears I tell you the clean truth,
As clean as blood of babes, as white as milk:
O Merlin, may this earth, if ever I,
If these unwitty wandering wits of mine,
Even in the jumbled rubbish of a dream,
Have tript on such conjectural treachery--
May this hard earth cleave to the Nadir hell
Down, down, and close again, and nip me flat,
If I be such a traitress. Yield my boon,
Till which I scarce can yield you all I am;
And grant my re-reiterated wish,
The great proof of your love: because I think,
However wise, ye hardly know me yet.'
And Merlin loosed his hand from hers and said,
'I never was less wise, however wise,
Too curious Vivien, though you talk of trust,
Than when I told you first of such a charm.
Yea, if ye talk of trust I tell you this,
Too much I trusted when I told you that,
And stirred this vice in you which ruined man
Through woman the first hour; for howsoe'er
In children a great curiousness be well,
Who have to learn themselves and all the world,
In you, that are no child, for still I find
Your face is practised when I spell the lines,
I call it,--well, I will not call it vice:
But since you name yourself the summer fly,
I well could wish a cobweb for the gnat,
That settles, beaten back, and beaten back
Settles, till one could yield for weariness:
But since I will not yield to give you power
Upon my life and use and name and fame,
Why will ye never ask some other boon?
Yea, by God's rood, I trusted you too much.'
And Vivien, like the tenderest-hearted maid
That ever bided tryst at village stile,
Made answer, either eyelid wet with tears:
'Nay, Master, be not wrathful with your maid;
Caress her: let her feel herself forgiven
Who feels no heart to ask another boon.
I think ye hardly know the tender rhyme
Of "trust me not at all or all in all."
I heard the great Sir Lancelot sing it once,
And it shall answer for me. Listen to it.
"In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.
"It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
"The little rift within the lover's lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
"It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all."
O Master, do ye love my tender rhyme?'
And Merlin looked and half believed her true,
So tender was her voice, so fair her face,
So sweetly gleamed her eyes behind her tears
Like sunlight on the plain behind a shower:
And yet he answered half indignantly:
'Far other was the song that once I heard
By this huge oak, sung nearly where we sit:
For here we met, some ten or twelve of us,
To chase a creature that was current then
In these wild woods, the hart with golden horns.
It was the time when first the question rose
About the founding of a Table Round,
That was to be, for love of God and men
And noble deeds, the flower of all the world.
And each incited each to noble deeds.
And while we waited, one, the youngest of us,
We could not keep him silent, out he flashed,
And into such a song, such fire for fame,
Such trumpet-glowings in it, coming down
To such a stern and iron-clashing close,
That when he stopt we longed to hurl together,
And should have done it; but the beauteous beast
Scared by the noise upstarted at our feet,
And like a silver shadow slipt away
Through the dim land; and all day long we rode
Through the dim land against a rushing wind,
That glorious roundel echoing in our ears,
And chased the flashes of his golden horns
Till they vanished by the fairy well
That laughs at iron--as our warriors did--
Where children cast their pins and nails, and cry,
"Laugh, little well!" but touch it with a sword,
It buzzes fiercely round the point; and there
We lost him: such a noble song was that.
But, Vivien, when you sang me that sweet rhyme,
I felt as though you knew this cursd charm,
Were proving it on me, and that I lay
And felt them slowly ebbing, name and fame.'
And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O mine have ebbed away for evermore,
And all through following you to this wild wood,
Because I saw you sad, to comfort you.
Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mount
As high as woman in her selfless mood.
And touching fame, howe'er ye scorn my song,
Take one verse more--the lady speaks it--this:
'"My name, once mine, now thine, is closelier mine,
For fame, could fame be mine, that fame were thine,
And shame, could shame be thine, that shame were mine.
So trust me not at all or all in all."
'Says she not well? and there is more--this rhyme
Is like the fair pearl-necklace of the Queen,
That burst in dancing, and the pearls were spilt;
Some lost, some stolen, some as relics kept.
But nevermore the same two sister pearls
Ran down the silken thread to kiss each other
On her white neck--so is it with this rhyme:
It lives dispersedly in many hands,
And every minstrel sings it differently;
Yet is there one true line, the pearl of pearls:
"Man dreams of Fame while woman wakes to love."
Yea! Love, though Love were of the grossest, carves
A portion from the solid present, eats
And uses, careless of the rest; but Fame,
The Fame that follows death is nothing to us;
And what is Fame in life but half-disfame,
And counterchanged with darkness? ye yourself
Know well that Envy calls you Devil's son,
And since ye seem the Master of all Art,
They fain would make you Master of all vice.'
And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said,
'I once was looking for a magic weed,
And found a fair young squire who sat alone,
Had carved himself a knightly shield of wood,
And then was painting on it fancied arms,
Azure, an Eagle rising or, the Sun
In dexter chief; the scroll "I follow fame."
And speaking not, but leaning over him
I took his brush and blotted out the bird,
And made a Gardener putting in a graff,
With this for motto, "Rather use than fame."
You should have seen him blush; but afterwards
He made a stalwart knight. O Vivien,
For you, methinks you think you love me well;
For me, I love you somewhat; rest: and Love
Should have some rest and pleasure in himself,
Not ever be too curious for a boon,
Too prurient for a proof against the grain
Of him ye say ye love: but Fame with men,
Being but ampler means to serve mankind,
Should have small rest or pleasure in herself,
But work as vassal to the larger love,
That dwarfs the petty love of one to one.
Use gave me Fame at first, and Fame again
Increasing gave me use. Lo, there my boon!
What other? for men sought to prove me vile,
Because I fain had given them greater wits:
And then did Envy call me Devil's son:
The sick weak beast seeking to help herself
By striking at her better, missed, and brought
Her own claw back, and wounded her own heart.
Sweet were the days when I was all unknown,
But when my name was lifted up, the storm
Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it.
Right well know I that Fame is half-disfame,
Yet needs must work my work. That other fame,
To one at least, who hath not children, vague,
The cackle of the unborn about the grave,
I cared not for it: a single misty star,
Which is the second in a line of stars
That seem a sword beneath a belt of three,
I never gazed upon it but I dreamt
Of some vast charm concluded in that star
To make fame nothing. Wherefore, if I fear,
Giving you power upon me through this charm,
That you might play me falsely, having power,
However well ye think ye love me now
(As sons of kings loving in pupilage
Have turned to tyrants when they came to power)
I rather dread the loss of use than fame;
If you--and not so much from wickedness,
As some wild turn of anger, or a mood
Of overstrained affection, it may be,
To keep me all to your own self,--or else
A sudden spurt of woman's jealousy,--
Should try this charm on whom ye say ye love.'
And Vivien answered smiling as in wrath:
'Have I not sworn? I am not trusted. Good!
Well, hide it, hide it; I shall find it out;
And being found take heed of Vivien.
A woman and not trusted, doubtless I
Might feel some sudden turn of anger born
Of your misfaith; and your fine epithet
Is accurate too, for this full love of mine
Without the full heart back may merit well
Your term of overstrained. So used as I,
My daily wonder is, I love at all.
And as to woman's jealousy, O why not?
O to what end, except a jealous one,
And one to make me jealous if I love,
Was this fair charm invented by yourself?
I well believe that all about this world
Ye cage a buxom captive here and there,
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower
From which is no escape for evermore.'
Then the great Master merrily answered her:
'Full many a love in loving youth was mine;
I needed then no charm to keep them mine
But youth and love; and that full heart of yours
Whereof ye prattle, may now assure you mine;
So live uncharmed. For those who wrought it first,
The wrist is parted from the hand that waved,
The feet unmortised from their ankle-bones
Who paced it, ages back: but will ye hear
The legend as in guerdon for your rhyme?
'There lived a king in the most Eastern East,
Less old than I, yet older, for my blood
Hath earnest in it of far springs to be.
A tawny pirate anchored in his port,
Whose bark had plundered twenty nameless isles;
And passing one, at the high peep of dawn,
He saw two cities in a thousand boats
All fighting for a woman on the sea.
And pushing his black craft among them all,
He lightly scattered theirs and brought her off,
With loss of half his people arrow-slain;
A maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful,
They said a light came from her when she moved:
And since the pirate would not yield her up,
The King impaled him for his piracy;
Then made her Queen: but those isle-nurtured eyes
Waged such unwilling though successful war
On all the youth, they sickened; councils thinned,
And armies waned, for magnet-like she drew
The rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts;
And beasts themselves would worship; camels knelt
Unbidden, and the brutes of mountain back
That carry kings in castles, bowed black knees
Of homage, ringing with their serpent hands,
To make her smile, her golden ankle-bells.
What wonder, being jealous, that he sent
His horns of proclamation out through all
The hundred under-kingdoms that he swayed
To find a wizard who might teach the King
Some charm, which being wrought upon the Queen
Might keep her all his own: to such a one
He promised more than ever king has given,
A league of mountain full of golden mines,
A province with a hundred miles of coast,
A palace and a princess, all for him:
But on all those who tried and failed, the King
Pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning by it
To keep the list low and pretenders back,
Or like a king, not to be trifled with--
Their heads should moulder on the city gates.
And many tried and failed, because the charm
Of nature in her overbore their own:
And many a wizard brow bleached on the walls:
And many weeks a troop of carrion crows
Hung like a cloud above the gateway towers.'
And Vivien breaking in upon him, said:
'I sit and gather honey; yet, methinks,
Thy tongue has tript a little: ask thyself.
The lady never made UNWILLING war
With those fine eyes: she had her pleasure in it,
And made her good man jealous with good cause.
And lived there neither dame nor damsel then
Wroth at a lover's loss? were all as tame,
I mean, as noble, as the Queen was fair?
Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,
Or pinch a murderous dust into her drink,
Or make her paler with a poisoned rose?
Well, those were not our days: but did they find
A wizard? Tell me, was he like to thee?
She ceased, and made her lithe arm round his neck
Tighten, and then drew back, and let her eyes
Speak for her, glowing on him, like a bride's
On her new lord, her own, the first of men.
He answered laughing, 'Nay, not like to me.
At last they found--his foragers for charms--
A little glassy-headed hairless man,
Who lived alone in a great wild on grass;
Read but one book, and ever reading grew
So grated down and filed away with thought,
So lean his eyes were monstrous; while the skin
Clung but to crate and basket, ribs and spine.
And since he kept his mind on one sole aim,
Nor ever touched fierce wine, nor tasted flesh,
Nor owned a sensual wish, to him the wall
That sunders ghosts and shadow-casting men
Became a crystal, and he saw them through it,
And heard their voices talk behind the wall,
And learnt their elemental secrets, powers
And forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye
Drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud,
And lashed it at the base with slanting storm;
Or in the noon of mist and driving rain,
When the lake whitened and the pinewood roared,
And the cairned mountain was a shadow, sunned
The world to peace again: here was the man.
And so by force they dragged him to the King.
And then he taught the King to charm the Queen
In such-wise, that no man could see her more,
Nor saw she save the King, who wrought the charm,
Coming and going, and she lay as dead,
And lost all use of life: but when the King
Made proffer of the league of golden mines,
The province with a hundred miles of coast,
The palace and the princess, that old man
Went back to his old wild, and lived on grass,
And vanished, and his book came down to me.'
And Vivien answered smiling saucily:
'Ye have the book: the charm is written in it:
Good: take my counsel: let me know it at once:
For keep it like a puzzle chest in chest,
With each chest locked and padlocked thirty-fold,
And whelm all this beneath as vast a mound
As after furious battle turfs the slain
On some wild down above the windy deep,
I yet should strike upon a sudden means
To dig, pick, open, find and read the charm:
Then, if I tried it, who should blame me then?'
And smiling as a master smiles at one
That is not of his school, nor any school
But that where blind and naked Ignorance
Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed,
On all things all day long, he answered her:
'Thou read the book, my pretty Vivien!
O ay, it is but twenty pages long,
But every page having an ample marge,
And every marge enclosing in the midst
A square of text that looks a little blot,
The text no larger than the limbs of fleas;
And every square of text an awful charm,
Writ in a language that has long gone by.
So long, that mountains have arisen since
With cities on their flanks--thou read the book!
And ever margin scribbled, crost, and crammed
With comment, densest condensation, hard
To mind and eye; but the long sleepless nights
Of my long life have made it easy to me.
And none can read the text, not even I;
And none can read the comment but myself;
And in the comment did I find the charm.
O, the results are simple; a mere child
Might use it to the harm of anyone,
And never could undo it: ask no more:
For though you should not prove it upon me,
But keep that oath ye sware, ye might, perchance,
Assay it on some one of the Table Round,
And all because ye dream they babble of you.'
And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:
'What dare the full-fed liars say of me?
THEY ride abroad redressing human wrongs!
They sit with knife in meat and wine in horn!
THEY bound to holy vows of chastity!
Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.
But you are man, you well can understand
The shame that cannot be explained for shame.
Not one of all the drove should touch me: swine!'
Then answered Merlin careless of her words:
'You breathe but accusation vast and vague,
Spleen-born, I think, and proofless. If ye know,
Set up the charge ye know, to stand or fall!'
And Vivien answered frowning wrathfully:
'O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him
Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife
And two fair babes, and went to distant lands;
Was one year gone, and on returning found
Not two but three? there lay the reckling, one
But one hour old! What said the happy sire?'
A seven-months' babe had been a truer gift.
Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.'
Then answered Merlin, 'Nay, I know the tale.
Sir Valence wedded with an outland dame:
Some cause had kept him sundered from his wife:
One child they had: it lived with her: she died:
His kinsman travelling on his own affair
Was charged by Valence to bring home the child.
He brought, not found it therefore: take the truth.'
'O ay,' said Vivien, 'overtrue a tale.
What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,
That ardent man? "to pluck the flower in season,"
So says the song, "I trow it is no treason."
O Master, shall we call him overquick
To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?'
And Merlin answered, 'Overquick art thou
To catch a loathly plume fallen from the wing
Of that foul bird of rapine whose whole prey
Is man's good name: he never wronged his bride.
I know the tale. An angry gust of wind
Puffed out his torch among the myriad-roomed
And many-corridored complexities
Of Arthur's palace: then he found a door,
And darkling felt the sculptured ornament
That wreathen round it made it seem his own;
And wearied out made for the couch and slept,
A stainless man beside a stainless maid;
And either slept, nor knew of other there;
Till the high dawn piercing the royal rose
In Arthur's casement glimmered chastely down,
Blushing upon them blushing, and at once
He rose without a word and parted from her:
But when the thing was blazed about the court,
The brute world howling forced them into bonds,
And as it chanced they are happy, being pure.'
'O ay,' said Vivien, 'that were likely too.
What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale
And of the horrid foulness that he wrought,
The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of Christ,
Or some black wether of St Satan's fold.
What, in the precincts of the chapel-yard,
Among the knightly brasses of the graves,
And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead!'
And Merlin answered careless of her charge,
'A sober man is Percivale and pure;
But once in life was flustered with new wine,
Then paced for coolness in the chapel-yard;
Where one of Satan's shepherdesses caught
And meant to stamp him with her master's mark;
And that he sinned is not believable;
For, look upon his face!--but if he sinned,
The sin that practice burns into the blood,
And not the one dark hour which brings remorse,
Will brand us, after, of whose fold we be:
Or else were he, the holy king, whose hymns
Are chanted in the minster, worse than all.
But is your spleen frothed out, or have ye more?'
And Vivien answered frowning yet in wrath:
'O ay; what say ye to Sir Lancelot, friend
Traitor or true? that commerce with the Queen,
I ask you, is it clamoured by the child,
Or whispered in the corner? do ye know it?'
To which he answered sadly, 'Yea, I know it.
Sir Lancelot went ambassador, at first,
To fetch her, and she watched him from her walls.
A rumour runs, she took him for the King,
So fixt her fancy on him: let them be.
But have ye no one word of loyal praise
For Arthur, blameless King and stainless man?'
She answered with a low and chuckling laugh:
'Man! is he man at all, who knows and winks?
Sees what his fair bride is and does, and winks?
By which the good King means to blind himself,
And blinds himself and all the Table Round
To all the foulness that they work. Myself
Could call him (were it not for womanhood)
The pretty, popular cause such manhood earns,
Could call him the main cause of all their crime;
Yea, were he not crowned King, coward, and fool.'
Then Merlin to his own heart, loathing, said:
'O true and tender! O my liege and King!
O selfless man and stainless gentleman,
Who wouldst against thine own eye-witness fain
Have all men true and leal, all women pure;
How, in the mouths of base interpreters,
From over-fineness not intelligible
To things with every sense as false and foul
As the poached filth that floods the middle street,
Is thy white blamelessness accounted blame!'
But Vivien, deeming Merlin overborne
By instance, recommenced, and let her tongue
Rage like a fire among the noblest names,
Polluting, and imputing her whole self,
Defaming and defacing, till she left
Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.
Her words had issue other than she willed.
He dragged his eyebrow bushes down, and made
A snowy penthouse for his hollow eyes,
And muttered in himself, 'Tell HER the charm!
So, if she had it, would she rail on me
To snare the next, and if she have it not
So will she rail. What did the wanton say?
"Not mount as high;" we scarce can sink as low:
For men at most differ as Heaven and earth,
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.
I know the Table Round, my friends of old;
All brave, and many generous, and some chaste.
She cloaks the scar of some repulse with lies;
I well believe she tempted them and failed,
Being so bitter: for fine plots may fail,
Though harlots paint their talk as well as face
With colours of the heart that are not theirs.
I will not let her know: nine tithes of times
Face-flatterer and backbiter are the same.
And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crime
Are pronest to it, and impute themselves,
Wanting the mental range; or low desire
Not to feel lowest makes them level all;
Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,
To leave an equal baseness; and in this
Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find
Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
And judge all nature from her feet of clay,
Without the will to lift their eyes, and see
Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,
And touching other worlds. I am weary of her.'
He spoke in words part heard, in whispers part,
Half-suffocated in the hoary fell
And many-wintered fleece of throat and chin.
But Vivien, gathering somewhat of his mood,
And hearing 'harlot' muttered twice or thrice,
Leapt from her session on his lap, and stood
Stiff as a viper frozen; loathsome sight,
How from the rosy lips of life and love,
Flashed the bare-grinning skeleton of death!
White was her cheek; sharp breaths of anger puffed
Her fairy nostril out; her hand half-clenched
Went faltering sideways downward to her belt,
And feeling; had she found a dagger there
(For in a wink the false love turns to hate)
She would have stabbed him; but she found it not:
His eye was calm, and suddenly she took
To bitter weeping like a beaten child,
A long, long weeping, not consolable.
Then her false voice made way, broken with sobs:
'O crueller than was ever told in tale,
Or sung in song! O vainly lavished love!
O cruel, there was nothing wild or strange,
Or seeming shameful--for what shame in love,
So love be true, and not as yours is--nothing
Poor Vivien had not done to win his trust
Who called her what he called her--all her crime,
All--all--the wish to prove him wholly hers.'
She mused a little, and then clapt her hands
Together with a wailing shriek, and said:
'Stabbed through the heart's affections to the heart!
Seethed like the kid in its own mother's milk!
Killed with a word worse than a life of blows!
I thought that he was gentle, being great:
O God, that I had loved a smaller man!
I should have found in him a greater heart.
O, I, that flattering my true passion, saw
The knights, the court, the King, dark in your light,
Who loved to make men darker than they are,
Because of that high pleasure which I had
To seat you sole upon my pedestal
Of worship--I am answered, and henceforth
The course of life that seemed so flowery to me
With you for guide and master, only you,
Becomes the sea-cliff pathway broken short,
And ending in a ruin--nothing left,
But into some low cave to crawl, and there,
If the wolf spare me, weep my life away,
Killed with inutterable unkindliness.'
She paused, she turned away, she hung her head,
The snake of gold slid from her hair, the braid
Slipt and uncoiled itself, she wept afresh,
And the dark wood grew darker toward the storm
In silence, while his anger slowly died
Within him, till he let his wisdom go
For ease of heart, and half believed her true:
Called her to shelter in the hollow oak,
'Come from the storm,' and having no reply,
Gazed at the heaving shoulder, and the face
Hand-hidden, as for utmost grief or shame;
Then thrice essayed, by tenderest-touching terms,
To sleek her ruffled peace of mind, in vain.
At last she let herself be conquered by him,
And as the cageling newly flown returns,
The seeming-injured simple-hearted thing
Came to her old perch back, and settled there.
There while she sat, half-falling from his knees,
Half-nestled at his heart, and since he saw
The slow tear creep from her closed eyelid yet,
About her, more in kindness than in love,
The gentle wizard cast a shielding arm.
But she dislinked herself at once and rose,
Her arms upon her breast across, and stood,
A virtuous gentlewoman deeply wronged,
Upright and flushed before him: then she said:
'There must now be no passages of love
Betwixt us twain henceforward evermore;
Since, if I be what I am grossly called,
What should be granted which your own gross heart
Would reckon worth the taking? I will go.
In truth, but one thing now--better have died
Thrice than have asked it once--could make me stay--
That proof of trust--so often asked in vain!
How justly, after that vile term of yours,
I find with grief! I might believe you then,
Who knows? once more. Lo! what was once to me
Mere matter of the fancy, now hath grown
The vast necessity of heart and life.
Farewell; think gently of me, for I fear
My fate or folly, passing gayer youth
For one so old, must be to love thee still.
But ere I leave thee let me swear once more
That if I schemed against thy peace in this,
May yon just heaven, that darkens o'er me, send
One flash, that, missing all things else, may make
My scheming brain a cinder, if I lie.'
Scarce had she ceased, when out of heaven a bolt
(For now the storm was close above them) struck,
Furrowing a giant oak, and javelining
With darted spikes and splinters of the wood
The dark earth round. He raised his eyes and saw
The tree that shone white-listed through the gloom.
But Vivien, fearing heaven had heard her oath,
And dazzled by the livid-flickering fork,
And deafened with the stammering cracks and claps
That followed, flying back and crying out,
'O Merlin, though you do not love me, save,
Yet save me!' clung to him and hugged him close;
And called him dear protector in her fright,
Nor yet forgot her practice in her fright,
But wrought upon his mood and hugged him close.
The pale blood of the wizard at her touch
Took gayer colours, like an opal warmed.
She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales:
She shook from fear, and for her fault she wept
Of petulancy; she called him lord and liege,
Her seer, her bard, her silver star of eve,
Her God, her Merlin, the one passionate love
Of her whole life; and ever overhead
Bellowed the tempest, and the rotten branch
Snapt in the rushing of the river-rain
Above them; and in change of glare and gloom
Her eyes and neck glittering went and came;
Till now the storm, its burst of passion spent,
Moaning and calling out of other lands,
Had left the ravaged woodland yet once more
To peace; and what should not have been had been,
For Merlin, overtalked and overworn,
Had yielded, told her all the charm, and slept.
Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
And in the hollow oak he lay as dead,
And lost to life and use and name and fame.
Then crying 'I have made his glory mine,'
And shrieking out 'O fool!' the harlot leapt
Adown the forest, and the thicket closed
Behind her, and the forest echoed 'fool.'