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The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.

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But They Can Never Be Mine

the face
the breasts and nipples
the abdomen
the smoothness of the skin
down to the last details
of the body
the middle and the bottom
the legs
and veins and toes and nails
all these dance before me
to my pleasure

i shut my mouth
i hold my hands and tell myself

oh how beautiful! (but)
they are not mine.

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Pioneers may be picturesque figures, but they are often rather lonely ones.

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The City of Dreadful Night

Per me si va nella citta dolente.

--Dante

Poi di tanto adoprar, di tanti moti
D'ogni celeste, ogni terrena cosa,
Girando senza posa,
Per tornar sempre la donde son mosse;
Uso alcuno, alcun frutto
Indovinar non so.

Sola nel mondo eterna, a cui si volve
Ogni creata cosa,
In te, morte, si posa
Nostra ignuda natura;
Lieta no, ma sicura
Dell' antico dolor . . .
Pero ch' esser beato
Nega ai mortali e nega a' morti il fato.

--Leopardi

PROEM

Lo, thus, as prostrate, "In the dust I write
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears."
Yet why evoke the spectres of black night
To blot the sunshine of exultant years?
Why disinter dead faith from mouldering hidden?
Why break the seals of mute despair unbidden,
And wail life's discords into careless ears?

Because a cold rage seizes one at whiles
To show the bitter old and wrinkled truth
Stripped naked of all vesture that beguiles,
False dreams, false hopes, false masks and modes of youth;
Because it gives some sense of power and passion
In helpless innocence to try to fashion
Our woe in living words howe'er uncouth.

Surely I write not for the hopeful young,
Or those who deem their happiness of worth,
Or such as pasture and grow fat among
The shows of life and feel nor doubt nor dearth,
Or pious spirits with a God above them
To sanctify and glorify and love them,
Or sages who foresee a heaven on earth.

For none of these I write, and none of these
Could read the writing if they deigned to try;
So may they flourish in their due degrees,
On our sweet earth and in their unplaced sky.
If any cares for the weak words here written,
It must be some one desolate, Fate-smitten,
Whose faith and hopes are dead, and who would die.

Yes, here and there some weary wanderer
In that same city of tremendous night,
Will understand the speech and feel a stir
Of fellowship in all-disastrous fight;
"I suffer mute and lonely, yet another
Uplifts his voice to let me know a brother
Travels the same wild paths though out of sight."

O sad Fraternity, do I unfold
Your dolorous mysteries shrouded from of yore?
Nay, be assured; no secret can be told
To any who divined it not before:
None uninitiate by many a presage
Will comprehend the language of the message,
Although proclaimed aloud for evermore.

I

The City is of Night; perchance of Death
But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning's fragrant breath
After the dewy dawning's cold grey air:
The moon and stars may shine with scorn or pity
The sun has never visited that city,
For it dissolveth in the daylight fair.

Dissolveth like a dream of night away;
Though present in distempered gloom of thought
And deadly weariness of heart all day.
But when a dream night after night is brought
Throughout a week, and such weeks few or many
Recur each year for several years, can any
Discern that dream from real life in aught?

For life is but a dream whose shapes return,
Some frequently, some seldom, some by night
And some by day, some night and day: we learn,
The while all change and many vanish quite,
In their recurrence with recurrent changes
A certain seeming order; where this ranges
We count things real; such is memory's might.

A river girds the city west and south,
The main north channel of a broad lagoon,
Regurging with the salt tides from the mouth;
Waste marshes shine and glister to the moon
For leagues, then moorland black, then stony ridges;
Great piers and causeways, many noble bridges,
Connect the town and islet suburbs strewn.

Upon an easy slope it lies at large
And scarcely overlaps the long curved crest
Which swells out two leagues from the river marge.
A trackless wilderness rolls north and west,
Savannahs, savage woods, enormous mountains,
Bleak uplands, black ravines with torrent fountains;
And eastward rolls the shipless sea's unrest.

The city is not ruinous, although
Great ruins of an unremembered past,
With others of a few short years ago
More sad, are found within its precincts vast.
The street-lamps always burn; but scarce a casement
In house or palace front from roof to basement
Doth glow or gleam athwart the mirk air cast.

The street-lamps burn amid the baleful glooms,
Amidst the soundless solitudes immense
Of ranged mansions dark and still as tombs.
The silence which benumbs or strains the sense
Fulfils with awe the soul's despair unweeping:
Myriads of habitants are ever sleeping,
Or dead, or fled from nameless pestilence!

Yet as in some necropolis you find
Perchance one mourner to a thousand dead,
So there: worn faces that look deaf and blind
Like tragic masks of stone. With weary tread,
Each wrapt in his own doom, they wander, wander,
Or sit foredone and desolately ponder
Through sleepless hours with heavy drooping head.

Mature men chiefly, few in age or youth,
A woman rarely, now and then a child:
A child! If here the heart turns sick with ruth
To see a little one from birth defiled,
Or lame or blind, as preordained to languish
Through youthless life, think how it bleeds with anguish
To meet one erring in that homeless wild.

They often murmur to themselves, they speak
To one another seldom, for their woe
Broods maddening inwardly and scorns to wreak
Itself abroad; and if at whiles it grow
To frenzy which must rave, none heeds the clamour,
Unless there waits some victim of like glamour,
To rave in turn, who lends attentive show.

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell. This dreadful strain
Of thought and consciousness which never ceases,
Or which some moments' stupor but increases,
This, worse than woe, makes wretches there insane.

They leave all hope behind who enter there:
One certitude while sane they cannot leave,
One anodyne for torture and despair;
The certitude of Death, which no reprieve
Can put off long; and which, divinely tender,
But waits the outstretched hand to promptly render
That draught whose slumber nothing can bereave

II

Because he seemed to walk with an intent
I followed him; who, shadowlike and frail,
Unswervingly though slowly onward went,
Regardless, wrapt in thought as in a veil:
Thus step for step with lonely sounding feet
We travelled many a long dim silent street.

At length he paused: a black mass in the gloom,
A tower that merged into the heavy sky;
Around, the huddled stones of grave and tomb:
Some old God's-acre now corruption's sty:
He murmured to himself with dull despair,
Here Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

Then turning to the right went on once more
And travelled weary roads without suspense;
And reached at last a low wall's open door,
Whose villa gleamed beyond the foliage dense:
He gazed, and muttered with a hard despair,
Here Love died, stabbed by its own worshipped pair.

Then turning to the right resumed his march,
And travelled street and lanes with wondrous strength,
Until on stooping through a narrow arch
We stood before a squalid house at length:
He gazed, and whispered with a cold despair,
Here Hope died, starved out in its utmost lair.

When he had spoken thus, before he stirred,
I spoke, perplexed by something in the signs
Of desolation I had seen and heard
In this drear pilgrimage to ruined shrines:
Where Faith and Love and Hope are dead indeed,
Can Life still live? By what doth it proceed?

As whom his one intense thought overpowers,
He answered coldly, Take a watch, erase
The signs and figures of the circling hours,
Detach the hands, remove the dial-face;
The works proceed until run down; although
Bereft of purpose, void of use, still go.

Then turning to the right paced on again,
And traversed squares and travelled streets whose glooms
Seemed more and more familiar to my ken;
And reached that sullen temple of the tombs;
And paused to murmur with the old despair,
Here Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

I ceased to follow, for the knot of doubt
Was severed sharply with a cruel knife:
He circled thus forever tracing out
The series of the fraction left of Life;
Perpetual recurrence in the scope
Of but three terms, dead Faith, dead Love, dead Hope. [ 1]

LXX

[1] Life divided by that persistent three = --- = .210.

333

III
Although lamps burn along the silent streets,
Even when moonlight silvers empty squares
The dark holds countless lanes and close retreats;
But when the night its sphereless mantle wears
The open spaces yawn with gloom abysmal,
The sombre mansions loom immense and dismal,
The lanes are black as subterranean lairs.

And soon the eye a strange new vision learns:
The night remains for it as dark and dense,
Yet clearly in this darkness it discerns
As in the daylight with its natural sense;
Perceives a shade in shadow not obscurely,
Pursues a stir of black in blackness surely,
Sees spectres also in the gloom intense.

The ear, too, with the silence vast and deep
Becomes familiar though unreconciled;
Hears breathings as of hidden life asleep,
And muffled throbs as of pent passions wild,
Far murmurs, speech of pity or derision;
but all more dubious than the things of vision,
So that it knows not when it is beguiled.

No time abates the first despair and awe,
But wonder ceases soon; the weirdest thing
Is felt least strange beneath the lawless law
Where Death-in-Life is the eternal king;
Crushed impotent beneath this reign of terror,
Dazed with mysteries of woe and error,
The soul is too outworn for wondering.

IV

He stood alone within the spacious square
Declaiming from the central grassy mound,
With head uncovered and with streaming hair,
As if large multitudes were gathered round:
A stalwart shape, the gestures full of might,
The glances burning with unnatural light:--

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: All was black,
In heaven no single star, on earth no track;
A brooding hush without a stir or note,
The air so thick it clotted in my throat;
And thus for hours; then some enormous things
Swooped past with savage cries and clanking wings:
But I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Eyes of fire
Glared at me throbbing with a starved desire;
The hoarse and heavy and carnivorous breath
Was hot upon me from deep jaws of death;
Sharp claws, swift talons, fleshless fingers cold
Plucked at me from the bushes, tried to hold:
But I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Lo you, there,
That hillock burning with a brazen glare;
Those myriad dusky flames with points a-glow
Which writhed and hissed and darted to and fro;
A Sabbath of the Serpents, heaped pell-mell
For Devil's roll-call and some fete of Hell:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Meteors ran
And crossed their javelins on the black sky-span;
The zenith opened to a gulf of flame,
The dreadful thunderbolts jarred earth's fixed frame;
The ground all heaved in waves of fire that surged
And weltered round me sole there unsubmerged:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Air once more,
And I was close upon a wild sea-shore;
Enormous cliffs arose on either hand,
The deep tide thundered up a league-broad strand;
White foambelts seethed there, wan spray swept and flew;
The sky broke, moon and stars and clouds and blue:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: On the left
The sun arose and crowned a broad crag-cleft;
There stopped and burned out black, except a rim,
A bleeding eyeless socket, red and dim;
Whereon the moon fell suddenly south-west,
And stood above the right-hand cliffs at rest:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: From the right
A shape came slowly with a ruddy light;
A woman with a red lamp in her hand,
Bareheaded and barefooted on that strand;
O desolation moving with such grace!
O anguish with such beauty in thy face!
I fell as on my bier,
Hope travailed with such fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: I was twain,
Two selves distinct that cannot join again;
One stood apart and knew but could not stir,
And watched the other stark in swoon and her;
And she came on, and never turned aside,
Between such sun and moon and roaring tide:
And as she came more near
My soul grew mad with fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Hell is mild
And piteous matched with that accursed wild;
A large black sign was on her breast that bowed,
A broad black band ran down her snow-white shroud;
That lamp she held was her own burning heart,
Whose blood-drops trickled step by step apart:
The mystery was clear;
Mad rage had swallowed fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: By the sea
She knelt and bent above that senseless me;
Those lamp-drops fell upon my white brow there,
She tried to cleanse them with her tears and hair;
She murmured words of pity, love, and woe,
Shee heeded not the level rushing flow:
And mad with rage and fear,
I stood stonebound so near.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: When the tide
Swept up to her there kneeling by my side,
She clasped that corpse-like me, and they were borne
Away, and this vile me was left forlorn;
I know the whole sea cannot quench that heart,
Or cleanse that brow, or wash those two apart:
They love; their doom is drear,
Yet they nor hope nor fear;
But I, what do I here?

V

How he arrives there none can clearly know;
Athwart the mountains and immense wild tracts,
Or flung a waif upon that vast sea-flow,
Or down the river's boiling cataracts:
To reach it is as dying fever-stricken
To leave it, slow faint birth intense pangs quicken;
And memory swoons in both the tragic acts.

But being there one feels a citizen;
Escape seems hopeless to the heart forlorn:
Can Death-in-Life be brought to life again?
And yet release does come; there comes a morn
When he awakes from slumbering so sweetly
That all the world is changed for him completely,
And he is verily as if new-born.

He scarcely can believe the blissful change,
He weeps perchance who wept not while accurst;
Never again will he approach the range
Infected by that evil spell now burst:
Poor wretch! who once hath paced that dolent city
Shall pace it often, doomed beyond all pity,
With horror ever deepening from the first.

Though he possess sweet babes and loving wife,
A home of peace by loyal friendships cheered,
And love them more than death or happy life,
They shall avail not; he must dree his weird;
Renounce all blessings for that imprecation,
Steal forth and haunt that builded desolation,
Of woe and terrors and thick darkness reared.

VI

I sat forlornly by the river-side,
And watched the bridge-lamps glow like golden stars
Above the blackness of the swelling tide,
Down which they struck rough gold in ruddier bars;
And heard the heave and plashing of the flow
Against the wall a dozen feet below.

Large elm-trees stood along that river-walk;
And under one, a few steps from my seat,
I heard strange voices join in stranger talk,
Although I had not heard approaching feet:
These bodiless voices in my waking dream
Flowed dark words blending with sombre stream:--

And you have after all come back; come back.
I was about to follow on your track.
And you have failed: our spark of hope is black.

That I have failed is proved by my return:
The spark is quenched, nor ever more will burn,
But listen; and the story you shall learn.

I reached the portal common spirits fear,
And read the words above it, dark yet clear,
"Leave hope behind, all ye who enter here:"

And would have passed in, gratified to gain
That positive eternity of pain
Instead of this insufferable inane.

A demon warder clutched me, Not so fast;
First leave your hopes behind!--But years have passed
Since I left all behind me, to the last:

You cannot count for hope, with all your wit,
This bleak despair that drives me to the Pit:
How could I seek to enter void of it?

He snarled, What thing is this which apes a soul,
And would find entrance to our gulf of dole
Without the payment of the settled toll?

Outside the gate he showed an open chest:
Here pay their entrance fees the souls unblest;
Cast in some hope, you enter with the rest.

This is Pandora's box; whose lid shall shut,
And Hell-gate too, when hopes have filled it; but
They are so thin that it will never glut.

I stood a few steps backwards, desolate;
And watched the spirits pass me to their fate,
And fling off hope, and enter at the gate.

When one casts off a load he springs upright,
Squares back his shoulders, breathes will all his might,
And briskly paces forward strong and light:

But these, as if they took some burden, bowed;
The whole frame sank; however strong and proud
Before, they crept in quite infirm and cowed.

And as they passed me, earnestly from each
A morsel of his hope I did beseech,
To pay my entrance; but all mocked my speech.

No one would cede a little of his store,
Though knowing that in instants three or four
He must resign the whole for evermore.

So I returned. Our destiny is fell;
For in this Limbo we must ever dwell,
Shut out alike from heaven and Earth and Hell.

The other sighed back, Yea; but if we grope
With care through all this Limbo's dreary scope,
We yet may pick up some minute lost hope;

And sharing it between us, entrance win,
In spite of fiends so jealous for gross sin:
Let us without delay our search begin.

VII

Some say that phantoms haunt those shadowy streets,
And mingle freely there with sparse mankind;
And tell of ancient woes and black defeats,
And murmur mysteries in the grave enshrined:
But others think them visions of illusion,
Or even men gone far in self-confusion;
No man there being wholly sane in mind.

And yet a man who raves, however mad,
Who bares his heart and tells of his own fall,
Reserves some inmost secret good or bad:
The phantoms have no reticence at all:
The nudity of flesh will blush though tameless
The extreme nudity of bone grins shameless,
The unsexed skeleton mocks shroud and pall.

I have seen phantoms there that were as men
And men that were as phantoms flit and roam;
Marked shapes that were not living to my ken,
Caught breathings acrid as with Dead Sea foam:
The City rests for man so weird and awful,
That his intrusion there might seem unlawful,
And phantoms there may have their proper home.

VIII

While I still lingered on that river-walk,
And watched the tide as black as our black doom,
I heard another couple join in talk,
And saw them to the left hand in the gloom
Seated against an elm bole on the ground,
Their eyes intent upon the stream profound.

"I never knew another man on earth
But had some joy and solace in his life,
Some chance of triumph in the dreadful strife:
My doom has been unmitigated dearth."

"We gaze upon the river, and we note
The various vessels large and small that float,
Ignoring every wrecked and sunken boat."

"And yet I asked no splendid dower, no spoil
Of sway or fame or rank or even wealth;
But homely love with common food and health,
And nightly sleep to balance daily toil."

"This all-too-humble soul would arrogate
Unto itself some signalising hate
From the supreme indifference of Fate!"

"Who is most wretched in this dolorous place?
I think myself; yet I would rather be
My miserable self than He, than He
Who formed such creatures to His own disgrace.

"The vilest thing must be less vile than Thou
From whom it had its being, God and Lord!
Creator of all woe and sin! abhorred
Malignant and implacable! I vow

"That not for all Thy power furled and unfurled,
For all the temples to Thy glory built,
Would I assume the ignominious guilt
Of having made such men in such a world."

"As if a Being, God or Fiend, could reign,
At once so wicked, foolish and insane,
As to produce men when He might refrain!

"The world rolls round for ever like a mill;
It grinds out death and life and good and ill;
It has no purpose, heart or mind or will.

"While air of Space and Time's full river flow
The mill must blindly whirl unresting so:
It may be wearing out, but who can know?

"Man might know one thing were his sight less dim;
That it whirls not to suit his petty whim,
That it is quite indifferent to him.

"Nay, does it treat him harshly as he saith?
It grinds him some slow years of bitter breath,
Then grinds him back into eternal death."

IX

It is full strange to him who hears and feels,
When wandering there in some deserted street,
The booming and the jar of ponderous wheels,
The trampling clash of heavy ironshod feet:
Who in this Venice of the Black Sea rideth?
Who in this city of the stars abideth
To buy or sell as those in daylight sweet?

The rolling thunder seems to fill the sky
As it comes on; the horses snort and strain,
The harness jingles, as it passes by;
The hugeness of an overburthened wain:
A man sits nodding on the shaft or trudges
Three parts asleep beside his fellow-drudges:
And so it rolls into the night again.

What merchandise? whence, whither, and for whom?
Perchance it is a Fate-appointed hearse,
Bearing away to some mysterious tomb
Or Limbo of the scornful universe
The joy, the peace, the life-hope, the abortions
Of all things good which should have been our portions,
But have been strangled by that City's curse.

X

The mansion stood apart in its own ground;
In front thereof a fragrant garden-lawn,
High trees about it, and the whole walled round:
The massy iron gates were both withdrawn;
And every window of its front shed light,
Portentous in that City of the Night.

But though thus lighted it was deadly still
As all the countless bulks of solid gloom;
Perchance a congregation to fulfil
Solemnities of silence in this doom,
Mysterious rites of dolour and despair
Permitting not a breath or chant of prayer?

Broad steps ascended to a terrace broad
Whereon lay still light from the open door;
The hall was noble, and its aspect awed,
Hung round with heavy black from dome to floor;
And ample stairways rose to left and right
Whose balustrades were also draped with night.

I paced from room to room, from hall to hall,
Nor any life throughout the maze discerned;
But each was hung with its funereal pall,
And held a shrine, around which tapers burned,
With picture or with statue or with bust,
all copied from the same fair form of dust:

A woman very young and very fair;
Beloved by bounteous life and joy and youth,
And loving these sweet lovers, so that care
And age and death seemed not for her in sooth:
Alike as stars, all beautiful and bright,
these shapes lit up that mausolean night.

At length I heard a murmur as of lips,
And reached an open oratory hung
With heaviest blackness of the whole eclipse;
Beneath the dome a fuming censer swung;
And one lay there upon a low white bed,
With tapers burning at the foot and head:

The Lady of the images, supine,
Deathstill, lifesweet, with folded palms she lay:
And kneeling there as at a sacred shrine
A young man wan and worn who seemed to pray:
A crucifix of dim and ghostly white
Surmounted the large altar left in night:--

The chambers of the mansion of my heart,
In every one whereof thine image dwells,
Are black with grief eternal for thy sake.

The inmost oratory of my soul,
Wherein thou ever dwellest quick or dead,
Is black with grief eternal for thy sake.

I kneel beside thee and I clasp the cross,
With eyes forever fixed upon that face,
So beautiful and dreadful in its calm.

I kneel here patient as thou liest there;
As patient as a statue carved in stone,
Of adoration and eternal grief.

While thou dost not awake I cannot move;
And something tells me thou wilt never wake,
And I alive feel turning into stone.

Most beautiful were Death to end my grief,
Most hateful to destroy the sight of thee,
Dear vision better than all death or life.

But I renounce all choice of life or death,
For either shall be ever at thy side,
And thus in bliss or woe be ever well.--

He murmured thus and thus in monotone,
Intent upon that uncorrupted face,
Entranced except his moving lips alone:
I glided with hushed footsteps from the place.
This was the festival that filled with light
That palace in the City of the Night.

XI

What men are they who haunt these fatal glooms,
And fill their living mouths with dust of death,
And make their habitations in the tombs,
And breathe eternal sighs with mortal breath,
And pierce life's pleasant veil of various error
To reach that void of darkness and old terror
Wherein expire the lamps of hope and faith?

They have much wisdom yet they are not wise,
They have much goodness yet they do not well,
(The fools we know have their own paradise,
The wicked also have their proper Hell);
They have much strength but still their doom is stronger,
Much patience but their time endureth longer,
Much valour but life mocks it with some spell.

They are most rational and yet insane:
And outward madness not to be controlled;
A perfect reason in the central brain,
Which has no power, but sitteth wan and cold,
And sees the madness, and foresees as plainly
The ruin in its path, and trieth vainly
To cheat itself refusing to behold.

And some are great in rank and wealth and power,
And some renowned for genius and for worth;
And some are poor and mean, who brood and cower
And shrink from notice, and accept all dearth
Of body, heart and soul, and leave to others
All boons of life: yet these and those are brothers,
The saddest and the weariest men on earth.

XII

Our isolated units could be brought
To act together for some common end?
For one by one, each silent with his thought,
I marked a long loose line approach and wend
Athwart the great cathedral's cloistered square,
And slowly vanish from the moonlit air.

Then I would follow in among the last:
And in the porch a shrouded figure stood,
Who challenged each one pausing ere he passed,
With deep eyes burning through a blank white hood:
Whence come you in the world of life and light
To this our City of Tremendous Night?--

From pleading in a senate of rich lords
For some scant justice to our countless hordes
Who toil half-starved with scarce a human right:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From wandering through many a solemn scene
Of opium visions, with a heart serene
And intellect miraculously bright:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From making hundreds laugh and roar with glee
By my transcendent feats of mimicry,
And humour wanton as an elvish sprite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From prayer and fasting in a lonely cell,
Which brought an ecstasy ineffable
Of love and adoration and delight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From ruling on a splendid kingly throne
A nation which beneath my rule has grown
Year after year in wealth and arts and might:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From preaching to an audience fired with faith
The Lamb who died to save our souls from death,
Whose blood hath washed our scarlet sins wool-white:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From drinking fiery poison in a den
Crowded with tawdry girls and squalid men,
Who hoarsely laugh and curse and brawl and fight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From picturing with all beauty and all grace
First Eden and the parents of our race,
A luminous rapture unto all men's sight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From writing a great work with patient plan
To justify the ways of God to man,
And show how ill must fade and perish quite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From desperate fighting with a little band
Against the powerful tyrants of our land,
To free our brethren in their own despite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

Thus, challenged by that warder sad and stern,
Each one responded with his countersign,
Then entered the cathedral; and in turn
I entered also, having given mine;
But lingered near until I heard no more,
And marked the closing of the massive door.

XIII

Of all things human which are strange and wild
This is perchance the wildest and most strange,
And showeth man most utterly beguiled,
To those who haunt that sunless City's range;
That he bemoans himself for aye, repeating
How Time is deadly swift, how life is fleeting,
How naught is constant on the earth but change.

The hours are heavy on him and the days;
The burden of the months he scarce can bear;
And often in his secret soul he prays
To sleep through barren periods unaware,
Arousing at some longed-for date of pleasure;
Which having passed and yielded him small treasure,
He would outsleep another term of care.

Yet in his marvellous fancy he must make
Quick wings for Time, and see it fly from us;
This Time which crawleth like a monstrous snake,
Wounded and slow and very venomous;
Which creeps blindwormlike round the earth and ocean,
Distilling poison at each painful motion,
And seems condemned to circle ever thus.

And since he cannot spend and use aright
The little time here given him in trust,
But wasteth it in weary undelight
Of foolish toil and trouble, strife and lust,
He naturally claimeth to inherit
The everlasting Future, that his merit
May have full scope; as surely is most just.

O length of the intolerable hours,
O nights that are as aeons of slow pain,
O Time, too ample for our vital powers,
O Life, whose woeful vanities remain
Immutable for all of all our legions
Through all the centuries and in all the regions,
Not of your speed and variance WE complain.

WE do not ask a longer term of strife,
Weakness and weariness and nameless woes;
We do not claim renewed and endless life
When this which is our torment here shall close,
An everlasting conscious inanition!
We yearn for speedy death in full fruition,
Dateless oblivion and divine repose.

XIV

Large glooms were gathered in the mighty fane,
With tinted moongleams slanting here and there;
And all was hush: no swelling organ-strain,
No chant, no voice or murmuring of prayer;
No priests came forth, no tinkling censers fumed,
And the high altar space was unillumed.

Around the pillars and against the walls
Leaned men and shadows; others seemed to brood
Bent or recumbent in secluded stalls.
Perchance they were not a great multitude
Save in that city of so lonely streets
Where one may count up every face he meets.

All patiently awaited the event
Without a stir or sound, as if no less
Self-occupied, doomstricken while attent.
And then we heard a voice of solemn stress
From the dark pulpit, and our gaze there met
Two eyes which burned as never eyes burned yet:

Two steadfast and intolerable eyes
Burning beneath a broad and rugged brow;
The head behind it of enormous size.
And as black fir-groves in a large wind bow,
Our rooted congregation, gloom-arrayed,
By that great sad voice deep and full were swayed:--

O melancholy Brothers, dark, dark, dark!
O battling in black floods without an ark!
O spectral wanderers of unholy Night!
My soul hath bled for you these sunless years,
With bitter blood-drops running down like tears:
Oh dark, dark, dark, withdrawn from joy and light!

My heart is sick with anguish for your bale;
Your woe hath been my anguish; yea, I quail
And perish in your perishing unblest.
And I have searched the highths and depths, the scope
Of all our universe, with desperate hope
To find some solace for your wild unrest.

And now at last authentic word I bring,
Witnessed by every dead and living thing;
Good tidings of great joy for you, for all:
There is no God; no Fiend with names divine
Made us and tortures us; if we must pine,
It is to satiate no Being's gall.

It was the dark delusion of a dream,
That living Person conscious and supreme,
Whom we must curse for cursing us with life;
Whom we must curse because the life he gave
Could not be buried in the quiet grave,
Could not be killed by poison or the knife.

This little life is all we must endure,
The grave's most holy peace is ever sure,
We fall asleep and never wake again;
Nothing is of us but the mouldering flesh,
Whose elements dissolve and merge afresh
In earth, air, water, plants, and other men.

We finish thus; and all our wretched race
Shall finish with its cycle, and give place
To other beings with their own time-doom:
Infinite aeons ere our kind began;
Infinite aeons after the last man
Has joined the mammoth in earth's tomb and womb.

We bow down to the universal laws,
Which never had for man a special clause
Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate:
If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
If tigers burn with beauty and with might,
Is it by favour or by wrath of Fate?

All substance lives and struggles evermore
Through countless shapes continually at war,
By countless interactions interknit:
If one is born a certain day on earth,
All times and forces tended to that birth,
Not all the world could change or hinder it.

I find no hint throughout the Universe
Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse;
I find alone Necessity Supreme;
With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
Unlighted ever by the faintest spark
For us the flitting shadows of a dream.

O Brothers of sad lives! they are so brief;
A few short years must bring us all relief:
Can we not bear these years of laboring breath?
But if you would not this poor life fulfil,
Lo, you are free to end it when you will,
Without the fear of waking after death.--

The organ-like vibrations of his voice
Thrilled through the vaulted aisles and died away;
The yearning of the tones which bade rejoice
Was sad and tender as a requiem lay:
Our shadowy congregation rested still
As brooding on that "End it when you will."

XV

Wherever men are gathered, all the air
Is charged with human feeling, human thought;
Each shout and cry and laugh, each curse and prayer,
Are into its vibrations surely wrought;
Unspoken passion, wordless meditation,
Are breathed into it with our respiration
It is with our life fraught and overfraught.

So that no man there breathes earth's simple breath,
As if alone on mountains or wide seas;
But nourishes warm life or hastens death
With joys and sorrows, health and foul disease,
Wisdom and folly, good and evil labours,
Incessant of his multitudinous neighbors;
He in his turn affecting all of these.

That City's atmosphere is dark and dense,
Although not many exiles wander there,
With many a potent evil influence,
Each adding poison to the poisoned air;
Infections of unutterable sadness,
Infections of incalculable madness,
Infections of incurable despair.

XVI

Our shadowy congregation rested still,
As musing on that message we had heard
And brooding on that "End it when you will;"
Perchance awaiting yet some other word;
When keen as lightning through a muffled sky
Sprang forth a shrill and lamentable cry:--

The man speaks sooth, alas! the man speaks sooth:
We have no personal life beyond the grave;
There is no God; Fate knows nor wrath nor ruth:
Can I find here the comfort which I crave?

In all eternity I had one chance,
One few years' term of gracious human life:
The splendours of the intellect's advance,
The sweetness of the home with babes and wife;

The social pleasures with their genial wit:
The fascination of the worlds of art,
The glories of the worlds of nature, lit
By large imagination's glowing heart;

The rapture of mere being, full of health;
The careless childhood and the ardent youth,
The strenuous manhood winning various wealth,
The reverend age serene with life's long truth:

All the sublime prerogatives of Man;
The storied memories of the times of old,
The patient tracking of the world's great plan
Through sequences and changes myriadfold.

This chance was never offered me before;
For me this infinite Past is blank and dumb:
This chance recurreth never, nevermore;
Blank, blank for me the infinite To-come.

And this sole chance was frustrate from my birth,
A mockery, a delusion; and my breath
Of noble human life upon this earth
So racks me that I sigh for senseless death.

My wine of life is poison mixed with gall,
My noonday passes in a nightmare dream,
I worse than lose the years which are my all:
What can console me for the loss supreme?

Speak not of comfort where no comfort is,
Speak not at all: can words make foul things fair?
Our life's a cheat, our death a black abyss:
Hush and be mute envisaging despair.--

This vehement voice came from the northern aisle
Rapid and shrill to its abrupt harsh close;
And none gave answer for a certain while,
For words must shrink from these most wordless woes;
At last the pulpit speaker simply said,
With humid eyes and thoughtful drooping head:--

My Brother, my poor Brothers, it is thus;
This life itself holds nothing good for us,
But ends soon and nevermore can be;
And we knew nothing of it ere our birth,
And shall know nothing when consigned to earth:
I ponder these thoughts and they comfort me.

XVII

How the moon triumphs through the endless nights!
How the stars throb and glitter as they wheel
Their thick processions of supernal lights
Around the blue vault obdurate as steel!
And men regard with passionate awe and yearning
The mighty marching and the golden burning,
And think the heavens respond to what they feel.

Boats gliding like dark shadows of a dream
Are glorified from vision as they pass
The quivering moonbridge on the deep black stream;
Cold windows kindle their dead glooms of glass
To restless crystals; cornice dome and column
Emerge from chaos in the splendour solemn;
Like faery lakes gleam lawns of dewy grass.

With such a living light these dead eyes shine,
These eyes of sightless heaven, that as we gaze
We read a pity, tremulous, divine,
Or cold majestic scorn in their pure rays:
Fond man! they are not haughty, are not tender;
There is no heart or mind in all their splendour,
They thread mere puppets all their marvellous maze.

If we could near them with the flight unflown,
We should but find them worlds as sad as this,
Or suns all self-consuming like our own
Enringed by planet worlds as much amiss:
They wax and wane through fusion and confusion;
The spheres eternal are a grand illusion,
The empyrean is a void abyss.

XVIII

I wandered in a suburb of the north,
And reached a spot whence three close lanes led down,
Beneath thick trees and hedgerows winding forth
Like deep brook channels, deep and dark and lown:
The air above was wan with misty light,
The dull grey south showed one vague blur of white.

I took the left-hand path and slowly trod
Its earthen footpath, brushing as I went
The humid leafage; and my feet were shod
With heavy languor, and my frame downbent,
With infinite sleepless weariness outworn,
So many nights I thus had paced forlorn.

After a hundred steps I grew aware
Of something crawling in the lane below;
It seemed a wounded creature prostrate there
That sobbed with pangs in making progress slow,
The hind limbs stretched to push, the fore limbs then
To drag; for it would die in its own den.

But coming level with it I discerned
That it had been a man; for at my tread
It stopped in its sore travail and half-turned,
Leaning upon its right, and raised its head,
And with the left hand twitched back as in ire
Long grey unreverend locks befouled with mire.

A haggard filthy face with bloodshot eyes,
An infamy for manhood to behold.
He gasped all trembling, What, you want my prize?
You leave, to rob me, wine and lust and gold
And all that men go mad upon, since you
Have traced my sacred secret of the clue?

You think that I am weak and must submit
Yet I but scratch you with this poisoned blade,
And you are dead as if I clove with it
That false fierce greedy heart. Betrayed! betrayed!
I fling this phial if you seek to pass,
And you are forthwith shrivelled up like grass.

And then with sudden change, Take thought! take thought!
Have pity on me! it is mine alone.
If you could find, it would avail you naught;
Seek elsewhere on the pathway of your own:
For who of mortal or immortal race
The lifetrack of another can retrace?

Did you but know my agony and toil!
Two lanes diverge up yonder from this lane;
My thin blood marks the long length of their soil;
Such clue I left, who sought my clue in vain:
My hands and knees are worn both flesh and bone;
I cannot move but with continual moan.

But I am in the very way at last
To find the long-lost broken golden thread
Which unites my present with my past,
If you but go your own way. And I said,
I will retire as soon as you have told
Whereunto leadeth this lost thread of gold.

And so you know it not! he hissed with scorn;
I feared you, imbecile! It leads me back
From this accursed night without a morn,
And through the deserts which have else no track,
And through vast wastes of horror-haunted time,
To Eden innocence in Eden's clime:

And I become a nursling soft and pure,
An infant cradled on its mother's knee,
Without a past, love-cherished and secure;
Which if it saw this loathsome present Me,
Would plunge its face into the pillowing breast,
And scream abhorrence hard to lull to rest.

He turned to grope; and I retiring brushed
Thin shreds of gossamer from off my face,
And mused, His life would grow, the germ uncrushed;
He should to antenatal night retrace,
And hide his elements in that large womb
Beyond the reach of man-evolving Doom.

And even thus, what weary way were planned,
To seek oblivion through the far-off gate
Of birth, when that of death is close at hand!
For this is law, if law there be in Fate:
What never has been, yet may have its when;
The thing which has been, never is again.

XIX

The mighty river flowing dark and deep,
With ebb and flood from the remote sea-tides
Vague-sounding through the City's sleepless sleep,
Is named the River of the Suicides;
For night by night some lorn wretch overweary,
And shuddering from the future yet more dreary,
Within its cold secure oblivion hides.

One plunges from a bridge's parapet,
As if by some blind and sudden frenzy hurled;
Another wades in slow with purpose set
Until the waters are above him furled;
Another in a boat with dreamlike motion
Glides drifting down into the desert ocean,
To starve or sink from out the desert world.

They perish from their suffering surely thus,
For none beholding them attempts to save,
The while thinks how soon, solicitous,
He may seek refuge in the self-same wave;
Some hour when tired of ever-vain endurance
Impatience will forerun the sweet assurance
Of perfect peace eventual in the grave.

When this poor tragic-farce has palled us long,
Why actors and spectators do we stay?--
To fill our so-short roles out right or wrong;
To see what shifts are yet in the dull play
For our illusion; to refrain from grieving
Dear foolish friends by our untimely leaving:
But those asleep at home, how blest are they!

Yet it is but for one night after all:
What matters one brief night of dreary pain?
When after it the weary eyelids fall
Upon the weary eyes and wasted brain;
And all sad scenes and thoughts and feelings vanish
In that sweet sleep no power can ever banish,
That one best sleep which never wakes again.

XX

I sat me weary on a pillar's base,
And leaned against the shaft; for broad moonlight
O'erflowed the peacefulness of cloistered space,
A shore of shadow slanting from the right:
The great cathedral's western front stood there,
A wave-worn rock in that calm sea of air.

Before it, opposite my place of rest,
Two figures faced each other, large, austere;
A couchant sphinx in shadow to the breast,
An angel standing in the moonlight clear;
So mighty by magnificence of form,
They were not dwarfed beneath that mass enorm.

Upon the cross-hilt of the naked sword
The angel's hands, as prompt to smite, were held;
His vigilant intense regard was poured
Upon the creature placidly unquelled,
Whose front was set at level gaze which took
No heed of aught, a solemn trance-like look.

And as I pondered these opposed shapes
My eyelids sank in stupor, that dull swoon
Which drugs and with a leaden mantle drapes
The outworn to worse weariness. But soon
A sharp and clashing noise the stillness broke,
And from the evil lethargy I woke.

The angel's wings had fallen, stone on stone,
And lay there shattered; hence the sudden sound:
A warrior leaning on his sword alone
Now watched the sphinx with that regard profound;
The sphinx unchanged looked forthright, as aware
Of nothing in the vast abyss of air.

Again I sank in that repose unsweet,
Again a clashing noise my slumber rent;
The warrior's sword lay broken at his feet:
An unarmed man with raised hands impotent
Now stood before the sphinx, which ever kept
Such mien as if open eyes it slept.

My eyelids sank in spite of wonder grown;
A louder crash upstartled me in dread:
The man had fallen forward, stone on stone,
And lay there shattered, with his trunkless head
Between the monster's large quiescent paws,
Beneath its grand front changeless as life's laws.

The moon had circled westward full and bright,
And made the temple-front a mystic dream,
And bathed the whole enclosure with its light,
The sworded angel's wrecks, the sphinx supreme:
I pondered long that cold majestic face
Whose vision seemed of infinite void space.

XXI

Anear the centre of that northern crest
Stands out a level upland bleak and bare,
From which the city east and south and west
Sinks gently in long waves; and throned there
An Image sits, stupendous, superhuman,
The bronze colossus of a winged Woman,
Upon a graded granite base foursquare.

Low-seated she leans forward massively,
With cheek on clenched left hand, the forearm's might
Erect, its elbow on her rounded knee;
Across a clasped book in her lap the right
Upholds a pair of compasses; she gazes
With full set eyes, but wandering in thick mazes
Of sombre thought beholds no outward sight.

Words cannot picture her; but all men know
That solemn sketch the pure sad artist wrought
Three centuries and threescore years ago,
With phantasies of his peculiar thought:
The instruments of carpentry and science
Scattered about her feet, in strange alliance
With the keen wolf-hound sleeping undistraught;

Scales, hour-glass, bell, and magic-square above;
The grave and solid infant perched beside,
With open winglets that might bear a dove,
Intent upon its tablets, heavy-eyed;
Her folded wings as of a mighty eagle,
But all too impotent to lift the regal
Robustness of her earth-born strength and pride;

And with those wings, and that light wreath which seems
To mock her grand head and the knotted frown
Of forehead charged with baleful thoughts and dreams,
The household bunch of keys, the housewife's gown
Voluminous, indented, and yet rigid
As if a shell of burnished metal frigid,
The feet thick-shod to tread all weakness down;

The comet hanging o'er the waste dark seas,
The massy rainbow curved in front of it
Beyond the village with the masts and trees;
The snaky imp, dog-headed, from the Pit,
Bearing upon its batlike leathern pinions
Her name unfolded in the sun's dominions,
The "MELENCOLIA" that transcends all wit.

Thus has the artist copied her, and thus
Surrounded to expound her form sublime,
Her fate heroic and calamitous;
Fronting the dreadful mysteries of Time,
Unvanquished in defeat and desolation,
Undaunted in the hopeless conflagration
Of the day setting on her baffled prime.

Baffled and beaten back she works on still,
Weary and sick of soul she works the more,
Sustained by her indomitable will:
The hands shall fashion and the brain shall pore,
And all her sorrow shall be turned to labour,
Till Death the friend-foe piercing with his sabre
That mighty heart of hearts ends bitter war.

But as if blacker night could dawn on night,
With tenfold gloom on moonless night unstarred,
A sense more tragic than defeat and blight,
More desperate than strife with hope debarred,
More fatal than the adamantine Never
Encompassing her passionate endeavour,
Dawns glooming in her tenebrous regard:

To sense that every struggle brings defeat
Because Fate holds no prize to crown success;
That all the oracles are dumb or cheat
Because they have no secret to express;
That none can pierce the vast black veil uncertain
Because there is no light beyond the curtain;
That all is vanity and nothingness.

Titanic from her high throne in the north,
That City's sombre Patroness and Queen,
In bronze sublimity she gazes forth
Over her Capital of teen and threne,
Over the river with its isles and bridges,
The marsh and moorland, to the stern rock-ridges,
Confronting them with a coeval mien.

The moving moon and stars from east to west
Circle before her in the sea of air;
Shadows and gleams glide round her solemn rest.
Her subjects often gaze up to her there:
The strong to drink new strength of iron endurance,
The weak new terrors; all, renewed assurance
And confirmation of the old despair.

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The Many Live Through The Sacrifices Of The Few

The many live through the sacrifices of the few-
The old continue because the young have died for them-
The soldiers of who gave their lives in Israel's wars,
The soldiers of Freedom who risk their lives still,
Enable their people to live.

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The Ten Stars

In the motion of the universe,
The rotation of planets,
The conjuction of the wind,
There my sight witnesses,
The opposition of stars
Rare but wonderfully made

I count the stars and make my wish,
My summit shall i reach,
With her in poverty i'm rich
Im a happy man,
I saw ten stars

Star number one,
Besides you let there be none,
Star number two,
To love you more, never a few,
Star number three,
My love unto you for free
Star number four,
The love we built to never fall,
Star number five,
Wish all things but mostly life
How wonderful are they, ten stars

In this lonely night my heart beats faster,
I make wishes, but they are not my master,
I point the stars and make wishes,
How beautiful are they, ten stars

Star number six,
So shall our foes fall by the axe
Star number seven,
Against all odds we remain even
Star number eight,
We shall so grow above heights,
Star number nine,
Of course, , to remain mine
Star number ten
I wish to make hundred wishes per day
How beautiful are they, ten stars

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The theme song of my fading Cinema

The sprinklers in our garden started without any command
And give a rain of showers,
Oh! Darling the miraculous spring has come again and see the flowers of happiness in the flower beds.
'Yes of course honey and do not forget that your birthday is nearby.
Please tell me what you want exactly? ' She sang in her melodious voice.
'Just a pencil, pencil-cutter, eraser and few pastels are more than enough.
I want to draw a big check and paint it nicely, also fix a swing in the back yard
And peep to our friendly bank manager's house next door.
Most probably the check could be cashed in a friendly manner.
Darling we could buy a house on a hill top your dream and invite our loved ones.
Oh! I realized the vast distance but they are the most proximate souls to our weeping hearts. Isn't it?
Also I want to buy a kennel for Marco for our precious son and we give him a familiar shout, definitely he comes home from his hiding place.'

*Dedication to the composer Maurice Jarre who's no more but I love his fruitful music (Lara's theme) to Dr.Zhivago.

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To Flourish Encouraged to Nurture on the Same Turf

Experimentations...
Dictating choices of temptations,
Explored, teased and tried...
Are not carried in a mind satisfied,
With re-occurring denials.
They are known.
They have been shown in limitations outgrown.

Run or walk around a block a few times.
The confines within it may be renovated,
And the changes fresh...
With the same steps taken made.
That 'space' still remains the same,
Unchanged!
Revamped temptations...
With updated entrances to dismiss memories.

Follow...
The same mind that allows them,
To keep them safe and from going away!
Introduced by new excuses replace them,
As if the old ones did not exist!
But they are there remembered.
To sit in reminisced places.

Façades are what they are...
And journeys without their presence as reminders,
Are the most difficult to take...
When left behind to embark on unfamiliar ground!
Unchartered frontiers can be found,
If one is willing to give up the notion...
Motivation to move forward,
Requires outside intervention...
To set this in motion.

Leave behind what 'is'.
Leave behind falling tears where they fell!
Without announcements to mention.
Inspite of promises and offers to please...
Quicken a hesitated pace to face real change!
Regrets may come to visit,
But one is not obligated...
To have them stay to produce sorrow,
Season after season...
To flourish encouraged to nurture on the same turf!

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Waiting For The Next Explosion

By: jimmy buffett
Missing link crouched upon a promontory rock
Trying to figure out his biological clock
No one around to announce his arrival
So hes got to get to work on his sense of survival
Oh, oh its a dangerous world
Oh but in china they got smart real fast
Thats where they invented the manmade blast
They lost a few fingers and some bamboo shacks
But they gave birth to a tribe of pyromaniancs
Oh, oh its a dangerous world (dangerous world dangerous world)
Fire in the sky, lava in the ocean
Sitting around waiting for the next explosion
Back in the 50s they thought it made good sense
To teach all the school children bout civil defense
Dont be scared (dont be scared)
Do not cry (please dont cry)
Just dive under your desk and kiss your ass goodbye
Oh, oh such a dangerous world (dangerous world dangerous world)
It was a hell of a hustle
Paranoia promotion
Everybody duck and cover just waitin for the next explosion
Wherere you gonna be when it hits the fan
Got a plan
Whatcha gonna do if it lands on you
Wheres your point of view
Down at the beach club theres a sales convention
Night sky is the focus of that crowds attention
Its no cosmic collision just a fireworks show
But they feel it in their hearts when those concussion bombs blow
Oh, oh such a dangerous world (dangerous world dangerous world)
Gunpowders louder than newtons law of motion
Everybodys waiting for the next explosion
Fire on the sky falling in the ocean
Sitting around waiting for the next explosion
(sitting around waiting for the next explosion)

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But On The Other Hand

Death is Bad;
but it is slimming.

Life is Good;
Except when it is Bad

Heaven is good
but it is too far away
and I wonder if there
is dating there
or marriage.

Why do Arab Martyrs
get 21 virgins in Heaven?
Where do they come from?

Dying is ok by me
I just don't want it to be unpleasant
and I certainly don't want to watch;
don't want you to watch either.

I like birds
but the way they fly around
seems frivolous.

Happiness is over-rated;
but then again
so is misery.

I like kissing
but the spit part
and the lips-
can't you catch something?

The little girl said
'Sex is like blowing up a balloon
and then the baby cries.'

He said;
'Women are like precious diamonds
hard on the outside
hard on the inside
but make-up and lighting
makes them look shiny.
But they are far more valuable than men.

Men are like custard pie
delicious when fresh
but not fulfilling
enough for dinner;
have them only for dessert
and then only occasionally.

Children make marriages.
Children break marriages.

Thinking is like washing your brain
sometimes after washing
you can do a thing with it and that can make you nervous.

If your favorite pet and your significant other was drowning
who would you save?
This is the single greatest indicator of what stage of life you are in.

Cowardice is the root of all evil.

Complacency is the root of all Cowardice.

Laziness is the root of all Complacency

The root of Laziness is Boredom

The Root of Boredom is the inability
to choose what is interesting.

The root of choosing only the uninteresting
is control from the top

The root of control from the top
is Cowardice.

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A strange e.mail from the Devil!

A groomsman is one of the male attendants to the groom in a wedding ceremony. The term usher is more common in the UK while the term 'groomsman' is considered somewhat lower-middle- class and used by those who have adopted the term from America.[citation needed] Usually the groom selects his closest friends and relatives to serve as groomsmen, and it is considered an honor to be selected. From his groomsmen, the groom usually chooses one to serve as best man.

For a wedding with many guests, the groom may also ask other male friends and relatives to act as ushers without otherwise participating in the wedding ceremony; their sole task is ushering guests to their seats before the ceremony. Ushers may also be hired for very large weddings.

In a military officer's wedding, the roles of groomsmen are replaced by swordsmen of the sword honor guard. They are usually picked as close personal friends of the groom who have served with him. Their role includes forming the traditional saber arch for the married couple and guests to walk through.

devil@devilskingdom.net
You'll be surprised Pen-pusher!
How I found your e.mail address,
Specially I collect bard's whereabouts
As I am very fond of poetry!
I read your profile and that's why
I am sending this invitation.
My one and only daughter marries soon
And the Bridegroom's party suggest you as a Groomsman
Because he knows you since in the Army.
Please reply us soon your availability.
-Devil de Morales
I replied him in brief.
Many thanks indeed for your valuable selection
But I have some regrets of my old Gabardine suit
Recently I wore for the Royal Wedding!
I have few rich relatives here
But they are not in good terms with me
As I am poor?
Otherwise I could have borrow one of their best suits and a Limousine!
With best regards,
Poor Pen-pusher!

for the silent bard couple Alison & Jerry!

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Believe the eyes

“It is only you and no one else”
I couldn’t believe the eyes
She was speaking with stateless mind
She was innocent but too wild

She was staring in my eyes and probing
She said nothing but started sobbing
She had little fear in mind about desertion
She was bothering too much about the question

I would not commit straight away
As I was unsure of destiny and clear way
I had traveled all along to console
She has, I thought, to play major role

It hunted me several days to find the truth
Even I had no inkling or any proof
She was coming with various facts
I thought she was bluffing with the acts

It is not good to deceive the conscious
It is of no use if you claim to be pious
Your act and behavior should fall in line
It can then only look exemplary and fine

I caught her hand and allowed to speak
She had gone pale and looked very weak
She could hardly speak few words and kept silent
I waited for her to come out clear and comment

She would stare at sky
Look in my eyes and will not ask why
I was puzzled and did not dare
She again looked down but did not stare

Now it was my turn to feel guilty
She was in pain and deserved pity
She was marvelous and symbol of beauty
But today she really deserved no sympathy

She was there by her own
Neither helpless nor with frown
But represented bold front with absolute integrity
I realized this is her actual strength and purity

How could she make it known without a word?
I think females are gifted with tolerance from lord
They will not retaliate even if forced with compulsion
The answer is found then and there without posing question


I have no soft corner for females
But they are certainly way ahead of males
They can come to a extreme end for struggle
Life mystery is solved without any puzzle

I did not press further for her approval
She was fully contended with my arrival
She had nothing special to complain
Her eyes merely looked at me not to cause pain

Today I am under sky probing my attitude
She was graceful and rich with her gratitude
I was no where near her to match the quality
We are human being and must check all the possibility

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The Sphynx

Several weeks ago for the first time I saw a furless cat
stretching out its claws and long slender back.
I was stunned by this creature, with its pale red skin,
its demand of my attention was most unsettling.

For the next few days I kept picturing it in my mind,
and I knew one just like it I had to find.
I was so determined to delve and research the breed,
so I obtained as many books as I could read.

I soon discovered the feline known as the Sphynx,
and initially I thought it had Egyptian links,
but the Canadians are supposed to have bred the cat,
so that very quickly put an end to that.

The next day I wanted more answers to my questions,
so the pet shops I visited and asked for suggestions.
The breeders were the ones to see, but they are rare,
the internet was suggested, so I searched on there.

I found a breeder and arranged a visit the following day,
what a charismatic woman, in a sleek feline way.
She believed the sphynx was in fact a reincarnation
of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of the sun.

She asked how I knew of this particular breed of cat,
I told her about the one I saw, and it was as simple as that.
She told me of the power of this daughter of Isis and Osiris,
and how she was the protector, and defender of the darkness.

She believed that the meeting of our lives was meant to be,
and maybe we would fulfil the ancient prophesy.
She took me to see the sphynxs’ that she had for sale,
after discussing their characters, I bought a female.

I didn’t actually choose her, she actually chose me;
how could I turn down such a meant to be beauty.
In the car I spoke to her and gave her the name Tefnut,
she raised her head, as if her name was very well put.

I don’t believe in reincarnation or anything like that,
but she seemed to be a lot more than any ordinary cat.
She visited my dreams as a dark skinned temptress;
a woman who spoke in riddles of seduction and sex.

Her every night-time visits brought immense happiness
until her character changed, bringing nothing, but stress.
She demanded we leave the UK and set up home in Egypt,
and live out the prophesy Osiris took time to predict.

In my dreams it was easy to believe and live life her way,
but it was not possible in the reality of day.
I told her that our destinies were not to be the same,
and later that day, I never saw her again.

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Amy Lowell

The Precinct. Rochester

The tall yellow hollyhocks stand,
Still and straight,
With their round blossoms spread open,
In the quiet sunshine.
And still is the old Roman wall,
Rough with jagged bits of flint,
And jutting stones,
Old and cragged,
Quite still in its antiquity.
The pear-trees press their branches against it,
And feeling it warm and kindly,
The little pears ripen to yellow and red.
They hang heavy, bursting with juice,
Against the wall.
So old, so still!

The sky is still.
The clouds make no sound
As they slide away
Beyond the Cathedral Tower,
To the river,
And the sea.
It is very quiet,
Very sunny.
The myrtle flowers stretch themselves in the sunshine,
But make no sound.
The roses push their little tendrils up,
And climb higher and higher.
In spots they have climbed over the wall.
But they are very still,
They do not seem to move.
And the old wall carries them
Without effort, and quietly
Ripens and shields the vines and blossoms.

A bird in a plane-tree
Sings a few notes,
Cadenced and perfect
They weave into the silence.
The Cathedral bell knocks,
One, two, three, and again,
And then again.
It is a quiet sound,
Calling to prayer,
Hardly scattering the stillness,
Only making it close in more densely.
The gardener picks ripe gooseberries
For the Dean's supper to-night.
It is very quiet,
Very regulated and mellow.
But the wall is old,
It has known many days.
It is a Roman wall,
Left-over and forgotten.

Beyond the Cathedral Close
Yelp and mutter the discontents of people not mellow,
Not well-regulated.
People who care more for bread than for beauty,
Who would break the tombs of saints,
And give the painted windows of churches
To their children for toys.
People who say:
'They are dead, we live!
The world is for the living.'

Fools! It is always the dead who breed.
Crush the ripe fruit, and cast it aside,
Yet its seeds shall fructify,
And trees rise where your huts were standing.
But the little people are ignorant,
They chaffer, and swarm.
They gnaw like rats,
And the foundations of the Cathedral are honeycombed.

The Dean is in the Chapter House;
He is reading the architect's bill
For the completed restoration of the Cathedral.
He will have ripe gooseberries for supper,
And then he will walk up and down the path
By the wall,
And admire the snapdragons and dahlias,
Thinking how quiet and peaceful
The garden is.
The old wall will watch him,
Very quietly and patiently it will watch.
For the wall is old,
It is a Roman wall.

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The Year 2113

Year 2113,
Blazed the bill-board.
In the city named Earth
Moved about young people.
No senior citizens, no babies,
Only the youth; born young,
From birth tubes.
Human beings inhabit Earth,
In perfect harmony with the elements,
Made consistent by them.


No morning rush for office,
No monotonous household chores.
Everyday, for a few hours, one works,
On one's personal Super Computer,
The rest of the day is one's own to spend.
One would think they enjoy life to the full,
But they are busy bees in search of time
To add to their allocated twenty-five years.

Time is the new currency,
It measures wealth, power and happiness.

At birth each person is gifted
Twenty five years of life.
Everyone has the right to add
Seconds, minutes and hours
Or even to lose them injudiciously.
Time can be increased by ingenuity,
Force, skill, begging and borrowing.
One can gain it by physical favours too.
Survival of the fittest is prevalent.
One has to be competent in adding to
Their share of twenty-five years.

One earns in time and pays in time,
Earnings automatically add time,
Payments subtract it.
From I D cards stamped on their hands,
Everyone can check the time left to them.
When the card shows ‘0'; one falls dead.
No need for doctors, no hospitals.
Physically you are in perfect health,
Only your time on earth is over.
You are replaced by another being,
Time allotted - Twenty-five years.

Crimes are all time related;
Stealing, cheating, misleading,
Murder by taking away time.
Offenders are punished by time deletion,
(According to the severity of the crime) .
The ultimate punishment meted out
To a time felony is
Taking away time forever.
Permanence in death is a deterrent to crime.
When nothing else stops criminals,
The final punishment of obliteration does.

People at times reach saturation.
They have lived hundreds of years,
Earning time by various activities,
Both legal and illegal;
Stealing from the feeble and the gullible.
Having lived long enough,
They decide to end their lives.
They make the necessary announcement
And arrange to give away time in charity.
Ostentatiously they donate their time and die.
They become heroes.

The term'die' is a misnomer.
No one actually dies in the year 2113.
Death is not final, as we understand it,
Except for grave offenders,
Who have forfeited their right to live.
The genes are kept safely, and;
After a lot of official consideration
Certain changes are made in them.
After a refreshing rest of a decade or two,
People are reborn as new personalities,
With a generous gift of Twenty-five years.

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John Keats

Lines Written In The Highlands After A Visit To Burns's Country

There is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain,
Where patriot battle has been fought, where glory had the gain;
There is a pleasure on the heath where Druids old have been,
Where mantles grey have rustled by and swept the nettles green;
There is a joy in every spot made known by times of old,
New to the feet, although each tale a hundred times be told;
There is a deeper joy than all, more solemn in the heart,
More parching to the tongue than all, of more divine a smart,
When weary steps forget themselves upon a pleasant turf,
Upon hot sand, or flinty road, or sea-shore iron scurf,
Toward the castle or the cot, where long ago was born
One who was great through mortal days, and died of fame unshorn.
Light heather-bells may tremble then, but they are far away;
Wood-lark may sing from sandy fern, -- the Sun may hear this lay;
Runnels may kiss the grass on shelves and shallows clear,
But their low voices are not heard, though come on travels drear;
Blood-red the Sun may set behind the black mountain peaks;
Blue tides may sluice and drench their time in caves and weedy creeks;
Eagles may seem to sleep wing-side upon the air;
Ring-dove may fly convuls'd across to some high-cedar'd lair;
But the forgotten eye is still fast lidded to the ground,
As Palmer's, that with weariness, mid-desert shrine hath found.
At such a time the soul's a child, in childhood is the brain;
Forgotten is the worldly heart -- alone, it beats in vain.--
Aye, if a madman could have leave to pass a healthful day
To tell his forehead's swoon and faint when first began decay,
He might make tremble many a one whose spirit had gone forth
To find a Bard's low cradle-place about the silent North!
Scanty the hour and few the steps, because a longer stay
Would bar return, and make a man forget his mortal way:
O horrible! to lose the sight of well remember'd face,
Of Brother's eyes, of Sister's brow -- constant to every place;
Filling the air, as on we move, with portraiture intense;
More warm than those heroic tints that pain a painter's sense,
When shapes of old come striding by, and visages of old,
Locks shining black, hair scanty grey, and passions manifold.
No, no, that horror cannot be, for at the cable's length
Man feels the gentle anchor pull and gladdens in its strength:--
One hour, half-idiot, he stands by mossy waterfall,
But in the very next he reads his soul's memorial:--
He reads it on the mountain's height, where chance he may sit down
Upon rough marble diadem -- that hill's eternal crown.
Yet be his anchor e'er so fast, room is there for a prayer
That man may never lose his mind on mountains black and bare;
That he may stray league after league some great birth-place to find
And keep his vision clear from speck, his inward sight unblind.

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Simon Lee: The Old Huntsman

. With an incident in which he was concerned
In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An old Man dwells, a little man,--
'Tis said he once was tall.
For five-and-thirty years he lived
A running huntsman merry;
And still the centre of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry.
No man like him the horn could sound,
And hill and valley rang with glee
When Echo bandied, round and round
The halloo of Simon Lee.
In those proud days, he little cared
For husbandry or tillage;
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
The sleepers of the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the chase was done,
He reeled, and was stone-blind.
And still there's something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices!

But, oh the heavy change!--bereft
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty.
His Master's dead--and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick;
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swoln and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
One prop he has, and only one,
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village Common.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what to them avails the land
Which he can till no longer?

Oft, working by her Husband's side,
Ruth does what Simon cannot do;
For she, with scanty cause for pride,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labour could not wean them,
'Tis little, very little--all
That they can do between them.

Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive,
How patiently you've waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour,
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
--I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.

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Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France

(To have been read before the statue of Lafayette and Washington in Paris, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1916).

I

Ay, it is fitting on this holiday,
Commemorative of our soldier dead,
When -- with sweet flowers of our New England May
Hiding the lichened stones by fifty years made gray --
Their graves in every town are garlanded,
That pious tribute should be given too
To our intrepid few
Obscurely fallen here beyond the seas.
Those to preserve their country's greatness died;
But by the death of these
Something that we can look upon with pride
Has been achieved, nor wholly unreplied
Can sneerers triumph in the charge they make
That from a war where Freedom was at stake
America withheld and, daunted, stood aside.

II

Be they remembered here with each reviving spring,
Not only that in May, when life is loveliest,
Around Neuville-Saint-Vaast and the disputed crest
Of Vimy, they, superb, unfaltering,
In that fine onslaught that no fire could halt,
Parted impetuous to their first assault;
But that they brought fresh hearts and springlike too
To that high mission, and 'tis meet to strew
With twigs of lilac and spring's earliest rose
The cenotaph of those
Who in the cause that history most endears
Fell in the sunny morn and flower of their young years.

III

et sought they neither recompense nor praise,
Nor to be mentioned in another breath
Than their blue coated comrades whose great days
It was their pride to share -- ay, share even to the death!
Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks
(Seeing they came for honor, not for gain),
Who, opening to them your glorious ranks,
Gave them that grand occasion to excel,
That chance to live the life most free from stain
And that rare privilege of dying well.

IV

O friends! I know not since that war began
From which no people nobly stands aloof
If in all moments we have given proof
Of virtues that were thought American.
I know not if in all things done and said
All has been well and good,
Or if each one of us can hold his head
As proudly as he should,
Or, from the pattern of those mighty dead
Whose shades our country venerates to-day,

If we've not somewhat fallen and somewhat gone astray.
But you to whom our land's good name is dear,
If there be any here
Who wonder if her manhood be decreased,
Relaxed its sinews and its blood less red
Than that at Shiloh and Antietam shed,
Be proud of these, have joy in this at least,
And cry: "Now heaven be praised
That in that hour that most imperilled her,
Menaced her liberty who foremost raised
Europe's bright flag of freedom, some there were
Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
Came back the generous path of Lafayette;
And when of a most formidable foe
She checked each onset, arduous to stem --
Foiled and frustrated them --
On those red fields where blow with furious blow
Was countered, whether the gigantic fray
Rolled by the Meuse or at the Bois Sabot,
Accents of ours were in the fierce melee;
And on those furthest rims of hallowed ground
Where the forlorn, the gallant charge expires,
When the slain bugler has long ceased to sound,
And on the tangled wires
The last wild rally staggers, crumbles, stops,
Withered beneath the shrapnel's iron showers: --
Now heaven be thanked, we gave a few brave drops;
Now heaven be thanked, a few brave drops were ours."

V

There, holding still, in frozen steadfastness,
Their bayonets toward the beckoning frontiers,
They lie -- our comrades -- lie among their peers,
Clad in the glory of fallen warriors,
Grim clusters under thorny trellises,
Dry, furthest foam upon disastrous shores,
Leaves that made last year beautiful, still strewn
Even as they fell, unchanged, beneath the changing moon;
And earth in her divine indifference
Rolls on, and many paltry things and mean
Prate to be heard and caper to be seen.
But they are silent, calm; their eloquence
Is that incomparable attitude;
No human presences their witness are,
But summer clouds and sunset crimson-hued,
And showers and night winds and the northern star.
Nay, even our salutations seem profane,
Opposed to their Elysian quietude;
Our salutations calling from afar,
From our ignobler plane
And undistinction of our lesser parts:
Hail, brothers, and farewell; you are twice blest, brave hearts.
Double your glory is who perished thus,
For you have died for France and vindicated us.

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The Contented Man's Morice

False world, thy malice I espie
With what thou hast designed;
And therein with thee to comply,
Who likewise are combined:
But, do thy worst, I thee defie,
Thy mischiefs are confined.

From me, thou my estate hast torn,
By cheatings me beguiled:
Me thou hast also made thy scorn;
With troubles me turmoiled:
But to an heritage I'm born,
That never can be spoiled.

So wise I am not, to be mad,
Though great are my oppressions;
Nor so much fool as to be sad,
Though robb'd of my possessions:
For, cures for all sores may be had,
And grace for all transgressions.

These words in youth my motto were,
And mine in age I'll make them, -
I neither have, nor want, nor care;
When also first I spake them,
I thought things would be as they are,
And meekly therefore take them.

The riches I possess this day
Are no such goods of fortune
As kings can give or take away,
Or tyrants make uncertain:
For hid within myself are they
Behinde an unseen curtain.

Of my degree, but few or none
Were dayly so frequented;
But now I'm left of every one,
And therewith well contented:
For, when I am with God alone,
Much folly is prevented.

Then, why should I give way to grief?
Come, strike up pipe and tabor
He that affecteth God in chief,
And as himself his neighbour,
May still enjoy a happy life,
Although he lives by labor.

Not me alone have they made poor,
By whom I have been cheated;
But very many thousands more
Are of their hopes defeated;
Who little dreamed heretofore
Of being so ill treated.

Then, if my courage should be less
Than theirs who never prized
The resolutions I profess
(And almost idolized),
I well deserv'd in my distress
To be of all despised.

Our sad complaints, our sighs and tears,
Make meat nor clothing cheaper:
Vain are our earthly hopes and fears,
This life is but a vapor;
And therefore, in despight of cares,
I'll sing, and dance, and caper.

Though food nor raiment left me were,
I would of wants be dreadless;
For when I quickly should be there
Where bread and cloth are needless;
And in those blessings have my share,
Whereof most men are heedless.

I then should that attain unto
For which I now endeavour;
From my false lovers thither go,
Where friendship faileth never:
And, through a few short pangs of woe,
To joys that last for ever.

For service done, and love exprest,
(Though very few regard it)
My country owes me bread, at least;
But if I be debarr'd it,
Good conscience is a dayly feast
And sorrow never marr'd it.

My grand oppressors had a thought,
When riches they bereaved,
That then, my ruine had been wrought;
But, they are quite deceived:
For them the devil much mis-taught
When that weak snare they weaved.

If in those courses I had gone
Wherein they are employed,
Till such achievements had been won
As are by them enjoyed,
They might have wager'd ten to one
I should have been destroyed.

But proofs have now confirmed me
How much our vice offendeth,
And what small helps our virtues be
To that which God intendeth,
Till he himself shall make us free,
And our defects amendeth.

Not one is from corruption clear;
Men are depraved wholly,
Mere cruelties their mercies are
Their wisdom is but folly;
And, when most righteous they appear,
Then are they most unholy.

There is no trust in temp'ral things,
For they are all unsteady:
That no assurance from them springs,
Too well I find already;
And that ev'n parliaments and kings
Are frail, or false, or giddy.

All stands upon a tott'ring wheel,
Which never fixt abideth;
Both commonweals and kingdoms reel:
He that in them confideth,
(Or trusts their faith) shall mischiefs feel,
With which soe'er he sideth.

This wit I long ago was taught,
But then I would not heed it:
Experience must by fools be bought,
Else they'll not think they need it.
By this means was my ruin wrought;
Yet they are knaves who did it.

When to the ground deprest I was,
Our mushrooms and our bubbles,
Whom neither truth, nor wit, nor grace,
But wealth and pride ennobles
As cruel were as they are base,
And jeer'd me in my troubles.

And when their hate these had made known,
New mischiefs it begat me:
For ev'ry rascal durty clown
Presumed to amate me;
And all the curs about the town
Grinn'd, snarl'd, and barked at me.

Since, therefore, 'tis not in my power,
(Though oft I fore-discern them)
To shun the world's despights one hour,
Thus into mirth I'll turn them;
And neither grieve, nor pout, nor lowre,
But laugh, and sing, and scorn them.

This fit, at sev'nty years and two,
And thus to spend my hours,
The world's contempt inclines me to,
Whilst she my state devours;
If this be all that she can do,
A fig for all her powers.

Yet I and shee, my well agree,
Though we have much contented;
Upon as equal terms are we
As most who have offended:
For, I sleight her, and she sleights me,
And there's my quarel ended.

This only doth my mirth allay,
I am to some engaged,
Who sigh and weep, and suffer may,
Whilst thus I sing incaged:
But I've a God, and so have they
By whom that care's asswaged.

And he that gives us in these days
New lords, may give us new laws;
So that our present puppet-plays,
Our whimsies, brauls, and gew-gaws,
May turned be to songs of praise,
And holy hallelujahs.

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Improvisatore, The

Scene--A spacious drawing-room, with music-room adjoining.

Katharine. What are the words ?

Eliza. Ask our friend, the Improvisatore ; here he comes. Kate has a favour
to ask of you, Sir ; it is that you will repeat the ballad [Believe me if
all those endearing young charms.--EHC's ? note] that Mr. ____ sang so
sweetly.

Friend. It is in Moore's Irish Melodies ; but I do not recollect the
words distinctly. The moral of them, however, I take to be this :--

Love would remain the same if true,
When we were neither young nor new ;
Yea, and in all within the will that came,
By the same proofs would show itself the same.

Eliza. What are the lines you repeated from Beaumont and Fletcher, which my
mother admired so much ? It begins with something about two vines so close
that their tendrils intermingle.

Friend. You mean Charles' speech to Angelina, in The Elder Brother.

We'll live together, like two neighbour vines,
Circling our souls and loves in one another !
We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit ;
One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn ;
One age go with us, and one hour of death
Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy.

Katharine. A precious boon, that would go far to reconcile one to old
age--this love--if true ! But is there any such true love ?

Friend. I hope so.

Katharine. But do you believe it ?

Eliza (eagerly). I am sure he does.

Friend. From a man turned of fifty, Katharine, I imagine, expects a
less confident answer.

Katharine. A more sincere one, perhaps.

Friend. Even though he should have obtained the nick-name of
Improvisatore, by perpetrating charades and extempore verses at
Christmas times ?

Eliza. Nay, but be serious.

Friend. Serious ! Doubtless. A grave personage of my years giving a
Love-lecture to two young ladies, cannot well be otherwise. The
difficulty, I suspect, would be for them to remain so. It will be
asked whether I am not the `elderly gentleman' who sate `despairing
beside a clear stream', with a willow for his wig-block.

Eliza. Say another word, and we will call it downright affectation.

Katharine. No ! we will be affronted, drop a courtesy, and ask pardon for
our presumption in expecting that Mr. ___ would waste his sense on two
insignificant girls.

Friend. Well, well, I will be serious. Hem ! Now then commences the
discourse ; Mr. Moore's song being the text. Love, as distinguished
from Friendship, on the one hand, and from the passion that too often
usurps its name, on the other--

Lucius (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the trio, in a whisper to the
Friend). But is not Love the union of both ?

Friend (aside to Lucius). He never loved who thinks so.

Eliza. Brother, we don't want you. There ! Mrs. H. cannot arrange the
flower vase without you. Thank you, Mrs. Hartman.

Lucius. I'll have my revenge ! I know what I will say !

Eliza. Off ! Off ! Now, dear Sir,--Love, you were saying--

Friend. Hush ! Preaching, you mean, Eliza.

Eliza (impatiently). Pshaw !

Friend. Well then, I was saying that Love, truly such, is itself not
the most common thing in the world : and that mutual love still less
so. But that enduring personal attachment, so beautifully delineated
by Erin's sweet melodist, and still more touchingly, perhaps, in the
well-known ballad, `John Anderson, my Jo, John,' in addition to a
depth and constancy of character of no every-day occurrence, supposes
a peculiar sensibility and tenderness of nature ; a constitutional
communicativeness and utterancy of heart and soul ; a delight in the
detail of sympathy, in the outward and visible signs of the sacrament
within--to count, as it were, the pulses of the life of love. But
above all, it supposes a soul which, even in the pride and summer-tide
of life--even in the lustihood of health and strength, had felt
oftenest and prized highest that which age cannot take away and which,
in all our lovings, is the Love ;----

Eliza. There is something here (pointing to her heart) that seems to
understand you, but wants the word that would make it understand itself.

Katharine. I, too, seem to feel what you mean. Interpret the feeling for
us.

Friend. ---- I mean that willing sense of the insufficingness of the
self for itself, which predisposes a generous nature to see, in the
total being of another, the supplement and completion of its own
;--that quiet perpetual seeking which the presence of the beloved
object modulates, not suspends, where the heart momently finds, and,
finding, again seeks on ;--lastly, when `life's changeful orb has
pass'd the full', a confirmed faith in the nobleness of humanity, thus
brought home and pressed, as it were, to the very bosom of hourly
experience ; it supposes, I say, a heartfelt reverence for worth, not
the less deep because divested of its solemnity by habit, by
familiarity, by mutual infirmities, and even by a feeling of modesty
which will arise in delicate minds, when they are conscious of
possessing the same or the correspondent excellence in their own
characters. In short, there must be a mind, which, while it feels the
beautiful and the excellent in the beloved as its own, and by right of
love appropriates it, can call Goodness its Playfellow ; and dares
make sport of time and infirmity, while, in the person of a
thousand-foldly endeared partner, we feel for aged Virtue the
caressing fondness that belongs to the Innocence of childhood, and
repeat the same attentions and tender courtesies which had been
dictated by the same affection to the same object when attired in
feminine loveliness or in manly beauty.

Eliza. What a soothing--what an elevating idea !

Katharine. If it be not only an idea.

Friend. At all events, these qualities which I have enumerated, are
rarely found united in a single individual. How much more rare must it
be, that two such individuals should meet together in this wide world
under circumstances that admit of their union as Husband and Wife. A
person may be highly estimable on the whole, nay, amiable as a
neighbour, friend, housemate--in short, in all the concentric circles
of attachment save only the last and inmost ; and yet from how many
causes be estranged from the highest perfection in this ! Pride,
coldness, or fastidiousness of nature, worldly cares, an anxious or
ambitious disposition, a passion for display, a sullen temper,--one or
the other--too often proves `the dead fly in the compost of spices',
and any one is enough to unfit it for the precious balm of unction.
For some mighty good sort of people, too, there is not seldom a sort
of solemn saturnine, or, if you will, ursine vanity, that keeps itself
alive by sucking the paws of its own self-importance. And as this high
sense, or rather sensation of their own value is, for the most part,
grounded on negative qualities, so they have no better means of
preserving the same but by negatives--that is, but not doing or saying
any thing, that might be put down for fond, silly, or nonsensical
;--or, (to use their own phrase) by never forgetting themselves, which
some of their acquaintance are uncharitable enough to think the most
worthless object they could be employed in remembering.

Eliza (in answer to a whisper from Katharine). To a hair ! He must have
sate for it himself. Save me from such folks ! But they are out of the
question.

Friend. True ! but the same effect is produced in thousands by the too
general insensibility to a very important truth ; this, namely, that
the MISERY of human life is made up of large masses, each separated
from the other by certain intervals. One year, the death of a child ;
years after, a failure in trade ; after another longer or shorter
interval, a daughter may have married unhappily ;--in all but the
singularly unfortunate, the integral parts that compose the sum total
of the unhappiness of a man's life, are easily counted, and distinctly
remembered. The HAPPINESS of life, on the contrary, is made up of
minute fractions--the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a
smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of a
playful raillery, and the countless other infinitesimals of
pleasurable thought and genial feeling.

Katharine. Well, Sir ; you have said quite enough to make me despair of
finding a `John Anderson, my Jo, John', with whom to totter down the hill
of life.

Friend. Not so ! Good men are not, I trust, so much scarcer than good
women, but that what another would find in you, you may hope to find
in another. But well, however, may that boon be rare, the possession
of which would be more than an adequate reward for the rarest virtue.

Eliza. Surely, he, who has described it so well, must have possessed it ?

Friend. If he were worthy to have possessed it, and had believingly
anticipated and not found it, how bitter the disappointment !

(Then, after a pause of a few minutes),

--------------------------------------
ANSWER, ex improviso

Yes, yes ! that boon, life's richest treat
He had, or fancied that he had ;
Say, 'twas but in his own conceit--
The fancy made him glad !
Crown of his cup, and garnish of his dish !
The boon, prefigured in his earliest wish,
The fair fulfilment of his poesy,
When his young heart first yearn'd for sympathy !
But e'en the meteor offspring of the brain
Unnourished wane ;
Faith asks her daily bread,
And Fancy must be fed !
Now so it chanced--from wet or dry,
It boots not how--I know not why--
She missed her wonted food ; and quickly
Poor Fancy stagger'd and grew sickly.
Then came a restless state, 'twixt yea and nay,
His faith was fix'd, his heart all ebb and flow ;
Or like a bark, in some half-shelter'd bay,
Above its anchor driving to and fro.

That boon, which but to have possess'd
In a belief, gave life a zest--
Uncertain both what it had been,
And if by error lost, or luck ;
And what is was ;--an evergreen
Which some insidious blight had struck,
Or annual flower, which, past its blow,
No vernal spell shall e'er revive ;
Uncertain, and afraid to know,
Doubts toss'd him to and fro :
Hope keeping Love, Love Hope alive,
Like babes bewildered in a snow,
That cling and huddle from the cold
In hollow tree or ruin'd fold.

Those sparkling colours, once his boast
Fading, one by one away,
Thin and hueless as a ghost,
Poor Fancy on her sick bed lay ;
Ill at distance, worse when near,
Telling her dreams to jealous Fear !
Where was it then, the sociable sprite,
That crown'd the Poet's cup and deck'd his dish !
Poor shadow cast from an unsteady wish,
Itself a substance by no other right
But that it intercepted Reason's light ;
It dimm'd his eye, it darken'd on his brow,
A peevish mood, a tedious time, I trow !
Thank Heaven ! 'tis not so now.

O bliss of blissful hours !
The boon of Heaven's decreeing,
While yet in Eden's bowers
Dwelt the first husband and his sinless mate !
The one sweet plant, which, piteous Heaven agreeing,
They bore with them thro' Eden's closing gate !
Of life's gay summer tide the sovran Rose !
Late autumn's Amaranth, that more fragrant blows
When Passion's flowers all fall or fade ;
If this were ever his, in outward being,
Or but his own true love's projected shade,
Now that at length by certain proof he knows,
That whether real or a magic show,
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so ;
Though heart be lonesome, Hope laid low,
Yet, Lady ! deem him not unblest :
The certainty that struck Hope dead,
Hath left Contentment in her stead :
And that is next to Best !

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The Improvisatore

Scene--A spacious drawing-room, with music-room adjoining.

Katharine. What are the words ?

Eliza. Ask our friend, the Improvisatore ; here he comes. Kate has a favour
to ask of you, Sir ; it is that you will repeat the ballad [Believe me if
all those endearing young charms.--EHC's ? note] that Mr. ____ sang so
sweetly.

Friend. It is in Moore's Irish Melodies ; but I do not recollect the
words distinctly. The moral of them, however, I take to be this :--

Love would remain the same if true,
When we were neither young nor new ;
Yea, and in all within the will that came,
By the same proofs would show itself the same.

Eliza. What are the lines you repeated from Beaumont and Fletcher, which my
mother admired so much ? It begins with something about two vines so close
that their tendrils intermingle.

Friend. You mean Charles' speech to Angelina, in The Elder Brother.

We'll live together, like two neighbour vines,
Circling our souls and loves in one another !
We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit ;
One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn ;
One age go with us, and one hour of death
Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy.

Katharine. A precious boon, that would go far to reconcile one to old
age--this love--if true ! But is there any such true love ?

Friend. I hope so.

Katharine. But do you believe it ?

Eliza (eagerly). I am sure he does.

Friend. From a man turned of fifty, Katharine, I imagine, expects a
less confident answer.

Katharine. A more sincere one, perhaps.

Friend. Even though he should have obtained the nick-name of
Improvisatore, by perpetrating charades and extempore verses at
Christmas times ?

Eliza. Nay, but be serious.

Friend. Serious ! Doubtless. A grave personage of my years giving a
Love-lecture to two young ladies, cannot well be otherwise. The
difficulty, I suspect, would be for them to remain so. It will be
asked whether I am not the `elderly gentleman' who sate `despairing
beside a clear stream', with a willow for his wig-block.

Eliza. Say another word, and we will call it downright affectation.

Katharine. No ! we will be affronted, drop a courtesy, and ask pardon for
our presumption in expecting that Mr. ___ would waste his sense on two
insignificant girls.

Friend. Well, well, I will be serious. Hem ! Now then commences the
discourse ; Mr. Moore's song being the text. Love, as distinguished
from Friendship, on the one hand, and from the passion that too often
usurps its name, on the other--

Lucius (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the trio, in a whisper to the
Friend). But is not Love the union of both ?

Friend (aside to Lucius). He never loved who thinks so.

Eliza. Brother, we don't want you. There ! Mrs. H. cannot arrange the
flower vase without you. Thank you, Mrs. Hartman.

Lucius. I'll have my revenge ! I know what I will say !

Eliza. Off ! Off ! Now, dear Sir,--Love, you were saying--

Friend. Hush ! Preaching, you mean, Eliza.

Eliza (impatiently). Pshaw !

Friend. Well then, I was saying that Love, truly such, is itself not
the most common thing in the world : and that mutual love still less
so. But that enduring personal attachment, so beautifully delineated
by Erin's sweet melodist, and still more touchingly, perhaps, in the
well-known ballad, `John Anderson, my Jo, John,' in addition to a
depth and constancy of character of no every-day occurrence, supposes
a peculiar sensibility and tenderness of nature ; a constitutional
communicativeness and utterancy of heart and soul ; a delight in the
detail of sympathy, in the outward and visible signs of the sacrament
within--to count, as it were, the pulses of the life of love. But
above all, it supposes a soul which, even in the pride and summer-tide
of life--even in the lustihood of health and strength, had felt
oftenest and prized highest that which age cannot take away and which,
in all our lovings, is the Love ;----

Eliza. There is something here (pointing to her heart) that seems to
understand you, but wants the word that would make it understand itself.

Katharine. I, too, seem to feel what you mean. Interpret the feeling for
us.

Friend. ---- I mean that willing sense of the insufficingness of the
self for itself, which predisposes a generous nature to see, in the
total being of another, the supplement and completion of its own
;--that quiet perpetual seeking which the presence of the beloved
object modulates, not suspends, where the heart momently finds, and,
finding, again seeks on ;--lastly, when `life's changeful orb has
pass'd the full', a confirmed faith in the nobleness of humanity, thus
brought home and pressed, as it were, to the very bosom of hourly
experience ; it supposes, I say, a heartfelt reverence for worth, not
the less deep because divested of its solemnity by habit, by
familiarity, by mutual infirmities, and even by a feeling of modesty
which will arise in delicate minds, when they are conscious of
possessing the same or the correspondent excellence in their own
characters. In short, there must be a mind, which, while it feels the
beautiful and the excellent in the beloved as its own, and by right of
love appropriates it, can call Goodness its Playfellow ; and dares
make sport of time and infirmity, while, in the person of a
thousand-foldly endeared partner, we feel for aged Virtue the
caressing fondness that belongs to the Innocence of childhood, and
repeat the same attentions and tender courtesies which had been
dictated by the same affection to the same object when attired in
feminine loveliness or in manly beauty.

Eliza. What a soothing--what an elevating idea !

Katharine. If it be not only an idea.

Friend. At all events, these qualities which I have enumerated, are
rarely found united in a single individual. How much more rare must it
be, that two such individuals should meet together in this wide world
under circumstances that admit of their union as Husband and Wife. A
person may be highly estimable on the whole, nay, amiable as a
neighbour, friend, housemate--in short, in all the concentric circles
of attachment save only the last and inmost ; and yet from how many
causes be estranged from the highest perfection in this ! Pride,
coldness, or fastidiousness of nature, worldly cares, an anxious or
ambitious disposition, a passion for display, a sullen temper,--one or
the other--too often proves `the dead fly in the compost of spices',
and any one is enough to unfit it for the precious balm of unction.
For some mighty good sort of people, too, there is not seldom a sort
of solemn saturnine, or, if you will, ursine vanity, that keeps itself
alive by sucking the paws of its own self-importance. And as this high
sense, or rather sensation of their own value is, for the most part,
grounded on negative qualities, so they have no better means of
preserving the same but by negatives--that is, but not doing or saying
any thing, that might be put down for fond, silly, or nonsensical
;--or, (to use their own phrase) by never forgetting themselves, which
some of their acquaintance are uncharitable enough to think the most
worthless object they could be employed in remembering.

Eliza (in answer to a whisper from Katharine). To a hair ! He must have
sate for it himself. Save me from such folks ! But they are out of the
question.

Friend. True ! but the same effect is produced in thousands by the too
general insensibility to a very important truth ; this, namely, that
the MISERY of human life is made up of large masses, each separated
from the other by certain intervals. One year, the death of a child ;
years after, a failure in trade ; after another longer or shorter
interval, a daughter may have married unhappily ;--in all but the
singularly unfortunate, the integral parts that compose the sum total
of the unhappiness of a man's life, are easily counted, and distinctly
remembered. The HAPPINESS of life, on the contrary, is made up of
minute fractions--the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a
smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of a
playful raillery, and the countless other infinitesimals of
pleasurable thought and genial feeling.

Katharine. Well, Sir ; you have said quite enough to make me despair of
finding a `John Anderson, my Jo, John', with whom to totter down the hill
of life.

Friend. Not so ! Good men are not, I trust, so much scarcer than good
women, but that what another would find in you, you may hope to find
in another. But well, however, may that boon be rare, the possession
of which would be more than an adequate reward for the rarest virtue.

Eliza. Surely, he, who has described it so well, must have possessed it ?

Friend. If he were worthy to have possessed it, and had believingly
anticipated and not found it, how bitter the disappointment !

(Then, after a pause of a few minutes),

--------------------------------------
ANSWER, ex improviso

Yes, yes ! that boon, life's richest treat
He had, or fancied that he had ;
Say, 'twas but in his own conceit--
The fancy made him glad !
Crown of his cup, and garnish of his dish !
The boon, prefigured in his earliest wish,
The fair fulfilment of his poesy,
When his young heart first yearn'd for sympathy !
But e'en the meteor offspring of the brain
Unnourished wane ;
Faith asks her daily bread,
And Fancy must be fed !
Now so it chanced--from wet or dry,
It boots not how--I know not why--
She missed her wonted food ; and quickly
Poor Fancy stagger'd and grew sickly.
Then came a restless state, 'twixt yea and nay,
His faith was fix'd, his heart all ebb and flow ;
Or like a bark, in some half-shelter'd bay,
Above its anchor driving to and fro.

That boon, which but to have possess'd
In a belief, gave life a zest--
Uncertain both what it had been,
And if by error lost, or luck ;
And what is was ;--an evergreen
Which some insidious blight had struck,
Or annual flower, which, past its blow,
No vernal spell shall e'er revive ;
Uncertain, and afraid to know,
Doubts toss'd him to and fro :
Hope keeping Love, Love Hope alive,
Like babes bewildered in a snow,
That cling and huddle from the cold
In hollow tree or ruin'd fold.

Those sparkling colours, once his boast
Fading, one by one away,
Thin and hueless as a ghost,
Poor Fancy on her sick bed lay ;
Ill at distance, worse when near,
Telling her dreams to jealous Fear !
Where was it then, the sociable sprite,
That crown'd the Poet's cup and deck'd his dish !
Poor shadow cast from an unsteady wish,
Itself a substance by no other right
But that it intercepted Reason's light ;
It dimm'd his eye, it darken'd on his brow,
A peevish mood, a tedious time, I trow !
Thank Heaven ! 'tis not so now.

O bliss of blissful hours !
The boon of Heaven's decreeing,
While yet in Eden's bowers
Dwelt the first husband and his sinless mate !
The one sweet plant, which, piteous Heaven agreeing,
They bore with them thro' Eden's closing gate !
Of life's gay summer tide the sovran Rose !
Late autumn's Amaranth, that more fragrant blows
When Passion's flowers all fall or fade ;
If this were ever his, in outward being,
Or but his own true love's projected shade,
Now that at length by certain proof he knows,
That whether real or a magic show,
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so ;
Though heart be lonesome, Hope laid low,
Yet, Lady ! deem him not unblest :
The certainty that struck Hope dead,
Hath left Contentment in her stead :
And that is next to Best !

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