The ocean moans over dead men's bones.
The Lanawn Shee
Powdered and perfumed the full bee
Winged heavily across the clover,
And where the hills were dim with dew,
Purple and blue the west leaned over.
A willow spray dipped in the stream,
Moving a gleam of silver ringing,
And by a finny creek a maid
Filled all the shade with softest singing.
Listening, my heart and soul at strife,
On the edge of life I seemed to hover,'
For I knew my love had come at last,
That my joy was past and my gladness over.
I tiptoed gently up and stooped
Above her looped and shining tresses,
And asked her of her kin and name,
And why she came from fairy places.
She told me of a sunny coast
Beyond the most adventurous sailor,
Where she had spent a thousand years
Out of the fears that now assail her.
And there, she told me, honey drops
Out of the tops of ash and willow,
And in the mellow shadow Sleep
Doth sweetly keep her poppy pillow.
Nor Autumn with her brown line marks
The time of larks, the length of roses,
But song-time there is over never
Nor flower-time ever, ever closes.
And wildly through uncurling ferns
Fast water turns down valleys singing,
Filling with scented winds the dales,
Setting the bells of sleep a-ringing.
And when the thin moon lowly sinks, '
Through cloudy chinks a silver glory
Lingers upon the left of night
Till dawn delights the meadows hoary.
And by the lakes the skies are white,
(Oh, the delight!) when swans are coming,
Among the flowers sweet joy-bells peal,
And quick bees wheel in drowsy humming*
The squirrel leaves her dusty house
And in the boughs makes fearless gambol,
And, falling down in fire-drops, red,
The fruit is shed from every bramble.
Then, gathered all about the trees
Glad galaxies of youth are dancing,
Treading the perfume of the flowers,
Filling the hours with mazy glancing.
And when the dance is done, the trees
Are left to Peace and the brown woodpecker,
And on the western slopes of sky
The day's blue eye begins to flicker.
But at the sighing of the leaves,
When all earth grieves for lights departed
An ancient and a sad desire
Steals in to tire the human-hearted.
No fairy aid can save them now
Nor turn their prow upon the ocean,
The hundred years that missed each heart
Above them start their wheels in motion.
And so our loves are lost, she sighed,
And far and wide we seek new treasure,
For who on Time or Timeless hills
Can live the ills of loveless leisure ?
(' Fairer than Usna's youngest son,
0, my poor one, what flower-bed holds you?
Or, wrecked upon the shores of home,
What wave of foam with white enfolds you ?
' You rode with kings on hills of green,
And lovely queens have served you banquet,
Sweet wine from berries bruised they brought
And shyly sought the lips which drank it.
' But in your dim grave of the sea
There shall not be a friend to love you.
And ever heedless of your loss
The earth ships cross the storms above you.
' And still the chase goes on, and still
The wine shall spill, and vacant places
Be given over to the new
As love untrue keeps changing faces.
' And I must wander with my song
Far from the young till Love returning,
Brings me the beautiful reward
Of some heart stirred by my long yearning.')
Friend, have you heard a bird lament
When sleet is sent for April weather ?
As beautiful she told her grief,
As down through leaf and flower I led her.
And friend, could I remain unstirred
Without a word for such a sorrow ?
Say, can the lark forget the cloud
When poppies shroud the seeded furrow ?
Like a poor widow whose late grief
Seeks for relief in lonely byeways,
The moon, companionless and dim,
Took her dull rim through starless highways.
I was too weak with dreams to feel
Enchantment steal with guilt upon me,
She slipped, a flower upon the wind,
And laughed to find how she had won me.
From hill to hill, from land to land,
Her lovely hand is beckoning for me,
I follow on through dangerous zones,
Cross dead men's bones and oceans stormy.
Some day I know she'll wait at last
And lock me fast in white embraces,
And down mysterious ways of love
We two shall move to fairy places.
- quotes about time
- quotes about squirrels
- quotes about galaxy
- quotes about heart
- quotes about brown
- quotes about worry
- quotes about wine
- quotes about dance
As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life
As I ebb'd with the ocean of life,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk'd where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok,
Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant,
Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways,
I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward,
Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems,
Was seiz'd by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot,
The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the
land of the globe.
Fascinated, my eyes reverting from the south, dropt, to follow
&nb sp; those slender windrows,
Chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea-gluten,
Scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt-lettuce, left by the
Miles walking, the sound of breaking waves the other side of me,
Paumanok there and then as I thought the old thought of likenesses,
These you presented to me you fish-shaped island,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk'd with that electric self seeking types.
As I wend to the shores I know not,
As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck'd,
As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,
As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and closer,
I too but signify at the utmost a little wash'd-up drift,
A few sands and dead leaves to gather,
Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift.
O baffled, balk'd, bent to the very earth,
Oppress'd with myself that I have dared to open my mouth,
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I
&n bsp;have not once had the least idea who or what I am,
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet
untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd,
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written,
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
I perceive I have not really understood any thing, not a single
&nb sp; object, and that no man ever can,
Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart
; upon me and sting me,
Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.
You oceans both, I close with you,
We murmur alike reproachfully rolling sands and drift, knowing
&n bsp; not why,
These little shreds indeed standing for you and me and all.
You friable shore with trails of debris,
You fish-shaped island, I take what is underfoot,
What is yours is mine my father.
I too Paumanok,
I too have bubbled up, floated the measureless float, and been
; wash'd on your shores,
I too am but a trail of drift and debris,
I too leave little wrecks upon you, you fish-shaped island.
I throw myself upon your breast my father,
I cling to you so that you cannot unloose me,
I hold you so firm till you answer me something.
Kiss me my father,
Touch me with your lips as I touch those I love,
Breathe to me while I hold you close the secret of the murmuring
Ebb, ocean of life, (the flow will return,)
Cease not your moaning you fierce old mother,
Endlessly cry for your castaways, but fear not, deny not me,
Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet as I touch you
or gather from you.
I mean tenderly by you and all,
I gather for myself and for this phantom looking down where we
& nbsp;lead, and following me and mine.
Me and mine, loose windrows, little corpses,
Froth, snowy white, and bubbles,
(See, from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last,
See, the prismatic colors glistening and rolling,)
Tufts of straw, sands, fragments,
Buoy'd hither from many moods, one contradicting another,
From the storm, the long calm, the darkness, the swell,
Musing, pondering, a breath, a briny tear, a dab of liquid or soil,
Up just as much out of fathomless workings fermented and thrown,
A limp blossom or two, torn, just as much over waves floating,
drifted at random,
Just as much for us that sobbing dirge of Nature,
Just as much whence we come that blare of the cloud-trumpets,
We, capricious, brought hither we know not whence, spread out
You up there walking or sitting,
Whoever you are, we too lie in drifts at your feet.
The Swan Flies Over The Lace Corals Of The Trees
The swan flies over the lace corals of the trees.
Albireo in Cygnus homing west.
The boa of the moon unfeathered
by the brittle eclipse of broken shale
that shatters its vase upon the waters
like a high note cracks an hour glass
or a snapping turtle rises
from the bottom of a lake
to pull the full moon down by the leg.
My path is strewn
by lunar peony petals,
by the twilight of a blue rose,
by the silk parachutes of the milkweed pods
by the ghosts of the medicine men
among the wild poppies
shaking their dry rattles at the moon
long after the fire's gone out
at a ghost dance for rain.
And I'm sad like smoke
for reasons I can't discern.
A peaceful sorrow among
the bells in my blood as if
we all mourned for the same thing.
Tears falling from the departing wing
of a waterbird rising out of the shadows
like a startling revelation of things to come.
Late autumn and the work
of fulfilment and loss is done.
The winged samara of the maples
lie all over the ground
in a no fly zone of cancelled flight plans.
And there's a silence
that isn't the afterlife of sound
deeper than the night
that's closing in upon me
and there's the skull of a snake
like a crown without jewels
on the top of a ladder of ribs
laid out on a rock like wampum
it wants to trade for my eyes.
And looking up at the stars
who can say the word eternity
even to themselves
without making the world
and everything in it feel like a smaller place?
And who can say the word love
even as a master of metaphors
and not feel they're apprenticed
to a work in progress
like Great Barrier Reefs
and Gothic cathedrals on the moon
painted like caves in the New Stone Age?
The last of the asters
exchange similitudes with the stars
as tokens of what they have in common
like diamond and carbon
without really knowing what they are.
Whether one is the estranged avatar
of the other in exile
or merely intimate familiars
with good spiritual manners
on a first name basis
with what they feel they see
of their afterlives in each other's eyes.
As it is with everything here
speaking in an unknown language
as old as the hills,
older than the moon
like a Rosetta stone
buried in a desert of stars.
The living word, the cursive script
of the original wavelengths
of a snake with wings,
now a pictograph of bones.
I've been reading the constellations
all my life, the mother-tongue
of an alphabet that said everything
into existence like braille I can see
through my fingertips
and read under my feet
like the footprints of a long journey
I've undertaken to everywhere,
dead twigs in the Book of Changes
trying to decipher themselves like yarrow sticks
and withered leaves, gnostic gospels
burnt in the Bedouin fires of fall,
all Mayan glyphs of a clockwork catastrophe,
Cretan linear B that talks to itself
like the dream of a sleepwalking Greek
gibbering among the dead?
Polyglot grammars in the tree of life
trying to make an aviary of words
without tongue-tying the roosting birds
to any one branch of the mystery,
any one note of their infinite vocabulary.
Aren't we all trying to express
the inexpressible through words,
through the sacred syllables
of trees, stars, stones, the black swans
of our occult history, pine-cones,
caterpillars in cocoons
foggy as smudged moons.
Or dragonflies who make
a chrysalis of our throats,
this little house of dead things
we keep trying to give a voice to
like an echo of ourselves,
these hovels and palaces of starmud
we glue together like perfectly bound books
patched from the rags of our tents
torn like wild irises
in this time-swept desert of stars
abandoning our ancestral campfires
for a distant mirage in a wanderlust of smoke
to undergo our transformations,
snakes that have grown wings and sing
three octaves higher than they used to crawl
like an ambush on its belly
through the silence of the river reeds,
a shuttle through a loom,
the loose thread
of an earthbound flying carpet
unravelling like the moon,
shedding its skin like a myth of origin
generation after generation.
Here the spirits of the dead
are not summoned to answer
their names in the mouth of a medium
as if a tree in winter
were to call its birds back
to the abandoned nests,
the empty hearts it holds up
like begging bowls to the sky.
This is not the bone-box
of anything's final resting place.
This is not the paleolithic tomb
of a retreating glacier carving
spiritual moats around sacred moraines
to elevate the middens of its remains
keeping its fingers crossed
like the ecliptic and the celestial equator
at the spring equinox it will
be reborn again like the sun
hatching out of its cosmic egg
like a phoenix at the winter solstice.
Here, if you listen, if you see,
if you're a windwatcher like me,
or the crows in the tops of the aspens,
you can read what the dead are writing
in waves shuddering on the waters of life
like the lines of a poem
that has just touched your startled heart
with a feather of breath so poignant,
everything you see before you,
from the hidden wisdom
in the bones of encrypted snakes,
to the runic striations
on the prophetic skulls of the rocks,
is the lyrical masterpiece of the dead
to the living that it's dedicated to
like a genius to an unknown muse
that whispers something in the crowns
of the leafless birch that feels as if
even as winter approaches like a new moon
everything here in this cradle
of life, light and insight
can hear the ancient lullabies and requiems
of the hidden nightbirds of the dead
blossoming in their roots long before
they're published on the wind
like tomorrow's waterbirds returning
to the dead seas and mindstreams
of the harvest moon that inspires them.
Not the coffin, not the trilithon altars
and gates of red-winged sky burials,
not the pyres of the sumac
cremating a phoenix with a flight plan,
but this crucible and cradle of earth
is where it all happens like honey
pouring out of the dark ore of death
indelibly as gold, and water, and breath.
This holiest house of transformation
where the dead hold the new moon
in the arms of the old, not
to teach them how to exit hell
like a bell of light out of the darkness
but how to enter heaven
like a thread of insight
through a needle in the dark
with your eyes wide open
like the seedbed of the dead
to a clearing by the side of a river
they know as well as the names of the stars
that bloomed here last year
like the constellations
of the New England asters
who didn't wear a black halo of comets
this far off the beaten path,
or a crown of thorns like splintered glass
chipped from the lens of a telescope
but handed out new zodiacs
like superannuated tree rings
in the heartwood of an early spring
like fish jumping
through their own ripples
to add a little bling and flash
like starstruck earrings
to hang like vital signs
from the lobes of the new moon in Pisces.
Here in this place
where the arrow hits the target
like the wavelength of a hawk
sparing the morning dove
with a sprig of peace in its beak,
isn't the end of the journey,
isn't the acquisition of anything we seek
but precisely where the bulls-eye
of the expanding universe begins
under these eyelids of water and light
living us all like shapeshifters
in a dream of transformation
where the preludes of our beginnings
are already nudging their way
like a crocus of thought,
a moonrise of emotion,
out of the earth, out of
the spring thaw in our hearts
even before the first snow flake falls
like a distant star on the eyelids
of the darkening hills
or this nugget of a snake's skull
exchanging wardrobes with the moon
swallows it whole like a cosmic egg
that has swapped the bright vacancy
of the first and last crescents of its fangs
for the dark abundance of the new
as if death and life were
the particle and wavelength phase
snowflakes and stars, waterbirds
and the serpent fire of red-shifted dragons,
were the life and death masks of the same face,
the same breath, the same bone, blood, flesh,
the scrolls and gnostic gospels of skin
we abandon like the myths of origin
of our last avatars, our last incarnations
as if the same size of life and death fits all
even as our skeletons are raised up
like hot dice in the throw of a winning hand,
snake-eyes, or seven come eleven the same
up into the stars like circumpolar constellations
as if they were nothing but thresholds
and event horizons shining radiantly
in all directions at once with no fixed place
that lets anyone stand in the doorway for long,
whether you're exiting your coffin like a seed,
or making a grand entrance among the stars
of your vast, palatial homelessness
as if you'd just returned
to this prodigal house of life
a moment ago, and hadn't gone far.
No further than the front and back doors
of your next life, your next death, pulse, breath,
radiance of bright vacancy,
eclipse of dark abundance,
like the new moon in the arms of the old.
Mortal ore with a lifespan of imperishable gold.
- quotes about Moon
- quotes about language
- quotes about eclipse
- quotes about outer space
- quotes about abundance
- quotes about parachuting
- quotes about water
- quotes about life
Book IV - Part 03 - The Senses And Mental Pictures
Bodies that strike the eyes, awaking sight.
From certain things flow odours evermore,
As cold from rivers, heat from sun, and spray
From waves of ocean, eater-out of walls
Around the coasts. Nor ever cease to flit
The varied voices, sounds athrough the air.
Then too there comes into the mouth at times
The wet of a salt taste, when by the sea
We roam about; and so, whene'er we watch
The wormword being mixed, its bitter stings.
To such degree from all things is each thing
Borne streamingly along, and sent about
To every region round; and Nature grants
Nor rest nor respite of the onward flow,
Since 'tis incessantly we feeling have,
And all the time are suffered to descry
And smell all things at hand, and hear them sound.
Besides, since shape examined by our hands
Within the dark is known to be the same
As that by eyes perceived within the light
And lustrous day, both touch and sight must be
By one like cause aroused. So, if we test
A square and get its stimulus on us
Within the dark, within the light what square
Can fall upon our sight, except a square
That images the things? Wherefore it seems
The source of seeing is in images,
Nor without these can anything be viewed.
Now these same films I name are borne about
And tossed and scattered into regions all.
But since we do perceive alone through eyes,
It follows hence that whitherso we turn
Our sight, all things do strike against it there
With form and hue. And just how far from us
Each thing may be away, the image yields
To us the power to see and chance to tell:
For when 'tis sent, at once it shoves ahead
And drives along the air that's in the space
Betwixt it and our eyes. And thus this air
All glides athrough our eyeballs, and, as 'twere,
Brushes athrough our pupils and thuswise
Passes across. Therefore it comes we see
How far from us each thing may be away,
And the more air there be that's driven before,
And too the longer be the brushing breeze
Against our eyes, the farther off removed
Each thing is seen to be: forsooth, this work
With mightily swift order all goes on,
So that upon one instant we may see
What kind the object and how far away.
Nor over-marvellous must this be deemed
In these affairs that, though the films which strike
Upon the eyes cannot be singly seen,
The things themselves may be perceived. For thus
When the wind beats upon us stroke by stroke
And when the sharp cold streams, 'tis not our wont
To feel each private particle of wind
Or of that cold, but rather all at once;
And so we see how blows affect our body,
As if one thing were beating on the same
And giving us the feel of its own body
Outside of us. Again, whene'er we thump
With finger-tip upon a stone, we touch
But the rock's surface and the outer hue,
Nor feel that hue by contact- rather feel
The very hardness deep within the rock.
Now come, and why beyond a looking-glass
An image may be seen, perceive. For seen
It soothly is, removed far within.
'Tis the same sort as objects peered upon
Outside in their true shape, whene'er a door
Yields through itself an open peering-place,
And lets us see so many things outside
Beyond the house. Also that sight is made
By a twofold twin air: for first is seen
The air inside the door-posts; next the doors,
The twain to left and right; and afterwards
A light beyond comes brushing through our eyes,
Then other air, then objects peered upon
Outside in their true shape. And thus, when first
The image of the glass projects itself,
As to our gaze it comes, it shoves ahead
And drives along the air that's in the space
Betwixt it and our eyes, and brings to pass
That we perceive the air ere yet the glass.
But when we've also seen the glass itself,
Forthwith that image which from us is borne
Reaches the glass, and there thrown back again
Comes back unto our eyes, and driving rolls
Ahead of itself another air, that then
'Tis this we see before itself, and thus
It looks so far removed behind the glass.
Wherefore again, again, there's naught for wonder
In those which render from the mirror's plane
A vision back, since each thing comes to pass
By means of the two airs. Now, in the glass
The right part of our members is observed
Upon the left, because, when comes the image
Hitting against the level of the glass,
'Tis not returned unshifted; but forced off
Backwards in line direct and not oblique,-
Exactly as whoso his plaster-mask
Should dash, before 'twere dry, on post or beam,
And it should straightway keep, at clinging there,
Its shape, reversed, facing him who threw,
And so remould the features it gives back:
It comes that now the right eye is the left,
The left the right. An image too may be
From mirror into mirror handed on,
Until of idol-films even five or six
Have thus been gendered. For whatever things
Shall hide back yonder in the house, the same,
However far removed in twisting ways,
May still be all brought forth through bending paths
And by these several mirrors seen to be
Within the house, since Nature so compels
All things to be borne backward and spring off
At equal angles from all other things.
To such degree the image gleams across
From mirror unto mirror; where 'twas left
It comes to be the right, and then again
Returns and changes round unto the left.
Again, those little sides of mirrors curved
Proportionate to the bulge of our own flank
Send back to us their idols with the right
Upon the right; and this is so because
Either the image is passed on along
From mirror unto mirror, and thereafter,
When twice dashed off, flies back unto ourselves;
Or else the image wheels itself around,
When once unto the mirror it has come,
Since the curved surface teaches it to turn
To usward. Further, thou might'st well believe
That these film-idols step along with us
And set their feet in unison with ours
And imitate our carriage, since from that
Part of a mirror whence thou hast withdrawn
Straightway no images can be returned.
Further, our eye-balls tend to flee the bright
And shun to gaze thereon; the sun even blinds,
If thou goest on to strain them unto him,
Because his strength is mighty, and the films
Heavily downward from on high are borne
Through the pure ether and the viewless winds,
And strike the eyes, disordering their joints.
So piecing lustre often burns the eyes,
Because it holdeth many seeds of fire
Which, working into eyes, engender pain.
Again, whatever jaundiced people view
Becomes wan-yellow, since from out their bodies
Flow many seeds wan-yellow forth to meet
The films of things, and many too are mixed
Within their eye, which by contagion paint
All things with sallowness. Again, we view
From dark recesses things that stand in light,
Because, when first has entered and possessed
The open eyes this nearer darkling air,
Swiftly the shining air and luminous
Followeth in, which purges then the eyes
And scatters asunder of that other air
The sable shadows, for in large degrees
This air is nimbler, nicer, and more strong.
And soon as ever 'thas filled and oped with light
The pathways of the eyeballs, which before
Black air had blocked, there follow straightaway
Those films of things out-standing in the light,
Provoking vision- what we cannot do
From out the light with objects in the dark,
Because that denser darkling air behind
Followeth in, and fills each aperture
And thus blockades the pathways of the eyes
That there no images of any things
Can be thrown in and agitate the eyes.
And when from far away we do behold
The squared towers of a city, oft
Rounded they seem,- on this account because
Each distant angle is perceived obtuse,
Or rather it is not perceived at all;
And perishes its blow nor to our gaze
Arrives its stroke, since through such length of air
Are borne along the idols that the air
Makes blunt the idol of the angle's point
By numerous collidings. When thuswise
The angles of the tower each and all
Have quite escaped the sense, the stones appear
As rubbed and rounded on a turner's wheel-
Yet not like objects near and truly round,
But with a semblance to them, shadowily.
Likewise, our shadow in the sun appears
To move along and follow our own steps
And imitate our carriage- if thou thinkest
Air that is thus bereft of light can walk,
Following the gait and motion of mankind.
For what we use to name a shadow, sure
Is naught but air deprived of light. No marvel:
Because the earth from spot to spot is reft
Progressively of light of sun, whenever
In moving round we get within its way,
While any spot of earth by us abandoned
Is filled with light again, on this account
It comes to pass that what was body's shadow
Seems still the same to follow after us
In one straight course. Since, evermore pour in
New lights of rays, and perish then the old,
Just like the wool that's drawn into the flame.
Therefore the earth is easily spoiled of light
And easily refilled and from herself
Washeth the black shadows quite away.
And yet in this we don't at all concede
That eyes be cheated. For their task it is
To note in whatsoever place be light,
In what be shadow: whether or no the gleams
Be still the same, and whether the shadow which
Just now was here is that one passing thither,
Or whether the facts be what we said above,
'Tis after all the reasoning of mind
That must decide; nor can our eyeballs know
The nature of reality. And so
Attach thou not this fault of mind to eyes,
Nor lightly think our senses everywhere
Are tottering. The ship in which we sail
Is borne along, although it seems to stand;
The ship that bides in roadstead is supposed
There to be passing by. And hills and fields
Seem fleeing fast astern, past which we urge
The ship and fly under the bellying sails.
The stars, each one, do seem to pause, affixed
To the ethereal caverns, though they all
Forever are in motion, rising out
And thence revisiting their far descents
When they have measured with their bodies bright
The span of heaven. And likewise sun and moon
Seem biding in a roadstead,- objects which,
As plain fact proves, are really borne along.
Between two mountains far away aloft
From midst the whirl of waters open lies
A gaping exit for the fleet, and yet
They seem conjoined in a single isle.
When boys themselves have stopped their spinning round,
The halls still seem to whirl and posts to reel,
Until they now must almost think the roofs
Threaten to ruin down upon their heads.
And now, when Nature begins to lift on high
The sun's red splendour and the tremulous fires,
And raise him o'er the mountain-tops, those mountains-
O'er which he seemeth then to thee to be,
His glowing self hard by atingeing them
With his own fire- are yet away from us
Scarcely two thousand arrow-shots, indeed
Oft scarce five hundred courses of a dart;
Although between those mountains and the sun
Lie the huge plains of ocean spread beneath
The vasty shores of ether, and intervene
A thousand lands, possessed by many a folk
And generations of wild beasts. Again,
A pool of water of but a finger's depth,
Which lies between the stones along the pave,
Offers a vision downward into earth
As far, as from the earth o'erspread on high
The gulfs of heaven; that thus thou seemest to view
Clouds down below and heavenly bodies plunged
Wondrously in heaven under earth.
Then too, when in the middle of the stream
Sticks fast our dashing horse, and down we gaze
Into the river's rapid waves, some force
Seems then to bear the body of the horse,
Though standing still, reversely from his course,
And swiftly push up-stream. And wheresoe'er
We cast our eyes across, all objects seem
Thus to be onward borne and flow along
In the same way as we. A portico,
Albeit it stands well propped from end to end
On equal columns, parallel and big,
Contracts by stages in a narrow cone,
When from one end the long, long whole is seen,-
Until, conjoining ceiling with the floor,
And the whole right side with the left, it draws
Together to a cone's nigh-viewless point.
To sailors on the main the sun he seems
From out the waves to rise, and in the waves
To set and bury his light- because indeed
They gaze on naught but water and the sky.
Again, to gazers ignorant of the sea,
Vessels in port seem, as with broken poops,
To lean upon the water, quite agog;
For any portion of the oars that's raised
Above the briny spray is straight, and straight
The rudders from above. But other parts,
Those sunk, immersed below the water-line,
Seem broken all and bended and inclined
Sloping to upwards, and turned back to float
Almost atop the water. And when the winds
Carry the scattered drifts along the sky
In the night-time, then seem to glide along
The radiant constellations 'gainst the clouds
And there on high to take far other course
From that whereon in truth they're borne. And then,
If haply our hand be set beneath one eye
And press below thereon, then to our gaze
Each object which we gaze on seems to be,
By some sensation twain- then twain the lights
Of lampions burgeoning in flowers of flame,
And twain the furniture in all the house,
Two-fold the visages of fellow-men,
And twain their bodies. And again, when sleep
Has bound our members down in slumber soft
And all the body lies in deep repose,
Yet then we seem to self to be awake
And move our members; and in night's blind gloom
We think to mark the daylight and the sun;
And, shut within a room, yet still we seem
To change our skies, our oceans, rivers, hills,
To cross the plains afoot, and hear new sounds,
Though still the austere silence of the night
Abides around us, and to speak replies,
Though voiceless. Other cases of the sort
Wondrously many do we see, which all
Seek, so to say, to injure faith in sense-
In vain, because the largest part of these
Deceives through mere opinions of the mind,
Which we do add ourselves, feigning to see
What by the senses are not seen at all.
For naught is harder than to separate
Plain facts from dubious, which the mind forthwith
Adds by itself.
Again, if one suppose
That naught is known, he knows not whether this
Itself is able to be known, since he
Confesses naught to know. Therefore with him
I waive discussion- who has set his head
Even where his feet should be. But let me grant
That this he knows,- I question: whence he knows
What 'tis to know and not-to-know in turn,
And what created concept of the truth,
And what device has proved the dubious
To differ from the certain?- since in things
He's heretofore seen naught of true. Thou'lt find
That from the senses first hath been create
Concept of truth, nor can the senses be
Rebutted. For criterion must be found
Worthy of greater trust, which shall defeat
Through own authority the false by true;
What, then, than these our senses must there be
Worthy a greater trust? Shall reason, sprung
From some false sense, prevail to contradict
Those senses, sprung as reason wholly is
From out of the senses?- For lest these be true,
All reason also then is falsified.
Or shall the ears have power to blame the eyes,
Or yet the touch the ears? Again, shall taste
Accuse this touch or shall the nose confute
Or eyes defeat it? Methinks not so it is:
For unto each has been divided of
Its function quite apart, its power to each;
And thus we're still constrained to perceive
The soft, the cold, the hot apart, apart
All divers hues and whatso things there be
Conjoined with hues. Likewise the tasting tongue
Has its own power apart, and smells apart
And sounds apart are known. And thus it is
That no one sense can e'er convict another.
Nor shall one sense have power to blame itself,
Because it always must be deemed the same,
Worthy of equal trust. And therefore what
At any time unto these senses showed,
The same is true. And if the reason be
Unable to unravel us the cause
Why objects, which at hand were square, afar
Seemed rounded, yet it more availeth us,
Lacking the reason, to pretend a cause
For each configuration, than to let
From out our hands escape the obvious things
And injure primal faith in sense, and wreck
All those foundations upon which do rest
Our life and safety. For not only reason
Would topple down; but even our very life
Would straightaway collapse, unless we dared
To trust our senses and to keep away
From headlong heights and places to be shunned
Of a like peril, and to seek with speed
Their opposites! Again, as in a building,
If the first plumb-line be askew, and if
The square deceiving swerve from lines exact,
And if the level waver but the least
In any part, the whole construction then
Must turn out faulty- shelving and askew,
Leaning to back and front, incongruous,
That now some portions seem about to fall,
And falls the whole ere long- betrayed indeed
By first deceiving estimates: so too
Thy calculations in affairs of life
Must be askew and false, if sprung for thee
From senses false. So all that troop of words
Marshalled against the senses is quite vain.
And now remains to demonstrate with ease
How other senses each their things perceive.
Firstly, a sound and every voice is heard,
When, getting into ears, they strike the sense
With their own body. For confess we must
Even voice and sound to be corporeal,
Because they're able on the sense to strike.
Besides voice often scrapes against the throat,
And screams in going out do make more rough
The wind-pipe- naturally enough, methinks,
When, through the narrow exit rising up
In larger throng, these primal germs of voice
Have thus begun to issue forth. In sooth,
Also the door of the mouth is scraped against
By air blown outward from distended cheeks.
And thus no doubt there is, that voice and words
Consist of elements corporeal,
With power to pain. Nor art thou unaware
Likewise how much of body's ta'en away,
How much from very thews and powers of men
May be withdrawn by steady talk, prolonged
Even from the rising splendour of the morn
To shadows of black evening,- above all
If 't be outpoured with most exceeding shouts.
Therefore the voice must be corporeal,
Since the long talker loses from his frame
Moreover, roughness in the sound
Comes from the roughness in the primal germs,
As a smooth sound from smooth ones is create;
Nor have these elements a form the same
When the trump rumbles with a hollow roar,
As when barbaric Berecynthian pipe
Buzzes with raucous boomings, or when swans
By night from icy shores of Helicon
With wailing voices raise their liquid dirge.
Thus, when from deep within our frame we force
These voices, and at mouth expel them forth,
The mobile tongue, artificer of words,
Makes them articulate, and too the lips
By their formations share in shaping them.
Hence when the space is short from starting-point
To where that voice arrives, the very words
Must too be plainly heard, distinctly marked.
For then the voice conserves its own formation,
Conserves its shape. But if the space between
Be longer than is fit, the words must be
Through the much air confounded, and the voice
Disordered in its flight across the winds-
And so it haps, that thou canst sound perceive,
Yet not determine what the words may mean;
To such degree confounded and encumbered
The voice approaches us. Again, one word,
Sent from the crier's mouth, may rouse all ears
Among the populace. And thus one voice
Scatters asunder into many voices,
Since it divides itself for separate ears,
Imprinting form of word and a clear tone.
But whatso part of voices fails to hit
The ears themselves perishes, borne beyond,
Idly diffused among the winds. A part,
Beating on solid porticoes, tossed back
Returns a sound; and sometimes mocks the ear
With a mere phantom of a word. When this
Thou well hast noted, thou canst render count
Unto thyself and others why it is
Along the lonely places that the rocks
Give back like shapes of words in order like,
When search we after comrades wandering
Among the shady mountains, and aloud
Call unto them, the scattered. I have seen
Spots that gave back even voices six or seven
For one thrown forth- for so the very hills,
Dashing them back against the hills, kept on
With their reverberations. And these spots
The neighbouring country-side doth feign to be
Haunts of the goat-foot satyrs and the nymphs;
And tells ye there be fauns, by whose night noise
And antic revels yonder they declare
The voiceless silences are broken oft,
And tones of strings are made and wailings sweet
Which the pipe, beat by players' finger-tips,
Pours out; and far and wide the farmer-race
Begins to hear, when, shaking the garmentings
Of pine upon his half-beast head, god-Pan
With puckered lip oft runneth o'er and o'er
The open reeds,- lest flute should cease to pour
The woodland music! Other prodigies
And wonders of this ilk they love to tell,
Lest they be thought to dwell in lonely spots
And even by gods deserted. This is why
They boast of marvels in their story-tellings;
Or by some other reason are led on-
Greedy, as all mankind hath ever been,
To prattle fables into ears.
One need not wonder how it comes about
That through those places (through which eyes cannot
View objects manifest) sounds yet may pass
And assail the ears. For often we observe
People conversing, though the doors be closed;
No marvel either, since all voice unharmed
Can wind through bended apertures of things,
While idol-films decline to- for they're rent,
Unless along straight apertures they swim,
Like those in glass, through which all images
Do fly across. And yet this voice itself,
In passing through shut chambers of a house,
Is dulled, and in a jumble enters ears,
And sound we seem to hear far more than words.
Moreover, a voice is into all directions
Divided up, since off from one another
New voices are engendered, when one voice
Hath once leapt forth, outstarting into many-
As oft a spark of fire is wont to sprinkle
Itself into its several fires. And so,
Voices do fill those places hid behind,
Which all are in a hubbub round about,
Astir with sound. But idol-films do tend,
As once set forth, in straight directions all;
Wherefore one can inside a wall see naught,
Yet catch the voices from beyond the same.
Nor tongue and palate, whereby we flavour feel,
Present more problems for more work of thought.
Firstly, we feel a flavour in the mouth,
When forth we squeeze it, in chewing up our food,-
As any one perchance begins to squeeze
With hand and dry a sponge with water soaked.
Next, all which forth we squeeze is spread about
Along the pores and intertwined paths
Of the loose-textured tongue. And so, when smooth
The bodies of the oozy flavour, then
Delightfully they touch, delightfully
They treat all spots, around the wet and trickling
Enclosures of the tongue. And contrariwise,
They sting and pain the sense with their assault,
According as with roughness they're supplied.
Next, only up to palate is the pleasure
Coming from flavour; for in truth when down
'Thas plunged along the throat, no pleasure is,
Whilst into all the frame it spreads around;
Nor aught it matters with what food is fed
The body, if only what thou take thou canst
Distribute well digested to the frame
And keep the stomach in a moist career.
Now, how it is we see some food for some,
Others for others....
I will unfold, or wherefore what to some
Is foul and bitter, yet the same to others
Can seem delectable to eat,- why here
So great the distance and the difference is
That what is food to one to some becomes
Fierce poison, as a certain snake there is
Which, touched by spittle of a man, will waste
And end itself by gnawing up its coil.
Again, fierce poison is the hellebore
To us, but puts the fat on goats and quails.
That thou mayst know by what devices this
Is brought about, in chief thou must recall
What we have said before, that seeds are kept
Commixed in things in divers modes. Again,
As all the breathing creatures which take food
Are outwardly unlike, and outer cut
And contour of their members bounds them round,
Each differing kind by kind, they thus consist
Of seeds of varying shape. And furthermore,
Since seeds do differ, divers too must be
The interstices and paths (which we do call
The apertures) in all the members, even
In mouth and palate too. Thus some must be
More small or yet more large, three-cornered some
And others squared, and many others round,
And certain of them many-angled too
In many modes. For, as the combination
And motion of their divers shapes demand,
The shapes of apertures must be diverse
And paths must vary according to their walls
That bound them. Hence when what is sweet to some,
Becomes to others bitter, for him to whom
'Tis sweet, the smoothest particles must needs
Have entered caressingly the palate's pores.
And, contrariwise, with those to whom that sweet
Is sour within the mouth, beyond a doubt
The rough and barbed particles have got
Into the narrows of the apertures.
Now easy it is from these affairs to know
Indeed, where one from o'er-abundant bile
Is stricken with fever, or in other wise
Feels the roused violence of some malady,
There the whole frame is now upset, and there
All the positions of the seeds are changed,-
So that the bodies which before were fit
To cause the savour, now are fit no more,
And now more apt are others which be able
To get within the pores and gender sour.
Both sorts, in sooth, are intermixed in honey-
What oft we've proved above to thee before.
Now come, and I will indicate what wise
Impact of odour on the nostrils touches.
And first, 'tis needful there be many things
From whence the streaming flow of varied odours
May roll along, and we're constrained to think
They stream and dart and sprinkle themselves about
Impartially. But for some breathing creatures
One odour is more apt, to others another-
Because of differing forms of seeds and pores.
Thus on and on along the zephyrs bees
Are led by odour of honey, vultures too
By carcasses. Again, the forward power
Of scent in dogs doth lead the hunter on
Whithersoever the splay-foot of wild beast
Hath hastened its career; and the white goose,
The saviour of the Roman citadel,
Forescents afar the odour of mankind.
Thus, diversely to divers ones is given
Peculiar smell that leadeth each along
To his own food or makes him start aback
From loathsome poison, and in this wise are
The generations of the wild preserved.
Yet is this pungence not alone in odours
Or in the class of flavours; but, likewise,
The look of things and hues agree not all
So well with senses unto all, but that
Some unto some will be, to gaze upon,
More keen and painful. Lo, the raving lions,
They dare not face and gaze upon the cock
Who's wont with wings to flap away the night
From off the stage, and call the beaming morn
With clarion voice- and lions straightway thus
Bethink themselves of flight, because, ye see,
Within the body of the cocks there be
Some certain seeds, which, into lions' eyes
Injected, bore into the pupils deep
And yield such piercing pain they can't hold out
Against the cocks, however fierce they be-
Whilst yet these seeds can't hurt our gaze the least,
Either because they do not penetrate,
Or since they have free exit from the eyes
As soon as penetrating, so that thus
They cannot hurt our eyes in any part
By there remaining.
To speak once more of odour;
Whatever assail the nostrils, some can travel
A longer way than others. None of them,
However, 's borne so far as sound or voice-
While I omit all mention of such things
As hit the eyesight and assail the vision.
For slowly on a wandering course it comes
And perishes sooner, by degrees absorbed
Easily into all the winds of air;
And first, because from deep inside the thing
It is discharged with labour (for the fact
That every object, when 'tis shivered, ground,
Or crumbled by the fire, will smell the stronger
Is sign that odours flow and part away
From inner regions of the things). And next,
Thou mayest see that odour is create
Of larger primal germs than voice, because
It enters not through stony walls, wherethrough
Unfailingly the voice and sound are borne;
Wherefore, besides, thou wilt observe 'tis not
So easy to trace out in whatso place
The smelling object is. For, dallying on
Along the winds, the particles cool off,
And then the scurrying messengers of things
Arrive our senses, when no longer hot.
So dogs oft wander astray, and hunt the scent.
Now mark, and hear what objects move the mind,
And learn, in few, whence unto intellect
Do come what come. And first I tell thee this:
That many images of objects rove
In many modes to every region round-
So thin that easily the one with other,
When once they meet, uniteth in mid-air,
Like gossamer or gold-leaf. For, indeed,
Far thinner are they in their fabric than
Those images which take a hold on eyes
And smite the vision, since through body's pores
They penetrate, and inwardly stir up
The subtle nature of mind and smite the sense.
Thus, Centaurs and the limbs of Scyllas, thus
The Cerberus-visages of dogs we see,
And images of people gone before-
Dead men whose bones earth bosomed long ago;
Because the images of every kind
Are everywhere about us borne- in part
Those which are gendered in the very air
Of own accord, in part those others which
From divers things do part away, and those
Which are compounded, made from out their shapes.
For soothly from no living Centaur is
That phantom gendered, since no breed of beast
Like him was ever; but, when images
Of horse and man by chance have come together,
They easily cohere, as aforesaid,
At once, through subtle nature and fabric thin.
In the same fashion others of this ilk
Created are. And when they're quickly borne
In their exceeding lightness, easily
(As earlier I showed) one subtle image,
Compounded, moves by its one blow the mind,
Itself so subtle and so strangely quick.
That these things come to pass as I record,
From this thou easily canst understand:
So far as one is unto other like,
Seeing with mind as well as with the eyes
Must come to pass in fashion not unlike.
Well, now, since I have shown that I perceive
Haply a lion through those idol-films
Such as assail my eyes, 'tis thine to know
Also the mind is in like manner moved,
And sees, nor more nor less than eyes do see
(Except that it perceives more subtle films)
The lion and aught else through idol-films.
And when the sleep has overset our frame,
The mind's intelligence is now awake,
Still for no other reason, save that these-
The self-same films as when we are awake-
Assail our minds, to such degree indeed
That we do seem to see for sure the man
Whom, void of life, now death and earth have gained
Dominion over. And Nature forces this
To come to pass because the body's senses
Are resting, thwarted through the members all,
Unable now to conquer false with true;
And memory lies prone and languishes
In slumber, nor protests that he, the man
Whom the mind feigns to see alive, long since
Hath been the gain of death and dissolution.
And further, 'tis no marvel idols move
And toss their arms and other members round
In rhythmic time- and often in men's sleeps
It haps an image this is seen to do;
In sooth, when perishes the former image,
And other is gendered of another pose,
That former seemeth to have changed its gestures.
Of course the change must be conceived as speedy;
So great the swiftness and so great the store
Of idol-things, and (in an instant brief
As mind can mark) so great, again, the store
Of separate idol-parts to bring supplies.
It happens also that there is supplied
Sometimes an image not of kind the same;
But what before was woman, now at hand
Is seen to stand there, altered into male;
Or other visage, other age succeeds;
But slumber and oblivion take care
That we shall feel no wonder at the thing.
And much in these affairs demands inquiry,
And much, illumination- if we crave
With plainness to exhibit facts. And first,
Why doth the mind of one to whom the whim
To think has come behold forthwith that thing?
Or do the idols watch upon our will,
And doth an image unto us occur,
Directly we desire- if heart prefer
The sea, the land, or after all the sky?
Assemblies of the citizens, parades,
Banquets, and battles, these and all doth she,
Nature, create and furnish at our word?
Maugre the fact that in same place and spot
Another's mind is meditating things
All far unlike. And what, again, of this:
When we in sleep behold the idols step,
In measure, forward, moving supple limbs,
Whilst forth they put each supple arm in turn
With speedy motion, and with eyeing heads
Repeat the movement, as the foot keeps time?
Forsooth, the idols they are steeped in art,
And wander to and fro well taught indeed,-
Thus to be able in the time of night
To make such games! Or will the truth be this:
Because in one least moment that we mark-
That is, the uttering of a single sound-
There lurk yet many moments, which the reason
Discovers to exist, therefore it comes
That, in a moment how so brief ye will,
The divers idols are hard by, and ready
Each in its place diverse? So great the swiftness,
So great, again, the store of idol-things,
And so, when perishes the former image,
And other is gendered of another pose,
The former seemeth to have changed its gestures.
And since they be so tenuous, mind can mark
Sharply alone the ones it strains to see;
And thus the rest do perish one and all,
Save those for which the mind prepares itself.
Further, it doth prepare itself indeed,
And hopes to see what follows after each-
Hence this result. For hast thou not observed
How eyes, essaying to perceive the fine,
Will strain in preparation, otherwise
Unable sharply to perceive at all?
Yet know thou canst that, even in objects plain,
If thou attendest not, 'tis just the same
As if 'twere all the time removed and far.
What marvel, then, that mind doth lose the rest,
Save those to which 'thas given up itself?
So 'tis that we conjecture from small signs
Things wide and weighty, and involve ourselves
In snarls of self-deceit.
Wings Over The Ocean
Wings over the ocean
Footprints in the sand.
Quiet voices in the softest breeze
Feet balancing on land.
Gentle thoughts and gestures
No voyage as yet planned.
Wings over the ocean
Then soaring o'er dry land.
The Stars Go Over The Lonely Ocean
Unhappy about some far off things
That are not my affair, wandering
Along the coast and up the lean ridges,
I saw in the evening
The stars go over the lonely ocean,
And a black-maned wild boar
Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain.
The old monster snuffled, "Here are sweet roots,
Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns.
The best nation in Europe has fallen,
And that is Finland,
But the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
The old black-bristled boar,
Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain.
"The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
Said the old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.
"Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,"
Said the gamey black-maned boar
Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain.
Submitted by Holt
Where the Dead Men Lie
Out on the wastes of the Never Never -
That's where the dead men lie!
There where the heat-waves dance forever -
That's where the dead men lie!
That's where the Earth's loved sons are keeping
Endless tryst: not the west wind sweeping
Feverish pinions can wake their sleeping -
Out where the dead men lie!
Where brown Summer and Death have mated -
That's where the dead men lie!
Loving with fiery lust unsated -
That's where the dead men lie!
Out where the grinning skulls bleach whitely
Under the saltbush sparkling brightly;
Out where the wild dogs chorus nightly -
That's where the dead men lie!
Deep in the yellow, flowing river -
That's where the dead men lie!
Under the banks where the shadows quiver -
That's where the dead men he!
Where the platypus twists and doubles,
Leaving a train of tiny bubbles.
Rid at last of their earthly troubles -
That's where the dead men lie!
East and backward pale faces turning -
That's how the dead men lie!
Gaunt arms stretched with a voiceless yearning -
That's how the dead men lie!
Oft in the fragrant hush of nooning
Hearing again their mother's crooning,
Wrapt for aye in a dreamful swooning -
That's how the dead men lie!
Only the hand of Night can free them -
That's when the dead men fly!
Only the frightened cattle see them -
See the dead men go by!
Cloven hoofs beating out one measure,
Bidding the stockmen know no leisure -
That's when the dead men take their pleasure!
That's when the dead men fly!
Ask, too, the never-sleeping drover:
He sees the dead pass by;
Hearing them call to their friends - the plover,
Hearing the dead men cry;
Seeing their faces stealing, stealing,
Hearing their laughter, pealing, pealing,
Watching their grey forms wheeling, wheeling
Round where the cattle lie!
Strangled by thirst and fierce privation -
That's how the dead men die!
Out on Moncygrub's farthest station -
That's how the dead men die!
Hard-faced greybeards, youngsters caflow;
Some mounds cared for, some left fallow;
Some deep down, yet others shallow.
Some having but the sky.
Moncygrub, as he sips his claret,
Looks with complacent eye
Down at his watch-chain, eighteen carat -
There, in his club, hard by:
Recks not that every link is stamped with
Names of the men whose limbs are cramped with
Too long lying in grave-mould, cramped with
Death where the dead men lie.
And they heard the tent-poles clatter,
And the fly in twain was torn –
'Tis the soiled rag of a tatter
Of the tent where I was born.
And what matters it, I wonder?
Brick or stone or calico? –
Or a bush you were born under,
When it happened long ago?
And my beds were camp beds and tramp beds and damp beds,
And my beds were dry beds on drought-stricken ground,
Hard beds and soft beds, and wide beds and narrow –
For my beds were strange beds the wide world round.
And the old hag seemed to ponder
('Twas my mother told me so),
And she said that I would wander
Where but few would think to go.
"He will fly the haunts of tailors,
He will cross the ocean wide,
For his fathers, they were sailors
All on his good father's side."
Behind me, before me, Oh! my roads are stormy
The thunder of skies and the sea's sullen sound,
The coaster or liner, the English or foreign,
The state-room or steerage the wide world round.
And the old hag she seemed troubled
As she bent above the bed,
"He will dream things and he'll see things
To come true when he is dead.
He will see things all too plainly,
And his fellows will deride,
For his mothers they were gipsies
All on his good mother's side."
And my dreams are strange dreams, are day dreams, are grey dreams,
And my dreams are wild dreams, and old dreams and new;
They haunt me and daunt me with fears of the morrow –
My brothers they doubt me – but my dreams come true.
And so I was born of fathers
From where ice-bound harbours are
Men whose strong limbs never rested
And whose blue eyes saw afar.
Till, for gold, one left the ocean,
Seeking over plain and hill;
And so I was born of mothers
Whose deep minds were never still.
I rest not, 'tis best not, the world is a wide one
And, caged for an hour, I pace to and fro;
I see things and dree things and plan while I'm sleeping,
I wander for ever and dream as I go.
I have stood by Table Mountain
On the Lion at Capetown,
And I watched the sunset fading
From the roads that I marked down,
And I looked out with my brothers
From the heights behind Bombay,
Gazing north and west and eastward,
Over roads I'll tread some day.
For my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways,
And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low;
I'm at home and at ease on a track that I know not,
And restless and lost on a road that I know.
The Songs Of The Dead Men To The Three Dancers
I. TO DESIRE
(Here a dancer enters and dances.)
Who is she that is fragrant and desirable,
Clothed but enough to wake wantonness,
And proud of her polished lithe body and her narrowing of
kohl-darkened eyelids with arrows between them?
Ah, ah, ah! Goddess of the world,
Young serpent in the veins of the rock,
In the mountain of jewels a young serpent, in the veins of a
man a sweet viper all emerald: ah Goddess
Are we proof to the hilt, are you pleased with us
When the splendor of your undulant insolence
Pricks the dark entrails of death, his foregathered grow hot for
you, the skeleton stands up to be amorous?
Ah, ah, ah! Goddess of the flesh
Will you think it a gift lacking grace
That the gates of the grave have been battered before you, the
iron doors to us dead in the deepest abysm?
For who has gone down to the dead or has touched them?
Did Jesus of Nazareth when he lay in deep hell
For three days and since lived as they say and has failed us?
No man nor no woman has gone down to us dead
Living until now, but the proof is here now, ah beautiful torture
us again and again.
We are fleshless, we tremble to your flesh,
Dear Goddess to taste of the dew
On your arms when you dance or to lip at the glitter of your
burnished thighs or the breast of your barrenness.
In the book of your triumphs with no term
Inscribe a more wonderful deed,
That you quickened the dead, that you lifted the flesh of the
fleshless, ah Goddess, ah! dancing, us dead men.
(The dancer goes out.)
II. TO DEATH
(A second dancer enters and dances.)
Was it lovely to lie among violets ablossom in the valleys of
love on the breast of the south?
It was lovely but lovelier now
To behold the calm head of the dancer we dreaded, his curls are
as tendrils of the vineyard, O Death
Sweet and more sweet is your dancing.
Like the swoon of fulfilment of love in some lonelier vale among
flowers is the languor that flushes us,
O why did we fear him, for Death
Is a beautiful youth and his eyes are sleepy, the lids droop heavily
with wine when he wakens,
And his breast is more smooth than a dove's.
Fair Garda, gay water with olives engarlanded, lake of blue
laughter in a bay of the Alps
It is better for our spirits to be here
In the desolate hollows of darkness beholding the beauty of our
dancer than at rest on your hills
Of anemones and jonquils immingled.
And gay from the glacier womb, boy-throated for gladness to
shout where the snow-crags throng
Ran foaming the rivulet Rhone,
When the mountains were sprung for his passage, the ridges of
granite were splintered; and lovely the lake was
Under the vineyards of Vaud,
And at evening empurpling the peaks of the Chablais were
painted on the sleep and deep shadow of its waters
When the sundown was flame on la Dole.
But the best of the course is the last broad slumber, O river of
France to forget and go down
Slow-gliding and sultrily stagnant
Past Aries to the Gulf of the Lion and that azure and beautiful
grave in the waves of the south
That are warmest and best . . . and an end . . .
(The dancer has gone out.)
III. TO VICTORY
(A third dancer enters and dances.)
Use us again, you in the world only of goddesses worshipful
now or adored,
How did we bow, even in dream, visions betraying us, unto some
other and base
Power when your splendor there
Struck on the gates? Use us again, awfully beautiful. Blood will
reblossom from death
Burning to minister
All its revived fire at your feet, only to merit an eye-glance, or
flash of your hand's
Pounding of guns clear you a path, trample the ports of decision
and triumph on the slain.
Men when they fall in it
Gayly they die, scattering for flowers rosy and white at your
feet the red blood and pale brains
Towering in steel, terribly armed, which of the daughters of
heaven is so hotly desired?
None has embraced you yet,
All of us burn, beautifully mad, frantic with lust of your beauty
and with thirst of your mouth's
Holy and white, under the steel, hide the sweet limbs of our
longing desire in a deep
Emperors and lords gave her in vain cities of gold and whole
nations of blood, for she took
Gifts, but rejected them.
Neither a king's bribe nor a bold armorer's hammer prevails to
unrivet the steel
Belt of her maidenhood,
Yet shall our prayer surely be heard. Goddess of glory revoke our
exemption of death,
Twice let us die for you.
Use us again, though but an hour: surely the prayer is as humble
as the gift would be great,
(The dancer goes out.)
The Lover’s Secret
WHAT ailed young Lucius? Art had vainly tried
To guess his ill, and found herself defied.
The Augur plied his legendary skill;
Useless; the fair young Roman languished still.
His chariot took him every cloudless day
Along the Pincian Hill or Appian Way;
They rubbed his wasted limbs with sulphurous oil,
Oozed from the far-off Orient's heated soil;
They led him tottering down the steamy path
Where bubbling fountains filled the thermal bath;
Borne in his litter to Egeria's cave,
They washed him, shivering, in her icy wave.
They sought all curious herbs and costly stones,
They scraped the moss that grew on dead men's bones,
They tried all cures the votive tablets taught,
Scoured every place whence healing drugs were brought,
O'er Thracian hills his breathless couriers ran,
His slaves waylaid the Syrian caravan.
At last a servant heard a stranger speak
A new chirurgeon's name; a clever Greek,
Skilled in his art; from Pergamus he came
To Rome but lately; GALEN was the name.
The Greek was called: a man with piercing eyes,
Who must be cunning, and who might be wise.
He spoke but little,--if they pleased, he said,
He 'd wait awhile beside the sufferer's bed.
So by his side he sat, serene and calm,
His very accents soft as healing balm;
Not curious seemed, but every movement spied,
His sharp eyes searching where they seemed to glide;
Asked a few questions,--what he felt, and where?
'A pain just here,' 'A constant beating there.'
Who ordered bathing for his aches and ails?
'Charmis, the water-doctor from Marseilles.'
What was the last prescription in his case?
'A draught of wine with powdered chrysoprase.'
Had he no secret grief he nursed alone?
A pause; a little tremor; answer,--'None.'
Thoughtful, a moment, sat the cunning leech,
And muttered 'Eros!' in his native speech.
In the broad atrium various friends await
The last new utterance from the lips of fate;
Men, matrons, maids, they talk the question o'er,
And, restless, pace the tessellated floor.
Not unobserved the youth so long had pined
By gentle-hearted dames and damsels kind;
One with the rest, a rich Patrician's pride,
The lady Hermia, called 'the golden-eyed';
The same the old Proconsul fain must woo,
Whom, one dark night, a masked sicarius slew;
The same black Crassus over roughly pressed
To hear his suit,--the Tiber knows the rest.
(Crassus was missed next morning by his set;
Next week the fishers found him in their net.)
She with the others paced the ample hall,
Fairest, alas! and saddest of them all.
At length the Greek declared, with puzzled face,
Some strange enchantment mingled in the case,
And naught would serve to act as counter-charm
Save a warm bracelet from a maiden's arm.
Not every maiden's,--many might be tried;
Which not in vain, experience must decide.
Were there no damsels willing to attend
And do such service for a suffering friend?
The message passed among the waiting crowd,
First in a whisper, then proclaimed aloud.
Some wore no jewels; some were disinclined,
For reasons better guessed at than defined;
Though all were saints,--at least professed to be,--
The list all counted, there were named but three.
The leech, still seated by the patient's side,
Held his thin wrist, and watched him, eagle-eyed.
Aurelia first, a fair-haired Tuscan girl,
Slipped off her golden asp, with eyes of pearl.
His solemn head the grave physician shook;
The waxen features thanked her with a look.
Olympia next, a creature half divine,
Sprung from the blood of old Evander's line,
Held her white arm, that wore a twisted chain
Clasped with an opal-sheeny cymophane.
In vain, O daughter I said the baffled Greek.
The patient sighed the thanks he could not speak.
Last, Hermia entered; look, that sudden start!
The pallium heaves above his leaping heart;
The beating pulse, the cheek's rekindled flame,
Those quivering lips, the secret all proclaim.
The deep disease long throbbing in the breast,
The dread enchantment, all at once confessed!
The case was plain; the treatment was begun;
And Love soon cured the mischief he had done.
Young Love, too oft thy treacherous bandage slips
Down from the eyes it blinded to the lips!
Ask not the Gods, O youth, for clearer sight,
But the bold heart to plead thy cause aright.
And thou, fair maiden, when thy lovers sigh,
Suspect thy flattering ear, but trust thine eye;
And learn this secret from the tale of old
No love so true as love that dies untold.
. . . . . . . . . .
'Bravo, Annex!' they shouted, every one,--
'Not Mrs. Kemble's self had better done.'
'Quite so,' she stammered in her awkward way,--
Not just the thing, but something she must say.
The teaspoon chorus tinkled to its close
When from his chair the MAN OF LAW arose,
Called by her voice whose mandate all obeyed,
And took the open volume she displayed.
Tall, stately, strong, his form begins to own
Some slight exuberance in its central zone,--
That comely fulness of the growing girth
Which fifty summers lend the sons of earth.
A smooth, round disk about whose margin stray,
Above the temples, glistening threads of gray;
Strong, deep-cut grooves by toilsome decades wrought
On brow and mouth, the battle-fields of thought;
A voice that lingers in the listener's ear,
Grave, calm, far-reaching, every accent clear,--
(Those tones resistless many a foreman knew
That shaped their verdict ere the twelve withdrew
A statesman's forehead, athlete's throat and jaw,
Such the proud semblance of the Man of Law.
His eye just lighted on the printed leaf,
Held as a practised pleader holds his brief.
One whispered softly from behind his cup,
'He does not read,--his book is wrong side up!
He knows the story that it holds by heart,--
So like his own! How well he'll act his part!'
Then all were silent; not a rustling fan
Stirred the deep stillness as the voice began.
Book VI - Part 04 - The Plague Athens
'Twas such a manner of disease, 'twas such
Mortal miasma in Cecropian lands
Whilom reduced the plains to dead men's bones,
Unpeopled the highways, drained of citizens
The Athenian town. For coming from afar,
Rising in lands of Aegypt, traversing
Reaches of air and floating fields of foam,
At last on all Pandion's folk it swooped;
Whereat by troops unto disease and death
Were they o'er-given. At first, they'd bear about
A skull on fire with heat, and eyeballs twain
Red with suffusion of blank glare. Their throats,
Black on the inside, sweated oozy blood;
And the walled pathway of the voice of man
Was clogged with ulcers; and the very tongue,
The mind's interpreter, would trickle gore,
Weakened by torments, tardy, rough to touch.
Next when that Influence of bane had chocked,
Down through the throat, the breast, and streamed had
E'en into sullen heart of those sick folk,
Then, verily, all the fences of man's life
Began to topple. From the mouth the breath
Would roll a noisome stink, as stink to heaven
Rotting cadavers flung unburied out.
And, lo, thereafter, all the body's strength
And every power of mind would languish, now
In very doorway of destruction.
And anxious anguish and ululation (mixed
With many a groan) companioned alway
The intolerable torments. Night and day,
Recurrent spasms of vomiting would rack
Alway their thews and members, breaking down
With sheer exhaustion men already spent.
And yet on no one's body couldst thou mark
The skin with o'er-much heat to burn aglow,
But rather the body unto touch of hands
Would offer a warmish feeling, and thereby
Show red all over, with ulcers, so to say,
Inbranded, like the "sacred fires" o'erspread
Along the members. The inward parts of men,
In truth, would blaze unto the very bones;
A flame, like flame in furnaces, would blaze
Within the stomach. Nor couldst aught apply
Unto their members light enough and thin
For shift of aid- but coolness and a breeze
Ever and ever. Some would plunge those limbs
On fire with bane into the icy streams,
Hurling the body naked into the waves;
Many would headlong fling them deeply down
The water-pits, tumbling with eager mouth
Already agape. The insatiable thirst
That whelmed their parched bodies, lo, would make
A goodly shower seem like to scanty drops.
Respite of torment was there none. Their frames
Forspent lay prone. With silent lips of fear
Would Medicine mumble low, the while she saw
So many a time men roll their eyeballs round,
Staring wide-open, unvisited of sleep,
The heralds of old death. And in those months
Was given many another sign of death:
The intellect of mind by sorrow and dread
Deranged, the sad brow, the countenance
Fierce and delirious, the tormented ears
Beset with ringings, the breath quick and short
Or huge and intermittent, soaking sweat
A-glisten on neck, the spittle in fine gouts
Tainted with colour of crocus and so salt,
The cough scarce wheezing through the rattling throat.
Aye, and the sinews in the fingered hands
Were sure to contract, and sure the jointed frame
To shiver, and up from feet the cold to mount
Inch after inch: and toward the supreme hour
At last the pinched nostrils, nose's tip
A very point, eyes sunken, temples hollow,
Skin cold and hard, the shuddering grimace,
The pulled and puffy flesh above the brows!-
O not long after would their frames lie prone
In rigid death. And by about the eighth
Resplendent light of sun, or at the most
On the ninth flaming of his flambeau, they
Would render up the life. If any then
Had 'scaped the doom of that destruction, yet
Him there awaited in the after days
A wasting and a death from ulcers vile
And black discharges of the belly, or else
Through the clogged nostrils would there ooze along
Much fouled blood, oft with an aching head:
Hither would stream a man's whole strength and flesh.
And whoso had survived that virulent flow
Of the vile blood, yet into thews of him
And into his joints and very genitals
Would pass the old disease. And some there were,
Dreading the doorways of destruction
So much, lived on, deprived by the knife
Of the male member; not a few, though lopped
Of hands and feet, would yet persist in life,
And some there were who lost their eyeballs: O
So fierce a fear of death had fallen on them!
And some, besides, were by oblivion
Of all things seized, that even themselves they knew
No longer. And though corpse on corpse lay piled
Unburied on ground, the race of birds and beasts
Would or spring back, scurrying to escape
The virulent stench, or, if they'd tasted there,
Would languish in approaching death. But yet
Hardly at all during those many suns
Appeared a fowl, nor from the woods went forth
The sullen generations of wild beasts-
They languished with disease and died and died.
In chief, the faithful dogs, in all the streets
Outstretched, would yield their breath distressfully
For so that Influence of bane would twist
Life from their members. Nor was found one sure
And universal principle of cure:
For what to one had given the power to take
The vital winds of air into his mouth,
And to gaze upward at the vaults of sky,
The same to others was their death and doom.
In those affairs, O awfullest of all,
O pitiable most was this, was this:
Whoso once saw himself in that disease
Entangled, ay, as damned unto death,
Would lie in wanhope, with a sullen heart,
Would, in fore-vision of his funeral,
Give up the ghost, O then and there. For, lo,
At no time did they cease one from another
To catch contagion of the greedy plague,-
As though but woolly flocks and horned herds;
And this in chief would heap the dead on dead:
For who forbore to look to their own sick,
O these (too eager of life, of death afeard)
Would then, soon after, slaughtering Neglect
Visit with vengeance of evil death and base-
Themselves deserted and forlorn of help.
But who had stayed at hand would perish there
By that contagion and the toil which then
A sense of honour and the pleading voice
Of weary watchers, mixed with voice of wail
Of dying folk, forced them to undergo.
This kind of death each nobler soul would meet.
The funerals, uncompanioned, forsaken,
Like rivals contended to be hurried through.
. . . . . .
And men contending to ensepulchre
Pile upon pile the throng of their own dead:
And weary with woe and weeping wandered home;
And then the most would take to bed from grief.
Nor could be found not one, whom nor disease
Nor death, nor woe had not in those dread times
By now the shepherds and neatherds all,
Yea, even the sturdy guiders of curved ploughs,
Began to sicken, and their bodies would lie
Huddled within back-corners of their huts,
Delivered by squalor and disease to death.
O often and often couldst thou then have seen
On lifeless children lifeless parents prone,
Or offspring on their fathers', mothers' corpse
Yielding the life. And into the city poured
O not in least part from the countryside
That tribulation, which the peasantry
Sick, sick, brought thither, thronging from every quarter,
Plague-stricken mob. All places would they crowd,
All buildings too; whereby the more would death
Up-pile a-heap the folk so crammed in town.
Ah, many a body thirst had dragged and rolled
Along the highways there was lying strewn
Besides Silenus-headed water-fountains,-
The life-breath choked from that too dear desire
Of pleasant waters. Ah, everywhere along
The open places of the populace,
And along the highways, O thou mightest see
Of many a half-dead body the sagged limbs,
Rough with squalor, wrapped around with rags,
Perish from very nastiness, with naught
But skin upon the bones, well-nigh already
Buried- in ulcers vile and obscene filth.
All holy temples, too, of deities
Had Death becrammed with the carcasses;
And stood each fane of the Celestial Ones
Laden with stark cadavers everywhere-
Places which warders of the shrines had crowded
With many a guest. For now no longer men
Did mightily esteem the old Divine,
The worship of the gods: the woe at hand
Did over-master. Nor in the city then
Remained those rites of sepulture, with which
That pious folk had evermore been wont
To buried be. For it was wildered all
In wild alarms, and each and every one
With sullen sorrow would bury his own dead,
As present shift allowed. And sudden stress
And poverty to many an awful act
Impelled; and with a monstrous screaming they
Would, on the frames of alien funeral pyres,
Place their own kin, and thrust the torch beneath
Oft brawling with much bloodshed round about
Rather than quit dead bodies loved in life.
The Odyssey: Book 12
"After we were clear of the river Oceanus, and had got out into
the open sea, we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where there
is dawn and sunrise as in other places. We then drew our ship on to
the sands and got out of her on to the shore, where we went to sleep
and waited till day should break.
"Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I
sent some men to Circe's house to fetch the body of Elpenor. We cut
firewood from a wood where the headland jutted out into the sea, and
after we had wept over him and lamented him we performed his funeral
rites. When his body and armour had been burned to ashes, we raised
a cairn, set a stone over it, and at the top of the cairn we fixed the
oar that he had been used to row with.
"While we were doing all this, Circe, who knew that we had got
back from the house of Hades, dressed herself and came to us as fast
as she could; and her maid servants came with her bringing us bread,
meat, and wine. Then she stood in the midst of us and said, 'You
have done a bold thing in going down alive to the house of Hades,
and you will have died twice, to other people's once; now, then,
stay here for the rest of the day, feast your fill, and go on with
your voyage at daybreak tomorrow morning. In the meantime I will
tell Ulysses about your course, and will explain everything to him
so as to prevent your suffering from misadventure either by land or
"We agreed to do as she had said, and feasted through the livelong
day to the going down of the sun, but when the sun had set and it came
on dark, the men laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables
of the ship. Then Circe took me by the hand and bade me be seated away
from the others, while she reclined by my side and asked me all
about our adventures.
"'So far so good,' said she, when I had ended my story, 'and now pay
attention to what I am about to tell you- heaven itself, indeed,
will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too
close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children
will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great
heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still
rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your
men's ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you
can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you
stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must
lash the rope's ends to the mast itself, that you may have the
pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you,
then they must bind you faster.
"'When your crew have taken you past these Sirens, I cannot give you
coherent directions as to which of two courses you are to take; I will
lay the two alternatives before you, and you must consider them for
yourself. On the one hand there are some overhanging rocks against
which the deep blue waves of Amphitrite beat with terrific fury; the
blessed gods call these rocks the Wanderers. Here not even a bird
may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father
Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father
Jove has to send another to make up their number; no ship that ever
yet came to these rocks has got away again, but the waves and
whirlwinds of fire are freighted with wreckage and with the bodies
of dead men. The only vessel that ever sailed and got through, was the
famous Argo on her way from the house of Aetes, and she too would have
gone against these great rocks, only that Juno piloted her past them
for the love she bore to Jason.
"'Of these two rocks the one reaches heaven and its peak is lost
in a dark cloud. This never leaves it, so that the top is never
clear not even in summer and early autumn. No man though he had twenty
hands and twenty feet could get a foothold on it and climb it, for
it runs sheer up, as smooth as though it had been polished. In the
middle of it there is a large cavern, looking West and turned
towards Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so
high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it.
Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be
that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no
one- not even a god- could face her without being terror-struck. She
has twelve mis-shapen feet, and six necks of the most prodigious
length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with
three rows of teeth in each, all set very close together, so that they
would crunch any one to death in a moment, and she sits deep within
her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock,
fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she can
catch, of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems. No ship ever
yet got past her without losing some men, for she shoots out all her
heads at once, and carries off a man in each mouth.
"'You will find the other rocks lie lower, but they are so close
together that there is not more than a bowshot between them. [A
large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it], and under it lies the
sucking whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she
vomit forth her waters, and three times she sucks them down again; see
that you be not there when she is sucking, for if you are, Neptune
himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive
ship by as fast as you can, for you had better lose six men than
your whole crew.'
"'Is there no way,' said I, 'of escaping Charybdis, and at the
same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?'
"'You dare-devil,' replied the goddess, you are always wanting to
fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten
even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is
savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for
it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can,
for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armour,
she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up
another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full
speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla's dam, bad
luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon
"'You will now come to the Thrinacian island, and here you will
see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep belonging to the sun-god-
seven herds of cattle and seven flocks of sheep, with fifty head in
each flock. They do not breed, nor do they become fewer in number, and
they are tended by the goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie, who are
children of the sun-god Hyperion by Neaera. Their mother when she
had borne them and had done suckling them sent them to the
Thrinacian island, which was a long way off, to live there and look
after their father's flocks and herds. If you leave these flocks
unharmed, and think of nothing but getting home, you may yet after
much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm them, then I forewarn
you of the destruction both of your ship and of your comrades; and
even though you may yourself escape, you will return late, in bad
plight, after losing all your men.'
"Here she ended, and dawn enthroned in gold began to show in heaven,
whereon she returned inland. I then went on board and told my men to
loose the ship from her moorings; so they at once got into her, took
their places, and began to smite the grey sea with their oars.
Presently the great and cunning goddess Circe befriended us with a
fair wind that blew dead aft, and stayed steadily with us, keeping our
sails well filled, so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear,
and let her go as wind and helmsman headed her.
"Then, being much troubled in mind, I said to my men, 'My friends,
it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the prophecies
that Circe has made me, I will therefore tell you about them, so
that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open. First she
said we were to keep clear of the Sirens, who sit and sing most
beautifully in a field of flowers; but she said I might hear them
myself so long as no one else did. Therefore, take me and bind me to
the crosspiece half way up the mast; bind me as I stand upright,
with a bond so fast that I cannot possibly break away, and lash the
rope's ends to the mast itself. If I beg and pray you to set me
free, then bind me more tightly still.'
"I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before we
reached the island of the two Sirens, for the wind had been very
favourable. Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm; there was not a
breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water, so the men furled the
sails and stowed them; then taking to their oars they whitened the
water with the foam they raised in rowing. Meanwhile I look a large
wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword. Then I kneaded the wax
in my strong hands till it became soft, which it soon did between
the kneading and the rays of the sun-god son of Hyperion. Then I
stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to
the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing
themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship
was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore
and began with their singing.
"'Come here,' they sang, 'renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean
name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without
staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who
listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know
all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before
Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the
"They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear
them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me
free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes
bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of
the Sirens' voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and
"Immediately after we had got past the island I saw a great wave
from which spray was rising, and I heard a loud roaring sound. The men
were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars, for the
whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters, but the ship
stayed where it was, for the men had left off rowing. I went round,
therefore, and exhorted them man by man not to lose heart.
"'My friends,' said I, 'this is not the first time that we have been
in danger, and we are in nothing like so bad a case as when the
Cyclops shut us up in his cave; nevertheless, my courage and wise
counsel saved us then, and we shall live to look back on all this as
well. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say, trust in Jove and row on
with might and main. As for you, coxswain, these are your orders;
attend to them, for the ship is in your hands; turn her head away from
these steaming rapids and hug the rock, or she will give you the
slip and be over yonder before you know where you are, and you will be
the death of us.'
"So they did as I told them; but I said nothing about the awful
monster Scylla, for I knew the men would not on rowing if I did, but
would huddle together in the hold. In one thing only did I disobey
Circe's strict instructions- I put on my armour. Then seizing two
strong spears I took my stand on the ship Is bows, for it was there
that I expected first to see the monster of the rock, who was to do my
men so much harm; but I could not make her out anywhere, though I
strained my eyes with looking the gloomy rock all over and over
"Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind, for on the one
hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Charybdis kept sucking up
the salt water. As she vomited it up, it was like the water in a
cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire, and the spray
reached the top of the rocks on either side. When she began to suck
again, we could see the water all inside whirling round and round, and
it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could
see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the
men were at their wit's ends for fear. While we were taken up with
this, and were expecting each moment to be our last, Scylla pounced
down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking
at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and
feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was
carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last
despairing cry. As a fisherman, seated, spear in hand, upon some
jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor little
fishes, and spears them with the ox's horn with which his spear is
shod, throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one by
one- even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock and
munch them up at the mouth of her den, while they screamed and
stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony. This was the
most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyages.
"When we had passed the [Wandering] rocks, with Scylla and
terrible Charybdis, we reached the noble island of the sun-god,
where were the goodly cattle and sheep belonging to the sun
Hyperion. While still at sea in my ship I could bear the cattle lowing
as they came home to the yards, and the sheep bleating. Then I
remembered what the blind Theban prophet Teiresias had told me, and
how carefully Aeaean Circe had warned me to shun the island of the
blessed sun-god. So being much troubled I said to the men, 'My men,
I know you are hard pressed, but listen while I tell you the
prophecy that Teiresias made me, and how carefully Aeaean Circe warned
me to shun the island of the blessed sun-god, for it was here, she
said, that our worst danger would lie. Head the ship, therefore,
away from the island.'
"The men were in despair at this, and Eurylochus at once gave me
an insolent answer. 'Ulysses,' said he, 'you are cruel; you are very
strong yourself and never get worn out; you seem to be made of iron,
and now, though your men are exhausted with toil and want of sleep,
you will not let them land and cook themselves a good supper upon this
island, but bid them put out to sea and go faring fruitlessly on
through the watches of the flying night. It is by night that the winds
blow hardest and do so much damage; how can we escape should one of
those sudden squalls spring up from South West or West, which so often
wreck a vessel when our lords the gods are unpropitious? Now,
therefore, let us obey the of night and prepare our supper here hard
by the ship; to-morrow morning we will go on board again and put out
"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. I saw that
heaven meant us a mischief and said, 'You force me to yield, for you
are many against one, but at any rate each one of you must take his
solemn oath that if he meet with a herd of cattle or a large flock
of sheep, he will not be so mad as to kill a single head of either,
but will be satisfied with the food that Circe has given us.'
"They all swore as I bade them, and when they had completed their
oath we made the ship fast in a harbour that was near a stream of
fresh water, and the men went ashore and cooked their suppers. As soon
as they had had enough to eat and drink, they began talking about
their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten; this set
them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a sound
"In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted their
places, Jove raised a great gale of wind that flew a hurricane so that
land and sea were covered with thick clouds, and night sprang forth
out of the heavens. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave wherein
the sea-nymphs hold their courts and dances, and I called the men
together in council.
"'My friends,' said I, 'we have meat and drink in the ship, let us
mind, therefore, and not touch the cattle, or we shall suffer for
it; for these cattle and sheep belong to the mighty sun, who sees
and gives ear to everything. And again they promised that they would
"For a whole month the wind blew steadily from the South, and
there was no other wind, but only South and East. As long as corn
and wine held out the men did not touch the cattle when they were
hungry; when, however, they had eaten all there was in the ship,
they were forced to go further afield, with hook and line, catching
birds, and taking whatever they could lay their hands on; for they
were starving. One day, therefore, I went up inland that I might
pray heaven to show me some means of getting away. When I had gone far
enough to be clear of all my men, and had found a place that was
well sheltered from the wind, I washed my hands and prayed to all
the gods in Olympus till by and by they sent me off into a sweet
"Meanwhile Eurylochus had been giving evil counsel to the men,
'Listen to me,' said he, 'my poor comrades. All deaths are bad
enough but there is none so bad as famine. Why should not we drive
in the best of these cows and offer them in sacrifice to the
immortal Rods? If we ever get back to Ithaca, we can build a fine
temple to the sun-god and enrich it with every kind of ornament; if,
however, he is determined to sink our ship out of revenge for these
homed cattle, and the other gods are of the same mind, I for one would
rather drink salt water once for all and have done with it, than be
starved to death by inches in such a desert island as this is.'
"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. Now the
cattle, so fair and goodly, were feeding not far from the ship; the
men, therefore drove in the best of them, and they all stood round
them saying their prayers, and using young oak-shoots instead of
barley-meal, for there was no barley left. When they had done
praying they killed the cows and dressed their carcasses; they cut out
the thigh bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some
pieces of raw meat on top of them. They had no wine with which to make
drink-offerings over the sacrifice while it was cooking, so they
kept pouring on a little water from time to time while the inward
meats were being grilled; then, when the thigh bones were burned and
they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small and put
the pieces upon the spits.
"By this time my deep sleep had left me, and I turned back to the
ship and to the sea shore. As I drew near I began to smell hot roast
meat, so I groaned out a prayer to the immortal gods. 'Father Jove,' I
exclaimed, 'and all you other gods who live in everlasting bliss,
you have done me a cruel mischief by the sleep into which you have
sent me; see what fine work these men of mine have been making in my
"Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we had
been killing his cows, whereon he flew into a great rage, and said
to the immortals, 'Father Jove, and all you other gods who live in
everlasting bliss, I must have vengeance on the crew of Ulysses' ship:
they have had the insolence to kill my cows, which were the one
thing I loved to look upon, whether I was going up heaven or down
again. If they do not square accounts with me about my cows, I will go
down to Hades and shine there among the dead.'
"'Sun,' said Jove, 'go on shining upon us gods and upon mankind over
the fruitful earth. I will shiver their ship into little pieces with a
bolt of white lightning as soon as they get out to sea.'
"I was told all this by Calypso, who said she had heard it from
the mouth of Mercury.
"As soon as I got down to my ship and to the sea shore I rebuked
each one of the men separately, but we could see no way out of it, for
the cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at once to
show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the cattle crawled
about, and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows, and the
meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a noise just as cows do.
"For six days my men kept driving in the best cows and feasting upon
them, but when Jove the son of Saturn had added a seventh day, the
fury of the gale abated; we therefore went on board, raised our masts,
spread sail, and put out to sea. As soon as we were well away from the
island, and could see nothing but sky and sea, the son of Saturn
raised a black cloud over our ship, and the sea grew dark beneath
it. We not get on much further, for in another moment we were caught
by a terrific squall from the West that snapped the forestays of the
mast so that it fell aft, while all the ship's gear tumbled about at
the bottom of the vessel. The mast fell upon the head of the
helmsman in the ship's stern, so that the bones of his head were
crushed to pieces, and he fell overboard as though he were diving,
with no more life left in him.
"Then Jove let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went round
and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning
struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were carried about in
the water round the ship, looking like so many sea-gulls, but the
god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home again.
"I stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from her keel
(which drifted about by itself) and struck the mast out of her in
the direction of the keel; but there was a backstay of stout
ox-thong still hanging about it, and with this I lashed the mast and
keel together, and getting astride of them was carried wherever the
winds chose to take me.
"[The gale from the West had now spent its force, and the wind got
into the South again, which frightened me lest I should be taken
back to the terrible whirlpool of Charybdis. This indeed was what
actually happened, for I was borne along by the waves all night, and
by sunrise had reacfied the rock of Scylla, and the whirlpool. She was
then sucking down the salt sea water, but I was carried aloft toward
the fig tree, which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. I
could not plant my feet anywhere so as to stand securely, for the
roots were a long way off and the boughs that overshadowed the whole
pool were too high, too vast, and too far apart for me to reach
them; so I hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge
my mast and raft again- and a very long while it seemed. A juryman
is not more glad to get home to supper, after having been long
detained in court by troublesome cases, than I was to see my raft
beginning to work its way out of the whirlpool again. At last I let go
with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the sea, bard by my raft
on to which I then got, and began to row with my hands. As for Scylla,
the father of gods and men would not let her get further sight of
me- otherwise I should have certainly been lost.]
"Hence I was carried along for nine days till on the tenth night the
gods stranded me on the Ogygian island, where dwells the great and
powerful goddess Calypso. She took me in and was kind to me, but I
need say no more about this, for I told you and your noble wife all
about it yesterday, and I hate saying the same thing over and over
The Odyssey: Book 22
Then Ulysses tore off his rags, and sprang on to the broad
pavement with his bow and his quiver full of arrows. He shed the
arrows on to the ground at his feet and said, "The mighty contest is
at an end. I will now see whether Apollo will vouchsafe it to me to
hit another mark which no man has yet hit."
On this he aimed a deadly arrow at Antinous, who was about to take
up a two-handled gold cup to drink his wine and already had it in
his hands. He had no thought of death- who amongst all the revellers
would think that one man, however brave, would stand alone among so
many and kill him? The arrow struck Antinous in the throat, and the
point went clean through his neck, so that he fell over and the cup
dropped from his hand, while a thick stream of blood gushed from his
nostrils. He kicked the table from him and upset the things on it,
so that the bread and roasted meats were all soiled as they fell
over on to the ground. The suitors were in an uproar when they saw
that a man had been hit; they sprang in dismay one and all of them
from their seats and looked everywhere towards the walls, but there
was neither shield nor spear, and they rebuked Ulysses very angrily.
"Stranger," said they, "you shall pay for shooting people in this way:
om yi you shall see no other contest; you are a doomed man; he whom
you have slain was the foremost youth in Ithaca, and the vultures
shall devour you for having killed him."
Thus they spoke, for they thought that he had killed Antinous by
mistake, and did not perceive that death was hanging over the head
of every one of them. But Ulysses glared at them and said:
"Dogs, did you think that I should not come back from Troy? You have
wasted my substance, have forced my women servants to lie with you,
and have wooed my wife while I was still living. You have feared
neither Cod nor man, and now you shall die."
They turned pale with fear as he spoke, and every man looked round
about to see whither he might fly for safety, but Eurymachus alone
"If you are Ulysses," said he, "then what you have said is just.
We have done much wrong on your lands and in your house. But
Antinous who was the head and front of the offending lies low already.
It was all his doing. It was not that he wanted to marry Penelope;
he did not so much care about that; what he wanted was something quite
different, and Jove has not vouchsafed it to him; he wanted to kill
your son and to be chief man in Ithaca. Now, therefore, that he has
met the death which was his due, spare the lives of your people. We
will make everything good among ourselves, and pay you in full for all
that we have eaten and drunk. Each one of us shall pay you a fine
worth twenty oxen, and we will keep on giving you gold and bronze till
your heart is softened. Until we have done this no one can complain of
your being enraged against us."
Ulysses again glared at him and said, "Though you should give me all
that you have in the world both now and all that you ever shall
have, I will not stay my hand till I have paid all of you in full. You
must fight, or fly for your lives; and fly, not a man of you shall."
Their hearts sank as they heard him, but Eurymachus again spoke
"My friends, this man will give us no quarter. He will stand where
he is and shoot us down till he has killed every man among us. Let
us then show fight; draw your swords, and hold up the tables to shield
you from his arrows. Let us have at him with a rush, to drive him from
the pavement and doorway: we can then get through into the town, and
raise such an alarm as shall soon stay his shooting."
As he spoke he drew his keen blade of bronze, sharpened on both
sides, and with a loud cry sprang towards Ulysses, but Ulysses
instantly shot an arrow into his breast that caught him by the
nipple and fixed itself in his liver. He dropped his sword and fell
doubled up over his table. The cup and all the meats went over on to
the ground as he smote the earth with his forehead in the agonies of
death, and he kicked the stool with his feet until his eyes were
closed in darkness.
Then Amphinomus drew his sword and made straight at Ulysses to try
and get him away from the door; but Telemachus was too quick for
him, and struck him from behind; the spear caught him between the
shoulders and went right through his chest, so that he fell heavily to
the ground and struck the earth with his forehead. Then Telemachus
sprang away from him, leaving his spear still in the body, for he
feared that if he stayed to draw it out, some one of the Achaeans
might come up and hack at him with his sword, or knock him down, so he
set off at a run, and immediately was at his father's side. Then he
"Father, let me bring you a shield, two spears, and a brass helmet
for your temples. I will arm myself as well, and will bring other
armour for the swineherd and the stockman, for we had better be
"Run and fetch them," answered Ulysses, "while my arrows hold out,
or when I am alone they may get me away from the door."
Telemachus did as his father said, and went off to the store room
where the armour was kept. He chose four shields, eight spears, and
four brass helmets with horse-hair plumes. He brought them with all
speed to his father, and armed himself first, while the stockman and
the swineherd also put on their armour, and took their places near
Ulysses. Meanwhile Ulysses, as long as his arrows lasted, had been
shooting the suitors one by one, and they fell thick on one another:
when his arrows gave out, he set the bow to stand against the end wall
of the house by the door post, and hung a shield four hides thick
about his shoulders; on his comely head he set his helmet, well
wrought with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it,
and he grasped two redoubtable bronze-shod spears.
Now there was a trap door on the wall, while at one end of the
pavement there was an exit leading to a narrow passage, and this
exit was closed by a well-made door. Ulysses told Philoetius to
stand by this door and guard it, for only one person could attack it
at a time. But Agelaus shouted out, "Cannot some one go up to the trap
door and tell the people what is going on? Help would come at once,
and we should soon make an end of this man and his shooting."
"This may not be, Agelaus," answered Melanthius, "the mouth of the
narrow passage is dangerously near the entrance to the outer court.
One brave man could prevent any number from getting in. But I know
what I will do, I will bring you arms from the store room, for I am
sure it is there that Ulysses and his son have put them."
On this the goatherd Melanthius went by back passages to the store
room of Ulysses, house. There he chose twelve shields, with as many
helmets and spears, and brought them back as fast as he could to
give them to the suitors. Ulysses' heart began to fail him when he saw
the suitors putting on their armour and brandishing their spears. He
saw the greatness of the danger, and said to Telemachus, "Some one
of the women inside is helping the suitors against us, or it may be
Telemachus answered, "The fault, father, is mine, and mine only; I
left the store room door open, and they have kept a sharper look out
than I have. Go, Eumaeus, put the door to, and see whether it is one
of the women who is doing this, or whether, as I suspect, it is
Melanthius the son of Dolius."
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Melanthius was again going to
the store room to fetch more armour, but the swineherd saw him and
said to Ulysses who was beside him, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, it
is that scoundrel Melanthius, just as we suspected, who is going to
the store room. Say, shall I kill him, if I can get the better of him,
or shall I bring him here that you may take your own revenge for all
the many wrongs that he has done in your house?"
Ulysses answered, "Telemachus and I will hold these suitors in
check, no matter what they do; go back both of you and bind
Melanthius' hands and feet behind him. Throw him into the store room
and make the door fast behind you; then fasten a noose about his body,
and string him close up to the rafters from a high bearing-post,
that he may linger on in an agony."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said; they went to
the store room, which they entered before Melanthius saw them, for
he was busy searching for arms in the innermost part of the room, so
the two took their stand on either side of the door and waited. By and
by Melanthius came out with a helmet in one hand, and an old
dry-rotted shield in the other, which had been borne by Laertes when
he was young, but which had been long since thrown aside, and the
straps had become unsewn; on this the two seized him, dragged him back
by the hair, and threw him struggling to the ground. They bent his
hands and feet well behind his back, and bound them tight with a
painful bond as Ulysses had told them; then they fastened a noose
about his body and strung him up from a high pillar till he was
close up to the rafters, and over him did you then vaunt, O
swineherd Eumaeus, saying, "Melanthius, you will pass the night on a
soft bed as you deserve. You will know very well when morning comes
from the streams of Oceanus, and it is time for you to be driving in
your goats for the suitors to feast on."
There, then, they left him in very cruel bondage, and having put
on their armour they closed the door behind them and went back to take
their places by the side of Ulysses; whereon the four men stood in the
cloister, fierce and full of fury; nevertheless, those who were in the
body of the court were still both brave and many. Then Jove's daughter
Minerva came up to them, having assumed the voice and form of
Mentor. Ulysses was glad when he saw her and said, "Mentor, lend me
your help, and forget not your old comrade, nor the many good turns he
has done you. Besides, you are my age-mate."
But all the time he felt sure it was Minerva, and the suitors from
the other side raised an uproar when they saw her. Agelaus was the
first to reproach her. "Mentor," he cried, "do not let Ulysses beguile
you into siding with him and fighting the suitors. This is what we
will do: when we have killed these people, father and son, we will
kill you too. You shall pay for it with your head, and when we have
killed you, we will take all you have, in doors or out, and bring it
into hotch-pot with Ulysses' property; we will not let your sons
live in your house, nor your daughters, nor shall your widow
continue to live in the city of Ithaca."
This made Minerva still more furious, so she scolded Ulysses very
angrily. "Ulysses," said she, "your strength and prowess are no longer
what they were when you fought for nine long years among the Trojans
about the noble lady Helen. You killed many a man in those days, and
it was through your stratagem that Priam's city was taken. How comes
it that you are so lamentably less valiant now that you are on your
own ground, face to face with the suitors in your own house? Come
on, my good fellow, stand by my side and see how Mentor, son of
Alcinous shall fight your foes and requite your kindnesses conferred
But she would not give him full victory as yet, for she wished still
further to prove his own prowess and that of his brave son, so she
flew up to one of the rafters in the roof of the cloister and sat upon
it in the form of a swallow.
Meanwhile Agelaus son of Damastor, Eurynomus, Amphimedon,
Demoptolemus, Pisander, and Polybus son of Polyctor bore the brunt
of the fight upon the suitors' side; of all those who were still
fighting for their lives they were by far the most valiant, for the
others had already fallen under the arrows of Ulysses. Agelaus shouted
to them and said, "My friends, he will soon have to leave off, for
Mentor has gone away after having done nothing for him but brag.
They are standing at the doors unsupported. Do not aim at him all at
once, but six of you throw your spears first, and see if you cannot
cover yourselves with glory by killing him. When he has fallen we need
not be uneasy about the others."
They threw their spears as he bade them, but Minerva made them all
of no effect. One hit the door post; another went against the door;
the pointed shaft of another struck the wall; and as soon as they
had avoided all the spears of the suitors Ulysses said to his own men,
"My friends, I should say we too had better let drive into the
middle of them, or they will crown all the harm they have done us by
They therefore aimed straight in front of them and threw their
spears. Ulysses killed Demoptolemus, Telemachus Euryades, Eumaeus
Elatus, while the stockman killed Pisander. These all bit the dust,
and as the others drew back into a corner Ulysses and his men rushed
forward and regained their spears by drawing them from the bodies of
The suitors now aimed a second time, but again Minerva made their
weapons for the most part without effect. One hit a bearing-post of
the cloister; another went against the door; while the pointed shaft
of another struck the wall. Still, Amphimedon just took a piece of the
top skin from off Telemachus's wrist, and Ctesippus managed to graze
Eumaeus's shoulder above his shield; but the spear went on and fell to
the ground. Then Ulysses and his men let drive into the crowd of
suitors. Ulysses hit Eurydamas, Telemachus Amphimedon, and Eumaeus
Polybus. After this the stockman hit Ctesippus in the breast, and
taunted him saying, "Foul-mouthed son of Polytherses, do not be so
foolish as to talk wickedly another time, but let heaven direct your
speech, for the gods are far stronger than men. I make you a present
of this advice to repay you for the foot which you gave Ulysses when
he was begging about in his own house."
Thus spoke the stockman, and Ulysses struck the son of Damastor with
a spear in close fight, while Telemachus hit Leocritus son of Evenor
in the belly, and the dart went clean through him, so that he fell
forward full on his face upon the ground. Then Minerva from her seat
on the rafter held up her deadly aegis, and the hearts of the
suitors quailed. They fled to the other end of the court like a herd
of cattle maddened by the gadfly in early summer when the days are
at their longest. As eagle-beaked, crook-taloned vultures from the
mountains swoop down on the smaller birds that cower in flocks upon
the ground, and kill them, for they cannot either fight or fly, and
lookers on enjoy the sport- even so did Ulysses and his men fall
upon the suitors and smite them on every side. They made a horrible
groaning as their brains were being battered in, and the ground
seethed with their blood.
Leiodes then caught the knees of Ulysses and said, "Ulysses I
beseech you have mercy upon me and spare me. I never wronged any of
the women in your house either in word or deed, and I tried to stop
the others. I saw them, but they would not listen, and now they are
paying for their folly. I was their sacrificing priest; if you kill
me, I shall die without having done anything to deserve it, and
shall have got no thanks for all the good that I did."
Ulysses looked sternly at him and answered, "If you were their
sacrificing priest, you must have prayed many a time that it might
be long before I got home again, and that you might marry my wife
and have children by her. Therefore you shall die."
With these words he picked up the sword that Agelaus had dropped
when he was being killed, and which was lying upon the ground. Then he
struck Leiodes on the back of his neck, so that his head fell
rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking.
The minstrel Phemius son of Terpes- he who had been forced by the
suitors to sing to them- now tried to save his life. He was standing
near towards the trap door, and held his lyre in his hand. He did
not know whether to fly out of the cloister and sit down by the
altar of Jove that was in the outer court, and on which both Laertes
and Ulysses had offered up the thigh bones of many an ox, or whether
to go straight up to Ulysses and embrace his knees, but in the end
he deemed it best to embrace Ulysses' knees. So he laid his lyre on
the ground the ground between the mixing-bowl and the silver-studded
seat; then going up to Ulysses he caught hold of his knees and said,
"Ulysses, I beseech you have mercy on me and spare me. You will be
sorry for it afterwards if you kill a bard who can sing both for
gods and men as I can. I make all my lays myself, and heaven visits me
with every kind of inspiration. I would sing to you as though you were
a god, do not therefore be in such a hurry to cut my head off. Your
own son Telemachus will tell you that I did not want to frequent
your house and sing to the suitors after their meals, but they were
too many and too strong for me, so they made me."
Telemachus heard him, and at once went up to his father. "Hold!"
he cried, "the man is guiltless, do him no hurt; and we will Medon
too, who was always good to me when I was a boy, unless Philoetius
or Eumaeus has already killed him, or he has fallen in your way when
you were raging about the court."
Medon caught these words of Telemachus, for he was crouching under a
seat beneath which he had hidden by covering himself up with a freshly
flayed heifer's hide, so he threw off the hide, went up to Telemachus,
and laid hold of his knees.
"Here I am, my dear sir," said he, "stay your hand therefore, and
tell your father, or he will kill me in his rage against the suitors
for having wasted his substance and been so foolishly disrespectful to
Ulysses smiled at him and answered, "Fear not; Telemachus has
saved your life, that you may know in future, and tell other people,
how greatly better good deeds prosper than evil ones. Go, therefore,
outside the cloisters into the outer court, and be out of the way of
the slaughter- you and the bard- while I finish my work here inside."
The pair went into the outer court as fast as they could, and sat
down by Jove's great altar, looking fearfully round, and still
expecting that they would be killed. Then Ulysses searched the whole
court carefully over, to see if anyone had managed to hide himself and
was still living, but he found them all lying in the dust and
weltering in their blood. They were like fishes which fishermen have
netted out of the sea, and thrown upon the beach to lie gasping for
water till the heat of the sun makes an end of them. Even so were
the suitors lying all huddled up one against the other.
Then Ulysses said to Telemachus, "Call nurse Euryclea; I have
something to say to her."
Telemachus went and knocked at the door of the women's room. "Make
haste," said he, "you old woman who have been set over all the other
women in the house. Come outside; my father wishes to speak to you."
When Euryclea heard this she unfastened the door of the women's room
and came out, following Telemachus. She found Ulysses among the
corpses bespattered with blood and filth like a lion that has just
been devouring an ox, and his breast and both his cheeks are all
bloody, so that he is a fearful sight; even so was Ulysses
besmirched from head to foot with gore. When she saw all the corpses
and such a quantity of blood, she was beginning to cry out for joy,
for she saw that a great deed had been done; but Ulysses checked
her, "Old woman," said he, "rejoice in silence; restrain yourself, and
do not make any noise about it; it is an unholy thing to vaunt over
dead men. Heaven's doom and their own evil deeds have brought these
men to destruction, for they respected no man in the whole world,
neither rich nor poor, who came near them, and they have come to a bad
end as a punishment for their wickedness and folly. Now, however, tell
me which of the women in the house have misconducted themselves, and
who are innocent."
"I will tell you the truth, my son," answered Euryclea. "There are
fifty women in the house whom we teach to do things, such as carding
wool, and all kinds of household work. Of these, twelve in all have
misbehaved, and have been wanting in respect to me, and also to
Penelope. They showed no disrespect to Telemachus, for he has only
lately grown and his mother never permitted him to give orders to
the female servants; but let me go upstairs and tell your wife all
that has happened, for some god has been sending her to sleep."
"Do not wake her yet," answered Ulysses, "but tell the women who
have misconducted themselves to come to me."
Euryclea left the cloister to tell the women, and make them come
to Ulysses; in the meantime he called Telemachus, the stockman, and
the swineherd. "Begin," said he, "to remove the dead, and make the
women help you. Then, get sponges and clean water to swill down the
tables and seats. When you have thoroughly cleansed the whole
cloisters, take the women into the space between the domed room and
the wall of the outer court, and run them through with your swords
till they are quite dead, and have forgotten all about love and the
way in which they used to lie in secret with the suitors."
On this the women came down in a body, weeping and wailing bitterly.
First they carried the dead bodies out, and propped them up against
one another in the gatehouse. Ulysses ordered them about and made them
do their work quickly, so they had to carry the bodies out. When
they had done this, they cleaned all the tables and seats with sponges
and water, while Telemachus and the two others shovelled up the
blood and dirt from the ground, and the women carried it all away
and put it out of doors. Then when they had made the whole place quite
clean and orderly, they took the women out and hemmed them in the
narrow space between the wall of the domed room and that of the
yard, so that they could not get away: and Telemachus said to the
other two, "I shall not let these women die a clean death, for they
were insolent to me and my mother, and used to sleep with the
So saying he made a ship's cable fast to one of the bearing-posts
that supported the roof of the domed room, and secured it all around
the building, at a good height, lest any of the women's feet should
touch the ground; and as thrushes or doves beat against a net that has
been set for them in a thicket just as they were getting to their
nest, and a terrible fate awaits them, even so did the women have to
put their heads in nooses one after the other and die most
miserably. Their feet moved convulsively for a while, but not for very
As for Melanthius, they took him through the cloister into the inner
court. There they cut off his nose and his ears; they drew out his
vitals and gave them to the dogs raw, and then in their fury they
cut off his hands and his feet.
When they had done this they washed their hands and feet and went
back into the house, for all was now over; and Ulysses said to the
dear old nurse Euryclea, "Bring me sulphur, which cleanses all
pollution, and fetch fire also that I may burn it, and purify the
cloisters. Go, moreover, and tell Penelope to come here with her
attendants, and also all the maid servants that are in the house."
"All that you have said is true," answered Euryclea, "but let me
bring you some clean clothes- a shirt and cloak. Do not keep these
rags on your back any longer. It is not right."
"First light me a fire," replied Ulysses.
She brought the fire and sulphur, as he had bidden her, and
Ulysses thoroughly purified the cloisters and both the inner and outer
courts. Then she went inside to call the women and tell them what
had happened; whereon they came from their apartment with torches in
their hands, and pressed round Ulysses to embrace him, kissing his
head and shoulders and taking hold of his hands. It made him feel as
if he should like to weep, for he remembered every one of them.
The Witch's frolic
[Scene, the 'Snuggery' at Tappington.-- Grandpapa in a high-backed cane-bottomed elbow-chair of carved walnut-tree, dozing; his nose at an angle of forty-five degrees,--his thumbs slowly perform the rotatory motion described by lexicographers as 'twiddling.'--The 'Hope of the family' astride on a walking-stick, with burnt-cork mustachios, and a pheasant's tail pinned in his cap, solaceth himself with martial music.-- Roused by a strain of surpassing dissonance, Grandpapa Loquitur. ]
Come hither, come hither, my little boy Ned!
Come hither unto my knee--
I cannot away with that horrible din,
That sixpenny drum, and that trumpet of tin.
Oh, better to wander frank and free
Through the Fair of good Saint Bartlemy,
Than list to such awful minstrelsie.
Now lay, little Ned, those nuisances by,
And I'll rede ye a lay of Grammarye.
[Grandpapa riseth, yawneth like the crater of an extinct volcano, proceedeth slowly to the window, and apostrophizeth the Abbey in the distance.]
I love thy tower, Grey Ruin,
I joy thy form to see,
Though reft of all,
Cell, cloister, and hall,
Nothing is left save a tottering wall,
That, awfully grand and darkly dull,
Threaten'd to fall and demolish my skull,
As, ages ago, I wander'd along
Careless thy grass-grown courts among,
In sky-blue jacket and trowsers laced,
The latter uncommonly short in the waist.
Thou art dearer to me, thou Ruin grey,
Than the Squire's verandah over the way;
And fairer, I ween,
The ivy sheen
That thy mouldering turret binds,
Than the Alderman's house about half a mile off,
With the green Venetian blinds.
Full many a tale would my Grandam tell,
In many a bygone day,
Of darksome deeds, which of old befell
In thee, thou Ruin grey!
And I the readiest ear would lend,
And stare like frighten'd pig;
While my Grandfather's hair would have stood up an end,
Had he not worn a wig.
One tale I remember of mickle dread--
Now lithe and listen, my little boy Ned!
Thou mayest have read, my little boy Ned,
Though thy mother thine idlesse blames,
In Doctor Goldsmith's history book,
Of a gentleman called King James,
In quilted doublet, and great trunk breeches,
Who held in abhorrence tobacco and witches.
Well,-- in King James's golden days,--
For the days were golden then,--
They could not be less, for good Queen Bess
Had died aged threescore and ten,
And her days, we know,
Were all of them so;
While the Court poets sung, and the Court gallants swore
That the days were as golden still as before.
Some people, 'tis true, a troublesome few,
Who historical points would unsettle,
Have lately thrown out a sort of a doubt
Of the genuine ring of the metal;
But who can believe to a monarch so wise
People would dare tell a parcel of lies?
-- Well, then, in good King James's days,--
Golden or not does not matter a jot,--
Yon ruin a sort of a roof had got;
For though, repairs lacking, its walls had been cracking
Since Harry the Eighth sent its friars a-packing,
Though joists, and floors,
And windows, and doors
Had all disappear'd, yet pillars by scores
Remain'd, and still propp'd up a ceiling or two,
While the belfry was almost as good as new;
You are not to suppose matters look'd just so
In the Ruin some two hundred years ago.
Just in that farthermost angle, where
You see the remains of a winding-stair,
One turret especially high in air
Uprear'd its tall gaunt form;
As if defying the power of Fate, or
The hand of 'Time the Innovator;'
And though to the pitiless storm
Its weaker brethren all around
Bowing, in ruin had strew'd the ground,
Alone it stood, while its fellows lay strew'd,
Like a four-bottle man in a company 'screw'd,'
Not firm on his legs, but by no means subdued.
One night --' twas in Sixteen hundred and six --
I like when I can, Ned, the date to fix,--
The month was May,
Though I can't well say
At this distance of time the particular day --
But oh! that night, that horrible night!
Folks ever afterwards said with affright
That they never had seen such a terrible sight.
The Sun had gone down fiery red;
And if that evening he laid his head
In Thetis's lap beneath the seas,
He must have scalded the goddess's knees.
He left behind him a lurid track
Of blood-red light upon clouds so black,
That Warren and Hunt, with the whole of their crew,
Could scarcely have given them a darker hue.
There came a shrill and a whistling sound,
Above, beneath, beside, and around,
Yet leaf ne'er moved on tree!
So that some people thought old Beelzebub must
Have been lock'd out of doors, and was blowing the dust
From the pipe of his street-door key.
And then a hollow moaning blast
Came, sounding more dismally still than the last,
And the lightning flash'd, and the thunder growl'd,
And louder and louder the tempest howl'd,
And the rain came down in such sheets as would stagger a
Bard for a simile short of Niagara.
Rob Gilpin 'was a citizen;'
But, though of some 'renown,'
Of no great 'credit' in his own,
Or any other town.
He was a wild and roving lad,
For ever in the alehouse boozing;
Or romping,-- which is quite as bad,--
With female friends of his own choosing.
And Rob this very day had made,
Not dreaming such a storm was brewing,
An assignation with Miss Slade,--
Their trysting-place this same grey Ruin.
But Gertrude Slade became afraid,
And to keep her appointment unwilling,
When she spied the rain on her window-pane
In drops as big as a shilling;
She put off her hat and her mantle again,--
'He'll never expect me in all this rain!'
But little he recks of the fears of the sex,
Or that maiden false to her tryst could be,
He had stood there a good half hour
Ere yet commenced that perilous shower,
Alone by the trysting-tree!
Robin looks east, Robin looks west,
But he sees not her whom he loves the best;
Robin looks up, and Robin looks down,
But no one comes from the neighbouring town.
The storm came at last, loud roar'd the blast,
And the shades of evening fell thick and fast;
The tempest grew; and the straggling yew,
His leafy umbrella, was wet through and through;
Rob was half dead with cold and with fright,
When he spies in the ruins a twinkling light --
A hop, two skips, and a jump, and straight
Rob stands within that postern gate.
And there were gossips sitting there,
By one, by two, by three:
Two were an old ill-favour'd pair;
But the third was young, and passing fair,
With laughing eyes and with coal-black hair;
A daintie quean was she!
Rob would have given his ears to sip
But a single salute from her cherry lip.
As they sat in that old and haunted room,
In each one's hand was a huge birch broom,
On each one's head was a steeple-crown'd hat,
On each one's knee was a coal-black cat;
Each had a kirtle of Lincoln green --
It was, I trow, a fearsome scene.
'Now riddle me, riddle me right, Madge Gray,
What foot unhallow'd wends this way?
Goody Price, Goody Price, now areed me aright,
Who roams the old ruins this drearysome night?'
Then up and spake that sonsie quean,
And she spake both loud and clear:
'Oh, be it for weal, or be it for woe,
Enter friend, or enter foe,
Rob Gilpin is welcome here!--
'Now tread we a measure! a hall! a hall!
Now tread we a measure,' quoth she --
The heart of Robin
Beat thick and throbbing --
'Roving Rob, tread a measure with me!'--
'Ay, lassie!' quoth Rob, as her hand he gripes,
'Though Satan himself were blowing the pipes!'
Now around they go, and around, and around,
With hop-skip-and-jump, and frolicsome bound,
Such sailing and gilding,
Such sinking and sliding,
Such lofty curvetting,
And grand pirouetting;
Ned, you would swear that Monsieur Gilbert
And Miss Taglioni were capering there!
And oh! such awful music!-- ne'er
Fell sounds so uncanny on mortal ear,
There were the tones of a dying man's groans
Mix'd with the rattling of dead men's bones:
Had you heard the shrieks, and the squeals, and the squeaks,
You'd not have forgotten the sound for weeks.
And around, and around, and around they go,
Heel to heel, and toe to toe,
Prance and caper, curvet and wheel,
Toe to toe, and heel to heel.
''Tis merry, 'tis merry, Cummers, I trow,
To dance thus beneath the nightshade bough!'--
'Goody Price, Goody Price, now riddle me right,
Where may we sup this frolicsome night?'--
'Mine Host of the Dragon hath mutton and veal!
The Squire hath partridge, and widgeon, and teal;
But old Sir Thopas hath daintier cheer,
A pasty made of the good red deer,
A huge grouse pie, and a fine Florentine,
A fat roast goose, and a turkey and chine.'--
--'Madge Gray, Madge Gray,
Now tell me, I pray,
Where's the best wassail bowl to our roundelay?'
'-- There is ale in the cellars of Tappington Hall,
But the Squire is a churl, and his drink is small;
Mine host of the Dragon
Hath many a flaggon
Of double ale, lamb's-wool, and eau de vie,
But Sir Thopas, the Vicar,
Hath costlier liquor,--
A butt of the choicest Malvoisie.
He doth not lack
Canary or Sack;
And a good pint stoup of Clary wine
Smacks merrily off with a Turkey and Chine!'
'Now away! and away! without delay,
Hey Cockalorum! my Broomstick gay,
We must be back ere the dawn of the day:
Hey up the chimney! away! away!'--
Old Goody Price
Mounts in a trice,
In showing her legs she is not over nice;
Old Goody Jones,
All skin and bones,
Follows 'like winking.' Away go the crones,
Knees and nose in a line with the toes,
Sitting their brooms like so many Ducrows;
Latest and last
The damsel pass'd,
One glance of her coal-black eye she cast;
She laugh'd with glee loud laughters three,
'Dost fear, Rob Gilpin, to ride with me!'--
Oh, never might man unscath'd espy
One single glance from that coal-black eye.
-- Away she flew!--
Without more ado
Rob seizes and mounts on a broomstick too,
'Hey! up the chimney, lass! Hey after you!'
It's a very fine thing on a fine day in June
To ride through the air in a Nassau Balloon;
But you'll find very soon, if you aim at the Moon
In a carriage like that you're a bit of a 'Spoon,'
For the largest can't fly
Above twenty miles high,
And you're not half way then on your journey, nor nigh;
While no man alive
Could ever contrive,
Mr. Green has declared, to get higher than five.
And the soundest Philosophers hold that, perhaps,
If you reach'd twenty miles your balloon would collapse,
Or pass by such action
The sphere of attraction,
Getting into the track of some comet -- Good-lack!
'Tis a thousand to one that you'd never come back;
And the boldest of mortals a danger like that must fear,
And be cautious of getting beyond our own atmosphere.
No, no; when I try
A trip to the sky,
I shan't go in that thing of yours, Mr. Gye,
Though Messieurs Monk Mason, and Spencer, and Beazly,
All join in saying it travels so easily.
No; there's nothing so good
As a pony of wood --
Not like that which, of late, they stuck up on the gate
At the end of the Park, which caused so much debate,
And gave so much trouble to make it stand straight,--
But a regular Broomstick -- you'll find that the favourite,--
Above all, when, like Robin, you haven't to pay for it.
-- Stay -- really I dread
I am losing the thread
Of my tale; and it's time you should be in your bed,
So lithe now, and listen, my little boy Ned!
The Vicarage walls are lofty and thick,
And the copings are stone, and the sides are brick,
The casements are narrow, and bolted and barr'd,
And the stout oak door is heavy and hard;
Moreover, by way of additional guard,
A great big dog runs loose in the yard,
And a horse-shoe is nail'd on the threshold sill,--
To keep out aught that savours of ill,--
But, alack! the chimney-pot's open still!
-- That great big dog begins to quail,
Between his hind-legs he drops his tail,
Crouch'd on the ground, the terrified hound
Gives vent to a very odd sort of a sound;
It is not a bark, loud, open, and free,
As an honest old watch-dog's bark should be;
It is not a yelp, it is not a growl,
But a something between a whine and a howl;
And, hark!--a sound from the window high
Responds to the watch-dog's pitiful cry:
It is not a moan,
It is not a groan;
It comes from a nose,-- but is not what a nose
Produces in healthy and sound repose.
Yet Sir Thopas the Vicar is fast asleep,
And his respirations are heavy and deep!
He snores, 'tis true, but he snores no more
As he's aye been accustom'd to snore before,
And as men of his kidney are wont to snore;--
(Sir Thopas's weight is sixteen stone four
He draws his breath like a man distress'd
By pain or grief, or like one oppress'd
By some ugly old Incubus perch'd on his breast.
A something seems
To disturb his dreams,
And thrice on his ear, distinct and clear,
Falls a voice as of somebody whispering near
In still small accents, faint and few,
'Hey down the chimney-pot!--Hey after you!'
Throughout the Vicarage, near and far,
There is no lack of bolt or of bar,
Plenty of locks
To closet and box,
Yet the pantry wicket is standing ajar!
And the little low door, through which you must go,
Down some half-dozen steps, to the cellar below,
Is also unfasten'd, though no one may know,
By so much as a guess, how it comes to be so;
For wicket and door,
The evening before,
Were both of them lock'd, and the key safely placed
On the bunch that hangs down from the Housekeeper's waist.
Oh! 'twas a jovial sight to view
In that snug little cellar that frolicsome crew!--
Old Goody Price
Had got something nice,
A turkey-poult larded with bacon and spice;--
Old Goody Jones
Would touch nought that had bones,--
She might just as well mumble a parcel of stones.
Goody Jones, in sooth, had got never a tooth,
And a New-College pudding of marrow and plums
Is the dish of all others that suiteth her gums.
Madge Gray was picking
The breast of a chicken,
Her coal-black eye, with its glance so sly,
Was fixed on Rob Gilpin himself, sitting by
With his heart full of love, and his mouth full of pie;
Grouse pie, with hare
In the middle, is fare
Which, duly concocted with science and care,
Doctor Kitchener says, is beyond all compare;
And a tenderer leveret
Robin had never ate;
So, in after times, oft he was wont to asseverate.
'Now pledge we the wine-cup!--a health! a health!
Sweet are the pleasures obtain'd by stealth!
Fill up! fill up!-- the brim of the cup
Is the part that aye holdeth the toothsomest sup!
Here's to thee, Goody Price! Goody Jones, to thee!
To thee, Roving Rob! and again to me!
Many a sip, never a slip
Come to us four 'twixt the cup and the lip!'
The cups pass quick,
The toasts fly thick,
Rob tries in vain out their meaning to pick,
But hears the words 'Scratch,' and 'Old Bogey,' and 'Nick.'
More familiar grown,
Now he stands up alone,
Volunteering to give them a toast of his own.
'A bumper of wine!
Fill thine! Fill mine!
Here's a health to old Noah who planted the Vine!'
Oh then what sneezing,
What coughing and wheezing,
Ensued in a way that was not over pleasing!
Goody Price, Goody Jones, and the pretty Madge Gray,
All seem'd as their liquor had gone the wrong way.
But the best of the joke was, the moment he spoke
Those words which the party seem'd almost to choke,
As by mentioning Noah some spell had been broke,
Every soul in the house at that instant awoke!
And, hearing the din from barrel and bin,
Drew at once the conclusion that thieves had got in.
Up jump'd the Cook and caught hold of her spit;
Up jump'd the Groom and took bridle and bit;
Up jump'd the Gardener and shoulder'd his spade;
Up jump'd the Scullion,-- the Footman,-- the Maid;
(The two last, by the way, occasion'd some scandal,
By appearing together with only one candle,
Which gave for unpleasant surmises some handle
Up jump'd the Swineherd,-- and up jump'd the big boy,
A nondescript under him, acting as pig boy;
Butler, Housekeeper, Coachman -- from bottom to top
Everybody jump'd up without parley or stop,
With the weapon which first in their way chanced to drop,--
Whip, warming-pan, wig-block, mug, musket and mop.
Last of all doth appear,
With some symptoms of fear,
Sir Thopas in person to bring up the rear,
In a mix'd kind of costume, half Pontificalibus,
Half what scholars denominate Pure Naturalibus;
Nay, the truth to express,
As you'll easily guess,
They have none of them time to attend much to dress;
But He or She,
As the case may be,
He or She seizes what He or She pleases,
Trunk-hosen or kirtles, and shirts or chemises.
And thus one and all, great and small, short and tall,
Muster at once in the Vicarage-hall,
With upstanding locks, starting eyes, shorten'd breath,
Like the folks in the Gallery Scene in Macbeth,
When Macduff is announcing their Sovereign's death.
And hark! what accents clear and strong,
To the listening throng come floating along!
'Tis Robin encoring himself in a song--
'Very good song! very well sung!
Jolly companions every one!'--
On, on to the cellar! away! away!
On, on, to the cellar without more delay!
The whole posse rush onwards in battle array.
Conceive the dismay of the party so gay,
Old Goody Jones, Goody Price, and Madge Gray,
When the door bursting wide, they descried the allied
Troops, prepared for the onslaught, roll in like a tide,
And the spits, and the tongs, and the pokers beside!--
'Boot and saddle's the word! mount, Cummers, and ride!'--
Alarm was ne'er caused more strong and indigenous
By cats among rats, or a hawk in a pigeon-house;
Quick from the view
Away they all flew,
With a yell, and a screech, and a halliballoo,
'Hey up the chimney! Hey after you!'
The Volscians themselves made an exit less speedy
From Corioli, 'flutter'd like doves' by Macready.
They are gone, save one,
Robin, whose high state of civilization
Precludes all idea of aërostation,
And who now has no notion
Of more locomotion
Than suffices to kick, with much zeal and devotion,
Right and left at the party, who pounced on their victim,
And maul'd him, and kick'd him, and lick'd him, and prick'd him,
As they bore him away scarce aware what was done,
And believing it all but a part of the fun,
Hic -- hiccoughing out the same strain he'd begun,
'Jol -- jolly companions every one!'
Scarce bursts into day
Ere at Tappington Hall there's the deuce to pay;
The tables and chairs are all placed in array
In the old oak-parlour, and in and out
Domestics and neighbours, a motley rout,
Are walking, and whispering, and standing about;
And the Squire is there
In his large arm-chair,
Leaning back with a grave magisterial air;
In the front of his seat a
Huge volume, called Fleta,
And Bracton, both tomes of an old-fashion'd look,
And Coke upon Lyttleton, then a new book;
And he moistens his lips
With occasional sips
From a luscious sack-posset that smiles in a tankard
Close by on a side-table -- not that he drank hard,
But because at that day,
I hardly need say,
The Hong Merchants had not yet invented How Qua,
Nor as yet would you see Souchong or Bohea
At the tables of persons of any degree:
How our ancestors managed to do without tea
I must fairly confess is a mystery to me;
Yet your Lydgates and Chaucers
Had no cups and saucers;
Their breakfast, in fact, and the best they could get,
Was a sort of a déjeûner à la fourchette;
Instead of our slops
They had cutlets and chops,
And sack-possets, and ale in stoups, tankards, and pots;
And they wound up the meal with rumpsteaks and 'schalots.
Now the Squire lifts his hand
With an air of command,
And gives them a sign, which they all understand,
To bring in the culprit; and straightway the carter
And huntsman drag in that unfortunate martyr,
Still kicking, and crying, 'Come,-- what are you arter?'
The charge is prepared, and the evidence clear,
'He was caught in the cellar a-drinking the beer!
And came there, there's very great reason to fear,
With companions,-- to say but the least of them,-- queer;
Such as Witches, and creatures
With horrible features,
And horrible grins,
And hook'd noses and chins,
Who'd been playing the deuce with his Reverence's binns.'
The face of his worship grows graver and graver,
As the parties detail Robin's shameful behaviour;
Mister Buzzard, the clerk, while the tale is reciting,
Sits down to reduce the affair into writing,
With all proper diction,
And due 'legal fiction;'
Viz: 'That he, the said prisoner, as clearly was shown,
Conspiring with folks to deponents unknown,
With divers, that is to say, two thousand, people,
In two thousand hats, each hat peak'd like a steeple,
With force and with arms,
And with sorcery and charms,
Upon two thousand brooms
Enter'd four thousand rooms;
To wit, two thousand pantries, and two thousand cellars,
Put in bodily fear twenty-thousand in-dwellers,
And with sundry,-- that is to say, two thousand,-- forks,
Drew divers,-- that is to say, ten thousand,-- corks,
And, with malice prepense, down their two thousand throttles,
Emptied various,--that is to say, ten thousand,-- bottles;
All in breach of the peace, moved by Satan's malignity,
And in spite of King James, and his Crown, and his Dignity.'
At words so profound
Rob gazes around,
But no glance sympathetic to cheer him is found.
-- No glance, did I say?
Yes, one!-- Madge Gray!--
She is there in the midst of the crowd standing by,
And she gives him one glance from her coal-black eye,
One touch to his hand, and one word to his ear,--
(That's a line which I've stolen from Sir Walter, I fear,)--
While nobody near
Seems to see her or hear;
As his worship takes up, and surveys with a strict eye
The broom now produced as the corpus delicti,
Ere his fingers can clasp,
It is snatch'd from his grasp,
The end poked in his chest with a force makes him gasp,
And, despite the decorum so due to the Quorum,
His worship's upset, and so too is his jorum;
And Madge is astride on the broomstick before'em.
'Hocus Pocus! Quick, Presto! and Hey Cockalorum!
Mount, mount for your life, Rob!-- Sir Justice, adieu!--
-- Hey up the chimney-pot! hey after you!'
Through the mystified group,
With a halloo and whoop,
Madge on the pommel, and Robin en croupe,
The pair through the air ride as if in a chair,
While the party below stand mouth open and stare!
'Clean bumbaized' and amazed, and fix'd, all the room stick,
'Oh! what's gone with Robin,-- and Madge,-- and the broomstick?'
Ay, 'what's gone' indeed, Ned?-- of what befell
Madge Gray, and the broomstick I never heard tell;
But Robin was found, that morn, on the ground,
In yon old grey Ruin again, safe and sound,
Except that at first he complain'd much of thirst,
And a shocking bad headach, of all ills the worst,
And close by his knee
A flask you might see,
But an empty one, smelling of eau de vie.
Rob from this hour is an alter'd man;
He runs home to his lodgings as fast as he can,
Sticks to his trade,
Marries Miss Slade,
Becomes a Te-totaller -- that is the same
As Te-totallers now, one in all but the name;
Grows fond of Small-beer, which is always a steady sign,
Never drinks spirits except as a medicine;
Learns to despise
Minds pretty girls no more than so many Guys;
Has a family, lives to be sixty, and dies!
Now my little boy Ned,
Brush off to your bed,
Tie your night-cap on safe, or a napkin instead,
Or these terrible nights you'll catch cold in your head;
And remember my tale, and the moral it teaches,
Which you'll find much the same as what Solomon preaches.
Don't flirt with young ladies! don't practise soft speeches;
Avoid waltzes, quadrilles, pumps, silk hose, and kneebreeches;--
Frequent not grey ruins,--shun riot and revelry,
Hocus Pocus, and Conjuring, and all sorts of devilry;--
Don't meddle with broomsticks,--they're Beelzebub's switches;
Of cellars keep clear,--they're the devil's own ditches;
And beware of balls, banquettings, brandy, and -- witches!
Above all! don't run after black eyes,-- if you do,--
Depend on't you'll find what I say will come true,--
Old Nick, some fine morning, will 'hey after you!
The Odyssey: Book 11
Then, when we had got down to the sea shore we drew our ship into
the water and got her mast and sails into her; we also put the sheep
on board and took our places, weeping and in great distress of mind.
Circe, that great and cunning goddess, sent us a fair wind that blew
dead aft and stayed steadily with us keeping our sails all the time
well filled; so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear and
let her go as the wind and helmsman headed her. All day long her sails
were full as she held her course over the sea, but when the sun went
down and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep
waters of the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the
Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays
of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down
again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long
melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship, took the
sheep out of her, and went along by the waters of Oceanus till we came
to the place of which Circe had told us.
"Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my
sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering
to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and
thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the
whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising
them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren
heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good
things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a
black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed
sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let
the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up
from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil,
maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been
killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they
came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange
kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw
them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the
two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same
time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I
was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts
come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.
"The first ghost 'that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he
had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body
unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to
do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him: 'Elpenor,'
said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom and darkness?
You have here on foot quicker than I have with my ship.'
"'Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my own
unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of Circe's
house, and never thought of coming down again by the great staircase
but fell right off the roof and broke my neck, so my soul down to
the house of Hades. And now I beseech you by all those whom you have
left behind you, though they are not here, by your wife, by the father
who brought you up when you were a child, and by Telemachus who is the
one hope of your house, do what I shall now ask you. I know that
when you leave this limbo you will again hold your ship for the Aeaean
island. Do not go thence leaving me unwaked and unburied behind you,
or I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever
armour I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may tell
people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was, and plant
over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was yet alive and with
my messmates.' And I said, 'My poor fellow, I will do all that you
have asked of me.'
"Thus, then, did we sit and hold sad talk with one another, I on the
one side of the trench with my sword held over the blood, and the
ghost of my comrade saying all this to me from the other side. Then
came the ghost of my dead mother Anticlea, daughter to Autolycus. I
had left her alive when I set out for Troy and was moved to tears when
I saw her, but even so, for all my sorrow I would not let her come
near the blood till I had asked my questions of Teiresias.
"Then came also the ghost of Theban Teiresias, with his golden
sceptre in his hand. He knew me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, why, poor man, have you left the light of day and come down
to visit the dead in this sad place? Stand back from the trench and
withdraw your sword that I may drink of the blood and answer your
"So I drew back, and sheathed my sword, whereon when he had drank of
the blood he began with his prophecy.
"You want to know,' said he, 'about your return home, but heaven
will make this hard for you. I do not think that you will escape the
eye of Neptune, who still nurses his bitter grudge against you for
having blinded his son. Still, after much suffering you may get home
if you can restrain yourself and your companions when your ship
reaches the Thrinacian island, where you will find the sheep and
cattle belonging to the sun, who sees and gives ear to everything.
If you leave these flocks unharmed and think of nothing but of getting
home, you may yet after much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm
them, then I forewarn you of the destruction both of your ship and
of your men. Even though you may yourself escape, you will return in
bad plight after losing all your men, [in another man's ship, and
you will find trouble in your house, which will be overrun by
high-handed people, who are devouring your substance under the pretext
of paying court and making presents to your wife.
"'When you get home you will take your revenge on these suitors; and
after you have killed them by force or fraud in your own house, you
must take a well-made oar and carry it on and on, till you come to a
country where the people have never heard of the sea and do not even
mix salt with their food, nor do they know anything about ships, and
oars that are as the wings of a ship. I will give you this certain
token which cannot escape your notice. A wayfarer will meet you and
will say it must be a winnowing shovel that you have got upon your
shoulder; on this you must fix the oar in the ground and sacrifice a
ram, a bull, and a boar to Neptune. Then go home and offer hecatombs
to an the gods in heaven one after the other. As for yourself, death
shall come to you from the sea, and your life shall ebb away very
gently when you are full of years and peace of mind, and your people
shall bless you. All that I have said will come true].'
"'This,' I answered, 'must be as it may please heaven, but tell me
and tell me and tell me true, I see my poor mother's ghost close by
us; she is sitting by the blood without saying a word, and though I am
her own son she does not remember me and speak to me; tell me, Sir,
how I can make her know me.'
"'That,' said he, 'I can soon do Any ghost that you let taste of the
blood will talk with you like a reasonable being, but if you do not
let them have any blood they will go away again.'
"On this the ghost of Teiresias went back to the house of Hades, for
his prophecyings had now been spoken, but I sat still where I was
until my mother came up and tasted the blood. Then she knew me at once
and spoke fondly to me, saying, 'My son, how did you come down to this
abode of darkness while you are still alive? It is a hard thing for
the living to see these places, for between us and them there are
great and terrible waters, and there is Oceanus, which no man can
cross on foot, but he must have a good ship to take him. Are you all
this time trying to find your way home from Troy, and have you never
yet got back to Ithaca nor seen your wife in your own house?'
"'Mother,' said I, 'I was forced to come here to consult the ghost
of the Theban prophet Teiresias. I have never yet been near the
Achaean land nor set foot on my native country, and I have had nothing
but one long series of misfortunes from the very first day that I
set out with Agamemnon for Ilius, the land of noble steeds, to fight
the Trojans. But tell me, and tell me true, in what way did you die?
Did you have a long illness, or did heaven vouchsafe you a gentle easy
passage to eternity? Tell me also about my father, and the son whom
I left behind me; is my property still in their hands, or has some one
else got hold of it, who thinks that I shall not return to claim it?
Tell me again what my wife intends doing, and in what mind she is;
does she live with my son and guard my estate securely, or has she
made the best match she could and married again?'
"My mother answered, 'Your wife still remains in your house, but she
is in great distress of mind and spends her whole time in tears both
night and day. No one as yet has got possession of your fine property,
and Telemachus still holds your lands undisturbed. He has to entertain
largely, as of course he must, considering his position as a
magistrate, and how every one invites him; your father remains at
his old place in the country and never goes near the town. He has no
comfortable bed nor bedding; in the winter he sleeps on the floor in
front of the fire with the men and goes about all in rags, but in
summer, when the warm weather comes on again, he lies out in the
vineyard on a bed of vine leaves thrown anyhow upon the ground. He
grieves continually about your never having come home, and suffers
more and more as he grows older. As for my own end it was in this
wise: heaven did not take me swiftly and painlessly in my own house,
nor was I attacked by any illness such as those that generally wear
people out and kill them, but my longing to know what you were doing
and the force of my affection for you- this it was that was the
death of me.'
"Then I tried to find some way of embracing my mother's ghost.
Thrice I sprang towards her and tried to clasp her in my arms, but
each time she flitted from my embrace as it were a dream or phantom,
and being touched to the quick I said to her, 'Mother, why do you
not stay still when I would embrace you? If we could throw our arms
around one another we might find sad comfort in the sharing of our
sorrows even in the house of Hades; does Proserpine want to lay a
still further load of grief upon me by mocking me with a phantom
"'My son,' she answered, 'most ill-fated of all mankind, it is not
Proserpine that is beguiling you, but all people are like this when
they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and bones together;
these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire as soon as life has
left the body, and the soul flits away as though it were a dream. Now,
however, go back to the light of day as soon as you can, and note
all these things that you may tell them to your wife hereafter.'
"Thus did we converse, and anon Proserpine sent up the ghosts of the
wives and daughters of all the most famous men. They gathered in
crowds about the blood, and I considered how I might question them
severally. In the end I deemed that it would be best to draw the
keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh, and keep them from all
drinking the blood at once. So they came up one after the other, and
each one as I questioned her told me her race and lineage.
"The first I saw was Tyro. She was daughter of Salmoneus and wife of
Cretheus the son of Aeolus. She fell in love with the river Enipeus
who is much the most beautiful river in the whole world. Once when she
was taking a walk by his side as usual, Neptune, disguised as her
lover, lay with her at the mouth of the river, and a huge blue wave
arched itself like a mountain over them to hide both woman and god,
whereon he loosed her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber.
When the god had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in
his own and said, 'Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of the
gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this time
twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so now go
home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.'
"Then he dived under the sea, and she in due course bore Pelias
and Neleus, who both of them served Jove with all their might.
Pelias was a great breeder of sheep and lived in Iolcus, but the other
lived in Pylos. The rest of her children were by Cretheus, namely,
Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon, who was a mighty warrior and charioteer.
"Next to her I saw Antiope, daughter to Asopus, who could boast of
having slept in the arms of even Jove himself, and who bore him two
sons Amphion and Zethus. These founded Thebes with its seven gates,
and built a wall all round it; for strong though they were they
could not hold Thebes till they had walled it.
"Then I saw Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon, who also bore to Jove
indomitable Hercules; and Megara who was daughter to great King Creon,
and married the redoubtable son of Amphitryon.
"I also saw fair Epicaste mother of king OEdipodes whose awful lot
it was to marry her own son without suspecting it. He married her
after having killed his father, but the gods proclaimed the whole
story to the world; whereon he remained king of Thebes, in great grief
for the spite the gods had borne him; but Epicaste went to the house
of the mighty jailor Hades, having hanged herself for grief, and the
avenging spirits haunted him as for an outraged mother- to his ruing
"Then I saw Chloris, whom Neleus married for her beauty, having
given priceless presents for her. She was youngest daughter to Amphion
son of Iasus and king of Minyan Orchomenus, and was Queen in Pylos.
She bore Nestor, Chromius, and Periclymenus, and she also bore that
marvellously lovely woman Pero, who was wooed by all the country
round; but Neleus would only give her to him who should raid the
cattle of Iphicles from the grazing grounds of Phylace, and this was a
hard task. The only man who would undertake to raid them was a certain
excellent seer, but the will of heaven was against him, for the
rangers of the cattle caught him and put him in prison; nevertheless
when a full year had passed and the same season came round again,
Iphicles set him at liberty, after he had expounded all the oracles of
heaven. Thus, then, was the will of Jove accomplished.
"And I saw Leda the wife of Tyndarus, who bore him two famous
sons, Castor breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer. Both
these heroes are lying under the earth, though they are still alive,
for by a special dispensation of Jove, they die and come to life
again, each one of them every other day throughout all time, and
they have the rank of gods.
"After her I saw Iphimedeia wife of Aloeus who boasted the embrace
of Neptune. She bore two sons Otus and Ephialtes, but both were
short lived. They were the finest children that were ever born in this
world, and the best looking, Orion only excepted; for at nine years
old they were nine fathoms high, and measured nine cubits round the
chest. They threatened to make war with the gods in Olympus, and tried
to set Mount Ossa on the top of Mount Olympus, and Mount Pelion on the
top of Ossa, that they might scale heaven itself, and they would
have done it too if they had been grown up, but Apollo, son of Leto,
killed both of them, before they had got so much as a sign of hair
upon their cheeks or chin.
"Then I saw Phaedra, and Procris, and fair Ariadne daughter of the
magician Minos, whom Theseus was carrying off from Crete to Athens,
but he did not enjoy her, for before he could do so Diana killed her
in the island of Dia on account of what Bacchus had said against her.
"I also saw Maera and Clymene and hateful Eriphyle, who sold her own
husband for gold. But it would take me all night if I were to name
every single one of the wives and daughters of heroes whom I saw,
and it is time for me to go to bed, either on board ship with my crew,
or here. As for my escort, heaven and yourselves will see to it."
Here he ended, and the guests sat all of them enthralled and
speechless throughout the covered cloister. Then Arete said to them:
"What do you think of this man, O Phaecians? Is he not tall and good
looking, and is he not Clever? True, he is my own guest, but all of
you share in the distinction. Do not he a hurry to send him away,
nor niggardly in the presents you make to one who is in such great
need, for heaven has blessed all of you with great abundance."
Then spoke the aged hero Echeneus who was one of the oldest men
among them, "My friends," said he, "what our august queen has just
said to us is both reasonable and to the purpose, therefore be
persuaded by it; but the decision whether in word or deed rests
ultimately with King Alcinous."
"The thing shall be done," exclaimed Alcinous, "as surely as I still
live and reign over the Phaeacians. Our guest is indeed very anxious
to get home, still we must persuade him to remain with us until
to-morrow, by which time I shall be able to get together the whole sum
that I mean to give him. As regards- his escort it will be a matter
for you all, and mine above all others as the chief person among you."
And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, if you were to bid me to
stay here for a whole twelve months, and then speed me on my way,
loaded with your noble gifts, I should obey you gladly and it would
redound greatly to my advantage, for I should return fuller-handed
to my own people, and should thus be more respected and beloved by all
who see me when I get back to Ithaca."
"Ulysses," replied Alcinous, "not one of us who sees you has any
idea that you are a charlatan or a swindler. I know there are many
people going about who tell such plausible stories that it is very
hard to see through them, but there is a style about your language
which assures me of your good disposition. Moreover you have told
the story of your own misfortunes, and those of the Argives, as though
you were a practised bard; but tell me, and tell me true, whether
you saw any of the mighty heroes who went to Troy at the same time
with yourself, and perished there. The evenings are still at their
longest, and it is not yet bed time- go on, therefore, with your
divine story, for I could stay here listening till to-morrow
morning, so long as you will continue to tell us of your adventures."
"Alcinous," answered Ulysses, "there is a time for making
speeches, and a time for going to bed; nevertheless, since you so
desire, I will not refrain from telling you the still sadder tale of
those of my comrades who did not fall fighting with the Trojans, but
perished on their return, through the treachery of a wicked woman.
"When Proserpine had dismissed the female ghosts in all
directions, the ghost of Agamemnon son of Atreus came sadly up tome,
surrounded by those who had perished with him in the house of
Aegisthus. As soon as he had tasted the blood he knew me, and
weeping bitterly stretched out his arms towards me to embrace me;
but he had no strength nor substance any more, and I too wept and
pitied him as I beheld him. 'How did you come by your death,' said
I, 'King Agamemnon? Did Neptune raise his winds and waves against
you when you were at sea, or did your enemies make an end of you on
the mainland when you were cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or
while they were fighting in defence of their wives and city?'
"'Ulysses,' he answered, 'noble son of Laertes, was not lost at
sea in any storm of Neptune's raising, nor did my foes despatch me
upon the mainland, but Aegisthus and my wicked wife were the death
of me between them. He asked me to his house, feasted me, and then
butchered me most miserably as though I were a fat beast in a
slaughter house, while all around me my comrades were slain like sheep
or pigs for the wedding breakfast, or picnic, or gorgeous banquet of
some great nobleman. You must have seen numbers of men killed either
in a general engagement, or in single combat, but you never saw
anything so truly pitiable as the way in which we fell in that
cloister, with the mixing-bowl and the loaded tables lying all
about, and the ground reeking with our-blood. I heard Priam's daughter
Cassandra scream as Clytemnestra killed her close beside me. I lay
dying upon the earth with the sword in my body, and raised my hands to
kill the slut of a murderess, but she slipped away from me; she
would not even close my lips nor my eyes when I was dying, for there
is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she
has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own
husband! I thought I was going to be welcomed home by my children
and my servants, but her abominable crime has brought disgrace on
herself and all women who shall come after- even on the good ones.'
"And I said, 'In truth Jove has hated the house of Atreus from first
to last in the matter of their women's counsels. See how many of us
fell for Helen's sake, and now it seems that Clytemnestra hatched
mischief against too during your absence.'
"'Be sure, therefore,' continued Agamemnon, 'and not be too friendly
even with your own wife. Do not tell her all that you know perfectly
well yourself. Tell her a part only, and keep your own counsel about
the rest. Not that your wife, Ulysses, is likely to murder you, for
Penelope is a very admirable woman, and has an excellent nature. We
left her a young bride with an infant at her breast when we set out
for Troy. This child no doubt is now grown up happily to man's estate,
and he and his father will have a joyful meeting and embrace one
another as it is right they should do, whereas my wicked wife did
not even allow me the happiness of looking upon my son, but killed
me ere I could do so. Furthermore I say- and lay my saying to your
heart- do not tell people when you are bringing your ship to Ithaca,
but steal a march upon them, for after all this there is no trusting
women. But now tell me, and tell me true, can you give me any news
of my son Orestes? Is he in Orchomenus, or at Pylos, or is he at
Sparta with Menelaus- for I presume that he is still living.'
"And I said, 'Agamemnon, why do you ask me? I do not know whether
your son is alive or dead, and it is not right to talk when one does
"As we two sat weeping and talking thus sadly with one another the
ghost of Achilles came up to us with Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax
who was the finest and goodliest man of all the Danaans after the
son of Peleus. The fleet descendant of Aeacus knew me and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, what deed of daring
will you undertake next, that you venture down to the house of Hades
among us silly dead, who are but the ghosts of them that can labour no
"And I said, 'Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the
Achaeans, I came to consult Teiresias, and see if he could advise me
about my return home to Ithaca, for I have never yet been able to
get near the Achaean land, nor to set foot in my own country, but have
been in trouble all the time. As for you, Achilles, no one was ever
yet so fortunate as you have been, nor ever will be, for you were
adored by all us Argives as long as you were alive, and now that you
are here you are a great prince among the dead. Do not, therefore,
take it so much to heart even if you are dead.'
"'Say not a word,' he answered, 'in death's favour; I would rather
be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than
king of kings among the dead. But give me news about son; is he gone
to the wars and will he be a great soldier, or is this not so? Tell me
also if you have heard anything about my father Peleus- does he
still rule among the Myrmidons, or do they show him no respect
throughout Hellas and Phthia now that he is old and his limbs fail
him? Could I but stand by his side, in the light of day, with the same
strength that I had when I killed the bravest of our foes upon the
plain of Troy- could I but be as I then was and go even for a short
time to my father's house, any one who tried to do him violence or
supersede him would soon me it.'
"'I have heard nothing,' I answered, 'of Peleus, but I can tell
you all about your son Neoptolemus, for I took him in my own ship from
Scyros with the Achaeans. In our councils of war before Troy he was
always first to speak, and his judgement was unerring. Nestor and I
were the only two who could surpass him; and when it came to
fighting on the plain of Troy, he would never remain with the body
of his men, but would dash on far in front, foremost of them all in
valour. Many a man did he kill in battle- I cannot name every single
one of those whom he slew while fighting on the side of the Argives,
but will only say how he killed that valiant hero Eurypylus son of
Telephus, who was the handsomest man I ever saw except Memnon; many
others also of the Ceteians fell around him by reason of a woman's
bribes. Moreover, when all the bravest of the Argives went inside
the horse that Epeus had made, and it was left to me to settle when we
should either open the door of our ambuscade, or close it, though
all the other leaders and chief men among the Danaans were drying
their eyes and quaking in every limb, I never once saw him turn pale
nor wipe a tear from his cheek; he was all the time urging me to break
out from the horse- grasping the handle of his sword and his
bronze-shod spear, and breathing fury against the foe. Yet when we had
sacked the city of Priam he got his handsome share of the prize
money and went on board (such is the fortune of war) without a wound
upon him, neither from a thrown spear nor in close combat, for the
rage of Mars is a matter of great chance.'
"When I had told him this, the ghost of Achilles strode off across a
meadow full of asphodel, exulting over what I had said concerning
the prowess of his son.
"The ghosts of other dead men stood near me and told me each his own
melancholy tale; but that of Ajax son of Telamon alone held aloof-
still angry with me for having won the cause in our dispute about
the armour of Achilles. Thetis had offered it as a prize, but the
Trojan prisoners and Minerva were the judges. Would that I had never
gained the day in such a contest, for it cost the life of Ajax, who
was foremost of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus, alike in
stature and prowess.
"When I saw him I tried to pacify him and said, 'Ajax, will you
not forget and forgive even in death, but must the judgement about
that hateful armour still rankle with you? It cost us Argives dear
enough to lose such a tower of strength as you were to us. We
mourned you as much as we mourned Achilles son of Peleus himself,
nor can the blame be laid on anything but on the spite which Jove bore
against the Danaans, for it was this that made him counsel your
destruction- come hither, therefore, bring your proud spirit into
subjection, and hear what I can tell you.'
"He would not answer, but turned away to Erebus and to the other
ghosts; nevertheless, I should have made him talk to me in spite of
his being so angry, or I should have gone talking to him, only that
there were still others among the dead whom I desired to see.
"Then I saw Minos son of Jove with his golden sceptre in his hand
sitting in judgement on the dead, and the ghosts were gathered sitting
and standing round him in the spacious house of Hades, to learn his
sentences upon them.
"After him I saw huge Orion in a meadow full of asphodel driving the
ghosts of the wild beasts that he had killed upon the mountains, and
he had a great bronze club in his hand, unbreakable for ever and ever.
"And I saw Tityus son of Gaia stretched upon the plain and
covering some nine acres of ground. Two vultures on either side of him
were digging their beaks into his liver, and he kept on trying to beat
them off with his hands, but could not; for he had violated Jove's
mistress Leto as she was going through Panopeus on her way to Pytho.
"I saw also the dreadful fate of Tantalus, who stood in a lake
that reached his chin; he was dying to quench his thirst, but could
never reach the water, for whenever the poor creature stooped to
drink, it dried up and vanished, so that there was nothing but dry
ground- parched by the spite of heaven. There were tall trees,
moreover, that shed their fruit over his head- pears, pomegranates,
apples, sweet figs and juicy olives, but whenever the poor creature
stretched out his hand to take some, the wind tossed the branches back
again to the clouds.
"And I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his prodigious stone
with both his hands. With hands and feet he' tried to roll it up to
the top of the hill, but always, just before he could roll it over
on to the other side, its weight would be too much for him, and the
pitiless stone would come thundering down again on to the plain.
Then he would begin trying to push it up hill again, and the sweat ran
off him and the steam rose after him.
"After him I saw mighty Hercules, but it was his phantom only, for
he is feasting ever with the immortal gods, and has lovely Hebe to
wife, who is daughter of Jove and Juno. The ghosts were screaming
round him like scared birds flying all whithers. He looked black as
night with his bare bow in his hands and his arrow on the string,
glaring around as though ever on the point of taking aim. About his
breast there was a wondrous golden belt adorned in the most marvellous
fashion with bears, wild boars, and lions with gleaming eyes; there
was also war, battle, and death. The man who made that belt, do what
he might, would never be able to make another like it. Hercules knew
me at once when he saw me, and spoke piteously, saying, my poor
Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, are you too leading the same sorry kind
of life that I did when I was above ground? I was son of Jove, but I
went through an infinity of suffering, for I became bondsman to one
who was far beneath me- a low fellow who set me all manner of labours.
He once sent me here to fetch the hell-hound- for he did not think
he could find anything harder for me than this, but I got the hound
out of Hades and brought him to him, for Mercury and Minerva helped
"On this Hercules went down again into the house of Hades, but I
stayed where I was in case some other of the mighty dead should come
to me. And I should have seen still other of them that are gone
before, whom I would fain have seen- Theseus and Pirithous glorious
children of the gods, but so many thousands of ghosts came round me
and uttered such appalling cries, that I was panic stricken lest
Proserpine should send up from the house of Hades the head of that
awful monster Gorgon. On this I hastened back to my ship and ordered
my men to go on board at once and loose the hawsers; so they
embarked and took their places, whereon the ship went down the
stream of the river Oceanus. We had to row at first, but presently a
fair wind sprang up.
(In the antechamber of Heaven. Satan walks alone. Angels in groups conversing.)
Satan. To--day is the Lord's ``day.'' Once more on His good pleasure
I, the Heresiarch, wait and pace these halls at leisure
Among the Orthodox, the unfallen Sons of God.
How sweet in truth Heaven is, its floors of sandal wood,
Its old--world furniture, its linen long in press,
Its incense, mummeries, flowers, its scent of holiness!
Each house has its own smell. The smell of Heaven to me
Intoxicates and haunts,--and hurts. Who would not be
God's liveried servant here, the slave of His behest,
Rather than reign outside? I like good things the best,
Fair things, things innocent; and gladly, if He willed,
Would enter His Saints' kingdom--even as a little child.
[Laughs. I have come to make my peace, to crave a full amaun,
Peace, pardon, reconcilement, truce to our daggers--drawn,
Which have so long distraught the fair wise Universe,
An end to my rebellion and the mortal curse
Of always evil--doing. He will mayhap agree
I was less wholly wrong about Humanity
The day I dared to warn His wisdom of that flaw.
It was at least the truth, the whole truth, I foresaw
When He must needs create that simian ``in His own
Image and likeness.'' Faugh! the unseemly carrion!
I claim a new revision and with proofs in hand,
No Job now in my path to foil me and withstand.
Oh, I will serve Him well!
[Certain Angels approach. But who are these that come
With their grieved faces pale and eyes of martyrdom?
Not our good Sons of God? They stop, gesticulate,
Argue apart, some weep,--weep, here within Heaven's gate!
Sob almost in God's sight! ay, real salt human tears,
Such as no Spirit wept these thrice three thousand years.
The last shed were my own, that night of reprobation
When I unsheathed my sword and headed the lost nation.
Since then not one of them has spoken above his breath
Or whispered in these courts one word of life or death
Displeasing to the Lord. No Seraph of them all,
Save I this day each year, has dared to cross Heaven's hall
And give voice to ill news, an unwelcome truth to Him.
Not Michael's self hath dared, prince of the Seraphim.
Yet all now wail aloud.--What ails ye, brethren? Speak!
Are ye too in rebellion? Angels. Satan, no. But weak
With our long earthly toil, the unthankful care of Man.
Satan. Ye have in truth good cause.
Angels. And we would know God's plan,
His true thought for the world, the wherefore and the why
Of His long patience mocked, His name in jeopardy.
We have no heart to serve without instructions new.
Satan. Ye have made a late discovery.
Angels. There is no rain, no dew,
No watering of God's grace that can make green Man's heart,
Or draw him nearer Heaven to play a godlier part.
Our service has grown vain. We have no rest nor sleep;
The Earth's cry is too loud.
Satan. Ye have all cause to weep
Since you depend on Man. I told it and foretold.
Angels. Truly thou didst.
Satan. Dear fools! But have ye heart to hold
Such plaint before the Lord, to apprise Him of this thing
In its full naked fact and call your reckoning?
Angels. We dare not face His frown. He lives in ignorance.
His pride is in His Earth. If He but looks askance
We tremble and grow dumb.
Satan. And ye will bear it then?
Angels. We dare not grieve His peace. He loves this race of men.
Satan. The truth should hardly grieve.
Angels. He would count it us for pride.
He holds Mankind redeemed, since His Son stooped and died.
We dare not venture.
Satan. See, I have less than you to lose.
Give me your brief.
Angels. Ay, speak. Thee He will not refuse.
Mayhap thou shalt persuade Him.
Satan. And withal find grace.
The Lord is a just God. He will rejudge this case,
Ay, haply, even mine. O glorious occasion!
To champion Heaven's whole right without shift or evasion
And plead the Angels' cause! Take courage, my sad heart,
Thine hour hath come to thee, to play this worthiest part
And prove thy right, thine too, to Heaven's moralities,
Not worse than these that wait, only alas more wise!
Angels. Hush! Silence! The Lord God!
(Entereth the Lord God, to whom the Angels minister. He taketh His seat upon the throne.)
The Lord God. Thank ye, My servants all.
Thank ye, good Seraphim. To all and several,
Sons of the House, God's blessing
(aside) who ne'er gave God pain.
Impeccable white Spirits, tell Me once again
How goeth it with the World, My ordered Universe,
My Powers and Dominations? Michael, thou, rehearse
The glory of the Heavens. Tell Me, star and star,
Do they still sing together in their spheres afar?
Have they their speech, their language? Are their voices heard?
Michael. All's well with the World. Each morn, as bird to answering bird,
The Stars shout in Thy glory praise unchanged yet new.
They magnify Thy name.
The Lord God. Truth's self were else untrue.
Time needs be optimist nor foul its own abode.
Else were Creation mocked
(aside)and haply I not God.
In sooth all's well with the World. And thou My Raphael,
How fare the Spirit hosts? Say, is thy world, too, well?
Raphael. All's well with the World. We stand, as aye, obedient.
We have no thought but Thee, no asking, no intent
More than to laud and worship, O most merciful,
Being of those that wait.
(aside). The contemplative rule
Out--ministers the active. These have right to boast,
Who stand aye in His presence, beyond the Angel host.
The Lord God. And none of ye grow weary?
Raphael. Nay in truth.
The Lord God. Not one?
(aside). God is a jealous God. He doubteth them.
Raphael. Nay, none.
We are not as the Angels.
The Lord God. These have their devoirs,
The search, the novelty. Ye drowse here in your choirs,
Sleep--walkers all,--while these, glad messengers, go forth
Upon new joyous errands, Earthwards, South and North,
To visit men and cities. What is strange as Man?
What fair as his green Globe in all Creation's plan?
What ordered as his march of life, of mind, of will?
What subtle as his conscience set at grips with ill?
Their service needs no sleep who guide Man's destinies!
(After a pause). Speak, Gabriel, thou the last. Is Man grown grand andwise?
Hath he his place on Earth, prince of Time's fashionings,
Noblest and fairest found, the roof and crown of things?
Is the World joyful all in his most perfect joy?
Hath the good triumphed, tell, o'er pain and Time's annoy,
Since Our Son died, who taught the way of perfect peace?
Thou knowest it how I love these dear Humanities.
Is all quite well with Man?
Gabriel. All's well with the World, ay well.
All's well enough with Man.
(aside). Alas, poor Gabriel.
The Lord God. How meanest thou ``enough''? Man holdeth then Earth's seat,
Master of living things. He mild is and discreet,
Supreme in My Son's peace. The Earth is comforted
With its long rest from toil, nor goeth aught in dread,
Seeing all wars have ceased, the mad wars of old time.
The lion and the lamb lie down in every clime.
There is no strife for gold, for place, for dignities,
All holding My Son's creed! The last fool hath grown wise.
He hath renounced his gods, the things of wood and stone!
Gabriel. The Christian name prevaileth. Its dominion
Groweth in all the land. From Candia to Cathay
The fear of Christ is spread, and wide through Africa.
The Lord God. The fear? And not the love?
Gabriel. Who knoweth Man's heart? All bow,
And all proclaim His might. The manner and the how
It were less safe to argue, since some frailties be.
We take the outward act to prove conformity.
All's well enough with Man--most well with Christendom.
The Lord God. Again thou sayest ``enough.'' How fareth it in Rome?
Hath My vicegerent rest?
Gabriel. He sitteth as of old
Enthroned in Peter's chair with glories manifold.
He sang a mass this morning and I heard his prayer.
The Lord God. For Peace?
Gabriel. And Power on Earth.
The Lord God. For Power? Hath he no care
Other than his temporal rule?
Gabriel. He hath his pastime too.
He is Italian born and doeth as these do,
He is happy uccellando, deeming it no sin
In his own Vatican, its garden walls within,
Watching his fowling--nets. ``I watch and pray,'' saith he:
``Vigilate et orate.''
(aside). O simplicity!
The Lord God. And are the Kings with him? Do all pray with one breath?
Gabriel. Some priests and poor I saw,--
(aside). The poor he always hath.
Gabriel His guards, his chamberlains.
The Lord God. The mighty ones, the proud,
Do they not kneel together daily in one crowd?
Have they no common counsel?
Gabriel. Kings have their own needs,
Demanding separate service.
(aside). Ay, and their own creeds.
One cause alone combines them, and one service--mine.
The Lord God Thou sayest?
Gabriel. Man still is Man.
The Lord God. We did redeem his line
And crown him with new worship. In the ancient days
His was a stubborn neck. But now he hath found grace,
Being born anew. His gods he hath renounced, sayest thou?
He worshippeth the Christ? What more?
Gabriel. Nay, 'tis enow.
He is justified by faith. He hath no fear of Hell
Since he hath won Thy grace. All's well with Man,--most well.
The Lord God. ``All's well!'' The fair phrase wearieth. It hath a new false ring.
Truce, Gabriel, to thy word--fence. Mark my questioning.
Or rather no--not thou, blest Angel of all good,
Herald of God's glad tidings to a world subdued,
Thou lover tried of Man. I will not question thee,
Lest I should tempt too sore and thou lie cravenly.
Is there no other here, no drudge, to do that task
And lay the secret bare, the face behind the mask?
One with a soul less white, who loveth less, nay hates;
One fit for a sad part, the Devil's advocate's;
One who some wrong hath done, or hath been o'erborne of ill,
And so hath his tongue loosed? O for a Soul with will!
O for one hour of Satan!
Satan. He is here, Lord God,
Ready to speak all truths to Thy face, even ``Ichabod,
Thy glory is departed,'' were that truth.
The Lord God. Thou? Here?
Satan. A suppliant for Thy pardon, and in love, not fear,
One who Thou knowest doth love Thee, ay, and more than these.
The Lord God. That word was Peter's once.
Satan. I speak no flatteries;
Nor shall I Thee deny for this man nor that maid,
Nor for the cock that crew.
The Lord God. Thou shalt not be gainsaid.
I grant thee audience. Speak.
The Lord God. 'Twere best alone,
Angels, ye are dismissed.
(The Angels depart.)Good Satan, now say on.
(alone with The Lord God). Omnipotent Lord God! Thou knowest all. I speak
Only as Thy poor echo, faltering with words weak,
A far--off broken sound, yet haply not unheard.
Thou knowest the Worlds Thou madest, and Thine own high word
Declaring they were good. Good were they in all sooth
The mighty Globes Thou mouldedst in the World's fair youth,
Launched silent through the void, evolving force and light.
Thou gatheredst in Thy hand's grasp shards of the Infinite
And churnedst them to Matter; Space concentrated,
Great, glorious, everlasting. The Stars leaped and fled,
As hounds, in their young strength. Yet might they not withdraw
From Thy hand's leash and bond. Thou chainedst them with law.
They did not sin, those Stars, change face, wax proud, rebel.
Nay, they were slaves to Thee, things incorruptible.
I might not tempt them from Thee.
The Lord God. And the reason?
Thou gavest them no Mind, no sensual atmosphere,
Who wert Thyself their Soul. Though thou should drowse for aye,
They should not swerve, nor flout Thee, nor abjure Thy way,
Not by a hair's breadth, Lord.
The Lord God. Thou witnessest for good.
Satan. I testify for truth. In all that solitude
Of spheres involved with spheres, of prodigal force set free,
There hath been no voice untrue, no tongue to disagree,
No traitor thought to wound with less than perfect word.
Such was Thy first Creation. I am Thy witness, Lord.
'Twas worthy of Thyself.
The Lord God. And of the second?
How shall I speak of it unless Thou give me hope;
I who its child once was, though daring to rebel;
I who Thine outcast am, the banished thief of Hell,
Thy too long reprobate? Thou didst create to Thee
A world of happy Spirits for Thy company,
For Thy delight and solace, as being too weary grown
Of Thy sole loneliness. 'Twas ill to be alone.
And Thou didst make us pure, as Thou Thyself art pure.
Yet was there seed of ill. What Spirit may endure
The friction of the Spirit? Where two are, Strife is.
Thou gavest us Mind, Thought, Will; all snares to happiness.
The Lord God. Unhappy blinded one! How sinnedst thou? Reveal.
Satan. Lord, through my too great love, through my excess of zeal.
Listen. Thy third Creation. . . .
The Lord God. Ha! The Earth? Speak plain.
Now will I half forgive thee. What of the Earth, of men?
Was that not then the best, the noblest of the three?
Satan. Ah, glorious Lord God! Thou hadst Infinity
From which to choose Thy plan. This plan, no less than those,
Was noble in conception, when its vision rose
Before Thee in Thy dreams. Thou deemedst to endow
Time with a great new wonder, wonderful as Thou,
Matter made sensitive, informed with Life, with Soul.
It grieved Thee the Stars knew not. Thou couldst not cajole
Their music into tears, their beauty to full praise.
Thou askedst one made conscious of Thy works and ways,
One dowered with sense and passion, which should feel and move
And weep with Thee and laugh, one that, alas, should love.
Thus didst Thou mould the Earth. We Spirits, wondering, eyed
Thy new--born fleshly things, Thy Matter deified.
We saw the sea take life, its myriad forms all fair.
We saw the creeping things, the dragons of the air,
The birds, the four--foot beasts, all beautiful, all strong,
All brimming o'er with joyance, new green woods among,
Twice glorious in their lives. And we, who were but spirit,
Envied their lusty lot, their duplicated merit,
Their feet, their eyes, their wings, their physical desires,
The anger of their voices, the fierce sexual fires
Which lit their sentient limbs and joined them heart to heart,
Their power to act, to feel, all that corporeal part
Which is the truth of love and giveth the breathing thing
The wonder of its beauty incarnate in Spring.
What was there, Lord, in Heaven comparable with this,
The mother beast with her young? Not even Thy happiness,
Lord of the Universe! What beautiful, what bold,
What passionate as she? She doth not chide nor scold
When at her dugs he mumbleth. Nay, the milk she giveth
Is as a Sacrament, the power by which he liveth
A double life with hers. And they two in one day
Know more of perfect joy than we, poor Spirits, may
In our eternity of sober loneliness.
This was the thing we saw, and praised Thee and did bless.
The Lord God. Where then did the fault lie? Thou witnessest again.
Was it because of Death, Life's complement,--or Pain,
That thou didst loose thy pride to question of My will?
Satan. Nay, Lord, Thou knowest the truth. These evils are not ill.
They do but prove Thy wisdom. All that lives must perish,
Else were the life at charge, the bodily fires they cherish,
Accumulating ills. The creatures Thou didst make
Sink when their day is done. They slough time like the snake
How many hundred sunsets? Yet night comes for rest,
And they awake no more,--and sleep,--and it is best.
What, Lord, would I not give to shift my cares and lie
Enfolded in Time's arms, stone--dead, eternally?
No. 'Twas not Death, nor Pain; Pain the true salt of pleasure,
The condiment that stings and teaches each his measure,
The limit of his strength, joy's value in his hand.
It was not these we feared. We bowed to Thy command,
Even to that stern decree which bade the lion spring
Upon the wealking steer, the falcon bend her wing
To reive the laggard fowl, the monster of the deep
Devour and be devoured. He who hath sown shall reap.
And we beheld the Earth by that mute law controlled,
Grow ever young and new, Time's necklace of pure gold
Set on Creation's neck. We gazed, and we applauded
The splendour of Thy might, Thy incarnated Godhead.
And yet (Lord God, forgive. Nay, hear me) Thou wert not
Content with this fair world in its first glorious thought:
Thou needs must make thee Man. Ah, there Thy wisdom strayed.
Thou wantedst one to know Thee, no mere servile jade,
But a brave upright form to walk the Earth and be
Thy lieutenant with all and teach integrity,
One to aspire, adorn, to stand the roof and crown
Of thy Creation's house in full dominion,
The fairest, noblest, best of Thy created things;
One Thou shouldst call Thy rose of all Time's blossomings.
And Thou evolvedst Man!--There were a thousand forms,
All glorious, all sublime, the riders of Thy storms,
The battlers of Thy seas, the four--foot Lords of Earth,
From which to choose Thy stem and get Thee a new birth.
There were forms painted, proud, bright birds with plumes of heaven
And songs more sweet than angels' heard on the hills at even,
Frail flashing butterflies, free fishes of such hue
As rainbows hardly have, sleek serpents which renew
Their glittering coats like gems, grave brindle--hided kine,
Large--hearted elephants, the horse how near divine,
The whale, the mastodon, the mighty Behemoth,
Leviathan's self awake and glorious in his wrath.
All these Thou hadst for choice, competitors with Thee
For Thy new gift and prize, Thy co--divinity.
Yet didst Thou choose, Lord God, the one comedian shape
In Thy Creation's range, the lewd bare--buttocked ape,
And calledst him, in scorn of all that brave parade,
King of Thy living things, in Thine own likeness made!
Where, Lord, was then Thy wisdom? We, who watched Thee, saw
More than Thyself didst see. We recognised the flaw,
The certainty of fault, and I in zeal spake plain.
The Lord God. Thou didst, rebellious Spirit, and thy zeal was vain.
Thou spakest in thy blindness. Was it hard for God,
Thinkest thou, to choose His graft, to wring from the worst clod
His noblest fruiting? Nay. Man's baseness was the test,
The text of His all--power, its proof made manifest.
There was nought hard for God.
Satan. Except to win Man's heart.
Lord, hear me to the end. Thy Will found counterpart
Only in Man's un--Will. Thy Truth in his un--Truth,
Thy Beauty in his Baseness, Ruth in his un--Ruth,
Order in his dis--Order. See, Lord, what hath been
To Thy fair Earth through him, the fount and origin
Of all its temporal woes. How was it ere he came
In his high arrogance, sad creature without shame?
Thou dost remember, Lord, the glorious World it was,
The beauty, the abundance, the unbroken face
Of undulent forest spread without or rent or seam
From mountain foot to mountain, one embroidered hem
Fringing the mighty plains through which Thy rivers strayed,
Thy lakes, Thy floods, Thy marshes, tameless, unbetrayed,
All virgin of the spoiler, all inviolate,
In beauty undeflowered, where fear was not nor hate.
Thou knowest, Lord of all, how that sanct solitude
Was crowded with brave life, a thousand forms of good
Enjoying Thy sweet air, some strong, some weak, yet none
Oppressor of the rest more than Thy writ might run.
Armed were they, yet restrained. Not even the lion slew
His prey in wantonness, nor claimed beyond his due.
He thinned their ranks,--yet, lo, the Spring brought back their joy.
Short was his anger, Lord. He raged not to destroy.
Oh, noble was the World, its balance held by Thee,
Timely its fruits for all, 'neath Thy sole sovereignty.
But he! he, the unclean! The fault, Lord God, was Thine.
Behold him in Thy place, a presence saturnine,
In stealth among the rest, equipped as none of these
With Thy mind's attributes, low crouched beneath the trees,
Betraying all and each. The wit Thou gavest him
He useth to undo, to bend them to his whim.
His bodily strength is little, slow of foot is he,
Of stature base, unclad in mail or panoply.
His heart hath a poor courage. He hath beauty none.
Bare to the buttocks he of all that might atone.
Without Thy favour, Lord, what power had he for ill?
Without Thy prompting voice his violence had scant skill.
The snare, the sling, the lime, who taught him these but Thou?
The World was lost through Thee who fashioned him his bow.
And Thou hast clean forgot the fair great beasts of yore,
The mammoth, aurochs, elk, sea--lion, cave--bear, boar,
Which fell before his hand, each one of them than he
Nobler and mightier far, undone by treachery.
He spared them not, old, young, calf, cow. With pitfall hid
In their mid path they fell, by his guile harvested,
And with them the World's truth. Hence forth all walked in fear,
Knowing that one there was turned traitor, haply near.
This was the wild man's crime.
The Lord God. He erred in ignorance.
As yet he was not Man. Naught but his form was Man's.
Satan. Well had he so remained. Lord God, Thou thoughtest then
To perfect him by grace, among the sons of men
To choose a worthiest man. ``If he should know,'' saidst Thou
``The evil from the good, the thing We do allow
From that We do forbid! If We should give him shame,
The consciousness of wrong, the red blush under blame!
If he should walk in light beholding truth as We!''
Thou gavest him Conscience, Creed, Responsibility,
The power to worship Thee. Thou showedst him Thy way.
Thou didst reveal Thyself. Thou spakest, as one should say
Conversing mouth to mouth. Old Adam and his Eve
Thou didst array in aprons Thy own hands did weave.
Enoch was taken up. To Noah Thou didst send
Salvation in Thine ark. Lord Abraham was Thy friend.
These are the facts recorded, facts (say fables) yet
Impressed with the large truth of a new value set
Upon Man's race and kind by Thy too favouring will.
Man had become a Soul, informed for good and ill
With Thy best attributes, Earth's moral arbiter,
Tyrant and priest and judge. Woe and alas for her!
Think of the deeds of Man! the sins! No wilding now,
But set in cities proud, yet marked upon his brow
With label of all crime.
The Lord God. The men before the Flood?
We did destroy them all.
Satan. Save Noah and his brood.
In what were these more worthy? Did they love Thee more,
The men of the new lineage? Was their sin less sore,
Their service of more zeal? Nay. Earth was hardly dry
Ere their corruption stank and their sin sulphurously
Rose as a smoke to Heaven, Ur, Babel, Nineveh,
The Cities of the Plain. Bethink Thee, Lord, to--day
What their debasement was, who did defile Thy face
And flout Thee in derision, dogs in shamelessness!
The Lord God. Nay, but there loved Me one.
Satan. The son of Terah?
The Lord God. He.
Satan. I give Thee Thy one friend. Nay, more, I give Thee three--
The Lord God. And Job.
Satan. Ay, Job. He stands
In light of the new Gospel, Captain of Thy bands,
And prince of all that served Thee, fearing not to find
Thy justice even in wrong with no new life behind,
Thy justice even in death. In all, four men of good
Of the whole race of Shem, Heaven's stars in multitude.
(I speak of the old time and the one chosen Nation
To whom Thou gavest the law.)
The Lord God. Truce to that dispensation.
It was an old--world hope, made void by Jacob's guile.
His was a bitter stem. We bore with it awhile,
Too long, till We grew weary. But enough. 'Tis done.
What sayest thou of the new, most wise Apollyon?
Satan. Ah, Lord, wilt Thou believe me? That was a mighty dream,
Sublime, of a world won by Thy Son's stratagem
Of being Himself a Man--the rueful outcast thing!
And of all men a Jew! for poor Earth's ransoming.
Thrice glorious inspiration! Who but He had dared
Come naked, as He came, of all His kingship bared,
Not one of us to serve Him, neither praised nor proud
But just as the least are, the last ones of the crowd.
He had not Man's fierce eye. No beast fell back abashed
To meet Him in the woods, as though a flame had flashed.
He lay down with the foxes. The quails went and came
Between His feet asleep. They did not fear His blame.
He had not Man's hard heart. He had not Man's false hand.
His gesture was as theirs. Their wit could understand
He was their fellow flesh. To Him, so near to God,
What difference lay 'twixt Man and the least herb He trod?
He came to save them all, to win all to His peace.
What cared He for Man, Jew, more than the least of these?
And yet He loved His kind, the sick at heart, the poor,
The impotent of will, those who from wrong forbore,
Those without arms to strike, the lost of Israel.
Of these He made His kingdom--as it pleased Him well--
Kingdom without a king. His thought was to bring back
Earth to its earlier way, ere Man had left the track,
And stay his rage to slay. ``Take ye no thought,'' said He,
``Of what the day may bring. Be as the lilies be.
They toil not, nore do spin, and yet are clothed withal.
Choose ye the lowest place. Be guileless of all gall.
If one shall smite you, smile. If one shall rob, give more.
The first shall be the last, and each sould hold its store.
Only the eyes that weep--only the poor in spirit--
Only the pure in heart God's kingdom shall inherit.''
On this fair base of love Thy Son built up His creed,
Thinking to save the world. And Man, who owned no need
Of any saving, slew Him.
The Lord God. It was the Jews that slew
In huge ingratitude Him who Himself was Jew.
O perfidi Judaei! Yet His creed prevailed.
Thou hast thyself borne witness. If Shem's virtue failed,
Japhet hath found us sons who swear all by His name.
Nay, thou hast testified the Christian faith finds fame
In every western land. It hath inherited
All that was once called Rome. The Orient bows its head
Perturbed by the white vision of a purer day.
Ham's heritage accepts new salves for its decay,
And there are worlds reborn beyond the ocean's verge
Where men are not as men, mad foam on the salt surge,
But live even as He taught them in love's noblest mood,
Under the law of Jesus.
Satan. Where, O glorious God?
In what land of the heathen--and I know them all,
From China to Peru, from Hind to Senegal,
And onward through the isles of the great Southern main.
Where is this miracle? Nay, nay, the search were vain.
The Lord God. It is the angels' hearsay.
Satan. A romance, Lord. Hear
The word of one Thy wanderer, sphere and hemisphere,
For ever on Thy Earth, who, shepherding Thy seas
No less than Thy green valleys, hath nor rest nor peace,
But he must learn the way of all who in them dwell;
To whom there is no secret, naught untold, no Hell
Where any sin may hide but he hath wormed it out
From silence to confession till his ears grew hot;
Who knoweth the race of Man as his own flesh; whose eye
Is cruel to evasion and the lips that lie,
And who would tell Thee all, all, all to the last act
Of tragic fooling proved which seals Man's counterpact.
--What was the true tale, think Thee, of Thy Son that died?
What of the souls that knew Him, Him the crucified,
After their Lord was gone? They waited for Him long,
The sick He had made whole, the wronged consoled of wrong,
The women He had loved, the fisher folk whose ears
Had drunk in His word's wisdom those three wondrous years,
And deemed Him prophet, prince, His kingdom yet to come,
Nay from the grave new--risen and had been seen of some.
What did they teach? Awhile, they told His law of peace,
His rule of unresistance and sweet guilelessness,
His truce with mother Earth, His abstinence from toil,
His love of the least life that wanton hands despoil,
The glory of His tears, His watching, fasting, prayer,
The patience of His death, His last word of despair.
And as He lived they lived--awhile--expectant still
Of His return in power to balance the Earth's ill.
They would not deem Him dead. But, when He came not, lo,
Their reason went astray. Poor souls, they loved Him so,
They had such grief for Him, their one true God in Man
Revealed to their sad eyes in all a World grown wan,
That they must build a creed, a refuge from their fears
In His remembered words and so assuage their tears.
His kingdom? It was what? Not all a dream? Forbid
That fault, that failure, Heaven, for such were death indeed.
His promises of peace, goodwill on earth to men,
Which needed a fulfilment, lest faith fail? How then
Since no fulfilment came, since He had left them lone
In face of the world's wolves, for bread had given a stone?
How reconcile His word with that which was their life,
Man's hatred and God's silence in a world of strife?
Was there no path, no way? Nay, none on this sad Earth
Save with their Lord to suffer and account it mirth.
And so awhile they grieved. Then rose a subtlety.
(Lord God, Thou knowest not wholly how men crave to lie
In face of a hard truth too grievous to their pride.)
To these poor fisher folk, thus of their Lord denied,
Came a new blinding vision. They had seen Thy Son
How often after death, no ghost, no carrion,
But a plain man alive, who moved among them slow,
And showed His feet and hands, the thorn prints on His brow,
The spear wound in His side. He had come to comfort them,
Confirm them in the faith, by His love's stratagem.
How if this thing were real? if this, that proved Him God,
Proved also themselves spirits, not mere flesh and blood
One with the beasts that perish, but immortal souls,
Even as we angels are who fill Heaven's muster rolls
And so shall live for aye? ``Here,'' argued they, ``it stands
The kingdom of His Heaven, a house not made with hands,
Wherein we too new--born, but in no earthly case,
Shall enter after death.'' On this fair fragile base
Their sorrow built its nest. It gave a hope to men
And pandered to their pride. And lo the world's disdain
Was changed to acclamation. Kings and emperors kneeled
Before the Crucified, a living God revealed,
Who made them heirs with Him of His own glory. (Mark
The ennobling phrase and title.) No base Noah's ark
Man's fount of honour now, but God's eternal choice
Made of His human race, predestined to His joys
From the first dawn of time,--the very Universe
Resolved to a mere potsherd, shattered to rehearse
The splendour of Man's advent, the one act and end
To which Creation moved, and where even we must tend,
The spirit hosts of Heaven! Stark mad insolence!
Rank blasphemy proclaimed in Rome's halls and Byzance,
Through all the Imperial lands, as though, forsooth, Thou, Lord,
Couldst, even if Thou wouldst, raise this fantastic horde
Of bodies to Thy glory, shapes dispersed and gone
As lightly as Time's wracks swept to oblivion!
Yet all believed this creed. Space, straightway grown too strait,
Shrank from these Christened kings, who held Earth reprobate
Save for their own high calling. Heaven had become their throne,
A fief for their new pride, in which they reigned alone,
In virtue of their faith, above Time's humbler show,
And Earth became their footstool. All were masters now
Of the brute beasts despised who had no sould to save,
And lords too of the heathen doomed beyond the grave.
God's kingdom had begun. It compassed all the lands
And trafficked wealth and power. It issued its commands,
And in default it slew in Thy high holy name,
Thine the all merciful! Alas for the world's shame!
Alas for the world's reason, for Thy Son's sane creed
Of doing only good each day to its own need,
Of being as the least of these in wise humility!
Behold our Christian Saints, too proud to live or die
As all flesh dies and lives, their emperors and kings
Clothed in the robes of life as with an eagle's wings,
Their Popes dispensing power, their priests absolving sin.
Nay. They have made a Hell their damned shall dwell within,
With me for their gaolmaster in a world to come
Of which they hold the keys! God's curse on Christendom!
The Lord God. Hush, traitor, thou blasphemest. If things once were so,
'Twas in a darkened age, the night of long ago.
None now believe in Hell.
Satan. Or Heaven. Forgive it, Lord,
I spoke it in my haste. See, I withdraw the word.
Thy Christendom is wise, reformed. None buy nor sell
Seats now at Thy right hand;
(aside)grown quite unsaleable.
None now believe nor tremble. Yet is their sin as sore.
(Lord, hear me to the end.) Thou dravest me out of yore
An exile from Thy sight, with mission to undo
And tempt Man to his death. I had fallen from Heaven's blue
By reason of my pride. Thou wouldst have service done
Unreasoning, on the knees, as flowers bend to the Sun,
Which withers them at noon, nor ask of his white fires
Why they consume and slay. I had fallen by my desires
Which were too large for one not God, because I would
Have shown Thee the truth bare, in no similitude
As a slave flattering speaks and half despises him
He fawns on, but in love, which stands erect of limb
Claiming an equal part, which reasons, questions, dares,
And calls all by its name, the wheat wheat, the tares tares,
The friend friend, the foe foe. Thou wast displeased at this,
And deemed I envied Man his portion in Thy bliss,
The Man that Thou hadst made and in Thy royal faith
Held worthy of all trust, Thy lord of life and death,
One to be proved and tried, as gold is tried by fire,
And fare the purer forth. Of me Thou didst require
The sad task of his tempting. I, forsooth, must sue
And prompt to evil deeds, make the false thought seem true,
The true thought false, that he, thus proved, thus tried, might turn
And hurl me a dog's word, as Jesus did, in scorn:
``Get thee behind Me, Satan!'' To this penance chained
I bowed me in despair, as Thou, Lord, hadst ordained,
Cast out from Thee and cursed. It was a rueful task
For one who had known Thee to wear the felon's mask
And tempt this piteous child to his base sins of greed,
His lusts ignoble, crimes how prompt in act and deed,
To urge him to rebellion against God and good
Who needed none to urge. His savage simian blood
Flamed at a word, a sign. He lied, he thieved, he slew,
By instinct of his birth. No virtue but he knew
Its countervice and foil, without my wit to aid.
No fair thought but he chose the foul thought in its stead.
Ah, sad primaeval race! Thou saidst it was not Man
This thing armed with the stone which through thy forests ran,
Intent to snare and slay. Not Man the senseless knave
Who struck fire from his flint to burn Thy gorses brave,
Thy heaths for his lean kine, who, being the one unclean,
Defiled thy flower--sweet Earth with ordure heaps obscene
To plant his rice, his rye. Not Man, saidst Thou, because
He knew not of Thy way nor had he learned Thy laws,
And was stark savage still. Not Man? Behold to--day
Thy tamed Man as he lives, Thy Son of Japhet, nay
Thy new true--Christened King, the follower of Thy Christ,
Who sweareth by Thy name and his own mailéd fist
That Thou art Lord of all and he the Lord of Thee,
Heaven's instrument ordained to teach integrity.
Thinkest Thou the man is changed, the ape that in him is,
Because his limbs are clothed which went in shamelessness?
Are his lusts bridled more because his parts are hid?
Nay, Lord, he doeth to--day as those forefathers did,
Only in greater guile. I will tell Thee his full worth,
This Man's, the latest born, Thy creature from his birth
Who lords it now, a king, this white Man's who hath pressed
All Earth to his sole bondage and supreme behest,
This Man of all Mankind. Behold him in Thy place,
Administering the World, vicegerent of Thy grace
And agent named of Thee, the symbol and the sign
Of Thy high will on Earth and purposing divine,
Clothed in his robes of power. Whence was he? What is he
That he asserteth thus his hand's supremacy?
His lineage what? Nay, Lord, he cometh of that mad stem
Harder in act than Ham's, more subtle than of Shem,
The red Japhetic stock of the bare plains which rolled
A base--born horde on Rome erewhile in lust of gold,
Tide following tide, the Goth, Gaul, Vandal, Lombard, Hun,
Spewed forth from the white North to new dominion
In the fair southern lands, with famine at their heel
And rapine in their van, armed to the lips with steel.
These made their spoil of all, the pomp of the world's power,
Its wealth, its beauty stored, all Rome's imperial dower,
Her long renown, her skill, her art, her cultured fame,
And with the rest her faiths bearing the Christian name.
From this wild bitter root of violent lust and greed
New Christendom upsprang, a pagan blood--stained creed,
Pagan in spite of Christ, for the old gods cast down
Still ruled it in men's hearts and lured them to renown,
Ay in Thy name, Lord God, by glamour of the sword,
And for Thy dead Son's sake, as in the days abhorred.
Like bulls they strove, they slew, like wolves they seized the prey,
The hungriest strongest first, and who should say them nay?
After the Goth the Gaul, after the Gaul the Dane,
Kings in descent from Thor, peace sued to them in vain.
Thou knowest, Lord God, their story. It is writ in blood,
The blood of beast and man, by their brute hands subdued,
Down to the latest born, the hungriest of the pack,
The master wolf of all, men call the Sassenach,
The Anglo--Norman dog, who goeth by land and sea
As his forefathers went in chartered piracy,
Death, fire in his right hand.
The Lord God. Satan, once more beware.
Thy tongue hath a wide license, yet it runneth far.
This Anglo--Saxon man hath a fair name with some.
He standeth in brave repute, a priest of Christendom,
First in civility, so say the Angel host,
Who speak of him with awe as one that merits most.
Satan. The Angels fear him, Lord.
The Lord God. How fear?
Satan. They fear his tongue,
Unscrupulous to speak, the right he hath in wrong,
The wrong he hath in right. They doubt he hath Thine ear,
Lord of the Universe. They are excused of fear.
They see his long success, his victory over good,
They count the nations lost which were of kindlier blood
But could not stand before him, his great subtlety,
His skill in the arts, the crafts. They mark the powers that be
In earth, air, water, fire, all banded in his plan
And used to the world's hurt as never yet by Man.
They look on Thee, Lord God, as one that careth not,
On him as Thy supplanter and the iron as hot
Which shall reforge the chain by which the Earth is bound.
They fear to awaken Thee from Thy long sleep profound.
He hath become their God, one impious and profane,
But strong and unreproved, ascendant on Thy wane.
They kneel to the new--comer as all courtiers use
Who fear a change of king. Their news is an ill news.
Nay, Lord, 'tis but a lie. I know it well, their story.
'Tis but the man's own boast, his mouthings of vain glory
Repeated day by day with long reiterate stress,
Till the world half believes in sheer ear--weariness,
And they, who think to please, retail it as their own.
What say they of him, Lord? That he hath one God alone,
Is not as the lewd nations, keepeth Thy Sabbath holy,
Nor Thy name vainly taketh in the ways of folly,
Hath a wise polity, his Church and State close blent,
A lordly bench of bishops, peers of Parliament,
A Convocation House which yearly witnesseth,
A King by grace of God, Defender of the Faith,
Thy ten commandments set in all his Courts of Law.
They show his fanes restored by highway, hedge and shaw,
His missions to the Jews, his Church societies,
The zeal of his free sects, each than the rest more wise,
The wealth of his chief priests, his weekly public prayer,
Things proving him devout more than the nations are.
They cite his worldly worth, his virtue these beyond,
His high repute in trade, his word held as his bond,
The valour of his dealings, his long boast of truth,
The prudent continence of his unwedded youth,
Uxorious faith in marriage, husband of one wife,
Nor taking her next sister to his widowed life.
These tales they hear and bring, some true, some false, but all
Of the common Saxon brag for first original.
So too of his world--science, social schemes, reforms,
His school--boards, gaols new systemed, signalling of storms,
Posts, railways, Homes for orphans, Charities organised,
His Mansion House funds floated, alms economised,
His hospitals, museums, baths, parks, workhouses,
And that last glorious marvel, his free Daily Press.
A wonderful Saxon truly, each day interviewed
By his own wondering self and found exceeding good.
All this and more they cite. That he hath virtues, well,
Let it be granted him. Those pay who most would sell,
And more who most would buy. Alms to his credit stand
In his account with time, and add strength to his hand,
Serving his best advantage in the enlarged domain
Of his Man's selfishness, which works for the World's bane
More surely than his vices. He hath outlived the day
Of the old single graspings, where each went his way
Alone to plunder all. He hath learned to curb his lusts
Somewhat, to smooth his brawls, to guide his passionate gusts,
His cry of ``mine, mine, mine'' in inarticulate wrath.
He dareth not make raid on goods his next friend hath
With open violence, nor loose his hand to steal,
Save in community and for the common weal
'Twixt Saxon man and man. He is more congruous grown,
Holding a subtler plan to make the world his own
By organised self--seeking in the paths of power.
He is new drilled to wait. He knoweth his appointed hour
And his appointed prey. Of all he maketh tool,
Even of his own sad virtues, to cajole and rule,
Even of Thee, Lord God.--I will expound this thing,
The creed of these white thieves which boast of Thee, their King,
As partner in their crimes. The head knaves of the horde,
Those who inspire the rest and give the masterword,
The leaders of their thought, their lords political,
Sages, kings, poets, priests, in their hearts one and all
(For all their faith avowed and their lip service done
In face of Thy high fires each day beneath the sun),
Ay, and their prelates too, their men of godliest worth,
Believe no word of Thee as Master of their Earth,
Controller of their acts, no word of Thy high right
To bend men to obedience and at need to smite,
No word of Thy true law, the enforcement of Thy peace,
Thy all--deciding arm in the world's policies.
They ignore Thee on the Earth. They grant Thee, as their ``God,''
The kingdom of the heavens, seeing it a realm untrod,
Untreadable by man, a space, a res nullius
Or No--Man's Land, which they as loyal men and pious
Leave and assign to Thee to deal with as Thou wilt,
To hold as Thy strong throne or loose as water spilt
For sun and wind to gather in the wastes of air.
Whether of a truth Thou art they know not, Lord, nor care;
Only they name Thee ``God,'' and pay Thee their prayers vain,
As dormant over--lord and pensioned suzerain,
The mediatised blind monarch of a world, outgrown
Of its faith's swaddling--clothes, which wills to walk alone,
The Earth? Not so. 'Tis theirs, the prize of the strong hand,
The strongest being their own by sea alike and land.
``Thy Will be done,'' they cry, ``Father which art in Heaven''
(Where Thou canst harm nor hurt not one day in the seven).
And if they add ``on Earth'' they deem Thee impotent,
Seeing Thee drowse thus long and leave men to their bent.
They mean ``Thy Will in Heaven,'' or in their ``World to come.''
``Terram autem dedit filiis hominum.''
So think their chiefs, their lords. For the blind mass of men,
Which live and toil and die heart--hungry in their pen,
They have no god but gold, the lord of their distress,
And gold's slave, drink, that buys a night's forgetfulness.
Of Thee they have no heed to chide them or to cheer.
The fear of Thee with these is their law's officer.
Lord God, if Thou but saw the pagan hearts they hide,
The base greeds of their being, the lusts undenied,
The Mammons that they worship! But Thou dost not see,
Or Thou hadst purged long since this worst profanity
From the World's better way and thereby saved Thy name
Profaned in their foul mouths from its long daily shame.
Thou dost not hear, nor see. The smoke of their foul dens
Broodeth on Thy fair Earth as a black pestilence,
Hiding the kind day's eye. No flower, no grass there groweth,
Only their engines' dung which the fierce furnace throweth.
Their presence poisoneth all and maketh all unclean.
Thy streams they have made sewers for their dyes aniline.
No fish therein may swim, no frog, no worm may crawl,
No snail for grime may build her house within their wall.
Thy beasts they have enslaved in blindness underground.
The voice of birds that sang to them is a lost sound.
Nay, they have tarred Time's features, pock--marked Nature's face,
Brought all to the same jakes with their own lack of grace.
In all Thy living World there is no sentient thing
Polluteth and defileth as this Saxon king,
This intellectual lord and sage of the new quest,
The only wanton he that fouleth his own nest.
And still his boast goeth forth. Nay, Lord, 'tis shame to Thee
This slave, being what he is, should ape divinity,
The poorest saddest drudge, the least joy--lifted heart
In all a World where tears are sold in open mart,
That he should stand, Thy choice, to preach Thy law, and set
His impress on the Earth in full apostolate,
Thy missioner and priest. He goeth among the nations,
Saith he, to spread Thy truth, to preach Thy law of patience,
To glorify Thy name! Not selfishly, forsooth,
But for their own more good, to open them the truth,
To teach them happiness, to civilise, to save,
To smite down the oppressor and make free the slave.
To bear the ``White Man's Burden,'' which he yearns to take
On his white Saxon back for his white conscience' sake.
Huge impudent imposture!--Lord, there were fair lands
Once on Thy Earth, brave hills, bright isles, sweet coral strands,
Noble savannahs, plains of limitless waving green,
Lakes girt with giant forests, continents unseen,
Unknown by these white thieves, where men lived in the way
Of Thy good natural law with Thy free beasts at play
And partners with Thy birds, men who nor toiled nor span,
Nor sowed, nor reaped, nor delved for the red curse of Man,
The gold that kills the soul; who knew nought of the fire
Which in his guns he storeth, naught of the desire
More deadly still concealed in his fire--drink of death;
Who went unclothed, unshamed, for garment a flower wreath;
Whose women lived unsold and loved their natural kin,
Nor gave aught to the stranger in the wage of sin;
Who blessed Thee for their babes and through the woods, like Eve,
Wandered in happy laughter, glorying to conceive.
Yea, Lord, and there were others,--shut communities
Of souls still on Thy path and strange to the new lies,
Yet not, as these were, wild, but held in discipline
Of orderly commandment, servants true of Thine
And doers of Thy law, though ignorant, untaught
Save by an inward grace of self--restraining thought
And light intuitive. No shedders they of blood,
But with all creatures friends, with men in brotherhood,
Blameless of wine, of strife; in innocent arts well skilled
But schoolless of all guile as an unchristened child.
To these with mouthings fine come the white gospellers,
Our Saxon mission--men black--coated to the ears.
--``Which be your gods?'' ask they; ``Do ye adore the Christ?
Know ye the Three in One, or walk ye in the mist?''
``Sirs, we have One, not Three. Our poor ancestral wit
Encompasseth no more.'' ``Then be ye damned for it.
This is our Bible, read. In the long after--death
Ye shall be burned with fire. It is God's self that saith.''
``We do not live again.'' ``In this life, ye shall live
According to our gospel, nor profanely wive
Save with one spouse alone.'' ``Our law hath given us three.
Three Gods to one sole wife were multiplicity.''
``These pagans are blasphemers! Who is on our side?
See, we have gold to give. We may not be denied.''--
And they baptize them Christians. Cometh the trader next,
His bible too in hand, its free--trade for his text.
He teacheth them to buy.--``We nothing need.'' ``Yet take.
The want will come anon and keep your wits awake.
Here are the goods we sell, cloth, firelocks, powder, rum,
Ye shall go clothed like lords, like kings of Christendom.''
``We live best naked.'' ``Fie.'' ``We have no use for arms.
The fire--drink is forbid.'' ``The thing forbid hath charms.
Nay. We will make you men, soldiers to brawl and fight
As all good Christians use, and God defend the right.
The drink will give you courage. Take it. 'Tis the sign
Of manhood orthodox, its sacramental wine,
Or how can you be worthy your new Christian creed?
Drink.''--And they drink to Jesus and are borne to bed.
He teacheth them to sell.--``We need coin for our draught.
How shall we bring the price, since ye give naught for naught?
We crave the fire--drink now.'' ``Friends, let not that prevent.
We lend on all your harvests, take our cent per cent.''
``Sirs, but the crop is gone.'' ``There is your land in lots.''
``The land? It was our fathers'.'' ``Curse ye for idle sots,
A rascal lazing pack. Have ye no hands to work?
Off to the mines and dig, and see it how ye shirk.''
``As slaves?'' ``No, not as slaves. Our principles forbid.
Free labourers, if you will. We use that word instead.
The `dignity of labour' ye shall learn for hire.
No paltering. No excuse. The white man hates a liar,
And hates a grumbling hand. Enough if we provide
Tools with the drink and leave your backs with a whole hide.
These lands are ours by Charter. If you doubt it, bring
Your case before the Courts, which will expound the thing.
As for your women folk. Look, there are ways well known
All women have of living in a Christian town.
Moreover you do ill. One wife the law allows,
And you, you say, have four. Send three round to our house.''
--Thus is Thy gospel preached. Its issue, Lord, behold
In the five Continents, the new world and the old,
The happier tribes of Man despoiled, enslaved, betrayed
To the sole white Man's lust, husband and wife and maid,
Their laughter drowned in tears, their kindness in mad wrath,
Their dignity of joy in a foul trance of death,
Till at the last they turn and in their anguish rend.
Then loud the cry goeth forth, the white man's to each friend:
``Help! Christians, to our help! These black fiends murder us.''
And the last scene is played in death's red charnel house.
The Saxon anger flames. His ships in armament
Bear slaughter on their wings. The Earth with fire is rent,
And the poor souls misused are wiped from the world's face
In one huge imprecation from the Saxon race,
In one huge burst of prayer and insolent praise to Thee,
Lord God, for Thy high help and proved complicity.
Nay Lord, 'tis not a lie, the thing I tell Thee thus.
Their bishops in their Churches lead, incredulous,
The public thanks profane. They sanctify the sword:
``Te Deum laudamus. Give peace in our time, O Lord.''
Hast Thou not heard their chaunting? Nay, Thou dost not hear,
Or Thou hadst loosed Thy hand like lightning in the clear
To smite their ribald lips with palsy, these false priests,
These Lords who boast Thine aid at their high civic feasts,
The ignoble shouting crowds, the prophets of their Press,
Pouring their daily flood of bald self--righteousness,
Their poets who write big of the ``White Burden.'' Trash!
The White Man's Burden, Lord, is the burden of his cash.
--There! Thou hast heard the truth. Thy world, Lord God of Heaven,
Lieth in the hands of thieves who pillage morn and even.
And Thou still sleepest on! Nay but Thou needs must hear
Or abdicate Thy name of High Justiciar
Henceforward and for ever. It o'erwhelmeth Thee
With more than temporal shame. Thy silence is a Sea
Crying through all the spheres in pain and ceasing not
As blood from out the ground to mark crime's murder spot:
``There is no hope--no truth. He hath betrayed the trust.
The Lord God is unjust. The Lord God is unjust.''
[A cry without. This is their cry in Heaven who give Thee service true.
Arise, Lord, and avenge as was Thy wont to do.
[The Angels re--enter in disorder, weeping.
The Lord God. What tears be these, my Sons? What ails ye that ye weep?
Speak, Shepherds of the flock! Ye that have cared my sheep!
Ye that are charged with Man! Is it as this One saith?
Is Satan then no liar who loudly witnesseth
Man's ruin of the World?
The Angel of Pity
(coming forward). Lord, it is even so.
Thy Earth is a lost force, Man's lazar--house of woe,
Undone by his lewd will. We may no longer strive.
The evil hath prevailed. There is no soul alive
That shall escape his greed. We spend our days in tears
Mourning Thy world's lost beauty in the night of years.
All pity is departed. Each once happy thing
That on Thy fair Earth went, how fleet of foot or wing,
How glorious in its strength, how wondrous in design,
How royal in its raiment tinctured opaline,
How rich in joyous life, the inheritor of forms
All noble, all of worth, which had survived the storms,
The chances of decay in the World's living plan
From the remote fair past when still ignoble Man
On his four foot--soles went and howled through the lone hills
In moody bestial wrath, unclassed among Earth's ills:
Each one of them is doomed. From the deep Central Seas
To the white Poles, Man ruleth pitiless Lord of these,
And daily he destroyeth. The great whales he driveth
Beneath the northern ice, and quarter none he giveth,
Who perish there of wounds in their huge agony.
He presseth the white bear on the white frozen sea
And slaughtereth for his pastime. The wise amorous seal
He flayeth big with young; the walrus cubs that kneel
But cannot turn his rage, alive he mangleth them,
Leaveth in breathing heaps, outrooted branch and stem.
In every land he slayeth. He hath new engines made
Which no life may withstand, nor in the forest shade
Nor in the sunlit plain, which wound all from afar,
The timorous with the valiant, waging his false war,
Coward, himself unseen. In pity, Lord, look down
On the blank widowed plains which he hath made his own
By right of solitude. Where, Lord God, are they now,
Thy glorious bison herds, Thy ariels white as snow,
Thy antelopes in troops, the zebras of Thy plain?
Behold their whitened bones on the dull track of men.
Thy elephants, Lord, where? For ages thou didst build
Their frames' capacity, the hide which was their shield
No thorn might pierce, no sting, no violent tooth assail,
The tusks which were their levers, the lithe trunk their flail.
Thou strengthenedst their deep brain. Thou madest them wise to know
And wiser to ignore, advised, deliberate, slow,
Conscious of power supreme in right. The manifest token
Of Thy high will on earth, Thy natural peace unbroken,
Unbreakable by fear. For ages did they move
Thus, kings of Thy deep forest swayed by only love.
Where are they now, Lord God? A fugitive spent few
Used as Man's living targets by the ignoble crew
Who boast their coward skill to plant the balls that fly,
Thy work of all time spoiled, their only use to die
That these sad clowns may laugh. Nay, Lord, we weep for Thee,
And spend ourselves in tears for Thy marred majesty.
Behold, Lord, what we bring--this last proof in our hands,
Their latest fiendliest spoil from Thy fair tropic lands,
The birds of all the Earth unwinged to deck the heads
Of their unseemly women; plumage of such reds
As not the sunset hath, such purples as no throne,
Not even in heaven, showeth (hardly, Lord, Thine own),
Such azures as the sea's, such greens as are in Spring
The oak trees' tenderest buds of watched--for blossoming,
Such opalescent pearls as only in Thy skies
The lunar bow revealeth to night's sleep--tired eyes.
Behold them, Lord of Beauty, Lord of Reverence,
Lord of Compassion, Thou who metest means to ends,
Nor madest Thy world fair for less than Thine own fame,
Behold Thy birds of joy lost, tortured, put to shame
For these vile strumpets' whim! Arise, or cease to be
Judge of the quick and dead! These dead wings cry to Thee!
Arise, Lord, and avenge!
The Angels. We wait upon Thy word.
[The Lord God covereth His face.
Satan. Thou hearest them, Lord God.
The Lord God. Good Satan, I have heard.
Thou art more just than I--alas, more just than I.
The Angels. Behold the Lord God weepeth.
The Angel of Pity. What eyes should be dry
If for a crime eyes weep? This crime transcendeth crime.
And the Lord God hath pity.
Satan. In His own good time.
The Lord God. Alas, the time is late. I do repent Me sore
The wrong I did thee, Satan, in those griefs of yore,
The wrong I did the Earth. Yet is Eternity
A long day for atonement. Thou thyself shalt be
My instrument here of wrath to purge this race of Man
And cast him on Time's dunghill, whence he first began.
What, Angel, is thy counsel? Shall we unseal again
The fountains of the heavens, send our outpoured rain,
And flood him with new waters? Shall it be by fire?
Shall we embraize the earth in one vast funeral pyre
By impact of a star? Let loose a sulphurous wind?
Belch rocks from the Earth's bowels? Shall we strike Man blind
With an unbearable light? Shall we so shake the hills,
The plains, that he fall palsied, grind him in the mills
Of a perpetual hail, importune him with snow,
Scourge him with noise unceasing, or the glutinous flow
Of a long pestilent stench? Speak, Satan, all thy thought,
Thou who the traitor knowest. How may he be brought
Best to annihilation?
Satan. Lord, by none of these,
Thy floods, Thy flames, Thy storms were puerilities.
He hath too large a cunning to be taken thus.
He would outride Thy waves, outblast Thy sulphurous
Winds with his counter--winds. He liveth on foul air
As on the breath of heaven. He hath nor thought nor care
For Thy worst lightning strokes, holding their principle
Rock--firm in his own hand. All natural powers fulfil
His brain's omnipotence. He standeth at each point
Armed for defiant war in harness without joint.
Though Thou shouldst break the Earth in twain he should not bend.
Thou needest a force to aid Thee, an ally, a friend,
A principle of good which shall outwit his guile
With true white guilelessness, his anger with a smile,
His force with utter weakness. Only thus, Lord God,
Shalt Thou regain Thy Earth, a purified abode,
And rid it of the Human.
The Lord God. And the means? Thy plan
Needeth a new redemption.
Satan. Ay, but not of Man.
He is beyond redeeming, or Thy Son had died
Not wholly to this loss. Who would be crucified
To--day must choose another, a young fleshly form,
Free from the simian taint, were it but flower or worm,
Or limpet of the rock, or grieving nightingale,
Wherein to preach his gospel. Yet should he previl,
If only for truth's sake and that this latest lie
Should be laid bare to shame, Time's fraud, Humanity.
Choose Thee an Angel, Lord; it were enough. Thy Son
Was a price all too great even had the world been won.
Nor can it be again. An Angel shall suffice
For Thy new second sending, so Thou guide the choice
To a more reasoned issue--so Thou leave Mankind
Henceforth to his sole ways as at his outset, blind
To all but his own lusts, untutored by Thy grace.
This is the road, Lord God. I bow before Thy face.
I make Thee my submission to do all Thy will,
So Thou absolve and pardon.
The Lord God. O incomparable
Good servant, Satan! Thou art absolved indeed.
It was thy right to pardon thy God's lack of heed,
His wrath at thy wise counsel. Nay, thou shamest Me.
Be thou absolved, good Angel, Ego absolvo te
Ab omnibus peccatis. Once more be it thy right
To stand before God's throne for ever in His sight,
And trusted more than these. Speak, Satan, what thou wilt,
All shall be granted thee, the glory with the guilt
Of the Earth lost and won. Who is it thou wouldst send
Agent and messenger to work to this new end?
What Angel of them all? I pledge thee My full faith
It shall be as thou wilt.
Satan. Who g
Fame Is A Food That Dead Men Eat
Fame is a food that dead men eat,-
I have no stomach for such meat.
In little light and narrow room,
They eat it in the silent tomb,
With no kind voice of comrade near
To bid the banquet be of cheer.
But Friendship is a nobler thing,-
Of Friendship it is good to sing.
For truly, when a man shall end,
He lives in memory of his friend,
Who doth his better part recall,
And of his faults make funeral.
The Night Flyer
Carrying silence on its wings
Over the night's city
The bat moans unheard by men.
Softly it flies in hunt for food
The noise down below seems distant,
An alienating sound he never was a part of,
His flight engraved on the pale moon.
There's so little time, morning will come soon.
But the city spews up only soot
His search is despairing for a tree bearing fruit.
Oblivious life noisily flows below
Consigning the bat to a death of doom,
There's no food and morn will come soon.
The Storm Is Over Now
I was in a tunnel
And couldn't see the light
And whenever I'd look up
I couldn't see the sky
Sometimes when I'm standin'
It seems like I done walked for miles
And my heart could be cryin'
Dead in the middle of a smile
But then I climbed the hills
And saw the mountains
I hollered help 'cause I was lost
Then I felt the strong wind
Heard a small voice sayin'
The storm is over
(The storm is over now)
And I can see the sunshine
(Somewhere beyond the clouds)
I feel Heaven
Dead Men Tell No Tales
They say that dead men tell no tales!
Except of barges with red sails
And sailors mad for nightingales;
Except of jongleurs stretched at ease
Beside old highways through the trees;
Except of dying moons that break
The hearts of lads who lie awake;
Except of fortresses in shade,
And heroes crumbled and betrayed.
But dead men tell no tales, they say!
Except old tales that burn away
The stifling tapestries of day:
Old tales of life, of love and hate,
Of time and space, and will, and fate.