He who, having lost one ideal, refuses to give his heart and soul to another and nobler, is like a man who declines to build a house on rock because the wind and rain ruined his house on the sand.
One Must Learn To Love The Present Good Moment
One must learn to love the present good moment
In itself and for itself
As if there were only it and no other-
One must learn to love the present good moment
Without wondering why it will pass
And why all things must –
One must learn to give one’s heart and mind wholly to the present good moment-
And when it is over
Wake from the dream
With joy and gratitude
Despite regretting that the moment is gone.
The Bride of the Wind and Rain
There was morning dew, and the sky was blue
When the stranger came to town,
Riding a painted wagon, pulled
By horses, black and brown,
He carried a wand of hickory,
Was clad in a purple cloak,
'The Master of Elementals'
Said the sign - 'of the Gypsy Folk.'
The people gathered to hear him speak
When he stopped in the village square,
'I hold the secrets of wind and rain,
Of summer clouds up there.
The gentle rain for your barley crop,
The breeze that flutters the leaves,
Or the menace of darkening thunderheads
As the lightning strikes at your eaves.'
The people laughed: 'He's a crazy loon, '
They said: 'We think you're a clown! '
They rocked his wagon and jeered at him
But the stranger stood his ground.
'You jeer at eternal mysteries,
And you fail to understand,
But I have the power to raze your crops
With a twitch of my willow wand.'
They turned his wagon upside-down
And laughed, and danced and sang,
'There's not been much to cheer us here
Since we ducked old Widow Strang.
Her spells could never save her
And your wand can do its worst,
So show us your 'Elementals'...'
Then he said - 'Your town is cursed! '
He raised the willow wand on high
And muttered seven words
That didn't make much sense to them,
(In a tongue they'd never heard) .
The rain fell out of a cloudless sky
Like a fine and gentle mist,
A gentle, soaking, water spray,
Then he said - 'Shall I persist? '
There'd been a drought, the people laughed,
And danced about in glee,
'We need the rain, you're a sad buffoon
With your vain idolatry.
So do your worst with your willow wand
Our crops will prosper now...'
'Your crops will nourish the barren ground, '
He said, 'I'll show you how! '
A wind arose in the barley fields,
The rain came pouring down,
The corn, it swayed in the gusts, the trees
Were bent toward the ground,
The sky was blackened with thunderheads,
The rain, it turned to hail,
The crowd began to scatter, and fled
As the women began to wail.
The thunderheads were dark and dense,
They turned the light to gloom,
The hailstones rattled on every roof
In the dark of the afternoon,
Then lightning flashed, lit up the sky
As the stranger paced the town,
His scowl so unforgiving and grim as
The lightning struck the ground.
A wedding party had sheltered in
The chancel of the church,
They dared not hold the service since
The thunder cloud had burst.
The noise drowned out the vicar's voice,
The organ pipes had wailed,
Playing the devil's music to
The rattling of the hail.
The stranger strode on up the aisle,
The people stared him down,
He waved his wand, the floor had split
As an earthquake shook the ground,
'How much to stop this craziness? '
A man stood up and said,
'You've made your point, take what you want! '
The stranger shook his head.
'Not all of your gold will buy me off,
You jeered and laughed at me,
Your town will sink in the primal mud
And be lost in antiquity,
But there is one thing I'd take right now
To save my wounded pride,
I would take just one of your number here...'
Then he pointed to the bride.
The bride had cowered behind the groom
As lightning hit the spire,
The roofing lead came crashing down
On the altar, and the choir,
A floodtide surged in the open door
And the wedding party cried:
'For God's sake, give him the woman then,
Give him the blushing bride! '
The groom was pushed aside and held,
The bride passed hand to hand,
'It's better we let you take her
If it will save our troubled land! '
'I'll only be taking her maidenhead,
Then you can have her back,
And live with the scorn and shame of her
Dishonoured, like you, in fact! '
He took the bride through the chancel door
And they disappeared in the rain,
Somebody said they heard her scream
And the bridegroom reeled in pain,
He swore revenge on the lot of them,
Ran cursing out of the church,
To look for his bride, defiled, he said,
He began his demented search.
There was morning dew, and the sky was blue
When she marched back into town,
Her dress was ragged and torn by then,
Blood-stained, and she wore a frown.
She carried a long white willow wand
As she marched to the village square,
And screamed; 'You'd better come out and pray! '
There was no forgiveness there!
The townsfolk hid in their flooded homes
As she wandered every lane,
There was never a sight of the stranger there
In the torrents of hail and rain,
She waved for the thunderheads to come
And she brought the lightning down,
But the groom was locked in a crazy room
In a distant part of town.
Now the ruined bride still walks the streets
In a torn and faded dress,
More like the rags of the hand-me-downs
Than a hint of future bliss,
The crops have drowned in the sodden fields
And the houses filled with mud,
As she screams like an elemental witch
For the loss of her virgin blood.
18 April 2010
- quotes about harvest
- quotes about screams
- quotes about wedding
- quotes about dance
- quotes about sky
- quotes about illness
- quotes about food
- quotes about earthquakes
His Line In The Sand (Fun Poem 133)
For Sara Feilder
Who suggested the first line.
The stiff backed man
drew his line in the sand
to hold back the encroaching tide.
He failed just like King Canute
and got his feet all wet.
He then looked at the sea angrily and said.
"You were supposed to stop at my line,
not go beyond it and soak my feet."
The sea replied with a stronger wave
that washed up over his shoes to his knees.
With that, the stiff backed man
made his retreat further back up the shore
well out of reach of the sea.
The moral of this story,
the sea and tide waits on no man
and if you do not want to get wet feet
stand back well out of its way.
30 July 2012
Who has the heart and courage
Who has the heart
Wins at the end
To the top
We don't stop
Man was born with a vision
Through that his mission
Yes people ever did it great
But you can do it greater
There are people out there
Doing it good
You can do it better
There is none greater
And none is lesser
Everyone has it
But no one has has it
Make good use of your time
For who you become
Is beyond understanding
For that we still searching
Be who you are
Go as much as far
The storm might hit you
Life might be crooked to you
The battle might be sore
But be courageous
Be serious and get focus
For winners don't quit
And quitters don't win
For who has the heart
Wins at the end.
Uncle Fred and The Sand Dance
Your Uncle Fred
on Christmas Eve
at Gran's house
when you were a kid
did the sand dance
wearing an old fashion
man's striped nightgown
and a red fez
(he got that in Egypt
open toed sandals
and Uncle Ed
turned the handle
of the windup gramophone
where an old
and there were
glasses of sherry
and cigarettes being smoked
and you sat watching
clapping your hands
and Gran would get up
and do her Can-Can
like she used to
as she young woman
on the stage
and Granddad sat there
quiet saying nothing
the people gathered
sipping his sherry
watching his wife
lifting her legs
her white fuzzy hair
going to and fro
as she moved
and you wanted
to have some sherry
but your mother said
no you have lemonade
don't have sherry
so you sat
with your lemonade
watching Uncle Fred
and his dance
and the music coming
from the old gramophone
and the smell of sherry
and beer and cigarette smoke
and Uncle telling the adults
one of his old army jokes.
- quotes about phonograph
- quotes about tobacco
- quotes about humor
- quotes about army
- quotes about elders
- quotes about beer
- quotes about fashion
- quotes about childhood
I found your foot print on the sand
I found your foot print on the sand
By the host of roses, on a grassy bank
Of eye sapphire bay, on whose watery face
Our world is reflected in reverse circled by tree’s lace
I was sitting beneath clumps of sturdy old trees
Adoring the fluttering dancing breeze
When suddenly this view of delight
Had gleamed upon my sight
Such a lovely ornament on the womb of earth
Was just recently give birth
Which a cloud that floats on vaults of heights
Never in its long wandering has spot in sight
Calm and hash, there was no peril from the sky that day
Except the summer sun's haze scorching ray
The birds were playing on this spot of land
The dodged in the grass or bathed in the land
The birds around it whirled and galloped
On a sprightly dance of glee and hope
The air blinked with pinions of mirth
And so in a hurry followed the smooth green turf
Touched by the thrill of pleasure the jocund band
Encircled the air and rolled on land
In a long, never ending line
As stars in the milky-way that twinkle and shine
Sparkled the strips of glittering butterflies
Outlining their rainbow colors in the skies
Their wings flared the air and glared the sun without a din
In a dazzling riot of soundless scene
All creatures adored in owe your sand trace
Except one who would not embrace
The little Narcissus with jealousy his head shock
Craving helplessly its image in the rushing brook
Heedless, no notice it took
But the other way it turned its look
copy rights 2010
Between The Wind And Rain
'The storm is in the air,' she said, and held
Her soft palm to the breeze; and looking up,
Swift sunbeams brush'd the crystal of her eyes,
As swallows leave the skies to skim the brown,
Bright woodland lakes. 'The rain is in the air.
'O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the rose,
'That suddenly she loosens her red heart,
'And sends long, perfum'd sighs about the place?
'O Prophet Wind, what hast thou told the Swift,
'That from the airy eave, she, shadow-grey,
'Smites the blue pond, and speeds her glancing wing
'Close to the daffodils? What hast thou told small bells,
'And tender buds, that--all unlike the rose--
'They draw green leaves close, close about their breasts
'And shrink to sudden slumber? The sycamores
'In ev'ry leaf are eloquent with thee;
'The poplars busy all their silver tongues
'With answ'ring thee, and the round chestnut stirs
'Vastly but softly, at thy prophecies.
'The vines grow dusky with a deeper green--
'And with their tendrils snatch thy passing harp,
'And keep it by brief seconds in their leaves.
'O Prophet Wind, thou tellest of the rain,
'While, jacinth blue, the broad sky folds calm palms,
'Unwitting of all storm, high o'er the land!
'The little grasses and the ruddy heath
'Know of the coming rain; but towards the sun
'The eagle lifts his eyes, and with his wings
'Beats on a sunlight that is never marr'd
'By cloud or mist, shrieks his fierce joy to air
'Ne'er stir'd by stormy pulse.'
'The eagle mine,' I said: 'O I would ride
'His wings like Ganymede, nor ever care
'To drop upon the stormy earth again,--
'But circle star-ward, narrowing my gyres,
'To some great planet of eternal peace.'.
'Nay,' said my wise, young love, 'the eagle falls
'Back to his cliff, swift as a thunder-bolt;
'For there his mate and naked eaglets dwell,
'And there he rends the dove, and joys in all
'The fierce delights of his tempestuous home.
'And tho' the stormy Earth throbs thro' her poles--
'With tempests rocks upon her circling path--
'And bleak, black clouds snatch at her purple hills--
'While mate and eaglets shriek upon the rock--
'The eagle leaves the hylas to its calm,
'Beats the wild storm apart that rings the earth,
'And seeks his eyrie on the wind-dash'd cliff.
'O Prophet Wind! close, close the storm and rain!'
Long sway'd the grasses like a rolling wave
Above an undertow--the mastiff cried;
Low swept the poplars, groaning in their hearts;
And iron-footed stood the gnarl'd oaks,
And brac'd their woody thews against the storm.
Lash'd from the pond, the iv'ry cygnets sought
The carven steps that plung'd into the pool;
The peacocks scream'd and dragg'd forgotten plumes.
On the sheer turf--all shadows subtly died,
In one large shadow sweeping o'er the land;
Bright windows in the ivy blush'd no more;
The ripe, red walls grew pale--the tall vane dim;
Like a swift off'ring to an angry God,
O'erweighted vines shook plum and apricot,
From trembling trellis, and the rose trees pour'd
A red libation of sweet, ripen'd leaves,
On the trim walks. To the high dove-cote set
A stream of silver wings and violet breasts,
The hawk-like storm swooping on their track.
'Go,' said my love, 'the storm would whirl me off
'As thistle-down. I'll shelter here--but you--
'You love no storms!' 'Where thou art,' I said,
'Is all the calm I know--wert thou enthron'd
'On the pivot of the winds--or in the maelstrom,
'Thou holdest in thy hand my palm of peace;
'And, like the eagle, I would break the belts
'Of shouting tempests to return to thee,
'Were I above the storm on broad wings.
'Yet no she-eagle thou! a small, white, lily girl
'I clasp and lift and carry from the rain,
'Across the windy lawn.'
With this I wove
Her floating lace about her floating hair,
And crush'd her snowy raiment to my breast,
And while she thought of frowns, but smil'd instead,
And wrote her heart in crimson on her cheeks,
I bounded with her up the breezy slopes,
The storm about us with such airy din,
As of a thousand bugles, that my heart
Took courage in the clamor, and I laid
My lips upon the flow'r of her pink ear,
And said: 'I love thee; give me love again!'
And here she pal'd, love has its dread, and then
She clasp'd its joy and redden'd in its light,
Till all the daffodils I trod were pale
Beside the small flow'r red upon my breast.
And ere the dial on the slope was pass'd,
Between the last loud bugle of the Wind
And the first silver coinage of the Rain,
Upon my flying hair, there came her kiss,
Gentle and pure upon my face--and thus
Were we betroth'd between the Wind and Rain.
Give Your Heart To The Hawks
1 he apples hung until a wind at the equinox,
That heaped the beach with black weed, filled the dry grass
Under the old trees with rosy fruit.
In the morning Fayne Fraser gathered the sound ones into a
The bruised ones into a pan. One place they lay so thickly
She knelt to reach them.
Her husband's brother passing
Along the broken fence of the stubble-field,
His quick brown eyes took in one moving glance
A little gopher-snake at his feet flowing through the stubble
To gain the fence, and Fayne crouched after apples
With her mop of red hair like a glowing coal
Against the shadow in the garden. The small shapely reptile
Flowed into a thicket of dead thistle-stalks
Around a fence-post, but its tail was not hidden.
The young man drew it all out, and as the coil
Whipped over his wrist, smiled at it; he stepped carefully
Across the sag of the wire. When Fayne looked up
His hand was hidden; she looked over her shoulder
And twitched her sunburnt lips from small white teeth
To answer the spark of malice in his eyes, but turned
To the apples, intent again. Michael looked down
At her white neck, rarely touched by the sun,
But now the cinnabar-colored hair fell off from it;
And her shoulders in the light-blue shirt, and long legs like a boy's
Bare-ankled in blue-jean trousers, the country wear;
He stooped quietly and slipped the small cool snake
Up the blue-denim leg. Fayne screamed and writhed,
Clutching her thigh. 'Michael, you beast.' She stood up
And stroked her leg, with little sharp cries, the slender invader
Fell down her ankle.
Fayne snatched for it and missed;
Michael stood by rejoicing, his rather small
Finely cut features in a dance of delight;
Fayne with one sweep flung at his face
All the bruised and half-spoiled apples in the pan,
A fragrant volley, and while he staggered under it,
The hat fallen from his head, she found one thoroughly
Soft-rotten, brown in the long white grass, and threw
For the crown of his dark head but perfectly missed,
Crying 'Quits. We're even.' They stood and warily smiled at each
In the heavy-sweet apple air.
The garden was sunken lower than
the little fields; it had many fragrances
And its own shadow, while the cows lay in the stream-bed, large
sycamore leaves dropped on their flanks; the yellow
Heads of the hills quivered with sun and the straining sea-glare.
Fayne said, 'Where did it go, poor thing?'
Looking for the little serpent. Michael said gravely, 'That's to
remember me by. I wish I could do worse.
I'm going away.' 'What?' 'From here again.'
'Oh, no.' 'I am, though.' 'No, Michael.'
'Freckles,' he answered, 'didn't it ever occur to you
That it's fairly dull here? I'm going up to town again.
I've got to earn money and spend it and hear the motors.'
She said dismally, 'What about me? Who'll there be to talk to?'
'Lance, of course.' 'I love him dearly; he's not fun exactly.
He wouldn't stick a rattlesnake up my leg.'
'Gopher-snake,' he shouted. They stood and laughed at each
And Michael: 'I was over the ridge to Drunken Charlie's,
Fixing up a little party for Saturday.
There'll be a moon in the evening. I leave Monday.'
Fayne said unhappily, 'Help me pick up the apples
I poured on you.'
Michael was taking Mary Abbey;
The Dolmans came, and Will Howard with two girls,
And Leo Ramirez with his sister Nell, so that the youth
Of the coast was all there. They met at Erasers'
And crossed the ridge; and were picketing the horses
Where they could ride no farther, on the airy brink
Above the great slides of the thousand-foot cliff.
They were very gay, colorful mites on the edge of the world.
The men divided the pack to carry;
Lance Eraser, being strongest, took most.
Far down below, the
broad ocean burned like a vast cat's eye
Pupilled by the track of sun; but eastward, beyond the white-
grassed hump of the ridge, the day moon stood bleak
And badly shaped, face of stained clay, above the limestone fang
of one of the Ventana mountains
Just its own color. Lance, looking back, saw his wife talking to
Michael, her cinnabar-colored hair
Like a flag of life against the pale east. That moment he saw the
horses plunging against the sky
And heard a noise like a sharp head of water from a narrow pipe;
a girl cried out,
Lance dropped his pack and returned. Will Howard was looking
But found none, but Lance found a burnt fence-post, relic of an
ancient fire. The snake lay with raised head,
The rattle of its tail making that noise of sharp water running; a
big rattler, but very small
At bay in the circle of the laughing men. Lance struck for its head,
but the snake that moment struck at the rope's end
That Michael was flicking at it, so that Lance's blow failed, the
fence-post broke to bits in his hand,
The snake not harmed; then Michael laughing with pleasure
whipped the creature to death with the doubled rope
And set his heel on the head; Lance damned all rotten wood, his
blond face flushing
Dark through the sunburn. Michael cut off the victim's
Tail with the ten rattles to give to Mary;
The other young men quieted the horses, and caught
One that had dragged away the bush it was tied to.
Lance would not wait, he picked up his pack and went
Alone down the zigzag path; but after a moment
His temper cleared.
Far down, short of the cat's-eye ocean, they
saw like a brown pebble
Drunken Charlie's hut in a gorge of the cliff, a feather of smoke,
and his boat like a split berry
Of bladdery seaweed up the thin strand; and Lance stood waiting
down the wild cliff side, his light-brown hair
Golden with sun, his hat and the pack laid down. The warm wind
up the mountain was wild with fragrance,
Chiefly the scent of the chiya bushes, that wear rosettes of seed
Strung on the stem. The girls squealed as they scrambled down,
when the brittle trap-rock broke underfoot,
Small fragments ran over on the next below. When they came to
the foot of the cliff Michael said, 'Now,' and offered
A bottle hot from his pocket. 'It's time.' Mary Abbey refused
it but the others drank, from mouth to mouth,
Stinging fire from the slobbered bottle-neck.
The sun was low
But had played all day on this southwestward
Cliff over the burning-glass water and the air
Still swirled with heat; the headland of Eraser's Point
Stopped off the trade-wind here. Fayne Fraser a little dizzily
Looked seaward, left of the blazing sun-track, and saw the track
of the northwest gale and the running waves
Like an endless army of horse with banners going by offshore;
her eyes followed them, a ruled line southward
Of violent water, converging toward the bronze headland beyond
headland of the mountain coast; and someone was saying,
'It's hot, we'll swim.' 'Before we eat,' someone said.
The girls twittered together and clustered northward
To a little cove beyond a fair spit of rock;
The men remained on this side.
Fayne undressed beside Mary
And was careful of words, because she'd sucked from the bottle
more than she meant to, and had small experience of drinking.
She said carefully, 'Where did those girls of Will Howard's
come from?' 'Nina told me,' she answered; 'waitresses
Down from the city on their vacation.' 'Honestly are they? I
guessed it.' 'No,' Mary said, 'they're nice girls.'
'That yellow-haired one, she's bad.' 'No,' Mary said. Fayne
said, 'Did you see her face when she looked at Michael
Across that bottle?' 'Oh, no,' Mary answered. '. . . Well. Are
you ready, Mary? Let's go.'
They limped down to the waves, giggling and wincing.
Fayne had tied a broad handkerchief around her hair
To shed the spray; she swam out farther than others,
Mary remained along shore.
The other side of the rock-spit
The men had bathed, and had come up strand again
To dry by the driftwood fire; all except Michael,
Who loved to swim. Lance Fraser stood by the fire, his broad
smooth chest, grooved between the square plates
Of heavy muscle, steamed and was ruddy in the glowing heat. He
narrowed his eyes to look seaward
And saw Michael's left arm, over the speck of his head, lift, reach
Swimming side-stroke; two white arms flashing swanlike on either
side of a handkerchief-hooded head
Emerged from the scales of light on the edge of the sun-dazzle.
The swimmers approached each other,
And met this side the long brown stain of the breathing kelp-bed.
But only thinking that they were too far out
And making a show of themselves.
On the pleasant water
Michael had called to Fayne, 'I've something for you.
Come here a minute.' She hardly dared, and thought
In the flashing joy of the sea, 'Oh, the water covers us.
What have you got?' 'Gin for girls.
We've got a fire on this side.' They met laughing,
And reached the bottle from hand to hand and floated decorously
Separate again. Fayne looked toward shore, and saw the vast
cliff in the flare of sundown soaring above
Like beaten gold, the imperfect moon-disk gold on its brow; the
tiny distinct white shapes of men
Around their spot of fire in the flat blue sea-shadow. She breathed
hard and said,
'My God, how beautiful. Oh, Michael, stay here at home.'
He answered with a watery yell of pleasure, submerging his
To roar as the sea-lions do.
Fayne trailed the bottle
And swam ashore. There was nothing to dry herself with;
The chill of the water had touched her blood, she sucked breath
Through clicking teeth. She sipped from the salted bottle,
And dressed, but shivered still.
She sunned herself by the fire,
Watching with fascinated speculation of pain
The antennae of lobsters like spikes of jointed grass
Above the heating water in a five-gallon tin
Writhe at the sky, lives unable to scream.
Under the vast calm vaulting glory of the afterglow, low smoky
rose and delicately
Stratified amber, soaring purple; then rose again, luminous and
virginal, floating the moon,
High up a scoured hollow of the cliff
Cormorants were settling to roost on the jags and ledges.
They writhed long Negro snake-throats and shot
Sharp heads at each other, shaking out sooty wings
And angry complaining cries.
Below, on the thread of beach,
The lonely fisherman who was called Drunken Charlie,
Fire glowing on his drugged eyes, wide beard and lank hair,
Turned meat on the grid over the barbecue-pit
And talked to himself all the time. Michael Fraser knelt
By a turned chest that served for table and poured
From a jug into cups, fierce new distillate
From Charlie's cliff -hidden kettle.
Faync Eraser shook half-dried
The color of the coals at the heart of the fire
But darkening as light decreased, and went to Lance
Who stood alone at the waves' edge, turning his back on the
world, and the wet sand
Raised by his weight on either side of his foot-soles ran water and
glistened in the still light. Fayne said
'Are you cross, dear?' She pushed up his rolled sleeve and clasped
her fingers on the broad trunk of his arm
Above the elbow, 'Dear, are you sad?' 'I? No,' he said, 'What
about?' 'You haven't spoken to anyone
Since we were swimming.' 'Why should I? You were out too
far, though.' 'Oh, I can swim.
And Michael was there to help me if I'd got tired.' 'By God, no,'
Lance said, with a sharp vision in his mind
Of her bright nakedness, the shining whiteness and the red hair.
She understood and said softly, 'Well,
I didn't need help. But he's our brother.' 'Certainly; I didn't
mind him,' he answered. 'But I did hate
To think that rabble of girls could look at you; it isn't decent.'
She said, 'They didn't seem interested.
Come, drink and eat. Those waitress women are passing the paper
plates.' He saw that vision once more,
The form and whiteness, the little gay-colored flower of the
pubic hair, and groaned, as a thick bull
Alone in the field groans to himself, not knowing why the hot
brow and the hooves itch for destruction.
Fayne to cure his unhappiness hasted and returned
Fetching two cups of the fire Michael was pouring.
After they had
eaten, twilight and moonlight came;
The fire burned smaller and brighter; they were twelve around
it; and drinks were poured. The bearded fisherman seemed
Stiffly asleep, with open eyes like a drowned man's
Glazed by the yellow firelight. Tom Dolman and Leo Ramirez
Roughed at each other, and Nina Dolman
Sitting between them cried out; then Michael said,
'Get up and wrestle.' All but the fisherman turned
To watch them circle clumsily on the damp sand
And suddenly lock, into one quadruped body reeling
Against the dark band of ocean and the low sky.
Ramirez had the low hold but Dolman was the heavier man;
They tugged and sobbed; Ramirez was lifted high
And writhed on the other's shoulder by the evening star,
But the strained column staggered and crumbled, the Spaniard
Fell uppermost and was the first to rise up.
Michael asked very gravely, 'Who was the winner?
The winner may challenge Lance.' Ramirez gasping and laughing
Said, 'Drunk; not to that extent.' 'Then gather firewood.
The fire's got low.'
The yellow-haired one of the two girls Will
Howard had brought
Sat in the sand beside Lance Fraser; she leaned on his shoulder
and held a cup to his mouth and said
'Please drink it for me: things are beginning to go 'round in
circles.' He drank; then Fayne on his other side
Grew suddenly cool and quite clear; she leaned across him and
said, 'That hair in the cup! Well, you drank it.
Her bleaches have made it brittle so it keeps falling.' 'Oh,' the
other gasped, 'that's not true.' 'It's pretty,' Fayne said,
'Only the black half inch at the roots. Is your name Lois? What's
your name?' 'Lois.' 'Lean the other way,
Lois.' Then Lance said angrily, 'Be quiet, will you,' and got up
To fetch more firewood.
A timber from one of the four ships
That have broken in half a century off Fraser's Point
Lay near and dry; Ramirez and Howard had brought it,
But the axe was lost in the sand. Lance up-ended it,
An ivory-white pillar under the moon,
Garnished with great iron bolts. He wedged his fingers
Into a crack and suddenly straining tore it in two;
The splitting made a great noise under the cliff,
The sea being quiet. Lance felt himself curiously
Numbed, as if the sharp effort had strained the whiskey
Out of his blood through the sheathes of his nerves;
His body obeyed as ever but felt a distance
Blocked off and alien. He took the halves of the timber
Under each arm and a bolt in his hand,
For two or three had fallen out of the wood,
This one straight, long and heavy. After he had laid
His logs on the fire he saw the fisherman's
Firelight-discolored eyes, and called 'Hey! Charlie.'
Still the man slept. Lance, wavering a little, reached
Over Will Howard's shoulder and took the cup from his hand,
Drank half, poured the other half on Charlie's long hair;
It dribbled into his beard; he coughed and awoke.
Lance said 'D'you ever have rattlesnakes down here?
I snicked at one up the cliff with a rotten stick;
But this'd fix 'em.' He gave him the iron bar;
Charlie posted it carefully up in the sand
Between his feet and answered, 'Mm; but there's Injuns.'
'What?' 'All that was cleared out of the country.
Where did you think they got to? They ain't got ships.
Down here they are.' The dark-haired girl that Will Howard
Suddenly stood up from the fire, she went toward the sea and
was heard vomiting. Charlie nodded and said,
'There's one o' them now. Most nights I see their fires away
down the beach.' Mary Abbey whispered to Michael,
'Don't take any more. Time to go home.' 'Ah no,' he said,
'dear, we just got here.' Fayne came to Lance
And said, 'Don't drink any more. Time to go home.' He an-
swered briskly, 'Since when are you giving orders?'
'Since you're not fit to.' She knew while the words made in her
throat, 'Now he'll be angry,' a pale rush of anger
Ran to meet his; the memory of all his bad-tempered times, his
heavy earnestness and lack of laughter,
Pierced like a mountain-peak the cloud in her mind, 'Oh, I do
He stared, more astonished than angry, and saw her face
Lean, sharp, bled white, each freckle black as a mole
Against its moon-gleam pallor. 'That's how you feel, ah?'
He turned his back. She thought, 'He'll never forgive me:
Let him not,' and saw the Dolmans, Nina and Tom,
Seeking the way up the cliff, Mary Abbey with them,
Fayne went and said, 'Michael, I've lost my cup,
Aren't there any more cups?' 'I'll hold the jug:
You hold your mouth.' 'Oo, I need water with it.'
'No, you don't.' Half of the sip went strangling
Into her throat, half ran by her little chin
And trickled between her breasts. She looked at the fire,
Then at the moon, both blurred fantastically,
Red burrowed, white wavered high. Michael said, 'My girl's
Fayne said, 'Oh, and yours?' He said 'That's no sense. That's
She laughed and answered, 'They don't.'
The moon suspended
in her great antelope-leap from the head of the cliff
Hung pouring whiteness along the narrow runway of sand and
slide-rock under the continent's foot,
A watery glittering and secret place, walled from the world,
closed by the cliff, ditched by the ocean.
Drunken Charlie dreamed by the dying fire;
Will Howard and Nell Ramirez were one slight point
Far down the white beach. Yellow-haired Lois
Spilled her drink and said, 'Seeing is believing.
Come on, I'll show you.' She smiled at Lance, 'Come, dear.
Sadie's passed out; it's all right wi' Sadie,'
And to Leo Ramirez, 'Come if you like, dark boy.'
He swayed and stammered, 'Responsible; Sister Nell.
Keep an eye on young sister.' 'Ah, go and find her.'
'Not till I see the picture on Sadie's stomach.'
They wandered toward Drunken Charlie's little hollow skiff
And its black shadow, drawn up the moonlight strand.
Lance thought, 'Here's a boat, let's break it,' and thought with
an ache of shame,
'I wouldn't think that, only being drunk.' The center of his
mind made savage war on rebellious out-liers
In breathless darkness behind the sweating forehead; while Leo
Ramirez, seeing the bright fish-scales glued
With blood and slime to the boat-thwarts glitter like a night of
stars, began to sing a stale song: 'We'll always,
Be young and gay. We'll always, feel that way.' Lois said 'Shut
up,' and led them around the boat,
Her friend lay in the moonlight nestled against it. Lois knelt
down and gently drew her by the shoulder;
She groaned in her sleep, resisting. Lois laughed, 'The boys want
to see it, Sadie,' and tugged, and turned her
Onto her back, the stained pale face up to the moonlight; the
teeth in the opened mouth glittered,
And sour breath crossed them, while Lois turned up the blouse,
loosened the band and jerked up the linen shift
To show a three-masted sailing-ship tattooed with black and red
inks on the soft white belly
Below the breasts. 'My God,' Ramirez said, 'there it is.'
Lois answered, 'A fellow dared her,' and looked for Lance,
Who trembled and said, 'Cover her up, damn you.'
Lois blinking drew down the blouse. Ramirez giggled,
'My God, a U. S. flag at the peak,' and reached
Over Lois's shoulder to raise the cloth;
Lance struck and felled him, and stepping across him fallen
Leaned and strode toward the cliff and the red coals
That had been the fire.
Drunken Charlie lay on the sand,
The iron bolt erect by his feet; Lance caught it up
And smashed the jug, and saw the remnant of whiskey
Glitter among the shards to sink into sand.
He ground his teeth; he saw in his mind in the stream of images
A second jug, and began to search for it.
The tide had fallen, the
steep ribbon of beach was but little wider,
But the sea was become so flattened that no waves flashed. Enor-
mous peace of the sea, white quiet of the cliff,
And at their angle and focus a few faint specks of humanity
happy in liquor or released in sleep,
But Lance alone. Then noises like the cries of a woman scream-
ing, bird after bird of sharp-colored sound
Flew on the face of the cliff, tattered wild wings against jagged
rocks. On the cliff head the patient horses
Turned their ears, grooving small wrinkles about the roots of the
cartilage, but did not lift up their heads;
And the sea was not moved, nor the moonlight quivered. Will
Howard was lying beside Nell Ramirez; they'd fallen asleep
Before he had his desire; they sighed and stirred in the sand. He
murmured 'Oh, somebody's got hysterics,'
And wriggled his fingers, which had grown painfully numb
between her plump knees. But Lois, Leo Ramirez
And Drunken Charlie heard the sounds nearer; they went in a
wind of fear to find out their fountain,
And Sadie awoke in the sand and followed heavily,
Falling but once, catching her clothes that slipped,
Whining at the hollow pain in her skull.
Beyond a rock
Stood Lance, high white in the moon-glaze, distorted, taller than
Lois said, 'Dearie?' He babbled, 'Oh Jesus Christ Oh Jesus
Christ Oh Jesus Christ,'
Behind him in a great shadow of her hair darkened
By the rock-shadow Fayne turned her white wedge of face
With three holes in it. She was kneeling, bent S-shape,
And seemed to stare up from the very ground. She said, 'I think
It is finished. Water please. Water please.
He fell down from the cliff.' Then Michael's feet were seen,
And thence the prone extended ridge of his body
Ending indefinitely under Fayne's face.
Lois cried, 'He's hurt.' But they dared not approach
For Lance standing between, high and twisted
Like a dead tree. Lance said, 'I . . .' Fayne cried,
'He fell down from the cliff.' They all stood silent,
Lois's mouth opened and closed on silence
Three times, then asked, 'Is he hurt?' Lance said, 'Oh Christ.
I ...' Fayne cried so that his words were hidden,
And stood up and said, 'He has died. Michael.
He was climbing the cliff and fell, his foot caught on that bush;
He struck his head on that rock, on that edge of rock.
It is all broken in. Oh, we loved him.'
Ramirez said, 'What for did he climb up there?'
'Have we drunk waterY* Fayne said. But Lance began
To shake, like a tall dead mast of redwood that men are felling,
It is half cut through, each dip of the axe the sonorous timber
quivers from the root up to the cloud,
He said 'I caught them . . .' 'He caught him,' Fayne cried,
'when he fell but he could not save him.' 'I killed . . .'
'You are wild with sorrow
He fell head down whether you'd tried to catch him or not.
You are not to blame.' He said, 'It is horrible
To hear the lies from her mouth like bees from a hot hive: I am
the one,' but Fayne running to him
Made an animal moan in her throat in time to hide what he said.
She came to Lance, and her face
Like a held spear, and said, 'Drunkard.
Too drunk to be understood. Keep still until you can talk and be
understood.' He drew backward from her,
Shuddering like a horse from a snake, but when his back was
against the rock he stammered, 'I
Will find my time.' 'Yes,' she answered, 'be quiet now. To-
morrow when you are better they'll understand you.'
'Is he dead?' 'Keep still. Will you shame his end
With drunkard babbling? For he was the dearest,' she said, 'in
the world to all of us. Lovelier than morning light
On the mountain before the morning. There is not one of us
would not have died for him: / would, / would, / would,'
She cried writhing, 'but not lose Lance too. How can I plan to
save him, I've got what I can't bear?
You are all our friends.'
She set her hands in the masses of red-dark hair, dark in the
moonlight, and tearing it, with her white face
To the white moon: 'That eye's blind. Like Juan Arriba's old
mare he used to beat on the face,
Her eyes froze white like that. He was larking on the cliff and
fell.' She seemed to be treading a tragic dance,
She was scuffling sand to cover the bolt of shipwreck that lay in
the shadow of the rock; she wrung her hands
And knelt moaning by Michael's head; she rose with blood on her
hand and fibers of hair, and ran
To the rock under the cliff. 'This rock killed him. He fell on this
edge,' she drew her hand on the edge
And the rock was stained. Then Sadie was heard gasping from
her poor stained face. One or two looked at her. 'O-uh,'
She whispered hoarsely, 'we was having fun!'
Lance moved at
length, like a dead man walking, toward his dead brother,
And stooped as one stoops to gather a sleeping child. Fayne ran
and said, 'No, the man. No, the man.
He has to come.' Lance turned toward her his face like a para-
Slack with peace, and said softly, 'The man.'
'He'd think wrong has been done. I can't think . . . coroner.
Don't take him up.' 'Home?' he said,
Seeming gently surprised; he gathered the body
Into his arms and walked along the foot of the cliff.
Fayne stayed behind a moment, the others following.
She cast quick looks over the rocks and sand;
One end of the rusty bolt was visible still;
She leaned toward it and fell on her face. She labored up
And went ten steps to the ebb and flung the iron
To the water edge.
Lance walked along the foot of the cliff.
He turned, not where the path went up, and walked
Into the face of the cliff, and stood there walking
Like an ox in a tread-mill, until Ramirez
Showed him the path. Fayne went up behind him.
Half way up
He awoke a moment out of his automatism
To feel failure and pain, his breathing like knives, and the failure
Of his eyes; it was impossible to see the path;
He checked a step and fell forward.
Fayne came up to him
And stood; there was nothing that she could do. They lay
Very peacefully together, Lance's face
On his brother's breast. She looked across them;
Terribly far down the moonlight cliff crouched the dark sea.
Ramirez came up and stood. Fayne said they had not the strength
to carry up either of the fallen, and so
They had to wait. They heard a faint breeze through the dry
bushes; and the crying of sea-lions far down below,
Where eight or ten were lying in a circle by the softly heaving
kelp-bed, as their custom is, and gazed
With great mild eyes at the sky and the night of water. Then
they sing in their manner, lifting up sleek
Dark-shining muzzles to the white moon, making a watery noise
of roaring and a lonely crying
For joy of life and the night.
At length Lance
Began to paw with his feet like a dreaming hound,
And some stones fell. He knelt and stood up
And took his burden and went up.
When they entered the sleep-
Fayne led the horse; Lance held his brother and rode behind him,
It would be hard to tell which one was slain
If the moon shone on their faces. The horse stopped and sighed
By the garden-gate; Lance did not move to dismount,
But sat and held up his brother. Fayne came beside,
Reaching to help; Lance whispered 'Ah, ah, thank God.'
'What?' 'He may be saved, Fayne.
He is hot under the arms and I heard him breathe.'
'You heard the horse breathe,' she said. They lifted down
The unmanageable weight.
Oh, ignorant penitents,
For surely the cause is too small for so much anguish.
To be drunk is a folly, to kill may call judgment down,
But these are not enormous evils,
And as for your brother, he has not been hurt.
For all the delights he has lost, pain has been saved him;
And the balance is strangely perfect,
And why are you pale with misery?
Because you have saved him from foolish labors and all the vain
From desires denied, and desires staled with attaining,
And from fear of want, and from all diseases, and from fear of
Or because you have kept him from becoming old,
When the teeth dropp and the eyes dim and the ears grow dull,
And the man is ashamed?
Surely it is nothing worse to be slain in the overflowing
Than to fall in the emptiness;
And though this moon blisters the night,
Darkness has not died, good darkness will come again;
Sometimes a fog will come in from sea,
Sometimes a cloud will crop all the stars.
The moonlight from the west window was a square cloth
Laid on the floor, with one corner on the bed,
Lying over Michael's hand; they had taken him
To his own room. Fayne whispered: 'Now we must tell them.
Your mother may dieher sick heart.
Don't let her die too bitterly. For this one night, dear,
Say nothing worse than 'Michael's gone.' Spare her something
Until she has cried. Four hours' mercy. By morning
That heart of hers will be seasoned.' Fayne strained in the dark
To see his face. He answered in a short while,
'How many mornings I've come in here
And routed him out of bed. He always was a late sleeper.
Sound asleep, Mother.' Fayne caught his arm. 'Can't you hear
'You,' he said, 'keep your hands off! . . . Until morning
I'll say he fell.'
It was not morning, but the moon was down.
The old mother sat by the bed with her hand on Michael's, regu-
larly her great fat-swollen body
Jerked with a sob, and tears were spurted from her closed eyes.
Old Fraser sat with his fists evenly
Together on his knees, his bony face held erect, the brown eyes in
their hollows red with lamplight.
Fayne heard the noise of a motor starting and left the room.
He was backing out the big truck,
The shed was full of the headlight glare, the ruby tail-light
glowed by the axle. Before she could come
It had crept out; its light swung up the driveway by the stooping
And picked from darkness the heavy timbers of the high corrals
and the white beehives remote on the hill;
Fayne ran down the river of light to the gate and closed it, and
stood in the gate for fear he might smash through;
But Lance came wearily to open; stooping, tall,
Black on the light. She said, 'Oh, where?' 'You know.
Tell dad to come to Salinas and get the truck;
There wasn't enough gas in the little one.'
She answered, 'Can the sheriff make us happy again?
Or the judge make Michael alive again?' 'Open the gate.'
'Yes, dear. Listen to me. When Arriba and his boys
Stole cows of ours, did you run to the courthouse?
We take care of ourselves down here. What we have done
Has to be borne. It's in ourselves and there's no escaping,
The state of California can't help you bear it.
That's only a herd of people, the state.
Oh, give your heart to the hawks for a snack o' meat
But not to men.' When she touched him with her hands,
Pleading, he sighed and said, 'If I'd been nearer
My decent mind, it would have been you, not Michael.
Did y' love him? Or was it only because you're female
And were drunk, female and drunk?' 'Oh. Hush. I was begging
Not to leave us, as I'm begging you. He promised me, dear.
He said he'd not go away. I kissed him for that; he was our
And you came behind.' Lance's blackness of his leaning bulk
Vibrated in the light-beam. 'It'd be a pity for me then.
I can't see clear, in the dirty streaming memories . . .
Don't be afraid; your part will be secret.
I'll say I killed him for nothing, a flea-bite quarrel,
Being beastly drunk.' 'He was killed,' she answered, 'for
'It's a great pity for me then.
Open the gate.' She clung to the timber bolt
To hold it home in the slot, and felt his mind
Tearing itself. 'Lance. Lance? Sweetheart:
Believe . . . whatever you need to save you.
I won't give you up. You can't remember what happened;
I tell you he fell from the cliff. But if your dreadful
Dream were true, I know you are strong enough
To give your heart to the hawks without a cry
And bear it in lonely silence to the end of life.
What else do you want? Ah. Confession's a coward
Running to officers, begging help. Not you.'
The scrape of slow boots on gravel outside the light-stream,
Across the pulses of the idling motor, and suddenly cried,
'He fell from the cliff.' An old man said in the dark,
'They ain't got consideration. Where was you going
This time o' night, after what's happened? Your dad wants you.
Your ma's took bad.' Lance moaned and stood still.
Fayne said, 'He was going to Lobos to telephone
The doct . . . the coroner. Dearest, you ought to go in.
She suffered great pain before, she was near death.
Old Davie will drive up the coast for you
When daylight comes.' 'Oh,' he said stilly, and turned
His face to the fountains of light; it gleamed without meaning
In the stream of radiance like a stake in a stream,
Except that from exhaustion the pupils of the eyes
Failed to contract, so that their secret interiors
Of their chambers returned the light all sanguine.
At length he kneaded them with his fists and said,
'I can't see well. You'll have to help me find the way in.
It's not a trick of yours, uh?'
His mother lay on the floor,
For Michael's body lay on the bed. The sun of pain at her heart
had rays like skewers of anguish
Along the left arm and up by the jugular arteries. She dared
not move; her face stood wet-white and still,
With live blue eyes; but the clay-pale lips opened and closed.
Old Eraser had swathed her in hasty blankets.
Fayne entered; Lance behind her stood swaying and stooping
in the door and saw his father
Crouched beside the great cocoon of the blankets; and Michael in
the bed above, and trinkets of Michael's
That hung on the wall, gleam in the lamplight. The violence of
pain was brief; she whispered 'better/* and breathed
With greedy shallow passion; her eyes found Lance.
grayed slowly into the room;
The lamp ran dry unnoticed. Lance and his father
Labored and carried the heavy old woman to bed.
Fayne brought them food, but Lance refused it. In the afternoon
He walked outdoors for a time, but nothing farther
Than the cattle-pens. Fayne must have been watching for him,
Because she went and walked by his side, and said,
When they were turned from the house, 'Mary Abbey was here.
It seems she expected to marry Michael, though he never told us.
She cried a lot.' Lance made no sign of hearing her.
Fayne said, looking up sidelong at his cheek and jaw,
Where the flesh hung thin on the bone: 'Her griefs not
Like ours, forever; but sharp at present. If she ever
Imagined that you . . . how could we bear her looks? You are
too strong, dear,
To lay on weaker persons a burden
That you alone ought to bear.' He strode faster
And stopped, muttering, 'He lies up there, like that.
And my mother, like that; and I have done it;
And you talk about Mary Abbey.' Fayne said, 'I have no time
To choose names, for a man is coming to-day
To question us. He's sent for. I have to tell you that you must
choose whether to relieve
Your own weakness , . . conscience I mean ... by easy con-
Or bear the whole weight unhelped. The first way's easy; you'll
be acquitted; you'll be left humbled and soiled,
But free; for confession is not enough; and you were too lost to
remember anything clearly; and I
Am the one witness. I saw him climb on the cliff and fall. So your
conscience will be well comforted,
And fairly cheap. Only your mother perhaps will die of it; your
father and I will swallow our portion;
And the crowd at Salinas
Will have had a good time watching your face in court. It would
be harder, if youVe a snake in your heart,
To keep it shut there.'
He was silent, and drew sharp breath and
said, 'A red-haired one. Ah.
A white one with a red brush. Did you do it with him
Or not?' 'Leave that,' she said stilly; 'this choice is now?
He groaned and answered, 'My mind's not quick like yours.
. . . I'll not lie to them.' 'Let me show your mind to you;
Be patient a moment still; if I seem cruel,
That's to save, all that's left. Look at yourself:
A man who believes his own sweet brother's blood
Lies on his hands: yet
Too scrupulous to tell a lie, for his mother's life.
Our minds are wonderful.' He meditated, and answered
Heavily, 'The sunlight seems dull but red.
What makes it red?' 'Your eyes are sick of not sleeping;
Or there's a forest-fire in the south.' 'Our minds? Little bottles
That hold all hell. I seem too tired to feel it, though.
I'll think, I'll think.'
'You have no time for thinking. He will come probably
Within this hour.' 'Who? Let him come. I'll tell him
God made them male and female but men have made
So-and-so ... I fall asleep while I talk . . . whiskey eh?
Lighted the sticky fire. It's not possible
I'd ever done it except that I stumbled on you
In the heart of guilt. I know that.' 'Believe it then,'
She answered shrilly, and stood twitching her lips
In the white freckled face, in the reddish light of her hair,
'If that will help.' 'Oh,' he said.
'... I wish you had picked from another tree.'
She answered: 'You are to say that you found him dying.
You heard me cry, and he was down by the rock.
Isn't that the truth exactly, because you remember
No previous thing? You heard me cry out; you came;
Michael was dying or had died. That's all. You carried him home.
. . , I wish he'd come.'
But the man did not come
Until afternoon the next day. Dark weather, for a stagnant ocean
of cloud was hung on the sky,
And what light shone came colored like the taste of metal through
smoke of burning forests far to the south,
That veiled the coast, so that it seemed brown twilight
In the house, in Michael's room. A lamp was lighted,
The death-wound viewed. 'Who saw him fall?' 'I alone.
My husband and others came when I cried.' 'Where is your
'With his mother,' she answered faintly. 'She had an attack,
Her heart, angina, and has to lie still. Shall I
Call him, sir?' her voice hardening, her eyes
Growing hard and narrow. 'Pretty soon. Was this young man
In trouble about anything?' 'No.' 'A girl?' 'He was engaged
To Miss Abbey.' 'They had a quarrel, ah?' 'No.'
'Did he seem cheerful?' 'Very.' 'They always do.
Yesterday I had to drive by Elkhorn Slough
Because a very cheerful old man opened his throat
With his nephew T s pen-knife. I was two hours
Finding that place; the farmers around there they couldn't tell
Whether Jesus Christ died on the cross
Or at the battle of Bull Run.'
Old Eraser had stood
Nerveless and dreaming over the livid face
Since they uncovered it; abruptly he turned his head
Above his bowed shoulder, saying 'It's enough.
Dog, blaspheme not. Go to your own place.
My son found death in recklessness, I fear in folly;
Write that and leave us alone; go hence and leave us
To mourn and hope.' 'Well, Mr. Fraser. You understand . . .'
'I am very patient,' the old man said, thrusting
His hollowed face toward the other, the closely set
Inflamed brown eyes pushing like the burnt end of a stick
That has been used to stir fire; the man stepped backward.
'Did he say patient! . . . Well, is your husband here?'
Payne's mouth jerked and froze hard, her hands quieted.
'I will call him. Come to the room downstairs.'
She said at the foot of the stair, 'This way, sir. It's dark.
Will you have to go ... to see the cliff, to see
The cliff?' 'Hm, what's that?' 'Where he fell.'
'Can we drive there?' 'No, ride and walk.' 'Look here,'
He said, 'I've come sixty-five miles already.
You're sure it was accidental?' 'Yes.' 'Well.
I always try to save the family feelings
When the case is not clear.' He tried his pen,
Shook it, and wrote. Fayne watched, quiet and cold, thinking that
Would not have to be questioned; he was saved now;
And saw the man to his car. When he had gone
She thought that now she could laugh or cry if she wanted to,
Now Lance was saved, but her nerves and her mind stood quiet.
She looked at the dusty gate and the dark house-gable
In the stagnant air against the black cloud, and perceived that all
events are exact and were shaped beforehand,
And spaced in a steel frame; when they come up we know them;
there is nothing for excitement.
She went in,
And found Lance in the dark at the head of the stair, bent for-
ward like a great bird. 'Has he gone, Fayne?'
'Did you know he was here?' 'I will live on,' he answered,
'seems to be best. I loved him well; he died instantly,
No anger nor pain. Davis has dug a place by the children's
On account of the dull weather
And closing twilight the group on the hilltop was hardly visible
in their vast scene. It was quite evident
That not only Pico Blanco against the north, and the gray Ven-
tanas, but even every dry fold
And gully of the humbler hills was almost by an infinite measure
of more importance
Than the few faint figures on the bare height,
The truck, and three saddled horses,
And some persons.
The old man swayed and shook, standing praying
At the head of a dug slot
Beside the pile of pale earth.
The heavy great brown-furred sky that covered all things made
a red point in the west, lost it and darkened,
And the Point Sur lighthouse made a thin stabbing from the
Swaying on his heels and toes the old man prayed:
'Oh Lord our God, when thy churches fell off from thee
To go awhoring after organ music,
Singing-women and lecturers, then my people
Came out from among them; and when thy last church,
Thy little band, thy chosen, was turned at length
To lust for wealth and amusement and worldly vanities,
I cried against them and I came forth from among them.
I promised thee in that day that I and my house
Would remain faithful, thou must never despair;
I said, though all men forget thee thou hast a fort
Here in these hills, one candle burning in the infidel world,
And my house is thy people.
My children died,
And I laid them in this place and begot more children
To be thy servants, and I taught them thy ways, but they fell
away from thee.
They found their pleasure among the ungodly, and I believe
They made themselves drunk with wine, and my dear son is
He died on the shore. One half of the curse of Eli has fallen
He covered his face with his knotted hands and stood gasping,
And said, 'I loved him. Here he is, Lord.
Surely thou hast forgiven his sins as I have forgiven them,
And wilt lift him to thy glory on the last day.'
The old man stood silent, lifting his face, and fixed his deep
close-set eyes, like the eyes of an old ape,
Small, dark and melancholy under the bar of the brow, between
the wide cheek-bones, fixed them far off
Across the darkening ridges and ocean upon that single red spot
that waned in the western sky,
And said 'The world darkens and the end is coming.
I cannot beget more children; I am old and empty,
And my wife is old. All men have turned their faces away from
I alone am thy church. Lord God, I beseech thee not to despair,
But remember thine ancient power, and smite the ungodly on
And the faithless churches with utter destruction. For Jesus'
sake, amen.' While he prayed, Fayne watched Lance
With pity and fear; and Mary Abbey, who was there with her
Kept stealing glances at Lance through her wet eyelashes.
She whispered to Fayne: 'Oh, Lance looks dreadfully.
I never knew he loved him so dreadfully.'
Fayne answered, 'Yes, he did'; and looked up at Lance
With pity and fear. 'He looks as if he'd fall sick,'
Mary said. Fayne answered, 'No, he is strong.
He hasn't eaten since Michael died; maybe
He hasn't slept.' Mary said, wiping her eyes,
'His face is so sad and fine, like carved marble.
They say he carried him all the way home, up that cliff.'
The old man ended his prayer, the redwood box
Was lowered with ropes; Lance had the weight at one end,
Old Fraser and Davis at the other. The ropes cut grooves
In the earth edges. While they were shovelling earth,
Mary Abbey, with a sudden abandoned gesture
Of the hand that had the handkerchief in it, ran up to Lance
On the scraped ground. 'Don't grieve so.' She reached and
His hand on the spade-handle. 'It makes me afraid for you.
We all loved him; life has to go on.' He jerked his hand,
And looked down at her face with startled eyes
So pale gray-blue that all the light that remained in the world
Under the low black sky seemed to live in them,
Stammering, 'No. No. He fell from the cliff.' She said, 'I know,
We have to bear it. I loved him too.' He gathered his dreaming
Into the bundle again and said, 'Oh. All right. Please keep out of
the way for the time.
We have this to do.' 'Good-bye,' she answered patiently. 'Fa-
ther's calling me.'
The pit was filled full and mounded;
Fayne came and said, 'What was she saying to you?' 'Nothing.
Who?' 'Mary Abbey.' 'I didn't see her.'
'What, Lance? She came and spoke to you.' 'I'd rather be there
with Michael,' he answered. 'Dear, you must rouse yourself.
Life has to go on.' 'Somebody was saying so, I think.
There's not a hawk in the sky.' She answered from a hoarse
throat, 'After dark? What are you dreaming?
See, Davie's turned on the headlights.' 'I hate them,' he said,
'killers, dirty chicken-thieves.'
The farm-truck headlights
Shone on the mounded earth, and cast its enormously lengthened
shadow and the shadows of a few moving
Persons across the world, with the beam of light, over mound
beyond mound of bare autumn hills, and black
Ocean under the black-roofed evening.
That night he returned
To lie with Fayne in their bed, but like two strangers
Lying in one bed in a crowded inn, who avoid
Touching each other; but the fifth night
She laid her hand on the smooth strength of his breast,
He pretended to be asleep, she moved against him,
Plucking his throat with her lips. He answered, 'After all?
You're right. If we're to live in this life
We'll keep its customs.' He approached her confidently,
And had no power. The little irrational anger
At finding himself ridiculous brought to his mind
That worse rage, never before clearly remembered,
But now to the last moment; or imagined. He drew
His limbs from Payne's without thinking of her, and lay still,
with shut fists,
Sweating, staring up spirals of awful darkness, that spun away up
and wound over his eyes
Around a hollow gray core with flecks in it. 'I am damned un-
justly. I did it in a moment.'
But Fayne knew nothing
Of the shut agony beside her; only she was troubled at heart, and
Whether he had ceased to love her said tenderly, 'Sleep,
Darling. I didn't mean. I didn't want.
Only I love you.' He felt her instinctive hand
Move downward fondling along the flat of his belly.
He set it aside and spoke, so low that her ears
Lost every word between the hair and the pillow.
'What, dearest?' 'I know it,' he said, 'they're dogs: that was
Fit to tell dogs. I can be damned
At home as well.' 'Hush, dear.' 'I don't make a good murderer,'
He said, 'I sweat.' She was silent and heard him breathing,
And mourned, 'Oh, cover your mind with quietness to-night.
In the morning you'll face it down again. This will get well with
It was really only a dreadful accident.' 'Very damnable,' he said,
'Very true.' Fayne said, 'We'll live, sweetheart, to feel it
Only a dreadful accident, and the sad death
Of one we loved.' 'That's your smooth skin.
The fires fester on mine. Will you do something
For me?' 'Dearest, with all my heart.' 'An easy kindness:
Shut up your mouth.'
He got up after a time;
When he went out she followed, trembling. He turned on her
Outside the door. 'I'm not going to Salinas,'
He whispered, 'nor bump myself off either.
I'll not starve your hawks of their snatch o' meat.
Now let me alone for Christ's sake.' She stood and saw him
Against the starlit window at the end steal down
The hallway, go past the stairhead, and enter the empty
Room of his brother. He slept there from that night on,
And seemed to regain calm strength.
In the course of a month
Rain seemed at hand, the south wind whetting his knife on the
long mountain and wild clouds flying;
Lance and his father set out to burn the hill to make pasture. They
carried fire in forkfuls of straw
Along the base of the south wall of their valley; the horses they
rode snorted against it, and smoke
Boiled, but the seaward end of the hill would only be burnt in
patches. Inland, at the parched end,
A reach of high grass and sage might have led out the fire to the
forest, and Lance rode up
To watch a flame down the wind to black out the danger.
He carried two barley-sacks and went to the Abbeys' trough
At the hill spring to dip them, to beat down the fire's
Creepings up wind. From that spur of the mountain
He saw the planted pine trees at Abbey's place,
And riding back with the dipped sacks, the vale
Of his own place, the smoke-mist, and Sycamore Creek
Wound like a long serpent down the small fields.
He set his fires and watched them rage with the wind,
Easily stifling their returns, riding herd
On the black line; then from the base of the hill
Red surf, and the dark spray rolled back by the wind,
Of the other fire came up roaring. The lines met
On the fall of the hill like waves at a river's mouth
That spout up and kill each other, and hang white spray
On cold clear wind.
A rabbit with blazing fur broke through the back-fire,
Bounding and falling, it passed by Lance and ran
Straight into the stem of a wild lilac bush,
He saw it was blind from the fire, and watching it struggle away
Up its dark pain, saw Mary Abbey coming down the black hill
against the white sky,
Treading on embers. Lance turned and hardened in the saddle,
and saw the vale below him a long trough of smoke
Spilled northward, then Mary came near and said, 'I wanted to
talk to you. I saw you ride by the water-trough.'
He shuddered and said, 'What? I'll watch the fire.' 'Fayne
doesn't like me so well I think
Since Michael . . . indeed I'm ashamed to be always around your
'I noticed you there,' he said, carefully regarding
The dark braids of her hair, and the pale brown face
Seen from above. 'I don't know,' she said.
'My father says to go away for a time,
His sister lives on a place in Idaho.
But I wouldn't want to forget. But I told Fayne . . .
So I don't know. We could see that you grieved for him
More deeply than anyone else, and all these great hills are empty.'
He said, 'Is that all?' 'Ah . . . ? Yes,' she answered,
And turned away and looked back. Lance found that the bridle-
Had broken suddenly between his hands, and said 'You won't get
anything from Fayne; she's hard as iron.
Why do you follow us around? What do you think you'll find
out?' She said, 'Your grief is greater perhaps,
For you knew him longer. But you have Fayne and I have no-
body: speak kindly to me. As I remember,
At first it came from seeing you and Fayne so happy in each
I wanted to be like that. I can't talk well, like Fayne,
But I read a great deal.' He stared at her face and began to knot
the bridle, his hands relaxing,
And said, 'I must ride around by the oak-scrub and see that the
fire has checked. I've got to be watchful always.
Will you stay here?' He went and returned and said, 'Come
down to our place whenever you are lonely, Mary.
My mother's quite well again. His death was ... do people talk
much about it?' She looked in wonder at his face,
And he with numbed lips: 'What lies do they . . . can't you
speak out?' 'I never
Talked about it with anyone, since Nina Dolman
Told us that day. Truly there's nothing to be said by anyone
Except, he was bright with life and suddenly nothing, nothing,
Lance breathed and said sharply, 'I wouldn't bet on it
If I were you. Mary, you are tender and merciful:
Don't come to the house; Fayne is like iron. You'd better
Run home and forget about us. Unless you should hear something
I ought to know.' 'What do you mean?' 'Good-bye.'
She saw his bridle-hand lift, she said 'I've no pride,
I pray you not to leave me yet, Lance.
I loved him greatly, and now that bond hangs cut,
Bleeding on the empty world, it reaches after
You that were near him, Fayne and you. I was always
Without companions, and now I'd give anything
To be in your friendship a little.' 'Anything?' he said.
'You faithful women.
Fayne was five days. Mmhm, I have seen a vision.
My eyes are opened I believe.'
He rode across the burnt hill,
Watching the wind swirl up the ashes and flatten
The spits of smoke. Past the singed oak-scrub he began to wonder,
If there was honey in the little tree, had . . . the dead
Tasted it before he died? 'You'd better be off to Idaho.
... I shy from his name like a scared horse.
By God, I'd better get used to it; I've got to live with it.'
He looked sharply all about the burnt solitude
To be sure of no hearers, and recited aloud:
'I killed Michael. My name is Lance Fraser.
I murdered my brother Michael. I was plastered,
But I caught 'em at it. I killed my brother Michael.
I'm not afraid to sleep in his room or even
Take over his girl if I choose. I am a dog,
But so are all.'
The tall man riding the little bay horse
Along the burnt ridge, talking loudly to nothing but the ash-
drifting wind; a shadow passed his right shoulder;
He turned on it with slitted eyes, and saw through the strained
lashes against the gray wind a ghastly old woman
Pursuing him, bent double with age and fury, her brown cloak
wild on the wind, but when she turned up the wind
It was only a redtail hawk that hunted
On the burnt borders, making her profit in the trouble of field-
mice. Lance groaned in his throat 'Go up you devil.
Ask your high places whether they can save you next time.'
Leo Ramirez rode down on business
About redwood for fence-posts; he asked in vain
For Lance, and had to deal with old Eraser. When he went out
He saw red hair around the corner of the house
And found Fayne in the garden, and asked for Lance.
'I couldn't tell you. I saw him ride to the south.
He'll be home soon for supper.' Ramirez stood
In troubled silence, looking at the earth, and said
'I wonder ought I to tell him . . .' Payne's body quivered
Ever so slightly, her face grew carefully blank.
'What, Leo?' 'Will Howard, for instance. Mouths that can't
Shut up for the love of God.' 'He drives the coast-stage,'
Fayne answered carefully. Ramirez looked over the creek
At the branded flanks of the south hill, and no rain had come
To streak them with gray relentings. 'He didn't see it,'
He said; 'and those two janes on vacation
Went back to town the next day.' He giggled, remembering
The sailing-ship stippled on the white skin,
And fixed his mind smooth again. Fayne said, 'How dares he
Lie about us?' Ramirez's brown soft eyes
Regarded her with mournful wonder and slid away.
He said, 'You was very quick-thinking.' 'What?' she said, 'You
And when I cried to him to be careful you looked
And saw him larking on the rock, and you saw him fall,
You could see very plainly in the awful moonlight.
These are things, Leo, that you could swear to.' He nodded,
And slid his red tongue along his dry lips and answered,
'Yes'm.' 'So Howard's a liar,' she said. 'But don't tell Lance;
He'd break him in two. We'll all do very well,
All wicked stories will die, long long before
Our ache of loss.' 'Yes'm.' She walked beside him
To his tethered horse, and charmed him with an impulsive hand-
After he was in the saddle.
She stood with her face high, the
great sponge of red hair
Lying like a helmet-plume on her shoulders, and thought she was
sure of conquering security but she was tired;
She was not afraid of the enemy world, but Michael would never
be here laughing again. On the hill,
In the hill he lay; it was stranger than that, and sharper. And his
Ought to be hated a little in the much love. The smells in the
wind were of ocean, the reedy creek-mouth,
Cows, and wood-smoke, and chile-con-carne on the kitchen stove;
it was harder to analyze thoughts in the mind.
She looked at the dear house and its gables
Darkening so low against the hill and wide sky and the evening
color commencing; it was Lance's nest
Where he was born, and h
ONE eve it happened when I sate alone,
Alone upon the terrace of my tower,
A book upon my knees, to counterfeit
The reading that I never read at all,
While Marian, in the garden down below,
Knelt by the fountain (I could just hear thrill
The drowsy silence of the exhausted day)
And peeled a new fig from that purple heap
In the grass beside her,–turning out the red
To feed her eager child, who sucked at it
With vehement lips across a gap of air
As he stood opposite, face and curls a-flame
With that last sun-ray, crying, 'give me, give,'
And stamping with imperious baby-feet,
(We're all born princes)–something startled me,–
The laugh of sad and innocent souls, that breaks
Abruptly, as if frightened at itself;
'Twas Marian laughed. I saw her glance above
In sudden shame that I should hear her laugh,
And straightway dropped my eyes upon my book,
And knew, the first time, 'twas Boccaccio's tales,
The Falcon's,–of the lover who for love
Destroyed the best that loved him. Some of us
Do it still, and then we sit and laugh no more.
Laugh you, sweet Marian! you've the right to laugh,
Since God himself is for you, and a child!
For me there's somewhat less,–and so, I sigh.
The heavens were making room to hold the night,
The sevenfold heavens unfolding all their gates
To let the stars out slowly (prophesied
In close-approaching advent, not discerned),
While still the cue-owls from the cypresses
Of the Poggio called and counted every pulse
Of the skyey palpitation. Gradually
The purple and transparent shadows slow
Had filled up the whole valley to the brim,
And flooded all the city, which you saw
As some drowned city in some enchanted sea,
Cut off from nature,–drawing you who gaze,
With passionate desire, to leap and plunge,
And find a sea-king with a voice of waves,
And treacherous soft eyes, and slippery locks
You cannot kiss but you shall bring away
Their salt upon your lips. The duomo-bell
Strikes ten, as if it struck ten fathoms down,
So deep; and fifty churches answer it
The same, with fifty various instances.
Some gaslights tremble along squares and streets
The Pitti's palace-front is drawn in fire:
And, past the quays, Maria Novella's Place,
In which the mystic obelisks stand up
Triangular, pyramidal, each based
On a single trine of brazen tortoises,
To guard that fair church, Buonarroti's Bride,
That stares out from her large blind dial-eyes,
Her quadrant and armillary dials, black
With rhythms of many suns and moons, in vain
Enquiry for so rich a soul as his,–
Methinks I have plunged, I see it all so clear . . .
And, oh my heart . . .the sea-king!
In my ears
The sound of waters. There he stood, my king!
I felt him, rather than beheld him. Up
I rose, as if he were my king indeed,
And then sate down, in trouble at myself,
And struggling for my woman's empery.
'Tis pitiful; but women are so made:
We'll die for you, perhaps,–'tis probable:
But we'll not spare you an inch of our full height:
We'll have our whole just stature,–five feet four,
Though laid out in our coffins: pitiful!
–'You, Romney!––Lady Waldemar is here?'
He answered in a voice which was not his,
'I have her letter; you shall read it soon:
But first, I must be heard a little, I,
Who have waited long and travelled far for that,
Although you thought to have shut a tedious book
And farewell. Ah, you dog-eared such a page,
And here you find me.'
Did he touch my hand,
Or but my sleeve? I trembled, hand and foot,–
He must have touched me.–'Will you sit?' I asked,
And motioned to a chair; but down he sate,
A little slowly, as a man in doubt,
Upon the couch beside me,–couch and chair
Being wheeled upon the terrace.
'You are come,
My cousin Romney?–this is wonderful.
But all is wonder on such summer-nights;
And nothing should surprise us any more,
Who see that miracle of stars. Behold.'
I signed above, where all the stars were out,
As if an urgent heat had started there
A secret writing from a sombre page,
A blank last moment, crowded suddenly
With hurrying splendours.
'Then you do not know–
'Yes, I know,' I said, 'I know.
I had the news from Vincent Carrington.
And yet I did not think you'd leave the work
In England, for so much even,–though, of course,
You'll make a work-day of your holiday,
And turn it to our Tuscan people's use,–
Who much need helping since the Austrian boar
(So bold to cross the Alp by Lombardy
And dash his brute front unabashed against
The steep snow-bosses of that shield of God,
Who soon shall rise in wrath and shake it clear
Came hither also,–raking up our vines
And olive-gardens with his tyrannous tusks,
And rolling on our maize with all his swine.'
'You had the news from Vincent Carrington,'
He echoed,–picking up the phrase beyond,
As if he knew the rest was merely talk
To fill a gap and keep out a strong wind,–
'You had, then, Vincent's personal news?'
I answered, 'All that ruined world of yours
Seems crumbling into marriage. Carrington
Has chosen wisely.'
'Do you take it so?'
He cried, 'and is it possible at last' . .
He paused there,–and then, inward to himself,
'Too much at last, too late!–yet certainly' . .
(And there his voice swayed as an Alpine plank
That feels a passionate torrent underneath)
'The knowledge, if I had known it, first or last,
Had never changed the actual case for me.
And best, for her, at this time.'
Nay, I thought,
He loves Kate Ward, it seems, now, like a man,
Because he has married Lady Waldemar.
Ah, Vincent's letter said how Leigh was moved
To hear that Vincent was betrothed to Kate.
With what cracked pitchers go we to deep wells
In this world! Then I spoke,–'I did not think,
My cousin, you had ever known Kate Ward.'
'In fact I never knew her. 'Tis enough
That Vincent did, before he chose his wife
For other reasons than those topaz eyes
I've heard of. Not to undervalue them,
For all that. One takes up the world with eyes.'
–Including Romney Leigh, I thought again,
Albeit he knows them only by repute.
How vile must all men be, since he's a man.
His deep pathetic voice, as if he guessed
I did not surely love him, took the word;
'You never got a letter from Lord Howe
A month back, dear Aurora?'
'None,' I said.
'I felt it was so,' he replied: 'Yet, strange!
Sir Blaise Delorme has passed through Florence?'
By chance I saw him in Our Lady's church,
(I saw him, mark you, but he saw not me)
Clean-washed in holy-water from the count
Of things terrestrial,–letters and the rest;
He had crossed us out together with his sins.
Ay, strange; but only strange that good Lord Howe
Preferred him to the post because of pauls.
For me I'm sworn never to trust a man–
At least with letters.'
'There were facts to tell,–
To smooth with eye and accent. Howe supposed . .
Well, well, no matter! there was dubious need;
You heard the news from Vincent Carrington.
And yet perhaps you had been startled less
To see me, dear Aurora, if you had read
–Now he sets me down as vexed.
I think I've draped myself in woman's pride
To a perfect purpose. Oh, I'm vexed, it seems!
My friend Lord Howe deputes his friend Sir Blaise
To break as softly as a sparrow's egg
That lets a bird out tenderly, the news
Of Romney's marriage to a certain saint;
To smooth with eye and accent,–indicate
His possible presence. Excellently well
You've played your part, my Lady Waldemar,–
As I've played mine.
'Dear Romney,' I began,
'You did not use, of old, to be so like
A Greek king coming from a taken Troy,
'Twas needful that precursors spread your path
With three-piled carpets, to receive your foot
And dull the sound of't. For myself, be sure
Although it frankly ground the gravel here
I still could bear it. Yet I'm sorry, too,
To lose this famous letter, which Sir Blaise
Has twisted to a lighter absently
To fire some holy taper with: Lord Howe
Writes letters good for all things but to lose;
And many a flower of London gossipry
Has dropt wherever such a stem broke off,–
Of course I know that, lonely among my vines,
Where nothing's talked of, save the blight again,
And no more Chianti! Still the letter's use
As preparation . . . . . Did I start indeed?
Last night I started at a cochchafer,
And shook a half-hour after. Have you learnt
No more of women, 'spite of privilege,
Than still to take account too seriously
Of such weak flutterings? Why, we like it, sir,–
We get our powers and our effects that way.
The trees stand stiff and still at time of frost,
If no wind tears them; but, let summer come,
When trees are happy,–and a breath avails
To set them trembling through a million leaves
In luxury of emotion. Something less
It takes to move a woman: let her start
And shake at pleasure,–nor conclude at yours,
The winter's bitter,–but the summer's green.'
He answered, 'Be the summer ever green
With you, Aurora!–though you sweep your sex
With somewhat bitter gusts from where you live
Above them,–whirling downward from your heights
Your very own pine-cones, in a grand disdain
Of the lowland burrs with which you scatter them.
So high and cold to others and yourself,
A little less to Romney, were unjust,
And thus, I would not have you. Let it pass:
I feel content, so. You can bear indeed
My sudden step beside you: but for me,
'Twould move me sore to hear your softened voice,–
Aurora's voice,–if softened unaware
In pity of what I am.'
Ah friend, I thought,
As husband of the Lady Waldemar
You're granted very sorely pitiable!
And yet Aurora Leigh must guard her voice
From softening in the pity of your case,
As if from lie or licence. Certainly
We'll soak up all the slush and soil of life
With softened voices, ere we come to you.
At which I interrupted my own thought
And spoke out calmly. 'Let us ponder, friend,
Whate'er our state, we must have made it first;
And though the thing displease us, ay, perhaps
Displease us warrantably, never doubt
That other states, thought possible once, and then
Rejected by the instinct of our lives,–
If then adopted, had displeased us more
Than this, in which the choice, the will, the love,
Has stamped the honour of a patent act
From henceforth. What we choose, may not be good;
But, that we choose it, proves it good for us
Potentially, fantastically, now
Or last year, rather than a thing we saw,
And saw no need for choosing. Moths will burn
Their wings,–which proves that light is good for moths,
Or else they had flown not, where they agonise.'
'Ay, light is good,' he echoed, and there paused.
And then abruptly, . . 'Marian. Marian's well?'
I bowed my head but found no word. 'Twas hard
To speak of her to Lady Waldemar's
New husband. How much did he know, at last?
How much? how little?––He would take no sign,
But straight repeated,–'Marian. Is she well?'
'She's well,' I answered.
She was there in sight
An hour back, but the night had drawn her home;
Where still I heard her in an upper room,
Her low voice singing to the child in bed,
Who restless with the summer-heat and play
And slumber snatched at noon, was long sometimes
At falling off, and took a score of songs
And mother-hushes, ere she saw him sound.
'She's well,' I answered.
'Here?' he asked.
He stopped and sighed. 'That shall be presently,
But now this must be. I have words to say,
And would be alone to say them, I with you,
And no third troubling.'
'Speak then,' I returned,
'She will not vex you.'
At which, suddenly
He turned his face upon me with its smile,
As if to crush me. 'I have read your book,
'You have read it,' I replied,
'And I have writ it,–we have done with it.
And now the rest?'
'The rest is like the first,'
He answered,–'for the book is in my heart,
Lives in me, wakes in me, and dreams in me:
My daily bread tastes of it,–and my wine
Which has no smack of it, I pour it out;
It seems unnatural drinking.'
I took the word up; 'Never waste your wine.
The book lived in me ere it lived in you;
I know it closer than another does,
And that it's foolish, feeble, and afraid,
And all unworthy so much compliment.
Beseech you, keep your wine,–and, when you drink,
Still wish some happier fortune to your friend,
Than even to have written a far better book.'
He answered gently, 'That is consequent:
The poet looks beyond the book he has made,
Or else he had not made it. If a man
Could make a man, he'd henceforth be a god
In feeling what a little thing is man:
It is not my case. And this special book,
I did not make it, to make light of it:
It stands above my knowledge, draws me up;
'Tis high to me. It may be that the book
Is not so high, but I so low, instead;
Still high to me. I mean no compliment:
I will not say there are not, young or old,
Male writers, ay, or female,–let it pass,
Who'll write us richer and completer books.
A man may love a woman perfectly,
And yet by no means ignorantly maintain
A thousand women have not larger eyes:
Enough that she alone has looked at him
With eyes that, large or small, have won his soul.
And so, this book, Aurora,–so, your book.'
'Alas,' I answered, 'is it so, indeed?'
And then was silent.
'Is it so, indeed,'
He echoed, 'that alas is all your word?'
I said,–'I'm thinking of a far-off June,
When you and I, upon my birthday once,
Discoursed of life and art, with both untried.
I'm thinking, Romney, how 'twas morning then,
And now 'tis night.'
'And now,' he said, tis night.'
'I'm thinking,' I resumed, tis somewhat sad
That if I had known, that morning in the dew,
My cousin Romney would have said such words
On such a night, at close of many years,
In speaking of a future book of mine,
It would have pleased me better as a hope,
Than as an actual grace it can at all.
That's sad, I'm thinking.'
'Ay,' he said, tis night.'
'And there,' I added lightly, 'are the stars!
And here, we'll talk of stars, and not of books.'
'You have the stars,' he murmured,–'it is well.
Be like them! shine, Aurora, on my dark,
Though high and cold and only like star,
And for this short night only,–you, who keep
The same Aurora of the bright June-day
That withered up the flowers before my face,
And turned my from the garden evermore
Because I was not worthy. Oh, deserved,
Deserved! That I, who verily had not learnt
God's lesson half, attaining as a dunce
To obliterate good words with fractious thumbs
And cheat myself of the context,–I should push
Aside, with male ferocious impudence,
The world's Aurora who had conned her part
On the other side the leaf! ignore her so,
Because she was a woman and a queen,
And had no beard to bristle through her song,–
My teacher, who has taught me with a book,
My Miriam, whose sweet mouth, when nearly drowned
I still heard singing on the shore! Deserved,
That here I should look up unto the stars
And miss the glory' . .
'Can I understand?'
I broke in. 'You speak wildly, Romney Leigh,
Or I hear wildly. In that morning-time
We recollect, the roses were too red,
The trees too green, reproach too natural
If one should see not what the other saw:
And now, it's night, remember; we have shades
In place of colours; we are now grown cold,
And old, my cousin Romney. Pardon me,–
I'm very happy that you like my book,
And very sorry that I quoted back
A ten years' birthday; 'twas so mad a thing
In any woman, I scarce marvel much
You took it for a venturous piece of spite,
Provoking such excuses, as indeed
I cannot call you slack in.'
He answered sadly, 'something, if but so.
This night is softer than an English day,
And men may well come hither when they're sick,
To draw in easier breath from larger air.
'Tis thus with me; I've come to you,–to you,
My Italy of women, just to breathe
My soul out once before you, ere I go,
As humble as God makes me at the last,
(I thank Him) quite out of the way of men,
And yours, Aurora,–like a punished child,
His cheeks all blurred with tears and naughtiness,
To silence in a corner. I am come
To speak, beloved' . .
'Wisely, cousin Leigh,
And worthily of us both!'
For this time I must speak out and confess
That I, so truculent in assumption once,
So absolute in dogma, proud in aim,
And fierce in expectation,–I, who felt
The whole world tugging at my skirts for help,
As if no other man than I, could pull,
Nor woman, but I led her by the hand,
Nor cloth hold, but I had it in my coat,–
Do know myself to-night for what I was
On that June-day, Aurora. Poor bright day,
Which meant the best . . a woman and a rose, . .
And which I smote upon the cheek with words,
Until it turned and rent me! Young you were,
That birthday, poet, but you talked the right:
While I, . . I built up follies like a wall
To intercept the sunshine and your face.
Your face! that's worse.'
'Speak wisely, cousin Leigh.'
'Yes, wisely, dear Aurora, though too late:
But then, not wisely. I was heavy then,
And stupid, and distracted with the cries
Of tortured prisoners in the polished brass
Of that Phalarian bull, society,–
Which seems to bellow bravely like ten bulls,
But, if you listen, moans and cries instead
Despairingly, like victims tossed and gored
And trampled by their hoofs. I heard the cries
Too close: I could not hear the angels lift
A fold of rustling air, nor what they said
To help my pity. I beheld the world
As one great famishing carnivorous mouth,–
A huge, deserted, callow, black, bird Thing,
With piteous open beak that hurt my heart,
Till down upon the filthy ground I dropped,
And tore the violets up to get the worms.
Worms, worms, was all my cry: an open mouth,
A gross want, bread to fill it to the lips,
No more! That poor men narrowed their demands
To such an end, was virtue, I supposed,
Adjudicating that to see it so
Was reason. Oh, I did not push the case
Up higher, and ponder how it answers, when
The rich take up the same cry for themselves,
Professing equally,–'an open mouth
A gross want, food to fill us, and no more!'
Why that's so far from virtue, only vice
Finds reason for it! That makes libertines:
That slurs our cruel streets from end to end
With eighty thousand women in one smile,
Who only smile at night beneath the gas:
The body's satisfaction and no more,
Being used for argument against the soul's,
Her too! the want, here too, implying the right.
–How dark I stood that morning in the sun,
My best Aurora, though I saw your eyes,–
When first you told me . . oh, I recollect
The words . . and how you lifted your white hand,
And how your white dress and your burnished curls
Went greatening round you in the still blue air,
As if an inspiration from within
Had blown them all out when you spoke the same,
Even these,–'You will not compass your poor ends
'Of barley-feeding and material ease,
'Without the poet's individualism
'To work your universal. It takes a soul,
'To move a body,–it takes a high-souled man,
'To move the masses . . even to a cleaner stye:
'It takes the ideal, to blow an inch inside
'The dust of the actual: and your Fouriers failed
'Because not poets enough to understand
'That life develops from within.' I say
Your words,–I could say other words of yours
For none of all your words has been more lost
Than sweet verbena, which, being brushed against,
Will hold you three hours after by the smell,
In spite of long walks on the windy hills.
But these words dealt in sharper perfume,–these
Were ever on me, stinging through my dreams,
And saying themselves for ever o'er my acts
Like some unhappy verdict. That I failed,
Is certain. Stye or no stye, to contrive
The swine's propulsion toward the precipice,
Proved easy and plain. I subtly organised
And ordered, built the cards up higher and higher,
Till, some one breathing, all fell flat again!
In setting right society's wide wrong,
Mere life's so fatal! So I failed indeed
Once, twice, and oftener,–hearing through the rents
Of obstinate purpose, still those words of yours,
'You will not compass your poor ends, not you! '
But harder than you said them; every time
Still farther from your voice, until they came
To overcrow me with triumphant scorn
Which vexed me to resistance. Set down this
For condemnation,–I was guilty here:
I stood upon my deed and fought my doubt,
As men will,–for I doubted,–till at last
My deed gave way beneath me suddenly,
And left me what I am. The curtain dropped,
My part quite ended, all the footlights quenched.
My own soul hissing at me through the dark,
I, ready for confession,–I was wrong,
I've sorely failed; I've slipped the ends of life,
I yield; you have conquered.'
'Stay,' I answered him;
'I've something for your hearing, also. I
Have failed too.'
'You!' he said, 'you're very great:
The sadness of your greatness fits you well:
As if the plume upon a hero's casque
Should nod a shadow upon his victor face.'
I took him up austerely,–'You have read
My book but not my heart; for recollect,
'Tis writ in Sanscrit, which you bungle at.
I've surely failed, I know; if failure means
To look back sadly on work gladly done,–
To wander on my mountains of Delight,
So called, (I can remember a friend's words
As well as you, sir,) weary and in want
Of even a sheep-path, thinking bitterly . .
Well, well! no matter. I but say so much,
To keep you, Romney Leigh, from saying more,
And let you feel I am not so high indeed,
That I can bear to have you at my foot,–
Or safe, that I can help you. That June-day,
Too deeply sunk in craterous sunsets now
For you or me to dig it up alive;
To pluck it out all bleeding with spent flame
At the roots, before those moralising stars
We have got instead,–that poor lost day, you said
Some words as truthful as the thing of mine
You care to keep in memory: and I hold
If I, that day, and, being the girl I was,
Had shown a gentler spirit, less arrogance,
It had not hurt me. Ah, you'll not mistake
The point here. I but only think, you see,
More justly, that's more humbly, of myself,
Than when I tried a crown on and supposed . . .
Nay, laugh, sir,–I'll laugh with you!–pray you, laugh.
I've had so many birthdays since that day,
I've learnt to prize mirth's opportunities,
Which come too seldom. Was it you who said
I was not changed? the same Aurora? Ah,
We could laugh there, too! Why, Ulysses' dog
Knew him, and wagged his tail and died: but if
I had owned a dog, I too, before my Troy,
And if you brought him here, . . I warrant you
He'd look into my face, bark lustily,
And live on stoutly, as the creatures will
Whose spirits are not troubled by long loves.
A dog would never know me, I'm so changed;
Much less a friend . . except that you're misled
By the colour of the hair, the trick of the voice,
Like that of Aurora Leigh's.'
'Sweet trick of voice
I would be a dog for this, to know it at last,
And die upon the falls of it. O love,
O best Aurora! are you then so sad,
You scarcely had been sadder as my wife?'
'Your wife, sir! I must certainly be changed,
If I, Aurora, can have said a thing
So light, it catches at the knightly spurs
Of a noble gentleman like Romney Leigh,
And trips him from his honourable sense
Of what befits' . .
'You wholly misconceive,'
I returned,–'I'm glad of it:
But keep from misconception, too, yourself:
I am not humbled to so low a point,
Nor so far saddened. If I am sad at all,
Ten layers of birthdays on a woman's head,
Are apt to fossilise her girlish mirth,
Though ne'er so merry: I'm perforce more wise,
And that, in truth, means sadder. For the rest,
Look here, sir: I was right upon the whole,
That birthday morning. 'Tis impossible
To get at men excepting through their souls,
However open their carnivorous jaws;
And poets get directlier at the soul,
Than any of you oeconomists:–for which,
You must not overlook the poet's work
When scheming for the world's necessities.
The soul's the way. Not even Christ himself
Can save man else than as He hold man's soul;
And therefore did He come into our flesh,
As some wise hunter creeping on his knees
With a torch, into the blackness of some cave,
To face and quell the beast there,–take the soul,
And so possess the whole man, body and soul.
I said, so far, right, yes; not farther, though:
We both were wrong that June-day,–both as wrong
As an east wind had been. I who talked of art,
And you who grieved for all men's griefs . . . what then?
We surely made too small a part for God
In these things. What we are, imports us more
Than what we eat; and life you've granted me,
Develops from within. But innermost
Of the inmost, most interior of the interne,
God claims his own, Divine humanity
Renewing nature,–or the piercingest verse,
Prest in by subtlest poet, still must keep
As much upon the outside of a man,
As the very bowl, in which he dips his beard.
–And then, . . the rest. I cannot surely speak.
Perhaps I doubt more than you doubted then,
If I, the poet's veritable charge,
Have borne upon my forehead. If I have,
It might feel somewhat liker to a crown,
The foolish green one even.–Ah, I think,
And chiefly when the sun shines, that I've failed.
But what then, Romney? Though we fail indeed,
You . . I . . a score of such weak workers, . . He
Fails never. If He cannot work by us,
He will work over us. Does he want a man,
Much less a woman, think you? Every time
The star winks there, so many souls are born,
Who shall work too. Let our own be calm:
We should be ashamed to sit beneath those stars,
Impatient that we're nothing.'
'Could we sit
Just so for ever, sweetest friend,' he said,
'My failure would seem better than success.
And yet, indeed, your book has dealt with me
More gently, cousin, than you ever will!
The book brought down entire the bright June-day,
And set me wandering in the garden-walks,
And let me watch the garland in a place,
You blushed so . . nay, forgive me; do not stir:
I only thank the book for what it taught,
And what, permitted. Poet, doubt yourself;
But never doubt that you're a poet to me
From henceforth. Ah, you've written poems, sweet,
Which moved me in secret as the sap is moved
In still March branches, signless as a stone:
But this last book o'ercame me like soft rain
Which falls at midnight, when the tightened bark
Breaks out into unhesitating buds,
And sudden protestations of the spring.
In all your other books I saw but you:
A man may see the moon so, in a pond,
And not the nearer therefore to the moon,
Nor use the sight . . except to drown himself
And so I forced my heart back from the sigh
For what had I, I thought, to do with her,–
Aurora . . Romney? But, in this last book,
You showed me something separate from yourself,
Beyond you; and I bore to take it in,
And let it draw me. You have shown me truths,
O June-day friend, that help me now at night,
When June is over! truths not yours, indeed,
But set within my reach by means of you:
Presented by your voice and verse the way
To take them clearest. Verily I was wrong;
And verily, many thinkers of this age,
Ay, many Christian teachers, half in heaven,
Are wrong in just my sense, who understood
Our natural world too insularly, as if
No spiritual counterpart completed it
Consummating its meaning, rounding all
To justice and perfection, line by line,
Form by form, nothing single, nor alone,–
The great below clenched by the great above;
Shade here authenticating substance there;
The body proving spirit, as the effect
The cause: we, meantime, being too grossly apt
To hold the natural, as dogs a bone,
(Though reason and nature beat us in the face),
So obstinately, that we'll break our teeth
Or ever we let go. For everywhere
We're too materialistic,–eating clay,
(Like men of the west) instead of Adam's corn
And Noah's wine; clay by handfuls, clay by lumps,
Until we're filled up to the throat with clay,
And grow the grimy colour of the ground
On which we are feeding. Ay, materialist
The age's name is. God himself, with some,
Is apprehended as the bare result
Of what his hand materially has made,
Expressed in such an algebraic sign,
Called God;–that is, to put it otherwise,
They add up nature to a naught of God
And cross the quotient. There are many, even,
Whose names are written in the Christian church
To no dishonour,–diet still on mud,
And splash the altars with it. You might think
The clay, Christ laid upon their eyelids when,
Still blind, he called them to the use of sight,
Remained there to retard its exercise
With clogging incrustations. Close to heaven,
They see, for mysteries, through the open doors,
Vague puffs of smoke from pots of earthenware;
And fain would enter, when their time shall come,
With quite a different body than St. Paul
Has promised,–husk and chaff, the whole barley-corn,
Or where's the resurrection?'
'Thus it is,'
I sighed. And he resumed with mournful face.
'Beginning so, and filling up with clay
The wards of this great key, the natural world,
And fumbling vainly therefore at the lock
Of the spiritual,–we feel ourselves shut in
With all the wild-beast roar of struggling life,
The terrors and compunctions of our souls,
As saints with lions,–we who are not saints,
And have no heavenly lordship in our stare
To awe them backward! Ay, we are forced so pent
To judge the whole too partially, . . confound
Conclusions. Is there any common phrase
Significant, when the adverb's heard alone,
The verb being absent, and the pronoun out?
But we distracted in the roar of life,
Still insolently at God's adverb snatch,
And bruit against Him that his thought is void,
His meaning hopeless;–cry, that everywhere
The government is slipping from his hand,
Unless some other Christ . . say Romney Leigh . .
Come up, and toil and moil, and change the world,
For which the First has proved inadequate,
However we talk bigly of His work
And piously of His person. We blaspheme
At last, to finish that doxology,
Despairing on the earth for which He died.'
'So now,' I asked, 'you have more hope of men?'
'I hope,' he answered: 'I am come to think
That God will have his work done, as you said,
And that we need not be disturbed too much
For Romney Leigh or others having failed
With this or that quack nostrum,–recipes
For keeping summits by annulling depths,
For learning wrestling with long lounging sleeves,
And perfect heroism without a scratch.
We fail,–what then? Aurora, if I smiled
To see you, in your lovely morning-pride,
Try on the poet's wreath which suits the noon,–
(Sweet cousin, walls must get the weather-stain
Before they grow the ivy!) certainly
I stood myself there worthier of contempt,
Self-rated, in disastrous arrogance,
As competent to sorrow for mankind
And even their odds. A man may well despair,
Who counts himself so needful to success.
I failed. I throw the remedy back on God,
And sit down here beside you, in good hope.'
'And yet, take heed,' I answered, 'lest we lean
Too dangerously on the other side,
And so fail twice. Be sure, no earnest work
Of any honest creature, howbeit weak,
Imperfect, ill-adapted, fails so much,
It is not gathered as a grain of sand
To enlarge the sum of human action used
For carrying out God's end. No creature works
So ill, observe, that therefore he's cashiered.
The honest earnest man must stand and work:
The woman also; otherwise she drops
At once below the dignity of man,
Accepting serfdom. Free men freely work:
Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease.'
He cried, 'True. After Adam, work was curse;
The natural creature labours, sweats and frets.
But, after Christ, work turns to privilege;
And henceforth one with our humanity,
The Six-day Worker, working still in us,
Has called us freely to work on with Him
In high companionship. So happiest!
I count that Heaven itself is only work
To a surer issue. Let us work, indeed,–
But, no more, work as Adam . . nor as Leigh
Erewhile, as if the only man on earth,
Responsible for all the thistles blown
And tigers couchant,–struggling in amaze
Against disease and winter,–snarling on
For ever, that the world's not paradise.
Oh cousin, let us be content, in work,
To do the thing we can, and not presume
To fret because it's little. 'Twill employ
Seven men, they say, to make a perfect pin!
Who makes the head, content to miss the point,–
Who makes the point, agreed to leave the join:
And if a man should cry, 'I want a pin,
'And I must make it straightway, head and point,'–
His wisdom is not worth the pin he wants.
Seven men to a pin,–and not a man too much!
Seven generations, haply, to this world,
To right it visibly, a finger's breadth,
And mend its rents a little. Oh, to storm
And say,–'This world here is intolerable;
'I will not eat this corn, nor drink this wine,
'Nor love this woman, flinging her my soul
'Without a bond for't, as a lover should,
'Nor use the generous leave of happiness
'As not too good for using generously'–
(Since virtue kindles at the touch of joy,
Like a man's cheek laid on a woman's hand;
And God, who knows it, looks for quick returns
From joys)!–to stand and claim to have a life
Beyond the bounds of the individual man,
And raise all personal cloisters of the soul
To build up public stores and magazines,
As if God's creatures otherwise were lost,
The builder surely saved by any means!
To think,–I have a pattern on my nail,
And I will carve the world new after it,
And solve so, these hard social questions,–nay,
Impossible social questions,–since their roots
Strike deep in Evil's own existence here,
Which God permits because the question's hard
To abolish evil nor attaint free-will.
Ay, hard to God, but not to Romney Leigh!
For Romney has a pattern on his nail,
(Whatever may be lacking on the Mount)
And not being overnice to separate
What's element from what's convention, hastes
By line on line, to draw you out a world,
Without your help indeed, unless you take
His yoke upon you and will learn of him,–
So much he has to teach! so good a world!
The same, the whole creation's groaning for!
No rich nor poor, no gain nor loss nor stint,
No potage in it able to exclude
A brother's birthright, and no right of birth,
The potage,–both secured to every man;
And perfect virtue dealt out like the rest,
Gratuitously, with the soup at six,
To whoso does not seek it.'
I interrupted,–'I had a cousin once
I held in reverence. If he strained too wide,
It was not to take honour, but give help;
The gesture was heroic. If his hand
Accomplished nothing . . (well, it is not proved)
That empty hand thrown impotently out
Were sooner caught, I think, by One in heaven,
Than many a hand that reaped a harvest in
And keeps the scythe's glow on it. Pray you, then,
For my sake merely, use less bitterness
In speaking of my cousin.'
'Ah,' he said,
'Aurora! when the prophet beats the ass,
The angel intercedes.' He shook his head–
'And yet to mean so well, and fail so foul,
Expresses ne'er another beast than man;
The antithesis is human. Harken, dear;
There's too much abstract willing, purposing,
In this poor world. We talk by aggregates,
And think by systems; and, being used to face
Our evils in statistics, are inclined
To cap them with unreal remedies
Drawn out in haste on the other side the slate.'
'That's true,' I answered, fain to throw up thought
And make a game of't; 'Oh, we generalise
Enough to please you. If we pray at all,
We pray no longer for our daily bread,
But next centenary's harvests. If we give,
Our cup of water is not tendered till
We lay down pipes and found a Company
With Branches. Ass or angel, 'tis the same:
A woman cannot do the thing she ought,
Which means whatever perfect thing she can,
In life, in art, in science, but she fears
To let the perfect action take her part
And rest there: she must prove what she can do
Before she does it,–prate of woman's rights,
Of woman's mission, woman's function, till
The men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry,
'A woman's function plainly is . . to talk.
Poor souls, they are very reasonably vexed!
They cannot hear each other speak.'
An artist, judge so?'
'I, an artist,–yes,
Because, precisely, I'm an artist, sir,
And woman,–if another sate in sight,
I'd whisper,–soft, my sister! not a word!
By speaking we prove only we can speak:
Which he, the man here, never doubted. What
He doubts, is whether we can do the thing
With decent grace, we've not yet done at all:
Now, do it; bring your statue,–you have room!
He'll see it even by the starlight here;
And if 'tis e'er so little like the god
Who looks out from the marble silently
Along the track of his own shining dart
Through the dusk of ages,–there's no need to speak;
The universe shall henceforth speak for you,
And witness, 'She who did this thing, was born
To do it,–claims her license in her work.'
–And so with more works. Whoso cures the plague,
Though twice a woman, shall be called a leech:
Who rights a land's finances, is excused
For touching coppers, though her hands be white,–
But we, we talk!'
'It is the age's mood,'
He said; 'we boast, and do not. We put up
Hostelry signs where'er we lodge a day,–
Some red colossal cow, with mighty paps
A Cyclops' fingers could not strain to milk;
Then bring out presently our saucer-full
of curds. We want more quiet in our works,
More knowledge of the bounds in which we work;
More knowledge that each individual man
Remains an Adam to the general race,
Constrained to see, like Adam, that he keep
His personal state's condition honestly,
Or vain all thoughts of his to help the world,
Which still must be developed from its one,
If bettered in its many. We, indeed,
Who think to lay it out new like a park,
We take a work on us which is not man's;
For God alone sits far enough above,
To speculate so largely. None of us
(Not Romney Leigh) is mad enough to say,
We'll have a grove of oaks upon that slope
And sink the need of acorns. Government,
If veritable and lawful, is not given
By imposition of the foreign hand,–
Nor chosen from a pretty pattern-book
Of some domestic idealogue, who sits
And coldly chooses empire, where as well
He might republic. Genuine government
Is but the expression of a nation, good
Or less good,–even as all society,
Howe'er unequal, monstrous, crazed and cursed,
Is but the expression of men's single lives,
The loud sum of the silent units. What,
We'd change the aggregate and yet retain
Each separate figure? Whom do we cheat by that?
Now, not even Romney.'
'Cousin, you are sad.
Did all your social labour at Leigh Hall
And elsewhere, come to nought then?'
'It was nought,'
He answered mildly. 'There is room indeed,
For statues still, in this large world of God's,
But not for vacuums,–so I am not sad:
Not sadder than is good for what I am.
My vain phalanstery dissolved itself;
My men and women of disordered lives,
I brought in orderly to dine and sleep,
Broke up those waxen masks I made them wear,
With fierce contortions of the natural face;
And cursed me for my tyrannous constraint
In forcing crooked creatures to live straight;
And set the country hounds upon my back
To bite and tear me for my wicked deed
Of trying to do good without the church
Or even the squires, Aurora. Do you mind
Your ancient neighbours? The great book-club teems
With 'sketches,' 'summaries,' and 'last tracts' but twelve,
On socialistic troublers of close bonds
Betwixt the generous rich and grateful poor.
The vicar preached from 'Revelations,' (till
The doctor woke) and found me with 'the frogs'
On three successive Sundays; ay, and stopped
To weep a little (for he's getting old)
That such perdition should o'ertake a man
Of such fair acres,–in the parish, too!
He printed his discourses 'by request;'
And if your book shall sell as his did, then
Your verses are less good than I suppose.
The women of the neighbourhood subscribed,
And sent me a copy bound in scarlet silk,
Tooled edges, blazoned with the arms of Leigh:
I own that touched me.'
'What, the pretty ones?
'Otherwise the effect was small.
I had my windows broken once or twice
By liberal peasants, naturally incensed
At such a vexer of Arcadian peace,
Who would not let men call their wives their own
To kick like Britons,–and made obstacles
When things went smoothly as a baby drugged,
Toward freedom and starvation; bringing down
The wicked London tavern-thieves and drabs,
To affront the blessed hillside drabs and thieves
With mended morals, quotha,–fine new lives!–
My windows paid for't. I was shot at, once,
By an active poacher who had hit a hare
From the other barrel, tired of springeing game
So long upon my acres, undisturbed,
And restless for the country's virtue, (yet
He missed me)–ay, and pelted very oft
In riding through the village. 'There he goes,
'Who'd drive away our Christian gentlefolks,
'To catch us undefended in the trap
'He baits with poisonous cheese, and locks us up
'In that pernicious prison of Leigh Hall
'With all his murderers! Give another name,
'And say Leigh Hell, and burn it up with fire.'
And so they did at last, Aurora.'
'You never heard it, cousin? Vincent's news
Came stinted, then.'
'They did? they burnt Leigh Hall?'
'You're sorry, dear Aurora? Yes indeed,
They did it perfectly: a thorough work,
And not a failure, this time. Let us grant
'Tis somewhat easier, though, to burn a house
Than build a system:–yet that's easy, too,
In a dream. Books, pictures,–ay, the pictures what,
You think your dear Vandykes would give them pause?
Our proud ancestral Leighs with those peaked beards,
Or bosoms white as foam thrown up on rocks
From the old-spent wave. Such calm defiant looks
They flared up with! now, nevermore they'll twit
The bones in the family-vault with ugly death.
Not one was rescued, save the Lady Maud,
Who threw you down, that morning you were born,
The undeniable lineal mouth and chin,
To wear for ever for her gracious sake;
For which good deed I saved her: the rest went:
And you, your sorry, cousin. Well, for me,
With all my phalansterians safely out,
(Poor hearts, they helped the burners, it was said,
And certainly a few clapped hands and yelled)
The ruin did not hurt me as it might,–
As when for instance I was hurt one day,
A certain letter being destroyed. In fact,
To see the great house flare so . . oaken floors,
Our fathers made so fine with rushes once,
Before our mothers furbished them with trains,–
Carved wainscots, panelled walls, the favourite slide
For draining off a martyr, (or a rogue)
The echoing galleries, half a half-mile long,
And all the various stairs that took you up
And took you down, and took you round about
Upon their slippery darkness, recollect,
All helping to keep up one blazing jest;
The flames through all the casements pushing forth,
Like red-hot devils crinkled into snakes,
All signifying,–'Look you, Romney Leigh,
'We save the people from your saving, here,
'Yet so as by fire! we make a pretty show
'Besides,–and that's the best you've ever done.'–
–To see this, almost moved myself to clap!
The 'vale et plaude' came, too, with effect,
When, in the roof fell, and the fire, that paused,
Stunned momently beneath the stroke of slates
And tumbling rafters, rose at once and roared,
And wrapping the whole house, (which disappeared
In a mounting whirlwind of dilated flame,)
Blew upward, straight, its drift of fiery chaff
In the face of heaven, . . which blenched and ran up higher.'
'Sometimes when I dream,' he said,
'I hear the silence after; 'twas so still.
For all those wild beasts, yelling, cursing round,
Were suddenly silent, while you counted five!
So silent, that you heard a young bird fall
From the top-nest in the neighbouring rookery
Through edging over-rashly toward the light.
The old rooks had already fled too far,
To hear the screech they fled with, though you saw
Some flying on still, like scatterings of dead leaves
In autumn-gusts, seen dark against the sky:
All flying,–ousted, like the house of Leigh.'
'Evidently 'twould have been
A fine sight for a poet, sweet, like you,
To make the verse blaze after. I myself,
Even I, felt something in the grand old trees,
Which stood that moment like brute Druid gods,
Amazed upon the rim of ruin, where,
As into a blackened socket, the great fire
Had dropped,–still throwing up splinters now and then,
To show them grey with all their centuries,
Left there to witness that on such a day
The house went out.'
'While you counted five
I seemed to feel a little like a Leigh,–
But then it passed, Aurora. A child cried;
And I had enough to think of what to do
With all those houseless wretches in the dark,
And ponder where they'd dance the next time, they
Who had burnt the viol.'
'Did you think of that?
Who burns his viol will not dance, I know,
To cymbals, Romney.'
'O my sweet sad voice,'
He cried,–'O voice that speaks and overcomes!
The sun is silent, but Aurora speaks.'
'Alas,' I said; 'I speak I know not what:
I'm back in childhood, thinking as a child,
A foolish fancy–will it make you smile?
I shall not from the window of my room
Catch sight of those old chimneys any more.'
'No more,' he answered. 'If you pushed one day
Through all the green hills to our father's house,
You'd come upon a great charred circle where
The patient earth was singed an acre round;
With one stone-stair, symbolic of my life,
Ascending, winding, leading up to nought!
'Tis worth a poet's seeing. Will you go?'
I made no answer. Had I any right
To weep with this man, that I dared to speak!
A woman stood between his soul and mine,
And waved us off from touching evermore
With those unclean white hands of hers. Enough.
We had burnt our viols and were silent.
The silence lengthened till it pressed. I spoke,
To breathe: 'I think you were ill afterward.'
'More ill,' he answered, 'had been scarcely ill.
I hoped this feeble fumbling at life's knot
Might end concisely,–but I failed to die,
As formerly I failed to live,–and thus
Grew willing, having tried all other ways,
To try just God's. Humility's so good,
When pride's impossible. Mark us, how we make
Our virtues, cousin, from our worn-out sins,
Which smack of them from henceforth. Is it right,
For instance, to wed here, while you love there?
And yet because a man sins once, the sin
Cleaves to him, in necessity to sin;
That if he sin not so, to damn himself,
He sins so, to damn others with himself:
And thus, to wed here, loving there, becomes
A duty. Virtue buds a dubious leaf
Round mortal brows; your ivy's better, dear.
–Yet she, 'tis certain, is my very wife;
The very lamb left mangled by the wolves
Through my own bad shepherding: and could I choose
But take her on my shoulder past this stretch
Of rough, uneasy wilderness, poor lamb,
Poor child, poor child?–Aurora, my beloved,
I will not vex you any more to-night;
But, having spoken what I came to say,
The rest shall please you. What she can, in me,–
Protection, tender liking, freedom, ease,
She shall have surely, liberally, for her
And hers, Aurora. Small amends they'll make
For hideous evils (which she had not known
Except by me) and for this imminent loss,
This forfeit presence of a gracious friend,
Which also she must forfeit for my sake,
Since, . . . drop your hand in mine a moment, sweet,
We're parting!–Ah, my snowdrop, what a touch,
As if the wind had swept it off! you grudge
Your gelid sweetness on my palm but so,
A moment? angry, that I could not bear
You . . speaking, breathing, living, side by side
With some one called my wife . . and live, myself?
Nay, be not cruel–you must understand!
Your lightest footfall on a floor of mine
Would shake the house, my lintel being uncrossed
'Gainst angels: henceforth it is night with me,
And so, henceforth, I put the shutters up;
Auroras must not come to spoil my dark.'
He smiled so feebly, with an empty hand
Stretched sideway from me,–as indeed he looked
To any one but me to give him help,–
And, while the moon came suddenly out full,
The double rose of our Italian moons,
Sufficient, plainly, for the heaven and earth,
(The stars, struck dumb and washed away in dews
Of golden glory, and the mountains steeped
In divine languor) he, the man, appeared
So pale and patient, like the marble man
A sculptor puts his personal sadness in
To join his grandeur of ideal thought,–
As if his mallet struck me from my height
Of passionate indignation, I who had risen
Pale,–doubting, paused, . . . . Was Romney mad indeed?
Had all this wrong of heart made sick the brain?
Then quiet, with a sort of tremulous pride,
'Go, cousin,' I said coldly. 'A farewell
Was sooner spoken 'twixt a pair of friends
In those old days, than seems to suit you now:
And if, since then, I've writ a book or two,
I'm somewhat dull still in the manly art
Of phrase and metaphrase. Why, any man
Can carve a score of white Loves out of snow,
As Buonarroti down in Florence there,
And set them on the wall in some safe shade,
As safe, sir, as your marriage! very good;
Though if a woman took one from the ledge
To put it on the table by her flowers,
And let it mind her of a certain friend,
'Twould drop at once, (so better,) would not bear
Her nail-mark even, where she took it up
A little tenderly; so best, I say:
For me, I would not touch so light a thing,
And risk to spoil it half an hour before
The sun shall shine to melt it; leave it there.
I'm plain at speech, direct in purpose: when
I speak, you'll take the meaning as it is,
And not allow for puckerings in the silks
By clever stitches. I'm a woman, sir,
And use the woman's figures naturally,
As you, the male license. So, I wish you well.
I'm simply sorry for the griefs you've had–
And not for your sake only, but mankind's.
This race is never grateful: from the first,
One fills their cup at supper with pure wine,
Which back they give at cross-time on a sponge,
In bitter vinegar.'
He murmured,–'by so much less pitiable!
God's self would never have come down to die,
Could man have thanked him for it.'
'Tis patent that, whatever,' I resumed,
'You suffered from this thanklessness of men,
You sink no more than Moses' bulrush-boat,
When once relieved of Moses; for you're light,
You're light, my cousin! which is well for you,
And manly. For myself,–now mark me, sir,
They burnt Leigh Hall; but if, consummated
To devils, heightened beyond Lucifers,
They had burnt instead a star or two, of those
We saw above there just a moment back,
Before the moon abolished them,–destroyed
And riddled them in ashes through a sieve
On the head of the foundering universe,–what then?
If you and I remained still you and I,
It would not shift our places as mere friends,
Nor render decent you should toss a phrase
Beyond the point of actual feeling!–nay
You shall not interrupt me: as you said,
We're parting. Certainly, not once or twice,
To-night you've mocked me somewhat, or yourself,
And I, at least, have not deserved it so
That I should meet it unsurprised. But now,
Enough: we're parting . . parting. Cousin Leigh,
I wish you well through all the acts of life
And life's relation, wedlock, not the least;
And it shall 'please me,' in your words, to know
You yield your wife, protection, freedom, ease,
And very tender liking. May you live
So happy with her, Romney, that your friends
May praise her for it. Meantime, some of us
Are wholly dull in keeping ignorant
Of what she has suffered by you, and what debt
Of sorrow your rich love sits down to pay:
But if 'tis sweet for love to pay its debt,
'Tis sweeter still for love to give its gift;
and you, be liberal in the sweeter way,–
You can, I think. At least, as touches me,
You owe her, cousin Romney, no amends;
She is not used to hold my gown so fast,
You need entreat her now to let it go:
The lady never was a friend of mine,
Nor capable,–I thought you knew as much,–
Of losing for your sake so poor a prize
As such a worthless friendship. Be content,
Good cousin, therefore, both for her and you!
I'll never spoil your dark, nor dull your noon,
Nor vex you when you're merry, nor when you rest:
You shall not need to put a shutter up
To keep out this Aurora. Ah, your north
Can make Auroras which vex nobody,
Scarce known from evenings! also, let me say,
My larks fly higher than some windows. Right;
You've read your Leighs. Indeed 'twould shake a house,
If such as I came in with outstretched hand,
Still warm and thrilling from the clasp of one . .
Of one we know, . . to acknowledge, palm to palm,
As mistress there . . the Lady Waldemar.'
'Now God be with us' . . with a sudden clash
Of voice he interrupted–'what name's that?
You spoke a name, Aurora.'
I would that, Romney, I could name your wife
Nor wound you, yet be worthy.'
'Are we mad?'
He echoed–'wife! mine! Lady Waldemar!
I think you said my wife.' He sprang to his feet,
And threw his noble head back toward the moon
As one who swims against a stormy sea,
And laughed with such a helpless, hopeless scorn,
I stood and trembled.
'May God judge me so,'
He said at last,–'I came convicted here,
And humbled sorely if not enough. I came,
Because this woman from her crystal soul
Had shown me something which a man calls light:
Because too, formerly, I sinned by her
As, then and ever since, I have, by God,
Through arrogance of nature,–though I loved . .
Whom best, I need not say, . . since that is writ
Too plainly in the book of my misdeeds;
And thus I came here to abase myself,
And fasten, kneeling, on her regent brows
A garland which I startled thence one day
Of her beautiful June-youth. But here again
I'm baffled!–fail in my abasement as
My aggrandisement: there's no room left for me,
At any woman's foot, who misconceives
My nature, purpose, possible actions. What!
Are you the Aurora who made large my dreams
To frame your greatness? you conceive so small?
You stand so less than woman, through being more,
And lose your natural instinct, like a beast,
Through intellectual culture? since indeed
I do not think that any common she
Would dare adopt such fancy-forgeries
For the legible life-signature of such
As I, with all my blots: with all my blots!
At last then, peerless cousin, we are peers–
At last we're even. Ah, you've left your height:
And here upon my level we take hands,
And here I reach you to forgive you, sweet,
And that's a fall, Aurora. Long ago
You seldom understood me,–but, before,
I could not blame you. Then you only seemed
So high above, you could not see below;
But now I breathe,–but now I pardon!–nay,
We're parting. Dearest, men have burnt my house,
Maligned my motives,–but not one, I swear,
Has wronged my soul as this Aurora has,
Who called the Lady Waldemar my wife.'
'Not married to her! yet you said' . .
Nay, read the lines' (he held a letter out)
'She sent you through me.'
By the moonlight there,
I tore the meaning out with passionate haste
Much rather than I read it. Thus it ran.
I KNOW a man
With face of tan,
But who is ever kind;
Whom girls and boys
Leave games and toys
Each eventide to find.
When day grows dim,
They watch for him,
He comes to place his claim;
He wears the crown
The sand-man is his name.
When sparkling eyes
And busy lips grow dumb;
When little heads
Nod toward the beds,
We know the sand-man's come.
Crystal's in the sand
See the lonely man
sitting out there alone
stuck inside a memory
watching the storm roll on in
bringing down the rain
tears from yesterday
He hides behind his pain
wondering if it will always be the same
here in lifes little game
that we all have to play
he cries out her name
Feeling like there is no more love to give
when the woman he loved so much in time
still holds it all here in her hand
like crystal's in the sand
He thinks of only one reason
that makes him want to live
while time changes with the season
he tries to keep his head high
knowing somehow he has to try
like a hammer to a stone
every angel wants to fly
fly on home
I'll meet you again
Now he see's the setting sun
a face of such a beautiful one
shining like a rainbow in the sky
he knows her love will never die
even now that she's gone
her love keeps him moving on
Man In The Sand
Man in the sand
wearing a cloak
rags and scrap cloth
seethed as he choked
on tears of anguish
on the thick, dark smoke
coming from home
to me, wind spoke
of a terrible crime
of broken dreams
of mothers' cries
and children's screams
of families, gone
for what it seems
what hatred brings
Man in the sand
a dark cloud loomed
the sky was ablaze
and the thunder boomed
Alone and in pain
he knew what he'd do
revenge must be had
yet he had no clue
for dark times came
as night and day
and try as he might
still would he stray
from the path he followed
so he kneeled to pray
to promise the world
those who did this, would pay
He found not the men
who kidnapped his wife
not a trace of the ones
who took his son's life
Not a dropp of rainwater
or a mere hunting knife
to fight for survival
to end civil strife
But on his last leg
exausted and weak
he took his last breath
and fell off his feet
for this moral blight
was too tough to beat
Man in the sand
may you now rest in peace
When The Sand Runs Out
I spent the morning at an old friend's grave
Flowers and Amazing Grace, he was a good man
He spent his whole life spinnin' his wheels
Never knowin' how the real thing feels
He never took a chance or took the time to dance
And I stood there thinking as I said goodbye
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
And learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here
Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out
'Cause people do it everyday
Promise themselves they're gonna change
I've been there, but I'm changin' from the inside out
That was then and this is now
I'm a new man, yeah, I'm a brand new man
And when they carve my stone they'll write these words
"Here lies a man who lived life for all that its worth"
I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
Learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here
Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out
Fish On The Sand
I know youre in the sun
I know youre close to evryone
At times its like you dont have a hold on me
I see you in the love
I see you in the moon above
But I want to know that youre not lost inside of me
You know I need you
You know I love you
If Im not with you
Im not so much of a man
Im like a fish on the sand
You call me in the night (you call me in the night)
And hide behind the daylight
Youre blowing like a wind, you dont let me see
You know I feel a pain (you know I feel a pain)
Im tired of playing games with you
Though theres nothing else I want that would set me free
You know I love you
You know I need you
If I cant be with you
Im not so much of a man
Im a fish on the sand
No use to no one else, theyve all dried up
Watching all our lives go by
I cant believe youd want to see me crying
I hold you in my heart (hold you in my heart)
I know that youre a part of me
But its a must to know that you love me too
I look you in the eye (look you in the eye)
Youre swimming by my teardrops
But I want to know for sure that youll let me see
You know I want you
You know I need you
If Im not with you
Im not so much of a man
Im like a fish on the sand
You know I need you
You know I love you
If Im not with you
Im not so much of a man
Im a fish on the sand
Not so much of a man
More a fish on the sand
A Trip to the Vet
Lately, you have been sick
And we just don't know what to do with you.
You're itching at your skin—
Scratching the dry, leathery patches until they scab
And ooze a mixture of blood and puss.
Your ears are dripping a waxy fluid
And the kids choke on it
When they go to cuddle with you.
It's not that we don't love you anymore.
You just don't smell pleasant anymore.
You're also getting crotchety,
As if you snarl at the world that did this to you,
Angry at God for birthing you to become this.
Your legs wobble when you walk.
It looks like they could cave in at any time,
Causing you to collapse, helplessly
Lying on the floor.
If you hadn't become so resigned to your discouragement,
So engulfed in the utter disappointment you have for your failing limbs,
People might feel bad for you,
But they don't.
You don't wake up in the morning anymore.
You don't get out of bed to urinate.
If you're comfortable, you'd rather bathe in your urine
And smell like your waste.
Well, whatever makes you happier.
You might've lost your voice a little while back,
So you can't really tell us how you feel.
Some dogs bark.
You just cough
To clear the sand from your throat,
Forcing the dusty, lodged syllables out of your mouth
In a thick, tarry mucous.
Whatever you want to say gets covered in it
And sinks into the ejecting ponds of spittle.
I'm sorry we no longer understand you.
I'm sorry we're not there for you.
I'm sorry I don't care as much as I used to.
I'm sorry I don't care.
I try not to.
I don't want to know the pain you feel.
I don't want to know what it's like
To know that each step my joints are breaking inside of me;
To know that I don't have much longer to live;
To know that Death is waiting to claim me,
Laughing as I hobble back to my feet in the morning.
But you're just an animal.
Those can't be tears in your eyes.
You can't be crying.
You can't be crying.
Maybe I'd start crying
If I believed you were crying.
Your eyes look so sad.
It's as if you fully realize you've seen the best of your days
While you peer forward,
Gazing into oblivion.
I don't want you to be that way.
I want to remember you as the puppy,
The obnoxious bundle of energy that we couldn't shut up.
I want you to bite my friends and make them get stitches
Like you did when I was a kid.
I want you to growl at people because they squirt you with a hose,
Not because they won't let you rest.
Relax right now. I hope it brings you peace.
Soon, you won't have to worry.
We're taking you to the vet
To check on your allergies,
To refill your medications.
We're trying to keep you healthy,
Though we know your rambunctious days are over.
I have to pick you up and put you in the backseat.
Three years ago, you would hop in,
But now you don't have the energy.
You're gaining weight,
So it's getting harder for me too.
You lay your head upon your folded paws
And stretch your body to crumple it up again.
You're a shedding ball of saggy, wrinkled skin
Red and ripe with agitation.
We drive down the road for twenty minutes.
I forget you're there in the silence.
After being so restless for so long,
You're catching up,
Unable to resist the soothing sensation of closing your eyes.
As we pull into the parking lot,
Your head perks up slightly
And your tail begins wagging.
I put you on a leash
And we walk inside.
You aren't aggressive with other animals anymore—
All the hard work and effort put into training you has finally paid off.
You sit politely in a chair while we wait for your appointment.
Then the vet takes you and I wait.
I skim through a few articles in a few magazines from a few months ago.
My eyes wander and fix on a daytime news program
About another murder in the city.
A half hour later,
I'm informed that your sickness is only getting worse—
That life will only be getting harder and harder,
Becoming a grievance for you:
A heavy burden,
I am told that the most humane thing I can do for you at this point
Is to let them prick you with a needle filled with poison
And watch you slowly drift into somnolent state,
Dreamily letting life slip from you.
All I have to do is sign the papers.
That's all I have to do to say goodbye.
I try not to.
I don't want to alleviate your senses.
I don't want the guilt
Of knowing I was the one that let them kill you;
Of knowing I was the one who saw you die;
Of knowing that even if I said no,
You would be in pain,
Agonized by survival.
You're there: laying on a bed, already sleeping.
Your tail is wagging.
You look the best you've looked in years.
From far away, you seem relieved to be here.
Hudibras: Part 1 - Canto I
Sir Hudibras his passing worth,
The manner how he sallied forth;
His arms and equipage are shown;
His horse's virtues, and his own.
Th' adventure of the bear and fiddle
Is sung, but breaks off in the middle.
When civil dudgeon a first grew high,
And men fell out they knew not why?
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For Dame Religion, as for punk;
Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
Though not a man of them knew wherefore:
When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded
With long-ear'd rout, to battle sounded,
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a colonelling.
A wight he was, whose very sight wou'd
Entitle him Mirror of Knighthood;
That never bent his stubborn knee
To any thing but Chivalry;
Nor put up blow, but that which laid
Right worshipful on shoulder-blade;
Chief of domestic knights and errant,
Either for cartel or for warrant;
Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o'er, as swaddle;
Mighty he was at both of these,
And styl'd of war, as well as peace.
(So some rats, of amphibious nature,
Are either for the land or water).
But here our authors make a doubt
Whether he were more wise, or stout:
Some hold the one, and some the other;
But howsoe'er they make a pother,
The diff'rence was so small, his brain
Outweigh'd his rage but half a grain;
Which made some take him for a tool
That knaves do work with, call'd a fool,
And offer to lay wagers that
As MONTAIGNE, playing with his cat,
Complains she thought him but an ass,
Much more she wou'd Sir HUDIBRAS;
(For that's the name our valiant knight
To all his challenges did write).
But they're mistaken very much,
'Tis plain enough he was no such;
We grant, although he had much wit,
H' was very shy of using it;
As being loth to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about,
Unless on holy-days, or so,
As men their best apparel do.
Beside, 'tis known he could speak GREEK
As naturally as pigs squeek;
That LATIN was no more difficile,
Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle:
Being rich in both, he never scanted
His bounty unto such as wanted;
But much of either would afford
To many, that had not one word.
For Hebrew roots, although they're found
To flourish most in barren ground,
He had such plenty, as suffic'd
To make some think him circumcis'd;
And truly so, he was, perhaps,
Not as a proselyte, but for claps.
He was in LOGIC a great critic,
Profoundly skill'd in analytic;
He could distinguish, and divide
A hair 'twixt south, and south-west side:
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands, and still confute,
He'd undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man's no horse;
He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a lord may be an owl,
A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks Committee-men and Trustees.
He'd run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination.
All this by syllogism, true
In mood and figure, he would do.
For RHETORIC, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happen'd to break off
I' th' middle of his speech, or cough,
H' had hard words,ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else, when with greatest art he spoke,
You'd think he talk'd like other folk,
For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools.
His ordinary rate of speech
In loftiness of sound was rich;
A Babylonish fdialect,
Which learned pedants much affect.
It was a parti-colour'd dress
Of patch'd and pie-bald languages;
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin;
It had an odd promiscuous tone,
As if h' had talk'd three parts in one;
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
Th' had heard three labourers of Babel;
Or CERBERUS himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.
This he as volubly would vent
As if his stock would ne'er be spent:
And truly, to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he cou'd coin, or counterfeit
New words, with little or no wit:
Words so debas'd and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on;
And when with hasty noise he spoke 'em,
The ignorant for current took 'em;
That had the orator, who once
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones
When he harangu'd, but known his phrase
He would have us'd no other ways.
In MATHEMATICKS he was greater
Than TYCHO BRAHE, or ERRA PATER:
For he, by geometric scale,
Could take the size of pots of ale;
Resolve, by sines and tangents straight,
If bread or butter wanted weight,
And wisely tell what hour o' th' day
The clock does strike by algebra.
Beside, he was a shrewd PHILOSOPHER,
And had read ev'ry text and gloss over;
Whate'er the crabbed'st author hath,
He understood b' implicit faith:
Whatever sceptic could inquire for,
For ev'ry why he had a wherefore;
Knew more than forty of them do,
As far as words and terms cou'd go.
All which he understood by rote,
And, as occasion serv'd, would quote;
No matter whether right or wrong,
They might be either said or sung.
His notions fitted things so well,
That which was which he could not tell;
But oftentimes mistook th' one
For th' other, as great clerks have done.
He could reduce all things to acts,
And knew their natures by abstracts;
Where entity and quiddity,
The ghosts of defunct bodies fly;
Where truth in person does appear,
Like words congeal'd in northern air.
He knew what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly;
In school-divinity as able
As he that hight, Irrefragable;
A second THOMAS, or, at once,
To name them all, another DUNCE:
Profound in all the Nominal
And Real ways, beyond them all:
For he a rope of sand cou'd twist
As tough as learned SORBONIST;
And weave fine cobwebs, fit for skull
That's empty when the moon is full;
Such as take lodgings in a head
That's to be let unfurnished.
He could raise scruples dark and nice,
And after solve 'em in a trice;
As if Divinity had catch'd
The itch, on purpose to be scratch'd;
Or, like a mountebank, did wound
And stab herself with doubts profound,
Only to show with how small pain
The sores of Faith are cur'd again;
Although by woeful proof we find,
They always leave a scar behind.
He knew the seat of Paradise,
Could tell in what degree it lies;
And, as he was dispos'd, could prove it,
Below the moon, or else above it.
What Adam dreamt of, when his bride
Came from her closet in his side:
Whether the devil tempted her
By a High Dutch interpreter;
If either of them had a navel:
Who first made music malleable:
Whether the serpent, at the fall,
Had cloven feet, or none at all.
All this, without a gloss, or comment,
He could unriddle in a moment,
In proper terms, such as men smatter
When they throw out, and miss the matter.
For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
'Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done;
As if religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended.
A sect, whose chief devotion lies
In odd perverse antipathies;
In falling out with that or this,
And finding somewhat still amiss;
More peevish, cross, and splenetick,
Than dog distract, or monkey sick.
That with more care keep holy-day
The wrong, than others the right way;
Compound for sins they are inclin'd to,
By damning those they have no mind to:
Still so perverse and opposite,
As if they worshipp'd God for spite.
The self-same thing they will abhor
One way, and long another for.
Free-will they one way disavow,
Another, nothing else allow:
All piety consists therein
In them, in other men all sin:
Rather than fail, they will defy
That which they love most tenderly;
Quarrel with minc'd-pies, and disparage
Their best and dearest friend, plum-porridge;
Fat pig and goose itself oppose,
And blaspheme custard through the nose.
Th' apostles of this fierce religion,
Like MAHOMET'S, were ass and pidgeon,
To whom our knight, by fast instinct
Of wit and temper, was so linkt,
As if hypocrisy and nonsense
Had got th' advowson of his conscience.
Thus was he gifted and accouter'd;
We mean on th' inside, not the outward;
That next of all we shall discuss:
Then listen, Sirs, it follows thus
His tawny beard was th' equal grace
Both of his wisdom and his face;
In cut and dye so like a tile,
A sudden view it would beguile:
The upper part thereof was whey;
The nether, orange mix'd with grey.
This hairy meteor did denounce
The fall of scepters and of crowns;
With grisly type did represent
Declining age of government;
And tell with hieroglyphick spade,
Its own grave and the state's were made.
Like SAMPSON'S heart-breakers, it grew
In time to make a nation rue;
Tho' it contributed its own fall,
To wait upon the publick downfal,
It was monastick, and did grow
In holy orders by strict vow;
Of rule as sullen and severe
As that of rigid Cordeliere.
'Twas bound to suffer persecution
And martyrdom with resolution;
T' oppose itself against the hate
And vengeance of th' incensed state;
In whose defiance it was worn,
Still ready to be pull'd and torn;
With red-hot irons to be tortur'd;
Revil'd, and spit upon, and martyr'd.
Maugre all which, 'twas to stand fast
As long as monarchy shou'd last;
But when the state should hap to reel,
'Twas to submit to fatal steel,
And fall, as it was consecrate,
A sacrifice to fall of state;
Whose thread of life the fatal sisters
Did twist together with its whiskers,
And twine so close, that time should never,
In life or death, their fortunes sever;
But with his rusty sickle mow
Both down together at a blow.
So learned TALIACOTIUS from
The brawny part of porter's bum
Cut supplemental noses, which
Wou'd last as long as parent breech;
But when the date of NOCK was out,
Off drop'd the sympathetic snout.
His back, or rather burthen, show'd,
As if it stoop'd with its own load:
For as AENEAS zbore his sire
Upon his shoulders thro' the fire,
Our Knight did bear no less a pack
Of his own buttocks on his back;
Which now had almost got the upper-
Hand of his head, for want of crupper.
To poise this equally, he bore
A paunch of the same bulk before;
Which still he had a special care
To keep well-cramm'd with thrifty fare;
As white-pot, butter-milk, and curds,
Such as a country-house affords;
With other vittle, which anon
We farther shall dilate upon,
When of his hose we come to treat,
The cupboard where he kept his meat.
His doublet was of sturdy buff,
And tho' not sword, yet cudgel-proof;
Whereby 'twas fitter for his use,
Who fear'd no blows, but such as bruise.
His breeches were of rugged woollen,
And had been at the siege of Bullen;
To old King HARRY so well known,
Some writers held they were his own.
Thro' they were lin'd with many a piece
Of ammunition bread and cheese,
And fat black-puddings, proper food
For warriors that delight in blood.
For, as we said, he always chose
To carry vittle in his hose,
That often tempted rats and mice
The ammunition to surprise:
And when he put a hand but in
The one or t' other magazine,
They stoutly in defence on't stood,
And from the wounded foe drew blood;
And 'till th' were storm'd and beaten out,
Ne'er left the fortify'd redoubt.
And tho' Knights Errant, as some think,
Of old did neither eat nor drink,
Because, when thorough desarts vast,
And regions desolate, they past,
Where belly-timber above ground,
Or under, was not to be found,
Unless they graz'd, there's not one word
Of their provision on record;
Which made some confidently write,
They had no stomachs, but to fight.
'Tis false: for a ARTHUR wore in hall
Round table like a farthingal,
On which with shirt pull'd out behind,
And eke before, his good Knights din'd.
Though 'twas no table, some suppose,
But a huge pair of round trunk hose;
In which he carry'd as much meat
As he and all the Knights cou'd eat,
When, laying by their swords and truncheons,
They took their breakfasts, or their nuncheons.
But let that pass at present, lest
We should forget where we digrest,
As learned authors use, to whom
We leave it, and to th' purpose come,
His puissant sword unto his side,
Near his undaunted heart, was ty'd;
With basket-hilt, that wou'd hold broth,
And serve for fight and dinner both.
In it he melted lead for bullets,
To shoot at foes, and sometimes pullets,
To whom he bore so fell a grutch,
He ne'er gave quarter t' any such.
The trenchant blade, Toledo trusty,
For want of fighting, was grown rusty,
And ate unto itself, for lack
Of somebody to hew and hack.
The peaceful scabbard where it dwelt
The rancour of its edge had felt;
For of the lower end two handful
It had devour'd, 'twas so manful;
And so much scorn'd to lurk in case,
As if it durst not shew its face.
In many desperate attempts,
Of warrants, exigents, contempts,
It had appear'd with courage bolder
Than Serjeant BUM invading shoulder.
Oft had it ta'en possession,
And pris'ners too, or made them run.
This sword a dagger had t' his page,
That was but little for his age;
And therefore waited on him so,
As dwarfs upon Knights Errant do.
It was a serviceable dudgeon,
Either for fighting or for drudging.
When it had stabb'd, or broke a head,
It would scrape trenchers, or chip bread;
Toast cheese or bacon; tho' it were
To bait a mouse-trap, 'twould not care.
'Twould make clean shoes; and in the earth
Set leeks and onions, and so forth.
It had been 'prentice to a brewer,
Where this and more it did endure;
But left the trade, as many more
Have lately done on the same score.
In th' holsters, at his saddle-bow,
Two aged pistols he did stow,
Among the surplus of such meat
As in his hose he cou'd not get.
These wou'd inveigle rats with th' scent,
To forage when the cocks were bent;
And sometimes catch 'em with a snap
As cleverly as th' ablest trap.
They were upon hard duty still,
And ev'ry night stood centinel,
To guard the magazine i' th' hose
From two-legg'd and from four-legg'd foes.
Thus clad and fortify'd, Sir Knight
From peaceful home set forth to fight.
But first with nimble, active force
He got on th' outside of his horse;
For having but one stirrup ty'd
T' his saddle, on the further side,
It was so short, h' had much ado
To reach it with his desp'rate toe:
But, after many strains and heaves,
He got up to the saddle-eaves,
From whence he vaulted into th' seat,
With so much vigour, strength and heat,
That he had almost tumbled over
With his own weight, but did recover,
By laying hold on tail and main,
Which oft he us'd instead of rein.
But now we talk of mounting steed,
Before we further do proceed,
It doth behoves us to say something
Of that which bore our valiant bumkin.
The beast was sturdy, large, and tall,
With mouth of meal, and eyes of wall.
I wou'd say eye; for h' had but one,
As most agree; tho' some say none.
He was well stay'd; and in his gait
Preserv'd a grave, majestick state.
At spur or switch no more he skipt,
Or mended pace, than Spaniard whipt;
And yet so fiery, he wou'd bound
As if he griev'd to touch the ground:
That CAESAR's horse, who, as fame goes
Had corns upon his feet and toes,
Was not by half so tender hooft,
Nor trod upon the ground so soft.
And as that beast would kneel and stoop
(Some write) to take his rider up,
So HUDIBRAS his ('tis well known)
Wou'd often do to set him down.
We shall not need to say what lack
Of leather was upon his back;
For that was hidden under pad,
And breech of Knight, gall'd full as bad.
His strutting ribs on both sides show'd
Like furrows he himself had plow'd;
For underneath the skirt of pannel,
'Twixt ev'ry two there was a channel
His draggling tail hung in the dirt,
Which on his rider he wou'd flurt,
Still as his tender side he prick'd,
With arm'd heel, or with unarm'd kick'd:
For HUDIBRAS wore but one spur;
As wisely knowing, cou'd he stir
To active trot one side of's horse,
The other wou'd not hang an arse.
A squire he had, whose name was RALPH,
That in th' adventure went his half:
Though writers, for more stately tone,
Do call him RALPHO; 'tis all one;
And when we can with metre safe,
We'll call him so; if not, plain RALPH:
(For rhyme the rudder is of verses,
With which like ships they steer their courses.)
An equal stock of wit and valour
He had laid in; by birth a taylor.
The mighty Tyrian Queen, that gain'd
With subtle shreds a tract of land,
Did leave it with a castle fair
To his great ancestor, her heir.
From him descended cross-legg'd Knights,
Fam'd for their faith, and warlike fights
Against the bloody cannibal,
Whom they destroy'd both great and small.
This sturdy Squire, he had, as well
As the bold Trojan Knight, seen Hell;
Not with a counterfeited pass
Of golden bough, but true gold-lace.
His knowledge was not far behind
The Knight's, but of another kind,
And he another way came by 't:
Some call it GIFTS, and some NEW-LIGHT;
A liberal art, that costs no pains
Of study, industry, or brains.
His wit was sent him for a token,
But in the carriage crack'd and broken.
Like commendation nine-pence crook'd,
With - To and from my love - it look'd.
He ne'er consider'd it, as loth
To look a gift-horse in the mouth;
And very wisely wou'd lay forth
No more upon it than 'twas worth.
But as he got it freely, so
He spent it frank and freely too.
For Saints themselves will sometimes be
Of gifts, that cost them nothing, free.
By means of this, with hem and cough,
Prolongers to enlighten'd stuff,
He cou'd deep mysteries unriddle
As easily as thread a needle.
For as of vagabonds we say,
That they are ne'er beside their way;
Whate'er men speak by this New Light,
Still they are sure to be i' th' right.
'Tis a dark-lanthorn of the Spirit,
Which none see by but those that bear it:
A light that falls down from on high,
For spiritual trades to cozen by
An Ignis Fatuus, that bewitches
And leads men into pools and ditches,
To make them dip themselves, and sound
For Christendom in dirty pond
To dive like wild-fowl for salvation,
And fish to catch regeneration.
This light inspires and plays upon
The nose of Saint like bag-pipe drone,
And speaks through hollow empty soul,
As through a trunk, or whisp'ring hole,
Such language as no mortal ear
But spirit'al eaves-droppers can hear:
So PHOEBUS, or some friendly muse,
Into small poets song infuse,
Which they at second-hand rehearse,
Thro' reed or bag-pipe, verse for verse.
Thus RALPH became infallible
As three or four-legg'd oracle,
The ancient cup, or modern chair;
Spoke truth point-blank, tho' unaware.
For MYSTICK LEARNING, wond'rous able
In magick Talisman and Cabal,
Whose primitive tradition reaches
As far as ADAM'S first green breeches:
Deep-sighted in intelligences,
Ideas, atoms, influences;
And much of Terra Incognita,
Th' intelligible world, cou'd say:
A deep OCCULT PHILOSOPHER,
As learn'd as the wild Irish are,
Or Sir AGRIPPA; for profound
And solid lying much renown'd.
He ANTHROPOSOPHUS, and FLOUD,
And JACOB BEHMEN understood:
Knew many an amulet and charm,
That wou'd do neither good nor harm:
In ROSY-CRUCIAN lore as learned,
As he that Vere adeptus earned.
He understood the speech of birds
As well as they themselves do words;
Cou'd tell what subtlest parrots mean,
That speak, and think contrary clean:
What Member 'tis of whom they talk,
When they cry, Rope, and walk, knave, walk.
He'd extract numbers out of matter,
And keep them in a glass, like water;
Of sov'reign pow'r to make men wise;
For drop'd in blear thick-sighted eyes,
They'd make them see in darkest night
Like owls, tho' purblind in the light.
By help of these (as he profess'd)
He had First Matter seen undress'd:
He took her naked all alone,
Before one rag of form was on.
The Chaos too he had descry'd,
And seen quite thro', or else he ly'd:
Not that of paste-board which men shew
For groats, at fair of Barthol'mew;
But its great grandsire, first o' the name,
Whence that and REFORMATION came;
Both cousin-germans, and right able
T' inveigle and draw in the rabble.
But Reformation was, some say,
O' th' younger house to Puppet-play.
He cou'd foretel whats'ever was
By consequence to come to pass;
As death of great men, alterations,
Diseases, battles, inundations.
All this, without th' eclipse o' th' sun,
Or dreadful comet, he hath done,
By inward light; away as good,
And easy to be understood;
But with more lucky hit than those
That use to make the stars depose,
Like Knights o' th' post, and falsely charge
Upon themselves what others forge:
As if they were consenting to
All mischiefs in the world men do:
Or, like the Devil, did tempt and sway 'em
To rogueries, and then betray 'em.
They'll search a planet's house, to know
Who broke and robb'd a house below:
Examine VENUS, and the MOON,
Who stole a thimble or a spoon;
And tho' they nothing will confess,
Yet by their very looks can guess,
And tell what guilty aspect bodes,
Who stole, and who receiv'd the goods.
They'll question MARS, and, by his look,
Detect who 'twas that nimm'd a cloke:
Make MERCURY confess, and 'peach
Those thieves which he himself did teach.
They'll find, i' th' physiognomies
O' th' planets, all men's destinies.;
Like him that took the doctor's bill,
And swallow'd it instead o' th' pill
Cast the nativity o' th' question,
And from positions to be guess'd on,
As sure as it' they knew the moment
Of natives birth, tell what will come on't.
They'll feel the pulses of the stars,
To find out agues, coughs, catarrhs;
And tell what crisis does divine
The rot in sheep, or mange in swine
In men, what gives or cures the itch;
What makes them cuckolds, poor or rich;
What gains or loses, hangs or saves;
What makes men great, what fools or knaves,
But not what wise; for only of those
The stars (they say) cannot dispose,
No more than can the Astrologians.
There they say right, and like true Trojans.
This RALPHO knew, and therefore took
The other course, of which we spoke.
Thus was the accomplish'd Squire endu'd
With gifts and knowledge, per'lous shrew'd.
Never did trusty Squire with Knight,
Or Knight with Squire, e'er jump more right.
Their arms and equipage did fit,
As well as virtues, parts, and wit.
Their valours too were of a rate;
And out they sally'd at the gate.
Few miles on horseback had they jogged,
But Fortune unto them turn'd dogged;
For they a sad adventure met,
Of which anon we mean to treat;
But ere we venture to unfold
Atchievements so resolv'd and bold,
We shou'd as learned poets use,
Invoke th' assistance of some muse:
However, criticks count it sillier
Than jugglers talking to familiar.
We think 'tis no great matter which
They're all alike; yet we shall pitch
On one that fits our purpose most
Whom therefore thus do we accost:
Thou that with ale, or viler liquors,
Did'st inspire WITHERS, PRYN, and VICKARS,
And force them, tho' it was in spite
Of nature and their stars, to write;
Who, as we find in sullen writs,
And cross-grain'd works of modern wits,
With vanity, opinion, want,
The wonder of the ignorant,
The praises of the author, penn'd
B' himself, or wit-insuring friend;
The itch of picture in the front,
With bays and wicked rhyme upon't;
All that is left o' th' forked hill,
To make men scribble without skill;
Canst make a poet spite of fate,
And teach all people to translate,
Tho' out of languages in which
They understand no part of speech;
Assist me but this once, I 'mplore,
And I shall trouble thee no more.
In western clime there is a town,
To those that dwell therein well known;
Therefore there needs no more be said here,
We unto them refer our reader;
For brevity is very good,
When w' are, or are not, understood.
To this town people did repair,
On days of market, or of fair,
And, to crack'd fiddle, and hoarse tabor,
In merriment did drudge and labor.
But now a sport more formidable
Had rak'd together village rabble:
'Twas an old way of recreating,
Which learned butchers call bear-baiting:
A bold advent'rous exercise,
With ancient heroes in high prize:
For authors do affirm it came
From Isthmian or Nemean game:
Others derive it from the bear
That's fix'd in northern hemisphere,
And round about the pole does make
A circle like a bear at stake,
That at the chain's end wheels about,
And overturns the rabble-rout.
For after solemn proclamation,
In the bear's name, (as is the fashion,
According to the law of arms,
To keep men from inglorious harms,)
That none presume to come so near
As forty foot of stake of bear,
If any yet be so fool-hardy,
T' expose themselves to vain jeopardy,
If they come wounded off, and lame,
No honour's got by such a maim;
Altho' the bear gain much, b'ing bound
In honour to make good his ground,
When he's engag'd, and takes no notice,
If any press upon him, who 'tis;
But let's them know, at their own cost,
That he intends to keep his post.
This to prevent, and other harms,
Which always wait on feats of arms,
(For in the hurry of a fray
'Tis hard to keep out of harm's way,)
Thither the Knight his course did steer,
To keep the peace 'twixt dog and bear;
As he believ'd he was bound to do
In conscience, and commission too;
And therefore thus bespoke the Squire.
We that are wisely mounted higher
Than constables in curule wit,
When on tribunal bench we sit,
Like speculators shou'd foresee,
From Pharos of authority,
Portended mischiefs farther then
Low Proletarian tything-men:
And therefore being inform'd by bruit,
That dog and bear are to dispute;
For so of late men fighting name,
Because they often prove the same;
(For where the first does hap to be,
The last does coincidere);
Quantum in nobis, have thought good,
To save th' expence of Christian blood,
And try if we, by mediation
Of treaty and accommodation,
Can end the quarrel and compose
The bloody duel without blows.
Are not our liberties, our lives,
The laws, religion and our wives,
Enough at once to lie at stake
For Cov'nant and the Cause's sake?
But in that quarrel dogs and bears,
As well as we must venture theirs
This feud, by Jesuits invented,
By evil counsel is fomented:
There is a MACHIAVILIAN plot,
(Tho' ev'ry Nare olfact is not,)
A deep design in't, to divide
The well-affected that confide,
By setting brother against brother,
To claw and curry one another.
Have we not enemies plus satis,
That Cane & Angue pejus hate us?
And shall we turn our fangs and claws
Upon our own selves, without cause?
That some occult design doth lie
In bloody cynarctomachy,
Is plain enough to him that knows
How Saints lead brothers by the nose.
I wish myself a pseudo-prophet,
But sure some mischief will come of it;
Unless by providential wit,
Or force, we averruncate it.
For what design, what interest,
Can beast have to encounter beast?
They fight for no espoused cause,
Frail privilege, fundamental laws,
Not for a thorough reformation,
Nor covenant, nor protestation,
Nor liberty of consciences,
Nor Lords and Commons ordinances;
Nor for the church, nor for church-lands,
To get them in their own no hands;
Nor evil counsellors to bring
To justice that seduce the King;
Nor for the worship of us men,
Though we have done as much for them.
Th' AEgyptians worshipp'd dogs, and for
Their faith made internecine war.
Others ador'd a rat, and some
For that church suffer'd martyrdom.
The Indians fought for the truth
Of th' elephant and monkey's tooth,
And many, to defend that faith,
Fought it out mordicus to death.
But no beast ever was so slight,
For man, as for his God, to fight.
They have more wit, alas! and know
Themselves and us better than so.
But we, who only do infuse
The rage in them like Boute-feus;
'Tis our example that instils
In them th' infection of our ills.
For, as some late philosophers.
Have well observ'd, beasts, that converse
With man, take after him, as hogs
Get pigs all the year, and bitches dogs.
Just so, by our example, cattle
Learn to give one another battle.
We read, in NERO's time, the heathen,
When they destroy'd the Christian brethren,
Did sew them in the skins of bears,
And then set dogs about their ears:
From thence, no doubt, th' invention came
Of this lewd antichristian game.
To this, quoth RALPHO, Verily
The point seems very plain to me.
It is an antichristian game,
Unlawful both in thing and name.
First, for the name: the word, bear-baiting
Is carnal, and of man's creating:
For certainly there's no such word
In all the scripture on record;
Therefore unlawful, and a sin;
And so is (secondly) the thing.
A vile assembly 'tis, that can
No more be prov'd by scripture than
Provincial, classic, national;
Mere human-creature cobwebs all.
Thirdly, it is idolatrous;
For when men run a whoring thus
With their inventions, whatsoe'er
The thing be, whether dog or bear,
It is idolatrous and pagan,
No less than worshipping of DAGON.
Quoth HUDIBRAS, I smell a rat;
RALPHO, thou dost prevaricate:
For though the thesis which thou lay'st
Be true ad amussim, as thou say'st;
(For that bear-baiting should appear
Jure divino lawfuller
Than synods are, thou dost deny,
Totidem verbis; so do I);
Yet there's a fallacy in this;
For if by sly HOMAEOSIS,
Tussis pro crepitu, an art
Under a cough to slur a f-t
Thou wou'dst sophistically imply,
Both are unlawful, I deny.
And I (quoth RALPHO) do not doubt
But bear-baiting may be made out,
In gospel-times, as lawful as is
Provincial or parochial classis;
And that both are so near of kin,
And like in all, as well as sin,
That put them in a bag, and shake 'em,
Yourself o' th' sudden would mistake 'em,
And not know which is which, unless
You measure by their wickedness:
For 'tis not hard t'imagine whether
O' th' two is worst; tho' I name neither.
Quoth HUDIBRAS, Thou offer'st much,
But art not able to keep touch.
Mira de lente, as 'tis i' th' adage,
Id est, to make a leek a cabbage;
Thou'lt be at best but such a bull,
Or shear-swine, all cry, and no wool;
For what can synods have at all
With bear that's analogical?
Or what relation has debating
Of church-affairs with bear-baiting?
A just comparison still is
Of things ejusdem generis;
And then what genus rightly doth
Include and comprehend them both?
If animal both of us may
As justly pass for bears as they;
For we are animals no less,
Altho' of different specieses.
But, RALPHO, this is not fit place
Nor time to argue out the case:
For now the field is not far off,
Where we must give the world a proof
Of deeds, not words, and such as suit
Another manner of dispute;
A controversy that affords
Actions for arguments, not words;
Which we must manage at a rate
Of prowess and conduct adequate
To what our place and fame doth promise,
And all the godly expect from us,
Nor shall they be deceiv'd, unless
We're slurr'd and outed by success;
Success, the mark no mortal wit,
Or surest hand can always hit:
For whatsoe'er we perpetrate,
We do but row, we're steer'd by Fate,
Which in success oft disinherits,
For spurious causes, noblest merits.
Great actions are not always true sons
Of great and mighty resolutions;
Nor do th' boldest attempts bring forth
Events still equal to their worth;
But sometimes fail, and, in their stead,
Fortune and cowardice succeed.
Yet we have no great cause to doubt;
Our actions still have borne us out;
Which tho' they're known to be so ample,
We need not copy from example.
We're not the only persons durst
Attempt this province, nor the first.
In northern clime a val'rous Knight
Did whilom kill his bear in fght,
And wound a fiddler; we have both
Of these the objects of our wroth,
And equal fame and glory from
Th' attempt of victory to come.
'Tis sung, there is a valiant Mamaluke
In foreign land, yclep'd -
To whom we have been oft compar'd
For person, parts; address, and beard;
Both equally reputed stout,
And in the same cause both have fought:
He oft in such attempts as these
Came off with glory and success;
Nor will we fail in th' execution,
For want of equal resolution.
Honour is like a widow, won
With brisk attempt and putting on;
With ent'ring manfully, and urging;
Not slow approaches, like a virgin.
'Tis said, as yerst the Phrygian Knight,
So ours with rusty steel did smite
His Trojan horse, and just as much
He mended pace upon the touch;
But from his empty stomach groan'd
Just as that hollow beast did sound,
And angry answer'd from behind,
With brandish'd tail and blast of wind.
So have I seen, with armed heel,
A wight bestride a Common-weal;
While still the more he kick'd and spurr'd,
The less the sullen jade has stirr'd.
Orlando Furioso Canto 18
Gryphon is venged. Sir Mandricardo goes
In search of Argier's king. Charles wins the fight.
Marphisa Norandino's men o'erthrows.
Due pains Martano's cowardice requite.
A favouring wind Marphisa's gallery blows,
For France with Gryphon bound and many a knight.
The field Medoro and Cloridano tread,
And find their monarch Dardinello dead.
High minded lord! your actions evermore
I have with reason lauded, and still laud;
Though I with style inapt, and rustic lore,
You of large portion of your praise defraud:
But, of your many virtues, one before
All others I with heart and tongue applaud,
- That, if each man a gracious audience finds,
No easy faith your equal judgment blinds.
Often, to shield the absent one from blame,
I hear you this, or other, thing adduce;
Or him you let, at least, an audience claim,
Where still one ear is open to excuse:
And before dooming men to scaith and shame,
To see and hear them ever is your use;
And ere you judge another, many a day,
And month, and year, your sentence to delay.
Had Norandine been with your care endued,
What he by Gryphon did, he had not done.
Profit and fame have from your rule accrued:
A stain more black than pitch he cast upon
His name: through him, his people were pursued
And put to death by Olivero's son;
Who at ten cuts or thrusts, in fury made,
Some thirty dead about the waggon laid.
Whither fear drives, in rout, the others all,
Some scattered here, some there, on every side,
Fill road and field; to gain the city-wall
Some strive, and smothered in the mighty tide,
One on another, in the gateway fall.
Gryphon, all thought of pity laid aside,
Threats not nor speaks, but whirls his sword about,
Well venging on the crowd their every flout.
Of those who to the portal foremost fleed,
The readiest of the crowd their feet to ply,
Part, more intent upon their proper need
Than their friends' peril, raise the draw-bridge high:
Part, weeping and with deathlike visage, speed,
Nor turn their eyes behind them as they fly:
While, through the ample city, outcry loud,
And noise, and tumult rises from the crowd.
Two nimble Gryphon seizes, mid the train,
When to their woe the bridge is raised; of one,
Upon the field the warrior strews the brain,
Which he bears out on a hard grinding stone;
Seized by the breast, the other of the twain
Over the city-wall by him is thrown,
Fear chills the townsmen's marrow, when they spy
The luckless wretch descending from the sky.
Many there were who feared in their alarms,
Lest o'er the wall Sir Gryphon would have vaulted;
Nor greater panic seized upon those swarms,
Than if the soldan had the town assaulted.
The sound of running up and down, of arms,
Of cry of Muezzins, on high exalted;
Of drums and trumpets, heaven, 'twould seem, rebounded,
And, that the world was by the noise confounded.
But I will to another time delay,
What chanced on this occasion, to recount.
'Tis meet I follow Charles upon his way,
Hurrying in search of furious Rodomont,
Who did the monarch's suffering people slay.
I said, with him, the danger to affront,
Went Namus, Oliver, the Danish peer,
Avino, Avolio, Otho and Berlinghier.
Eight lances' shock, that eight such warriors guide,
Which all at once against the king they rest,
Endured the stout and scaly serpent's hide,
In which the cruel Moor his limbs had drest.
As a barque rights itself, - the sheet untied,
Which held its sail, - by growing wind opprest;
So speedily Sir Rodomont arose,
Though a hill had been uprooted by the blows.
Rainier and Guido, Richard, Salomon,
Ivan, Ughetto, Turpin, and the twain -
Angiolin, Angelier - false Ganellon,
And Mark and Matthew from St. Michael's plain,
With the eight of whom I spake, all set upon
The foe, with Edward and Sir Arimane;
Who leading succours from the English shore,
Had lodged them in the town short time before.
Not so, well-keyed into the solid stone,
Groans upon Alpine height the castle good,
When by rude Boreas' rage or Eurus' strown,
Uptorn are ash and fir in mountain wood,
As groans Sir Rodomont, with pride o'erblown,
Inflamed with anger and with thirst of blood:
And, as the thunder and the lightning's fire
Fly coupled, such his vengeance and his ire.
He at his head took aim who stood most nigh;
Ughetto was the miserable wight,
Whom to the teeth he clove, and left to die;
Though of good temper was his helmet bright.
As well the others many strokes let fly
At him, himself; which all the warrior smite,
But harm (so hard the dragon's hide) no more,
Than needle can the solid anvil score.
All the defences, round, abandoned are,
The unpeopled city is abandoned all;
For, where the danger is the greater, there
The many give their aid, at Charles' call:
Through every street they hurry to the square,
Since flying nought avails, from work and wall.
Their bosoms so the monarch's presence warms,
That each again takes courage, each takes arms.
As when within the closely-fastened cage
Of an old lioness, well used to fight,
An untamed bull is prisoned, to engage
The savage monster, for the mob's delight;
The cubs, who see him cresting in his rage,
And round the den loud-bellowing, to the sight
Of the huge beast's enormous horns unused,
Cower at a distance, timid and confused;
But if the mother spring at him, and hang,
Fixing her cruel tusks into his ear,
Her whelps as well will blood their greedy fang,
And, bold in her defence, assail the steer:
One bites his paunch, and one his back: so sprang
That band upon the paynim cavalier.
From roof and window, and from place more nigh,
Poured in a ceaseless shower, the weapons fly.
Of cavaliers and footmen such the squeeze,
That hardly can the place the press contain:
They cluster there as thick as swarming bees,
Who thither from each passage troop amain.
So that, were they unarmed, and with more ease
Than stalks or turnips he could cleave the train,
Ill Rodomont in twenty days would clear
The gathering crowd, united far and near.
Unknowing how himself from thence to free,
The paynim by this game is angered sore,
Who little thins the gathering rabblery,
Staining the ground with thousands slain or more;
And all the while, in his extremity,
Finds that his breath comes thicker than before;
And sees he cannot pierce the hostile round,
Unless he thence escape while strong and sound.
The monarch rolls about his horrid eyes,
And sees that foes all outlets barricade;
But, at the cost of countless enemies,
A path shall quickly by his hand be made.
Where Fury calls him, lo! the felon hies,
And brandishes on high his trenchant blade,
To assail the newly entered British band,
Which Edward and Sir Ariman command.
He who has seen the fence, in well-thonged square,
(Against whose stakes the eddying crowd is born)
By wild bull broken, that has had to bear,
Through the long day, dogs, blows, and ceaseless scorn;
Who hunts the scattered people here and there,
And this, or that, now hoists upon his horn;
Let him as such, or fiercer yet, account,
When he breaks forth, the cruel Rodomont.
At one cross-blow fifteen or twenty foes
He hews, as many leaves without a bead,
At cross or downright-stroke; as if he rows
Trashes in vineyard or in willow-bed,
At last all smeared with blood the paynim goes,
Safe from the place, which he has heaped with dead;
And wheresoe'er he turns his steps, are left
Heads, arms, and other members, maimed and cleft.
He from the square retires in such a mode,
None can perceive that danger him appals;
But, during this, what were the safest road,
By which to sally, he to thought recals.
He comes at last to where the river flowed
Below the isle, and past without the walls.
In daring men at arms and mob increase,
Who press him sore, nor let him part in peace.
As the high-couraged beast, whom hunters start
In the wild Nomade or Massilian chace,
Who, even in flying, shows his noble heart,
And threatening seeks his lair with sluggish pace;
From that strange wood of sword, and spear, and dart,
Turns Rodomont, with action nothing base;
And still impeded by the galling foe,
Makes for the river with long steps and slow.
He turned upon the rabble-rout who bayed
Behind him, thrice or more, by anger driven,
And stained anew his falchion, by whose blade
More than a hundred deadly wounds were given.
But reason, finally, his fury stayed
Before the bloody carnage stank to heaven;
And he, with better counsel, from the side
Cast himself down into Seine's foaming tide.
Athwart the current swam, with arms and all,
As if by corks upborn, the cavalier.
Though thou Antaeus bred'st, and Hannibal,
O Africa! thou never bred'st his peer! -
When now across the stream, without the wall,
He turned, and saw the royal town appear,
- To have traversed all the city moved his ire,
Leaving it undestroyed by sword or fire;
And him so sorely anger stung and pride,
Thither he thought a second time to go;
And from his inmost bosom groaned and sighed,
Nor would depart until he laid it low.
But he saw one along the river-side
Approach, who made him rage and hate forego;
Strait shall you hear who 'twas, approached the king,
But first I have to say of other thing.
I have of haughty Discord now to say,
To whom the archangel Michael gave command,
To heat to enmity and fierce affray
The best of Agramant's besieging band.
She went that evening from the abbey gray,
Her task committing to another's hand;
- Left it to Fraud to feed, till her return,
The war, and make the fires she kindled burn;
And she believed, that she with greater power
Should go, did Pride with her as well repair;
And she (for all were guested in one bower)
In search of her had little way to fare.
Pride went with her; but, that in hall or tower,
A vicar too her charge might duly bear,
She for those days she absent thought to be,
For her lieutenant left Hypocrisy.
The implacable Discord went, and with the dame,
(Companion of the enterprise, was Pride)
Upon her road; and found that, by the same,
Was journeying to the paynim camp, beside,
Comfortless Jealousy, with whom there came
A little dwarf, attending as a guide;
Who erst had been sent forward with advice
To Sarza's king, by beauteous Doralice.
When she fell into Mandricardo's hand,
(I have before recounted when and where)
She had in secret given the dwarf command,
He to the king should with the tidings fare;
By whom she hoped not vainly would be scanned
The tale her messenger was charged to bear,
But wonderous deeds be done for her relief,
With sad and signal vengeance on the thief.
Jealousy had that little dwarf espied,
And kenned the reason of his mission too,
And joined him, journeying with him side by side,
Deeming that she therein a part might do.
Discord, with pleasure, Jealousy decried,
But with more joy, when she the occasion knew
Which thither brought the dame, who much (she wist)
Might in the task she had in hand assist.
Of means to embroil the Sarzan and the son
Of Agrican, she deems herself possest.
A certain mode to enrage these two is won;
And other means may work upon the rest.
She thither with the dwarfish page is gone,
Where the fierce Pagan in his clutch had prest
Proud Paris, and they reached the river strand,
Exactly as the felon swam to land.
As soon as the redoubted Rodomont
Knew in the dwarf the courier of his dame,
He all his rage extinguished, cleared his front,
And felt his courage brighten into flame.
All else he deems the courier may recount,
Save that a wight had wrought him scaith and shame,
And cries (encountering him with chearful brow)
'How fares our lady? wither sent art thou?'
'Nor mine nor thine that lady will I say,
Who is another's thrall,' the dwarf replied.
'We, on our road, encountered yesterday
A knight, who seized and bore away the bride.'
Jealousy, upon this, took up the play,
And, cold as asp, embraced the king: her guide
Pursued his tale, relating how the train,
Their mistress taken, by one man were slain.
Her flint and steel, fell Discord, as he said,
Took forth, and somewhile hammered on the stone.
Pride, underneath, the ready tinder spread,
And the quick fire was in a moment blown:
This on the paynim's soul so fiercely fed,
He could not find a resting place: 'mid groan
And sob he storms, with horrid face and eye,
Which threat the elements and ample sky.
As tiger rages, who in vain descends
Into her den, and finds herself alone,
And, circling all the cavern, comprehends,
At last, that her beloved young are gone;
To ire, to rage like hers his wrath extends:
Nor night the king regards, nor rock, nor stone,
Nor stream: - Nor length of way nor storm arrest
The speed with which he on the plunderer prest.
So raging, to the pigmy dwarf who bore
The news, exclaimed the king, 'Now hence away!'
Nor horse he waits, nor carriage, nor, before
Departing, deigns to his a word to say.
He hurries with such speed, that not with more
The lizard darts at noon across the way.
Horse had he none, but be he whose he might,
Would make his own the first which came in sight.
Discord at this, who read his secret thought,
Exclaimed, as she looked smilingly on Pride,
Through her he to a courser should be brought,
By which new cause of strife should be supplied;
And, that by him no other might be caught,
She from his path would keep all steeds beside;
And knew already where the prize to seek.
- But her I leave, again of Charles to speak.
When, on the Saracen's departure, spent,
About King Charles, was the consuming flame,
He ranged his troops anew: some warriors went
To strengthen feeble posts which succours claim;
The rest against the Saracens are sent,
To give the foe checkmate and end the game;
And from St. German's to Saint Victor's gates,
He pours the host, which on his signal waits.
He these at Saint Marcellus' gate, where lay,
Outstretched a large circumference of plain,
Bade one another wait, in one array,
To reunite against the paynim train.
Inflaming every one to smite and slay,
In guise, that for a record should remain,
He made the various troops fall in below
Their banners, and the battle-signal blow.
Agramant has remounted in his sell,
While this is doing in his foe's despite,
And with the stripling who loved Isabel,
Is waging perilous and fearful fight.
Lurcanio with Sobrino strives as well;
Rinaldo a troop encounters, whom the knight,
With Valour and with Fortune for his guide,
Charges, and breaks, and routs on every side.
While so the battle stands, king Charlemagne
Falls on the rear guard of the paynim foe,
Where bold Marsilius halts the flower of Spain,
And forms the host, his royal flag below.
On these king Charlemagne impels his train,
Who, foot with horse to flank, against them go.
While so the deafening drum and trumpet sounds,
'Twould seem the spacious world the din rebounds.
The Saracenic squadrons had begun
To bend, and all the army of the Moor
Had turned, disordered, broken, and undone,
Never to be arrayed or rallied more,
But that Grandonio stood, and Falsiron,
Tried oftentimes in greater ill before,
With Serpentine and Balugantes proud,
And the renowned Ferrau, who cried aloud:
'O valiant men,' he - 'O companions,' cries,
'O brethren, stand, and yet your place maintain;
Like cobweb-threads our cruel enemies
Will find their works, if we our part sustain.
What this day Fortune offers to our eyes,
If now we conquer, see the praise, the gain! -
If conquered, see the utter loss and shame
Which will for ever wait upon your name!'
He in this time a mighty lance had spanned,
And spurred at once against Sir Berlinghier,
Who Argaliffa guided with his hand,
And broke his helmet's frontal with the spear,
Cast him on earth, and with the cruel brand
Unhorsed perhaps eight other warriors near.
His mighty strokes discharging, at each blow,
He ever laid at least one horseman low.
In other part, Rinaldo, in his mood,
Has slain more enemies than I can say,
Before the warlike knight no order stood;
You might have seen the ample camp give way.
No less Zerbino and Lurcanio good
Do deeds, which will be told in every day;
This, with a thrust, has bold Balastro slain,
That Finaduro's helm has cleft in twain.
The first was of the Alzerban army head,
Ruled by Tardocco some short time before;
The other one the valiant squadrons led
Of Saphi, and Morocco, and Zamor.
'Where, 'mid the paynims,' might to me be said,
'Is knight whose sword can cleave or lance can gore?'
But step by step I go, and as I wind
My way, leave none who merits praise behind.
Zumara's king is not forgotten here,
Dardinel, who Sir Dulphin of the mount,
Claude of the wood, and Hubert, with the spear,
(Of Mirford he) and Elio did dismount,
And, with the faulchion, Stamford's cavalier,
Sir Anselm, Raymond and Sir Pinnamont
From London-town; though valiant were the twain;
Two stunned, one wounded, the four others slain.
Yet will his squadron not so firmly stand,
Maugre the valour which his deeds display,
So firmly, as to wait the Christian band,
In number less, but steadier in array,
More used to joust and manage of the brand,
And all things appertaining to the gray.
Setta and Morocco turned, and, seized with dread,
Zumara and Canaries' islesmen fled.
But faster than the rest Alzerba flies,
Whom Dardinel opposed, and now with sore
Reproach, and now with prayer he moves, and tries
What best he deems their courage may restore.
'If good Almontes has deserved,' he cries,
'That you should by his memory set such store,
Now shall be seen - be seen, if you will me,
His son, abandon in such jeopardy.
'For sake of my green youth, I pray you stand,
That youth whereon your hopes were wont to feed,
And suffer not that, scattered by the brand,
To Africa be lost our noble seed.
Save you united go, be sure the land
Is shut against you, wheresoe'er you speed.
Too high a wall to climb is mountain-steep,
The yawning sea a ditch too wide to leap.
'Far better 'tis to perish than to be
Torn by these dogs, or lie at their control.
Since vain is every other remedy,
Wait, friends, for love of Heaven, the advancing shoal:
They are not gifted with more lives than we;
Have but one pair of hands, have but one soul.'
So saying, the bold youth, amid the crew
Of enemies, the Earl of Huntley slew.
Almontes' memory, through the Moorish bands,
Makes every bosom with such ardour glow,
They deem 'tis better to use arms and hands
In fight, than turn their backs upon the foe.
Taller than all William of Burnwich stands,
An Englishman, whom Dardinel brings low,
And equals with the rest; then smites upon,
And cleaves, the head of Cornish Aramon.
Down fell this Aramon, and to afford
Him succour, thitherward his brother made;
But from the shoulder him Zumara's lord
Cleft to the fork, with his descending blade;
Next Bogio de Vergalla's belly gored,
And from his debt absolved (the forfeit paid)
Who to return within six months, if life
Were granted him, had promised to his wife.
Lurcanio next met Dardinello's eye;
He upon earth Dorchino had laid low,
Pierced through the throat, and hapless Gardo nigh
Cleft to the teeth; at him, as all too slow,
He from Altheus vainly seeks to fly,
Whom as his heart Lurcanio loves, a blow
Upon his head behind the Scotchman speeds;
And. slaughtered by the stroke, the warrior bleeds.
Dardinel, to avenge him, took a spear,
And, should he lay the fierce Lurcanio dead,
Vowed to his Mahomet, if he could hear,
The mosque should have his empty arms; this said,
Ranging the field in haste, that cavalier
He in the flank, with thrust so full and dread,
Encountered, that it went through either side:
And he to his to strip the baron cried.
From me it sure were needless to demand,
If Ariodantes, when his brother fell,
Was grieved; if he with his avenging hand
Among the damned would send Sir Dardinell;
But all access the circling troops withstand
And bar, no less baptized than infidel:
Yet would he venge himself, and with his blade,
Now here, now there, an open passage made.
He charges, chases, breaks, and overthrows
Whoever cross him on the crowded plain;
And Dardinello, who his object knows,
Would fain the wish content; but him the train
Impedes as well, which round about him flows,
And renders aye his every purpose vain.
If one on all sides thins the Moorish rank,
The other slays Scot, Englishman, and Frank.
Fortune still blocked their path throughout the day,
So that they met not, 'mid that chivalry,
And kept one as a mightier champion's prey;
For rarely man escapes his destiny.
Behold the good Rinaldo turns that way!
That, for this one no refuge there might be.
Lo! good Rinaldo comes: him Fortune guides,
And for his sword King Dardinel provides.
But here enough for this one while is shown
Of their illustrious doings in the west;
'Tis time I seek Sir Gryphon, and make known
How he, with fury burning in his breast,
That rabble-rout had broke and overthrown,
Struck with more fear than ever men possest.
Thither speeds Norandine on that alarm,
And for his guard above a thousand arm.
King Norandine, girt with peer and knight,
Seeing on every side the people fly,
Rides to the gates, with squadron duly dight,
And at his hest the portals open fly.
Meanwhile Sir Gryphon, having put to flight
The weak and worthless rabble far and nigh,
The scorned arms (to keep him from that train),
Such as they were, took up and donned again.
And nigh a temple strongly walled, and round
Whose base a moat for its protection goes,
Upon a little bridge takes up his ground,
That him his enemies may not enclose.
Lo! loudly shouting, and with threatening sound,
A mighty squadron through the gateway flows.
The valiant Gryphon changes not his place,
And shows how small his fear by act and face.
But when, approaching near, he saw the band,
He sallied forth to meet them by the way;
And wielding still his sword in either hand,
Made cruel havoc in the close array.
Then on the narrow bridge resumed his stand,
Nor there his hunters only held at bay:
Anew he sallied, and returned anew,
Aye leaving bloody signs when he withdrew.
Fore-stroke and back he deals, and on the ground
Horsemen and foot o'erthrows on every side:
This while the ample mob the knight surround,
And more and more the warfare rages wide.
At length Sir Gryphon fears he shall be drowned,
(So waxed their numbers) in the increasing tide;
And hurt in the left shoulder, through his mail,
And thigh, his wind as well begins to fail.
But Valour, who so oft befriends her own,
Makes him find grace in Norandino's eyes;
Who, while alarmed, he hurries there, o'erthrown
So many men, such heaps of dead espies,
While he views wounds, which Hector's hand alone
He weens could deal, - to him all testifies
That he had put an undeserved shame
Upon a cavalier of mighty name.
Next seeing him more near, whose falchion's sweep
Had dealt such deaths amid his chivalry,
And raised about himself that horrid heap,
And stained the water with that bloody dye,
He thought that he beheld Horatius keep,
Singly, the bridge against all Tuscany;
And vext, and anxious to remove the stain,
Recalled his men, and that with little pain.
And, lifting his bare hand, in sign affied,
From ancient times, of treaty and of truce,
Repenting him, he to Sir Gryphon cried,
'It grieves me sorely, and I cannot choose
But own my sin: let counsels which misguide,
And my own little wit, such fault excuse.
What by the vilest knight I thought to do,
I to the best on earth have done in you.
'And though the bitter injuries and shame
That have to thee through ignorance been done,
Are equalled, and all cancelled by thy fame,
And merged, in truth, in glory thou hast won;
Whatever satisfaction thou canst claim,
Within my power or knowledge, count upon,
When I know how atonement may be made,
By city, castle, or by money paid.
'Demand of me this kingdom's moiety,
And from this day thou its possessor art,
Since not alone thy worth deserves this fee,
But merits, I with this should give my heart;
Then, pledge of faith and lasting love, to me,
In the meanwhile, thy friendly hand impart.'
So saying, from his horse the king descended,
And towards Gryphon his right-hand extended.
When he beheld the monarch's altered cheer,
Who bent to clasp his neck, towards him paced,
His sword and rancour laid aside, the peer
Him humbly underneath the hips embraced.
King Norandine, who saw the sanguine smear
Of his two wounds, bade seek a leech in haste;
And bade them softly with the knight resort
Towards the town, and lodge him in his court.
Here, wounded, he remained some days before
He could bear arms: but him, in the design
Of seeking out Sir Aquilant once more,
And good Astolpho, left in Palestine,
I quit; they vainly did his path explore,
After Sir Gryphon left the holy shrine,
Through Solyma in every place of note,
And many, from the Holy Land remote.
One and the other are alike to seek
In the inquiry where the knight may use;
But they encounter with the pilgrim-Greek,
Who of false Origilla gives them news;
Relating, as of her he haps to speak,
That towards Antioch she her way pursues,
By a new leman of that city charmed,
Who her with fierce and sudden flame had warmed.
Aquilant asked him, if he had possest
Sir Gryphon of the news to them conveyed,
Who, hearing that he had, surmised the rest, -
Where he was gone, and by what motive swayed:
He followed Origille, was manifest,
And had in quest of her for Antioch made,
To take her from his rival, and with view
On him some memorable scathe to do.
Aquilant brooked not Gryphon such a feat,
Without him, and alone, should thus assay,
And took his armour and pursued his beat;
But first besought the duke he would delay
To visit France and his paternal seat,
Till he from Antioch measured back his way.
At Joppa he embarks, who deems by sea
The better and securer way to be.
From the south-east up-sprung so strong a breeze,
And which for Gryphon's galley blew so right,
That the third day he Tyre's famed city sees,
And lesser Joppa quick succeeds to sight.
By Zibellotto and Baruti flees,
(Cyprus to larboard left) the galley light;
From Tripoli to Tortosa shapes her way,
And so to Lizza and Lajazzo's bay.
From thence, towards the east the pilot veered
Her ready tiller, prompt his course to scan;
And straightway for the wide Orontes steered,
And watched his time, and for the harbour ran.
Aquilant, when his bark the margin neared,
Bade lower the bridge, and issued, horse and man,
It armour, and along the river wended,
Up-stream, till he his way at Antioch ended.
To inform himself of that Martano bent;
And heard that he to Antioch was addrest,
With Origilla, where a tournament
Was to be solemnized by royal hest.
To track whom Aquilant was so intent,
Assured that Gryphon had pursued his quest,
He Antioch left again that very day,
But not by sea again would take his way.
He towards Lidia and Larissa goes,
- At rich Aleppo makes a longer stay.
God, to make plain that he, even here, bestows
On evil and on good their fitting pay,
At a league's distance from Mamuga, throws
Martano in the avenging brother's way,
Martano travelling with the tourney's prize,
Displayed before his horse in showy wise.
Sir Aquilant believed, at the first show,
His brother he in vile Martano spied.
For arms and vest, more white than virgin snow,
The coward in the warrior's sight belied,
And sprang towards him, with that joyful 'Oh!'
By which delight is ever signified;
But changed his look and tone, when, nearer brought
He sees that he is not the wight he sought:
And through that evil woman's treachery,
Deemed Gryphon murdered by the cavalier;
And, 'Tell me,' he exclaimed, 'thou, who must be
Traitor and thief - both written in thy cheer -
Whence are these arms? and wherefore do I thee
View on the courser of my brother dear?
Say is my brother slaughtered or alive?
How didst thou him of horse and arms deprive?'
When Origille hears him, in affright
She turns her palfrey, and for flight prepares:
But Aquilant, more quick, in her despite,
Arrests the traitress, ere she further fares.
At the loud threats of that all furious knight,
By whom he so was taken unawares,
Martan' turns pale and trembles like a leaf,
Nor how to act or answer knows the thief.
Aquilant thundered still, and, to his dread,
A falchion, pointed at his gullet, shewed,
And swore with angry menaces, the head
From him and Origille should be hewed,
Save in all points the very truth be said.
Awhile on this ill-starred Martano chewed,
Revolving still what pretext he might try
To lessen his grave fault, then made reply:
'Know, sir, you see my sister in this dame,
And one of good and virtuous parents born,
Though she has lately led a life of shame,
And been by Gryphon foully brought to scorn;
And, for I loathed such blot upon our name,
Yet weened that she could ill by force be torn
From such a puissant wight, I laid a scheme
Her by address and cunning to redeem.
'With her I planned the means, who in her breast
Nursed the desire a better life to prove,
That she, when Gryphon was retired to rest,
In silence from the warrior should remove.
This done: lest he should follow on our quest,
And so undo the web we vainly wove,
Him we deprived of horse and arm, and we
Are hither come together, as you see.'
His cunning might have proved of good avail,
For Aquilant believed him easily;
And, save in taking Gryphon's horse and mail,
He to the knight had done no injury;
But that he wrought so high the specious tale,
As manifested plainly, 'twas a lie.
In all 'twas perfect, save that he the dame
Had for his sister vouched with whom he came.
Aquilant had in Antioch chanced to know
She was his concubine, - well certified
Of this by many, - and in furious glow
Exclaimed; 'Thou falsest robber, thou hast lied!'
And dealt, with that, the recreant such a blow,
He drove two grinders down his throat; then tied
(Not sought Martano with his foe to cope)
The caitiff's arms behind him with a rope.
And, though she for excuse tried many wiles,
Did thus as well by Origille untrue;
And till he reached Damascus' lofty piles,
Them by town, street, or farm, behind him drew:
And will a thousand times a thousand miles,
With sorrow and with suffering, drag the two,
Till he his brother find; who, at his pleasure,
May vengeance to the guilty couple measure.
Sir Aquilant made squires and beasts as well
Return with him, and to Damascus came;
And heard Renown, throughout the city, swell,
Plying her ample wings, Sir Gryphon's name.
Here, great and little - every one, could tell
'Twas he that in the tourney won such fame,
And had, by one that ill deserved his trust,
Been cheated of the honours of the just.
Pointing him out to one another's sight,
The hostile people all Martano bayed;
'And is not this (they cried) that ribald wight
Who in another's spoils himself arrayed,
And who the valour of a sleeping knight,
With his own shame and infamy o'erlaid?
And this the woman of ungrateful mood,
Who aids the wicked and betrays the good?'
Others exclaimed, 'How fittingly combined,
Marked with one stamp, and of one race are they!'
Some loudly cursed them, and some raved behind,
While others shouted, 'Hang, burn, quarter, slay!'
The throng to view them prest, with fury blind,
And to the square before them made its way.
The monarch of the tidings was advised,
And these above another kingdom prized.
Attended with few squires the Syrian king,
As then he chanced to be, came forth with speed,
And with Sir Aquilant encountering,
Who Gryphon had avenged with worthy deed,
Him honoured with fair cheer, and home would bring,
And in his palace lodged, as fitting meed;
Having the prisoned pair, with his consent,
First in the bottom of a turret pent.
Thither they go, where Gryphon from his bed
Has not as yet, since he was wounded, stirred;
Who at his brother's coming waxes red,
Surmising well he of his case has heard:
And after Aquilant his say had said,
And him somedeal reproached, the three conferred
As to what penance to the wicked two,
So fallen into their hands, was justly due.
'Tis Aquilant's, 'tis Norandino's will
A thousand tortures shall their guerdon be:
But Gryphon, who the dame alone can ill
Excuse, entreats for both impunity;
And many matters urges with much skill.
But well is answered: and 'tis ruled, to flea
Martano's body with the hangman's scourge,
And only short of death his penance urge.
Bound is the wretch, but not 'mid grass and flower,
Whose limbs beneath the hangman's lashes burn
All the next morn: they prison in the tower
Origille, till Lucina shall return;
To whom the counselling lords reserve the power
To speak the woman's sentence, mild or stern.
Harboured, till Gryphon can bear arms, at court,
Aquilant fleets the time in fair disport.
The valiant Norandino could not choose
(Made by such error temperate and wise),
But full of penitence and sorrow, muse,
With downcast spirit, and in mournful guise,
On having bid his men a knight misuse,
Whom all should worthily reward and prize;
So that he, night and morning, in his thought,
How to content the injured warrior sought.
And he determined, in the public sight
O' the city, guilty of that injury,
With all such honour as to perfect knight
Could by a puissant monarch rendered be,
Him with the glorious guerdon to requite,
Which had been ravished by such treachery:
And hence, within a month, proclaimed the intent
To hold another solemn tournament.
For which he made what stately preparation
Was possible to make by sceptered king.
Hence Fame divulged the royal proclamation
Throughout all Syria's land, with nimble wing,
Phoenicia and Palestine; till the relation
Of this in good Astolpho's ears did ring;
Who, with the lord who ruled that land in trust,
Resolved he would be present at the just.
For a renowned and valiant cavalier
Has the true history vaunted, Sansonnet,
By Roland christened, Charles (I said), the peer
Over the Holy Land as ruler set:
He with the duke takes up his load, to steer
Thither, where Rumour speaks the champions met.
So that his ears, on all sides in the journey,
Are filled with tidings of Damascus' tourney.
Thither the twain their way those countries through,
By easy stages and by slow, addrest,
That fresh upon the day of joust the two
Might in Damascus-town set up their rest.
When at the meeting of cross-ways they view
A person, who, in movement and in vest,
Appears to be a man, but is a maid;
And marvellously fierce, in martial raid.
Marphisa was the warlike virgin's name,
And such her worth, she oft with naked brand
Had pressed Orlando sore in martial game,
And him who had Mount Alban in command;
And ever, night and day, the armed dame
Scowered, here and there, by hill and plain, the land;
Hoping with errant cavalier to meet,
And win immortal fame by glorious feat.
When Sansonnetto and the English knight
She sees approaching her, in warlike weed,
Who seem two valiant warriors in her sight,
As of large bone, and nerved for doughty deed,
On them she fain would prove her martial might,
And to defy the pair has moved her steed.
When, eyeing the two warriors, now more near,
Marphisa recognized the duke and peer.
His pleasing ways she did in mind retrace,
When arms in far Catay with her he bore
Called him by name, nor would in iron case;
Retain her hand, upraised the casque she wore,
And him, advanced, to meet with glad embrace,
Though, of all living dames and those of yore,
The proudest, she; nor with less courteous mien
The paladin salutes the martial queen.
They questioned one another of their way;
And when the duke has said (who first replied)
That he Damascus seeks, where to assay
Their virtuous deeds, all knights of valour tried
The Syrian king invites, in martial play, -
The bold Marphisa, at his hearing cried,
(Ever to prove her warlike prowess bent)
'I will be with you at this tournament.'
To have such a comrade either cavalier
Is much rejoiced. They to Damascus go,
And in a suburb, of the city clear,
Are lodged, upon the day before the show;
And, till her aged lover, once so dear,
Aurora roused, their humble roof below,
In greater ease the weary warriors rested
Than had they been in costly palace guested.
And when the clear and lucid sun again
Its shining glories all abroad had spread,
The beauteous lady armed, and warriors twain,
Having first couriers to the city sped,
Who, when 'twas time, reported to the train,
That, to see truncheons split in contest dread,
King Norandine had come into the square
In which the cruel games appointed were.
Straight to the city ride the martial band,
And, through the high-street, to the crowded place;
Where, waiting for the royal signal, stand,
Ranged here and there, the knights of gentle race.
The guerdons destined to the conqueror's hand,
In that day's tourney, were a tuck and mace
Richly adorned, and, with them, such a steed
As to the winning lord were fitting meed.
Norandine, sure that, in the martial game,
Both prizes destined for the conquering knight,
As well as one and the other tourney's fame,
Must be obtained by Gryphon, named the white,
To give him all that valiant man could claim,
Nor could he give the warrior less, with right,
The armour, guerdon of this final course
Placed with the tuck and mace and noble horse.
The arms which in the former joust the due
Of valiant Gryphon were, who all had gained,
(With evil profit, by the wretch untrue,
Martan' usurped, who Gryphon's bearing feigned)
To be hung up on high in public view
With the rich-flourished tuck, the king ordained,
And fastened at the saddle of the steed
The mace, that Gryphon might win either meed.
But from effecting what he had intended
He was prevented by the warlike maid;
Who late into the crowded square had wended,
With Sansonnet and England's duke arrayed,
Seeing the arms of which I spoke suspended,
She straight agnized the harness she surveyed,
Once hers, and dear to her; as matters are
Esteemed by us as excellent and rare;
Though, as a hindrance, she upon the road
Had left the arms, when, to retrieve her sword,
She from her shoulders slipt the ponderous load,
And chased Brunello, worthy of the cord.
More to relate were labour ill bestowed,
I deem, nor further of the tale record.
Enough for me, by you 'tis understood,
How here she found anew her armour good.
You shall take with you, when by manifest
And certain tokens they by her were known,
She, for no earthly thing, the iron vest
And weapons for a day would have foregone.
She thinks not if this mode or that be best
To have them, anxious to regain her own;
But t'wards the arms with hand extended hies,
And without more regard takes down the prize.
And throwing some on earth, it chanced that more
Than was her own she in her hurry took.
The Syrian king, who was offended sore,
Raised war against her with a single look.
For ill the wrong his angered people bore,
And, to avenge him, lance and falchion shook;
Remembering not, on other day, how dear
They paid for scathing errant cavalier.
No wishful child more joyfully, 'mid all
The flowers of spring-tide, yellow, blue, and red,
Finds itself, nor at concert or at ball
Dame beauteous and adorned, than 'mid the tread
Of warlike steeds, and din of arms, and fall
Of darts, and push of spears. - where blood is shed,
And death is dealt, in the tumultuous throng, -
SHE finds herself beyond all credence strong.
She spurred her courser, and with lance in rest,
Imperious at the foolish rabble made,
And - through the neck impaled or through the breast, -
Some pierced, some prostrate at the encounter layed.
Next this or that she with the falchion prest;
The head from one she severed with the blade,
And from that other cleft: another sank,
Short of right arm or left, or pierced in flank.
Bold Sansonnetto and Astolpho near,
Who had, with her, their limbs in harness dight,
Though they for other end in arms appear,
Seeing the maid and crowd engaged in fight,
First lower the helmet's vizor, next the spear,
And with their lances charge the mob outright:
Then bare their falchions, and, amid the crew,
A passage with the trenchant weapons hew.
The errant cavaliers who to that stage,
To joust, from different lands had made resort,
Seeing them warfare with such fury wage,
And into mourning changed the expected sport,
Because all knew not what had moved the rage
Of the infuriate people in that sort,
Nor what the insult offered to the king,
Suspended stood in doubt and wondering.
Of these, some will the crowded rabble's band
(Too late repentant of the feat) befriend:
Those, favouring not the natives of the land
More than the foreigners, to part them wend.
Others more wary, with their reins in hand,
Sit watching how the mischief is to end.
Gryphon and Aquilant are of the throng
Which hurry forward to avenge the wrong.
The pair of warlike brethren witnessing
The monarch's drunken eyes with venom fraught,
And having heard from many in the ring
The occasion which the furious strife had wrought,
Himself no whit less injured than the king
Of Syria's land, offended Gryphon thought.
Each knight, in haste, supplied himself with spear,
And thundering vengeance drove in full career.
On Rabican, pricked forth before his hand,
Valiant Astolpho, from the other bound,
With the enchanted lance of gold in hand,
Which at the first encounter bore to ground
What knights he smote with it; and on the sand
Laid Gryphon first; next Aquilant he found,
And scarcely touched the border of his shield,
Ere he reversed the warrior on the field.
From lofty saddle Sansonnet o'erthrew,
Famous for price and prowess, many a knight.
To the outlet of the square the mob withdrew;
The monarch raged with anger and despite.
Meanwhile, of the first cuirass and the new
Possest, as well as either helmet bright,
Marphisa, when she all in flight discerned,
Conqueror towards her suburb-inn returned.
Sansonnet and Astolpho are not slow
In following t'wards the gate the martial maid,
(The mob dividing all to let them go)
And halt when they have reached the barricade.
Gryphon and Aquilant, who saw with woe
Themselves on earth at one encounter laid,
Their drooping heads, opprest with shame, decline,
Nor dare appear before King Norandine.
Seizing their steeds and mounting, either son
Of Oliver to seek their foemen went:
With many of his vassals too is gone
The king; on death or vengeance all intent.
The foolish rabble cry, 'Lay on, lay on.'
And stand at distance and await the event.
Gryphon arrived where the three friends had gained
A bridge, and facing round the post maintained.
He, at the first approach, Astolpho knew,
For still the same device had been his wear,
Even from the day he charmed Orrilo slew,
His horse, his arms the same: him not with care
Sir Gryphon had remarked, nor stedfast view,
When late he jousted with him in the square:
He knows him here and greets; next prays him show
Who the companions are that with him go;
And why they had those arms, without the fear
Of Syria's king, pulled down, and to his slight.
Of his champions England's cavalier,
Sir Gryphon courteously informed aright.
But little of those arms, pursued the peer,
He knew, which were the occasion of the fight;
But (for he thither with Marphisa came
And Sansonnet) had armed to aid the dame.
While he and Gryphon stood in colloquy,
Aquilant came, and knew Astolpho good,
Whom he heard speaking with his brother nigh,
And, though of evil purpose, changed his mood.
Of Norandine's trooped many, these to spy;
But came not nigh the warriors where they stood:
And seeing them in conference, stood clear,
Listening, in silence, and intent to hear.
Some one who hears Marphisa hold is there,
Famed, through the world, for matchless bravery,
His courser turns, and bids the king have care,
Save he would lose his Syrian chivalry,
To snatch his court, before all slaughtered are,
From the hand of Death and of Tisiphone:
For that 'twas verily Marphisa, who
Had borne away the arms in public view.
As Norandine is told that name of dread,
Through the Levant so feared on every side,
Whose mention made the hair on many a head
Bristle, though she was often distant wide.
He fears the ill may happen which is said,
Unless against the mischief he provide;
And hence his meiny, who have changed their ire
Already into fear, he bids retire.
The sons of Oliver, on the other hand,
With Sansonnetto and the English knight,
So supplicate Marphisa, she her brand
Puts up, and terminates the cruel fight;
And to the monarch next, amid his brand,
Cries, proudly, 'Sir, I know not by what right
Thou wouldst this armour, not thine own, present
To him who conquers in thy tournament.
'Mine are these arms, which I, upon a day,
Left on the road which leads from Armeny,
Because, parforce a-foot, I sought to stay
A robber, who had sore offended me.
The truth of this my ensign may display.
Which here is seen, if it be known to thee.'
With that she on the plate which sheathed the breast
(Cleft in three places) showed a crown imprest.
'To me this an Armenian merchant gave,
'Tis true,' replied the king, 'some days ago;
And had you raised your voice, the arms to crave,
You should have had them, whether yours or no.
For, notwithstanding I to Gryphon gave
The armour, I so well his nature know,
He freely would resign the gift he earned,
That it by me to you might be returned.
'Your allegation needs not to persuade
These arms are yours - that they your impress bear;
Your word suffices me, by me more weighed
Than all that other witness could declare.
To grant them yours is but a tribute paid
To Virtue, worthy better prize to wear.
Now have the arms, and let us make accord;
And let some fairer gift the knight reward.'
Gryphon, who little had those arms at heart,
But much to satisfy the king was bent,
Replied: 'You recompense enough impart,
Teaching me how your wishes to content.'
- 'Here is my honour all at sake,' apart,
'Meseemeth,' said Marphisa, and forewent
Her claim for Gryphon's sake, with courteous cheer;
And, as his gift, in fine received the gear.
To the city, their rejoicings to renew,
In love and peace they measured back their way.
Next came the joust, of which the honour due,
And prize was Sansonnet's; since from the fray
Abstained Astolpho and the brethren two,
And bold Marphisa, best of that array,
Like faithful friends and good companions; fain
That Sansonnet the tourney's meed should gain.
Eight days or ten in joy and triumph dwell
The knights with Norandine; but with such strong
Desire of France the warriors' bosoms swell,
Which will not let them thence be absent long,
They take their leave. Marphisa, who as well
Thither would go, departs the troop among.
Marphisa had long time, with sword and lance,
Desired to prove the paladins of France;
And make experiment, if they indeed
Such worth as is by Rumour voiced display.
Sansonnet leaves another, in his stead,
The city of Jerusalem to sway,
And now these five, in chosen squadron speed,
Who have few peers in prowess, on their way.
Dismist by Norandine, to Tripoli
They wend, and to the neighbouring haven hie.
And there a carack find, about to steer
For western countries, taking in her store:
They, with the patron, for themselves and gear,
And horses, make accord; a seaman hoar
Of Luna he: the heavens, on all sides clear,
Vouch many days' fair weather. From the shore
They loose, with sky serene, and every sail
Of the yare vessel stretched by favouring gale.
The island of the amorous deity
Breathed upon them an air, in her first port,
Which not alone to man does injury,
But moulders iron, and here life is short;
- A marsh the cause, - and Nature certainly
Wrongs Famagosta, poisoning, in such sort,
That city with Constantia's fen malign,
To all the rest of Cyprus so benign.
The noxious scents that from the marish spring,
After short sojourn there, compel their flight.
The barque to a south-easter every wing
Extends, and circles Cyprus to the right,
Makes Paphos' island next, and, anchoring,
The crew and warriors on the beach alight;
Those to ship merchandize, and these, at leisure,
To view the laughing land of Love and Pleasure.
Inland six miles or seven from thence, a way
Scales, with an easy rise, a pleasant hill;
Which myrtle, orange, cedar-tree, and bay,
And other perfumed plants by thousands fill;
Thyme, marjoram, crocus, rose, and lily gay
From odoriferous leaf such sweets distill,
That they who sail the sea the fragrance bland,
Scent in each genial gale which blows from land.
A fruitful rill, by limpid fountain fed,
Waters, all round about, the fertile space.
The land of Venus truly may be said
That passing joyous and delightful place:
For every maid and wife, who there is bred,
Is through the world beside, unmatched in grace:
And Venus wills, till their last hour be tolled,
That Love should warm their bosoms, young and old.
'Twas here they heard the same which they before
Of the orc and of Lucina, erst had heard
In Syria; how she to return once more
In Nicosia, to her lord prepared.
Thence (a fair wind now blowing from the shore)
His bark for sea the ready Patron cleared,
Hawled up his anchor, westward turned the head
Of the good ship, and all his canvas spread.
To the north wind, which blew upon their right,
Stretching to seaward, they their sails untie:
When lo! a south-south-wester, which seemed light,
In the beginning, while the sun was high,
And afterwards increased in force t'wards night,
Raised up the sea against them mountains high;
With such dread flashes, and loud peals of thunder,
As Heaven, to swallow all in fire, would sunder.
The clouds their gloomy veil above them strain,
Nor suffer sun or star to cheer the view.
Above the welkin roared, beneath the main;
On every side the wind and tempest grew;
Which, with sharp piercing cold and blinding rain,
Afflicted sore the miserable crew.
While aye descending night, with deeper shade,
The vext and fearful billows overlayed.
The sailors, in this war of wind and flood,
Were prompt to manifest their vaunted art.
One blowing through the shrilling whistle stood,
And with the signal taught the rest their part.
One clears the best bower anchor: one is good
To lower, this other to hawl home or start
The braces; one from deck the lumber cast,
And this secured the tiller, that the mast.
The cruel wind increased throughout the night,
Which grew more dismal and more dark than hell.
The wary Patron stood to sea outright,
Where he believed less broken was the swell;
And turned his prow to meet, with ready sleight,
The buffets of the dreadful waves which fell;
Never without some hope, that at day-break
The storm might lull, or else its fury slake.
It lulls not, nor its fury slakes, but grown
Wilder, shows worse by day, - if this be day,
Which but by reckoning of the hours is known,
And not by any cheering light or ray.
Now, with more fear (his weaker hope o'erthrown).
The sorrowing Patron to the wind gives way,
He veers his barque before the cruel gale,
And scowers the foaming sea with humble sail.
While Fortune on the sea annoys this crew,
She grants those others small repose by land,
Those left in France, who one another slew, -
The men of England and the paynim band.
These bold Rinaldo broke and overthrew;
Nor troops nor banners spread before him stand:
I speak of him, who his Baiardo fleet
Had spurred the gallant Dardinel to meet.
The shield, of which Almontes' son was vain,
That of the quarters, good Rinaldo spied;
And deemed him bold, and of a valiant strain,
Who with Orlando's ensign dared to ride.
Approaching nearer, this appeared more plain,
When heaps of slaughtered men he round him eyed.
'Better it were,' he cried, 'to overthrow
This evil plant, before it shoot and grow.'
Each to retreat betook him, where the peer
His face directed, and large passage made.
Nor less the Saracens than faithful, clear
The way, so reverenced is Fusberta's blade.
Save Dardinel, Mount Alban's cavalier,
Saw none, nor he to chase his prey delayed.
To whom, 'He cast upon thee mickle care,
Poor child, who of that buckler left thee heir.
'I seek thee out to prove (if thou attend
My coming) how thou keep'st the red and white,
For thou, save this from me thou canst defend,
Canst ill defend it from Orlando's might.'
To him the king: 'Now clearly comprehend,
I what I bear, as well defend in fight;
And I more honour hope than trouble dread
From my paternal quartering, white and red.
'Have thou no hope to make me fly, or yield
To thee my quarters, though a child I be;
My life shalt thou take from me, if my shield;
But I, in God, well hope the contrary.
- This as it may! - shall none, in fighting field,
Say that I ever shamed my ancestry.'
So said, and grasping in his hand the sword,
The youthful king assailed Mount Alban's lord.
Upon all parts, a freezing fear goes through
The heart blood of each trembling paynim nigh,
When they amazed the fierce Rinaldo view;
Who charged the monarch with such enmity,
As might a lion, which a bullock, new
To stings of love, should in a meadow spy.
The Moor smote first, but fruitless was his task,
Who beat in vain upon Mambrino's casque.
Rinaldo smiled, and said: 'I'd have thee know
If I am better skilled to find the vein.'
He spurs, and lets with that the bridle go,
And a thrust pushes with such might and main,
- A thrust against the bosom of his foe,
That at his back the blade appears again.
Forth issued blood and soul, and from his sell
Lifeless and cold the reeling body fell.
As languishes the flower of purple hue,
Which levelled by the passing ploughshare lies;
Or as the poppy, overcharged with dew,
In garden droops its head in piteous wise:
From life the leader of Zumara's crew
So past, his visage losing all its dyes;
So passed from life; and perished with their king,
The heart and hope of all his following.
As waters will sometime their course delay,
Stagnant, and penned in pool by human skill,
Which, when the opposing dyke is broke away,
Fall, and with mighty noise the country fill:
'Twas so the Africans, who had some stay,
While Dardinello valour did instil,
Fled here and there, dismayed on every side,
When they him hurtling form his sell descried.
Letting the flyers fly, of those who stand
Firm in their place, Rinaldo breaks the array;
Ariodantes kills on every hand;
Who ranks well nigh Rinaldo on that day.
These Leonetto's, those Zerbino's brand
O'erturns, all rivals in the glorious fray.
Well Charles and Oliver their parts have done,
Turpin and Ogier, Guido and Salomon.
In peril were the Moors, that none again
Should visit Heatheness, that day opprest:
But that the wise and wary king of Spain,
Gathered, and from the field bore off the rest:
To sit down with his loss he better gain
Esteemed, that here to hazard purse and vest:
Better some remnant of the host to save,
Than bid whole squadrons stand and find a grave.
He bids forthwith the Moorish ensigns be
Borne to the camp, which fosse and rampart span.
With the bold monarch of Andology,
The valiant Portuguese, and Stordilan.
He sends to pray the king of Barbary,
To endeavour to retire, as best be can;
Who will no little praise that day deserve,
If he his person and his place preserve.
That king, who deemed himself in desperate case,
Nor ever more Biserta hoped to see;
For, with so horrible and foul a face
He never Fortune had beheld, with glee
Heard that Marsilius had contrived to place
Part of his host in full security;
And faced about his banners and bade beat
Throughout his broken squadrons a retreat.
But the best portion neither signal knew,
Nor listened to the drum or trumpet's sound.
So scared, so crowded is the wretched crew,
That many in Seine's neighbouring stream are drowned,
Agramant, who would form the band anew,
(With him Sobrino) scowers the squadrons round;
And with them every leader good combines
To bring the routed host within their lines.
But nought by sovereign or Sobrino done,
Who, toiling, them with prayer or menace stirred,
To march, where their ill-followed flags are gone.
Can bring (I say not all) not even a third.
Slaughtered or put to flight are two for one
Who 'scapes, - nor he unharmed: among that herd,
Wounded is this behind, and that before,
And wearied, one and all, and harassed sore.
And even within their lines, in panic sore,
They by the Christian bands are held in chase;
And of all needful matters little store
Was made there, for provisioning the place.
Charlemagne wisely by the lock before
Would grapple Fortune, when she turned her face,
But that dark night upon the field descended,
And hushed all earthly matters and suspended:
By the Creator haply hastened, who
Was moved to pity for the works he made.
The blood in torrents ran the country through,
Flooding the roads: while on the champaign laid
Were eighty thousand of the paynim crew,
Cut off that day by the destroying blade:
Last trooped from caverns, at the midni
Line In The Sand
line in the sand...
broken plate in the sink.
the needle of debt
exacts its cost.
men are just men,
dreams are made for sipping.
the spirits of dead lovers
inhabit bodies at night.
and the light flickers,
grabs, taunts, is lost.
we write bibles,
coughing in the night!
Buried in the Sand
A beggar clump adorns a dump, his pencil box in hand -
With sightless eyes upon the skies he's lying there unmanned.
He's fallen down in Shantytown, his knees too weak to stand,
With no relief and bitter grief too dark to understand.
The Bowery blight is hid from sight, it's covered up and bland,
And Robin Hood and Brother Hood lie buried in the sand.
I’ve Lost One Verse With Tinkling Lines
I’ve lost one verse
With tinkling lines,
I’ve lost a verse,
It’s somewhere else…
I sought the leaf,
But couldn’t find,
Even from the disc
I cried and cried
For that little verse,
In my soul it lay
Like a winged word,
It lay there
Like grief and anguish.
That bright and sincere thought –
That verse remained in the past.
I’m tired of grief and sorrow,
Sorrow has seized me at last…
Translated from Georgian