black ribbons of smoke -
how many is too many?
there is no logic
Cost of Freedom
The night was cold,
But with bodies hot and roaring to go,
The skies black, filled with smoke and, lit with fire works,
But not the ones you want to see.
The 20 year old man writes to his love on a hard rock,
Telling her everything is alright and it’s over,
Now he can come home in peace.
30 years ago today, Jake sat on that bolder,
Witting a letter to a women that would become his wife.
Sipping his coffee, the clock strikes 8 am,
He knows its November 10, Th
The day of too many.
They had gone to bed for the night,
In steel bunkers, fires put out, and blankets over their bodies,
Guards right out side, so they can sleep all night without a fright.
Waking them all from dreaming in warm beds,
Was one more show, one more fight,
The enemy fireworks took many lives that night,
And within the presents of dawn,
Came the digging of many unmarked friends graves,
The friends that fought side by side for all those months,
Those same soldiers that will never make it home in peace.
Timer went off to get the cookies out of the oven,
Jake smiles, wipes the tears away from his eyes,
And says “these are for you Brad, you my best friend.
My war hero that didn’t come home in peace.
I am sorry your grave was one that was dug,
And for I bare the shovel.
One day we will walk side by side again.”
He knows the cost of freedom! Do you?
thank you to all the men and women that made\make it so I can be free. thank you so much.
- quotes about time
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about fire
- quotes about friendship
- quotes about women
- quotes about coffee
- quotes about home
- quotes about dreaming
As The Fog Rolls In
Kerouac comes out of the fog & mist
a ghost smoking a joint
offers me some
what suffering I think
to scratch out a few lines
stolen from the humming dynamo
which spins the universe -
cars pass along the low road
more pass on the higher road
red & blue lights along the horizon
disappear in the thick Atlantic fog
which swallows all remaining lights
the farmer arrives turning on the light
which floods out through the barn doors
releases the horses to wander around their corral
the big red horse moves towards the fence
eyes me wishing to speak to me
or just looking for a treat
or someone to stroke his head
a Chinese flute is playing
such sad high fragile notes
as the fog rolls in
someone is teasing a tabla drum in the distance
as the fog rolls in from the gray Atlantic
someone is strumming a sitar
as the fog rolls in
someone is playing a jig on a fiddle
as the fog rolls in
everything has its own theme music
from the fog rolling in
to the celestial bodies
rolling across the firmament -
an ancient voice in the distance bellows
an old god reawakening
rising out of the sea
of myths & dreams
turns into a prosaic electronic being
the fog rolls in stays for days
our world shrinks
the buzzing stars a delight
as if dying one by one
as the black curtain is drawn shut
the distant hills disappear
lights flicker on towers then fade
cars pass on the road
til the road is cloaked in the mist
horses wander around their corral
keeping me company
as they too dissolve
as the light from my porch is swallowed
sucked into the pitch blackness
as I sit smoking a cigarette at 3am
the smoke swirls & curls
as the darkness enfolds me -
roads criss-crossing entangled
leading us into endless circles
lost in a maze of concrete & tar
black ribbons entwined
only trees & more trees
fields opening up
spreading to the horizon
cows lying down waiting for the rain
red barns & towering silos
houses on distant hills
a thousand cul-de-sacs
suddenly giant apartment complexes
pushing up through the earth
dropped out of the firmament
rise around us on all sides
towers of steel & glass
a city conquering the the country-side -
passing through a thousand quaint fishing villages
each a clone of the last
rocky shores boats tied up
old weather worn docks
in blinding light
or cloaked in mist & fog
trees along the shore road
velvet gray & green moss hanging from branches
a few scattered patches of living green
some trees half-dead line the shores
for a thousand miles
death-throes of a dying alien planet
not the one known in our childhood -
cannoeing across lifeless lakes
waves lapping against the canoe
not quite like the Indian Princess
who wrote of her singing paddle
lost in colonial dreams -
- quotes about music
- quotes about tobacco
- quotes about cloning
- quotes about electronics
- quotes about grey
- quotes about death
- quotes about China
- quotes about fishing
Autumn Swings Its Bell
Autumn swings its bell like an eyelid over my heart
and in the penumbral umbrellas that bloom
in a garden of eclipses and sundials,
I discuss you with an enlightened ghost
and an ignorant shadow
that have learned to see star to star
in this echoless abyss of silence and solitude.
Within, where the winds scrawl
their spray bombs on the wall,
delighted with their literary delinquency,
I realize what's beginning to look like
the mouthless howl of an ancient agony,
the collapsed bridge
of that which was separated
from the moon's reflection,
an ache deep in the ores of the earth
before it learned to speak of trees and rivers,
before its longing invested the dead branch
with a fugue of nightbirds
trying to write themselves like a dream
into the black candle of the darkness
with a feather of fire.
My heart is hollow, and empty,
a drunk in an oildrum,
and love seems nothing more
than a harvest of eyelashes
and all my works are seeds on the moon.
A kite crash lands in the powerlines.
A phoenix rises from its dearth of ashes.
I want to go deeper into myself,
I don't want to hover like smoke
over my sidereal cremations,
or atomize the particulars
of how time bends like the arms
of my galactic alarm clocks,
or if I deserve to be this lonely,
a lighthouse that went on shining underwater
after the last flood carried me out to sea.
You make things happen in me,
thinking of you, your lapidary tides,
blue species of emotion
are born, evolve, and die
for reasons unknown
in the space between two thoughts;
and there are crazy black spiders in the wine
that tempt me to swallow them
to know how things are connected,
and always an electric dawn
to dazzle the event with black holes
and blind, astronomical photographers.
I feel the tenderness of time and distance from you,
fountains that no one drinks from,
and space all the jewels and palaces of water
that no one owns or lives in
because they are reserved for your progress alone
through these wounded labyrinths of me
following the stars I've laced
in the wake of living your way free of the maze
that will prove to be
the foundation of another kind of temple,
the cornerstone of a vastly more intimate space
than the eclipse that encloses you now
in the bleeding flames of an endangered poppy.
I wish I were wise, I wish
I were young and becoming,
I wish I could engender a planet
out of this cosmic debris
I spew like a supernova across the night,
the exhalation of my spirit from the lamp I go by,
the arraying of the world in every breath.
I wish I were good and always cooling
on a farmhouse windowsill;
I wish I was not so tormented
by the torn skies that hang from the broken window
I hurled my heart through like a stone with a message.
I wish my enlightenment
didn't knock on every door of delusion
hoping to find no one home.
I place the cool kiss of a nocturnal snail on your skin,
and I look at the words and I wonder
if you'll wake with a silver smear on your breast
like the path of the moon on water
and know it was me
or feel the tremor of a forbidden ecstasy in your sleep
I burn a church to the ground like a ram
to honour the altar of your talent,
the passion, pulse, and fire-voice of your poetry
and the midnight shadows of your blue rose
shedding its eyelids like petals, skin and sky.
My words are metal birds, rocks
wishing for wings
so that this avalanche of mountain thunder
might once take flight in the dusk
toward the valley where you wander like a stream
turning over lost echoes
like the links of a chain with a key,
zeroes looping arms with the past
to bind one moment of the infinite
to the wonder of a passion that lasts.
My eyes are heavier
for having seen the light,
saturated with everything they've witnessed,
honey, ink, and blood,
and every tear is a sea closer to the moon,
and every lyrical efflorescence of the dream
is punctured by thorns,
and even the lies of the most subtle mirrors
have grown obvious
as the beast within is saddened
by its cultivated charm,
knowing what hour it is.
Understand me well
in this rogue season of awareness;
where lightning freezes in the flower-realms
and breaks like branches of ice,
where even black is too garish for clarity,
and sometimes even the sea
loses its nerve,
gaping into its own depths,
an asylum of lightless shapeshifters
for a likeness of itself
that isn't perfectly preserved,
the locket-heart of the last fish on the moon,
a Martian meteor in Antarctica,
this gravel walk of asteroids
through the gates and the gardens
of the whole planet I am in every piece,
though I do not glow like fool's gold
in the pan of the night,
and my throne has crumbled like hard bread,
and love seems to die at the first affirmation
like a bird against a late night windowpane,
this goblet of darkness
that stains the lips with an indelible silence;
though I have been deconstructed
by the suspicious sphericity
of my most cherished symmetries,
toppled like a tower of blood and water,
a shattered river
condemned to the beginning of spring,
a continent sunk in the depths of the mirror
barring this handful of nuggets and islands,
I am still immutable diamond
that learned its flowing from the stars,
and what I write to you
is not a thread of light
that holds the kite of your heart
up to the lightning like a key
to prove that your blood is a good conductor,
not the severed fishing line necklace of eyes
scattered like beads and dice
across the usual geometries
and impoverished granaries of the floor,
not the afterbirth of a morphological wine
that left you burnt orchards
as the fruits of the fire that promised
a feast of pears and cherries,
not the disembodied jewels of a ghost
weeping in the doorway of its skull in the night,
but the threshold and theme,
though for the moment you disdain the stairwells
in the hovels and mansions of love,
embittered by the lonely rose of space and matter
that pours the shining out the backdoor
like the lees of harvest stars
in the corner of the eye of an irisless bell
waking you up mutely
from a dream of falling in a morgue,
but the threshold and theme,
the story-line, the mythogem and motif,
the oceanic pulse and spume
of sidereal ferocities and urgent follies
robed like the king of shells
in the bruised purple of symbols
I take like the pulse of a lightning-rod
rooted like blood in me
to know as constantly as space
that I draw my life from you
like a shadow in a garden of blue fire
that courses through the dried creek beds
of these hourglass deserts
like the mystic tents
of a caravan of rain on the moon.
Wells, goblets, bells, or roses,
or thorns gnawing through chains and lifelines
to let the heart drift
like an empty boat from its moorings,
whatever season you assume
like the changing wardrobes
and unassailable affinities of a life
you must improvise as you go along,
I will always be with you
like shadows and leaves
and footprints and stars,
as I am now your next breath
whatever the scarves of fire
that grace your ghost-dance
with the black ribbons of an abysmal freedom
that feels like the halls of an abandoned prison.
I will liberate the key
like a hanged man
from the noose that adorns your neck,
and raise myself like a bell to your lips
and have you drink
the light and stars and flowers again
from the urn, the crown,
the hive of the heart
that sends its eyes out into a far field like bees
on the perfume trail of a summer constellation
to sweeten the light around you
with honey that burns for an emergent queen to find it.
Some Ways Of Looking At A Black Mouse
[to the reader:
This is part of a series poem...this one
follows 'Instead of You Today One Black Mouse'
which should be read before this one for greater
context. There is a playing going on in both
poems which is not only about love had and lost,
a black mouse that shows up, as well as a dove,
the day before the lover returns permanently
to live in native country of India. There is
a Wallace Stevens' playing with notions of
poetry, meaning, and more, and a playing with
language and signs which shall hopefully lend
some jarring but enjoyable takes/slants/songs/
When you see the 'x's
in the poem, read
'times' as in the
math sign for multi-
plication. & of course
the = sign should
be read as 'equals']
when I want to
speak of the
which seems to
have left soon
after it appeared
as you departed.
open and shut.
upon the space
what is become
I think, insisting
its way past thinking
into mouth or ink
so it is that
lips which are
swollen, as if to
kiss, miss the dove
by a wink, and the
mouse is somewhere
still I feel you,
you're here, big
ears, black fur
still love, I moan
this morning saying
aloud before the
covers are kicked
he is gone,
hands x 4
he is gone,
feet x 4
he is gone,
lips x 4
he is gone,
heavy groin x 2
he is gone,
heavy groan x 2
the chimney flue
in a little
loosens the ancient
ash from the caked
number and the
anxious hands, again,
against the grain
push one finger
into that ash
x 2 two names
plus 1 subtracted
from the empty
and another day
of seconds is
the floor where we
lay our cluttered
x at least 3
take me once
into your arms
and leave me when
you/we are done doing
a mere cypher flown
sheer up the flue
into the blue ash
which now the sky
a dove flies
x 35 thousand
x plus the time it
takes for you to exit
shedding skins shells
(I am a shell)
x infinity into
the one drain in-
to ocean reflecting
the ash of what remains
of you on the beach
bathing soft Junes,
the organ grinder
amo, amor fati'
from the boardwalk
Coney cotton candy
disposed in gales
on the weathered
x planks from
x ants in the
ing their end-
black or red
sand or sugar
x grains untold
as hairs, their
under the June
caught upon the
of your large
soft towel with
the palm tree
that I have burned
in the old grate,
a first fire
x 30 years since
x all times
yawns sun into
the window frame
smears on the
glass an accidental
x hands touching it
delicate as trespass
what is allowed lace
= at last a sum
= a remorse felt
in particular or
only of passing
cloud and shadow,
merely the steep
sun declining ashen
into the Jersey side?
'Good To The Last Drop'
cup for decades
x 0 suspends
o suspends trembling
reflected in the water
river made of the many
x (again) infinity
x (surprised) my
can all blue with
the same cup tilted
spilling that dark
brown dropp imprinted
dove, to recall,
brown, shaped like
said drop, now
flown, or) finally
spilled into water,
downward, to bottom
my father always
complaining of grift,
a weather man by trade,
a cloud man once a pilot
WW2 drifting often since/
enough into sky,
the silver opener
round and round
with effort, his
plaints upon the
ridged silver top
of the can blue
the better to drip
with within &
hiss of compacted
air hissing out
of coffee fresh
not yet brewed
in the kitchen
the twist of
the edge jagged
with fingers to
break the remain-
ing stem of metal
holding the round
to can entire
unsealed now try
x at least 100 thousand
to guess having no
acumen with numbers
and math but father's
there in the cup tilted
over spilling into
it's seams, it seems
from river bank
into memory which
to Mind, dad,
the cloud drift
and the flows
the tides beside
is as ancient
as it always was
as in the beginning
was darkness over deep
water & a word, any word
really would do it,
out of deep, of
dark, of water
which shapes it-
self only by outer
in this case
leading up to
above bridge tilt
currents, the river
tides rare defy-
ing the moon
that other pull,
live the other
the palm sewn
still, to pass the
the sooty hand
or word 'mouse'
to river at
up from water
the silver bay
and Tories be-
the necks with
the lonely buoyless
depths their vespers
I am, unkindly,
once was laughter
hand over 'mouse'
or 'mouth' conjured
x 1 more
each of each
x 2, the legs
x 4, the lips
x myriad ones gone
before, of murmurers
x no more
This, just to
were many day-ed
we merrily played
harming no one,
not even the
still, from beneath
the god you insisted
be excluded from
all our nakedness
x 1 too many breaths
x many ropes all our
with his cup
his pipe songs
of love will
he dance between
the violent fasts
our mother, with,
fast around around
& around the danced
me and Mr. Miller
I stand behind
them the curtained
upon a mystery
how one could
be so, well,
so cruel, (upon
one silver stem
hangs the metal
tin top jags
that there was love,
there was love after
I can see
it smell it
feel it there
one dropp Mr.
hold on to &
from below down
& dark into deep
such this is
the riddle it is
all now become
departed I shall
count backward by
3's then by 4's
door which once
embraced you now
never lets you
x all the x's
besos as kisses
the black or
back into lapis
lapses into what
faces which are
eyes which now
glaze with love/
beside the flue
glaze upon the
the lips of
swollen, as if
x Maxwell the
house the cup
O Mr. Miller
an O'Day serenade
...'Hi ho trailus
boo boo daddy
the late night
suppers of chops
the peeled onions
the laughter the
& bubble in the
the butter in
the sizzle in
the cast iron
x 1 black 'mouth'
dish it has
& mouse makes again
x 3 the antinomies
& thee O lover
bring all them
back, so many,
to me now
x Pennsylvania 6-500.
OH come, thou power divine,
Thou lovely spirit with the wings of light,
And let thy dewy eyes
Shed their sweet influences on my soul;
Oh let me hear thy voice,
Whose sound thrills with a keener, deeper bliss,
Than the shrill jubilance the bird of joy
Pours on the air!
Or the child babblings of the gladsome rill
When, issuing first from out its mossy couch
In venturesome delight, it frisks in glee
Adown the hoary mountain, silver-fraught.
Where I do lie drenched in my bitter tears,
And drowning in dejection: haunted by
The pale gaunt fears that spectre-like rush forth
In shadowy swarms from out the brains's black cells,
Like glaring madmen in confusion 'scaped
From out their dens, whirling with shambling limbs
In whooping dances through the startled dusk,
And pouncing wildly on my shiv'ring soul,
Where in her hour of weakness prostrate she
Doth palpitate in terror, like a deer,
That hunted by the swift pursuing hounds,
Wounded and bleeding, sinks upon the ground,
While with hoarse croaks the ravening birds of prey
Wheel close and closer, darkening all the air.
Come breathe upon me with thy balmy breath,
Like a young wind, born in the rosèd east,
That leapeth boy-like from the lap of morn,
To blow the land all clear from crouching fogs:
Thus drive thou hence the phantoms; cleanse my soul!
Thou sweet enchantress, with the magic spells!
Wails there a heart, lone on the populous earth,--
Like a weak infant lost within the night
That crieth piteously in helplessness,
And pusheth its blind limbs with gestures scared
Against the gloom,--
Then with an airy footfall glidest thou
Gently anigh, as softly as a cloud,
When one alone in crimson glory slides
Along the twilight sky: tak'st the bewildered thing
Into thine arms, thy fair and downy arms,
And rock'st it on thy bosom--singing low
An old, old song, old as the flowers that bloom,
And like them ever young; till dreams rise up,
Like cool white mists from out the heart of hills,
And lie dew-sweet upon it in its sleep!
Sits there an orphan girl with sunken cheeks,
And red-rimmed eyes, high up beneath the leads,
Stitching with aching fingers all the night
Beside the meagre flame, to earn her bread,
And feed with scanty fuel the low fire
Of life, while the shrill blast
Dashes the rain against the rattling panes,
And down the chimney roars with smoke and wet;--
Then comest thou, with memories all dim
And faint, with beauty from the childish years,
Transposing them into the time to come
With a new lustre of the full-grown heart.
Where the bare walls stood with a hungry stare,
The golden cornfields, weighed down by their wealth,
Sway to and fro; purling the brook flows on;
And, like a bit of sky drawn down by love,
Wilds of forget-me-nots run riot round;
And meadows scent the air; and lowing kine
Are driven home; and silver geese hiss loud
Within the pools; and childhood's silver laughs
Ring o'er the green like chimes of silver bells
In the clear atmosphere; and through green boughs
Curls up the smoke from many a thatchèd roof,
Flushed all the land with roseate floods of eve,
While large and full glows low the harvest moon,
There as through homely fields she lightly walks,
And one is by her side, and whispers low,
And thine, oh hope! the future's kindling glow.
Rocks there a sailor on a reeling ship,
That staggers blindly like a brain-struck man,
Around the staring cliffs!
While the wild blast, the fiddler of the deep,
Wakes such mad music on his shrieking strings
That the fierce elements in huge delight
Vault from their torpor, rearing giant heights!
Ha! The maned billows from abysmal deeps
Leap like live Alps, and catch the tearing clouds
That dizzy haste along the wilds of sky;
Tossing them round in labyrinthic whirls
To the witch light of lightning, and the roar
Of thunder, in its crashing clattering fall.
Yea, while the ocean yawneth for its prey,
Yelling with starvèd jaws around the hull,
Man's sole frail guardian from the fangs of death,--
Thou softly float'st,
Like to the dove that bore the olive branch
Across the waste of waters, to his side. . . .
No longer sees he then the wide wild sea,
No longer hears he the tempestuous blast:
But where the cottage leans against the cliff,
The evening star shedding its peace adown,
He lifts the latch, and with one bound of joy
He stands in the low room, beside the hearth,
Where sits his winsome wife, and rocks her babe
With lullabies; and heaving one big sob
He strains her to his breast, her whom he thought
On this side of the grave to see no more!
Then does she take him by the hand, and leads
Him round from cot to cot, where with round cheeks
His children lie, sleep-flushed, 'twixt snow-white sheets,
And snatching up the youngest in his arms,
With an untameable emotion, weeps
His kisses on him, till it opens wide
Large dream-dew'd eyes, and lisps with cherry mouth,
'Oh, Dada, Dada!'----That thou dost for him!
Wanders the patriot on a stranger shore,
And exile from the land he loved too well:
Within his heart
The festering wound a thankless nation strikes,
When cloud-capp'd by its ignorance and fear,
And goaded on by spurring king and priest,
Like a mad dog it turns and bites the hand
Stretched out to heal.
He sees his friends fall off like rotten leaves
That scrambling flee the tempest-girted oak;
He sees the enemies he boldly braved,
Forging the red-hot slanders wherewithal
To scorch his writhing soul!
Alone in the wide world, alone he stands;
Alone, save where beyond the roaring seas
His mother weeps, and weeps, oh God! through him.
Then, blowing from dead deserts the simoom
Of doubt breathes on him, with its killing breath,
With'ring the flowers of faith, the groves of youth,
And buffeting his heart on cruel waves
Of wind, e'en like a quiv'ring autumn leaf.
Oh, is it strange?
That in the midnight, on the dark there grow
Pale faces sweating blood, and wrapped in shrouds,
Turning reproachful eyes upon his eyes,
And asking dumbly, 'Wherefore did we die,
And spill the wine-filled goblets of our youth
On barren soil that will not teem with birth?'
That brides, like broken lilies whirled along
By arrowy streams, glide past and sadly sob,
'Thou'st mowed us down, and mowed us down in vain!'
That infants thrill the silence with their wail,
'Why are we fatherless, if fatherland
Is still denied?' And that his heartstrings quake
With sobs of mothers' hearts that hopeless break?
Strange that his purpose, that did seem so fair,
With a white blaze of light around her head,
Which fell like orient beams on nations' brows,
Should wane before his terror-stricken eyes?
And that in direst agony of soul
His noble nature tott'ring on her base,
Should question if his deeds were rightful deeds?
Stirred up by God's own living breath, or pushed
By hot ambition's ravenous desire?
And if the aim that drew were but a dream
By which his visionary youth was mocked,
As travellers in the desert by the shine
Of fair false waters?--At that torturing thought
Smells of cold graves struck damp upon his brow,
Till his wilds eyes grew void, and limp his limbs,
And he had dropped resistless in the jaws
Of madness or of death!
Hadst thou not come, perennial presence! bright
As Phosphorus in the dim morning skies!
And poured thy morning sunbeams on his heart,
And blown thy morning breezes on his soul,
Till freshly born the world, and on him smiled
With eyes as tender as his mother's were,
When sowing love upon his cradled self.
Then back plucked he his purpose, fixed it firm
In iron steadfastness upon his soul,
And called on faith, where with upturnèd eyes
Above the clouds she treads the mountain peaks,
And on that love, which boundless as the sky,
Stretches o'er all mankind its azured vault.
Then rose he, set his trustful eyes on high,
And set his heart among the lowly born:
For in the vasty glimmerings of the dawn
He saw such visions of the things to be,
Such heights of being ascended, and such love
And justice throning on the seats of men,
That with unflagging steps he calmly trod
The walks of martyrdom! Oh, crown his brows
With buds of those full summers of the race!
Mourns there an aged mother, lying low
Upon the lowly grave,
Round which the autumn moans her mournful dirge,
And shivering cadence of the shrunken leaves
Keeps saddest measure with the wailing wind;
While the pale glimm'rings of the waning moon
Fall in cold tears upon the unknown tomb,
Beneath whose sod, washed by the ghastly mists,
Lies he, her one sole flower, that on the breast
Of life bloomed for her all the days and nights;
In the midsummer of his lusty life
Devoured by that grim beast, whose reeking breath
Is saturated with the blood of man--
The twin of pestilence--the foul firstborn
Of her who spinneth in the nether gloom
The phantasms that turn mad the brains of men,
And him whose savage lusts and greedy soul
Would make his footstool on the necks of men!
Oh here, even here like a stray beam of light
That glides unscared in sacred tenderness
Across the heavy vapours, brooding blind
In shapeless masses o'er a joyless tarn
Deep sunk in mountains,--even here the gleam
Of thy gold hair makes music in the dark,
Cradlest the head of grief on thy warm breast,
Whisperest in tones sweeter than honeycomb
Of that new heaven where death shall be no more,
Nor grief, nor crying, neither shall there be
More pain; for former things have passed away.
And with thy wings of light around her soul,
And with thy dewy eyes upon her heart,
Death takes her gently like a cherubim
By the shrunk hand, and leads her to her rest.
* * * * *
Oh Hope! thou consolation of the soul!
Flash forth, and like a sun strike on the clouds
Of dull despondency, that pour their rain
In showers upon the sad heart's shivering soil;
Flash forth, and force each drop e'en as it falls
To glass thy loveliness, and on the cloud
Frowning in dumb defiance, paint such bloom
Etherial, that its blackness but becomes
A foil on which thy brightness brighter beams,
Till spanned with rainbow-glory the sad soul
Glistens in glimmering smiles through all her tears,
And life shone through by white eternity,
Circled with calm as by a covenant,
Is born in beauty of the bitter tears,
Like Aphrodite from the salt sea waves.
The Missionary - Canto First
Beneath aerial cliffs, and glittering snows,
The rush-roof of an aged warrior rose,
Chief of the mountain tribes: high overhead,
The Andes, wild and desolate, were spread,
Where cold Sierras shot their icy spires,
And Chillan trailed its smoke and smouldering fires.
A glen beneath, a lonely spot of rest,
Hung, scarce discovered, like an eagle's nest.
Summer was in its prime;--the parrot-flocks
Darkened the passing sunshine on the rocks;
The chrysomel and purple butterfly,
Amid the clear blue light, are wandering by;
The humming-bird, along the myrtle bowers,
With twinkling wing, is spinning o'er the flowers,
The woodpecker is heard with busy bill,
The mock-bird sings--and all beside is still,
And look! the cataract that bursts so high,
As not to mar the deep tranquillity,
The tumult of its dashing fall suspends,
And, stealing drop by drop, in mist descends;
Through whose illumined spray and sprinkling dews,
Shine to the adverse sun the broken rainbow hues.
Chequering, with partial shade, the beams of noon,
And arching the gray rock with wild festoon,
Here its gay net-work, and fantastic twine,
The purple cogul threads from pine to pine,
And oft, as the fresh airs of morning breathe,
Dips its long tendrils in the stream beneath.
There, through the trunks with moss and lichens white,
The sunshine darts its interrupted light,
And, 'mid the cedar's darksome boughs, illumes,
With instant touch, the Lori's scarlet plumes.
So smiles the scene;--but can its smiles impart
Aught to console yon mourning warrior's heart?
He heeds not now, when beautifully bright,
The humming-bird is circling in his sight;
Nor ev'n, above his head, when air is still,
Hears the green woodpecker's resounding bill;
But gazing on the rocks and mountains wild,
Rock after rock, in glittering masses piled
To the volcano's cone, that shoots so high
Gray smoke whose column stains the cloudless sky,
He cries, Oh! if thy spirit yet be fled
To the pale kingdoms of the shadowy dead,--
In yonder tract of purest light above,
Dear long-lost object of a father's love,
Dost thou abide; or like a shadow come,
Circling the scenes of thy remembered home,
And passing with the breeze, or, in the beam
Of evening, light the desert mountain stream!
Or at deep midnight are thine accents heard,
In the sad notes of that melodious bird,
Which, as we listen with mysterious dread,
Brings tidings from our friends and fathers dead?
Perhaps, beyond those summits, far away,
Thine eyes yet view the living light of day;
Sad, in the stranger's land, thou may'st sustain
A weary life of servitude and pain,
With wasted eye gaze on the orient beam,
And think of these white rocks and torrent stream,
Never to hear the summer cocoa wave,
Or weep upon thy father's distant grave.
Ye, who have waked, and listened with a tear,
When cries confused, and clangours rolled more near;
With murmured prayer, when Mercy stood aghast,
As War's black trump pealed its terrific blast,
And o'er the withered earth the armed giant passed!
Ye, who his track with terror have pursued,
When some delightful land, all blood-imbrued,
He swept; where silent is the champaign wide,
That echoed to the pipe of yester-tide,
Save, when far off, the moonlight hills prolong
The last deep echoes of his parting gong;
Nor aught is seen, in the deserted spot
Where trailed the smoke of many a peaceful cot,
Save livid corses that unburied lie,
And conflagrations, reeking to the sky;--
Come listen, whilst the causes I relate
That bowed the warrior to the storms of fate,
And left these smiling scenes forlorn and desolate.
In other days, when, in his manly pride,
Two children for a father's fondness vied,--
Oft they essayed, in mimic strife, to wield
His lance, or laughing peeped behind his shield;
Oft in the sun, or the magnolia's shade,
Lightsome of heart as gay of look they played,
Brother and sister. She, along the dew,
Blithe as the squirrel of the forest flew;
Blue rushes wreathed her head; her dark-brown hair
Fell, gently lifted, on her bosom bare;
Her necklace shone, of sparkling insects made,
That flit, like specks of fire, from sun to shade.
Light was her form; a clasp of silver braced
The azure-dyed ichella round her waist;
Her ancles rung with shells, as unconfined
She danced, and sung wild carols to the wind.
With snow-white teeth, and laughter in her eye,
So beautiful in youth she bounded by.
Yet kindness sat upon her aspect bland,--
The tame alpaca stood and licked her hand;
She brought him gathered moss, and loved to deck
With flowery twine his tall and stately neck,
Whilst he with silent gratitude replies,
And bends to her caress his large blue eyes.
These children danced together in the shade,
Or stretched their hands to see the rainbow fade;
Or sat and mocked, with imitative glee,
The paroquet, that laughed from tree to tree;
Or through the forest's wildest solitude,
From glen to glen, the marmozet pursued;
And thought the light of parting day too short,
That called them, lingering, from their daily sport.
In that fair season of awakening life,
When dawning youth and childhood are at strife;
When on the verge of thought gay boyhood stands
Tiptoe, with glistening eye and outspread hands;
With airy look, and form and footsteps light,
And glossy locks, and features berry-bright,
And eye like the young eaglet's, to the ray
Of noon unblenching as he sails away;
A brede of sea-shells on his bosom strung,
A small stone-hatchet o'er his shoulder slung,
With slender lance, and feathers blue and red,
That, like the heron's crest, waved on his head,--
Buoyant with hope, and airiness, and joy,
Lautaro was a graceful Indian boy:
Taught by his sire, ev'n now he drew the bow,
Or tracked the jagguar on the morning snow;
Startled the condor, on the craggy height;
Then silent sat, and marked its upward flight,
Lessening in ether to a speck of white.
But when the impassioned chieftain spoke of war,
Smote his broad breast, or pointed to a scar,--
Spoke of the strangers of the distant main,
And the proud banners of insulting Spain,--
Of the barbed horse and iron horseman spoke,
And his red gods, that, wrapped in rolling smoke,
Roared from the guns;--the boy, with still-drawn breath,
Hung on the wondrous tale, as mute as death;
Then raised his animated eyes, and cried,
Oh, let me perish by my father's side!
Once, when the moon, o'er Chillan's cloudless height,
Poured, far and wide, its softest, mildest light,
A predatory band of mailed men
Burst on the stillness of the sheltered glen:
They shouted, Death! and shook their sabres high,
That shone terrific to the moonlight sky;
Where'er they rode, the valley and the hill
Echoed the shrieks of death, till all again was still.
The warrior, ere he sank in slumber deep,
Had kissed his son, soft-breathing in his sleep,
Where on a Llama's skin he lay, and said,
Placing his hand, with tears, upon his head,
Aerial nymphs! that in the moonlight stray,
O gentle spirits! here awhile delay;
Bless, as ye pass unseen, my sleeping boy,
Till blithe he wakes to daylight and to joy.
If the GREAT SPIRIT will, in future days,
O'er the fall'n foe his hatchet he shall raise,
And, 'mid a grateful nation's high applause,
Avenge his violated country's cause!
Now, nearer points of spears, and many a cone
Of moving helmets, in the moonlight shone,
As, clanking through the pass, the band of blood
Sprang, like hyaenas, from the secret wood.
They rush, they seize their unresisting prey,
Ruthless they tear the shrieking boy away;
But, not till gashed by many a sabre wound,
The father sank, expiring, on the ground.
He waked from the dark trance to life and pain,
But never saw his darling child again.
Seven snows had fallen, and seven green summers passed,
Since here he heard that son's loved accents last.
Still his beloved daughter soothed his cares,
Whilst time began to strew with white his hairs.
Oft as his painted feathers he unbound,
Or gazed upon his hatchet on the ground,
Musing with deep despair, nor strove to speak,
Light she approached, and climbed to reach his cheek,
Held with both hands his forehead, then her head
Drew smiling back, and kissed the tear he shed.
But late, to grief and hopeless love a prey,
She left his side, and wandered far away.
Now in this still and shelter'd glen, that smiled
Beneath the crags of precipices wild,
Wrapt in a stern yet sorrowful repose,
The warrior half forgot his country's woes;
Forgot how many, impotent to save,
Shed their best blood upon a father's grave;
How many, torn from wife and children, pine
In the dark caverns of the hopeless mine,
Never to see again the blessed morn;--
Slaves in the lovely land where they were born;
How many at sad sunset, with a tear,
The distant roar of sullen cannons hear,
Whilst evening seems, as dies the sound, to throw
A deadlier stillness on a nation's woe!
So the dark warrior, day succeeding day,
Wore in distempered thought the noons away;
And still, when weary evening came, he sighed,
My son, my son! or, with emotion, cried,
When I descend to the cold grave alone,
Who shall be there to mourn for me?--Not one!
The crimson orb of day now westering flung
His beams, and o'er the vast Pacific hung;
When from afar a shrilling sound was heard,
And, hurrying o'er the dews, a scout appeared.
The watchful warrior knew the piercing tones,
The signal-call of war, from human bones,--
What tidings? with impatient look, he cried.
Tidings of war, the hurrying scout replied;
Then the sharp pipe with shriller summons blew,
And held the blood-red arrow high in view.
Where speed the foes?
Along the southern main,
Have passed the vultures of accursed Spain.
Ruin pursue them on the distant flood,
And be their deadly portion--blood for blood!
When, round and red, the moon shall next arise,
The chiefs attend the midnight sacrifice
In Encol's wood, where the great wizard dwells,
Who wakes the dead man by his thrilling spells;
Thee, Ulmen of the Mountains, they command
To lift the hatchet for thy native land;
Whilst in dread circle, round the sere-wood smoke,
The mighty gods of vengeance they invoke;
And call the spirits of their fathers slain,
To nerve their lifted arm, and curse devoted Spain.
So spoke the scout of war;--and o'er the dew,
Onward along the craggy valley, flew.
Then the stern warrior sang his song of death--
And blew his conch, that all the glens beneath
Echoed, and rushing from the hollow wood,
Soon at his side three hundred warriors stood.
Children, who for his country dares to die?
Three hundred brandished spears shone to the sky:
We perish, or we leave our country free;
Father, our blood for Chili and for thee!
The mountain-chief essayed his club to wield,
And shook the dust indignant from the shield.
O Thou! that with thy lingering light
Dost warm the world, till all is hushed in night;
I look upon thy parting beams, O sun!
And say, ev'n thus my course is almost run.
When thou dost hide thy head, as in the grave,
And sink to glorious rest beneath the wave,
Dost thou, majestic in repose, retire,
Below the deep, to unknown worlds of fire!
Yet though thou sinkest, awful, in the main,
The shadowy moon comes forth, and all the train
Of stars, that shine with soft and silent light,
Making so beautiful the brow of night.
Thus, when I sleep within the narrow bed,
The light of after-fame around shall spread;
The sons of distant Ocean, when they see
The grass-green heap beneath the mountain tree,
And hear the leafy boughs at evening wave,
Shall pause and say, There sleep in dust the brave!
All earthly hopes my lonely heart have fled!
Stern Guecubu, angel of the dead,
Who laughest when the brave in pangs expire;
Whose dwelling is beneath the central fire
Of yonder burning mountain; who hast passed
O'er my poor dwelling, and with one fell blast
Scattered my summer-leaves that clustered round,
And swept my fairest blossoms to the ground;
Angel of dire despair, oh! come not nigh,
Nor wave thy red wings o'er me where I lie;
But thou, O mild and gentle spirit! stand,
Angel of hope and peace, at my right hand,
(When blood-drops stagnate on my brow) and guide
My pathless voyage o'er the unknown tide,
To scenes of endless joy, to that fair isle,
Where bowers of bliss, and soft savannahs smile:
Where my forefathers oft the fight renew,
And Spain's black visionary steeds pursue;
Where, ceased the struggles of all human pain,
I may behold thee--thee, my son, again!
He spoke, and whilst at evening's glimmering close
The distant mist, like the gray ocean, rose,
With patriot sorrows swelling at his breast,
He sank upon a jagguar's hide to rest.
'Twas night: remote on Caracalla's bay,
Valdivia's army, hushed in slumber, lay.
Around the limits of the silent camp,
Alone was heard the steed's patroling tramp
From line to line, whilst the fixed sentinel
Proclaimed the watch of midnight--All is well!
Valdivia dreamed of millions yet untold,
Villrica's gems, and El Dorado's gold!
What different feelings, by the scene impressed,
Rose in sad tumult o'er Lautaro's breast!
On the broad ocean, where the moonlight slept,
Thoughtful he turned his waking eyes, and wept,
And whilst the thronging forms of memory start,
Thus holds communion with his lonely heart:
Land of my fathers, still I tread your shore,
And mourn the shade of hours that are no more;
Whilst night-airs, like remembered voices, sweep,
And murmur from the undulating deep.
Was it thy voice, my father! Thou art dead,
The green rush waves on thy forsaken bed.
Was it thy voice, my sister! Gentle maid,
Thou too, perhaps, in the dark cave art laid;
Perhaps, even now, thy spirit sees me stand
A homeless stranger in my native land;
Perhaps, even now, along the moonlight sea,
It bends from the blue cloud, remembering me!
Land of my fathers! yet, oh yet forgive,
That with thy deadly enemies I live:
The tenderest ties (it boots not to relate)
Have bound me to their service, and their fate;
Yet, whether on Peru's war-wasted plain,
Or visiting these sacred shores again,
Whate'er the struggles of this heart may be,
Land of my fathers, it shall beat for thee!
The Bridal of Pennacook
We had been wandering for many days
Through the rough northern country. We had seen
The sunset, with its bars of purple cloud,
Like a new heaven, shine upward from the lake
Of Winnepiseogee; and had felt
The sunrise breezes, midst the leafy isles
Which stoop their summer beauty to the lips
Of the bright waters. We had checked our steeds,
Silent with wonder, where the mountain wall
Is piled to heaven; and, through the narrow rift
Of the vast rocks, against whose rugged feet
Beats the mad torrent with perpetual roar,
Where noonday is as twilight, and the wind
Comes burdened with the everlasting moan
Of forests and of far-off waterfalls,
We had looked upward where the summer sky,
Tasselled with clouds light-woven by the sun,
Sprung its blue arch above the abutting crags
O'er-roofing the vast portal of the land
Beyond the wall of mountains. We had passed
The high source of the Saco; and bewildered
In the dwarf spruce-belts of the Crystal Hills,
Had heard above us, like a voice in the cloud,
The horn of Fabyan sounding; and atop
Of old Agioochook had seen the mountains'
Piled to the northward, shagged with wood, and thick
As meadow mole-hills,—the far sea of Casco,
A white gleam on the horizon of the east;
Fair lakes, embosomed in the woods and hills;
Moosehillock's mountain range, and Kearsarge
Lifting his granite forehead to the sun!
And we had rested underneath the oaks
Shadowing the bank, whose grassy spires are shaken
By the perpetual beating of the falls
Of the wild Ammonoosuc. We had tracked
The winding Pemigewasset, overhung
By beechen shadows, whitening down its rocks,
Or lazily gliding through its intervals,
From waving rye-fields sending up the gleam
Of sunlit waters. We had seen the moon
Rising behind Umbagog's eastern pines,
Like a great Indian camp-fire; and its beams
At midnight spanning with a bridge of silver
The Merrimac by Uncanoonuc's falls.
There were five souls of us whom travel's chance
Had thrown together in these wild north hills
A city lawyer, for a month escaping
From his dull office, where the weary eye
Saw only hot brick walls and close thronged streets;
Briefless as yet, but with an eye to see
Life's sunniest side, and with a heart to take
Its chances all as godsends; and his brother,
Pale from long pulpit studies, yet retaining
The warmth and freshness of a genial heart,
Whose mirror of the beautiful and true,
In Man and Nature, was as yet undimmed
By dust of theologic strife, or breath
Of sect, or cobwebs of scholastic lore;
Like a clear crystal calm of water, taking
The hue and image of o'erleaning flowers,
Sweet human faces, white clouds of the noon,
Slant starlight glimpses through the dewy leaves,
And tenderest moonrise. 'Twas, in truth, a study,
To mark his spirit, alternating between
A decent and professional gravity
And an irreverent mirthfulness, which often
Laughed in the face of his divinity,
Plucked off the sacred ephod, quite unshrined
The oracle, and for the pattern priest
Left us the man. A shrewd, sagacious merchant,
To whom the soiled sheet found in Crawford's inn,
Giving the latest news of city stocks
And sales of cotton, had a deeper meaning
Than the great presence of the awful mountains
Glorified by the sunset; and his daughter,
A delicate flower on whom had blown too long
Those evil winds, which, sweeping from the ice
And winnowing the fogs of Labrador,
Shed their cold blight round Massachusetts Bay,
With the same breath which stirs Spring's opening leaves
And lifts her half-formed flower-bell on its stem,
Poisoning our seaside atmosphere.
It chanced that as we turned upon our homeward way,
A drear northeastern storm came howling up
The valley of the Saco; and that girl
Who had stood with us upon Mount Washington,
Her brown locks ruffled by the wind which whirled
In gusts around its sharp, cold pinnacle,
Who had joined our gay trout-fishing in the streams
Which lave that giant's feet; whose laugh was heard
Like a bird's carol on the sunrise breeze
Which swelled our sail amidst the lake's green islands,
Shrank from its harsh, chill breath, and visibly drooped
Like a flower in the frost. So, in that quiet inn
Which looks from Conway on the mountains piled
Heavily against the horizon of the north,
Like summer thunder-clouds, we made our home
And while the mist hung over dripping hills,
And the cold wind-driven rain-drops all day long
Beat their sad music upon roof and pane,
We strove to cheer our gentle invalid.
The lawyer in the pauses of the storm
Went angling down the Saco, and, returning,
Recounted his adventures and mishaps;
Gave us the history of his scaly clients,
Mingling with ludicrous yet apt citations
Of barbarous law Latin, passages
From Izaak Walton's Angler, sweet and fresh
As the flower-skirted streams of Staffordshire,
Where, under aged trees, the southwest wind
Of soft June mornings fanned the thin, white hair
Of the sage fisher. And, if truth be told,
Our youthful candidate forsook his sermons,
His commentaries, articles and creeds,
For the fair page of human loveliness,
The missal of young hearts, whose sacred text
Is music, its illumining, sweet smiles.
He sang the songs she loved; and in his low,
Deep, earnest voice, recited many a page
Of poetry, the holiest, tenderest lines
Of the sad bard of Olney, the sweet songs,
Simple and beautiful as Truth and Nature,
Of him whose whitened locks on Rydal Mount
Are lifted yet by morning breezes blowing
From the green hills, immortal in his lays.
And for myself, obedient to her wish,
I searched our landlord's proffered library,—
A well-thumbed Bunyan, with its nice wood pictures
Of scaly fiends and angels not unlike them;
Watts' unmelodious psalms; Astrology's
Last home, a musty pile of almanacs,
And an old chronicle of border wars
And Indian history. And, as I read
A story of the marriage of the Chief
Of Saugus to the dusky Weetamoo,
Daughter of Passaconaway, who dwelt
In the old time upon the Merrimac,
Our fair one, in the playful exercise
Of her prerogative,—the right divine
Of youth and beauty,—bade us versify
The legend, and with ready pencil sketched
Its plan and outlines, laughingly assigning
To each his part, and barring our excuses
With absolute will. So, like the cavaliers
Whose voices still are heard in the Romance
Of silver-tongued Boccaccio, on the banks
Of Arno, with soft tales of love beguiling
The ear of languid beauty, plague-exiled
From stately Florence, we rehearsed our rhymes
To their fair auditor, and shared by turns
Her kind approval and her playful censure.
It may be that these fragments owe alone
To the fair setting of their circumstances,—
The associations of time, scene, and audience,—
Their place amid the pictures which fill up
The chambers of my memory. Yet I trust
That some, who sigh, while wandering in thought,
Pilgrims of Romance o'er the olden world,
That our broad land,—our sea-like lakes and mountains
Piled to the clouds, our rivers overhung
By forests which have known no other change
For ages than the budding and the fall
Of leaves, our valleys lovelier than those
Which the old poets sang of,—should but figure
On the apocryphal chart of speculation
As pastures, wood-lots, mill-sites, with the privileges,
Rights, and appurtenances, which make up
A Yankee Paradise, unsung, unknown,
To beautiful tradition; even their names,
Whose melody yet lingers like the last
Vibration of the red man's requiem,
Exchanged for syllables significant,
Of cotton-mill and rail-car, will look kindly
Upon this effort to call up the ghost
Of our dim Past, and listen with pleased ear
To the responses of the questioned Shade.
I. THE MERRIMAC
O child of that white-crested mountain whose springs
Gush forth in the shade of the cliff-eagle's wings,
Down whose slopes to the lowlands thy wild waters shine,
Leaping gray walls of rock, flashing through the dwarf pine;
From that cloud-curtained cradle so cold and so lone,
From the arms of that wintry-locked mother of stone,
By hills hung with forests, through vales wide and free,
Thy mountain-born brightness glanced down to the sea.
No bridge arched thy waters save that where the trees
Stretched their long arms above thee and kissed in the breeze:
No sound save the lapse of the waves on thy shores,
The plunging of otters, the light dip of oars.
Green-tufted, oak-shaded, by Amoskeag's fall
Thy twin Uncanoonucs rose stately and tall,
Thy Nashua meadows lay green and unshorn,
And the hills of Pentucket were tasselled with corn.
But thy Pennacook valley was fairer than these,
And greener its grasses and taller its trees,
Ere the sound of an axe in the forest had rung,
Or the mower his scythe in the meadows had swung.
In their sheltered repose looking out from the wood
The bark-builded wigwams of Pennacook stood;
There glided the corn-dance, the council-fire shone,
And against the red war-post the hatchet was thrown.
There the old smoked in silence their pipes, and the young
To the pike and the white-perch their baited lines flung;
There the boy shaped his arrows, and there the shy maid
Wove her many-hued baskets and bright wampum braid.
O Stream of the Mountains! if answer of thine
Could rise from thy waters to question of mine,
Methinks through the din of thy thronged banks a moan
Of sorrow would swell for the days which have gone.
Not for thee the dull jar of the loom and the wheel,
The gliding of shuttles, the ringing of steel;
But that old voice of waters, of bird and of breeze,
The dip of the wild-fowl, the rustling of trees.
II. THE BASHABA
Lift we the twilight curtains of the Past,
And, turning from familiar sight and sound,
Sadly and full of reverence let us cast
A glance upon Tradition's shadowy ground,
Led by the few pale lights which, glimmering round
That dim, strange land of Eld, seem dying fast;
And that which history gives not to the eye,
The faded coloring of Time's tapestry,
Let Fancy, with her dream-dipped brush, supply.
Roof of bark and walls of pine,
Through whose chinks the sunbeams shine,
Tracing many a golden line
On the ample floor within;
Where, upon that earth-floor stark,
Lay the gaudy mats of bark,
With the bear's hide, rough and dark,
And the red-deer's skin.
Window-tracery, small and slight,
Woven of the willow white,
Lent a dimly checkered light;
And the night-stars glimmered down,
Where the lodge-fire's heavy smoke,
Slowly through an opening broke,
In the low roof, ribbed with oak,
Sheathed with hemlock brown.
Gloomed behind the changeless shade
By the solemn pine-wood made;
Through the rugged palisade,
In the open foreground planted,
Glimpses came of rowers rowing,
Stir of leaves and wild-flowers blowing,
Steel-like gleams of water flowing,
In the sunlight slanted.
Here the mighty Bashaba
Held his long-unquestioned sway,
From the White Hills, far away,
To the great sea's sounding shore;
Chief of chiefs, his regal word
All the river Sachems heard,
At his call the war-dance stirred,
Or was still once more.
There his spoils of chase and war,
Jaw of wolf and black bear's paw,
Panther's skin and eagle's claw,
Lay beside his axe and bow;
And, adown the roof-pole hung,
Loosely on a snake-skin strung,
In the smoke his scalp-locks swung
Grimly to and fro.
Nightly down the river going,
Swifter was the hunter's rowing,
When he saw that lodge-fire, glowing
O'er the waters still and red;
And the squaw's dark eye burned brighter,
And she drew her blanket tighter,
As, with quicker step and lighter,
From that door she fled.
For that chief had magic skill,
And a Panisee's dark will,
Over powers of good and ill,
Powers which bless and powers which ban;
Wizard lord of Pennacook,
Chiefs upon their war-path shook,
When they met the steady look
Of that wise dark man.
Tales of him the gray squaw told,
When the winter night-wind cold
Pierced her blanket's thickest fold,
And her fire burned low and small,
Till the very child abed,
Drew its bear-skin over bead,
Shrinking from the pale lights shed
On the trembling wall.
All the subtle spirits hiding
Under earth or wave, abiding
In the caverned rock, or riding
Misty clouds or morning breeze;
Every dark intelligence,
Secret soul, and influence
Of all things which outward sense
Feels, or bears, or sees,—
These the wizard's skill confessed,
At his bidding banned or blessed,
Stormful woke or lulled to rest
Wind and cloud, and fire and flood;
Burned for him the drifted snow,
Bade through ice fresh lilies blow,
And the leaves of summer grow
Over winter's wood!
Not untrue that tale of old!
Now, as then, the wise and bold
All the powers of Nature hold
Subject to their kingly will;
From the wondering crowds ashore,
Treading life's wild waters o'er,
As upon a marble floor,
Moves the strong man still.
Still, to such, life's elements
With their sterner laws dispense,
And the chain of consequence
Broken in their pathway lies;
Time and change their vassals making,
Flowers from icy pillows waking,
Tresses of the sunrise shaking
Over midnight skies.
Still, to th' earnest soul, the sun
Rests on towered Gibeon,
And the moon of Ajalon
Lights the battle-grounds of life;
To his aid the strong reverses
Hidden powers and giant forces,
And the high stars, in their courses,
Mingle in his strife!
III. THE DAUGHTER
The soot-black brows of men, the yell
Of women thronging round the bed,
The tinkling charm of ring and shell,
The Powah whispering o'er the dead!
All these the Sachem's home had known,
When, on her journey long and wild
To the dim World of Souls, alone,
In her young beauty passed the mother of his child.
Three bow-shots from the Sachem's dwelling
They laid her in the walnut shade,
Where a green hillock gently swelling
Her fitting mound of burial made.
There trailed the vine in summer hours,
The tree-perched squirrel dropped his shell,—
On velvet moss and pale-hued flowers,
Woven with leaf and spray, the softened sunshine fell!
The Indian's heart is hard and cold,
It closes darkly o'er its care,
And formed in Nature's sternest mould,
Is slow to feel, and strong to bear.
The war-paint on the Sachem's face,
Unwet with tears, shone fierce and red,
And still, in battle or in chase,
Dry leaf and snow-rime crisped beneath his foremost tread.
Yet when her name was heard no more,
And when the robe her mother gave,
And small, light moccasin she wore,
Had slowly wasted on her grave,
Unmarked of him the dark maids sped
Their sunset dance and moonlit play;
No other shared his lonely bed,
No other fair young head upon his bosom lay.
A lone, stern man. Yet, as sometimes
The tempest-smitten tree receives
From one small root the sap which climbs
Its topmost spray and crowning leaves,
So from his child the Sachem drew
A life of Love and Hope, and felt
His cold and rugged nature through
The softness and the warmth of her young being melt.
A laugh which in the woodland rang
Bemocking April's gladdest bird,—
A light and graceful form which sprang
To meet him when his step was heard,—
Eyes by his lodge-fire flashing dark,
Small fingers stringing bead and shell
Or weaving mats of bright-hued bark,—
With these the household-god had graced his wigwam well.
Child of the forest! strong and free,
Slight-robed, with loosely flowing hair,
She swam the lake or climbed the tree,
Or struck the flying bird in air.
O'er the heaped drifts of winter's moon
Her snow-shoes tracked the hunter's way;
And dazzling in the summer noon
The blade of her light oar threw off its shower of spray!
Unknown to her the rigid rule,
The dull restraint, the chiding frown,
The weary torture of the school,
The taming of wild nature down.
Her only lore, the legends told
Around the hunter's fire at night;
Stars rose and set, and seasons rolled,
Flowers bloomed and snow-flakes fell, unquestioned in her sight.
Unknown to her the subtle skill
With which the artist-eye can trace
In rock and tree and lake and hill
The outlines of divinest grace;
Unknown the fine soul's keen unrest,
Which sees, admires, yet yearns alway;
Too closely on her mother's breast
To note her smiles of love the child of Nature lay!
It is enough for such to be
Of common, natural things a part,
To feel, with bird and stream and tree,
The pulses of the same great heart;
But we, from Nature long exiled,
In our cold homes of Art and Thought
Grieve like the stranger-tended child,
Which seeks its mother's arms, and sees but feels them not.
The garden rose may richly bloom
In cultured soil and genial air,
To cloud the light of Fashion's room
Or droop in Beauty's midnight hair;
In lonelier grace, to sun and dew
The sweetbrier on the hillside shows
Its single leaf and fainter hue,
Untrained and wildly free, yet still a sister rose!
Thus o'er the heart of Weetamoo
Their mingling shades of joy and ill
The instincts of her nature threw;
The savage was a woman still.
Midst outlines dim of maiden schemes,
Heart-colored prophecies of life,
Rose on the ground of her young dreams
The light of a new home, the lover and the wife.
IV. THE WEDDING
Cool and dark fell the autumn night,
But the Bashaba's wigwam glowed with light,
For down from its roof, by green withes hung,
Flaring and smoking the pine-knots swung.
And along the river great wood-fires
Shot into the night their long, red spires,
Showing behind the tall, dark wood,
Flashing before on the sweeping flood.
In the changeful wind, with shimmer and shade,
Now high, now low, that firelight played,
On tree-leaves wet with evening dews,
On gliding water and still canoes.
The trapper that night on Turee's brook,
And the weary fisher on Contoocook,
Saw over the marshes, and through the pine,
And down on the river, the dance-lights shine.
For the Saugus Sachem had come to woo
The Bashaba's daughter Weetamoo,
And laid at her father's feet that night
His softest furs and wampum white.
From the Crystal Hills to the far southeast
The river Sagamores came to the feast;
And chiefs whose homes the sea-winds shook
Sat down on the mats of Pennacook.
They came from Sunapee's shore of rock,
From the snowy sources of Snooganock,
And from rough Coos whose thick woods shake
Their pine-cones in Umbagog Lake.
From Ammonoosuc's mountain pass,
Wild as his home, came Chepewass;
And the Keenomps of the bills which throw
Their shade on the Smile of Manito.
With pipes of peace and bows unstrung,
Glowing with paint came old and young,
In wampum and furs and feathers arrayed,
To the dance and feast the Bashaba made.
Bird of the air and beast of the field,
All which the woods and the waters yield,
On dishes of birch and hemlock piled,
Garnished and graced that banquet wild.
Steaks of the brown bear fat and large
From the rocky slopes of the Kearsarge;
Delicate trout from Babboosuck brook,
And salmon speared in the Contoocook;
Squirrels which fed where nuts fell thick
in the gravelly bed of the Otternic;
And small wild-hens in reed-snares caught
from the banks of Sondagardee brought;
Pike and perch from the Suncook taken,
Nuts from the trees of the Black Hills shaken,
Cranberries picked in the Squamscot bog,
And grapes from the vines of Piscataquog:
And, drawn from that great stone vase which stands
In the river scooped by a spirit's hands,
Garnished with spoons of shell and horn,
Stood the birchen dishes of smoking corn.
Thus bird of the air and beast of the field,
All which the woods and the waters yield,
Furnished in that olden day
The bridal feast of the Bashaba.
And merrily when that feast was done
On the fire-lit green the dance begun,
With squaws' shrill stave, and deeper hum
Of old men beating the Indian drum.
Painted and plumed, with scalp-locks flowing,
And red arms tossing and black eyes glowing,
Now in the light and now in the shade
Around the fires the dancers played.
The step was quicker, the song more shrill,
And the beat of the small drums louder still
Whenever within the circle drew
The Saugus Sachem and Weetamoo.
The moons of forty winters had shed
Their snow upon that chieftain's head,
And toil and care and battle's chance
Had seamed his hard, dark countenance.
A fawn beside the bison grim,—
Why turns the bride's fond eye on him,
In whose cold look is naught beside
The triumph of a sullen pride?
Ask why the graceful grape entwines
The rough oak with her arm of vines;
And why the gray rock's rugged cheek
The soft lips of the mosses seek.
Why, with wise instinct, Nature seems
To harmonize her wide extremes,
Linking the stronger with the weak,
The haughty with the soft and meek!
V. THE NEW HOME
A wild and broken landscape, spiked with firs,
Roughening the bleak horizon's northern edge;
Steep, cavernous hillsides, where black hemlock spurs
And sharp, gray splinters of the wind-swept ledge
Pierced the thin-glazed ice, or bristling rose,
Where the cold rim of the sky sunk down upon the snows.
And eastward cold, wide marshes stretched away,
Dull, dreary flats without a bush or tree,
O'er-crossed by icy creeks, where twice a day
Gurgled the waters of the moon-struck sea;
And faint with distance came the stifled roar,
The melancholy lapse of waves on that low shore.
No cheerful village with its mingling smokes,
No laugh of children wrestling in the snow,
No camp-fire blazing through the hillside oaks,
No fishers kneeling on the ice below;
Yet midst all desolate things of sound and view,
Through the long winter moons smiled dark-eyed Weetamoo.
Her heart had found a home; and freshly all
Its beautiful affections overgrew
Their rugged prop. As o'er some granite wall
Soft vine-leaves open to the moistening dew
And warm bright sun, the love of that young wife
Found on a hard cold breast the dew and warmth of life.
The steep, bleak hills, the melancholy shore,
The long, dead level of the marsh between,
A coloring of unreal beauty wore
Through the soft golden mist of young love seen.
For o'er those hills and from that dreary plain,
Nightly she welcomed home her hunter chief again.
No warmth of heart, no passionate burst of feeling,
Repaid her welcoming smile and parting kiss,
No fond and playful dalliance half concealing,
Under the guise of mirth, its tenderness;
But, in their stead, the warrior's settled pride,
And vanity's pleased smile with homage satisfied.
Enough for Weetamoo, that she alone
Sat on his mat and slumbered at his side;
That he whose fame to her young ear had flown
Now looked upon her proudly as his bride;
That he whose name the Mohawk trembling heard
Vouchsafed to her at times a kindly look or word.
For she had learned the maxims of her race,
Which teach the woman to become a slave,
And feel herself the pardonless disgrace
Of love's fond weakness in the wise and brave,—
The scandal and the shame which they incur,
Who give to woman all which man requires of her.
So passed the winter moons. The sun at last
Broke link by link the frost chain of the rills,
And the warm breathings of the southwest passed
Over the hoar rime of the Saugus hills;
The gray and desolate marsh grew green once more,
And the birch-tree's tremulous shade fell round the Sachem's door.
Then from far Pennacook swift runners came,
With gift and greeting for the Saugus chief;
Beseeching him in the great Sachem's name,
That, with the coming of the flower and leaf,
The song of birds, the warm breeze and the rain,
Young Weetamoo might greet her lonely sire again.
And Winnepurkit called his chiefs together,
And a grave council in his wigwam met,
Solemn and brief in words, considering whether
The rigid rules of forest etiquette
Permitted Weetamoo once more to look
Upon her father's face and green-banked Pennacook.
With interludes of pipe-smoke and strong water,
The forest sages pondered, and at length,
Concluded in a body to escort her
Up to her father's home of pride and strength,
Impressing thus on Pennacook a sense
Of Winnepurkit's power and regal consequence.
So through old woods which Aukeetamit's hand,
A soft and many-shaded greenness lent,
Over high breezy hills, and meadow land
Yellow with flowers, the wild procession went,
Till, rolling down its wooded banks between,
A broad, clear, mountain stream, the Merrimac was seen.
The hunter leaning on his bow undrawn,
The fisher lounging on the pebbled shores,
Squaws in the clearing dropping the seed-corn,
Young children peering through the wigwam doors,
Saw with delight, surrounded by her train
Of painted Saugus braves, their Weetamoo again.
VI. AT PENNACOOK
The hills are dearest which our childish feet
Have climbed the earliest; and the streams most sweet
Are ever those at which our young lips drank,
Stooped to their waters o'er the grassy bank.
Midst the cold dreary sea-watch, Home's hearth-light
Shines round the helmsman plunging through the night;
And still, with inward eye, the traveller sees
In close, dark, stranger streets his native trees.
The home-sick dreamer's brow is nightly fanned
By breezes whispering of his native land,
And on the stranger's dim and dying eye
The soft, sweet pictures of his childhood lie.
Joy then for Weetamoo, to sit once more
A child upon her father's wigwam floor!
Once more with her old fondness to beguile
From his cold eye the strange light of a smile.
The long, bright days of summer swiftly passed,
The dry leaves whirled in autumn's rising blast,
And evening cloud and whitening sunrise rime
Told of the coming of the winter-time.
But vainly looked, the while, young Weetamoo,
Down the dark river for her chief's canoe;
No dusky messenger from Saugus brought
The grateful tidings which the young wife sought.
At length a runner from her father sent,
To Winnepurkit's sea-cooled wigwam went
'Eagle of Saugus,—in the woods the dove
Mourns for the shelter of thy wings of love.'
But the dark chief of Saugus turned aside
In the grim anger of hard-hearted pride;
I bore her as became a chieftain's daughter,
Up to her home beside the gliding water.
If now no more a mat for her is found
Of all which line her father's wigwam round,
Let Pennacook call out his warrior train,
And send her back with wampum gifts again.'
The baffled runner turned upon his track,
Bearing the words of Winnepurkit back.
'Dog of the Marsh,' cried Pennacook, 'no more
Shall child of mine sit on his wigwam floor.
'Go, let him seek some meaner squaw to spread
The stolen bear-skin of his beggar's bed;
Son of a fish-hawk! let him dig his clams
For some vile daughter of the Agawams,
'Or coward Nipmucks! may his scalp dry black
In Mohawk smoke, before I send her back.'
He shook his clenched hand towards the ocean wave,
While hoarse assent his listening council gave.
Alas poor bride! can thy grim sire impart
His iron hardness to thy woman's heart?
Or cold self-torturing pride like his atone
For love denied and life's warm beauty flown?
On Autumn's gray and mournful grave the snow
Hung its white wreaths; with stifled voice and low
The river crept, by one vast bridge o'er-crossed,
Built by the boar-locked artisan of Frost.
And many a moon in beauty newly born
Pierced the red sunset with her silver horn,
Or, from the east, across her azure field
Rolled the wide brightness of her full-orbed shield.
Yet Winnepurkit came not,—on the mat
Of the scorned wife her dusky rival sat;
And he, the while, in Western woods afar,
Urged the long chase, or trod the path of war.
Dry up thy tears, young daughter of a chief!
Waste not on him the sacredness of grief;
Be the fierce spirit of thy sire thine own,
His lips of scorning, and his heart of stone.
What heeds the warrior of a hundred fights,
The storm-worn watcher through long hunting nights,
Cold, crafty, proud of woman's weak distress,
Her home-bound grief and pining loneliness?
VII. THE DEPARTURE
The wild March rains had fallen fast and long
The snowy mountains of the North among,
Making each vale a watercourse, each hill
Bright with the cascade of some new-made rill.
Gnawed by the sunbeams, softened by the rain,
Heaved underneath by the swollen current's strain,
The ice-bridge yielded, and the Merrimac
Bore the huge ruin crashing down its track.
On that strong turbid water, a small boat
Guided by one weak hand was seen to float;
Evil the fate which loosed it from the shore,
Too early voyager with too frail an oar!
Down the vexed centre of that rushing tide,
The thick huge ice-blocks threatening either side,
The foam-white rocks of Amoskeag in view,
With arrowy swiftness sped that light canoe.
The trapper, moistening his moose's meat
On the wet bank by Uncanoonuc's feet,
Saw the swift boat flash down the troubled stream;
Slept he, or waked he? was it truth or dream?
The straining eye bent fearfully before,
The small hand clenching on the useless oar,
The bead-wrought blanket trailing o'er the water—
He knew them all—woe for the Sachem's daughter!
Sick and aweary of her lonely life,
Heedless of peril, the still faithful wife
Had left her mother's grave, her father's door,
To seek the wigwam of her chief once more.
Down the white rapids like a sear leaf whirled,
On the sharp rocks and piled-up ices hurled,
Empty and broken, circled the canoe
In the vexed pool below—but where was Weetamoo.
VIII. SONG OF INDIAN WOMEN
The Dark eye has left us,
The Spring-bird has flown;
On the pathway of spirits
She wanders alone.
The song of the wood-dove has died on our shore
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We hear it no more!
O dark water Spirit
We cast on thy wave
These furs which may never
Hang over her grave;
Bear down to the lost one the robes that she wore
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!
Of the strange land she walks in
No Powah has told:
It may burn with the sunshine,
Or freeze with the cold.
Let us give to our lost one the robes that she wore:
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!
The path she is treading
Shall soon be our own;
Each gliding in shadow
Unseen and alone!
In vain shall we call on the souls gone before:
Mat wonck kunna-monee! They hear us no more!
O mighty Sowanna!
Thy gateways unfold,
From thy wigwam of sunset
Lift curtains of gold!
Take home the poor Spirit whose journey is o'er
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!
So sang the Children of the Leaves beside
The broad, dark river's coldly flowing tide;
Now low, now harsh, with sob-like pause and swell,
On the high wind their voices rose and fell.
Nature's wild music,—sounds of wind-swept trees,
The scream of birds, the wailing of the breeze,
The roar of waters, steady, deep, and strong,—
Mingled and murmured in that farewell song.
Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society
Υδραν φονεύσας, μυρίων τ᾽ ἄλλων πόνων
διῆλθον ἀγέλας . . .
τὸ λοίσθιον δὲ τόνδ᾽ ἔτλην τάλας πόνον,
. . . δῶμα θριγκῶσαι κακοῖς.
I slew the Hydra, and from labour pass'd
To labour — tribes of labours! Till, at last,
Attempting one more labour, in a trice,
Alack, with ills I crowned the edifice.
You have seen better days, dear? So have I —
And worse too, for they brought no such bud-mouth
As yours to lisp "You wish you knew me!" Well,
Wise men, 't is said, have sometimes wished the same,
And wished and had their trouble for their pains.
Suppose my Œdipus should lurk at last
Under a pork-pie hat and crinoline,
And, latish, pounce on Sphynx in Leicester Square?
Or likelier, what if Sphynx in wise old age,
Grown sick of snapping foolish people's heads,
And jealous for her riddle's proper rede, —
Jealous that the good trick which served the turn
Have justice rendered it, nor class one day
With friend Home's stilts and tongs and medium-ware,—
What if the once redoubted Sphynx, I say,
(Because night draws on, and the sands increase,
And desert-whispers grow a prophecy)
Tell all to Corinth of her own accord.
Bright Corinth, not dull Thebes, for Lais' sake,
Who finds me hardly grey, and likes my nose,
And thinks a man of sixty at the prime?
Good! It shall be! Revealment of myself!
But listen, for we must co-operate;
I don't drink tea: permit me the cigar!
First, how to make the matter plain, of course —
What was the law by which I lived. Let 's see:
Ay, we must take one instant of my life
Spent sitting by your side in this neat room:
Watch well the way I use it, and don't laugh!
Here's paper on the table, pen and ink:
Give me the soiled bit — not the pretty rose!
See! having sat an hour, I'm rested now,
Therefore want work: and spy no better work
For eye and hand and mind that guides them both,
During this instant, than to draw my pen
From blot One — thus — up, up to blot Two — thus —
Which I at last reach, thus, and here's my line
Five inches long and tolerably straight:
Better to draw than leave undrawn, I think.
Fitter to do than let alone, I hold,
Though better, fitter, by but one degree.
Therefore it was that, rather than sit still
Simply, my right-hand drew it while my left
Pulled smooth and pinched the moustache to a point.
Now I permit your plump lips to unpurse:
So far, one possibly may understand
"Without recourse to witchcraft!" True, my dear.
Thus folks begin with Euclid, — finish, how?
Trying to square the circle! — at any rate,
Solving abstruser problems than this first
"How find the nearest way 'twixt point and point."
Deal but with moral mathematics so —
Master one merest moment's work of mine,
Even this practising with pen and ink, —
Demonstrate why I rather plied the quill
Than left the space a blank, — you gain a fact,
And God knows what a fact's worth! So proceed
By inference from just this moral fact
— I don't say, to that plaguy quadrature
"What the whole man meant, whom you wish you knew,"
But, what meant certain things he did of old,
Which puzzled Europe, — why, you'll find them plain,
This way, not otherwise: I guarantee.
Understand one, you comprehend the rest.
Rays from all round converge to any point:
Study the point then ere you track the rays!
The size o' the circle's nothing; subdivide
Earth, and earth's smallest grain of mustard-seed,
You count as many parts, small matching large,
If you can use the mind's eye: otherwise,
Material optics, being gross at best,
Prefer the large and leave our mind the small —
And pray how many folks have minds can see?
Certainly you — and somebody in Thrace
Whose name escapes me at the moment. You —
Lend me your mind then! Analyse with me
This instance of the line 'twixt blot and blot
I rather chose to draw than leave a blank.
Things else being equal. You are taught thereby
That 't is my nature, when I am at ease,
Rather than idle out my life too long,
To want to do a thing — to put a thought,
Whether a great thought or a little one,
Into an act, as nearly as may be.
Make what is absolutely new — I can't,
Mar what is made already well enough —
I won't: but turn to best account the thing
That 's half-made — that I can. Two blots, you saw
I knew how to extend into a line
Symmetric on the sheet they blurred before —
Such little act sufficed, this time, such thought.
Now, we'll extend rays, widen out the verge,
Describe a larger circle; leave this first
Clod of an instance we began with, rise
To the complete world many clods effect.
Only continue patient while I throw,
Delver-like, spadeful after spadeful up,
Just as truths come, the subsoil of me, mould
Whence spring my moods: your object, — just to find,
Alike from handlift and from barrow-load, 100
What salts and silts may constitute the earth —
If it be proper stuff to blow man glass,
Or bake him pottery, bear him oaks or wheat —
What's born of me, in brief; which found, all's known.
If it were genius did the digging-job,
Logic would speedily sift its product smooth
And leave the crude truths bare for poetry;
But I'm no poet, and am stiff i' the back.
What one spread fails to bring, another may.
In goes the shovel and out comes scoop — as here!
I live to please myself. I recognize
Power passing mine, immeasurable, God —
Above me, whom He made, as heaven beyond
Earth — to use figures which assist our sense.
I know that He is there as I am here.
By the same proof, which seems no proof at all,
It so exceeds familiar forms of proof.
Why "there," not "here"? Because, when I say "there,"
I treat the feeling with distincter shape
That space exists between us: I, — not He, —
Live, think, do human work here — no machine.
His will moves, but a being by myself,
His, and not He who made me for a work,
Watches my working, judges its effect,
But does not interpose. He did so once,
And probably will again some time — not now,
Life being the minute of mankind, not God's,
In a certain sense, like time before and time
After man's earthly life, so far as man
Needs apprehend the matter. Am I clear?
Suppose I bid a courier take to-night
(. . . Once for all, let me talk as if I smoked
Yet in the Residenz, a personage:
I must still represent the thing I was,
Galvanically make dead muscle play.
Or how shall I illustrate muscle's use?)
I could then, last July, bid courier take
Message for me, post-haste, a thousand miles.
I bid him, since I have the right to bid,
And, my part done so far, his part begins;
He starts with due equipment, will and power,
Means he may use, misuse, not use at all.
At his discretion, at his peril too.
I leave him to himself: but, journey done,
I count the minutes, call for the result
In quickness and the courier quality.
Weigh its worth, and then punish or reward
According to proved service; not before.
Meantime, he sleeps through noontide, rides till dawn.
Sticks to the straight road, tries the crooked path,
Measures and manages resource, trusts, doubts
Advisers by the wayside, does his best
At his discretion, lags or launches forth,
(He knows and I know) at his peril too.
You see? Exactly thus men stand to God:
I with my courier, God with me. Just so
I have His bidding to perform; but mind
And body, all of me, though made and meant
For that sole service, must consult, concert
With my own self and nobody beside,
How to effect the same: God helps not else.
'T is I who, with my stock of craft and strength,
Choose the directer cut across the hedge,
Or keep the foot-track that respects a crop.
Lie down and rest, rise up and run, — live spare,
Feed free, — all that 's my business: but, arrive,
Deliver message, bring the answer back,
And make my bow, I must: then God will speak,
Praise me or haply blame as service proves.
To other men, to each and everyone,
Another law! what likelier? God, perchance,
Grants each new man, by some as new a mode.
Intercommunication with Himself,
Wreaking on finiteness infinitude;
By such a series of effects, gives each
Last His own imprint: old yet ever new
The process: 't is the way of Deity.
How it succeeds, He knows: I only know
That varied modes of creatureship abound,
Implying just as varied intercourse
For each with the creator of them all.
Each has his own mind and no other's mode.
What mode may yours be? I shall sympathize!
No doubt, you, good young lady that you are,
Despite a natural naughtiness or two,
Turn eyes up like a Pradier Magdalen
And see an outspread providential hand
Above the owl's-wing aigrette — guard and guide —
Visibly o'er your path, about your bed,
Through all your practisings with London-town.
It points, you go; it stays fixed, and you stop;
You quicken its procedure by a word
Spoken, a thought in silence, prayer and praise.
Well, I believe that such a hand may stoop,
And such appeals to it may stave off harm,
Pacify the grim guardian of this Square,
And stand you in good stead on quarter-day:
Quite possible in your case; not in mine.
"Ah, but I choose to make the difference,
Find the emancipation?" No, I hope!
If I deceive myself, take noon for night,
Please to become determinedly blind
To the true ordinance of human life.
Through mere presumption — that is my affair.
And truly a grave one; but as grave I think
Your affair, yours, the specially observed, —
Each favoured person that perceives his path
Pointed him, inch by inch, and looks above
For guidance, through the mazes of this world,
In what we call its meanest life-career
— Not how to manage Europe properly.
But how keep open shop, and yet pay rent.
Rear household, and make both ends meet, the same.
I say, such man is no less tasked than I
To duly take the path appointed him
By whatsoever sign he recognize.
Our insincerity on both our heads!
No matter what the object of a life,
Small work or large, — the making thrive a shop,
Or seeing that an empire take no harm, —
There are known fruits to judge obedience by.
You've read a ton's weight, now, of newspaper —
Lives of me, gabble about the kind of prince —
You know my work i' the rough; I ask you, then.
Do I appear subordinated less
To hand-impulsion, one prime push for all.
Than little lives of men, the multitude
That cried out, every quarter of an hour,
For fresh instructions, did or did not work,
And praised in the odd minutes?
Eh, my dear?
Such is the reason why I acquiesced
In doing what seemed best for me to do,
So as to please myself on the great scale,
Having regard to immortality
No less than life — did that which head and heart
Prescribed my hand, in measure with its means
Of doing — used my special stock of power —
Not from the aforesaid head and heart alone,
But every sort of helpful circumstance.
Some problematic and some nondescript:
All regulated by the single care
I' the last resort — that I made thoroughly serve
The when and how, toiled where was need, reposed
As resolutely to the proper point.
Braved sorrow, courted joy, to just one end:
Namely, that just the creature I was bound
To be, I should become, nor thwart at all
God's purpose in creation. I conceive
No other duty possible to man, —
Highest mind, lowest mind, — no other law
By which to judge life failure or success:
What folks call being saved or cast away.
Such was my rule of life; I worked my best
Subject to ultimate judgment, God's not man's.
Well then, this settled, — take your tea, I beg.
And meditate the fact, 'twixt sip and sip, —
This settled — why I pleased myself, you saw,
By turning blot and blot into a line,
O' the little scale, — we'll try now (as your tongue
Tries the concluding sugar-drop) what's meant
To please me most o' the great scale. Why, just now,
With nothing else to do within my reach.
Did I prefer making two blots one line
To making yet another separate
Third blot, and leaving those I found unlinked?
It meant, I like to use the thing I find.
Rather than strive at unfound novelty:
I make the best of the old, nor try for new.
Such will to act, such choice of action's way.
Constitute — when at work on the great scale,
Driven to their farthest natural consequence
By all the help from all the means — my own
Particular faculty of serving God,
Instinct for putting power to exercise
Upon some wish and want o' the time, I prove
Possible to mankind as best I may.
This constitutes my mission, — grant the phrase, —
Namely, to rule men — men within my reach,
To order, influence and dispose them so
As render solid and stabilify
Mankind in particles, the light and loose,
For their good and my pleasure in the act.
Such good accomplished proves twice good to me —
Good for its own sake, as the just and right.
And, in the effecting also, good again
To me its agent, tasked as suits my taste.
Is this much easy to be understood
At first glance? Now begin the steady gaze!
My rank — (if I must tell you simple truth —
Telling were else not worth the whiff o' the weed
I lose for the tale's sake) — dear, my rank i' the world
Is hard to know and name precisely: err
I may, but scarcely over-estimate
My style and title. Do I class with men
Most useful to their fellows? Possibly, —
Therefore, in some sort, best; but, greatest mind
And rarest nature? Evidently no.
A conservator, call me, if you please,
Not a creator nor destroyer: one
Who keeps the world safe. I profess to trace
The broken circle of society,
Dim actual order, I can redescribe
Not only where some segment silver-true
Stays clear, but where the breaks of black commence
Baffling you all who want the eye to probe —
As I make out yon problematic thin
White paring of your thumb-nail outside there,
Above the plaster-monarch on his steed —
See an inch, name an ell, and prophecy
O' the rest that ought to follow, the round moon
Now hiding in the night of things: that round,
I labour to demonstrate moon enough
For the month's purpose, — that society,
Render efficient for the age's need:
Preserving you in either case the old,
Nor aiming at a new and greater thing,
A sun for moon, a future to be made
By first abolishing the present law:
No such proud task for me by any means!
History shows you men whose master-touch
Not so much modifies as makes anew:
Minds that transmute nor need restore at all.
A breath of God made manifest in flesh
Subjects the world to change, from time to time,
Alters the whole conditions of our race
Abruptly, not by unperceived degrees
Nor play of elements already there,
But quite new leaven, leavening the lump,
And liker, so, the natural process. See!
Where winter reigned for ages — by a turn
I' the time, some star-change, (ask geologists)
The ice-tracts split, clash, splinter and disperse.
And there's an end of immobility,
Silence, and all that tinted pageant, base
To pinnacle, one flush from fairy-land
Dead-asleep and deserted somewhere, — see! —
As a fresh sun, wave, spring and joy outburst.
Or else the earth it is, time starts from trance.
Her mountains tremble into fire, her plains
Heave blinded by confusion: what result?
New teeming growth, surprises of strange life
Impossible before, a world broke up
And re-made, order gained by law destroyed.
Not otherwise, in our society
Follow like portents, all as absolute
Regenerations: they have birth at rare
Uncertain unexpected intervals
O' the world, by ministry impossible
Before and after fulness of the days:
Some dervish desert-spectre, swordsman, saint,
Law-giver, lyrist, — Oh, we know the names!
Quite other these than I. Our time requires
No such strange potentate, — who else would dawn, —
No fresh force till the old have spent itself.
Such seems the natural economy.
To shoot a beam into the dark, assists:
To make that beam do fuller service, spread
And utilize such bounty to the height,
That assists also, — and that work is mine.
I recognize, contemplate, and approve
The general compact of society.
Not simply as I see effected good.
But good i' the germ, each chance that's possible
I' the plan traced so far: all results, in short,
For better or worse of the operation due
To those exceptional natures, unlike mine,
Who, helping, thwarting, conscious, unaware.
Did somehow manage to so far describe
This diagram left ready to my hand.
Waiting my turn of trial. I see success.
See failure, see what makes or mars throughout.
How shall I else but help complete this plan
Of which I know the purpose and approve,
By letting stay therein what seems to stand,
And adding good thereto of easier reach
To-day than yesterday?
So much, no more!
Whereon, "No more than that?" — inquire aggrieved
Half of my critics: "nothing new at all?
The old plan saved, instead of a sponged slate
And fresh-drawn figure?" — while, "So much as that?"
Object their fellows of the other faith:
"Leave uneffaced the crazy labyrinth
Of alteration and amendment, lines
Which every dabster felt in duty bound
To signalize his power of pen and ink
By adding to a plan once plain enough?
Why keep each fool's bequeathment, scratch and blurr
Which overscrawl and underscore the piece —
Nay, strengthen them by touches of your own?"
Well, that 's my mission, so I serve the world,
Figure as man o' the moment, — in default
Of somebody inspired to strike such change
Into society — from round to square.
The ellipsis to the rhomboid, how you please,
As suits the size and shape o' the world he finds.
But this I can, — and nobody my peer, —
Do the best with the least change possible:
Carry the incompleteness on, a stage,
Make what was crooked straight, and roughness smooth.
And weakness strong: wherein if I succeed,
It will not prove the worst achievement, sure.
In the eyes at least of one man, one I look
Nowise to catch in critic company:
To-wit, the man inspired, the genius' self
Destined to come and change things thoroughly.
He, at least, finds his business simplified.
Distinguishes the done from undone, reads
Plainly what meant and did not mean this time
We live in, and I work on, and transmit
To such successor: he will operate
On good hard substance, not mere shade and shine.
Let all my critics, born to idleness
And impotency, get their good, and have
Their hooting at the giver: I am deaf —
Who find great good in this society,
Great gain, the purchase of great labour. Touch
The work I may and must, but — reverent
In every fall o' the finger-tip, no doubt.
Perhaps I find all good there's warrant for
I' the world as yet: nay, to the end of time, —
Since evil never means part company
With mankind, only shift side and change shape.
I find advance i' the main, and notably
The Present an improvement on the Past,
And promise for the Future — which shall prove
Only the Present with its rough made smooth,
Its indistinctness emphasized; I hope
No better, nothing newer for mankind,
But something equably smoothed everywhere,
Good, reconciled with hardly-quite-as-good,
Instead of good and bad each jostling each.
"And that's all?" Ay, and quite enough for me!
We have toiled so long to gain what gain I find
I' the Present, — let us keep it! We shall toil
So long before we gain — if gain God grant —
A Future with one touch of difference
I' the heart of things, and not their outside face, —
Let us not risk the whiff of my cigar
For Fourier, Comte and all that ends in smoke!
This I see clearest probably of men
With power to act and influence, now alive:
Juster than they to the true state of things;
In consequence, more tolerant that, side
By side, shall co-exist and thrive alike
In the age, the various sorts of happiness
jNIoral, mark! — not material — moods o' the mind
Suited to man and man his opposite:
Say, minor modes of movement — hence to there,
Or thence to here, or simply round about —
So long as each toe spares its neighbour's kibe,
Nor spoils the major march and main advance.
The love of peace, care for the family,
Contentment with what's bad but might be worse —
Good movements these! and good, too, discontent,
So long as that spurs good, which might be best,
Into becoming better, anyhow:
Good — pride of country, putting hearth and home
I' the back-ground, out of undue prominence:
Good — yearning after change, strife, victory,
And triumph. Each shall have its orbit marked,
But no more, — none impede the other's path
In this wide world, — though each and all alike,
Save for me, fain would spread itself through space
And leave its fellow not an inch of way.
I rule and regulate the course, excite,
Restrain: because the whole machine should march
Impelled by those diversely-moving parts,
Each blind to aught beside its little bent.
Out of the turnings round and round inside,
Comes that straightforward world-advance, I want,
And none of them supposes God wants too
And gets through just their hindrance and my help.
I think that to have held the balance straight
For twenty years, say, weighing claim and claim,
And giving each its due, no less no more,
This was good service to humanity,
Right usage of my power in head and heart,
And reasonable piety beside.
Keep those three points in mind while judging me!
You stand, perhaps, for some one man, not men, —
Represent this or the other interest,
Nor mind the general welfare, — so, impugn
My practice and dispute my value: why?
You man of faith, I did not tread the world
Into a paste, and thereof make a smooth
Uniform mound whereon to plant your flag,
The lily-white, above the blood and brains!
Nor yet did I, you man of faithlessness,
So roll things to the level which you love,
That you could stand at ease there and survey
The universal Nothing undisgraced
By pert obtrusion of some old church-spire
I' the distance! Neither friend would I content,
Nor, as the world were simply meant for him.
Thrust out his fellow and mend God's mistake.
Why, you two fools, — my dear friends all the same, —
Is it some change o' the world and nothing else
Contents you? Should whatever was, not be?
How thanklessly you view things! There 's the root
Of the evil, source of the entire mistake:
You see no worth i' the world, nature and life,
Unless we change what is to what may be.
Which means, — may be, i' the brain of one of you!
"Reject what is?" — all capabilities —
Nay, you may style them chances if you choose —
All chances, then, of happiness that lie
Open to anybody that is born,
Tumbles into this life and out again, —
All that may happen, good and evil too,
I' the space between, to each adventurer
Upon this 'sixty, Anno Domini:
A life to live — and such a life a world
To learn, one's lifetime in, — and such a world!
However did the foolish pass for wise
By calling life a burden, man a fly
Or worm or what's most insignificant?
"O littleness of man!" deplores the bard;
And then, for fear the Powers should punish him,
I' the space between, to each adventurer
Upon this 'sixty, Anno Domini:
A life to live — and such a life a world
To learn, one's lifetime in, — and such a world!
However did the foolish pass for wise
By calling life a burden, man a fly
Or worm or what's most insignificant?
"O littleness of man!" deplores the bard;
And then, for fear the Powers should punish him,
"O grandeur of the visible universe
Our human littleness contrasts withal!
O sun, O moon, ye mountains and thou sea,
Thou emblem of immensity, thou this,
That and the other, — what impertinence
In man to eat and drink and walk about
And have his little notions of his own,
The while some wave sheds foam upon the shore!"
First of all, 't is a lie some three-times thick:
The bard, — this sort of speech being poetry, —
The bard puts mankind well outside himself
And then begins instructing them: "This way
I and my friend the sea conceive of you!
What would you give to think such thoughts as ours
Of you and the sea together? "Down they go
On the humbled knees of them: at once they draw
Distinction, recognize no mate of theirs
In one, despite his mock humility,
So plain a match for what he plays with. Next,
The turn of the great ocean-play-fellow,
When the bard, leaving Bond Street very far
From ear-shot, cares not to ventriloquize,
But tells the sea its home-truths: "You, my match?
You, all this terror and inmiensity
And what not? Shall I tell you what you are?
Just fit to hitch into a stanza, so
Wake up and set in motion who's asleep
O' the other side of you, in England, else
Unaware, as folk pace their Bond Street now,
Somebody here despises them so much!
Between us, — they are the ultimate! to them
And their perception go these lordly thoughts:
Since what were ocean — mane and tail, to boot —
Mused I not here, how make thoughts thinkable?
Start forth my stanza and astound the world!
Back, billows, to your insignificance!
Deep, you are done with!"
Learn, my gifted friend,
There are two things i' the world, still wiser folk
Accept — intelligence and sympathy.
You pant about unutterable power
I' the ocean, all you feel but cannot speak?
Why, that's the plainest speech about it all.
You did not feel what was not to be felt.
Well, then, all else but what man feels is naught —
The wash o' the liquor that o'erbrims the cup
Called man, and runs to waste adown his side,
Perhaps to feed a cataract, — who cares?
I'll tell you: all the more I know mankind,
The more I thank God, like my grandmother,
For making me a little lower than
The angels, honour-clothed and glory-crowned:
This is the honour, — that no thing I know,
Feel or conceive, but I can make my own
Somehow, by use of hand or head or heart:
This is the glory, — that in all conceived.
Or felt or known, I recognize a mind
Not mine but like mine, — for the double joy, —
Making all things for me and me for Him.
There's folly for you at this time of day!
So think it! and enjoy your ignorance
Of what — no matter for the worthy's name —
Wisdom set working in a noble heart,
When he, who was earth's best geometer
Up to that time of day, consigned his life
With its results into one matchless book,
The triumph of the human mind so far.
All in geometry man yet could do:
And then wrote on the dedication-page
In place of name the universe applauds,
"But, God, what a geometer art Thou!"
I suppose Heaven is, through Eternity,
The equalizing, ever and anon,
In momentary rapture, great with small,
Omniscience with intelligency, God
With man, — the thunder-glow from pole to pole
Abolishing, a blissful moment-space,
Great cloud alike and small cloud, in one fire —
As sure to ebb as sure again to flow
When the new receptivity deserves
The new completion. There's the Heaven for me.
And I say, therefore, to live out one's life
I' the world here, with the chance, — whether by pain
Or pleasure be the process, long or short
The time, august or mean the circumstance
To human eye, — of learning how set foot
Decidedly on some one path to Heaven,
Touch segment in the circle whence all lines
Lead to the centre equally, red lines
Or black lines, so they but produce themselves —
This, I do say, — and here my sermon ends, —
This makes it worth our while to tenderly
Handle a state of things which mend we might.
Mar we may, but which meanwhile helps so far.
Therefore my end is — save society!
"And that's all?" twangs the never-failing taunt
O' the foe — "No novelty, creativeness,
Mark of the master that renews the age?"
"Nay, all that?" rather will demur my judge
I look to hear some day, nor friend nor foe —
"Did you attain, then, to perceive that God
Knew what He undertook when He made things?"
Ay: that my task was to co-operate
Rather than play the rival, chop and change
The order whence comes all the good we know,
With this, — good's last expression to our sense, —
That there's a further good conceivable
Beyond the utmost earth can realize:
And, therefore, that to change the agency,
The evil whereby good is brought about —
Try to make good do good as evil does —
Were just as if a chemist, wanting white.
And knowing black ingredients bred the dye.
Insisted these too should be white forsooth!
Correct the evil, mitigate your best,
Blend mild with harsh, and soften black to gray
If gray may follow with no detriment
To the eventual perfect purity!
But as for hazarding the main result
By hoping to anticipate one half
In the intermediate process, — no, my friends!
This bad world, I experience and approve;
Your good world, — with no pity, courage, hope.
Fear, sorrow, joy, — devotedness, in short,
Which I account the ultimate of man,
Of which there's not one day nor hour but brings
In flower or fruit, some sample of success,
Out of this same society I save —
None of it for me! That I might have none,
I rapped your tampering knuckles twenty years.
Such was the task imposed me, such my end.
Now for the means thereto. Ah, confidence —
Keep we together or part company?
This is the critical minute! "Such my end?"
Certainly; how could it be otherwise?
Can there be question which was the right task —
To save or to destroy society?
Why, even prove that, by some miracle,
Destruction were the proper work to choose,
And that a torch best remedies what's wrong
I' the temple, whence the long procession wound
Of powers and beauties, earth's achievements all.
The human strength that strove and overthrew, —
The human love that, weak itself, crowned strength,—
The instinct crying "God is whence I came!" —
The reason laying down the law "And such
His will i' the world must be! " — the leap and shout
Of genius "For I hold His very thoughts,
The meaning of the mind of Him!" — nay, more
The ingenuities, each active force
That turning in a circle on itselt
Looks neither up nor down but keeps the spot.
Mere creature-like and, for religion, works,
Works only and works ever, makes and shapes
And changes, still wrings more of good from less,
Still stamps some bad out, where was worst before.
So leaves the handiwork, the act and deed.
Were it but house and land and wealth, to show
Here was a creature perfect in the kind —
Whether as bee, beaver, or behemoth,
What's the importance? he has done his work
For work's sake, worked well, earned a creature's praise; —
I say, concede that same fane, whence deploys
Age after age, all this humanity,
Diverse but ever dear, out of the dark
Behind the altar into the broad day
By the portal — enter, and, concede there mocks
Each lover of free motion and much space
A perplexed length of apse and aisle and nave, —
Pillared roof and carved screen, and what care I?
That irk the movement and impede the march, —
Nay, possibly, bring flat upon his nose
At some odd break-neck angle, by some freak
Of old-world artistry, that personage
Who, could he but have kept his skirts from grief
And catching at the hooks and crooks about,
Had stepped out on the daylight of our time
Plainly the man of the age, — still, still, I bar
Excessive conflagration in the case.
"Shake the flame freely!" shout the multitude:
The architect approves I stuck my torch
Inside a good stout lantern, hung its light
Above the hooks and crooks, and ended so.
To save society was well: the means
Whereby to save it, — there begins the doubt
Permitted you, imperative on me;
Were mine the best means? Did I work aright
With powers appointed me? — since powers denied
Concern me nothing.
Well, my work reviewed
Fairly, leaves more hope than discouragement.
First, there's the deed done: what I found, I leave,-
What tottered, I kept stable: if it stand
One month, without sustainment, still thank me
The twenty years' sustainer! Now, observe,
Sustaining is no brilliant self-display
Like knocking down or even setting up:
Much bustle these necessitate; and still
To vulgar eye, the mightier of the myth
Is Hercules, who substitutes his own
For Atlas' shoulder and supports the globe
A whole day, — not the passive and obscure
Atlas who bore, ere Hercules was born,
And is to go on bearing that same load
When Hercules turns ash on OEta's top.
'T is the transition-stage, the tug and strain.
That strike men: standing still is stupid-like.
My pressure was too constant on the whole
For any part's eruption into space
Mid sparkles, crackling, and much praise of me.
I saw that, in the ordinary life,
Many of the little make a mass of men
Important beyond greatness here and there;
As certainly as, in life exceptional,
When old things terminate and new commence,
A solitary great man's worth the world.
God takes the business into His own hands
At such time: who creates the novel flower
Contrives to guard and give it breathing-room:
I merely tend the corn-field, care for crop,
And weed no acre thin to let emerge
What prodigy may stifle there perchance,
— No, though my eye have noted where he lurks.
Oh those mute myriads that spoke loud to me —
The eyes that craved to see the light, the mouths
That sought the daily bread and nothing more,
The hands that supplicated exercise,
Men that had wives, and women that had babes,
And all these making suit to only live!
Was I to turn aside from husbandry,
Leave hope of harvest for the corn, my care,
To play at horticulture, rear some rose
Or poppy into perfect leaf and bloom
When, mid the furrows, up was pleased to sprout
Some man, cause, system, special interest
I ought to study, stop the world meanwhile?
"But I am Liberty, Philanthropy,
Enhghtenment, or Patriotism, the power
Whereby you are to stand or fall!" cries each:
"Mine and mine only be the flag you flaunt!"
And, when I venture to object "Meantime,
What of yon myriads with no flag at all —
My crop which, who flaunts flag must tread across?"
"Now, this it is to have a puny mind!"
Admire my mental prodigies: "down — down —
Ever at home o' the level and the low.
There bides he brooding! Could he look above,
With less of the owl and more of the eagle eye,
He'd see there's no way helps the little cause
Like the attainment of the great. Dare first
The chief emprise; dispel yon cloud between
The sun and us; nor fear that, though our heads
Find earlier warmth and comfort from his ray,
What Hes about our feet, the multitude,
Will fail of benefaction presently.
Come now, let each of us awhile cry truce
To special interests, make common cause
Against the adversary — or perchance
Mere dullard to his own plain interest!
Which of us will you choose? — since needs must be
Some one o' the warring causes you incline
To hold, i' the main, has right and should prevail;
Why not adopt and give it prevalence?
Choose strict Faith or lax Incredulity, —
King, Caste and Cultus — or the Rights of Man,
Sovereignty of each Proudhon o'er himself,
And all that follows in just consequence!
Go free the stranger from a foreign yoke;
Or stay, concentrate energy at home;
Succeed! — when he deserves, the stranger will.
Comply with the Great Nation's impulse, print
By force of arms, — since reason pleads in vain,
And, mid the sweet compulsion, pity weeps, —
Hohenstiel-Schwangau on the universe!
Snub the Great Nation, cure the impulsive itch
With smartest fillip on a restless nose
Was ever launched by thumb and finger! Bid
Hohenstiel-Schwangau first repeal the tax
On pig-tails and pomatum and then mind
Abstruser matters for next century!
Is your choice made? Why then, act up to choice!
Leave the illogical touch now here now there
I' the way of work, the tantalizing help
First to this then the other opposite:
The blowing hot and cold, sham policy,
Sure ague of the mind and nothing more,
Disease of the perception or the Will,
That fain would hide in a fine name! Your choice,
Speak it out and condemn yourself thereby!"
Well, Leicester-square is not the Residenz:
Instead of shrugging shoulder, turning friend
The deaf ear, with a wink to the police —
I'll answer — by a question, wisdom's mode.
How many years, o' the average, do men
Live in this world? Some score, say computists.
Quintuple me that term and give mankind
The likely hundred, and with all my heart
I'll take your task upon me, work your way,
Concentrate energy on some one cause:
Since, counseller, I also have my cause,
My flag, my faith in its effect, my hope
In its eventual triumph for the good
O' the world. And once upon a time, when I
Was like all you, mere voice and nothing more,
Myself took wings, soared sun-ward, and thence sang
"Look where I live i' the loft, come up to me,
Groundlings, nor grovel longer I gain this height.
And prove you breathe here better than below!
Why, what emancipation far and wide
Will follow in a trice! They too can soar,
Each tenant of the earth's circumference
Claiming to elevate humanity,
They also must attain such altitude,
Live in the luminous circle that surrounds
The planet, not the leaden orb itself.
Press out, each point, from surface to yon verge
Which one has gained and guaranteed your realm!"
Ay, still my fragments wander, music-fraught,
Sighs of the soul, mine once, mine now, and mine
For ever! Crumbled arch, crushed aqueduct,
Alive with tremors in the shaggy growth
Of wild-wood, crevice-sown, that triumphs there
Imparting exultation to the hills!
Sweep of the swathe when only the winds walk
And waft my words above the grassy sea
Under the blinding blue that basks o'er Rome, —
Hear ye not still — "Be Italy again?"
And ye, what strikes the panic to your heart?
Decrepit council-chambers, — where some lamp
Drives the unbroken black three paces off
From where the greybeards huddle in debate,
Dim cowls and capes, and midmost glimmers one
Like tarnished gold, and what they say is doubt.
And what they think is fear, and what suspends
The breath in them is not the plaster-patch
Time disengages from the painted wall
Where Rafael moulderingly bids adieu,
Nor tick of the insect turning tapestry
To dust, which a queen's finger traced of old;
But some word, resonant, redoubtable.
Of who once felt upon his head a hand
Whereof the head now apprehends his foot.
"Light in Rome, Law in Rome, and Liberty
O' the soul in Rome — the free Church, the free State!
Stamp out the nature that's best typified
By its embodiment in Peter's Dome,
The scorpion-body with the greedy pair
Of outstretched nippers, either colonnade
Agape for the advance of heads and hearts!"
There's one cause for you! one and only one.
For I am vocal through the universe,
I' the work-shop, manufactory, exchange
And market-place, sea-port and custom-house
O' the frontier: listen if the echoes die —
"Unfettered commerce! Power to speak and hear,
And print and read! The universal vote!
Its rights for labour!" This, with much beside,
I spoke when I was voice and nothing more,
But altogether such an one as you
My censors. "Voice, and nothing more, indeed!"
Re-echoes round me: "that's the censure, there's
Involved the ruin of you soon or late!
Voice, — when its promise beat the empty air:
And nothing more, — when solid earth's your stage.
And we desiderate performance, deed
For word, the realizing all you dreamed
In the old days: now, for deed, we find at door
O' the council-chamber posted, mute as mouse,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, sentry and safeguard
O' the greybeards all a-chuckle, cowl to cape.
Who challenge Judas, — that 's endearment's style, —
To stop their mouths or let escape grimace,
While they keep cursing Italy and him.
The power to speak, hear, print and read is ours?
Ay, we learn where and how, when clapped inside
A convict-transport bound for cool Cayenne!
The universal vote we have: its urn,
We also have where votes drop, fingered-o'er
By the universal Prefect. Say, Trade's free
And Toil turned master out o' the slave it was:
What then? These feed man's stomach, but his soul
Craves finer fare, nor lives by bread alone.
As somebody says somewhere. Hence you stand
Proved and recorded either false or weak,
Faulty in promise or performance: which?"
Neither, I hope. Once pedestalled on earth,
To act not speak, I found earth was not air.
I saw that multitude of mine, and not
The nakedness and nullity of air
Fit only for a voice to float in free.
Such eyes I saw that craved the light alone.
Such mouths that wanted bread and nothing else,
Such hands that supplicated handiwork,
Men with the wives, and women with the babes,
Yet all these pleading just to live, not die!
Did I believe one whit less in belief.
Take truth for falsehood, wish the voice revoked
That told the truth to heaven for earth to hear?
No, this should be, and shall; but when and how?
At what expense to these who average
Your twenty years of life, my computists?
"Not bread alone" but bread before all else
For these: the bodily want serve first, said I;
If earth-space and the life-time help not here,
Where is the good of body having been?
But, helping body, if we somewhat baulk
The soul of finer fare, such food's to find
Elsewhere and afterward — all indicates.
Even this self-same fact that soul can starve
Yet body still exist its twenty years:
While, stint the body, there's an end at once
O' the revel in the fancy that Rome's free.
And superstition's fettered, and one prints
Whate'er one pleases and who pleases reads
The same, and speaks out and is spoken to.
And divers hundred thousand fools may vote
A vote untampered with by one wise man,
And so elect Barabbas deputy
In lieu of his concurrent. I who trace
The purpose written on the face of things,
For my behoof and guidance — (whoso needs
No such sustainment, sees beneath my signs,
Proves, what I take for writing, penmanship,
Scribble and flourish with no sense for me
O' the sort I solemnly go spelling out, —
Let him! there 's certain work of mine to show
Alongside his work: which gives warranty
Of shrewder vision in the workman — judge!)
I who trace Providence without a break
I' the plan of things, drop plumb on this plain print
Of an intention with a view to good,
That man is made in sympathy with man
At outset of existence, so to speak;
But in dissociation, more and more,
Man from his fellow, as their lives advance
In culture; still humanity, that's born
A mass, keeps flying off, fining away
Ever into a multitude of points,
And ends in isolation, each from each:
Peerless above i' the sky, the pinnacle, —
Absolute contact, fusion, all below
At the base of being. How comes this about?
This stamp of God characterizing man
And nothing else but man in the universe —
That, while he feels with man (to use man's speech)
I' the little things of life, its fleshly wants
Of food and rest and health and happiness,
Its simplest spirit-motions, loves and hates,
Hopes, fears, soul-cravings on the ignoblest scale,
O' the fellow-creature, — owns the bond at base, —
He tends to freedom and divergency
In the upward progress, plays the pinnacle
When life's at greatest (grant again the phrase!
Because there's neither great nor small in life.)
"Consult thou for thy kind that have the eyes
To see, the mouths to eat, the hands to work,
Men with the wives, and women with the babes!"
Prompts Nature. "Care thou for thyself alone
I' the conduct of the mind God made thee with!
Think, as if man had never thought before!
Act, as if all creation hung attent
On the acting of such faculty as thine,
To take prime pattern from thy masterpiece!"
Nature prompts also: neither law obeyed
To the uttermost by any heart and soul
We know or have in record: both of them
Acknowledged blindly by whatever man
We ever knew or heard of in this world.
"Will you have why and wherefore, and the fact
Made plain as pikestaff?" modern Science asks.
"That mass man sprung from was a jelly-lump
Once on a time; he kept an after course
Through fish and insect, reptile, bird and beast,
Till he attained to be an ape at last
Or last but one. And if this doctrine shock
In aught the natural pride" . . . Friend, banish fear,
The natural humility replies!
Do you suppose, even I, poor potentate,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, who once ruled the roast, —
I was born able at all points to ply
My tools? or did I have to learn my trade,
Practise as exile ere perform as prince?
The world knows something of my ups and downs:
But grant me time, give me the management
And manufacture of a model me.
Me fifty-fold, a prince without a flaw, —
Why, there's no social grade, the sordidest,
My embryo potentate should blink and scape.
King, all the better he was cobbler once,
He should know, sitting on the throne, how tastes
Life to who sweeps the doorway. But life's hard,
Occasion rare; you cut probation short,
And, being half-instructed, on the stage
You shuffle through your part as best you may,
And bless your stars, as I do. God takes time.
I like the thought He should have lodged me once
I' the hole, the cave, the hut, the tenement.
The mansion and the palace; made me learn
The feel o' the first, before I found myself
Loftier i' the last, not more emancipate
From first to last of lodging, I was I,
And not at all the place that harboured me.
Do I refuse to follow farther yet
I' the backwardness, repine if tree and flower,
Mountain or streamlet were my dwelling-place
Before I gained enlargement, grew mollusc?
As well account that way for many a thrill
Of kinship, I confess to, with the powers
Called Nature: animate, inanimate.
In parts or in the whole, there's something there
Man-like that somehow meets the man in me.
My pulse goes altogether with the heart
O' the Persian, that old Xerxes, when he stayed
His march to conquest of the world, a day
I' the desert, for the sake of one superb
Plane-tree which queened it there in solitude:
Giving her neck its necklace, and each arm
Its armlet, suiting soft waist, snowy side.
With cincture and apparel. Yes, I lodged
In those successive tenements; perchance
Taste yet the straitness of them while I stretch
Limb and enjoy new liberty the more.
And some abodes are lost or ruinous;
Some, patched-up and pieced out, and so transformed
They still accommodate the traveller
His day of life-time. O you count the links,
Descry no bar of the unbroken man?
Yes, — and who welds a lump of ore, suppose
He likes to make a chain and not a bar.
And reach by link on link, link small, link large,
Out to the due length — why, there's forethought still
Outside o' the series, forging at one end.
While at the other there's — no matter what
The kind of critical intelligence
Believing that last link had last but one
For parent, and no link was, first of all,
Fitted to anvil, hammered into shape.
Else, I accept the doctrine, and deduce
This duty, that I recognize mankind,
In all its height and depth and length and breadth.
Mankind i' the main have little wants, not large:
I, being of will and power to help, i' the main,
Mankind, must help the least wants first. My friend,
That is, my foe, without such power and will,
May plausibly concentrate all he wields,
And do his best at helping some large want,
Exceptionally noble cause, that's seen
Subordinate enough from where I stand.
As he helps, I helped once, when like himself.
Unable to help better, work more wide;
And so would work with heart and hand to-day,
Did only computists confess a fault,
And multiply the single score by five,
Five only, give man's life its hundred years.
Change life, in me shall follow change to match!
Time were then, to work here, there, everywhere,
By turns and try experiment at ease!
Full time to mend as well as mar: why wait
The slow and sober uprise all around
O' the building? Let us run up, right to roof.
Some sudden marvel, piece of perfectness,
And testify what we intend the whole!
Is the world losing patience? "Wait!" say we:
"There's time: no generation needs to die
Unsolaced; you Ve a century in store!"
But, no: I sadly let the voices wing
Their way i' the upper vacancy, nor test
Truth on this solid as I promised once.
Well, and what is there to be sad about?
The world's the world, life's life, and nothing else.
'T is part of life, a property to prize.
That those o' the higher sort engaged i' the world,
Should fancy they can change its ill to good.
Wrong to right, ugliness to beauty: find
Enough success in fancy turning fact.
To keep the sanguine kind in countenance
And justify the hope that busies them:
Failure enough, — to who can follow change
Beyond their vision, see new good prove ill
I' the consequence, see blacks and whites of life
Shift square indeed, but leave the chequered face
Unchanged i' the main, — failure enough for such.
To bid ambition keep the whole from change,
As their best service. I hope naught beside.
No, my brave thinkers, whom I recognize,
Gladly, myself the first, as, in a sense,
All that our world's worth, flower and fruit of man!
Such minds myself award supremacy
Over the common insignificance,
When only Mind's in question, — Body bows
To quite another government, you know.
Be Kant crowned king o' the castle in the air!
Hans Slouch, — his own, and children's mouths to feed
I' the hovel on the ground, — wants meat, nor chews
"The Critique of Pure Reason" in exchange.
But, now, — suppose I could allow your claims
And quite change life to please you, — would it please?
Would life comport with change and still be life?
Ask, now, a doctor for a remedy:
There's his prescription. Bid him point you out
Which of the five or six ingredients saves
The sick man. "Such the efficacity?
Then why not dare and do things in one dose
Simple and pure, all virtue, no alloy
Of the idle drop and powder?" What's his word?
The efficacity, neat, were neutralized:
It wants dispersing and retarding, — nay
Is put upon its mettle, plays its part
Precisely through such hindrance everywhere,
Finds some mysterious give and take i' the case,
Some gain by opposition, he foregoes
Should he unfetter the medicament.
So with this thought of yours that fain would work
Free in the world: it wants just what it finds —
The ignorance, stupidity, the hate,
Envy and malice and uncharitableness
That bar your passage, break the flow of you
Down from those happy heights where many a cloud
Combined to give you birth and bid you be
The royalest of rivers: on you glide
Silverly till you reach the summit-edge,
Then over, on to all that ignorance.
Stupidity, hate, envy, bluffs and blocks.
Posted to fret you into foam and noise.
What of it? Up you mount in minute mist,
And bridge the chasm that crushed your quietude,
A spirit-rainbow, earthborn jewelry
Outsparkling the insipid firmament
Blue above Terni and its orange-trees.
Do not mistake me! You, too, have your rights!
Hans must not burn Kant's house above his head,
Because he cannot understand Kant's book:
And still less must Hans' pastor bum Kant's self
Because Kant understands some books too well.
But, justice seen to on this little point,
Answer me, is it manly, is it sage
To stop and struggle with arrangements here
It took so many lives, so much of toil,
To tinker up into efficiency?
Can't you contrive to operate at once, —
Since time is short and art is long, — to show
Your quality i' the world, whatever you boast,
Without this fractious call on folks to crush
The world together just to set you free,
Admire the capers you will cut perchance,
Nor mind the mischief to your neighbours?
Age and experience bring discouragement,"
You taunt me: I maintain the opposite.
Am I discouraged who, — perceiving health.
Strength, beauty, as they tempt the eye of soul,
Are uncombinable with flesh and blood, —
Resolve to let my body live its best,
And leave my soul what better yet may be
Or not be, in this life or afterward?
— In either fortune, wiser than who waits
Till magic art procure a miracle.
In virtue of my very confidence
Mankind ought to outgrow its babyhood,
I prescribe rocking, deprecate rough hands,
While thus the cradle holds it past mistake.
Indeed, my task's the harder — equable
Sustainment everywhere, all strain, no push —
Whereby friends credit me with indolence,
Apathy, hesitation. "Stand stock-still
If able to move briskly? 'All a-strain' —
So must we compliment your passiveness?
Sound asleep, rather!"
Just the judgment passed
Upon a statue, luckless like myself,
I saw at Rome once! 'T was some artist's whim
To cover all the accessories close
I' the group, and leave you only Laocoön
With neither sons nor serpents to denote
The purpose of his gesture. Then a crowd
Was called to try the question, criticize
Wherefore such energy of legs and arms.
Nay, eyeballs, starting from the socket. One —
I give him leave to write my history —
Only one said "I think the gesture strives
Against some obstacle we cannot see."
All the rest made their minds up. "'T is a yawn
Of sheer fatigue subsiding to repose:
The Statue's 'Somnolency' clear enough!"
There, my arch stranger-friend, my audience both
And arbitress, you have one half your wish,
At least: you know the thing I tried to do!
All, so far, to my praise and glory — all
Told as befits the self-apologist, —
Who ever promises a candid sweep
And clearance of those errors miscalled crimes
None knows more, none laments so much as he,
And ever rises from confession, proved
A god whose fault was — trying to be man.
Just so, fair judge, — if I read smile aright —
I condescend to figure in your eyes
As biggest heart and best of Europe's friends,
And hence my failure. God will estimate
Success one day; and, in the mean time — you!
I daresay there's some fancy of the sort
Frolicking round this final puff I send
To die up yonder in the ceiling-rose, —
Some consolation-stakes, we losers win!
A plague of the return to "I — I — I
Did this, meant that, hoped, feared the other thing!"
Autobiography, adieu! The rest
Shall make amends, be pure blame, history
And falsehood: not the ineffective truth,
But Thiers-and-Victor-Hugo exercise.
Hear what I never was, but might have been
I' the better world where goes tobacco-smoke!
Here lie the dozen volumes of my life:
(Did I say "lie?" the pregnant word will serve.)
Cut on to the concluding chapter, though!
Because the little hours begin to strike.
Hurry Thiers-Hugo to the labour's end!
Something like this the unwritten chapter reads.
Exemplify the situation thus!
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, being, no dispute,
Absolute mistress, chose the Assembly, first,
To serve her: chose this man, its President
Afterward, to serve also, — specially
To see that they did service one and all.
And now the proper term of years was out.
When the Head-servant must vacate his place;
And nothing lay so patent to the world
As that his fellow-servants one and all
Were — mildly make we mention — knaves or fools,
Each of them with his purpose flourished full
I' the face of you by word and impudence,
Or filtered slyly out by nod and wink
And nudge upon your sympathetic rib —
That not one minute more did knave or fool
Mean to keep faith and serve as he had sworn
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, once that Head away.
Why did such swear except to get the chance,
When time should ripen and confusion bloom,
Of putting Hohenstielers-Schwangauese
To the true use of human property?
Restoring souls and bodies, this to Pope,
And that to King, that other to his planned
Perfection of a Share-and-share-alike,
That other still, to Empire absolute
In shape of the Head-servant's very self
Transformed to master whole and sole: each scheme
Discussible, concede one circumstance —
That each scheme's parent were, beside himself,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, not her serving-man
Sworn to do service in the way she chose
Rather than his way: way superlative,
Only, — by some infatuation, — his
And his and his and everyone's but hers
Who stuck to just the Assembly and the Head.
I niake no doubt the Head, too, had his dream
Of doing sudden duty swift and sure
On all that heap of untrustworthiness —
Catching each vaunter of the villany
He meant to perpetrate when time was ripe,
Once the Head-servant fairly out of doors, —
And, caging here a knave and there a fool,
Cry "Mistress of the servants, these and me,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau! I, their trusty Head,
Pounce on a pretty scheme concocting here
That's stopped, extinguished by my vigilance.
Your property is safe again: but mark!
Safe in these hands, not yours, who lavish trust
Too lightly. Leave my hands their charge awhile!
I know your business better than yourself:
Let me alone about it! Some fine day,
Once we are rid of the embarrassment,
You shall look up and see your longings crowned!"
Such fancy may have tempted to be false,
But this man chose truth and was wiser so.
He recognized that for great minds i' the world
There is no trial like the appropriate one
Of leaving little minds their liberty
Of littleness to blunder on through life,
Now, aiming at right end by foolish means.
Now, at absurd achievement through the aid
Of good and wise means: trial to acquiesce
In folly's life-long privilege — though with power
To do the little minds the good they need,
Despite themselves, by just abolishing
Their right to play the part and fill the place
I' the scheme of things He schemed who made alike
Great minds and little minds, saw use for each.
Could the orb sweep those puny particles
It just half-lights at distance, hardly leads
I' the leash — sweep out each speck of them from space
They anticize in with their days and nights
And whirlings round and dancings off, forsooth,
And all that fruitless individual life
One cannot lend a beam to but they spoil —
Sweep them into itself and so, one star,
Preponderate henceforth i' the heritage
Of heaven! No! in less senatorial phrase.
The man endured to help, not save outright
The multitude by substituting him
For them, his knowledge, will and way, for God's:
Not change the world, such as it is, and was
And will be, for some other, suiting all
Except the purpose of the maker. No!
He saw that weakness, wickedness will be,
And therefore should be: that the perfect man
As we account perfection — at most pure
0' the special gold, whate'er the form it take,
Head-work or heart-work, fined and thrice-refined
I' the crucible of life, whereto the powers
Of the refiner, one and all, were flung
To feed the flame their utmost, — e'en that block.
He holds out breathlessly triumphant, — breaks
Into some poisonous ore, its opposite.
At the very purest, so compensating
The Adversary — what if we believe?
For earlier stern exclusion of his stuff.
See the sage, with the hunger for the truth,
And see his system that's all true, except
The one weak place that's stanchioned by a lie!
The moralist, that walks with head erect
I' the crystal clarity of air so long.
Until a stumble, and the man's one mire!
Philanthropy undoes the social knot
With axe-edge, makes love room 'twixt head and trunk!
Religion — but, enough, the thing's too clear!
Well, if these sparks break out i' the greenest tree.
Our topmost of performance, yours and mine,
AVhat will be done i' the dry ineptitude
Of ordinary mankind, Ipark and bole.
All seems ashamed of but their mother-earth?
Therefore throughout his term of servitude
He did the appointed service, and forbore
Extraneous action that were duty else,
Done by some other servant, idle now
Or mischievous: no matter, each his own —
Own task, and, in the end, own praise or blame!
He suffered them strut, prate and brag their best.
Squabble at odds on every point save one,
And there shake hands, — agree to trifle time,
Obstruct advance with, each, his cricket-cry
"Wait till the Head be off the shoulders here!
Then comes my King, my Pope, my Autocrat,
My Socialist Republic to her own —
To-wit, that property of only me,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau who conceits herself
Free, forsooth, and expects I keep her so!"
— Nay, suffered when, perceiving with dismay
His silence paid no tribute to their noise,
They turned on him. "Dumb menace in that mouth,
Malice in that unstridulosity!
He cannot but intend some stroke of state
Shall signalize his passage into peace
Out of the creaking, — hinder transference
O' the Hohenstielers-Schwangauese to king.
Pope, autocrat, or socialist republic! That's
Exact the cause his lips unlocked would cry!
Therefore be stirring: brave, beard, bully him!
Dock, by the million, of its friendly joints,
The electoral body short at once! who did,
May do again, and undo us beside.
Wrest from his hands the sword for self-defence,
The right to parry any thrust in play
We peradventure please to meditate!"
And so forth; creak, creak, creak: and ne'er a line
His locked mouth oped the wider, till at last
O' the long degraded and insulting day,
Sudden the clock told it was judgment-time.
Then he addressed himself to speak indeed
To the fools, not knaves: they saw him walk straight down
Each step of the eminence, as he first engaged,
And stand at last o' the level, — all he swore.
"People, and not the people's varletry,
This is the task you set myself and these!
Thus I performed my part of it, and thus
They thwarted me throughout, here, here, and here:
Study each instance! yours the loss, not mine.
What they intend now is demonstrable
As plainly: here's such man, and here's such mode
Of making you some other than the thing
You, wisely or unwisely, choose to be,
And only set him up to keep you so.
Do you approve this? Yours the loss, not mine.
Do you condemn it? There's a remedy.
Take me — who know your mind, and mean your good,
With clearer head and stouter arm than they,
Or you, or haply anybody else —
And make me master for the moment! Choose
What time, what power you trust me with: I too
Will choose as frankly ere I trust myself
With time and power: they must be adequate
To the end and aim, since mine the loss, with yours
If means be wanting; once their worth approved,
Grant them, and I shall forthwith operate —
Ponder it well! — to the extremest stretch
0' the power you trust me: if with unsuccess,
God wills it, and there's nobody to blame."
Whereon the people answered with a shout
"The trusty one! no tricksters any more!"
How could they other? He was in his place.
What followed? Just what he foresaw, what proved
The soundness of both judgments, — his, o' the knaves
And fools, each trickster with his dupe, — and theirs
The people, in what head and arm should help.
There was uprising, masks dropped, flags unfurled,
Weapons outflourished in the wind, my faith!
Heavily did he let his fist fall plumb
On each perturber of the public peace,
No matter whose the wagging head it broke —
From bald-pate craft and greed and impudence
Of night-hawk at first cliance to prowl and prey
For glory and a little gain beside,
Passing for eagle in the dusk of the age, —
To florid head-top, foamy patriotism
And tribunitial daring, breast laid bare
Thro' confidence in rectitude, with hand
On private pistol in the pocket: these
And all the dupes of these, who lent themselves
As dust and feather do, to help offence
O' the wind that whirls them at you, then subsides
In safety somewhere, leaving filth afloat,
Annoyance you may brush from eyes and beard, —
These he stopped: bade the wind's spite howl or whine
Its worst outside the building, wind conceives
Meant to be pulled together and become
Its natural playground so. What foolishness
Of dust or feather proved importunate
And fell 'twixt thumb and finger, found them gripe
To detriment of bulk and buoyancy.
Then followed silence and submission. Next,
The inevitable comment came on work
And work's cost; he was censured as profuse
Of human life and liberty: too swift
And thorough his procedure, who had lagged
At the outset, lost the opportunity
Through timid scruples as to right and wrong.
"There's no such certain mark of a small mind"
(So did Sagacity explain the fault)
"As when it needs must square away and sink
To its own small dimensions, private scale
Of right and wrong, — humanity i' the large,
The right and wrong of the universe, forsooth!
This man addressed himself to guard and guide
Hohenstiel-Schwangau. When the case demands
He frustrate villany in the egg, unhatched,
With easy stamp and minimum of pang
E'en to the punished reptile, 'There's my oath
Restrains my foot,' objects our guide and guard,
'I must leave guardianship and guidance now:
Rather than stretch one handbreadth of the law,
I am bound to see it break from end to end.
First show me death i' the body politic:
Then prescribe pill and potion, what may please
Hohenstiel-Schwangau! all is for her sake:
'T was she ordained my service should be so.
What if the event demonstrate her unwise,
If she unwill the thing she willed before?
I hold to the letter and obey the bond
And leave her to perdition loyally.'
Whence followed thrice the expenditure we blame
Of human life and liberty: for want
O' the by-blow, came deliberate butcher's-work!"
"Elsewhere go carry your complaint!" bade he.
"Least, largest, there's one law for all the minds,
Here or above: be true at any price!
'T is just o' the great scale, that such happy stroke
Of falsehood would be found a failure. Truth
Still stands unshaken at her base by me,
Reigns paramount i' the world, for the large good
O' the long late generations, — I and you
Forgotten like this buried foohshness!
Not so the good I rooted in its grave."
This is why he refused to break his oath,
Rather appealed to the people, gained the power
To act as he thought best, then used it, once
For all, no matter what the consequence
To knaves and fools. As thus began his sway,
So, through its twenty years, one rule of right
Sufficed him: govern for the many first,
The poor mean multitude, all mouths and eyes:
Bid the few, better favoured in the brain,
Be patient, nor presume on privilege.
Help him, or else be quiet, — never crave
That he help them, — increase, forsooth, the gulf
Yawning so terribly 'twixt mind and mind
I' the world here, which his purpose was to block
At bottom, were it by an inch, and bridge,
If by a filament, no more, at top,
Equalize things a little! And the way
He took to work that purpose out, was plain
Enough to intellect and honesty
And — superstition, style it if you please,
So long as you allow there was no lack
O' the quality imperative in man —
Reverence. You see deeper? thus saw he,
And by the light he saw, must walk: how else
Was he to do his part? the man's, with might
And main, and not a faintest touch of fear
Sure he was in the hand of God who comes
Before and after, with a work to do
Which no man helps nor hinders. Thus the man,
So timid when the business was to touch
The uncertain order of humanity,
Imperil, for a problematic cure
Of grievance on the surface, any good
I' the deep of things, dim yet discernible —
This same man, so irresolute before,
Show him a true excrescence to cut sheer,
A devil's-graft on God's foundation-stone,
Then — no complaint of indecision more!
He wrenched out the whole canker, root and branch,
Deaf to who cried the world would tumble in
At its four corners if he touched a twig.
Witness that lie of lies, arch-infamy.
When the Republic, with all life involved
In just this law — "Each people rules itself
Its own way, not as any stranger please" —
Turned, and for first proof she was living, bade
Hohenstiel-Schwangau fasten on the throat
Of the first neighbour that claimed benefit
O' the law herself established: "Hohenstiel
For Hohenstielers! Rome, by parity
Of reasoning, for Romans? That 's a jest
Wants proper treatment, — lancet-puncture suits
The proud flesh: Rome ape Hohenstiel forsooth!"
And so the siege and slaughter and success
Whereof we nothing doubt that Hohenstiel
Will have to pay the price, in God's good time,
Which does not always fall on Saturday
When the world looks for wages. Any how.
He found this infamy triumphant. Well, —
Sagacity suggested, make this speech!
"The work was none of mine: suppose wrong wait,
Stand over for redressing? Mine for me,
My predecessors' work on their own head!
Meantime, there's plain advantage, should we leave
Things as we find them. Keep Rome manacled
Hand and foot: no fear of unruliness!
Her foes consent to even seem our friends
So long, no longer. Then, there's glory got
I' the boldness and bravado to the world.
The disconcerted world must grin and bear
The old saucy writing, — 'Grunt thereat who may,
So shall things be, for such my pleasure is —
Hohenstiel-Schwangau.' How that reads in Rome
I' the Capitol where Brennus broke his pate!
And what a flourish for our journalists!"
Only, it was nor read nor flourished of,
Since, not a moment did such glory stay
Excision of the canker! Out it came,
Root and branch, with much roaring, and some blood,
And plentiful abuse of him from friend
And foe. Who cared? Not Nature, that assuaged
The pain and set the patient on his legs
Promptly: the better! had it been the worse,
'T is Nature you must try conclusions with,
Not he, since nursing canker kills the sick
For certain, while to cut may cure, at least.
"Ah," groaned a second time Sagacity,
"Again the little mind, precipitate,
Rash, rude, when even in the right, as here!
The great mind knows the power of gentleness,
Only tries force because persuasion fails.
Had this man, by prelusive trumpet-blast,
Signified 'Truth and Justice mean to come.
Nay, fast approach your threshold! Ere they knock,
See that the house be set in order, swept
And garnished, windows shut, and doors thrown wide!
The free State comes to visit the free Church:
Receive her! or . . or . . never mind what else!'
Thus moral suasion heralding brute force,
How had he seen the old abuses die,
And new life kindle here, there, everywhere.
Roused simply by that mild yet potent spell —
Beyond or beat of drum or stroke of sword —
"How, indeed?" he asked,
"When all to see, after some twenty years,
Were your own fool-face waiting for the sight.
Faced by as wide a grin from ear to ear
O' the knaves that, while the fools were waiting, worked —
Broke yet another generation's heart —
Twenty years' respite helping! Teach your nurse
'Compliance with, before you suck, the teat!'
Find what that means, and meanwhile hold your tongue!"
Whereof the war came which he knew must be.
Now, this had proved the dry-rot of the race
He ruled o'er, that, in the old day, when was need
They fought for their own liberty and life,
Well did they fight, none better: whence, such love
Of fighting somehow still for fighting's sake
Against no matter whose the liberty
And life, so long as self-conceit should crow
And clap the wing, while justice sheathed her claw, —
That what had been the glory of the world
When thereby came the world's good, grew its plague
Now that the champion-armour, donned to dare
The dragon once, was clattered up and down
Highway and by-path of the world at peace,
Merely to mask marauding, or for sake
O' the shine and rattle that apprized the fields
Hohenstiel-Schwangau was a fighter yet.
And would be, till the weary world suppressed
A peccant humour out of fashion now.
Accordingly the world spoke plain at last.
Promised to punish who next played with fire.
So, at his advent, such discomfiture
Taking its true shape of beneficence,
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, half-sad and part-wise,
Sat: if with wistful eye reverting oft
To each pet weapon rusty on its peg,
Yet, with a sigh of satisfaction too
That, peacefulness become the law, herself
Got the due share of godsends in its train,
Cried shame and took advantage quietly.
Still, so the dry-rot had been nursed into
Blood, bones and marrow, that, from worst to best,
All, — clearest brains and soundest hearts, save here, —
All had this lie acceptable for law
Plain as the sun at noonday — "War is best,
Peace is worst; peace we only tolerate
As needful preparation for new war:
War may be for whatever end we will —
Peace only as the proper help thereto.
Such is the law of right and wrong for us
Hohenstiel-Schwangau: for the other world,
As naturally, quite another law.
Are we content? The world is satisfied.
Discontent? Then the world must give us leave
Strike right and left to exercise our arm
Torpid of late through overmuch repose,
And show its strength is still superlative
At somebody's expense in life or limb:
Which done, — let peace succeed and last a year!"
Such devil's-doctrine was so judged God's law,
We say, when this man stepped upon the stage,
That it had seemed a venial fault at most
Had he once more obeyed Sagacity.
"You come i' the happy interval of peace,
The favourable weariness from war:
Prolong it! — artfully, as if intent
On ending peace as soon as possible.
Quietly so increase the sweets of ease
And safety, so employ the multitude.
Put hod and trowel so in idle hands.
So stuff and stop the wagging jaws with bread.
That selfishness shall surreptitiously
Do wisdom's office, whisper in the ear
Of Hohenstiel-Schwangau, there's a pleasant feel
In being gently forced down, pinioned fast
To the easy arm-chair by the pleading arms
O' the world beseeching her to there abide
Content with all the harm done hitherto,
And let herself be petted in return,
Free to re-wage, in speech and prose and verse,
The old unjust wars, nay — in verse and prose
And speech, — to vaunt new victories, as vile
A plague o' the future, — so that words suffice
For present comfort, and no deeds denote
That, — tired of illimitable line on line
Of boulevard-building, tired o' the theatre
With the tuneful thousand in their thrones above.
For glory of the male intelligence.
And Nakedness in her due niche below,
For illustration of the female use —
She, 'twixt a yawn and sigh, prepares to slip
Out of the arm-chair, wants some blood again
From over the boundary, to colour-up
The sheeny sameness, keep the world aware
Hohenstiel-Schwangau must have exercise
Despite the petting of the universe!
Come, you're a city-builder: what's the way
Wisdom takes when time needs that she entice
Some fierce tribe, castled on the mountain-peak,
Into the quiet and amenity
O' the meadow-land below? By crying 'Done
With fight now, down with fortress?' Rather — 'Dare
On, dare ever, not a stone displaced!'
Cries Wisdom, 'Cradle of our ancestors.
Be bulwark, give our children safety still!
Who of our children please, may stoop and taste
O' the valley-fatness, unafraid, — for why?
At first alarm, they have thy mother-ribs
To run upon for refuge; foes forget
Scarcely what Terror on her vantage-coigne,
Couchant supreme among the powers of air,
Watches — prepared to pounce — the country wide!
Meanwhile the encouraged valley holds its own,
From the first hut's adventure in descent.
Half home, half hiding place, — to dome and spire
Befitting the assured metropolis:
Nor means offence to the fort which caps the crag,
All undismantled of a turret-stone,
And bears the banner-pole that creaks at times
Embarrassed by the old emblazonment,
When festal days are to commemorate.
Otherwise left untenanted, no doubt,
Since, never fear, our myriads from below
Would rush, if needs were, man the walls once more.
Renew the exploits of the earlier time
At moment's notice! But till notice sound,
Inhabit we in ease and opulence!'
And so, till one day thus a notice sounds,
Not trumpeted, but in a whisper-gust
Fitfully playing through mute city streets
At midnight weary of day's feast and game —
'Friends, your famed fort's a ruin past repair!
Its use is — to proclaim it had a use
Stolen away long since. Climb to study there
How to paint barbican and battlement
I' the scenes of our new theatre! We fight
Now — by forbidding neighbours to sell steel
Or buy wine, not by blowing out their brains!
Moreover, while we let time sap the strength
O' the walls omnipotent in menace once,
Neighbours would seem to have prepared surprise —
Run up defences in a mushroom-growth,
For all the world like what we boasted: brief —
Hohenstiel-Schwangau's policy is peace!' "
Ay, so Sagacity advised him filch
Folly from fools: handsomely substitute
The dagger o' lath, while gay they sang and danced
For that long dangerous sword they liked to feel,
Even at feast-time, clink and make friends start.
No! he said "Hear the truth, and bear the truth,
And bring the truth to bear on all you are
And do, assured that only good comes thence
Whate'er the shape good take! While I have rule.
Understand! — war for war's sake, war for the sake
O' the good war gets you as war's sole excuse,
Is damnable and damned shall be. You want
Glory? Why so do I, and so does God.
Where is it found, — in this paraded shame, —
One particle of glory? Once you warred
For liberty against the world, and won:
There was the glory. Now, you fain would war
Because the neighbour prospers overmuch, —
Because there has been silence half-an-hour,
Like Heaven on earth, without a cannon-shot
Are minded to disturb the jubilee, —
Because the loud tradition echoes faint,
And who knows but posterity may doubt
If the great deeds were ever done at all,
Much less believe, were such to do again,
So the event would follow: therefore, prove
The old power, at the expense of somebody!
Oh, Glory, — gilded bubble, bard and sage
So nickname rightly, — would thy dance endure
One moment, would thy mocking make believe
Only one upturned eye thy ball was gold,
Had'st thou less breath to buoy thy vacancy
Than a whole multitude expends in praise,
Less range for roaming than from head to head
Of a whole people? Flit, fall, fly again,
Only, fix never where the resolute hand
May prick thee, prove the lie thou art, at once!
Give me real intellect to reason with,
No multitude, no entity that apes
One wise man, being but a million fools!
How and whence wishest glory, thou wise one?
Would'st get it, — did'st thyself guide Providence, —
By stinting of his due each neighbour round
In strength and knowledge and dexterity
So as to have thy littleness grow large
By all those somethings, once, turned nothings, now,
As children make a molehill mountainous
By scooping out the plain into a trench
And saving so their favourite from approach?
Quite otherwise the cheery game of life.
True yet mimetic warfare, whereby man
Does his best with his utmost, and so ends
The victor most of all in fair defeat.
Who thinks, — would he have no one think beside?
Who knows, who does, — must other learning die
And action perish? Why, our giant proves
No better than a dwarf, with rivalry
Prostrate around him. 'Let the whole race stand
And try conclusions fairly!' he cries first.
Show me the great man would engage his peer
Rather by grinning 'Cheat, thy gold is brass!'
Than granting 'Perfect piece of purest ore!
Still, is it less good mintage, this of mine?'
Well, and these right and sound results of soul
I' the strong and healthy one wise man, — shall such
Be vainly sought for, scornfully renounced
I' the multitude that make the entity —
The people? — to what purpose, if no less.
In power and purity of soul, below
The reach of the unit than, in multiplied
Might of the body, vulgarized the more,
Above, in thick and threefold brutishness?
See! you accept such one wise man, myself:
Wiser or less wise, still I operate
From my own stock of wisdom, nor exact
Of other sort of natures you admire.
That whoso rhymes a sonnet pays a tax,
Who paints a landscape dips brush at his cost,
Who scores a septett true for strings and wind
Mulcted must be — else how should I impose
Properly, attitudinize aright,
Did such conflicting claims as these divert
Hohenstiel-Schwangau from observing me?
Therefore, what I find facile, you be sure,
With effort or without it, you shall dare —
You, I aspire to make my better self
And truly the Great Nation. No more war
For war's sake, then! and, — seeing, wickedness
Springs out of folly, — no more foolish dread
O' the neighbour waxing too inordinate
A rival, through his gain of wealth and ease!
What? — keep me patient, Powers! — the people here,
Earth presses to her heart, nor owns a pride
Above her pride i' the race all flame and air
And aspiration to the boundless Great,
The incommensurably Beautiful —
Whose very faulterings groundward come of flight
Urged by a pinion all too passionate
For heaven and what it holds of gloom and glow:
Bravest of thinkers, bravest of the brave
Doers, exalt in Science, rapturous
In Art, the — more than all — magnetic race
To fascinate their fellows, mould mankind
Hohenstiel-Schwangau-fashion, — these, what? — these
Will have to abdicate their primacy
Should such a nation sell them steel untaxed,
And such another take itself, on hire
For the natural sen'night, somebody for lord
Unpatronized by me whose back was turned?
Or such another yet would fain build bridge,
Lay rail, drive tunnel, busy its poor self
With its appropriate fancy: so there's — flash —
Hohenstiel-Schwangau up in arms at once!
Genius has somewhat of the infantine:
But of the childish, not a touch nor taint
Except through self-will, which, being foolishness,
Is certain, soon or late, of punishment.
Which Providence avert! — and that it may
Avert what both of us would so deserve.
No foolish dread o' the neighbour, I enjoin!
By consequence, no wicked war with him,
While I rule!
Does that mean — no war at all
When just the wickedness I here proscribe
Comes, haply, from the neighbour? Does my speech
Precede the praying that you beat the sword
To plough-share, and the spear to pruning-hook.
And sit down henceforth under your own vine
And fig-tree through the sleepy summer month,
Letting what hurly-burly please explode
On the other side the mountain-frontier? No,
Beloved! I foresee and I announce
Necessity of warfare in one case,
For one cause: one way, I bid broach the blood
O' the world. For truth and right, and only right
And truth, — right, truth, on the absolute scale of God,
No pettiness of man's admeasurement, —
In such case only, and for such one cause,
Fight your hearts out, whatever fate betide
Hands energetic to the uttermost!
Lie not! Endure no lie which needs your heart
And hand to push it out of mankind's path —
No lie that lets the natural forces work
Too long ere lay it plain and pulverized —
Seeing man's life lasts only twenty years!
And such a lie, before both man and God,
Being, at this time present, Austria's rule
O'er Italy, — for Austria's sake the first,
Italy's next, and our sake last of all.
Come with me and deliver Italy!
Smite hip and thigh until the oppressor leave
Free from the Adriatic to the Alps
The oppressed one! We were they who laid her low
In the old bad day when Villany braved Truth
And Right, and laughed 'Henceforward, God deposed,
The Devil is to rule for evermore
I' the world!' — whereof to stop the consequence,
And for atonement of false glory there
Gaped at and gabbled over by the world,
We purpose to get God enthroned again
For what the world will gird at as sheer shame
I' the cost of blood and treasure. 'All for naught —
Not even, say, some patch of province, splice
O' the frontier? — some snug honorarium-fee
Shut into glove and pocketed apace?'
(Questions Sagacity) 'in deference
To the natural susceptibility
Of folks at home, unwitting of that pitch
You soar to, and misdoubting if Truth, Right
And the other such augustnesses repay
Expenditure in coin o' the realm, — but prompt
To recognize the cession of Savoy
And Nice as marketable value!' No,
Sagacity, go preach to Metternich,
And, sermon ended, stay where he resides I
Hohenstiel-Schwangau, you and I must march
The other road! war for the hate of war,
Not love, this once!" So Italy was free.
What else noteworthy and commendable
I' the man's career? — that he was resolute
No trepidation, much less treachery
On his part, should imperil from its poise
The ball o' the world, heaved up at such expense
Of pains so far, and ready to rebound,
Let but a finger maladroitly fall,
Under pretence of making fast and sure
The inch gained by late volubility,
And run itself back to the ancient rest
At foot o' the mountain. Thus he ruled, gave proof
The world had gained a point, progressive so,
By choice, this time, as will and power concurred,
0' the fittest man to rule; not chance of birth,
Or such-like dice-throw. Oft Sagacity
Was at his ear: "Confirm this clear advance,
Support this wise procedure! You, elect
O' the people, mean to justify their choice
And out-king all the kingly imbeciles;
But that's just half the enterprise: remains
You find them a successor like yourself,
In head and heart and eye and hand and aim,
Or all done's undone; and whom hope to mould
So like you as the pupil Nature sends,
The son and heir's completeness which you lack?
Lack it no longer! Wed the pick o' the world,
Where'er you think you find it. Should she be
A queen, — tell Hohenstielers-Schwangauese
'So do the old enthroned decrepitudes
Acknowledge, in the rotten hearts of them,
Their knell is knolled, they hasten to make peace
With the new order, recognize in me
Your right to constitute what king you will.
Cringe therefore crown in hand and bride on arm,
To both of us: we triumph, I suppose!'
Is it the other sort of rank? — bright eye,
Soft smile, and so forth, all her queenly boast?
Undaunted the exordium — 'I, the man
O' the people, with the people mate myself:
So stand, so fall. Kings, keep your crowns and brides!
Our progeny (if Providence agree)
Shall live to tread the baubles underfoot
And bid the scarecrows consort with their kin.
For son, as for his sire, be the free wife
In the free state!' "
That is. Sagacity
Would prop up one more lie, the most of all
Pernicious fancy that the son and heir
Receives the genius from the sire, himself
Transmits as surely, — ask experience else!
Which answers, — never was so plain a truth
As that God drops his seed of heavenly flame
Just where He wills on earth: sometimes where man
Seems to tempt — such the accumulated store
Of faculties — one spark to fire the heap;
Sometimes where, fire-ball-like, it falls upon
The naked unpreparedness of rock,
Burns, beaconing the nations through their night.
Faculties, fuel for the flame? All helps
Come, ought to come, or come not, crossed by chance,
From culture and transmission. What's your want
I' the son and heir? Sympathy, aptitude.
Teachableness, the fuel for the flame?
You'll have them for your pains: but the flame's self,
The novel thought of God shall light the world?
No, poet, though your offspring rhyme and chime
I' the cradle, — painter, no, for all your pet
Draws his first eye, beats Salvatore's boy, —
And thrice no, statesman, should your progeny
Tie bib and tucker with no tape but red,
And make a foolscap-kite of protocols!
Critic and copyist and bureaucrat
To heart's content! The seed o' the apple-tree
Brings forth another tree which bears a crab:
'T is the great gardener grafts the excellence
On wildings where he will.
"How plain I view,
Across those misty years 'twixt me and Rome " —
(Such the man's answer to Sagacity)
The little wayside temple, halfway down
To a mild river that makes oxen white
Miraculously, un-mouse-colours hide,
Or so the Roman country people dream!
I view that sweet small shrub-embedded shrine
On the declivity, was sacred once
To a transmuting Genius of the land,
Could touch and turn its dunnest natures bright,
— Since Italy means the Land of the Ox, we know.
Well, how was it the due succession fell
From priest to priest who ministered i' the cool
Calm fane o' the Clitumnian god? The sire
Brought forth a son and sacerdotal sprout,
Endowed instinctively with good and grace
To suit the gliding gentleness below —
Did he? Tradition tells another tale.
Each priest obtained his predecessor's staff,
Robe, fillet and insignia, blamelessly.
By springing out of ambush, soon or late.
And slaying him: the initiative rite
Simply was murder, save that murder took,
I' the case, another and religious name.
So it was once, is now, shall ever be
With genius and its priesthood in this world:
The new power slays the old — but handsomely.
There he lies, not diminished by an inch
Of stature that he graced the altar with.
Though somebody of other bulk and build
Cries 'What a goodly personage lies here
Reddening the water where the bulrush roots!
May I conduct the service in his place.
Decently and in order, as did he,
And, as he did not, keep a wary watch
When meditating 'neath a willow shade!'
Find out your best man, sure the son of him,
Will prove best man again, and, better still
Somehow than best, the grandson-prodigy!
You think the world would last another day
Did we so make us masters of the trick
Whereby the works go, we could pre-arrange
Their play and reach perfection when we please?
Depend on it, the change and the surprise
Are part o' the plan: 't is we wish steadiness;
Nature prefers a motion by unrest,
Advancement through this force that jostles that.
And so, since much remains i' the world to see.
Here is it still, affording God the sight."
Thus did the man refute Sagacity,
Ever at this one whisper in his ear:
"Here are you picked out, by a miracle,
And placed conspicuously enough, folks say
And you believe, by Providence outright
Taking a new way — nor without success —
To put the world upon its mettle: good!
But Fortune alternates with Providence;
Resource is soon exhausted. Never count
On such a happy hit occurring twice!
Try the old method next time!"
(At whisper in his ear, the laugh outbroke)
"And most discredited of all the modes
By just the men and women who make boast
They are kings and queens thereby! Mere self-defence
Should teach them, on one chapter of the law
Must be no sort of trifling — chastity:
They stand or fall, as their progenitors
Were chaste or unchaste. Now, run eye around
My crowned acquaintance, give each life its look
And no more, — why, you'd think each life was led
Purposely for example of what pains
Who leads it took to cure the prejudice.
And prove there's nothing so unproveable
As who is who, what son of what a sire,
And, — inferentially, — how faint the chance
That the next generation needs to fear
Another fool o' the selfsame type as he
Happily regnant now by right divine
And luck o' the pillow! No: select your lord
By the direct employment of your brains
As best you may, — bad as the blunder prove,
A far worse evil stank beneath the sun
When some legitimate blockhead managed so
Matters that high time was to interfere,
Though interference came from hell itself
And not the blind mad miserable mob
Happily ruled so long by pillow-luck
And divine right, — by lies in short, not truth.
And meanwhile use the allotted minute . . . "
Two, three, four, five — yes, five the pendule warns!
Eh? Why, this wild work wanders past all bound
And bearing! Exile, Leicester-square, the life
I' the old gay miserable time, rehearsed,
Tried on again like cast clothes, still to serve
At a pinch, perhaps? "Who's who?" was aptly asked,
Since certainly I am not I! since when?
Where is the bud-mouthed arbitress? A nod
Out-Homering Homer! Stay — there flits the clue
I fain would find the end of! Yes, — "Meanwhile,
Use the allotted minute!" Well, you see,
(Veracious and imaginary Thiers,
Who map out thus the life I might have led,
But did not, — all the worse for earth and me —
Doff spectacles, wipe pen, shut book, decamp!)
You see 't is easy in heroics! Plain
Pedestrian speech shall help me perorate.
Ah, if one had no need to use the tongue!
How obvious and how easy 't is to talk
Inside the soul, a ghostly dialogue —
Instincts with guesses, — instinct, guess, again
With dubious knowledge, half-experience: each
And all the interlocutors alike
Subordinating, — as decorum bids,
Oh, never fear! but still decisively, —
Claims from without that take too high a tone,
— ("God wills this, man wants that, the dignity
Prescribed a prince would wish the other thing") —
Putting them back to insignificance
Beside one intimatest fact — myself
Am first to be considered, since I live
Twenty years longer and then end, perhaps!
But, where one ceases to soliloquize,
Somehow the motives, that did well enough
I' the darkness, when you bring them into light
Are found, like those famed cave-fish, to lack eye
And organ for the upper magnitudes.
The other common creatures, of less fine
Existence, that acknowledge earth and heaven,
Have it their own way in the argument.
Yes, forced to speak, one stoops to say — one's aim
Was — what it peradventure should have been; —
To renovate a people, mend or end
That bane come of a blessing meant the world —
Inordinate culture of the sense made quick
By soul, — the lust o' the flesh, lust of the eye,
And pride of life, — and, consequent on these,
The worship of that prince o' the power o' the air
Who paints the cloud and fills the emptiness
And bids his votaries, famishing for truth.
Feed on a lie.
Alack, one lies oneself
Even in the stating that one's end was truth,
Truth only, if one states as much in words!
Give me the inner chamber of the soul
For obvious easy argument! 't is there
One pits the silent truth against a lie —
Truth which breaks shell a careless simple bird,
Nor wants a gorget nor a beak filed fine,
Steel spurs and the whole armoury o' the tongue,
To equalize the odds. But, do your best,
Words have to come: and somehow words deflect
As the best cannon ever rifled will.
"Deflect" indeed! nor merely words from thoughts
But names from facts: "Clitumnus" did I say?
As if it had been his ox-whitening wave
Whereby folk practised that grim cult of old —
The murder of their temple's priest by who
Would qualify for his succession. Sure —
Nemi was the true lake's style. Dream had need
Of the ox-whitening piece of prettiness
And so confused names, well known once awake.
So, i' the Residenz yet, not Leicester-square,
Alone, — no such congenial intercourse! —
My reverie concludes, as dreaming should,
With daybreak: nothing done and over yet,
Except cigars! The adventure thus may be,
Or never needs to be at all: who knows?
My Cousin-Duke, perhaps, at whose hard head
— Is it, now — is this letter to be launched,
The sight of whose grey oblong, whose grim seal,
Set all these fancies floating for an hour?
Twenty years are good gain, come what come will!
Double or quits! The letter goes! Or stays?
Options, options, options,
ever too many choices.
Purple, Black, Blue or Green,
so many whispering voices;
Clint Eastwood, Kirk Douglas, Charly Sheen.
Options, options, options,
your thoughts bubbling away.
No time to choose but Delay:
'Sticks and stones can't break my bones,
but Options they can kill you still!
Song Of The Final Meeting
My breast grew helplessly cold,
But my steps were light.
I pulled the glove from my left hand
Mistakenly onto my right.
It seemed there were so many steps,
But I knew there were only three!
Amidst the maples an autumn whisper
Pleaded: 'Die with me!
I'm led astray by evil
Fate, so black and so untrue.'
I answered: 'I, too, dear one!
I, too, will die with you…'
This is a song of the final meeting.
I glanced at the house's dark frame.
Only bedroom candles burning
With an indifferent yellow flame.
I See You Move With The Agility Of A Deer
I see you move with the agility of a deer,
your dark brown eyes glow luminous,
you black hair is braided into many strands
and there is something fragile petite about you.
Although mature, maybe you are too young for me
but there is a kind of attraction that really catches,
when the pool of your eyes reflects my face,
something pure and great and lovely to you.
Somehow you stun me, stop me in my tracks
like a black butterfly with magical bright specks,
I continually see you fluttering on a fragile wing
and know how easily I could fall in love with you.
Too many cooks tried to fix your dinner
Not enough of this, too much that
So many voices tried to speak as one
Whatcha doing right, whatcha doing wrong
You took it hard, you shook it down
But maybe this time, like no ther time
Youll be unbound
When your feet of clay finally hit the ground
At the speed of sound, nothing more was heard
In a flash of fire that left behind no smoke
What was once too bright is now as dark as night
I wish that I could say that I was surprised
When I heard the news tthat you had said goodbye
I hope youre doing well, I hope its good this time
Somewhere I heard that you were doing fine
Sandy, my baby, come soft and mild
I needed a car wash but this time you are
enough to make me pink by washing out
my black ink, I have broken many rules of
the game while playing, it is between you
and me, do the atonement very fast and
silently, one thing more, come now and then,
keep clean my sin, bring some air of kindness
for the desperate and stoic, storm the heart
who pretend to be fast asleep or got a cover of
The desire was burning in the bush for long
creating weaves high and low in the ocean,
I shall not call you again, if you have any love
for me come of your own to storm out my urge
When your unknown friend lost his job
He knows all of you but nobody knows him
And he was expelled from the sweat-shop yesterday
By the bearded Boss.............! He speaks American English accent though he was an Indian,
' Hey buddy here is your salary and I do not want you anymore
But still we are friends.' He said in a friendly manner.
' Yes Boss it should be like that but your calculation has an error like Indian style.........never mind Sir.......this is the land of opportunity
And I wait till the Black Sun peeps to our Ghetto.' I too replied him in a friendly manner.
* Every nut & bolt of the bridge knows the type of the proud vehicles passed.
My unlucky birth star Capricorn predicts this week.....There have been many changes going on at work.New faces are coming in your benefit.Watch how you speak so it doesn't come back to haunt you.
The Gardener LXIV: I Spent My Day
I spent my day on the scorching
hot dust of the road.
Now, in the cool of the evening, I
knock at the door of the inn. It is
deserted and in ruins.
A grim ashath tree spreads its
hungry clutching roots through the
gaping fissures of the walls.
Days have been when wayfarers
came here to wash their weary feet.
They spread their mats in the
courtyard in the dim light of the
early moon, and sat and talked of
They woke refreshed in the morning
when birds made them glad, and
friendly flowers nodded their heads
at them from the wayside.
But no lighted lamp awaited me
when I came here.
The black smudges of smoke left by
many a forgotten evening lamp stare,
like blind eyes, from the wall.
Fireflies flit in the bush near the
dried-up pond, and bamboo branches
fling their shadows on the grass-
I am the guest of no one at the end
of my day.
The long night is before me, and I
A Colourful Family Tree
This world is made up of colours and,
I am glad to come up from a colourful family tree.
There are many colours around us and,
You can enjoy the colours in your bathrooms too;
For nature is full of colours!
Like the human beings,
I an brown in colour and my mother is a black woman from Africa.
I have many relatives all over the continets and,
My father is a white man from the U.S.A.
Four of my aunties are from Australia, Japan, Brazil and the U.K.;
Four of my uncles are from India, Mexico, Canada and Denmark;
So i grew up among many colours of this world.
A colourful family tree is what i came from and,
I am very glad to meet various colours in my life time;
For a long the lines of my growth,
I have come to love all the colours around me.
Colours are very beautiful and we need them around us,
They are in your offices and your houses too;
Yes, we need all the colours to beautify things around us.
Black is beautiful and white is beautiful too,
For we were made from the Creator with colours!
And i am very glad to be part of this family tree.
Back In Black
Back in black
I hit the sack
Ive been too long Im glad to be back [i bet you know im...]
Yes, Im let loose
From the noose
Thats kept me hanging about
Ive been looking at the sky
cause its gettin me high
Forget the hearse cause I never die
I got nine lives
Abusin every one of them and running wild
cause Im back
Yes, Im back
Well, Im back
Yes, Im back
Well, Im back, back
(well) Im back in black
Yes, Im back in black
Back in the back
Of a cadillac
Number one with a bullet, Im a power pack
Yes, Im in a bang
With a gang
Theyve got to catch me if they want me to hang
Cause Im back on the track
And Im beatin the flack
Nobodys gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
Im just makin my play
Dont try to push your luck, just get out of my way
Well, Im back, yes Im back
Well, Im back, yes Im back
Well, Im back, back
Well Im back in black
Yes Im back in black
Yes I am
Oooh yeah, yeah oh yeah
Back in now
Well Im back, Im back
Back, Im back
Back, Im back
Back, Im back
Back, Im back
Back in black
Yes Im back in black
Out of the sight
Memory slips as memory fades
Alas I know not where to go, for all the places I know, I've been.
Alas I have been shown not where to go nor can I remember all I've seen.
Memory slips as memory fades as shades they flip exposed to flames.
As insects roast upon the embers of the fire,
A blaze trailed through the void of darkness,
Breathing destruction upon dry bone leaves,
Bearing down destruction upon well established trees.
The crown of the forest resides his power
Biding his time awaiting the shower of inferno
Gatherings as the elders race forever young towards
the fountain groves to quench their tongues
A new race has begun, another year of wondering
Aimlessly it seems trying to find a meaning etched
Within our dreams. These eyes grow tired each second past,
I'll try still I fear I'll never last
I fear I may have lain placid upon the grass too long.
That I may never come to see the day pass in death
Only to see life breathe anew by the dawn.
Born of rosy fingered bliss, born wild of the sweetest kiss.
Of this beauty I was never warned nor could I ever prepare
For confrontation with the Emerald Goddess of lust loved hair,
Or of raven queens, black ribbons sisters in distress,
How could we of know she was the devil's mistress?
How could we prepare?
Man In The Long Black Coat
Crickets are chirpin, the water is high
Theres a soft cotton dress on the line hangin dry
The windows wide open, african trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze
Not a word of goodbye, not even a note
Shed gone with the man in the long black coat
Somebody seen him hangin around
At the old dance hall on the outskirts of town
He looked into her eyes when she stopped him to ask
If he wanted to dance, he had a face like a mask
Somebody said from the Bible hed quote
There was dust on the man in the long black coat
Preacher was a-talkin, theres a sermon he gave
He said every mans conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When its you who must keep it satisfied
It aint easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat
She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat
There are no mistakes in life, some people say
And its true sometimes, you can see it that way
But people dont live or die, people just float
She went with the man in the long black coat
Theres smoke on the water, its been there since june
Treetrunks uprooted neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumblin force
Somebody is out there beating on a dead horse
She never said nothin, there was nothin she wrote
Shed gone with the man in the long black coat
The fastest dog in Millstreet when I was a young boy
Was owned and bred by Maurice Connors his name was Black July
Trained by Paddy O Keeffe at Dooneen a leading trainer then
In the Kennedy cup at Limerick he had a famous win.
A son of Cheeky Tippy and Maddest Lily the striking black and white
Was Ireland's fastest greyhound when he was in full flight
The Irish Derby favourite he was the one to beat
And one of the fastest greyhounds to come out of Millstreet.
Sold to Harry O Neill the bookmaker the word it got around
For a record price for a greyhound then 'twas said two thousand pounds
And Black July for Maurice Connors had surely paid his way
For two thousand pounds in those times worth thirty grand today.
Since Denny Dennehy and John Joe Cronin's hounds brought to their Paish fame
Duhallow home of champion dogs so many one could name
And Black July a top class dog when he was in his prime
The mighty speedster from Liscreagh inspired the bards to rhyme.
It must be nearly forty years how quick the time did fly
Since Millstreet had a champion dog his name was Black July
And Millstreet had many great dogs since of their big wins we hear
And the latest Donie Mahony's champ the great Mountleader Peer.
Trained at Dooneen by Paddy O Keeffe a leading trainer then
In the Kennedy cup at Limerick he had a famous win
The fastest greyhound of his year when I was just a boy
Was owned and bred at Liscreagh the mighty Black July.