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No religion is worth a drop of blood.

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V. Count Guido Franceschini

Thanks, Sir, but, should it please the reverend Court,
I feel I can stand somehow, half sit down
Without help, make shift to even speak, you see,
Fortified by the sip of … why, 't is wine,
Velletri,—and not vinegar and gall,
So changed and good the times grow! Thanks, kind Sir!
Oh, but one sip's enough! I want my head
To save my neck, there's work awaits me still.
How cautious and considerate … aie, aie, aie,
Nor your fault, sweet Sir! Come, you take to heart
An ordinary matter. Law is law.
Noblemen were exempt, the vulgar thought,
From racking; but, since law thinks otherwise,
I have been put to the rack: all's over now,
And neither wrist—what men style, out of joint:
If any harm be, 't is the shoulder-blade,
The left one, that seems wrong i' the socket,—Sirs,
Much could not happen, I was quick to faint,
Being past my prime of life, and out of health.
In short, I thank you,—yes, and mean the word.
Needs must the Court be slow to understand
How this quite novel form of taking pain,
This getting tortured merely in the flesh,
Amounts to almost an agreeable change
In my case, me fastidious, plied too much
With opposite treatment, used (forgive the joke)
To the rasp-tooth toying with this brain of mine,
And, in and out my heart, the play o' the probe.
Four years have I been operated on
I' the soul, do you see—its tense or tremulous part—
My self-respect, my care for a good name,
Pride in an old one, love of kindred—just
A mother, brothers, sisters, and the like,
That looked up to my face when days were dim,
And fancied they found light there—no one spot,
Foppishly sensitive, but has paid its pang.
That, and not this you now oblige me with,
That was the Vigil-torment, if you please!
The poor old noble House that drew the rags
O' the Franceschini's once superb array
Close round her, hoped to slink unchallenged by,—
Pluck off these! Turn the drapery inside out
And teach the tittering town how scarlet wears!
Show men the lucklessness, the improvidence
Of the easy-natured Count before this Count,
The father I have some slight feeling for,
Who let the world slide, nor foresaw that friends
Then proud to cap and kiss their patron's shoe,
Would, when the purse he left held spider-webs,
Properly push his child to wall one day!
Mimic the tetchy humour, furtive glance,
And brow where half was furious, half fatigued,
O' the same son got to be of middle age,
Sour, saturnine,—your humble servant here,—
When things go cross and the young wife, he finds
Take to the window at a whistle's bid,
And yet demurs thereon, preposterous fool!—
Whereat the worthies judge he wants advice
And beg to civilly ask what's evil here,
Perhaps remonstrate on the habit they deem
He's given unduly to, of beating her:
… Oh, sure he beats her—why says John so else,
Who is cousin to George who is sib to Tecla's self
Who cooks the meal and combs the lady's hair?
What! 'T is my wrist you merely dislocate
For the future when you mean me martyrdom?
—Let the old mother's economy alone,
How the brocade-strips saved o' the seamy side
O' the wedding-grown buy raiment for a year?
—How she can dress and dish up—lordly dish
Fit for a duke, lamb's head and purtenance—
With her proud hands, feast household so a week?
No word o' the wine rejoicing God and man
The less when three-parts water? Then, I say,
A trifle of torture to the flesh, like yours,
While soul is spared such foretaste of hell-fire,
Is naught. But I curtail the catalogue
Through policy,—a rhetorician's trick,—
Because I would reserve some choicer points
O' the practice, more exactly parallel
(Having an eye to climax) with what gift,
Eventual grace the Court may have in store
I' the way of plague—what crown of punishments.
When I am hanged or headed, time enough
To prove the tenderness of only that,
Mere heading, hanging,—not their counterpart,
Not demonstration public and precise
That I, having married the mongrel of a drab,
Am bound to grant that mongrel-brat, my wife,
Her mother's birthright-license as is just,—
Let her sleep undisturbed, i' the family style,
Her sleep out in the embraces of a priest,
Nor disallow their bastard as my heir!
Your sole mistake,—dare I submit so much
To the reverend Court?—has been in all this pains
To make a stone roll down hill,—rack and wrench
And rend a man to pieces, all for what?
Why—make him ope mouth in his own defence,
Show cause for what he has done, the irregular deed,
(Since that he did it, scarce dispute can be)
And clear his fame a little, beside the luck
Of stopping even yet, if possible,
Discomfort to his flesh from noose or axe—
For that, out come the implements of law!
May it content my lords the gracious Court
To listen only half so patient-long
As I will in that sense profusely speak,
And—fie, they shall not call in screws to help!
I killed Pompilia Franceschini, Sirs;
Killed too the Comparini, husband, wife,
Who called themselves, by a notorious lie,
Her father and her mother to ruin me.
There's the irregular deed: you want no more
Than right interpretation of the same,
And truth so far—am I to understand?
To that then, with convenient speed,—because
Now I consider,—yes, despite my boast,
There is an ailing in this omoplat
May clip my speech all too abruptly short,
Whatever the good-will in me. Now for truth!

I' the name of the indivisible Trinity!
Will my lords, in the plenitude of their light,
Weigh well that all this trouble has come on me
Through my persistent treading in the paths
Where I was trained to go,—wearing that yoke
My shoulder was predestined to receive,
Born to the hereditary stoop and crease?
Noble, I recognized my nobler still,
The Church, my suzerain; no mock-mistress, she;
The secular owned the spiritual: mates of mine
Have thrown their careless hoofs up at her call
"Forsake the clover and come drag my wain!"
There they go cropping: I protruded nose
To halter, bent my back of docile beast,
And now am whealed, one wide wound all of me,
For being found at the eleventh hour o' the day
Padding the mill-track, not neck-deep in grass:
—My one fault, I am stiffened by my work,
—My one reward, I help the Court to smile!

I am representative of a great line,
One of the first of the old families
In Arezzo, ancientest of Tuscan towns.
When my worst foe is fain to challenge this,
His worst exception runs—not first in rank
But second, noble in the next degree
Only; not malice' self maligns me more.
So, my lord opposite has composed, we know,
A marvel of a book, sustains the point
That Francis boasts the primacy 'mid saints;
Yet not inaptly hath his argument
Obtained response from yon my other lord
In thesis published with the world's applause
—Rather 't is Dominic such post befits:
Why, at the worst, Francis stays Francis still,
Second in rank to Dominic it may be,
Still, very saintly, very like our Lord;
And I at least descend from Guido once
Homager to the Empire, nought below—
Of which account as proof that, none o' the line
Having a single gift beyond brave blood,
Or able to do aught but give, give, give
In blood and brain, in house and land and cash,
Not get and garner as the vulgar may,
We became poor as Francis or our Lord.
Be that as it likes you, Sirs,—whenever it chanced
Myself grew capable anyway of remark,
(Which was soon—penury makes wit premature)
This struck me, I was poor who should be rich
Or pay that fault to the world which trifles not
When lineage lacks the flag yet lifts the pole:
On, therefore, I must move forthwith, transfer
My stranded self, born fish with gill and fin
Fit for the deep sea, now left flap bare-backed
In slush and sand, a show to crawlers vile
Reared of the low-tide and aright therein.
The enviable youth with the old name,
Wide chest, stout arms, sound brow and pricking veins,
A heartful of desire, man's natural load,
A brainful of belief, the noble's lot,—
All this life, cramped and gasping, high and dry
I' the wave's retreat,—the misery, good my lords,
Which made you merriment at Rome of late,—
It made me reason, rather—muse, demand
—Why our bare dropping palace, in the street
Where such-an-one whose grandfather sold tripe
Was adding to his purchased pile a fourth
Tall tower, could hardly show a turret sound?
Why Countess Beatrice, whose son I am,
Cowered in the winter-time as she spun flax,
Blew on the earthen basket of live ash,
Instead of jaunting forth in coach and six
Like such-another widow who ne'er was wed?
I asked my fellows, how came this about?
"Why, Jack, the suttler's child, perhaps the camp's,
"Went to the wars, fought sturdily, took a town
"And got rewarded as was natural.
"She of the coach and six—excuse me there!
"Why, don't you know the story of her friend?
"A clown dressed vines on somebody's estate,
"His boy recoiled from muck, liked Latin more,
"Stuck to his pen and got to be a priest,
"Till one day … don't you mind that telling tract
"Against Molinos, the old Cardinal wrote?
"He penned and dropped it in the patron's desk
"Who, deep in thought and absent much of mind,
"Licensed the thing, allowed it for his own;
"Quick came promotion,—suum cuique, Count!
"Oh, he can pay for coach and six, be sure!"
"—Well, let me go, do likewise: war's the word—
"That way the Franceschini worked at first,
"I'll take my turn, try soldiership."—"What, you?
"The eldest son and heir and prop o' the house,
"So do you see your duty? Here's your post,
"Hard by the hearth and altar. (Roam from roof,
"This youngster, play the gipsy out of doors,
"And who keeps kith and kin that fall on us?)
"Stand fast, stick tight, conserve your gods at home!"
"—Well then, the quiet course, the contrary trade!
"We had a cousin amongst us once was Pope,
"And minor glories manifold. Try the Church,
"The tonsure, and,—since heresy's but half-slain
"Even by the Cardinal's tract he thought he wrote,—
"Have at Molinos!"—"Have at a fool's head!
"You a priest? How were marriage possible?
"There must be Franceschini till time ends—
"That's your vocation. Make your brothers priests,
"Paul shall be porporate, and Girolamo step
"Red-stockinged in the presence when you choose,
"But save one Franceschini for the age!
"Be not the vine but dig and dung its root,
"Be not a priest but gird up priesthood's loins,
"With one foot in Arezzo stride to Rome,
"Spend yourself there and bring the purchase back!
"Go hence to Rome, be guided!"

So I was.
I turned alike from the hill-side zig-zag thread
Of way to the table-land a soldier takes,
Alike from the low-lying pasture-place
Where churchmen graze, recline and ruminate,
—Ventured to mount no platform like my lords
Who judge the world, bear brain I dare not brag—
But stationed me, might thus the expression serve,
As who should fetch and carry, come and go,
Meddle and make i' the cause my lords love most—
The public weal, which hangs to the law, which holds
By the Church, which happens to be through God himself.
Humbly I helped the Church till here I stand,—
Or would stand but for the omoplat, you see!
Bidden qualify for Rome, I, having a field,
Went, sold it, laid the sum at Peter's foot:
Which means—I settled home-accounts with speed,
Set apart just a modicum should suffice
To hold the villa's head above the waves
Of weed inundating its oil and wine,
And prop roof, stanchion wall o' the palace so
As to keep breath i' the body, out of heart
Amid the advance of neighbouring loftiness—
(People like building where they used to beg)—
Till succoured one day,—shared the residue
Between my mother and brothers and sisters there,
Black-eyed babe Donna This and Donna That,
As near to starving as might decently be,
—Left myself journey-charges, change of suit,
A purse to put i' the pocket of the Groom
O' the Chamber of the patron, and a glove
With a ring to it for the digits of the niece
Sure to be helpful in his household,—then
Started for Rome, and led the life prescribed.
Close to the Church, though clean of it, I assumed
Three or four orders of no consequence,
—They cast out evil spirits and exorcise,
For example; bind a man to nothing more,
Give clerical savour to his layman's-salt,
Facilitate his claim to loaf and fish
Should miracle leave, beyond what feeds the flock,
Fragments to brim the basket of a friend—
While, for the world's sake, I rode, danced and gamed,
Quitted me like a courtier, measured mine
With whatsoever blade had fame in fence,
—Ready to let the basket go its round
Even though my turn was come to help myself,
Should Dives count on me at dinner-time
As just the understander of a joke
And not immoderate in repartee.
Utrique sic paratus, Sirs, I said,
"Here," (in the fortitude of years fifteen,
So good a pedagogue is penury)
"Here wait, do service,—serving and to serve!
"And, in due time, I nowise doubt at all,
"The recognition of my service comes.
"Next year I'm only sixteen. I can wait."

I waited thirty years, may it please the Court:
Saw meanwhile many a denizen o' the dung
Hop, skip, jump o'er my shoulder, make him wings
And fly aloft,—succeed, in the usual phrase.
Everyone soon or late comes round by Rome:
Stand still here, you'll see all in turn succeed.
Why, look you, so and so, the physician here,
My father's lacquey's son we sent to school,
Doctored and dosed this Eminence and that,
Salved the last Pope his certain obstinate sore,
Soon bought land as became him, names it now:
I grasp bell at his griffin-guarded gate,
Traverse the half-mile avenue,—a term,
A cypress, and a statue, three and three,—
Deliver message from my Monsignor,
With varletry at lounge i' the vestibule
I'm barred from who bear mud upon my shoe.
My father's chaplain's nephew, Chamberlain,—
Nothing less, please you!—courteous all the same,
—He does not see me though I wait an hour
At his staircase-landing 'twixt the brace of busts,
A noseless Sylla, Marius maimed to match,
My father gave him for a hexastich
Made on my birthday,—but he sends me down,
To make amends, that relic I prize most—
The unburnt end o' the very candle, Sirs,
Purfled with paint so prettily round and round,
He carried in such state last Peter's-day,—
In token I, his gentleman and squire,
Had held the bridle, walked his managed mule
Without a tittup the procession through.
Nay, the official,—one you know, sweet lords!—
Who drew the warrant for my transfer late
To the New Prisons from Tordinona,—he
Graciously had remembrance—"Francesc … ha?
"His sire, now—how a thing shall come about!—
"Paid me a dozen florins above the fee,
"For drawing deftly up a deed of sale
"When troubles fell so thick on him, good heart,
"And I was prompt and pushing! By all means!
"At the New Prisons be it his son shall lie,—
"Anything for an old friend!" and thereat
Signed name with triple flourish underneath.
These were my fellows, such their fortunes now,
While I—kept fasts and feasts innumerable,
Matins and vespers, functions to no end
I' the train of Monsignor and Eminence,
As gentleman-squire, and for my zeal's reward
Have rarely missed a place at the table-foot
Except when some Ambassador, or such like,
Brought his own people. Brief, one day I felt
The tick of time inside me, turning-point
And slight sense there was now enough of this:
That I was near my seventh climacteric,
Hard upon, if not over, the middle life,
And, although fed by the east-wind, fulsome-fine
With foretaste of the Land of Promise, still
My gorge gave symptom it might play me false;
Better not press it further,—be content
With living and dying only a nobleman,
Who merely had a father great and rich,
Who simply had one greater and richer yet,
And so on back and back till first and best
Began i' the night; I finish in the day.
"The mother must be getting old," I said;
"The sisters are well wedded away, our name
"Can manage to pass a sister off, at need,
"And do for dowry: both my brothers thrive—
"Regular priests they are, nor, bat-like, 'bide
"'Twixt flesh and fowl with neither privilege.
"My spare revenue must keep me and mine.
"I am tired: Arezzo's air is good to breathe;
"Vittiano,—one limes flocks of thrushes there;
"A leathern coat costs little and lasts long:
"Let me bid hope good-bye, content at home!"
Thus, one day, I disbosomed me and bowed.
Whereat began the little buzz and thrill
O' the gazers round me; each face brightened up:
As when at your Casino, deep in dawn,
A gamester says at last, "I play no more,
"Forego gain, acquiesce in loss, withdraw
"Anyhow:" and the watchers of his ways,
A trifle struck compunctious at the word,
Yet sensible of relief, breathe free once more,
Break up the ring, venture polite advice—
"How, Sir? So scant of heart and hope indeed?
"Retire with neither cross nor pile from play?—
"So incurious, so short-casting?—give your chance
"To a younger, stronger, bolder spirit belike,
"Just when luck turns and the fine throw sweeps all?"
Such was the chorus: and its goodwill meant—
"See that the loser leave door handsomely!
"There's an ill look,—it's sinister, spoils sport,
"When an old bruised and battered year-by-year
"Fighter with fortune, not a penny in poke,
"Reels down the steps of our establishment
"And staggers on broad daylight and the world,
"In shagrag beard and doleful doublet, drops
"And breaks his heart on the outside: people prate
"'Such is the profit of a trip upstairs!'
"Contrive he sidle forth, baulked of the blow
"Best dealt by way of moral, bidding down
"No curse but blessings rather on our heads
"For some poor prize he bears at tattered breast,
"Some palpable sort of kind of good to set
"Over and against the grievance: give him quick!"
Whereon protested Paul, "Go hang yourselves!
"Leave him to me. Count Guido and brother of mine,
"A word in your ear! Take courage, since faint heart
"Ne'er won … aha, fair lady, don't men say?
"There's a sors, there's a right Virgilian dip!
"Do you see the happiness o' the hint? At worst,
"If the Church want no more of you, the Court
"No more, and the Camp as little, the ingrates,—come,
"Count you are counted: still you've coat to back,
"Not cloth of gold and tissue, as we hoped,
"But cloth with sparks and spangles on its frieze
"From Camp, Court, Church, enough to make a shine,
"Entitle you to carry home a wife
"With the proper dowry, let the worst betide!
"Why, it was just a wife you meant to take!"

Now, Paul's advice was weighty: priests should know:
And Paul apprised me, ere the week was out,
That Pietro and Violante, the easy pair,
The cits enough, with stomach to be more,
Had just the daughter and exact the sum
To truck for the quality of myself: "She's young,
"Pretty and rich: you're noble, classic, choice.
"Is it to be a match?" "A match," said I.
Done! He proposed all, I accepted all,
And we performed all. So I said and did
Simply. As simply followed, not at first
But with the outbreak of misfortune, still
One comment on the saying and doing—"What?
"No blush at the avowal you dared buy
"A girl of age beseems your granddaughter,
"Like ox or ass? Are flesh and blood a ware?
"Are heart and soul a chattel?"

Softly, Sirs!
Will the Court of its charity teach poor me
Anxious to learn, of any way i' the world,
Allowed by custom and convenience, save
This same which, taught from my youth up, I trod?
Take me along with you; where was the wrong step?
If what I gave in barter, style and state
And all that hangs to Franceschinihood,
Were worthless,—why, society goes to ground,
Its rules are idiot's-rambling. Honour of birth,—
If that thing has no value, cannot buy
Something with value of another sort,
You've no reward nor punishment to give
I' the giving or the taking honour; straight
Your social fabric, pinnacle to base,
Comes down a-clatter like a house of cards.
Get honour, and keep honour free from flaw,
Aim at still higher honour,—gabble o' the goose!
Go bid a second blockhead like myself
Spend fifty years in guarding bubbles of breath,
Soapsuds with air i' the belly, gilded brave,
Guarded and guided, all to break at touch
O' the first young girl's hand and first old fool's purse!
All my privation and endurance, all
Love, loyalty and labour dared and did,
Fiddle-de-dee!—why, doer and darer both,—
Count Guido Franceschini had hit the mark
Far better, spent his life with more effect,
As a dancer or a prizer, trades that pay!
On the other hand, bid this buffoonery cease,
Admit that honour is a privilege,
The question follows, privilege worth what?
Why, worth the market-price,—now up, now down,
Just so with this as with all other ware:
Therefore essay the market, sell your name,
Style and condition to who buys them best!
"Does my name purchase," had I dared inquire,
"Your niece, my lord?" there would have been rebuff
Though courtesy, your Lordship cannot else—
"Not altogether! Rank for rank may stand:
"But I have wealth beside, you—poverty;
"Your scale flies up there: bid a second bid
"Rank too and wealth too!" Reasoned like yourself!
But was it to you I went with goods to sell?
This time 't was my scale quietly kissed the ground,
Mere rank against mere wealth—some youth beside,
Some beauty too, thrown into the bargain, just
As the buyer likes or lets alone. I thought
To deal o' the square: others find fault, it seems:
The thing is, those my offer most concerned,
Pietro, Violante, cried they fair or foul?
What did they make o' the terms? Preposterous terms?
Why then accede so promptly, close with such
Nor take a minute to chaffer? Bargain struck,
They straight grew bilious, wished their money back,
Repented them, no doubt: why, so did I,
So did your Lordship, if town-talk be true,
Of paying a full farm's worth for that piece
By Pietro of Cortona—probably
His scholar Ciro Ferri may have retouched—
You caring more for colour than design—
Getting a little tired of cupids too.
That's incident to all the folk who buy!
I am charged, I know, with gilding fact by fraud;
I falsified and fabricated, wrote
Myself down roughly richer than I prove,
Rendered a wrong revenue,—grant it all!
Mere grace, mere coquetry such fraud, I say:
A flourish round the figures of a sum
For fashion's sake, that deceives nobody.
The veritable back-bone, understood
Essence of this same bargain, blank and bare,
Being the exchange of quality for wealth,—
What may such fancy-flights be? Flecks of oil
Flirted by chapmen where plain dealing grates.
I may have dripped a drop—"My name I sell;
"Not but that I too boast my wealth"—as they,
"—We bring you riches; still our ancestor
"Was hardly the rapscallion folk saw flogged,
"But heir to we know who, were rights of force!"
They knew and I knew where the backbone lurked
I' the writhings of the bargain, lords, believe!
I paid down all engaged for, to a doit,
Delivered them just that which, their life long,
They hungered in the hearts of them to gain—
Incorporation with nobility thus
In word and deed: for that they gave me wealth.
But when they came to try their gain, my gift,
Quit Rome and qualify for Arezzo, take
The tone o' the new sphere that absorbed the old,
Put away gossip Jack and goody Joan
And go become familiar with the Great,
Greatness to touch and taste and handle now,—
Why then,—they found that all was vanity,
Vexation, and what Solomon describes!
The old abundant city-fare was best,
The kindly warmth o' the commons, the glad clap
Of the equal on the shoulder, the frank grin
Of the underling at all so many spoons
Fire-new at neighbourly treat,—best, best and best
Beyond compare!—down to the loll itself
O' the pot-house settle,—better such a bench
Than the stiff crucifixion by my dais
Under the piecemeal damask canopy
With the coroneted coat of arms a-top!
Poverty and privation for pride's sake,
All they engaged to easily brave and bear,—
With the fit upon them and their brains a-work,—
Proved unendurable to the sobered sots.
A banished prince, now, will exude a juice
And salamander-like support the flame:
He dines on chestnuts, chucks the husks to help
The broil o' the brazier, pays the due baioc,
Goes off light-hearted: his grimace begins
At the funny humours of the christening-feast
Of friend the money-lender,—then he's touched
By the flame and frizzles at the babe to kiss!
Here was the converse trial, opposite mind:
Here did a petty nature split on rock
Of vulgar wants predestinate for such—
One dish at supper and weak wine to boot!
The prince had grinned and borne: the citizen shrieked,
Summoned the neighbourhood to attest the wrong,
Made noisy protest he was murdered,—stoned
And burned and drowned and hanged,—then broke away,
He and his wife, to tell their Rome the rest.
And this you admire, you men o' the world, my lords?
This moves compassion, makes you doubt my faith?
Why, I appeal to … sun and moon? Not I!
Rather to Plautus, Terence, Boccaccio's Book,
My townsman, frank Ser Franco's merry Tales.—
To all who strip a vizard from a face,
A body from its padding, and a soul
From froth and ignorance it styles itself,—
If this be other than the daily hap
Of purblind greed that dog-like still drops bone,
Grasps shadow, and then howls the case is hard!

So much for them so far: now for myself,
My profit or loss i' the matter: married am I:
Text whereon friendly censors burst to preach.
Ay, at Rome even, long ere I was left
To regulate her life for my young bride
Alone at Arezzo, friendliness outbroke
(Sifting my future to predict its fault)
"Purchase and sale being thus so plain a point,
"How of a certain soul bound up, may-be,
"I' the barter with the body and money-bags?
"From the bride's soul what is it you expect?"
Why, loyalty and obedience,—wish and will
To settle and suit her fresh and plastic mind
To the novel, not disadvantageous mould!
Father and mother shall the woman leave,
Cleave to the husband, be it for weal or woe:
There is the law: what sets this law aside
In my particular case? My friends submit
"Guide, guardian, benefactor,—fee, faw, fum,
"The fact is you are forty-five years old,
"Nor very comely even for that age:
"Girls must have boys." Why, let girls say so then,
Nor call the boys and men, who say the same,
Brute this and beast the other as they do!
Come, cards on table! When you chaunt us next
Epithalamium full to overflow
With praise and glory of white womanhood,
The chaste and pure—troll no such lies o'er lip!
Put in their stead a crudity or two,
Such short and simple statement of the case
As youth chalks on our walls at spring of year!
No! I shall still think nobler of the sex,
Believe a woman still may take a man
For the short period that his soul wears flesh,
And, for the soul's sake, understand the fault
Of armour frayed by fighting. Tush, it tempts
One's tongue too much! I'll say—the law's the law:
With a wife I look to find all wifeliness,
As when I buy, timber and twig, a tree—
I buy the song o' the nightingale inside.

Such was the pact: Pompilia from the first
Broke it, refused from the beginning day
Either in body or soul to cleave to mine,
And published it forthwith to all the world.
No rupture,—you must join ere you can break,—
Before we had cohabited a month
She found I was a devil and no man,—
Made common cause with those who found as much,
Her parents, Pietro and Violante,—moved
Heaven and earth to the rescue of all three.
In four months' time, the time o' the parents' stay,
Arezzo was a-ringing, bells in a blaze,
With the unimaginable story rife
I' the mouth of man, woman and child—to-wit
My misdemeanour. First the lighter side,
Ludicrous face of things,—how very poor
The Franceschini had become at last,
The meanness and the misery of each shift
To save a soldo, stretch and make ends meet.
Next, the more hateful aspect,—how myself
With cruelty beyond Caligula's
Had stripped and beaten, robbed and murdered them,
The good old couple, I decoyed, abused,
Plundered and then cast out, and happily so,
Since,—in due course the abominable comes,—
Woe worth the poor young wife left lonely here!
Repugnant in my person as my mind,
I sought,—was ever heard of such revenge?
—To lure and bind her to so cursed a couch,
Such co-embrace with sulphur, snake and toad,
That she was fain to rush forth, call the stones
O' the common street to save her, not from hate
Of mine merely, but … must I burn my lips
With the blister of the lie? … the satyr-love
Of who but my own brother, the young priest,
Too long enforced to lenten fare belike,
Now tempted by the morsel tossed him full
I' the trencher where lay bread and herbs at best.
Mark, this yourselves say!—this, none disallows,
Was charged to me by the universal voice
At the instigation of my four-months' wife!—
And then you ask "Such charges so preferred,
"(Truly or falsely, here concerns us not)
"Pricked you to punish now if not before?—
"Did not the harshness double itself, the hate
"Harden?" I answer "Have it your way and will!"
Say my resentment grew apace: what then?
Do you cry out on the marvel? When I find
That pure smooth egg which, laid within my nest,
Could not but hatch a comfort to us all,
Issues a cockatrice for me and mine,
Do you stare to see me stamp on it? Swans are soft:
Is it not clear that she you call my wife,
That any wife of any husband, caught
Whetting a sting like this against his breast,—
Speckled with fragments of the fresh-broke shell,
Married a month and making outcry thus,—
Proves a plague-prodigy to God and man?
She married: what was it she married for,
Counted upon and meant to meet thereby?
"Love" suggests some one, "love, a little word
"Whereof we have not heard one syllable."
So, the Pompilia, child, girl, wife, in one,
Wanted the beating pulse, the rolling eye,
The frantic gesture, the devotion due
From Thyrsis to Neæra! Guido's love—
Why not Provencal roses in his shoe,
Plume to his cap, and trio of guitars
At casement, with a bravo close beside?
Good things all these are, clearly claimable
When the fit price is paid the proper way.
Had it been some friend's wife, now, threw her fan
At my foot, with just this pretty scrap attached,
"Shame, death, damnation—fall these as they may,
"So I find you, for a minute! Come this eve!"
—Why, at such sweet self-sacrifice,—who knows?
I might have fired up, found me at my post,
Ardent from head to heel, nor feared catch cough.
Nay, had some other friend's … say, daughter, tripped
Upstairs and tumbled flat and frank on me,
Bareheaded and barefooted, with loose hair
And garments all at large,—cried "Take me thus!
"Duke So-and-So, the greatest man in Rome—
"To escape his hand and heart have I broke bounds,
"Traversed the town and reached you!"—then, indeed,
The lady had not reached a man of ice!
I would have rummaged, ransacked at the word
Those old odd corners of an empty heart
For remnants of dim love the long disused,
And dusty crumblings of romance! But here,
We talk of just a marriage, if you please—
The every-day conditions and no more;
Where do these bind me to bestow one drop
Of blood shall dye my wife's true-love-knot pink?
Pompilia was no pigeon, Venus' pet,
That shuffled from between her pressing paps
To sit on my rough shoulder,—but a hawk,
I bought at a hawk's price and carried home
To do hawk's service—at the Rotunda, say,
Where, six o' the callow nestlings in a row,
You pick and choose and pay the price for such.
I have paid my pound, await my penny's worth,
So, hoodwink, starve and properly train my bird,
And, should she prove a haggard,—twist her neck!
Did I not pay my name and style, my hope
And trust, my all? Through spending these amiss
I am here! 'T is scarce the gravity of the Court
Will blame me that I never piped a tune,
Treated my falcon-gentle like my finch.
The obligation I incurred was just
To practise mastery, prove my mastership:—
Pompilia's duty was—submit herself,
Afford me pleasure, perhaps cure my bile.
Am I to teach my lords what marriage means,
What God ordains thereby and man fulfils
Who, docile to the dictate, treads the house?
My lords have chosen the happier part with Paul
And neither marry nor burn,—yet priestliness
Can find a parallel to the marriage-bond
In its own blessed special ordinance
Whereof indeed was marriage made the type:
The Church may show her insubordinate,
As marriage her refractory. How of the Monk
Who finds the claustral regimen too sharp
After the first month's essay? What's the mode
With the Deacon who supports indifferently
The rod o' the Bishop when he tastes its smart
Full four weeks? Do you straightway slacken hold
Of the innocents, the all-unwary ones
Who, eager to profess, mistook their mind?—
Remit a fast-day's rigour to the Monk
Who fancied Francis' manna meant roast quails,—
Concede the Deacon sweet society,
He never thought the Levite-rule renounced,—
Or rather prescribe short chain and sharp scourge
Corrective of such peccant humours? This—
I take to be the Church's mode, and mine.
If I was over-harsh,—the worse i' the wife
Who did not win from harshness as she ought,
Wanted the patience and persuasion, lore
Of love, should cure me and console herself.
Put case that I mishandle, flurry and fright
My hawk through clumsiness in sportsmanship,
Twitch out five pens where plucking one would serve—
What, shall she bite and claw to mend the case?
And, if you find I pluck five more for that,
Shall you weep "How he roughs the turtle there"?

Such was the starting; now of the further step.
In lieu of taking penance in good part,
The Monk, with hue and cry, summons a mob
To make a bonfire of the convent, say,—
And the Deacon's pretty piece of virtue (save
The ears o' the Court! I try to save my head)
Instructed by the ingenuous postulant,
Taxes the Bishop with adultery, (mud
Needs must pair off with mud, and filth with filth)—
Such being my next experience. Who knows not—
The couple, father and mother of my wife,
Returned to Rome, published before my lords,
Put into print, made circulate far and wide
That they had cheated me who cheated them?
Pompilia, I supposed their daughter, drew
Breath first 'mid Rome's worst rankness, through the deed
Of a drab and a rogue, was by-blow bastard-babe
Of a nameless strumpet, passed off, palmed on me
As the daughter with the dowry. Daughter? Dirt
O' the kennel! Dowry? Dust o' the street! Nought more,
Nought less, nought else but—oh—ah—assuredly
A Franceschini and my very wife!
Now take this charge as you will, for false or true,—
This charge, preferred before your very selves
Who judge me now,—I pray you, adjudge again,
Classing it with the cheats or with the lies,
By which category I suffer most!
But of their reckoning, theirs who dealt with me
In either fashion,—I reserve my word,
Justify that in its place; I am now to say,
Whichever point o' the charge might poison most,
Pompilia's duty was no doubtful one.
You put the protestation in her mouth
"Henceforward and forevermore, avaunt
"Ye fiends, who drop disguise and glare revealed
"In your own shape, no longer father mine
"Nor mother mine! Too nakedly you hate
"Me whom you looked as if you loved once,—me
"Whom, whether true or false, your tale now damns,
"Divulged thus to my public infamy,
"Private perdition, absolute overthrow.
"For, hate my husband to your hearts' content,
"I, spoil and prey of you from first to last,
"I who have done you the blind service, lured
"The lion to your pitfall,—I, thus left
"To answer for my ignorant bleating there,
"I should have been remembered and withdrawn
"From the first o' the natural fury, not flung loose
"A proverb and a by-word men will mouth
"At the cross-way, in the corner, up and down
"Rome and Arezzo,—there, full in my face,
"If my lord, missing them and finding me,
"Content himself with casting his reproach
"To drop i' the street where such impostors die.
"Ah, but—that husband, what the wonder were!—
"If, far from casting thus away the rag
"Smeared with the plague his hand had chanced upon,
"Sewn to his pillow by Locusta's wile,—
"Far from abolishing, root, stem and branch,
"The misgrowth of infectious mistletoe
"Foisted into his stock for honest graft,—
"If he repudiate not, renounce nowise,
"But, guarding, guiding me, maintain my cause
"By making it his own, (what other way?)
"—To keep my name for me, he call it his,
"Claim it of who would take it by their lie,—
"To save my wealth for me—or babe of mine
"Their lie was framed to beggar at the birth—
"He bid them loose grasp, give our gold again:
"If he become no partner with the pair
"Even in a game which, played adroitly, gives
"Its winner life's great wonderful new chance,—
"Of marrying, to-wit, a second time,—
"Ah, if he did thus, what a friend were he!
"Anger he might show,—who can stamp out flame
"Yet spread no black o' the brand?—yet, rough albeit
"In the act, as whose bare feet feel embers scorch,
"What grace were his, what gratitude were mine!"
Such protestation should have been my wife's.
Looking for this, do I exact too much?
Why, here's the,—word for word, so much, no more,—
Avowal she made, her pure spontaneous speech
To my brother the Abate at first blush,
Ere the good impulse had begun to fade:
So did she make confession for the pair,
So pour forth praises in her own behalf.
"Ay, the false letter," interpose my lords—
"The simulated writing,—'t was a trick:
"You traced the signs, she merely marked the same,
"The product was not hers but yours." Alack,
I want no more impulsion to tell truth
From the other trick, the torture inside there!
I confess all—let it be understood—
And deny nothing! If I baffle you so,
Can so fence, in the plenitude of right,
That my poor lathen dagger puts aside
Each pass o' the Bilboa, beats you all the same,—
What matters inefficiency of blade?
Mine and not hers the letter,—conceded, lords!
Impute to me that practice!—take as proved
I taught my wife her duty, made her see
What it behoved her see and say and do,
Feel in her heart and with her tongue declare,
And, whether sluggish or recalcitrant,
Forced her to take the right step, I myself
Was marching in marital rectitude!
Why who finds fault here, say the tale be true?
Would not my lords commend the priest whose zeal
Seized on the sick, morose or moribund,
By the palsy-smitten finger, made it cross
His brow correctly at the critical time?
—Or answered for the inarticulate babe
At baptism, in its stead declared the faith,
And saved what else would perish unprofessed?
True, the incapable hand may rally yet,
Renounce the sign with renovated strength,—
The babe may grow up man and Molinist,—
And so Pompilia, set in the good path
And left to go alone there, soon might see
That too frank-forward, all too simple-straight
Her step was, and decline to tread the rough,
When here lay, tempting foot, the meadow-side,
And there the coppice rang with singing-birds!
Soon she discovered she was young and fair,
That many in Arezzo knew as much.
Yes, this next cup of bitterness, my lords,
Had to begin go filling, drop by drop,
Its measure up of full disgust for me,
Filtered into by every noisome drain—
Society's sink toward which all moisture runs.
Would not you prophesy—"She on whose brow is stamped
"The note of the imputation that we know,—
"Rightly or wrongly mothered with a whore,—
"Such an one, to disprove the frightful charge,
"What will she but exaggerate chastity,
"Err in excess of wifehood, as it were,
"Renounce even levities permitted youth,
"Though not youth struck to age by a thunderbolt?
"Cry 'wolf' i' the sheepfold, where's the sheep dares bleat,
"Knowing the shepherd listens for a growl?"
So you expect. How did the devil decree?
Why, my lords, just the contrary of course!
It was in the house from the window, at the church
From the hassock,—where the theatre lent its lodge,
Or staging for the public show left space,—
That still Pompilia needs must find herself
Launching her looks forth, letting looks reply
As arrows to a challenge; on all sides
Ever new contribution to her lap,
Till one day, what is it knocks at my clenched teeth
But the cup full, curse-collected all for me?
And I must needs drink, drink this gallant's praise,
That minion's prayer, the other fop's reproach,
And come at the dregs to—Caponsacchi! Sirs,
I,—chin-deep in a marsh of misery,
Struggling to extricate my name and fame
And fortune from the marsh would drown them all,
My face the sole unstrangled part of me,—
I must have this new gad-fly in that face,
Must free me from the attacking lover too!
Men say I battled ungracefully enough—
Was harsh, uncouth and ludicrous beyond
The proper part o' the husband: have it so!
Your lordships are considerate at least—
You order me to speak in my defence
Plainly, expect no quavering tuneful trills
As when you bid a singer solace you,—
Nor look that I shall give it, for a grace,
Stans pede in uno:—you remember well
In the one case, 't is a plainsong too severe,
This story of my wrongs,—and that I ache
And need a chair, in the other. Ask you me
Why, when I felt this trouble flap my face,
Already pricked with every shame could perch,—
When, with her parents, my wife plagued me too,—
Why I enforced not exhortation mild
To leave whore's-tricks and let my brows alone,
With mulct of comfits, promise of perfume?

"Far from that! No, you took the opposite course,
"Breathed threatenings, rage and slaughter!" What you will!
And the end has come, the doom is verily here,
Unhindered by the threatening. See fate's flare
Full on each face of the dead guilty three!
Look at them well, and now, lords, look at this!
Tell me: if on that day when I found first
That Caponsacchi thought the nearest way
To his church was some half-mile round by my door,
And that he so admired, shall I suppose,
The manner of the swallows' come-and-go
Between the props o' the window over-head,—
That window happening to be my wife's,—
As to stand gazing by the hour on high,
Of May-eves, while she sat and let him smile,—
If I,—instead of threatening, talking big,
Showing hair-powder, a prodigious pinch,
For poison in a bottle,—making believe
At desperate doings with a bauble-sword,
And other bugaboo-and-baby-work,—
Had, with the vulgarest household implement,
Calmly and quietly cut off, clean thro' bone
But one joint of one finger of my wife,
Saying "For listening to the serenade,
"Here's your ring-finger shorter a full third:
"Be certain I will slice away next joint,
"Next time that anybody underneath
"Seems somehow to be sauntering as he hoped
"A flower would eddy out of your hand to his
"While you please fidget with the branch above
"O' the rose-tree in the terrace!"—had I done so,
Why, there had followed a quick sharp scream, some pain,
Much calling for plaister, damage to the dress,
A somewhat sulky countenance next day,
Perhaps reproaches,—but reflections too!
I don't hear much of harm that Malchus did
After the incident of the ear, my lords!
Saint Peter took the efficacious way;
Malchus was sore but silenced for his life:
He did not hang himself i' the Potter's Field
Like Judas, who was trusted with the bag
And treated to sops after he proved a thief.
So, by this time, my true and obedient wife
Might have been telling beads with a gloved hand;
Awkward a little at pricking hearts and darts
On sampler possibly, but well otherwise:
Not where Rome shudders now to see her lie.
I give that for the course a wise man takes;
I took the other however, tried the fool's,
The lighter remedy, brandished rapier dread
With cork-ball at the tip, boxed Malchus' ear
Instead of severing the cartilage,
Called her a terrible nickname, and the like,
And there an end: and what was the end of that?
What was the good effect o' the gentle course?
Why, one night I went drowsily to bed,
Dropped asleep suddenly, not suddenly woke,
But did wake with rough rousing and loud cry,
To find noon in my face, a crowd in my room,
Fumes in my brain, fire in my thoat, my wife
Gone God knows whither,—rifled vesture-chest,
And ransacked money-coffer. "What does it mean?"
The servants had been drugged too, stared and yawned
"It must be that our lady has eloped!"
—"Whither and with whom?"—"With whom but the Canon's self?
"One recognizes Caponsacchi there!"—
(By this time the admiring neighbourhood
Joined chorus round me while I rubbed my eyes)
"'T is months since their intelligence began,—
"A comedy the town was privy to,—
"He wrote and she wrote, she spoke, he replied,
"And going in and out your house last night
"Was easy work for one … to be plain with you …
"Accustomed to do both, at dusk and dawn
"When you were absent,—at the villa, you know,
"Where husbandry required the master-mind.
"Did not you know? Why, we all knew, you see!"
And presently, bit by bit, the full and true
Particulars of the tale were volunteered
With all the breathless zeal of friendship—"Thus
"Matters were managed: at the seventh hour of night" . .
—"Later, at daybreak" … "Caponsacchi came" …
—"While you and all your household slept like death,
"Drugged as your supper was with drowsy stuff" …
—"And your own cousin Guillichini too—
"Either or both entered your dwelling-place,
"Plundered it at their pleasure, made prize of all,
"Including your wife …"—"Oh, your wife led the way,
"Out of doors, on to the gate …"—"But gates are shut,
"In a decent town, to darkness and such deeds:
"They climbed the wall—your lady must be lithe—
"At the gap, the broken bit …" —"Torrione, true!
"To escape the questioning guard at the proper gate,
"Clemente, where at the inn, hard by, 'the Horse,'
"Just outside, a calash in readiness
"Took the two principals, all alone at last,
"To gate San Spirito, which o'erlooks the road,
"Leads to Perugia, Rome and liberty."
Bit by bit thus made-up mosaic-wise,
Flat lay my fortune,—tesselated floor,
Imperishable tracery devils should foot
And frolic it on, around my broken gods,
Over my desecrated hearth.

So much
For the terrible effect of threatening, Sirs!
Well, this way I was shaken wide awake,
Doctored and drenched, somewhat unpoisoned so.
Then, set on horseback and bid seek the lost,
I started alone, head of me, heart of me
Fire, and eaeh limb as languid … ah, sweet lords,
Bethink you!—poison-torture, try persuade
The next refractory Molinist with that! …
Floundered thro' day and night, another day
And yet another night, and so at last,
As Lucifer kept falling to find hell,
Tumbled into the court-yard of an inn
At the end, and fell on whom I thought to find,
Even Caponsacchi,—what part once was priest,
Cast to the winds now with the cassock-rags.
In cape and sword a cavalier confessed,
There stood he chiding dilatory grooms,
Chafing that only horseflesh and no team
Of eagles would supply the last relay,
Whirl him along the league, the one post more
Between the couple and Rome and liberty.
'T was dawn, the couple were rested in a sort,
And though the lady, tired,—the tenderer sex,—
Still lingered in her chamber,—to adjust
The limp hair, look for any blush astray,—
She would descend in a twinkling,—"Have you out
"The horses therefore!"

So did I find my wife.
Is the case complete? Do your eyes here see with mine?
Even the parties dared deny no one
Point out of all these points.

What follows next?
"Why, that then was the time," you interpose,
"Or then or never, while the fact was fresh,
"To take the natural vengeance: there and thus
"They and you,—somebody had stuck a sword
"Beside you while he pushed you on your horse,—
"'T was requisite to slay the couple, Count!"
Just so my friends say. "Kill!" they cry in a breath,
Who presently, when matters grow to a head
And I do kill the offending ones indeed,—
When crime of theirs, only surmised before,
Is patent, proved indisputably now,—
When remedy for wrong, untried at the time,
Which law professes shall not fail a friend,
Is thrice tried now, found threefold worse than null,—
When what might turn to transient shade, who knows?
Solidifies into a blot which breaks
Hell's black off in pale flakes for fear of mine,—
Then, when I claim and take revenge—"So rash?"
They cry—"so little reverence for the law?"

Listen, my masters, and distinguish here!
At first, I called in law to act and help:
Seeing I did so, "Why, 't is clear," they cry,
"You shrank from gallant readiness and risk,
"Were coward: the thing's inexplicable else."
Sweet my lords, let the thing be! I fall flat,
Play the reed, not the oak, to breath of man.
Only inform my ignorance! Say I stand
Convicted of the having been afraid,
Proved a poltroon, no lion but a lamb,—
Does that deprive me of my right of lamb
And give my fleece and flesh to the first wolf?
Are eunuchs, women, children, shieldless quite
Against attack their own timidity tempts?
Cowardice were misfortune and no crime!
—Take it that way, since I am fallen so low
I scarce dare brush the fly that blows my face,
And thank the man who simply spits not there,—
Unless the Court be generous, comprehend
How one brought up at the very feet of law
As I, awaits the grave Gamaliel's nod
Ere he clench fist at outrage,—much less, stab!
—How, ready enough to rise at the right time,
I still could recognise no time mature
Unsanctioned by a move o' the judgment-seat,
So, mute in misery, eyed my masters here
Motionless till the authoritative word
Pronounced amercement. There's the riddle solved:
This is just why I slew nor her nor him,
But called in law, law's delegate in the place,
And bade arrest the guilty couple, Sirs!
We had some trouble to do so—you have heard
They braved me,—he with arrogance and scorn,
She, with a volubility of curse,
A conversancy in the skill of tooth
And claw to make suspicion seem absurd,
Nay, an alacrity to put to proof
At my own throat my own sword, teach me so
To try conclusions better the next time,—
Which did the proper service with the mob.
They never tried to put on mask at all:
Two avowed lovers forcibly torn apart,
Upbraid the tyrant as in a playhouse scene,
Ay, and with proper clapping and applause
From the audience that enjoys the bold and free.
I kept still, said to myself, "There's law!" Anon
We searched the chamber where they passed the night,
Found what confirmed the worst was feared before,
However needless confirmation now—
The witches' circle intact, charms undisturbed
That raised the spirit and succubus,—letters, to-wit,
Love-laden, each the bag o' the bee that bore
Honey from lily and rose to Cupid's hive,—
Now, poetry in some rank blossom-burst,
Now, prose,—"Come here, go there, wait such a while,
"He's at the villa, now he's back again:
"We are saved, we are lost, we are lovers all the same!"
All in order, all complete,—even to a clue
To the drowsiness that happed so opportune—
No mystery, when I read "Of all things, find
"What wine Sir Jealousy decides to drink—
"Red wine? Because a sleeping-potion, dust
"Dropped into white, discolours wine and shows."

—"Oh, but we did not write a single word!
"Somebody forged the letters in our name!—"
Both in a breath protested presently.
Aha, Sacchetti again!—"Dame,"—quoth the Duke,
"What meaneth this epistle, counsel me,
"I pick from out thy placket and peruse,
"Wherein my page averreth thou art white
"And warm and wonderful 'twixt pap and pap?"
"Sir," laughed the Lady, " 't is a counterfeit!
"Thy page did never stroke but Dian's breast,
"The pretty hound I nurture for thy sake:
"To lie were losel,—by my fay, no more!"
And no more say I too, and spare the Court.

Ah, the Court! yes, I come to the Court's self;
Such the case, so complete in fact and proof,
I laid at the feet of law,—there sat my lords,
Here sit they now, so may they ever sit
In easier attitude than suits my haunch!
In this same chamber did I bare my sores
O' the soul and not the body,—shun no shame,
Shrink from no probing of the ulcerous part,
Since confident in Nature,—which is God,—
That she who, for wise ends, concocts a plague,
Curbs, at the right time, the plague's virulence too:
Law renovates even Lazarus,—cures me!
Cæsar thou seekest? To Cæsar thou shalt go!
Cæsar's at Rome: to Rome accordingly!

The case was soon decided: both weights, cast
I' the balance, vibrate, neither kicks the beam,
Here away, there away, this now and now that.
To every one o' my grievances law gave
Redress, could purblind eye but see the point.
The wife stood a convicted runagate
From house and husband,—driven to such a course
By what she somehow took for cruelty,
Oppression and imperilment of life—
Not that such things were, but that so they seemed:
Therefore, the end conceded lawful, (since
To save life there's no risk should stay our leap)
It follows that all means to the lawful end
Are lawful likewise,—poison, theft and flight.
As for the priest's part, did he meddle or make,
Enough that he too thought life jeopardized;
Concede him then the colour charity
Casts on a doubtful course,—if blackish white
Or whitish black, will charity hesitate?
What did he else but act the precept out,
Leave, like a provident shepherd, his safe flock
To follow the single lamb and strayaway?
Best hope so and think so,—that the ticklish time
I' the carriage, the tempting privacy, the last
Somewhat ambiguous accident at the inn,
—All may bear explanation: may? then, must!
The letters,—do they so incriminate?
But what if the whole prove a prank o' the pen,
Flight of the fancy, none of theirs at all,
Bred of the vapours of my brain belike,
Or at worst mere exercise of scholar's-wit
In the courtly Caponsacchi: verse, convict?
Did not Catullus write less seemly once?
Yet doctus and unblemished he abides.
Wherefore so ready to infer the worst?
Still, I did righteously in bringing doubts
For the law to solve,—take the solution now!
"Seeing that the said associates, wife and priest,
"Bear themselves not without some touch of blame
"—Else why the pother, scandal and outcry
"Which trouble our peace and require chastisement?
"We, for complicity in Pompilia's flight
"And deviation, and carnal intercourse
"With the same, do set aside and relegate
"The Canon Caponsacchi for three years
"At Civita in the neighbourhood of Rome:
"And we consign Pompilia to the care
"Of a certain Sisterhood of penitents
"I' the city's self, expert to deal with such."
Word for word, there's your judgment! Read it, lords,
Re-utter your deliberate penalty
For the crime yourselves establish! Your award—
Who chop a man's right-hand off at the wrist
For tracing with forefinger words in wine
O' the table of a drinking-booth that bear
Interpretation as they mocked the Church!
—Who brand a woman black between the breasts
For sinning by connection with a Jew:
While for the Jew's self—pudency be dumb!
You mete out punishment such and such, yet so
Punish the adultery of wife and priest!
Take note of that, before the Molinists do,
And read me right the riddle, since right must be!
While I stood rapt away with wonderment,
Voices broke in upon my mood and muse.
"Do you sleep?" began the friends at either ear,
"The case is settled,—you willed it should be so—
"None of our counsel, always recollect!
"With law's award, budge! Back into your place!
"Your betters shall arrange the rest for you.
"We'll enter a new action, claim divorce:
"Your marriage was a cheat themselves allow:
"You erred i' the person,—might have married thus
"Your sister or your daughter unaware.
"We'll gain you, that way, liberty at least,
"Sure of so much by law's own showing. Up
"And off with you and your unluckiness—
"Leave us to bury the blunder, sweep things smooth!"
I was in humble frame of mind, be sure!
I bowed, betook me to my place again.
Station by station I retraced the road,
Touched at this hostel, passed this post-house by,
Where, fresh-remembered yet, the fugitives
Had risen to the heroic stature: still—
"That was the bench they sat on,—there's the board
"They took the meal at,—yonder garden-ground
"They leaned across the gate of,"—ever a word
O' the Helen and the Paris, with "Ha! you're he,
"The … much-commiserated husband?" Step
By step, across the pelting, did I reach
Arezzo, underwent the archway's grin,
Traversed the length of sarcasm in the street,
Found myself in my horrible house once more,
And after a colloquy … no word assists!
With the mother and the brothers, stiffened me
Straight out from head to foot as dead man does,
And, thus prepared for life as he for hell,
Marched to the public Square and met the world.
Apologize for the pincers, palliate screws?
Ply me with such toy-trifles, I entreat!
Trust who has tried both sulphur and sops-in-wine!

I played the man as I best might, bade friends
Put non-essentials by and face the fact.
"What need to hang myself as you advise?
"The paramour is banished,—the ocean's width,
"Or the suburb's length,—to Ultima Thule, say,
"Or Proxima Civitas, what's the odds of name
"And place? He's banished, and the fact's the thing.
"Why should law banish innocence an inch?
"Here's guilt then, what else do I care to know?
"The adulteress lies imprisoned,—whether in a well
"With bricks above and a snake for company,
"Or tied by a garter to a bed-post,—much
"I mind what's little,—least's enough and to spare!
"The little fillip on the coward's cheek
"Serves as though crab-tree cudgel broke his pate.
"Law has pronounced there's punishment, less or more:
"And I take note o' the fact and use it thus—
"For the first flaw in the original bond,
"I claim release. My contract was to wed
"The daughter of Pietro and Violante. Both
"Protest they never had a child at all.
"Then I have never made a contract: good!
"Cancel me quick the thing pretended one.
"I shall be free. What matter if hurried over
"The harbour-boom by a great favouring tide,
"Or the last of a spent ripple that lifts and leaves?
"The Abate is about it. Laugh who wins!
"You shall not laugh me out of faith in law!
"I listen, through all your noise, to Rome!"

Rome spoke.
In three months letters thence admonished me,
"Your plan for the divorce is all mistake.
"It would hold, now, had you, taking thought to wed
"Rachel of the blue eye and golden hair,
"Found swarth-skinned Leah cumber couch next day:
"But Rachel, blue-eyed golden-haired aright,
"Proving to be only Laban's child, not Lot's,
"Remains yours all the same for ever more.
"No whit to the purpose is your plea: you err
"I' the person and the quality—nowise
"In the individual,—that's the case in point!
"You go to the ground,—are met by a cross-suit
"For separation, of the Rachel here,
"From bed and board,—she is the injured one,
"You did the wrong and have to answer it.
"As for the circumstance of imprisonment
"And colour it lends to this your new attack,
"Never fear, that point is considered too!
"The durance is already at an end;
"The convent-quiet preyed upon her health,
"She is transferred now to her parents' house
"—No-parents, when that cheats and plunders you,
"But parentage again confessed in full,
"When such confession pricks and plagues you more—
"As now—for, this their house is not the house
"In Via Vittoria wherein neighbours' watch
"Might incommode the freedom of your wife,
"But a certain villa smothered up in vines
"At the town's edge by the gate i' the Pauline Way,
"Out of eye-reach, out of ear-shot, little and lone,
"Whither a friend,—at Civita, we hope,
"A good half-dozen-hours' ride off,—might, some eve,
"Betake himself, and whence ride back, some morn,
"Nobody the wiser: but be that as it may,
"Do not afflict your brains with trifles now.
"You have still three suits to manage, all and each
"Ruinous truly should the event play false.
"It is indeed the likelier so to do,
"That brother Paul, your single prop and stay,
"After a vain attempt to bring the Pope
"To set aside procedures, sit himself
"And summarily use prerogative,
"Afford us the infallible finger's tact
"To disentwine your tangle of affairs,
"Paul,—finding it moreover past his strength
"To stem the irruption, bear Rome's ridicule
"Of … since friends must speak … to be round with you …
"Of the old outwitted husband, wronged and wroth,
"Pitted against a brace of juveniles—
"A brisk priest who is versed in Ovid's art
"More than his Summa, and a gamesome wife
"Able to act Corinna without book,
"Beside the waggish parents who played dupes
"To dupe the duper—(and truly divers scenes
"Of the Arezzo palace, tickle rib
"And tease eye till the tears come, so we laugh;
"Nor wants the shock at the inn its comic force,
"And then the letters and poetry—merum sal!)
"—Paul, finally, in such a state of things,
"After a brief temptation to go jump
"And join the fishes in the Tiber, drowns
"Sorrow another and a wiser way:
"House and goods, he has sold all off, is gone,
"Leaves Rome,—whether for France or Spain, who knows?
"Or Britain almost divided from our orb.
"You have lost him anyhow."

Now,—I see my lords
Shift in their seat,—would I could do the same!
They probably please expect my bile was moved
To purpose, nor much blame me: now, they judge,
The fiery titillation urged my flesh
Break through the bonds. By your pardon, no, sweet Sirs!
I got such missives in the public place;
When I sought home,—with such news, mounted stair
And sat at last in the sombre gallery,
('T was Autumn, the old mother in bed betimes,
Having to bear that cold, the finer frame
Of her daughter-in-law had found intolerable—
The brother, walking misery away
O' the mountain-side with dog and gun belike)
As I supped, ate the coarse bread, drank the wine
Weak once, now acrid with the toad's-head-squeeze,
My wife's bestowment,—I broke silence thus:
"Let me, a man, manfully meet the fact,
"Confront the worst o' the truth, end, and have peace!
"I am irremediably beaten here,—
"The gross illiterate vulgar couple,—bah!
"Why, they have measured forces, mastered mine,
"Made me their spoil and prey from first to last.
"They have got my name,—'t is nailed now fast to theirs,
"The child or changeling is anyway my wife;
"Point by point as they plan they execute,
"They gain all, and I lose all—even to the lure
"That led to loss,—they have the wealth again
"They hazarded awhile to hook me with,
"Have caught the fish and find the bait entire:
"They even have their child or changeling back
"To trade with, turn to account a second time.
"The brother presumably might tell a tale
"Or give a warning,—he, too, flies the field,
"And with him vanish help and hope of help.
"They have caught me in the cavern where I fell,
"Covered my loudest cry for human aid
"With this enormous paving-stone of shame.
"Well, are we demigods or merely clay?
"Is success still attendant on desert?
"Is this, we live on, heaven and the final state,
"Or earth which means probation to the end?
"Why claim escape from man's predestined lot
"Of being beaten and baffled?—God's decree,
"In which I, bowing bruised head, acquiesce.
"One of us Franceschini fell long since
"I' the Holy Land, betrayed, tradition runs,
"To Paynims by the feigning of a girl
"He rushed to free from ravisher, and found
"Lay safe enough with friends in ambuscade
"Who flayed him while she clapped her hands and laughed:
"Let me end, falling by a like device.
"It will not be so hard. I am the last
"O' my line which will not suffer any more.
"I have attained to my full fifty years,
"(About the average of us all, 't is said,
"Though it seems longer to the unlucky man)
"—Lived through my share of life; let all end here,
"Me and the house and grief and shame at once.
"Friends my informants,—I can bear your blow!"
And I believe 't was in no unmeet match
For the stoic's mood, with something like a smile,
That, when morose December roused me next,
I took into my hand, broke seal to read
The new epistle from Rome. "All to no use!
"Whate'er the turn next injury take," smiled I,
"Here's one has chosen his part and knows his cue.
"I am done with, dead now; strike away, good friends!
"Are the three suits decided in a trice?
"Against me,—there's no question! How does it go?
"Is the parentage of my wife demonstrated
"Infamous to her wish? Parades she now
"Loosed of the cincture that so irked the loin?
"Is the last penny extracted from my purse
"To mulct me for demanding the first pound
"Was promised in return for value paid?
"Has the priest, with nobody to court beside,
"Courted the Muse in exile, hitched my hap
"Into a rattling ballad-rhyme which, bawled
"At tavern-doors, wakes rapture everywhere,
"And helps cheap wine down throat this Christmas time,
"Beating the bagpipes? Any or all of these!
"As well, good friends, you cursed my palace here
"To its old cold stone face,—stuck your cap for crest
"Over the shield that's extant in the Square,—
"Or spat on the statue's cheek, the impatient world
"Sees cumber tomb-top in our family church:
"Let him creep under covert as I shall do,
"Half below-ground already indeed. Good-bye!
"My brothers are priests, and childless so; that's well—
"And, thank God most for this, no child leave I—
"None after me to bear till his heart break
"The being a Franceschini and my son!"

"Nay," said the letter, "but you have just that!
"A babe, your veritable son and heir—
"Lawful,—'t is only eight months since your wife
"Left you,—so, son and heir, your babe was born
"Last Wednesday in the villa,—you see the cause
"For quitting Convent without beat of drum,
"Stealing a hurried march to this retreat
"That's not so savage as the Sisterhood
"To slips and stumbles: Pietro's heart is soft,
"Violante leans to pity's side,—the pair
"Ushered you into life a bouncing boy:
"And he's already hidden away and safe
"From any claim on him you mean to make—
"They need him for themselves,—don't fear, they know
"The use o' the bantling,—the nerve thus laid bare
"To nip at, new and nice, with finger-nail!"

Then I rose up like fire, and fire-like roared.
What, all is only beginning not ending now?
The worm which wormed its way from skin through flesh
To the bone and there lay biting, did its best,—
What, it goes on to scrape at the bone's self,
Will wind to inmost marrow and madden me?
There's to be yet my representative,
Another of the name shall keep displayed
The flag with the ordure on it, brandish still
The broken sword has served to stir a jakes?
Who will he be, how will you call the man?
A Franceschini,—when who cut my purse,
Filched my name, hemmed me round, hustled me hard
As rogues at a fair some fool they strip i' the midst,
When these count gains, vaunt pillage presently:—
But a Caponsacchi, oh, be very sure!
When what demands its tribute of applause
Is the cunning and impudence o' the pair of cheats,
The lies and lust o' the mother, and the brave
Bold carriage of the priest, worthily crowned
By a witness to his feat i' the following age,—
And how this three-fold cord could hook and fetch
And land leviathan that king of pride!
Or say, by some mad miracle of chance,
Is he indeed my flesh and blood, this babe?
Was it because fate forged a link at last
Betwixt my wife and me, and both alike
Found we had henceforth some one thing to love,
Was it when she could damn my soul indeed
She unlatched door, let all the devils o' the dark
Dance in on me to cover her escape?
Why then, the surplusage of disgrace, the spilth
Over and above the measure of infamy,
Failing to take effect on my coarse flesh
Seasoned with scorn now, saturate with shame,—
Is saved to instil on and corrode the brow,
The baby-softness of my first-born child—
The child I had died to see though in a dream,
The child I was bid strike out for, beat the wave
And baffle the tide of troubles where I swam,
So I might touch shore, lay down life at last
At the feet so dim and distant and divine
Of the apparition, as 't were Mary's Babe
Had held, through night and storm, the torch aloft,—
Born now in very deed to bear this brand
On forehead and curse me who could not save!
Rather be the town talk true, square's jest, street's jeer
True, my own inmost heart's confession true,
And he the priest's bastard and none of mine!
Ay, there was cause for flight, swift flight and sure!
The husband gets unruly, breaks all bounds
When he encounters some familiar face,
Fashion of feature, brow and eyes and lips
Where he least looked to find them,—time to fly!
This bastard then, a nest for him is made,
As the manner is of vermin, in my flesh:
Shall I let the filthy pest buzz, flap and sting,
Busy at my vitals and, nor hand nor foot
Lift, but let be, lie still and rot resigned?
No, I appeal to God,—what says Himself,
How lessons Nature when I look to learn?
Why, that I am alive, am still a man
With brain and heart and tongue and right-hand too—
Nay, even with friends, in such a cause as this,
To right me if I fail to take my right.
No more of law; a voice beyond the law
Enters my heart, Quis est pro Domino?

Myself, in my own Vittiano, told the tale
To my own serving-people summoned there:
Told the first half of it, scarce heard to end
By judges who got done with judgment quick
And clamoured to go execute her 'hest—
Who cried "Not one of us that dig your soil
"And dress your vineyard, prune your olive-trees,
"But would have brained the man debauched our wife,
"And staked the wife whose lust allured the man,
"And paunched the Duke, had it been possible,
"Who ruled the land yet barred us such revenge!"
I fixed on the first whose eyes caught mine, some four
Resolute youngsters with the heart still fresh,
Filled my purse with the residue o' the coin
Uncaught-up by my wife whom haste made blind,
Donned the first rough and rural garb I found,
Took whatsoever weapon came to hand,
And out we flung and on we ran or reeled
Romeward. I have no memory of our way,
Only that, when at intervals the cloud
Of horror about me opened to let in life,
I listened to some song in the ear, some snatch
Of a legend, relic of religion, stray
Fragment of record very strong and old
Of the first conscience, the anterior right,
The God's-gift to mankind, impulse to quench
The antagonistic spark of hell and tread
Satan and all his malice into dust,
Declare to the world the one law, right is right.
Then the cloud re-encompassed me, and so
I found myself, as on the wings of winds,
Arrived: I was at Rome on Christmas Eve.

Festive bells—everywhere the Feast o' the Babe,
Joy upon earth, peace and good will to man!
I am baptized. I started and let drop
The dagger. "Where is it, His promised peace?"
Nine days o' the Birth-Feast did I pause and pray
To enter into no temptation more.
I bore the hateful house, my brother's once,
Deserted,—let the ghost of social joy
Mock and make mouths at me from empty room
And idle door that missed the master's step,—
Bore the frank wonder of incredulous eyes,
As my own people watched without a word,
Waited, from where they huddled round the hearth
Black like all else, that nod so slow to come.
I stopped my ears even to the inner call
Of the dread duty, only heard the song
"Peace upon earth," saw nothing but the face
O' the Holy Infant and the halo there
Able to cover yet another face
Behind it, Satan's which I else should see.
But, day by day, joy waned and withered off:
The Babe's face, premature with peak and pine,
Sank into wrinkled ruinous old age,
Suffering and death, then mist-like disappeared,
And showed only the Cross at end of all,
Left nothing more to interpose 'twixt me
And the dread duty: for the angels' song,
"Peace upon earth," louder and louder pealed
"O Lord, how long, how long be unavenged?"
On the ninth day, this grew too much for man.
I started up—"Some end must be!" At once,
Silence: then, scratching like a death-watch-tick,
Slowly within my brain was syllabled,
"One more concession, one decisive way
"And but one, to determine thee the truth,—
"This way, in fine, I whisper in thy ear:
"Now doubt, anon decide, thereupon act!"

"That is a way, thou whisperest in my ear!
"I doubt, I will decide, then act," said I—
Then beckoned my companions: "Time is come!"

And so, all yet uncertain save the will
To do right, and the daring aught save leave
Right undone, I did find myself at last
I' the dark before the villa with my friends,
And made the experiment, the final test,
Ultimate chance that ever was to be
For the wretchedness inside. I knocked, pronounced
The name, the predetermined touch for truth,
"What welcome for the wanderer? Open straight—"
To the friend, physician, friar upon his rounds,
Traveller belated, beggar lame and blind?
No, but—"to Caponsacchi!" And the door
Opened.

And then,—why, even then, I think,
I' the minute that confirmed my worst of fears,
Surely,—I pray God that I think aright!—
Had but Pompilia's self, the tender thing
Who once was good and pure, was once my lamb
And lay in my bosom, had the well-known shape
Fronted me in the door-way,—stood there faint
With the recent pang perhaps of giving birth
To what might, though by miracle, seem my child,—
Nay more, I will say, had even the aged fool
Pietro, the dotard, in whom folly and age
Wrought, more than enmity or malevolence,
To practise and conspire against my peace,—
Had either of these but opened, I had paused.
But it was she the hag, she that brought hell
For a dowry with her to her husband's house,
She the mock-mother, she that made the match
And married me to perdition, spring and source
O' the fire inside me that boiled up from heart
To brain and hailed the Fury gave it birth,—
Violante Comparini, she it was,
With the old grin amid the wrinkles yet,
Opened: as if in turning from the Cross,
With trust to keep the sight and save my soul,
I had stumbled, first thing, on the serpent's head
Coiled with a leer at foot of it.

There was the end!
Then was I rapt away by the impulse, one
Immeasurable everlasting wave of a need
To abolish that detested life. 'T was done:
You know the rest and how the folds o' the thing,
Twisting for help, involved the other two
More or less serpent-like: how I was mad,
Blind, stamped on all, the earth-worms with the asp,
And ended so.

You came on me that night,
Your officers of justice,—caught the crime
In the first natural frenzy of remorse?
Twenty miles off, sound sleeping as a child
On a cloak i' the straw which promised shelter first,
With the bloody arms beside me,—was it not so?
Wherefore not? Why, how else should I be found?
I was my own self, had my sense again,
My soul safe from the serpents. I could sleep:
Indeed and, dear my lords, I shall sleep now,
Spite of my shoulder, in five minutes' space,
When you dismiss me, having truth enough!
It is but a few days are passed, I find,
Since this adventure. Do you tell me, four?
Then the dead are scarce quiet where they lie,
Old Pietro, old Violante, side by side
At the church Lorenzo,—oh, they know it well!
So do I. But my wife is still alive,
Has breath enough to tell her story yet,
Her way, which is not mine, no doubt at all.
And Caponsacchi, you have summoned him,—
Was he so far to send for? Not at hand?
I thought some few o' the stabs were in his heart,
Or had not been so lavish: less had served.
Well, he too tells his story,—florid prose
As smooth as mine is rough. You see, my lords,
There will be a lying intoxicating smoke
Born of the blood,—confusion probably,—
For lies breed lies—but all that rests with you!
The trial is no concern of mine; with me
The main of the care is over: I at least
Recognize who took that huge burthen off,
Let me begin to live again. I did
God's bidding and man's duty, so, breathe free;
Look you to the rest! I heard Himself prescribe,
That great Physician, and dared lance the core
Of the bad ulcer; and the rage abates,
I am myself and whole now: I prove cured
By the eyes that see, the ears that hear again,
The limbs that have relearned their youthful play,
The healthy taste of food and feel of clothes
And taking to our common life once more,
All that now urges my defence from death.
The willingness to live, what means it else?
Before,—but let the very action speak!
Judge for yourselves, what life seemed worth to me
Who, not by proxy but in person, pitched
Head-foremost into danger as a fool
That never cares if he can swim or no
So he but find the bottom, braves the brook.
No man omits precaution, quite neglects
Secresy, safety, schemes not how retreat,
Having schemed he might advance. Did I so scheme?
Why, with a warrant which 't is ask and have,
With horse thereby made mine without a word,
I had gained the frontier and slept safe that night.
Then, my companions,—call them what you please,
Slave or stipendiary,—what need of one
To me whose right-hand did its owner's work?
Hire an assassin yet expose yourself?
As well buy glove and then thrust naked hand
I' the thorn-bush. No, the wise man stays at home,
Send, only agents out, with pay to earn:
At home, when they come back,—he straight discards
Or else disowns. Why use such tools at all
When a man's foes are of his house, like mine,
Sit at his board, sleep in his bed? Why noise,
When there's the acquetta and the silent way?
Clearly my life was valueless.

But now
Health is returned, and sanity of soul
Nowise indifferent to the body's harm.
I find the instinct bids me save my life;
My wits, too, rally round me; I pick up
And use the arms that strewed the ground before,
Unnoticed or spurned aside: I take my stand,
Make my defence. God shall not lose a life
May do Him further service, while I speak
And you hear, you my judges and last hope!
You are the law: 't is to the law I look.
I began life by hanging to the law,
To the law it is I hang till life shall end.
My brother made appeal to the Pope, 't is true,
To stay proceedings, judge my cause himself
Nor trouble law,—some fondness of conceit
That rectitude, sagacity sufficed
The investigator in a case like mine,
Dispensed with the machine of law. The Pope
Knew better, set aside my brother's plea
And put me back to law,—referred the cause
Ad judices meos,—doubtlessly did well.
Here, then, I clutch my judges,—I claim law—
Cry, by the higher law whereof your law
O' the land is humbly representative,—
Cry, on what point is it, where either accuse,
I fail to furnish you defence? I stand
Acquitted, actually or virtually,
By every intermediate kind of court
That takes account of right or wrong in man,
Each unit in the series that begins
With God's throne, ends with the tribunal here.
God breathes, not speaks, his verdicts, felt not heard,
Passed on successively to each court I call
Man's conscience, custom, manners, all that make
More and more effort to promulgate, mark
God's verdict in determinable words,
Till last come human jurists—solidify
Fluid result,—what's fixable lies forged,
Statute,—the residue escapes in fume,
Yet hangs aloft, a cloud, as palpable
To the finer sense as word the legist welds.
Justinian's Pandects only make precise
What simply sparkled in men's eyes before,
Twitched in their brow or quivered on their lip,
Waited the speech they called but would not come.
These courts then, whose decree your own confirms,—
Take my whole life, not this last act alone,
Look on it by the light reflected thence!
What has Society to charge me with?
Come, unreservedly,—favour none nor fear,—
I am Guido Franceschini, am I not?
You know the courses I was free to take?
I took just that which let me serve the Church,
I gave it all my labour in body and soul
Till these broke down i' the service. "Specify?"
Well, my last patron was a Cardinal.
I left him unconvicted of a fault—
Was even helped, by was of gratitude,
Into the new life that I left him for,
This very misery of the marriage,—he
Made it, kind soul, so far as in him lay—
Signed the deed where you yet may see his name.
He is gone to his reward,—dead, being my friend
Who could have helped here also,—that, of course!
So far, there's my acquittal, I suppose.
Then comes the marriage itself—no question, lords,
Of the entire validity of that!
In the extremity of distress, 't is true,
For after-reasons, furnished abundantly,
I wished the thing invalid, went to you
Only some months since, set you duly forth
My wrong and prayed your remedy, that a cheat
Should not have force to cheat my whole life long.
"Annul a marriage? 'T is impossible!
"Though ring about your neck be brass not gold,
"Needs must it clasp, gangrene you all the same!"
Well, let me have the benefit, just so far,
O' the fact announced,—my wife then is my wife,
I have allowance for a husband's right.
I am charged with passing right's due bound,—such acts
As I thought just, my wife called cruelty,
Complained of in due form,—convoked no court
Of common gossipry, but took her wrongs—
And not once, but so long as patience served—
To the town's top, jurisdiction's pride of place,
To the Archbishop and the Governor.
These heard her charge with my reply, and found
That futile, this sufficient: they dismissed
The hysteric querulous rebel, and confirmed
Authority in its wholesome exercise,
They, with directest access to the facts.
"—Ay, for it was their friendship favoured you,
"Hereditary alliance against a breach
"I' the social order: prejudice for the name
"Of Franceschini!"—So I hear it said:
But not here. You, lords, never will you say
"Such is the nullity of grace and truth,
"Such the corruption of the faith, such lapse
"Of law, such warrant have the Molinists
"For daring reprehend us as they do,—
"That we pronounce it just a common case,
"Two dignitaries, each in his degree
"First, foremost, this the spiritual head, and that
"The secular arm o' the body politic,
"Should, for mere wrongs' love and injustice' sake,
"Side with, aid and abet in cruelty
"This broken beggarly noble,—bribed perhaps
"By his watered wine and mouldy crust of bread—
"Rather than that sweet tremulous flower-like wife
"Who kissed their hands and curled about their feet
"Looking the irresistible loveliness
"In tears that takes man captive, turns" … enough!
Do you blast your predecessors? What forbids
Posterity to trebly blast yourselves
Who set the example and instruct their tongue?
You dreaded the crowd, succumbed to the popular cry,
Or else, would nowise seem defer thereto
And yield to public clamour though i' the right!
You ridded your eye of my unseemliness,
The noble whose misfortune wearied you,—
Or, what's more probable, made common cause
With the cleric section, punished in myself
Maladroit uncomplaisant laity,
Defective in behaviour to a priest
Who claimed the customary partnership
I' the house and the wife. Lords, any lie will serve!
Look to it,—or allow me freed so far!

Then I proceed a step, come with clean hands
Thus far, re-tell the tale told eight months since.
The wife, you allow so far, I have not wronged,
Has fled my roof, plundered me and decamped
In company with the priest her paramour:
And I gave chase, came up with, caught the two
At the wayside inn where both had spent the night,
Found them in flagrant fault, and found as well,
By documents with name and plan and date,
The fault was furtive then that's flagrant now,
Their intercourse a long established crime.
I did not take the license law's self gives
To slay both criminals o' the spot at the time,
But held my hand,—preferred play prodigy
Of patience which the world calls cowardice,
Rather than seem anticipate the law
And cast discredit on its organs,—you.
So, to your bar I brought both criminals,
And made my statement: heard their counter-charge,
Nay,—their corroboration of my tale,
Nowise disputing its allegements, not
I' the main, not more than nature's decency
Compels men to keep silence in this kind,—
Only contending that the deeds avowed
Would take another colour and bear excuse.
You were to judge between us; so you did.
You disregard the excuse, you breathe away
The colour of innocence and leave guilt black,
"Guilty" is the decision of the court,
And that I stand in consequence untouched,
One white integrity from head to heel.
Not guilty? Why then did you punish them?
True, punishment has been inadequate—
'T is not I only, not my friends that joke,
My foes that jeer, who echo "inadequate"—
For, by a chance that comes to help for once,
The same case simultaneously was judged
At Arezzo, in the province of the Court
Where the crime had its beginning but not end.
They then, deciding on but half o' the crime,
The effraction, robbery,—features of the fault
I never cared to dwell upon at Rome,—
What was it they adjudged as penalty
To Pompilia,—the one criminal o' the pair
Amenable to their judgment, not the priest
Who is Rome's? Why, just imprisonment for life
I' the Stinche. There was Tuscany's award
To a wife that robs her husband: you at Rome—
Having to deal with adultery in a wife
And, in a priest, breach of the priestly vow—
Give gentle sequestration for a month
In a manageable Convent, then release,
You call imprisonment, in the very house
O' the very couple, which the aim and end
Of the culprits' crime was—just to reach and rest
And there take solace and defy me: well,—
This difference 'twixt their penalty and yours
Is immaterial: make your penalty less—
Merely that she should henceforth wear black gloves
And white fan, she who wore the opposite—
Why, all the same the fact o' the thing subsists.
Reconcile to your conscience as you may,
Be it on your own heads, you pronounced but half
O' the penalty for heinousness like hers
And his, that pays a fault at Carnival
Of comfit-pelting past discretion's law,
Or accident to handkerchief in Lent
Which falls perversely as a lady kneels
Abruptly, and but half conceals her neck!
I acquiesce for my part: punished, though
By a pin-point scratch, means guilty: guilty means
—What have I been but innocent hitherto?
Anyhow, here the offence, being punished, ends.

Ends?—for you deemed so, did you not, sweet lords?
That was throughout the veritable aim
O' the sentence light or heavy,—to redress
Recognized wrong? You righted me, I think?
Well then,—what if I, at this last of all,
Demonstrate you, as my whole pleading proves,
No particle of wrong received thereby
One atom of right?—that cure grew worse disease?
That in the process you call "justice done"
All along you have nipped away just inch
By inch the creeping climbing length of plague
Breaking my tree of life from root to branch,
And left me, after all and every act
Of your interference,—lightened of what load?
At liberty wherein? Mere words and wind!
"Now I was saved, now I should feel no more
"The hot breath, find a respite from fixed eye
"And vibrant tongue!" Why, scarce your back was turned,
There was the reptile, that feigned death at first,
Renewing its detested spire and spire
Around me, rising to such heights of hate
That, so far from mere purpose now to crush
And coil itself on the remains of me,
Body and mind, and there flesh fang content,
Its aim is now to evoke life from death,
Make me anew, satisfy in my son
The hunger I may feed but never sate,
Tormented on to perpetuity,—
My son, whom, dead, I shall know, understand,
Feel, hear, see, never more escape the sight
In heaven that's turned to hell, or hell returned
(So rather say) to this same earth again,—
Moulded into the image and made one,
Fashioned of soul as featured like in face,
First taught to laugh and lisp and stand and go
By that thief, poisoner and adulteress
I call Pompilia, he calls … sacred name,
Be unpronounced, be unpolluted here!
And last led up to the glory and prize of hate
By his … foster-father, Caponsacchi's self,
The perjured priest, pink of conspirators,
Tricksters and knaves, yet polished, superfine,
Manhood to model adolescence by!
Lords, look on me, declare,—when, what I show,
Is nothing more nor less than what you deemed
And doled me out for justice,—what did you say?
For reparation, restitution and more,—
Will you not thank, praise, bid me to your breasts
For having done the thing you thought to do,
And thoroughly trampled out sin's life at last?
I have heightened phrase to make your soft speech serve,
Doubled the blow you but essayed to strike,
Carried into effect your mandate here
That else had fallen to ground: mere duty done,
Oversight of the master just supplied
By zeal i' the servant. I, being used to serve,
Have simply … what is it they charge me with?
Blackened again, made legible once more
Your own decree, not permanently writ,
Rightly conceived but all too faintly traced.
It reads efficient, now, comminatory,
A terror to the wicked, answers so
The mood o' the magistrate, the mind of law.
Absolve, then, me, law's mere executant!
Protect your own defender,—save me, Sirs!
Give me my life, give me my liberty,
My good name and my civic rights again!
It would be too fond, too complacent play
Into the hands o' the devil, should we lose
The game here, I for God: a soldier-bee
That yields his life, exenterate with the stroke
O' the sting that saves the hive. I need that life.
Oh, never fear! I'll find life plenty use
Though it should last five years more, aches and all!
For, first thing, there's the mother's age to help—
Let her come break her heart upon my breast,
Not on the blank stone of my nameless tomb!
The fugitive brother has to be bidden back
To the old routine, repugnant to the tread,
Of daily suit and service to the Church,—
Thro' gibe and jest, those stones that Shimei flung!
Ay, and the spirit-broken youth at home,
The awe-struck altar-ministrant, shall make
Amends for faith now palsied at the source,
Shall see truth yet triumphant, justice yet
A victor in the battle of this world!
Give me—for last, best gift—my son again,
Whom law makes mine,—I take him at your word,
Mine be he, by miraculous mercy, lords!
Let me lift up his youth and innocence
To purify my palace, room by room
Purged of the memories, land from his bright brow
Light to the old proud paladin my sire
Shrunk now for shame into the darkest shade
O' the tapestry, showed him once and shrouds him now!
Then may we,—strong from that rekindled smile,—
Go forward, face new times, the better day.
And when, in times made better through your brave
Decision now,—might but Utopia be!—
Rome rife with honest women and strong men,
Manners reformed, old habits back once more,
Customs that recognize the standard worth,—
The wholesome household rule in force again,
Husbands once more God's representative,
Wives like the typical Spouse once more, and Priests
No longer men of Belial, with no aim
At leading silly women captive, but
Of rising to such duties as yours now,—
Then will I set my son at my right-hand
And tell his father's story to this point,
Adding "The task seemed superhuman, still
"I dared and did it, trusting God and law:
"And they approved of me: give praise to both!"
And if, for answer, he shall stoop to kiss
My hand, and peradventure start thereat,—
I engage to smile "That was an accident
"I' the necessary process,—just a trip
"O' the torture-irons in their search for truth,—
"Hardly misfortune, and no fault at all."

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By His Blood of Life be Given

By His Blood of Life be Given
By: Adam M. Snow

The moon shed it's light to past,
echoes the lore of time surpassed;
spoken of that of a tongue be-muted,
by the likes of life disputed.
By the likes of life worth given,
by His blood of life be given.

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As Ugly As I Seem

I am as ugly as I seem
Worse than all your dreams
Could ever make me out to be
And it makes me want to scream
When it's halloween
And the kids are laughing
The rogue is a bank he's never broke
But worth as much as a joke that no one is laughing at
Can you believe some things are not
Appealing and there's a spot
On the ceiling of my childhood bedroom
And can these dreams you can't imagine
Will never match the vision
That you had decided for me
You are to take away from me
Things that are mine and it's not your right
Out that you'd wouldn't expect to find out
Can it be that I don't want what you want?
And the only thing I could care for
Is a place in a home that is safe and warm
Safe and warm, safe and warm, safe and warm
Judge yourself if you feel the need
Just let me known to be
In search of the truth myself
There is a drop of blood on the ground
And it seems to me that it's not my kind
And I can't be sure if it's yours or mine
I am as ugly as I seem
Worse than all your dreams
Could ever make me
Could ever make me
Could ever make me
Could ever make me

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Good Life

The good life, 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go
2 the place in everyones future, the good life - 1 day well know
(good life)
Everyday after school, u know where 2 find this brother
Uptown at every movie show, outta my life 2 another
That was the only thing that I wanted 2 do, that was my drug of choice
Left all the funny smellin cigarettes 2 the american boys
La dolce vita was the knob that turned me on
Marcello mastroianni italian mac comin on strong
He had all the honies, the kind from the magazines
Small waist, big - right!... biggest ones uve ever seen
The good life (good life), 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go
2 the place in everyones future, the good life - 1 day well know
1 day well know
(good life)
(good life)
Mama worked all night, went 2 school by day
Wanted 2 get her master degree so she could make a better way
Set examples 4 her babies that well never forget
Thats where I guess my spirit comes from, eternally never met
Oh, the good life (good life), 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin (ooh, good life)
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go
2 the place in everyones future, (the good life)
The good life - 1 day well know
(good life)
Good life
Good life
Good life (good life)
Hey, hey, hey!
Peace 2 the mother that knows
That the babies are the key 2 the world, key 2 the world
The battles of the future will be won
By those who teach those baby boys and girls
This is our plea 2 the brothers
Who are tired of the barely gettin by, instead u should try
2 see your future map out your steps
And make sure no 1 dies
The good life (good), 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin
(1 drop of blood aint worth forsaking your dreams)
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go
(music, sports, fashion, whatever)
2 the place in everyones future, the good life - 1 day well know
(consolidate, think ahead, and cream, cream)
The good life (good life), 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin (hey yeah, good life)
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go (good life, oh)
2 the place in everyones future, the good life - 1 day well know
New power generation (good life)
Tryin 2 lead the good life (1 day well know)
Oh yeah, oh lord
Good life (good life)
The good life
Good life (good life)
The good life (good life)
Good life (good life), 1 day thats what Ill be livin
Fantasy never hurt nobody, whatever chills the illin
When the everyday gets on your last 1, give it up and go
2 the place in everyones future, the good life - 1 day well know
(good life)
Good life {x4}
Good life (good life)
Good life (good life)
The good life (good life) {x3}
1 day well know!

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The Mask Of Anarchy

I.
As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

II.
I met Murder on the way-
He had a mask like Castlereagh-
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

III.
All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

IV.
Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

V.
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

VI.
Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

VII.
And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

VIII.
Last came Anarchy: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

IX.
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw-
'I am God, and King, and Law!'

X.
With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he passed,
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.

XI.
And a mighty troop around,
With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword,
For the service of their Lord.

XII.
And with glorious triumph, they
Rode through England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.

XIII.
O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea,
Passed the Pageant swift and free,
Tearing up, and trampling down;
Till they came to London town.

XIV.
And each dweller, panic-stricken,
Felt his heart with terror sicken
Hearing the tempestuous cry
Of the triumph of Anarchy.

XV.
For with pomp to meet him came,
Clothed in arms like blood and flame,
The hired murderers, who did sing
'Thou art God, and Law, and King.

XVI.
'We have waited, weak and lone
For thy coming, Mighty One!
Our purses are empty, our swords are cold,
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.'

XVII.
Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd,
To the earth their pale brows bowed;
Like a bad prayer not over loud,
Whispering-'Thou art Law and God.'-

XVIII.
Then all cried with one accord,
'Thou art King, and God, and Lord;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!'

XIX.
And Anarchy, the Skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to every one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.

XX.
For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were rightly his;
His the sceptre, crown, and globe,
And the gold-inwoven robe.

XXI.
So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank and Tower,
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament

XXII.
When one fled past, a maniac maid,
And her name was Hope, she said:
But she looked more like Despair,
And she cried out in the air:

XXIII.
'My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!

XXIV.
'He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me-
Misery, oh, Misery!'

XXV.
Then she lay down in the street,
Right before the horses' feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy.

XXVI.
When between her and her foes
A mist, a light, an image rose,
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale:

XXVII.
Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,
And speak in thunder to the sky,

XXVIII.
It grew-a Shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper's scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was as the light of sunny rain.

XXIX.
On its helm, seen far away,
A planet, like the Morning's, lay;
And those plumes its light rained through
Like a shower of crimson dew.

XXX.
With step as soft as wind it passed
O'er the heads of men-so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked,-but all was empty air.

XXXI.
As flowers beneath May's footstep waken,
As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall.

XXXII.
And the prostrate multitude
Looked-and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien:

XXXIII.
And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.

XXXIV.
A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt-and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose

XXXV.
As if their own indignant Earth
Which gave the sons of England birth
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And shuddering with a mother's throe

XXXVI.
Had turnèd every drop of blood
By which her face had been bedewed
To an accent unwithstood,-
As if her heart had cried aloud:

XXXVII.
'Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another;

XXXVIII.
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many-they are few.

XXXIX.
'What is Freedom?-ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well-
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.

XL.
''Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,

XLI.
'So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.

XLII.
''Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak,-
They are dying whilst I speak.

XLIII.
''Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye;

XLIV.
''Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More than e'er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.

XLV.
'Paper coin-that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.

XLVI.
''Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

XLVII.
'And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew
Ride over your wives and you-
Blood is on the grass like dew.

XLVIII.
'Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood-and wrong for wrong-
Do not thus when ye are strong.

XLIX.
'Birds find rest, in narrow nest
When weary of their wingèd quest;
Beasts find fare, in woody lair
When storm and snow are in the air[1].

L.
'Asses, swine, have litter spread
And with fitting food are fed;
All things have a home but one-
Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none!

LI.
'This is Slavery-savage men,
Or wild beasts within a den
Would endure not as ye do-
But such ills they never knew.

LII.
'What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand-tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery:

LIII.
'Thou art not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.

LIV.
'For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.

LV.
'Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude-
No-in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.

LVI.
'To the rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victim, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.

LVII.
'Thou art Justice-ne'er for gold
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England-thou
Shield'st alike the high and low.

LVIII.
'Thou art Wisdom-Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.

LIX.
'Thou art Peace-never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.

LX.
'What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.

LXI.
'Thou art Love-the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,

LXII.
'Or turn their wealth to arms, and make
War for thy belovèd sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud-whence they
Drew the power which is their prey.

LXIII.
'Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.

LXIV.
'Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou-let deeds, not words, express
Thine exceeding loveliness.

LXV.
'Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.

LXVI.
'Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.

LXVII.
'From the corners uttermost
Of the bounds of English coast;
From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan
For others' misery or their own[2],

LXVIII.
'From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold-

LXIX.
'From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares-

LXX.
'Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around

LXXI.
'Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale-

LXXII.
'Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold-

LXXIII.
'Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free-

LXXIV.
'Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

LXXV.
'Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

LXXVI.
'Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.

LXXVII.
'Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

LXXVIII.
'Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

LXXIX.
'Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

LXXX.
'And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.

LXXXI.
'Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,

LXXXII.
'The old laws of England-they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo-Liberty!

LXXXIII.
'On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.

LXXXIV.
'And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,-
What they like, that let them do.

LXXXV.
'With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.

LXXXVI.
'Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.

LXXXVII.
'Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand-
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

LXXXVIII.
'And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.


'And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

LXXXIX.
'And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again-again-again-

XC.
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number-
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many-they are few.'

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James Lee's Wife

I.—James Lee's Wife Speaks at the Window


I.
Ah, Love, but a day
And the world has changed!
The sun's away,
And the bird estranged;
The wind has dropped,
And the sky's deranged:
Summer has stopped.

II.
Look in my eyes!
Wilt thou change too?
Should I fear surprise?
Shall I find aught new
In the old and dear,
In the good and true,
With the changing year?

III.
Thou art a man,
But I am thy love.
For the lake, its swan;
For the dell, its dove;
And for thee—(oh, haste!)
Me, to bend above,
Me, to hold embraced.

II.—By the Fireside


I.
Is all our fire of shipwreck wood,
Oak and pine?
Oh, for the ills half-understood,
The dim dead woe
Long ago
Befallen this bitter coast of France!
Well, poor sailors took their chance;
I take mine.

II.
A ruddy shaft our fire must shoot
O'er the sea:
Do sailors eye the casement—mute,
Drenched and stark,
From their bark—
And envy, gnash their teeth for hate
O' the warm safe house and happy freight
—Thee and me?

III.
God help you, sailors, at your need!
Spare the curse!
For some ships, safe in port indeed,
Rot and rust,
Run to dust,
All through worms i' the wood, which crept,
Gnawed our hearts out while we slept:
That is worse.

IV.
Who lived here before us two?
Old-world pairs.
Did a woman ever—would I knew!—
Watch the man
With whom began
Love's voyage full-sail,—(now, gnash your teeth!)
When planks start, open hell beneath
Unawares?

III.—In the Doorway


I.
The swallow has set her six young on the rail,
And looks sea-ward:
The water's in stripes like a snake, olive-pale
To the leeward,—
On the weather-side, black, spotted white with the wind.
"Good fortune departs, and disaster's behind,"—
Hark, the wind with its wants and its infinite wail!

II.
Our fig-tree, that leaned for the saltness, has furled
Her five fingers,
Each leaf like a hand opened wide to the world
Where there lingers
No glint of the gold, Summer sent for her sake:
How the vines writhe in rows, each impaled on its stake!
My heart shrivels up and my spirit shrinks curled.

III.
Yet here are we two; we have love, house enough,
With the field there,
This house of four rooms, that field red and rough,
Though it yield there,
For the rabbit that robs, scarce a blade or a bent;
If a magpie alight now, it seems an event;
And they both will be gone at November's rebuff.

IV.
But why must cold spread? but wherefore bring change
To the spirit,
God meant should mate his with an infinite range,
And inherit
His power to put life in the darkness and cold?
Oh, live and love worthily, bear and be bold!
Whom Summer made friends of, let Winter estrange!

IV.—Along the Beach


I.
I will be quiet and talk with you,
And reason why you are wrong.
You wanted my love—is that much true?
And so I did love, so I do:
What has come of it all along?

II.
I took you—how could I otherwise?
For a world to me, and more;
For all, love greatens and glorifies
Till God's a-glow, to the loving eyes,
In what was mere earth before.

III.
Yes, earth—yes, mere ignoble earth!
Now do I mis-state, mistake?
Do I wrong your weakness and call it worth?
Expect all harvest, dread no dearth,
Seal my sense up for your sake?

IV.
Oh, Love, Love, no, Love! not so, indeed!
You were just weak earth, I knew:
With much in you waste, with many a weed,
And plenty of passions run to seed,
But a little good grain too.

V.
And such as you were, I took you for mine:
Did not you find me yours,
To watch the olive and wait the vine,
And wonder when rivers of oil and wine
Would flow, as the Book assures?

VI.
Well, and if none of these good things came,
What did the failure prove?
The man was my whole world, all the same,
With his flowers to praise or his weeds to blame,
And, either or both, to love.

VII.
Yet this turns now to a fault—there! there!
That I do love, watch too long,
And wait too well, and weary and wear;
And 't is all an old story, and my despair
Fit subject for some new song:

VIII.
"How the light, light love, he has wings to fly
"At suspicion of a bond:
"My wisdom has bidden your pleasure good-bye,
"Which will turn up next in a laughing eye,
"And why should you look beyond?"

V.—On the Cliff


I.
I leaned on the turf,
I looked at a rock
Left dry by the surf;
For the turf, to call it grass were to mock:
Dead to the roots, so deep was done
The work of the summer sun.

II.
And the rock lay flat
As an anvil's face:
No iron like that!
Baked dry; of a weed, of a shell, no trace:
Sunshine outside, but ice at the core,
Death's altar by the lone shore.

III.
On the turf, sprang gay
With his films of blue,
No cricket, I'll say,
But a warhorse, barded and chanfroned too,
The gift of a quixote-mage to his knight,
Real fairy, with wings all right.

IV.
On the rock, they scorch
Like a drop of fire
From a brandished torch,
Fall two red fans of a butterfly:
No turf, no rock: in their ugly stead,
See, wonderful blue and red!

V.
Is it not so
With the minds of men?
The level and low,
The burnt and bare, in themselves; but then
With such a blue and red grace, not theirs,—
Love settling unawares!

VI.—Reading a Book, Under the Cliff


I.
"Still ailing, Wind? Wilt be appeased or no?
"Which needs the other's office, thou or I?
"Dost want to be disburthened of a woe,
"And can, in truth, my voice untie
"Its links, and let it go?

II.
"Art thou a dumb wronged thing that would be righted,
"Entrusting thus thy cause to me? Forbear!
"No tongue can mend such pleadings; faith, requited
"With falsehood,—love, at last aware
"Of scorn,—hopes, early blighted,—

III.
"We have them; but I know not any tone
"So fit as thine to falter forth a sorrow:
"Dost think men would go mad without a moan,
"If they knew any way to borrow
"A pathos like thy own?

IV.
"Which sigh wouldst mock, of all the sighs? The one
"So long escaping from lips starved and blue,
"That lasts while on her pallet-bed the nun
"Stretches her length; her foot comes through
"The straw she shivers on;

V.
"You had not thought she was so tall: and spent,
"Her shrunk lids open, her lean fingers shut
"Close, close, their sharp and livid nails indent
"The clammy palm; then all is mute:
"That way, the spirit went.

VI.
"Or wouldst thou rather that I understand
"Thy will to help me?—like the dog I found
"Once, pacing sad this solitary strand,
"Who would not take my food, poor hound,
"But whined and licked my hand."

—————

VII.
All this, and more, comes from some young man's pride
Of power to see,—in failure and mistake,
Relinquishment, disgrace, on every side,—
Merely examples for his sake,
Helps to his path untried:

VIII.
Instances he must—simply recognize?
Oh, more than so!—must, with a learner's zeal,
Make doubly prominent, twice emphasize,
By added touches that reveal
The god in babe's disguise.

IX.
Oh, he knows what defeat means, and the rest!
Himself the undefeated that shall be:
Failure, disgrace, he flings them you to test,—
His triumph, in eternity
Too plainly manifest!

X.
Whence, judge if he learn forthwith what the wind
Means in its moaning—by the happy prompt
Instinctive way of youth, I mean; for kind
Calm years, exacting their accompt
Of pain, mature the mind:

XI.
And some midsummer morning, at the lull
Just about daybreak, as he looks across
A sparkling foreign country, wonderful
To the sea's edge for gloom and gloss,
Next minute must annul,—

XII.
Then, when the wind begins among the vines,
So low, so low, what shall it say but this?
"Here is the change beginning, here the lines
"Circumscribe beauty, set to bliss
"The limit time assigns."

XIII.
Nothing can be as it has been before;
Better, so call it, only not the same.
To draw one beauty into our hearts' core,
And keep it changeless! such our claim;
So answered,—Never more!

XIV.
Simple? Why this is the old woe o' the world;
Tune, to whose rise and fall we live and die.
Rise with it, then! Rejoice that man is hurled
From change to change unceasingly,
His soul's wings never furled!

XV.
That's a new question; still replies the fact,
Nothing endures: the wind moans, saying so;
We moan in acquiescence: there's life's pact.
Perhaps probation—do I know?
God does: endure his act!

XVI.
Only, for man, how bitter not to grave
On his soul's hands' palms one fair good wise thing
Just as he grasped it! For himself, death's wave;
While time first washes—ah, the sting!—
O'er all he'd sink to save.

VII.—Among the Rocks


I.
Oh, good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i' the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.

II.
That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
Such is life's trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

VIII.—Beside the Drawing Board


I.
"As like as a Hand to another Hand!"
Whoever said that foolish thing,
Could not have studied to understand
The counsels of God in fashioning,
Out of the infinite love of his heart,
This Hand, whose beauty I praise, apart
From the world of wonder left to praise,
If I tried to learn the other ways
Of love in its skill, or love in its power.
"As like as a Hand to another Hand":
Who said that, never took his stand,
Found and followed, like me, an hour,
The beauty in this,—how free, how fine
To fear, almost,—of the limit-line!
As I looked at this, and learned and drew,
Drew and learned, and looked again,
While fast the happy minutes flew,
Its beauty mounted into my brain,
And a fancy seized me; I was fain
To efface my work, begin anew,
Kiss what before I only drew;
Ay, laying the red chalk 'twixt my lips,
With soul to help if the mere lips failed,
I kissed all right where the drawing ailed,
Kissed fast the grace that somehow slips
Still from one's soulless finger-tips.

II.
'T is a clay cast, the perfect thing,
From Hand live once, dead long ago
Princess-like it wears the ring
To fancy's eye, by which we know
That here at length a master found
His match, a proud lone soul its mate,
As soaring genius sank to ground,
And pencil could not emulate
The beauty in this,—how free, how fine
To fear almost!—of the limit-line.
Long ago the god, like me
The worm, learned, each in our degree:
Looked and loved, learned and drew,
Drew and learned and loved again,
While fast the happy minutes flew,
Till beauty mounted into his brain
And on the finger which outvied
His art he placed the ring that's there,
Still by fancy's eye descried,
In token of a marriage rare:
For him on earth, his art's despair,
For him in heaven, his soul's fit bride.

III.
Little girl with the poor coarse hand
I turned from to a cold clay cast—
I have my lesson, understand
The worth of flesh and blood at last.
Nothing but beauty in a Hand?
Because he could not change the hue,
Mend the lines and make them true
To this which met his soul's demand,—
Would Da Vinci turn from you?
I hear him laugh my woes to scorn—
"The fool forsooth is all forlorn
"Because the beauty, she thinks best,
"Lived long ago or was never born,—
"Because no beauty bears the test
"In this rough peasant Hand! Confessed!
"'Art is null and study void!'
"So sayest thou? So said not I,
"Who threw the faulty pencil by,
"And years instead of hours employed,
"Learning the veritable use
"Of flesh and bone and nerve beneath
"Lines and hue of the outer sheath,
"If haply I might reproduce
"One motive of the powers profuse,
"Flesh and bone and nerve that make
"The poorest coarsest human hand
"An object worthy to be scanned
"A whole life long for their sole sake.
"Shall earth and the cramped moment-space
"Yield the heavenly crowning grace?
"Now the parts and then the whole!
"Who art thou, with stinted soul
"And stunted body, thus to cry
"'I love,—shall that be life's strait dole?
"'I must live beloved or die!'
"This peasant hand that spins the wool
"And bakes the bread, why lives it on,
"Poor and coarse with beauty gone,—
"What use survives the beauty?" Fool!

Go, little girl with the poor coarse hand!
I have my lesson, shall understand.


IX.—On Deck


I.
There is nothing to remember in me,
Nothing I ever said with a grace,
Nothing I did that you care to see,
Nothing I was that deserves a place
In your mind, now I leave you, set you free.

II.
Conceded! In turn, concede to me,
Such things have been as a mutual flame.
Your soul's locked fast; but, love for a key,
You might let it loose, till I grew the same
In your eyes, as in mine you stand: strange plea!

III.
For then, then, what would it matter to me
That I was the harsh ill-favoured one?
We both should be like as pea and pea;
It was ever so since the world begun:
So, let me proceed with my reverie.

IV.
How strange it were if you had all me,
As I have all you in my heart and brain,
You, whose least word brought gloom or glee,
Who never lifted the hand in vain—
Will hold mine yet, from over the sea!

V.
Strange, if a face, when you thought of me,
Rose like your own face present now,
With eyes as dear in their due degree,
Much such a mouth, and as bright a brow,
Till you saw yourself, while you cried "'T is She!"

VI.
Well, you may, you must, set down to me
Love that was life, life that was love;
A tenure of breath at your lips' decree,
A passion to stand as your thoughts approve,
A rapture to fall where your foot might be.

VII.
But did one touch of such love for me
Come in a word or a look of yours,
Whose words and looks will, circling, flee
Round me and round while life endures,—
Could I fancy "As I feel, thus feels he";

VIII.
Why, fade you might to a thing like me,
And your hair grow these coarse hanks of hair,
Your skin, this bark of a gnarled tree,—
You might turn myself!—should I know or care
When I should be dead of joy, James Lee?

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Laus Veneris

Asleep or waking is it? for her neck,
Kissed over close, wears yet a purple speck
Wherein the pained blood falters and goes out;
Soft, and stung softly — fairer for a fleck.


But though my lips shut sucking on the place,
There is no vein at work upon her face;
Her eyelids are so peaceable, no doubt
Deep sleep has warmed her blood through all its ways.


Lo, this is she that was the world's delight;
The old grey years were parcels of her might;
The strewings of the ways wherein she trod
Were the twain seasons of the day and night.


Lo, she was thus when her clear limbs enticed
All lips that now grow sad with kissing Christ,
Stained with blood fallen from the feet of God,
The feet and hands whereat our souls were priced.


Alas, Lord, surely thou art great and fair.
But lo her wonderfully woven hair!
And thou didst heal us with thy piteous kiss;
But see now, Lord; her mouth is lovelier.


She is right fair; what hath she done to thee?
Nay, fair Lord Christ, lift up thine eyes and see;
Had now thy mother such a lip — like this?
Thou knowest how sweet a thing it is to me.


Inside the Horsel here the air is hot;
Right little peace one hath for it, God wot;
The scented dusty daylight burns the air,
And my heart chokes me till I hear it not.


Behold, my Venus, my soul's body, lies
With my love laid upon her garment-wise,
Feeling my love in all her limbs and hair
And shed between her eyelids through her eyes.


She holds my heart in her sweet open hands
Hanging asleep; hard by her head there stands,
Crowned with gilt thorns and clothed with flesh like fire,
Love, wan as foam blown up the salt burnt sands —


Hot as the brackish waifs of yellow spume
That shift and steam — loose clots of arid fume
From the sea's panting mouth of dry desire;
There stands he, like one labouring at a loom.


The warp holds fast across; and every thread
That makes the woof up has dry specks of red;
Always the shuttle cleaves clean through, and he
Weaves with the hair of many a ruined head.


Love is not glad nor sorry, as I deem;
Labouring he dreams, and labours in the dream,
Till when the spool is finished, lo I see
His web, reeled off, curls and goes out like steam.


Night falls like fire; the heavy lights run low,
And as they drop, my blood and body so
Shake as the flame shakes, full of days and hours
That sleep not neither weep they as they go.


Ah yet would God this flesh of mine might be
Where air might wash and long leaves cover me,
Where tides of grass break into foam of flowers,
Or where the wind's feet shine along the sea.


Ah yet would God that stems and roots were bred
Out of my weary body and my head,
That sleep were sealed upon me with a seal,
And I were as the least of all his dead.


Would God my blood were dew to feed the grass,
Mine ears made deaf and mine eyes blind as glass,
My body broken as a turning wheel,
And my mouth stricken ere it saith Alas!


Ah God, that love were as a flower or flame,
That life were as the naming of a name,
That death were not more pitiful than desire,
That these things were not one thing and the same!


Behold now, surely somewhere there is death:
For each man hath some space of years, he saith,
A little space of time ere time expire,
A little day, a little way of breath.


And lo, between the sundawn and the sun,
His day's work and his night's work are undone;
And lo, between the nightfall and the light,
He is not, and none knoweth of such an one.


Ah God, that I were as all souls that be,
As any herb or leaf of any tree,
As men that toil through hours of labouring night,
As bones of men under the deep sharp sea.


Outside it must be winter among men;
For at the gold bars of the gates again
I heard all night and all the hours of it
The wind's wet wings and fingers drip with rain.


Knights gather, riding sharp for cold; I know
The ways and woods are strangled with the snow;
And with short song the maidens spin and sit
Until Christ's birthnight, lily-like, arow.


The scent and shadow shed about me make
The very soul in all my senses ache;
The hot hard night is fed upon my breath,
And sleep beholds me from afar awake.


Alas, but surely where the hills grow deep,
Or where the wild ways of the sea are steep,
Or in strange places somewhere there is death,
And on death's face the scattered hair of sleep.


There lover-like with lips and limbs that meet
They lie, they pluck sweet fruit of life and eat;
But me the hot and hungry days devour,
And in my mouth no fruit of theirs is sweet.


No fruit of theirs, but fruit of my desire,
For her love's sake whose lips through mine respire;
Her eyelids on her eyes like flower on flower,
Mine eyelids on mine eyes like fire on fire.


So lie we, not as sleep that lies by death,
With heavy kisses and with happy breath;
Not as man lies by woman, when the bride
Laughs low for love's sake and the words he saith.


For she lies, laughing low with love; she lies
And turns his kisses on her lips to sighs,
To sighing sound of lips unsatisfied,
And the sweet tears are tender with her eyes.


Ah, not as they, but as the souls that were
Slain in the old time, having found her fair;
Who, sleeping with her lips upon their eyes,
Heard sudden serpents hiss across her hair.


Their blood runs round the roots of time like rain:
She casts them forth and gathers them again;
With nerve and bone she weaves and multiplies
Exceeding pleasure out of extreme pain.


Her little chambers drip with flower-like red,
Her girdles, and the chaplets of her head,
Her armlets and her anklets; with her feet
She tramples all that winepress of the dead.


Her gateways smoke with fume of flowers and fires,
With loves burnt out and unassuaged desires;
Between her lips the steam of them is sweet,
The languor in her ears of many lyres.


Her beds are full of perfume and sad sound,
Her doors are made with music, and barred round
With sighing and with laughter and with tears,
With tears whereby strong souls of men are bound.


There is the knight Adonis that was slain;
With flesh and blood she chains him for a chain;
The body and the spirit in her ears
Cry, for her lips divide him vein by vein.


Yea, all she slayeth; yea, every man save me;
Me, love, thy lover that must cleave to thee
Till the ending of the days and ways of earth,
The shaking of the sources of the sea.


Me, most forsaken of all souls that fell;
Me, satiated with things insatiable;
Me, for whose sake the extreme hell makes mirth,
Yea, laughter kindles at the heart of hell.


Alas thy beauty! for thy mouth's sweet sake
My soul is bitter to me, my limbs quake
As water, as the flesh of men that weep,
As their heart's vein whose heart goes nigh to break.


Ah God, that sleep with flower-sweet finger-tips
Would crush the fruit of death upon my lips;
Ah God, that death would tread the grapes of sleep
And wring their juice upon me as it drips.


There is no change of cheer for many days,
But change of chimes high up in the air, that sways
Rung by the running fingers of the wind;
And singing sorrows heard on hidden ways.


Day smiteth day in twain, night sundereth night,
And on mine eyes the dark sits as the light;
Yea, Lord, thou knowest I know not, having sinned,
If heaven be clean or unclean in thy sight.


Yea, as if earth were sprinkled over me,
Such chafed harsh earth as chokes a sandy sea,
Each pore doth yearn, and the dried blood thereof
Gasps by sick fits, my heart swims heavily,


There is a feverish famine in my veins;
Below her bosom, where a crushed grape stains
The white and blue, there my lips caught and clove
An hour since, and what mark of me remains?


I dare not always touch her, lest the kiss
Leave my lips charred. Yea, Lord, a little bliss,
Brief bitter bliss, one hath for a great sin;
Nathless thou knowest how sweet a thing it is.


Sin, is it sin whereby men's souls are thrust
Into the pit? yet had I a good trust
To save my soul before it slipped therein,
Trod under by the fire-shod feet of lust.


For if mine eyes fail and my soul takes breath,
I look between the iron sides of death
Into sad hell where all sweet love hath end,
All but the pain that never finisheth.


There are the naked faces of great kings,
The singing folk with all their lute-playings;
There when one cometh he shall have to friend
The grave that covets and the worm that clings.


There sit the knights that were so great of hand,
The ladies that were queens of fair green land,
Grown grey and black now, brought unto the dust,
Soiled, without raiment, clad about with sand.


There is one end for all of them; they sit
Naked and sad, they drink the dregs of it,
Trodden as grapes in the wine-press of lust,
Trampled and trodden by the fiery feet.


I see the marvellous mouth whereby there fell
Cities and people whom the gods loved well,
Yet for her sake on them the fire gat hold,
And for their sakes on her the fire of hell.


And softer than the Egyptian lote-leaf is,
The queen whose face was worth the world to kiss,
Wearing at breast a suckling snake of gold;
And large pale lips of strong Semiramis,


Curled like a tiger's that curl back to feed;
Red only where the last kiss made them bleed;
Her hair most thick with many a carven gem,
Deep in the mane, great-chested, like a steed.


Yea, with red sin the faces of them shine;
But in all these there was no sin like mine;
No, not in all the strange great sins of them
That made the wine-press froth and foam with wine.


For I was of Christ's choosing, I God's knight,
No blinkard heathen stumbling for scant light;
I can well see, for all the dusty days
Gone past, the clean great time of goodly fight.


I smell the breathing battle sharp with blows,
With shriek of shafts and snapping short of bows;
The fair pure sword smites out in subtle ways,
Sounds and long lights are shed between the rows


Of beautiful mailed men; the edged light slips,
Most like a snake that takes short breath and dips
Sharp from the beautifully bending head,
With all its gracious body lithe as lips


That curl in touching you; right in this wise
My sword doth, seeming fire in mine own eyes,
Leaving all colours in them brown and red
And flecked with death; then the keen breaths like sighs,


The caught-up choked dry laughters following them,
When all the fighting face is grown a flame
For pleasure, and the pulse that stuns the ears,
And the heart's gladness of the goodly game.


Let me think yet a little; I do know
These things were sweet, but sweet such years ago,
Their savour is all turned now into tears;
Yea, ten years since, where the blue ripples blow,


The blue curled eddies of the blowing Rhine,
I felt the sharp wind shaking grass and vine
Touch my blood too, and sting me with delight
Through all this waste and weary body of mine


That never feels clear air; right gladly then
I rode alone, a great way off my men,
And heard the chiming bridle smite and smite,
And gave each rhyme thereof some rhyme again,


Till my song shifted to that iron one;
Seeing there rode up between me and the sun
Some certain of my foe's men, for his three
White wolves across their painted coats did run.


The first red-bearded, with square cheeks — alack,
I made my knave's blood turn his beard to black;
The slaying of him was a joy to see:
Perchance too, when at night he came not back,


Some woman fell a-weeping, whom this thief
Would beat when he had drunken; yet small grief
Hath any for the ridding of such knaves;
Yea, if one wept, I doubt her teen was brief.


This bitter love is sorrow in all lands,
Draining of eyelids, wringing of drenched hands,
Sighing of hearts and filling up of graves;
A sign across the head of the world he stands,


An one that hath a plague-mark on his brows;
Dust and spilt blood do track him to his house
Down under earth; sweet smells of lip and cheek,
Like a sweet snake's breath made more poisonous


With chewing of some perfumed deadly grass,
Are shed all round his passage if he pass,
And their quenched savour leaves the whole soul weak,
Sick with keen guessing whence the perfume was.


As one who hidden in deep sedge and reeds
Smells the rare scent made where a panther feeds,
And tracking ever slotwise the warm smell
Is snapped upon by the sweet mouth and bleeds,


His head far down the hot sweet throat of her —
So one tracks love, whose breath is deadlier,
And lo, one springe and you are fast in hell,
Fast as the gin's grip of a wayfarer.


I think now, as the heavy hours decease
One after one, and bitter thoughts increase
One upon one, of all sweet finished things;
The breaking of the battle; the long peace


Wherein we sat clothed softly, each man's hair
Crowned with green leaves beneath white hoods of vair;
The sounds of sharp spears at great tourneyings,
And noise of singing in the late sweet air.


I sang of love too, knowing nought thereof;
'Sweeter,' I said, 'the little laugh of love
Than tears out of the eyes of Magdalen,
Or any fallen feather of the Dove.


'The broken little laugh that spoils a kiss,
The ache of purple pulses, and the bliss
Of blinded eyelids that expand again —
Love draws them open with those lips of his,


'Lips that cling hard till the kissed face has grown
Of one same fire and colour with their own;
Then ere one sleep, appeased with sacrifice,
Where his lips wounded, there his lips atone.'


I sang these things long since and knew them not;
'Lo, here is love, or there is love, God wot,
This man and that finds favour in his eyes,'
I said, 'but I, what guerdon have I got?


'The dust of praise that is blown everywhere
In all men's faces with the common air;
The bay-leaf that wants chafing to be sweet
Before they wind it in a singer's hair.'


So that one dawn I rode forth sorrowing;
I had no hope but of some evil thing,
And so rode slowly past the windy wheat
And past the vineyard and the water-spring,


Up to the Horsel. A great elder-tree
Held back its heaps of flowers to let me see
The ripe tall grass, and one that walked therein,
Naked, with hair shed over to the knee.


She walked between the blossom and the grass;
I knew the beauty of her, what she was,
The beauty of her body and her sin,
And in my flesh the sin of hers, alas!


Alas! for sorrow is all the end of this.
O sad kissed mouth, how sorrowful it is!
O breast whereat some suckling sorrow clings,
Red with the bitter blossom of a kiss!


Ah, with blind lips I felt for you, and found
About my neck your hands and hair enwound,
The hands that stifle and the hair that stings,
I felt them fasten sharply without sound.


Yea, for my sin I had great store of bliss:
Rise up, make answer for me, let thy kiss
Seal my lips hard from speaking of my sin,
Lest one go mad to hear how sweet it is.


Yet I waxed faint with fume of barren bowers,
And murmuring of the heavy-headed hours;
And let the dove's beak fret and peck within
My lips in vain, and Love shed fruitless flowers.


So that God looked upon me when your hands
Were hot about me; yea, God brake my bands
To save my soul alive, and I came forth
Like a man blind and naked in strange lands


That hears men laugh and weep, and knows not whence
Nor wherefore, but is broken in his sense;
Howbeit I met folk riding from the north
Towards Rome, to purge them of their souls' offence,


And rode with them, and spake to none; the day
Stunned me like lights upon some wizard way,
And ate like fire mine eyes and mine eyesight;
So rode I, hearing all these chant and pray,


And marvelled; till before us rose and fell
White cursed hills, like outer skirts of hell
Seen where men's eyes look through the day to night,
Like a jagged shell's lips, harsh, untunable,


Blown in between by devils' wrangling breath;
Nathless we won well past that hell and death,
Down to the sweet land where all airs are good,
Even unto Rome where God's grace tarrieth.


Then came each man and worshipped at his knees
Who in the Lord God's likeness bears the keys
To bind or loose, and called on Christ's shed blood,
And so the sweet-souled father gave him ease.


But when I came I fell down at his feet,
Saying, 'Father, though the Lord's blood be right sweet,
The spot it takes not off the panther's skin,
Nor shall an Ethiop's stain be bleached with it.


'Lo, I have sinned and have spat out at God,
Wherefore his hand is heavier and his rod
More sharp because of mine exceeding sin,
And all his raiment redder than bright blood


'Before mine eyes; yea, for my sake I wot
The heat of hell is waxen seven times hot
Through my great sin.' Then spake he some sweet word,
Giving me cheer; which thing availed me not;


Yea, scarce I wist if such indeed were said;
For when I ceased — lo, as one newly dead
Who hears a great cry out of hell, I heard
The crying of his voice across my head.


'Until this dry shred staff, that hath no whit
Of leaf nor bark, bear blossom and smell sweet,
Seek thou not any mercy in God's sight,
For so long shalt thou be cast out from it.'


Yea, what if dried-up stems wax red and green,
Shall that thing be which is not nor has been?
Yea, what if sapless bark wax green and white,
Shall any good fruit grow upon my sin?


Nay, though sweet fruit were plucked of a dry tree,
And though men drew sweet waters of the sea,
There should not grow sweet leaves on this dead stem,
This waste wan body and shaken soul of me.


Yea, though God search it warily enough,
There is not one sound thing in all thereof;
Though he search all my veins through, searching them
He shall find nothing whole therein but love.


For I came home right heavy, with small cheer,
And lo my love, mine own soul's heart, more dear
Than mine own soul, more beautiful than God,
Who hath my being between the hands of her —


Fair still, but fair for no man saving me,
As when she came out of the naked sea
Making the foam as fire whereon she trod,
And as the inner flower of fire was she.


Yea, she laid hold upon me, and her mouth
Clove unto mine as soul to body doth,
And, laughing, made her lips luxurious;
Her hair had smells of all the sunburnt south,


Strange spice and flower, strange savour of crushed fruit,
And perfume the swart kings tread underfoot
For pleasure when their minds wax amorous,
Charred frankincense and grated sandal-root.


And I forgot fear and all weary things,
All ended prayers and perished thanksgivings,
Feeling her face with all her eager hair
Cleave to me, clinging as a fire that clings


To the body and to the raiment, burning them;
As after death I know that such-like flame
Shall cleave to me for ever; yea, what care,
Albeit I burn then, having felt the same?


Ah love, there is no better life than this;
To have known love, how bitter a thing it is,
And afterward be cast out of God's sight;
Yea, these that know not, shall they have such bliss


High up in barren heaven before his face
As we twain in the heavy-hearted place,
Remembering love and all the dead delight,
And all that time was sweet with for a space?


For till the thunder in the trumpet be,
Soul may divide from body, but not we
One from another; I hold thee with my hand,
I let mine eyes have all their will of thee,


I seal myself upon thee with my might,
Abiding alway out of all men's sight
Until God loosen over sea and land
The thunder of the trumpets of the night.

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The Believer's Jointure : Chapter I.

Containing the Privileges of the Believer that is espoused to Christ by faith of divine operation.

Sect. I.


The Believer's perfect beauty, free acceptance, and full security, through the imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness, though imparted grace be imperfect.


O Happy soul, Jehovah's bride,
The Lamb's beloved spouse;
Strong consolation's flowing tide,
Thy Husband thee allows.

In thee, though like thy father's race,
By nature black as hell;
Yet now so beautify'd by grace,
Thy Husband loves to dwell.

Fair as the moon thy robes appear,
While graces are in dress:
Clear as the sun, while found to wear
Thy Husband's righteousness.

Thy moon-like graces, changing much,
Have here and there a spot;
Thy sun-like glory is not such,
Thy Husband changes not.

Thy white and ruddy vesture fair
Outvies the rosy leaf;
For 'mong ten thousand beauties rare
Thy Husband is the chief.

Cloth'd with the sun, thy robes of light
The morning rays outshine:
The lamps of heav'n are not so bright,
Thy Husband decks thee fine.

Though hellish smoke thy duties stain,
And sin deforms thee quite;
Thy Surety's merit makes thee clean,
Thy Husband's beauty white.

Thy pray'rs and tears, nor pure, nor good,
But vile and loathsome seem;
Yet, gain by dipping in his blood,
Thy Husband's high esteem.

No fear thou starve, though wants be great,
In him thou art complete;
Thy hungry soul may hopeful wait,
Thy Husband gives thee meat.

Thy money, merit, pow'r, and pelf,
Were squander'd by thy fall;
Yet, having nothing in thyself,
Thy Husband is thy all.

Law-precepts, threats, may both beset
To crave of thee their due;
But justice, for thy double debt,
Thy Husband did pursue.

Though justice stern as much belong,
As mercy, to a God;
Yet justice suffer'd here no wrong,
Thy Husband's back was broad.

He bore the load of wrath alone,
That mercy might take vent;
Heav'n's pointed arrows all upon
Thy Husband's heart were spent.

No partial pay could justice still,
No farthing was retrench'd:
Vengeance exacted all, until
Thy Husband all advanc'd.

He paid in liquid golden red
Each mite the law requir'd,
Till with a loud
'Tis finished,

Thy Husband's breathe expir'd.

No process more the law can tent;
Thou stand'st within its verge,
And mayst at pleasure now present
Th Husband's full discharge,

Though new contracted guilt beget
New fears of divine ire;
Yet fear thou not, though drown'd in debt,
Thy Husband is the payer.

God might in rigour thee indite
Of highest crimes and flaws;
But on thy head no curse can light,
Thy Husband is the cause.


Sect. II.


Christ the Believer's friend, prophet, priest, king, defence, guide, guard, help, and healer.


Dear soul, when all the human race
Lay welt'ring in their gore,
Vast numbers, in that dismal case,
Thy Husband passed o'er.

But, pray, why did he thousands pass,
And set his heart on thee?
The deep, the searchless reason was,
Thy Husband's love is free.

The forms of favour, names of grace,
And offices of love,
He bears for thee, with open face,
Thy Husband's kindness prove.

'Gainst darkness black, and error blind,
Thou hast a Sun and Shield:
And, to reveal the Father's mind,
Thy Husband's Prophet seal'd.

He likewise to procure thy peace,
And save from sin's arrest,
Resign'd himself a sacrifice;
Thy Husband is thy Priest.

And that he might thy will subject,
And sweetly captive bring;
Thy sins subdue, his throne erect,
Thy Husband is thy King.

Though num'rous and assaulting foes
Thy joyful peace may mar:
And thou a thousand battles lose,
Thy Husband wins the war.

Hell's forces, with thy mind appal,
His arm can soon dispatch;
How strong soe'er, yet for them all,
Thy Husband's more than match.

Though secret lusts, with hid contest,
By heavy groans reveal'd,
And devil's rage; yet, do their best
Thy Husband keeps the field.

When in desertion's ev'ning dark,
Thy steps are apt to slide,
His conduct seek, his counsel mark;
Thy Husband is thy guide.

In doubts, renouncing self-conceit,
His word and Spirit prize:
He never counsell'd wrong as yet,
Thy Husband is so wise.

When weak, thy refuge seest at hand,
Yet cannot run the length:
'Tis
present pow'r
to understand
Thy Husband is thy strength.

When shaking storms annoy thy heart,
His word commands a calm:
When bleeding wounds, to ease thy smart,
Thy Husband's blood is balm.

Trust creatures not, to help thy thrall
Nor to assuage thy grief:
Use means, but look beyond them all,
Thy Husband's thy relief.

If Heav'n prescribe a bitter drug,
Fret not with froward will:
This carriage may thy cure prorogue;
Thy Husband wants not skill.

He sees the sore, he knows the cure
Will most adapted be;
'Tis then most reasonable, sure,
Thy Husband choose for thee.

Friendship is in his chastisements,
And favour in his frowns;
Thence judge not that in heavy plaints,
Thy Husband thee disowns.

The deeper his sharp lancet go
In ripping up thy wound,
The more thy healing shall unto
Thy Husband's praise redound.


Sect. III.


Christ the Believer's wonderful physician, and wealthy friend.


Kind Jesus empties whom he'll find,
Casts down whom he will raise;
He quickens whom he seems to kill;
Thy Husband thus gets praise.

When awful rods are in his hand,
There's mercy in his mind;
When clouds upon his brow do stand,
Thy Husband's heart is kind.

In various changes to and fro,
He'll ever constant prove;
Nor can his kindness come and go,
Thy Husband's name is
Love.


His friends, in most afflicted lot
His favour most have felt;
For when they're try'd in furnace hot,
Thy Husband's bowels melt.

When he his bride or wounds or heals,
Heart-kindness does him move;
And wraps in frowns as well as smiles,
Thy Husband's lasting love.

In's hand no cure could ever fail,
Though of a hopeless state;
He can in desp'rate cases heal,
Thy Husband's art's so great.

The medicine he did prepare,
Can't fail to work for good:
O balsam pow'rful, precious, rare,
Thy Husband's sacred blood:

Which freely from his broached breast
Gush'd out like pent-up fire.
His cures are best, his wages least,
Thy Husband takes no hire.

Thou hast no worth, no might, no good,
His favour to procure:
But see his store, his pow'r, his blood!
Thy Husband's never poor.

Himself he humbled wondrously
Once to the lowest pitch,
That bankrupts through his poverty
Thy Husband might enrich.

His treasure is more excellent
Than hills of Ophir gold:
In telling stores were ages spent,
Thy Husband's can't be told.

All things that fly on wings of fame,
Compar'd with this are dross;
Thy searchless riches in his name
Thy Husband doth engross.

The great Immanuel, God-man,
Includes such store divine,
Angels and saints will never scan
Thy Husband's golden mine.

He's full of grace and truth indeed,
Of spirit, merit, might;
Of all the wealth that bankrupts need,
Thy Husband's heir by right.

Though Heav'n's his throne, he came from thence,
To seek and save the lost;
Whatever be the vast expence,
Thy Husband's at the cost.

Pleas'd to expend each drop of blood
That fill'd his royal veins,
He frank the sacred victim stood;
Thy Husband spar'd no pains.

His cost immense was in thy place,
Thy freedom cost his thrall;
Thy glory cost him deep disgrace,
Thy Husband paid for all.


Sect. IV.


The Believer's safety under the covert of Christ's atoning Blood, and powerful Intercession.


When Heav'n proclaim'd hot war and wrath,
And sin increas'd the strife;
By rich obedience unto death,
Thy Husband bought thy life.

The charges could not be abridg'd,
But on these noble terms;
Which all that prize, are hugg'd amidst,
Thy Husband's folded arms.

When law condemns, and justice too
To prison would thee bale;
As sureties kind for bankrupts do,
Thy Husband offers bail.

God on these terms is reconcil'd,
And thou his heart hast won;
In Christ thou art his favour'd child,
Thy Husband is his son.

Vindictive wrath is whole appeas'd,
Thou need'st not then be mov'd;
In Jesus always he's well pleas'd,
Thy Husband his Belov'd.

What can be laid unto thy charge,
When God does not condemn?
Bills of complaint, though foes enlarge,
Thy Husband answers them.

When fear thy guilty mind confounds,
Full comfort this may yield,
Thy ranson-bill with blood and wounds
Thy Husband kind has seal'd.

His promise is the fair extract
Thou hast at hand to shew;
Stern justice can no more exact,
Thy Husband paid its due.

No terms he left thee to fulil,
No clog to mar thy faith;
His bond is sign'd, his latter-will
Thy Husband seal'd by death.

The great condition of the band,
Of promise and of bliss,
Is wrought by him, and brought to hand,
Thy Husband's righteousness.

When therefore press'd in time of need,
To sue the promis'd good,
Thou hast no more to do but plead
Th Husband's sealing blood.

This can thee more to God commend,
And cloudy wrath dispel,
Than e'er thy sinning could offend;
Thy Husband vanquish'd hell.

When vengeance seems, for broken laws,
To light on thee with dread;
Let Christ be umpire of thy cause,
Thy Husband well can plead.

He pleads his righteousness, that brought
All rents the law could crave;
Whate'er its precepts, threat'nings, sought,
Thy Husband fully gave.

Did holiness in precepts stand,
And for perfection call,
Justice in threat'nings death demand?
Thy Husband gave it all.

His blood the fiery law did quench,
Its summons need not scare;
Tho't cite thee to Heav'n's awful bench,
Thy Husband's at the bar.

This Advocate has much to say,
His clients need not fear;
For God the Father hears him ay,
Thy Husband hath his ear.

A cause fail'd never in his hand,
So strong his pleading is;
His Father grants his whole demand,
Thy Husband's will is his.

Hell-forces all may rendezvous,
Accusers may combine;
Yet fear thou not, who art his spouse,
Thy Husband's cause is thine.

By solemn oath Jehovah did
His priesthood ratify;
Let earth and hell then counterplead,
Thy Husband gains the plea.


Sect. V.


The Believer's Faith and Hope encouraged, even in the darkest nights of desertion and distress.


The cunning serpent may accuse,
But never shall succeed;
The God of peace will Satan bruise,
Thy Husband broke his head.

Hell-furies threaten to devour,
Like lions robb'd of whelps:
But, lo! in ev'ry per'lous hour
Thy Husband always helps.

That feeble faith may never fail,
Thine Advocate has pray'd;
Though winnowing tempest may assail,
Thy Husband's near to aid.

Though grievous trials grow apace,
And put thee to a stand;
Thou mayst rejoice, in ev'ry case
Thy Husband's help's at hand.

Trust, though, when in desertion dark
No
twinkling star
by night,
No transient ray, no glim'ring spark;
Thy Husband is thy light.

His beams anon the clouds will rent,
And through the vapours run;
For of the brightest firmament
Thy Husband is the Sun.

Without the Sun who mourning go,
And scarce the way can find,
He brings through paths they do not know;
Thy Husband leads the blind.

Through fire and water he with skill
Brings to a wealthy land;
Rude flames and roaring floods, Be Still,
Thy Husband can command.

When sin disorders heavy brings,
That press thy soul with weight;
Then mind how many crooked things
Thy Husband has made straight.

Still look to him with longing eyes,
Though both thine eyes should fail;
Cry, and at length, though not thy cries,
Thy Husband shall prevail.

Still hope for favour at his hand,
Though favour don't appear;
When help seems most aloft to stand,
Thy Husband's then most near.

In cases hopeless-like, faint hopes
May fail, and fears annoy:
But most when stript of earthly props,
Thy Husband thou'lt enjoy.

If providence the promise thwart,
And yet thy humbled mind
'Gainst hope believes in hope, thou art
Thy Husband's dearest friend.

Art thou a weakling, poor and faint,
In jeopardy each hour!
Let not thy weakness move thy plaint,
Thy Husband has the pow'r.

Dread not the foes that foil'd thee long,
Will ruin thee at length:
When thou art weak, then art thou strong;
Thy Husband is thy strength.

When foes are mighty, many too,
Don't fear, nor quit the field;
'Tis not with thee they have to do,
Thy Husband is thy shield.

'Tis hard to fight against an host,
Or strive against the stream;
But, lo! when all seems to be lost,
Thy Husband will redeem.


Sect. VI.


Benefits accruing to Believers from the offices, names, natures, and sufferings of Christ.


Art thou by lusts a captive led,
Which breeds thy deepest grief?
To ransom captives is his trade,
Thy Husband's thy relief.

His precious name is Jesus, why?
Because he saves from sin;
Redemption-right he won't deny,
Thy Husband's near of kin.

His wounds have sav'd thee once from woes,
His blood from vengeance screen'd;
When heav'n, and earth, and hell were foes,
Thy Husband was a friend:

And will thy Captain now look on,
And see thee trampled down?
When lo! thy Champion has the throne,
Thy Husband wears the crown.

Yield not, though cunning Satan bribe,
Or like a lion roar;
The Lion strong of Judah's tribe,
Thy Husband goes before.

And that he never will forsake,
His credit fair he pawn'd;
In hottest broils, then, courage take,
Thy Husband's at thy hand.

No storm needs drive thee to a strait,
Who dost his aid invoke:
Fierce winds may blow, proud wave may beat,
Thy Husband is a rock.

Renounce thine own ability,
Lean to his promis'd might;
The strength of Israel cannot lie,
Thy Husband's pow'r is plight.

An awful truth does here present,
Whoever think it odd;
In him thou art omnipotent,
Thy Husband is a God.

Jehovah's strength is in thy Head,
Which faith may boldly scan;
God in thy nature does reside,
Thy Husband is a man.

Thy flesh is his, his Spirit thine;
And that you both are one,
One body, spirit, temple, vine,
Thy Husband deigns to own.

Kind he assum'd thy flesh and blood,
This union to pursue;
And without shame his brotherhood
Thy Husband does avow.

He bore the cross, thy crown to win,
His blood he freely spilt;
The holy one, assuming sin,
Thy Husband bore the guilt.

Lo! what a bless'd exchange is this!
What wisdom shines therein!
That thou might'st be made righteousness
Thy Husband was made sin.

Thy God of joy a man of grief,
Thy sorrows to discuss;
Pure innocence hang'd as a thief:
Thy Husband lov'd thee thus.

Bright beauty had his visage marr'd,
His comely form abus'd:
True rest was from all rest debarr'd,
Thy Husband's heel was bruis'd.

The God of blessings was a curse,
The Lord of lords a drudge,
The heir of all things poor in purse:
Thy Husband did not grudge.

The Judge of all condemned was,
The Lord immortal slain:
No favour, in thy woful cause,
Thy Husband did obtain.


Sect. VII.


Christ's Sufferings further improved; and Believers called to live by faith, both when they have, and want sensible influences.


Loud praises sing, without surcease,
To him that frankly came,
And gave his soul a sacrifice;
Thy Husband was the Lamb.

What waken'd vengeance could denounce,
All round him did beset;
And never left his soul, till once
Thy Husband paid the debt.

And though new debt thou still contract,
And run deep arrears;
Yet all thy burdens on his back
Thy Husband always bears.

Thy Judge will ne'er demand of thee
Two payments for one debt;
Thee with one victim wholly free
Thy Husband kindly set.

That no grim vengeance might thee meet,
Thy Husband met with all;
And, that thy soul might drink the sweet,
Thy Husband drank the gall.

Full breasts of joy he loves t' extend,
Like to a kindly nurse;
And, that thy bliss might full be gain'd,
Thy Husband was a curse.

Thy sins he glu'd unto the tree,
His blood this virtue hath;
For, that thy heart to sin might die,
Thy Husband suffer'd death.

To purchase fully all thy good,
All evil him befel;
To win thy heav'n with streams of blood,
Thy Husband quenched hell.

That this kind Days-Man in one band
Might God and man betroth,
He on both parties lays his hand,
Thy Husband pleases both.

The blood that could stern justice please,
And law-demands fulfil,
Can also guilty conscience ease;
Thy Husband clears the bill.

Thy highest glory is obtain'd
By his abasement deep:
And, that thy tears might all be drain'd,
Thy Husband chose to weep.

His bondage all thy freedom bought,
He stoop'd so lowly down:
His grappling all thy grandeur brought,
Thy Husband's cross, thy crown.

'Tis by his shock thy sceptre sways,
His warfare ends thy strife;
His poverty thy wealth conveys,
Thy Husband's death's thy life.

Do mortal damps invade thy heart,
And deadness seize thee sore?
Rejoice in this, that life t' impart
Thy Husband eas in store.

And when new life imparted seems
Establish'd as a rock,
Boast in the Fountain, not the streams;
Thy Husband is thy stock.

The streams may take a various turn,
The Fountain never moves:
Cease then, o'er failing streams to mourn,
Thy Husband thus thee proves.

That glad thou may'st, when drops are gone,
Joy in the spacious sea:
When incomes fail, then still upon
Thy Husband keep thine eye.

But can't thou look, nor moan thy strait,
So dark's the dismal hour?
Yet, as thou'rt able, cry, and wait
Thy Husband's day of pow'r.

Tell him, though sin prolong the term,
Yet love can scarce delay:
Thy want, his promise, all affirm,
Thy Husband must not stay.


Sect. VIII.


Christ the Believer's enriching Treasure.


Kind Jesus lives, thy life to be
Who mak'st him thy refuge:
And, when he comes, thou'lt joy to see,
Thy Husband shall be judge.

Should passing troubles thee annoy,
Without, within, or both?
Since endless life thou'lt then enjoy,
Thy Husband pledg'd his truth.

What! won't he ev'n in time impart
That's for thy real good?
He gave his love, he gave his heart,
Thy Husband gave his blood.

He gives himself, and what should more?
What can he then refuse?
If this won't please thee, ah! how sore
Thy Husband dost abuse!

Earth's fruit, heav'n's dew he won't deny,
Whose eyes thy need behold:
Nought under or above the sky
Thy Husband will with-hold.

Dost losses grieve? Since all is thine,
What loss can thee befall?
All things for good to thee combine,
Thy Husband orders all.

Thou'rt not put off with barren leaves,
Or dung of earthly-pelf;
More wealth than heav'n and earth he gives,
Thy Husband's thine himself.

Thou hast enough to stay thy plaint,
Else thou complain'st of ease;
For, having all, don't speak of want,
Thy Husband may suffice.

From this thy store, believing, take
Wealth to the utmost pitch:
The gold of Ophir cannot make,
Thy Husband makes thee rich.

Some, flying gains acquire by pains,
And, some by plund'ring toil;
Such treasure fades, but thine remains,
Thy Husband's cannot spoil.


Sect. IX.


Christ the Believer's adorning Garment.


Yea, thou excell'st in rich attire
The lamp that lights the globe:
Thy sparkling garment heav'ns admire,
Thy Husband is thy robe.

This raiment never waxes old,
'Tis always new and clean:
From summer-heat, and winter-cold,
Thy Husband can thee screen.

All who the name of worthies bore,
Since Adam was undrest,
No worth acquir'd, but as they wore
Thy Husband's purple vest.

This linen fine can beautify
The soul with sin begirt;
O bless his name, that e'er on thee
Thy Husband spread his skirt.

Are dung-hills deck'd with flow'ry glore,
Which Solomon's outvie?
Sure thine is infinitely more,
Thy Husband decks the sky.

Thy hands could never work the dress,
By grace alone thou'rt gay;
Grace vents and reigns through righteousness;
Thy Husband's bright array.

To spin thy robe no more dost need
Than lilies toil for theirs;
Out of his bowels ev'ry thread
Thy Husband thine prepares.


Sect. X.


Christ the Believer's sweet Nourishment


Thy food, conform to thine array,
Is heav'nly and divine;
On pastures green, where angels play,
Thy Husband feeds thee fine.

Angelic food may make thee fair,
And look with cheerful face:
The bread of life, the double share,
Thy Husband's love and grace.

What can he give or thou desire,
More than his flesh and blood?
Let angels wonder, saints admire,
Thy Husband is thy food.

His flesh the incarnation bears,
From whence thy feeding flows;
His blood the satisfaction clear;
Thy Husband both bestows.

Th' incarnate God a sacrifice
To turn the wrathful tide,
Is food for faith; that may suffice
Thy Husband's guilty bride.

This strength'ning food may fit and fence
For work and war to come;
Till through the crowd, some moments hence,
Thy Husband bring thee home:

Where plenteous feasting will succeed
To scanty feeding here:
And joyful at the table-head
Thy Husband fair appear.

The crumbs to banquets will give place,
And drops to rivers new;
While heart and eye will, face to face,
Thy Husband ever view.

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An Epistle To William Hogarth

Amongst the sons of men how few are known
Who dare be just to merit not their own!
Superior virtue and superior sense,
To knaves and fools, will always give offence;
Nay, men of real worth can scarcely bear,
So nice is jealousy, a rival there.
Be wicked as thou wilt; do all that's base;
Proclaim thyself the monster of thy race:
Let vice and folly thy black soul divide;
Be proud with meanness, and be mean with pride.
Deaf to the voice of Faith and Honour, fall
From side to side, yet be of none at all:
Spurn all those charities, those sacred ties,
Which Nature, in her bounty, good as wise,
To work our safety, and ensure her plan,
Contrived to bind and rivet man to man:
Lift against Virtue, Power's oppressive rod;
Betray thy country, and deny thy God;
And, in one general comprehensive line,
To group, which volumes scarcely could define,
Whate'er of sin and dulness can be said,
Join to a Fox's heart a Dashwood's head;
Yet may'st thou pass unnoticed in the throng,
And, free from envy, safely sneak along:
The rigid saint, by whom no mercy's shown
To saints whose lives are better than his own,
Shall spare thy crimes; and Wit, who never once
Forgave a brother, shall forgive a dunce.
But should thy soul, form'd in some luckless hour,
Vile interest scorn, nor madly grasp at power;
Should love of fame, in every noble mind
A brave disease, with love of virtue join'd,
Spur thee to deeds of pith, where courage, tried
In Reason's court, is amply justified:
Or, fond of knowledge, and averse to strife,
Shouldst thou prefer the calmer walk of life;
Shouldst thou, by pale and sickly study led,
Pursue coy Science to the fountain-head;
Virtue thy guide, and public good thy end,
Should every thought to our improvement tend,
To curb the passions, to enlarge the mind,
Purge the sick Weal, and humanise mankind;
Rage in her eye, and malice in her breast,
Redoubled Horror grining on her crest,
Fiercer each snake, and sharper every dart,
Quick from her cell shall maddening Envy start.
Then shalt thou find, but find, alas! too late,
How vain is worth! how short is glory's date!
Then shalt thou find, whilst friends with foes conspire,
To give more proof than virtue would desire,
Thy danger chiefly lies in acting well;
No crime's so great as daring to excel.
Whilst Satire thus, disdaining mean control,
Urged the free dictates of an honest soul,
Candour, who, with the charity of Paul,
Still thinks the best, whene'er she thinks at all,
With the sweet milk of human kindness bless'd,
The furious ardour of my zeal repress'd.
Canst thou, with more than usual warmth she cried,
Thy malice to indulge, and feed thy pride;
Canst thou, severe by nature as thou art,
With all that wondrous rancour in thy heart,
Delight to torture truth ten thousand ways,
To spin detraction forth from themes of praise,
To make Vice sit, for purposes of strife,
And draw the hag much larger than the life,
To make the good seem bad, the bad seem worse,
And represent our nature as our curse?
Doth not humanity condemn that zeal
Which tends to aggravate and not to heal?
Doth not discretion warn thee of disgrace,
And danger, grinning, stare thee in the face,
Loud as the drum, which, spreading terror round,
From emptiness acquires the power of sound?
Doth not the voice of Norton strike thy ear,
And the pale Mansfield chill thy soul with fear?
Dost thou, fond man, believe thyself secure
Because thou'rt honest, and because thou'rt poor?
Dost thou on law and liberty depend?
Turn, turn thy eyes, and view thy injured friend.
Art thou beyond the ruffian gripe of Power,
When Wilkes, prejudged, is sentenced to the Tower?
Dost thou by privilege exemption claim,
When privilege is little more than name?
Or to prerogative (that glorious ground
On which state scoundrels oft have safety found)
Dost thou pretend, and there a sanction find,
Unpunish'd, thus to libel human-kind
When poverty, the poet's constant crime,
Compell'd thee, all unfit, to trade in rhyme,
Had not romantic notions turn'd thy head,
Hadst thou not valued honour more than bread;
Had Interest, pliant Interest, been thy guide,
And had not Prudence been debauch'd by Pride,
In Flattery's stream thou wouldst have dipp'd thy pen,
Applied to great and not to honest men;
Nor should conviction have seduced thy heart
To take the weaker, though the better part.
What but rank folly, for thy curse decreed,
Could into Satire's barren path mislead,
When, open to thy view, before thee lay
Soul-soothing Panegyric's flowery way?
There might the Muse have saunter'd at her ease,
And, pleasing others, learn'd herself to please;
Lords should have listen'd to the sugar'd treat,
And ladies, simpering, own'd it vastly sweet;
Rogues, in thy prudent verse with virtue graced,
Fools mark'd by thee as prodigies of taste,
Must have forbid, pouring preferments down,
Such wit, such truth as thine to quit the gown.
Thy sacred brethren, too, (for they, no less
Than laymen, bring their offerings to success)
Had hail'd thee good if great, and paid the vow
Sincere as that they pay to God, whilst thou
In lawn hadst whisper'd to a sleeping crowd,
As dull as Rochester, and half as proud.
Peace, Candour--wisely hadst thou said, and well,
Could Interest in this breast one moment dwell;
Could she, with prospect of success, oppose
The firm resolves which from conviction rose.
I cannot truckle to a fool of state,
Nor take a favour from the man I hate:
Free leave have others by such means to shine;
I scorn their practice; they may laugh at mine.
But in this charge, forgetful of thyself,
Thou hast assumed the maxims of that elf,
Whom God in wrath, for man's dishonour framed,
Cunning in heaven, amongst us Prudence named,
That servile prudence, which I leave to those
Who dare not be my friends, can't be my foes.
Had I, with cruel and oppressive rhymes,
Pursued and turn'd misfortunes into crimes;
Had I, when Virtue gasping lay and low,
Join'd tyrant Vice, and added woe to woe;
Had I made Modesty in blushes speak,
And drawn the tear down Beauty's sacred cheek;
Had I (damn'd then) in thought debased my lays,
To wound that sex which honour bids me praise;
Had I, from vengeance, by base views betray'd.
In endless night sunk injured Ayliffe's shade;
Had I (which satirists of mighty name,
Renown'd in rhyme, revered for moral fame,
Have done before, whom Justice shall pursue
In future verse) brought forth to public view
A noble friend, and made his foibles known,
Because his worth was greater than my own;
Had I spared those (so Prudence had decreed)
Whom, God so help me at my greatest need!
I ne'er will spare, those vipers to their king
Who smooth their looks, and flatter whilst they sting;
Or had I not taught patriot zeal to boast
Of those who flatter least, but love him most;
Had I thus sinn'd, my stubborn soul should bend
At Candour's voice, and take, as from a friend,
The deep rebuke; myself should be the first
To hate myself, and stamp my Muse accursed.
But shall my arm--forbid it, manly pride!
Forbid it, reason! warring on my side--
For vengeance lifted high, the stroke forbear,
And hang suspended in the desert air,
Or to my trembling side unnerved sink down,
Palsied, forsooth, by Candour's half-made frown?
When Justice bids me on, shall I delay
Because insipid Candour bars my way?
When she, of all alike the puling friend,
Would disappoint my satire's noblest end;
When she to villains would a sanction give,
And shelter those who are not fit to live;
When she would screen the guilty from a blush,
And bids me spare whom Reason bids me crush,
All leagues with Candour proudly I resign;
She cannot be for Honour's turn, nor mine.
Yet come, cold Monitor! half foe, half friend,
Whom Vice can't fear, whom Virtue can't commend;
Come, Candour, by thy dull indifference known,
Thou equal-blooded judge, thou lukewarm drone,
Who, fashion'd without feelings, dost expect
We call that virtue--which we know defect;
Come, and observe the nature of our crimes,
The gross and rank complexion of the times;
Observe it well, and then review my plan,
Praise if you will, or censure if you can.
Whilst Vice presumptuous lords it as in sport,
And Piety is only known at court;
Whilst wretched Liberty expiring lies,
Beneath the fatal burthen of Excise;
Whilst nobles act, without one touch of shame,
What men of humble rank would blush to name;
Whilst Honour's placed in highest point of view,
Worshipp'd by those who Justice never knew;
Whilst bubbles of distinction waste in play
The hours of rest, and blunder through the day;
With dice and cards opprobrious vigils keep,
Then turn to ruin empires in their sleep;
Whilst fathers, by relentless passion led,
Doom worthy injured sons to beg their bread,
Merely with ill-got, ill-saved, wealth to grace,
An alien, abject, poor, proud, upstart race!
Whilst Martin flatters only to betray,
And Webb gives up his dirty soul for pay,
Whilst titles serve to hush a villain's fears;
Whilst peers are agents made, and agents peers;
Whilst base betrayers are themselves betray'd,
And makers ruin'd by the thing they made;
Whilst C----, false to God and man, for gold,
Like the old traitor who a Saviour sold,
To shame his master, friend, and father gives;
Whilst Bute remains in power, whilst Holland lives;--
Can Satire want a subject, where Disdain,
By Virtue fired, may point her sharpest strain,
Where, clothed with thunder, Truth may roll along,
And Candour justify the rage of song?
Such things! such men before thee! such an age!
Where Rancour, great as thine, may glut her rage,
And sicken e'en to surfeit; where the pride
Of Satire, pouring down in fullest tide,
May spread wide vengeance round, yet all the while
Justice behold the ruin with a smile;
Whilst I, thy foe misdeem'd, cannot condemn,
Nor disapprove that rage I wish to stem,
Wilt thou, degenerate and corrupted, choose
To soil the credit of thy haughty Muse?
With fallacy, most infamous, to stain
Her truth, and render all her anger vain?
When I beheld thee, incorrect, but bold,
A various comment on the stage unfold;
When players on players before thy satire fell,
And poor Reviews conspired thy wrath to swell;
When states and statesmen next became thy care,
And only kings were safe if thou wast there,
Thy every word I weigh'd in judgment's scale,
And in thy every word found truth prevail;
Why dost thou now to falsehood meanly fly?
Not even Candour can forgive a lie.
Bad as men are, why should thy frantic rhymes
Traffic in slander, and invent new crimes?--
Crimes which, existing only in thy mind,
Weak spleen brings forth to blacken all mankind.
By pleasing hopes we lure the human heart
To practise virtue and improve in art;
To thwart these ends (which, proud of honest fame,
A noble Muse would cherish and inflame)
Thy drudge contrives, and in our full career
Sicklies our hopes with the pale hue of fear;
Tells us that all our labours are in vain;
That what we seek, we never can obtain;
That, dead to virtue, lost to Nature's plan,
Envy possesses the whole race of man;
That worth is criminal, and danger lies,
Danger extreme, in being good and wise.
'Tis a rank falsehood; search the world around,
There cannot be so vile a monster found,
Not one so vile, on whom suspicions fall
Of that gross guilt which you impute to all.
Approved by those who disobey her laws,
Virtue from Vice itself extorts applause:
Her very foes bear witness to her state;
They will not love her, but they cannot hate.
Hate Virtue for herself! with spite pursue
Merit for Merit's sake! might this be true,
I would renounce my nature with disdain,
And with the beasts that perish graze the plain;
Might this be true,--had we so far fill'd up
The measure of our crimes, and from the cup
Of guilt so deeply drank, as not to find,
Thirsting for sin, one drop, one dreg behind;
Quick ruin must involve this flaming ball,
And Providence in justice crush us all.
None but the damn'd, and amongst them the worst,
Those who for double guilt are doubly cursed,
Can be so lost; nor can the worst of all
At once into such deep damnation fall;
By painful slow degrees they reach this crime,
Which e'en in hell must be a work of time.
Cease, then, thy guilty rage, thou wayward son,
With the foul gall of Discontent o'errun;
List to my voice,--be honest, if you can,
Nor slander Nature in her favourite, man.
But if thy spirit, resolute in ill,
Once having err'd, persists in error still,
Go on at large, no longer worth my care,
And freely vent those blasphemies in air,
Which I would stamp as false, though on the tongue
Of angels the injurious slander hung.
Duped by thy vanity (that cunning elf
Who snares the coxcomb to deceive himself),
Or blinded by thy rage, didst thou believe
That we too, coolly, would ourselves deceive?
That we, as sterling, falsehood would admit,
Because 'twas season'd with some little wit?
When fiction rises pleasing to the eye,
Men will believe, because they love the lie;
But Truth herself, if clouded with a frown,
Must have some solemn proof to pass her down.
Hast thou, maintaining that which must disgrace
And bring into contempt the human race,
Hast thou, or canst thou, in Truth's sacred court,
To save thy credit, and thy cause support,
Produce one proof, make out one real ground,
On which so great, so gross a charge to found?
Nay, dost thou know one man (let that appear,
From wilful falsehood I'll proclaim thee clear),
One man so lost, to nature so untrue,
From whom this general charge thy rashness drew?
On this foundation shalt thou stand or fall--
Prove that in one which you have charged on all.
Reason determines, and it must be done;
'Mongst men, or past, or present, name me one.
Hogarth,--I take thee, Candour, at thy word,
Accept thy proffer'd terms, and will be heard;
Thee have I heard with virulence declaim,
Nothing retain'd of Candour but the name;
By thee have I been charged in angry strains
With that mean falsehood which my soul disdains--
Hogarth, stand forth;--Nay, hang not thus aloof--
Now, Candour, now thou shalt receive such proof,
Such damning proof, that henceforth thou shalt fear
To tax my wrath, and own my conduct clear;--
Hogarth, stand forth--I dare thee to be tried
In that great court where Conscience must preside;
At that most solemn bar hold up thy hand;
Think before whom, on what account, you stand;
Speak, but consider well;--from first to last
Review thy life, weigh every action past;
Nay, you shall have no reason to complain--
Take longer time, and view them o'er again.
Canst thou remember from thy earliest youth,
And as thy God must judge thee, speak the truth,
A single instance where, self laid aside,
And Justice taking place of Fear and Pride,
Thou with an equal eye didst Genius view,
And give to Merit what was Merit's due?
Genius and Merit are a sure offence,
And thy soul sickens at the name of sense.
Is any one so foolish to succeed?
On Envy's altar he is doom'd to bleed.
Hogarth, a guilty pleasure in his eyes,
The place of executioner supplies:
See how he gloats, enjoys the sacred feast,
And proves himself by cruelty a priest!
Whilst the weak artist, to thy whims a slave,
Would bury all those powers which Nature gave;
Would suffer blank concealment to obscure
Those rays thy jealousy could not endure;
To feed thy vanity would rust unknown,
And to secure thy credit, blast his own,
In Hogarth he was sure to find a friend;
He could not fear, and therefore might commend.
But when his spirit, roused by honest shame,
Shook off that lethargy, and soar'd to fame;
When, with the pride of man, resolved and strong,
He scorn'd those fears which did his honour wrong,
And, on himself determined to rely,
Brought forth his labours to the public eye,
No friend in thee could such a rebel know;
He had desert, and Hogarth was his foe.
Souls of a timorous cast, of petty name
In Envy's court, not yet quite dead to shame,
May some remorse, some qualms of conscience feel,
And suffer honour to abate their zeal;
But the man truly and completely great,
Allows no rule of action but his hate;
Through every bar he bravely breaks his way,
Passion his principle, and parts his prey.
Mediums in vice and virtue speak a mind
Within the pale of temperance confined;
The daring spirit scorns her narrow schemes,
And, good or bad, is always in extremes.
Man's practice duly weigh'd, through every age
On the same plan hath Envy form'd her rage,
'Gainst those whom fortune hath our rivals made,
In way of science, and in way of trade:
Stung with mean jealousy she arms her spite,
First works, then views their ruin with delight.
Our Hogarth here a grand improver shines,
And nobly on the general plan refines;
He like himself o'erleaps the servile bound;
Worth is his mark, wherever worth is found.
Should painters only his vast wrath suffice?
Genius in every walk is lawful prize:
'Tis a gross insult to his o'ergrown state;
His love to merit is to feel his hate.
When Wilkes, our countryman, our common friend,
Arose, his king, his country to defend;
When tools of power he bared to public view,
And from their holes the sneaking cowards drew;
When Rancour found it far beyond her reach
To soil his honour, and his truth impeach;
What could induce thee, at a time and place
Where manly foes had blush'd to show their face,
To make that effort which must damn thy name,
And sink thee deep, deep in thy grave with shame?
Did virtue move thee? No; 'twas pride, rank pride,
And if thou hadst not done it, thou hadst died.
Malice (who, disappointed of her end,
Whether to work the bane of foe or friend,
Preys on herself, and, driven to the stake,
Gives Virtue that revenge she scorns to take)
Had kill'd thee, tottering on life's utmost verge,
Had Wilkes and Liberty escaped thy scourge.
When that Great Charter, which our fathers bought
With their best blood, was into question brought;
When, big with ruin, o'er each English head
Vile Slavery hung suspended by a thread;
When Liberty, all trembling and aghast,
Fear'd for the future, knowing what was past;
When every breast was chill'd with deep despair,
Till Reason pointed out that Pratt was there;--
Lurking, most ruffian-like, behind the screen,
So placed all things to see, himself unseen,
Virtue, with due contempt, saw Hogarth stand,
The murderous pencil in his palsied hand.
What was the cause of Liberty to him,
Or what was Honour? let them sink or swim,
So he may gratify, without control,
The mean resentments of his selfish soul;
Let Freedom perish, if, to Freedom true,
In the same ruin Wilkes may perish too.
With all the symptoms of assured decay,
With age and sickness pinch'd and worn away,
Pale quivering lips, lank cheeks, and faltering tongue,
The spirits out of tune, the nerves unstrung,
Thy body shrivell'd up, thy dim eyes sunk
Within their sockets deep, thy weak hams shrunk,
The body's weight unable to sustain,
The stream of life scarce trembling through the vein,
More than half kill'd by honest truths which fell,
Through thy own fault, from men who wish'd thee well--
Canst thou, e'en thus, thy thoughts to vengeance give,
And, dead to all things else, to malice live?
Hence, dotard, to thy closet; shut thee in;
By deep repentance wash away thy sin;
From haunts of men to shame and sorrow fly,
And, on the verge of death, learn how to die!
Vain exhortation! wash the Ethiop white,
Discharge the leopard's spots, turn day to night,
Control the course of Nature, bid the deep
Hush at thy pigmy voice her waves to sleep--
Perform things passing strange, yet own thy art
Too weak to work a change in such a heart;
That Envy, which was woven in the frame
At first, will to the last remain the same.
Reason may droop, may die; but Envy's rage
Improves by time, and gathers strength from age.
Some, and not few, vain triflers with the pen,
Unread, unpractised in the ways of men,
Tell us that Envy, who, with giant stride,
Stalks through the vale of life by Virtue's side,
Retreats when she hath drawn her latest breath,
And calmly hears her praises after death.
To such observers Hogarth gives the lie;
Worth may be hearsed, but Envy cannot die;
Within the mansion of his gloomy breast,
A mansion suited well to such a guest,
Immortal, unimpair'd, she rears her head,
And damns alike the living and the dead.
Oft have I known thee, Hogarth, weak and vain,
Thyself the idol of thy awkward strain,
Through the dull measure of a summer's day,
In phrase most vile, prate long, long hours away,
Whilst friends with friends, all gaping sit, and gaze,
To hear a Hogarth babble Hogarth's praise.
But if athwart thee Interruption came,
And mention'd with respect some ancient's name,
Some ancient's name who, in the days of yore,
The crown of Art with greatest honour wore,
How have I seen thy coward cheek turn pale,
And blank confusion seize thy mangled tale!
How hath thy jealousy to madness grown,
And deem'd his praise injurious to thy own!
Then without mercy did thy wrath make way,
And arts and artists all became thy prey;
Then didst thou trample on establish'd rules,
And proudly levell'd all the ancient schools;
Condemn'd those works, with praise through ages graced,
Which you had never seen, or could not taste;
But would mankind have true perfection shown,
It must be found in labours of my own:
I dare to challenge, in one single piece,
The united force of Italy and Greece.
Thy eager hand the curtain then undrew,
And brought the boasted masterpiece to view.
Spare thy remarks--say not a single word--
The picture seen, why is the painter heard?
Call not up shame and anger in our cheeks;
Without a comment Sigismunda speaks.
Poor Sigismunda! what a fate is thine!
Dryden, the great high-priest of all the Nine,
Revived thy name, gave what a Muse could give,
And in his numbers bade thy memory live;
Gave thee those soft sensations which might move
And warm the coldest anchorite to love;
Gave thee that virtue, which could curb desire,
Refine and consecrate love's headstrong fire;
Gave thee those griefs, which made the Stoic feel,
And call'd compassion forth from hearts of steel;
Gave thee that firmness, which our sex may shame,
And make man bow to woman's juster claim;
So that our tears, which from compassion flow,
Seem to debase thy dignity of woe.
But, oh, how much unlike! how fallen! how changed!
How much from Nature and herself estranged!
How totally deprived of all the powers
To show her feelings, and awaken ours,
Doth Sigismunda now devoted stand,
The helpless victim of a dauber's hand!
But why, my Hogarth, such a progress made,
So rare a pattern for the sign-post trade,
In the full force and whirlwind of thy pride,
Why was heroic painting laid aside?
Why is it not resumed? thy friends at court,
Men all in place and power, crave thy support;
Be grateful then for once, and through the field
Of politics thy epic pencil wield;
Maintain the cause, which they, good lack! avow,
And would maintain too, but they know not how.
Through every pannel let thy virtue tell
How Bute prevail'd, how Pitt and Temple fell;
How England's sons (whom they conspired to bless.
Against our will, with insolent success)
Approve their fall, and with addresses run--
How got, God knows--to hail the Scottish sun;
Point out our fame in war, when vengeance, hurl'd
From the strong arm of Justice, shook the world;
Thine, and thy country's honour to increase,
Point out the honours of succeeding peace;
Our moderation, Christian-like, display,
Show what we got, and what we gave away;
In colours, dull and heavy as the tale,
Let a state-chaos through the whole prevail.
But, of events regardless, whilst the Muse,
Perhaps with too much heat, her theme pursues;
Whilst her quick spirits rouse at Freedom's call,
And every drop of blood is turn'd to gall;
Whilst a dear country, and an injured friend,
Urge my strong anger to the bitterest end;
Whilst honest trophies to Revenge are raised,
Let not one real virtue pass unpraised;
Justice with equal course bids Satire flow,
And loves the virtue of her greatest foe.
Oh! that I here could that rare virtue mean,
Which scorns the rule of envy, pride, and spleen,
Which springs not from the labour'd works of art,
But hath its rise from Nature in the heart;
Which in itself with happiness is crown'd,
And spreads with joy the blessing all around!
But truth forbids, and in these simple lays,
Contented with a different kind of praise,
Must Hogarth stand; that praise which Genius gives,
In which to latest time the artist lives,
But not the man; which, rightly understood,
May make us great, but cannot make us good:
That praise be Hogarth's; freely let him wear
The wreath which Genius wove, and planted there:
Foe as I am, should Envy tear it down,
Myself would labour to replace the crown.
In walks of humour, in that cast of style,
Which, probing to the quick, yet makes us smile;
In comedy, his natural road to fame,--
Nor let me call it by a meaner name,
Where a beginning, middle, and an end,
Are aptly join'd; where parts on parts depend,
Each made for each, as bodies for their soul,
So as to form one true and perfect whole;
Where a plain story to the eye is told,
Which we conceive the moment we behold,--
Hogarth unrivall'd stands, and shall engage
Unrivall'd praise to the most distant age.
How couldst thou, then, to shame perversely run,
And tread that path which Nature bade thee shun?
Why did ambition overleap her rules,
And thy vast parts become the sport of fools?
By different methods different men excel;
But where is he who can do all things well?
Humour thy province, for some monstrous crime
Pride struck thee with the frenzy of sublime;
But, when the work was finish'd, could thy mind
So partial be, and to herself so blind,
What with contempt all view'd, to view with awe,
Nor see those faults which every blockhead saw?
Blush, thou vain man! and if desire of fame,
Founded on real art, thy thoughts inflame,
To quick destruction Sigismunda give,
And let her memory die, that thine may live.
But should fond Candour, for her mercy sake,
With pity view, and pardon this mistake;
Or should Oblivion, to thy wish most kind,
Wipe off that stain, nor leave one trace behind;
Of arts despised, of artists, by thy frown
Awed from just hopes, of rising worth kept down,
Of all thy meanness through this mortal race,
Canst thou the living memory erase?
Or shall not vengeance follow to the grave,
And give back just that measure which you gave?
With so much merit, and so much success,
With so much power to curse, so much to bless,
Would he have been man's friend, instead of foe,
Hogarth had been a little god below.
Why, then, like savage giants, famed of old,
Of whom in Scripture story we are told,
Dost thou in cruelty that strength employ,
Which Nature meant to save, not to destroy?
Why dost thou, all in horrid pomp array'd,
Sit grinning o'er the ruins thou hast made?
Most rank ill-nature must applaud thy art,
But even Candour must condemn thy heart.
For me, who, warm and zealous for my friend,
In spite of railing thousands, will commend;
And no less warm and zealous 'gainst my foes,
Spite of commending thousands, will oppose,
I dare thy worst, with scorn behold thy rage,
But with an eye of pity view thy age;
Thy feeble age, in which, as in a glass,
We see how men to dissolution pass.
Thou wretched being, whom, on Reason's plan,
So changed, so lost, I cannot call a man,
What could persuade thee, at this time of life,
To launch afresh into the sea of strife?
Better for thee, scarce crawling on the earth,
Almost as much a child as at thy birth,
To have resign'd in peace thy parting breath,
And sunk unnoticed in the arms of Death.
Why would thy gray, gray hairs resentment brave,
Thus to go down with sorrow to the grave?
Now, by my soul! it makes me blush to know,
My spirit could descend to such a foe:
Whatever cause the vengeance might provoke,
It seems rank cowardice to give the stroke.
Sure 'tis a curse which angry fates impose,
To mortify man's arrogance, that those
Who're fashion'd of some better sort of clay,
Much sooner than the common herd decay.
What bitter pangs must humbled Genius feel,
In their last hours to view a Swift and Steele!
How must ill-boding horrors fill her breast,
When she beholds men mark'd above the rest
For qualities most dear, plunged from that height,
And sunk, deep sunk, in second childhood's night!
Are men, indeed, such things? and are the best
More subject to this evil than the rest,
To drivel out whole years of idiot breath,
And sit the monuments of living death?
Oh, galling circumstance to human pride!
Abasing thought, but not to be denied!
With curious art the brain, too finely wrought,
Preys on herself, and is destroy'd by thought.
Constant attention wears the active mind,
Blots out her powers, and leaves a blank behind.
But let not youth, to insolence allied,
In heat of blood, in full career of pride,
Possess'd of genius, with unhallow'd rage
Mock the infirmities of reverend age:
The greatest genius to this fate may bow;
Reynolds, in time, may be like Hogarth now.

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William Cowper

Table Talk

A. You told me, I remember, glory, built
On selfish principles, is shame and guilt;
The deeds that men admire as half divine,
Stark naught, because corrupt in their design.
Strange doctrine this! that without scruple tears
The laurel that the very lightning spares;
Brings down the warrior’s trophy to the dust,
And eats into his bloody sword like rust.
B. I grant that, men continuing what they are,
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war,
And never meant the rule should be applied
To him that fights with justice on his side.
Let laurels drench’d in pure Parnassian dews
Reward his memory, dear to every muse,
Who, with a courage of unshaken root,
In honour’s field advancing his firm foot,
Plants it upon the line that Justice draws,
And will prevail or perish in her cause.
‘Tis to the virtues of such men man owes
His portion in the good that Heaven bestows.
And, when recording History displays
Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days,
Tells of a few stout hearts, that fought and died,
Where duty placed them, at their country’s side;
The man that is not moved with what he reads,
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,
Unworthy of the blessings of the brave,
Is base in kind, and born to be a slave.
But let eternal infamy pursue
The wretch to nought but his ambition true,
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast
The post-horns of all Europe, lays her waste.
Think yourself station’d on a towering rock,
To see a people scatter’d like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels;
Then view him self-proclaim’d in a gazette
Chief monster that has plagued the nations yet.
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplaced,
Those ensigns of dominion how disgraced!
The glass, that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And Death’s own scythe, would better speak his power;
Then grace the bony phantom in their stead
With the king’s shoulder-knot and gay cockade;
Clothe the twin brethren in each other’s dress,
The same their occupation and success.
A. ‘Tis your belief the world was made for man;
Kings do but reason on the self-same plan:
Maintaining yours, you cannot theirs condemn,
Who think, or seem to think, man made for them.
B. Seldom, alas! the power of logic reigns
With much sufficiency in royal brains;
Such reasoning falls like an inverted cone,
Wanting its proper base to stand upon.
Man made for kings! those optics are but dim
That tell you so—say, rather, they for him.
That were indeed a king-ennobling thought,
Could they, or would they, reason as they ought.
The diadem, with mighty projects lined,
To catch renown by ruining mankind,
Is worth, with all its gold and glittering store,
Just what the toy will sell for, and no more.
Oh! bright occasions of dispensing good,
How seldom used, how little understood!
To pour in Virtue’s lap her just reward;
Keep Vice restrain’d behind a double guard;
To quell the faction that affronts the throne
By silent magnanimity alone;
To nurse with tender care the thriving arts;
Watch every beam Philosophy imparts;
To give religion her unbridled scope,
Nor judge by statute a believer’s hope;
With close fidelity and love unfeign’d
To keep the matrimonial bond unstain’d;
Covetous only of a virtuous praise;
His life a lesson to the land he sways;
To touch the sword with conscientious awe,
Nor draw it but when duty bids him draw;
To sheath it in the peace-restoring close
With joy beyond what victory bestows—
Blest country, where these kingly glories shine!
Blest England, if this happiness be thine!
A. Guard what you say: the patriotic tribe
Will sneer, and charge you with a bribe.—B. A bribe
The worth of his three kingdoms I defy,
To lure me to the baseness of a lie;
And, of all lies (be that one poet’s boast),
The lie that flatters I abhor the most.
Those arts be theirs who hate his gentle reign,
But he that loves him has no need to feign.
A. Your smooth eulogium, to one crown address’d,
Seems to imply a censure on the rest.
B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale,
Ask’d, when in hell, to see the royal jail;
Approved their method in all other things;
But where, good sir, do you confine your kings?
There—said his guide—the group is in full view.
Indeed!—replied the don—there are but few.
His black interpreter the charge disdain’d—
Few, fellow?—there are all that ever reign’d.
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
The guilty and not guilty both alike:
I grant the sarcasm is too severe,
And we can readily refute it here;
While Alfred’s name, the father of his age,
And the Sixth Edward’s grace the historic page.
A. Kings, then, at last have but the lot of all:
By their own conduct they must stand or fall.
B. True. While they live, the courtly laureate pays
His quitrent ode, his peppercorn of praise,
And many a dunce, whose fingers itch to write,
Adds, as he can, his tributary mite:
A subject’s faults a subject may proclaim,
A monarch’s errors are forbidden game!
Thus, free from censure, overawed by fear,
And praised for virtues that they scorn to wear,
The fleeting forms of majesty engage
Respect, while stalking o’er life’s narrow stage:
Then leave their crimes for history to scan,
And ask, with busy scorn, Was this the man?
I pity kings, whom worship waits upon,
Obsequious from the cradle to the throne;
Before whose infant eyes the flatterer bows,
And binds a wreath about their baby brows:
Whom education stiffens into state,
And death awakens from that dream too late.
Oh! if servility with supple knees,
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please;
If smooth dissimulation skill’d to grace
A devil’s purpose with an angel’s face;
If smiling peeresses and simpering peers,
Encompassing his throne a few short years;
If the gilt carriage and the pamper’d steed,
That wants no driving, and disdains the lead;
If guards, mechanically form’d in ranks,
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks,
Shouldering and standing as if stuck to stone,
While condescending majesty looks on—
If monarchy consist in such base things,
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings!
To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood,
E’en when he labours for his country’s good;
To see a band call’d patriot for no cause,
But that they catch at popular applause,
Careless of all the anxiety he feels,
Hook disappointment on the public wheels;
With all their flippant fluency of tongue,
Most confident, when palpably most wrong—
If this be kingly, then farewell for me
All kingship, and may I be poor and free!
To be the Table Talk of clubs up-stairs,
To which the unwash’d artificer repairs,
To indulge his genius after long fatigue,
By diving into cabinet intrigue—
(For what kings deem a toil, as well they may,
To him is relaxation, and mere play);
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censured when they fail;
To doubt the love his favourites may pretend,
And in reality to find no friend;
If he indulge a cultivated taste,
His galleries with the works of art well graced,
To hear it call’d extravagance and waste;—
If these attendants, and if such as these,
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease;
However humble and confined the sphere,
Happy the state that has not these to fear!
A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative have dwelt
On situations that they never felt,
Start up sagacious, cover’d with the dust
Of dreaming study and pedantic rust,
And prate and preach about what others prove,
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares;
They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs;
Poets, of all men, ever least regret
Increasing taxes and the nation’s debt.
Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse
The mighty plan, oracular, in verse,
No bard, howe’er majestic, old or new,
Should claim my fix’d attention more than you.
B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay
To turn the course of Helicon that way:
Nor would the Nine consent the sacred tide
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside,
Or tinkle in ‘Change Alley, to amuse
The leathern ears of stockjobbers and Jews.
A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme
To themes more pertinent, if less sublime.
When ministers and ministerial arts;
Patriots, who love good places at their hearts;
When admirals, extoll’d for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill;
Generals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay;
When Freedom, wounded almost to despair,
Though discontent alone can find out where—
When themes like these employ the poet’s tongue,
I hear as mute as if a syren sung.
Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains
A Briton’s scorn of arbitrary chains?
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.
B. The cause, though worth the search, may yet elude
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here
With stern severity deals out the year.
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer’s drooping flowers;
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams:
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work:
Thus with a rigour, for his good design’d,
She rears her favourite man of all mankind.
His form robust, and of elastic tone,
Proportion’d well, half muscle and half bone,
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well lodged, and masculine of course.
Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty inspires
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Patient of constitutional control,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul;
But, if authority grow wanton, woe
To him that treads upon his free-born toe!
One step beyond the boundary of the laws,
Fires him at once in Freedom’s glorious cause.
Thus proud Prerogative, not much revered,
Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.
Born in a climate softer far than ours,
Nor form’d like us, with such Herculean powers,
The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk,
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
Is always happy, reign whoever may,
And laughs the sense of misery far away:
He drinks his simple beverage with a gust;
And, feasting on an onion and a crust,
We never feel the alacrity and joy
With which he shouts and carols, Vive le Roi!
Fill’d with as much true merriment and glee
As if he heard his king say—Slave, be free.
Thus happiness depends, as Nature shews,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
Vigilant over all that he has made,
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid;
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale;
He can encourage slavery to a smile,
And fill with discontent a British isle.
A. Freeman and slave, then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level; and you prove too much:
If all men indiscriminately share
His fostering power, and tutelary care,
As well be yoked by Despotism’s hand,
As dwell at large in Britain’s charter’d land.
B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to shew,
That slaves, howe’er contented, never know.
The mind attains beneath her happy reign
The growth that Nature meant she should attain;
The varied fields of science, ever new,
Opening and wider opening on her view,
She ventures onward with a prosperous force,
While no base fear impedes her in her course:
Religion, richest favour of the skies,
Stands most reveal’d before the freeman’s eyes;
No shades of superstition blot the day,
Liberty chases all that gloom away.
The soul, emancipated, unoppress’d,
Free to prove all things and hold fast the best,
Learns much; and to a thousand list’ning minds
Communicates with joy the good she finds;
Courage in arms, and ever prompt to shew
His manly forehead to the fiercest foe;
Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace,
His spirits rising as his toils increase,
Guards well what arts and industry have won,
And Freedom claims him for her first-born son.
Slaves fight for what were better cast away—
The chain that binds them, and a tyrant’s sway;
But they that fight for freedom undertake
The noblest cause mankind can have at stake:
Religion, virtue, truth, whate’er we call
A blessing—freedom is the pledge of all.
O Liberty! the prisoner’s pleasing dream,
The poet’s muse, his passion, and his theme;
Genius is thine, and thou art Fancy’s nurse;
Lost without thee the ennobling powers of verse;
Heroic song from thy free touch acquires
Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires.
Place me where Winter breathes his keenest air,
And I will sing, if Liberty be there;
And I will sing at Liberty’s dear feet,
In Afric’s torrid clime, or India’s fiercest heat.
A. Sing where you please; in such a cause I grant
An English poet’s privilege to rant;
But is not freedom—at least, is not ours
Too apt to play the wanton with her powers,
Grow freakish, and o’erleaping every mound,
Spread anarchy and terror all around?
B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your horse
For bounding and curveting in his course?
Or if, when ridden with a careless rein,
He break away, and seek the distant plain?
No. His high mettle, under good control,
Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the goal.
Let Discipline employ her wholesome arts;
Let magistrates alert perform their parts,
Not skulk or put on a prudential mask,
As if their duty were a desperate task;
Let active laws apply the needful curb,
To guard the peace that riot would disturb;
And Liberty, preserved from wild excess,
Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress.
When Tumult lately burst his prison-door,
And set plebeian thousands in a roar;
When he usurp’d authority’s just place,
And dared to look his master in the face;
When the rude rabble’s watchword was—Destroy,
And blazing London seem’d a second Troy;
Liberty blush’d, and hung her drooping head,
Beheld their progress with the deepest dread;
Blush’d that effects like these she should produce,
Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose.
She loses in such storms her very name,
And fierce licentiousness should bear the blame.
Incomparable gem! thy worth untold:
Cheap, though blood-bought, and thrown away when sold;
May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend
Betray thee, while professing to defend!
Prize it, ye ministers; ye monarchs, spare;
Ye patriots, guard it with a miser’s care.
A. Patriots, alas! the few that have been found,
Where most they flourish, upon English ground,
The country’s need have scantily supplied,
And the last left the scene when Chatham died.
B. Not so—the virtue still adorns our age,
Though the chief actor died upon the stage.
In him Demosthenes was heard again;
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain;
She clothed him with authority and awe,
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law.
His speech, his form, his action, full of grace,
And all his country beaming in his face,
He stood, as some inimitable hand
Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand.
No sycophant or slave, that dared oppose
Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose;
And every venal stickler for the yoke
Felt himself crush’d at the first word he spoke.
Such men are raised to station and command,
When Providence means mercy to a land.
He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe
Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow;
To manage with address, to seize with power
The crisis of a dark decisive hour.
So Gideon earn’d a victory not his own;
Subserviency his praise, and that alone.
Poor England! thou art a devoted deer,
Beset with every ill but that of fear.
The nations hunt; all mark thee for a prey;
They swarm around thee, and thou stand’st at bay:
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplex’d,
Once Chatham saved thee; but who saves thee next?
Alas! the tide of pleasure sweeps along
All that should be the boast of British song.
‘Tis not the wreath that once adorn’d thy brow,
The prize of happier times, will serve thee now.
Our ancestry, a gallant Christian race,
Patterns of every virtue, every grace,
Confess’d a God; they kneel’d before they fought,
And praised him in the victories he wrought.
Now from the dust of ancient days bring forth
Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth;
Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies,
Is but the fire without the sacrifice.
The stream that feeds the wellspring of the heart
Not more invigorates life’s noblest part,
Than virtue quickens with a warmth divine
The powers that sin has brought to a decline.
A. The inestimable estimate of Brown
Rose like a paper-kite, and charm’d the town;
But measures, plann’d and executed well,
Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell.
He trod the very selfsame ground you tread,
And victory refuted all he said.
B. And yet his judgment was not framed amiss;
Its error, if it err’d, was merely this—
He thought the dying hour already come,
And a complete recovery struck him dumb.
But that effeminacy, folly, lust,
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must;
And that a nation shamefully debased
Will be despised and trampled on at last,
Unless sweet penitence her powers renew,
Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and justice marks the date,
For long forbearing clemency to wait;
That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt
Is punish’d, and down comes the thunderbolt.
If Mercy then put by the threatening blow,
Must she perform the same kind office now?
May she! and if offended Heaven be still
Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will.
‘Tis not, however, insolence and noise,
The tempest of tumultuary joys,
Nor is it yet despondence and dismay
Will win her visits or engage her stay;
Prayer only, and the penitential tear,
Can call her smiling down, and fix her here.
But when a country (one that I could name)
In prostitution sinks the sense of shame;
When infamous venality, grown bold,
Writes on his bosom, To be let or sold;
When perjury, that Heaven-defying vice,
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price,
Stamps God’s own name upon a lie just made,
To turn a penny in the way of trade;
When avarice starves (and never hides his face)
Two or three millions of the human race,
And not a tongue inquires how, where, or when,
Though conscience will have twinges now and then
When profanation of the sacred cause
In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws,
Bespeaks a land, once Christian, fallen and lost,
In all that wars against that title most;
What follows next let cities of great name,
And regions long since desolate proclaim.
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome,
Speak to the present times and times to come;
They cry aloud in every careless ear,
Stop, while ye may; suspend your mad career;
O learn, from our example and our fate,
Learn wisdom and repentance ere too late!
Not only Vice disposes and prepares
The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares,
To stoop to tyranny’s usurp’d command,
And bend her polish’d neck beneath his hand
(A dire effect by one of Nature’s laws
Unchangeably connected with its cause);
But Providence himself will intervene,
To throw his dark displeasure o’er the scene.
All are his instruments; each form of war,
What burns at home, or threatens from afar,
Nature in arms, her elements at strife,
The storms that overset the joys of life,
Are but his rods to scourge a guilty land,
And waste it at the bidding of his hand.
He gives the word, and mutiny soon roars
In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores;
The standards of all nations are unfurl’d;
She has one foe, and that one foe the world.
And if he doom that people with a frown,
And mark them with a seal of wrath press’d down,
Obduracy takes place; callous and tough,
The reprobated race grows judgment-proof:
Earth shakes beneath them, and Heaven roars above,
But nothing scares them from the course they love.
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song,
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern,
Down to the gulf from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail—
God’s curse can cast away ten thousand sail!
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in withers, as it must,
When He commands in whom they place no trust.
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast
A long despised, but now victorious, host;
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal, shock;
Slips the slave’s collar on, and snaps the lock.
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach,
Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach?
B. I know the mind that feels indeed the fire
The Muse imparts, and can command the lyre,
Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal,
Whate’er the theme, that others never feel.
If human woes her soft attention claim,
A tender sympathy pervades the frame,
She pours a sensibility divine
Along the nerve of every feeling line.
But if a deed not tamely to be borne
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with such a power, so loud,
The storm of music shakes the astonish’d crowd.
So, when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen inquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet’s heart; he looks to distant storms;
He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers!
And, arm’d with strength surpassing human powers,
Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan
Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name
Of prophet and of poet was the same;
Hence British poets too the priesthood shared,
And every hallow’d druid was a bard.
But no prophetic fires to me belong;
I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive
To set a distich upon six and five,
Where Discipline helps opening buds of sense
And makes his pupils proud with silver pence,
I was a poet too; but modern taste
Is so refined, and delicate, and chaste,
That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms,
Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus all success depending on an ear,
And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
If sentiment were sacrificed to sound,
And truth cut short to make a period round,
I judged a man of sense could scarce do worse
Than caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit,
And some wits flag through fear of losing it.
Give me the line that ploughs its stately course,
Like a proud swan, conquering the stream by force;
That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart,
Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
When labour and when dulness, club in hand,
Like the two figures at St. Dunstan’s stand,
Beating alternately, in measured time,
The clockwork tintinnabulum of rhyme,
Exact and regular the sounds will be;
But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him who rears a poem lank and long,
To him who strains his all into a song;
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air,
All birks and braes, though he was never there;
Or, having whelp’d a prologue with great pains,
Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
A prologue interdash’d with many a stroke—
An art contrived to advertise a joke,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
Not in the words—but in the gap between;
Manner is all in all, whate’er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subject mean and low
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.
Neglected talents rust into decay,
And every effort ends in pushpin play.
The man that means success should soar above
A soldier’s feather, or a lady’s glove;
Else, summoning the muse to such a theme,
The fruit of all her labour is whipp’d cream.
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then—
Stoop’d from its highest pitch to pounce a wren.
As if the poet, purposing to wed,
Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.
Ages elapsed ere Homer’s lamp appear’d,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard;
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, ask’d ages more.
Thus genius rose and set at order’d times,
And shot a day-spring into distant climes,
Ennobling every region that he chose;
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose;
And, tedious years of Gothic darkness pass’d,
Emerged all splendour in our isle at last.
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
Then shew far off their shining plumes again.
A. Is genius only found in epic lays?
Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise.
Make their heroic powers your own at once,
Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
B. These were the chief; each interval of night
Was graced with many an undulating light
In less illustrious bards his beauty shone
A meteor, or a star; in these, the sun.
The nightingale may claim the topmost bough,
While the poor grasshopper must chirp below.
Like him unnoticed, I, and such as I,
Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly;
Perch’d on the meagre produce of the land,
An ell or two of prospect we command;
But never peep beyond the thorny bound,
Or oaken fence, that hems the paddock round.
In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart
Had faded, poetry was not an art;
Language, above all teaching, or if taught,
Only by gratitude and glowing thought,
Elegant as simplicity, and warm
As ecstacy, unmanacled by form,
Not prompted, as in our degenerate days,
By low ambition and the thirst of praise,
Was natural as is the flowing stream,
And yet magnificent—a God the theme!
That theme on earth exhausted, though above
‘Tis found as everlasting as his love,
Man lavish’d all his thoughts on human things—
The feats of heroes and the wrath of kings;
But still, while virtue kindled his delight,
The song was moral, and so far was right.
‘Twas thus till luxury seduced the mind
To joys less innocent, as less refined;
Then Genius danced a bacchanal; he crown’d
The brimming goblet, seized the thyrsus, bound
His brows with ivy, rush’d into the field
Of wild imagination, and there reel’d,
The victim of his own lascivious fires,
And, dizzy with delight, profaned the sacred wires:
Anacreon, Horace, play’d in Greece and Rome
This bedlam part; and others nearer home.
When Cromwell fought for power, and while he reign’d
The proud protector of the power he gain’d,
Religion, harsh, intolerant, austere,
Parent of manners like herself severe,
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face,
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace;
The dark and sullen humour of the time
Judged every effort of the muse a crime;
Verse, in the finest mould of fancy cast,
Was lumber in an age so void of taste
But when the second Charles assumed the sway,
And arts revived beneath a softer day,
Then, like a bow long forced into a curve,
The mind, released from too constrain’d a nerve,
Flew to its first position with a spring,
That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring.
His court, the dissolute and hateful school
Of wantonness, where vice was taught by rule,
Swarm’d with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid
With brutal lust as ever Circe made.
From these a long succession, in the rage
Of rank obscenity, debauch’d their age:
Nor ceased till, ever anxious to redress
The abuses of her sacred charge, the press,
The Muse instructed a well-nurtured train
Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,
And claim the palm for purity of song,
That lewdness had usurp’d and worn so long.
Then decent pleasantry and sterling sense,
That neither gave nor would endure offence,
Whipp’d out of sight, with satire just and keen,
The puppy pack that had defiled the scene.
In front of these came Addison. In him
Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Sublimity and Attic taste combined,
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.
Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
In verse well-disciplined, complete, compact,
Gave virtue and morality a grace,
That, quite eclipsing pleasure’s painted face,
Levied a tax of wonder and applause,
E’en on the fools that trampled on their laws.
But he (his musical finesse was such,
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch)
Made poetry a mere mechanic art;
And every warbler has his tune by heart.
Nature imparting her satiric gift,
Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift,
With droll sobriety they raised a smile
At folly’s cost, themselves unmoved the while.
That constellation set, the world in vain
Must hope to look upon their like again.
A. Are we then left?—B. Not wholly in the dark;
Wit now and then, struck smartly, shews a spark,
Sufficient to redeem the modern race
From total night and absolute disgrace.
While servile trick and imitative knack
Confine the million in the beaten track,
Perhaps some courser, who disdains the road,
Snuffs up the wind, and flings himself abroad.
Contemporaries all surpass’d, see one;
Short his career indeed, but ably run;
Churchill, himself unconscious of his powers,
In penury consumed his idle hours;
And, like a scatter’d seed at random sown,
Was left to spring by vigour of his own.
Lifted at length, by dignity of thought
And dint of genius, to an affluent lot,
He laid his head in luxury’s soft lap,
And took, too often, there his easy nap.
If brighter beams than all he threw not forth,
‘Twas negligence in him, not want of worth.
Surly and slovenly, and bold and coarse,
Too proud for art, and trusting in mere force,
Spendthrift alike of money and of wit,
Always at speed, and never drawing bit,
He struck the lyre in such a careless mood,
And so disdain’d the rules he understood,
The laurel seem’d to wait on his command;
He snatch’d it rudely from the muses’ hand.
Nature, exerting an unwearied power,
Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower;
Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads
The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads;
She fills profuse ten thousand little throats
With music, modulating all their notes;
And charms the woodland scenes and wilds unknown,
With artless airs and concerts of her own;
But seldom (as if fearful of expense)
Vouchsafes to man a poet’s just pretence—
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought,
Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought;
Fancy, that from the bow that spans the sky
Brings colours, dipp’d in heaven, that never die;
A soul exalted above earth, a mind
Skill’d in the characters that form mankind;
And, as the sun, in rising beauty dress’d,
Looks to the westward from the dappled east,
And marks, whatever clouds may interpose,
Ere yet his race begins, its glorious close;
An eye like his to catch the distant goal;
Or, ere the wheels of verse begin to roll,
Like his to shed illuminating rays
On every scene and subject it surveys;
Thus graced, the man asserts a poet’s name,
And the world cheerfully admits the claim.
Pity Religion has so seldom found
A skilful guide into poetic ground!
The flowers would spring where’er she deign’d to stray,
And every muse attend her in her way.
Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn’d;
But, unattired in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress’d,
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn,
A wintry figure, like a wither’d thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped;
Hackney’d and worn to the last flimsy thread,
Satire has long since done his best; and curst
And loathsome ribaldry has done his worst;
Fancy has sported all her powers away
In tales, in trifles, and in children’s play;
And ‘tis the sad complaint, and almost true,
Whate’er we write, we bring forth nothing new.
‘Twere new indeed to see a bard all fire,
Touch’d with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre.
And tell the world, still kindling as he sung,
With more than mortal music on his tongue,
That He, who died below, and reigns above,
Inspires the song, and that his name is Love.
For, after all, if merely to beguile,
By flowing numbers and a flowery style,
The tedium that the lazy rich endure,
Which now and then sweet poetry may cure;
Or, if to see the name of idol self,
Stamp’d on the well-bound quarto, grace the shelf,
To float a bubble on the breath of fame,
Prompt his endeavour and engage his aim,
Debased to servile purposes of pride,
How are the powers of genius misapplied!
The gift, whose office is the Giver’s praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways!
Then spread the rich discovery, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight:
Distorted from its use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine,
To purchase at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind—
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.
A. Hail, Sternhold, then! and, Hopkins, hail!—
B. Amen.
If flattery, folly, lust, employ the pen;
If acrimony, slander, and abuse,
Give it a charge to blacken and traduce;
Though Butler’s wit, Pope’s numbers, Prior’s ease,
With all that fancy can invent to please,
Adorn the polish’d periods as they fall,
One madrigal of theirs is worth them all.
A. ‘Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
B. No matter—we could shift when they were not;
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot.

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Pharsalia - Book II: The Flight Of Pompeius

This was made plain the anger of the gods;
The universe gave signs Nature reversed
In monstrous tumult fraught with prodigies
Her laws, and prescient spake the coming guilt.

How seemed it just to thee, Olympus' king,
That suffering mortals at thy doom should know
By omens dire the massacre to come?
Or did the primal parent of the world
When first the flames gave way and yielding left
Matter unformed to his subduing hand,
And realms unbalanced, fix by stern decree'
Unalterable laws to bind the whole
(Himself, too, bound by law), so that for aye
All Nature moves within its fated bounds?
Or, is Chance sovereign over all, and we
The sport of Fortune and her turning wheel?
Whate'er be truth, keep thou the future veiled
From mortal vision, and amid their fears
May men still hope.

Thus known how great the woes
The world should suffer, from the truth divine,
A solemn fast was called, the courts were closed,
All men in private garb; no purple hem
Adorned the togas of the chiefs of Rome;
No plaints were uttered, and a voiceless grief
Lay deep in every bosom: as when death
Knocks at some door but enters not as yet,
Before the mother calls the name aloud
Or bids her grieving maidens beat the breast,
While still she marks the glazing eye, and soothes
The stiffening limbs and gazes on the face,
In nameless dread, not sorrow, and in awe
Of death approaching: and with mind distraught
Clings to the dying in a last embrace.

The matrons laid aside their wonted garb:
Crowds filled the temples -- on the unpitying stones
Some dashed their bosoms; others bathed with tears
The statues of the gods; some tore their hair
Upon the holy threshold, and with shrieks
And vows unceasing called upon the names
Of those whom mortals supplicate. Nor all
Lay in the Thunderer's fane: at every shrine
Some prayers are offered which refused shall bring
Reproach on heaven. One whose livid arms
Were dark with blows, whose cheeks with tears bedewed
And riven, cried, 'Beat, mothers, beat the breast,
Tear now the lock; while doubtful in the scales
Still fortune hangs, nor yet the fight is won,
You still may grieve: when either wins rejoice.'
Thus sorrow stirs itself.

Meanwhile the men
Seeking the camp and setting forth to war,
Address the cruel gods in just complaint.
'Happy the youths who born in Punic days
On Cannae's uplands or by Trebia's stream
Fought and were slain! What wretched lot is ours!
No peace we ask for: let the nations rage;
Rouse fiercest cities! may the world find arms
To wage a war with Rome: let Parthian hosts
Rush forth from Susa; Scythian Ister curb
No more the Massagete: unconquered Rhine
Let loose from furthest North her fair-haired tribes:
Elbe, pour thy Suevians forth! Let us be foes
Of all the peoples. May the Getan press
Here, and the Dacian there; Pompeius meet
The Eastern archers, Caesar in the West
Confront th' Iberian. Leave to Rome no hand
To raise against herself in civil strife.
Or, if Italia by the gods be doomed,
Let all the sky, fierce Parent, be dissolved
And falling on the earth in flaming bolts,
Their hands still bloodless, strike both leaders down,
With both their hosts! Why plunge in novel crime
To settle which of them shall rule in Rome?
Scarce were it worth the price of civil war
To hinder either.' Thus the patriot voice
Still found an utterance, soon to speak no more.

Meantime, the aged fathers o'er their fates
In anguish grieved, detesting life prolonged
That brought with it another civil war.
And thus spake one, to justify his fears:
'No other deeds the fates laid up in store
When Marius, victor over Teuton hosts,
Afric's high conqueror, cast out from Rome,
Lay hid in marshy ooze, at thy behest,
O Fortune! by the yielding soil concealed
And waving rushes; but ere long the chains
Of prison wore his weak and aged frame,
And lengthened squalor: thus he paid for crime
His punishment beforehand; doomed to die
Consul in triumph over wasted Rome.
Death oft refused him; and the very foe,
In act to murder, shuddered in the stroke
And dropped the weapon from his nerveless hand.
For through the prison gloom a flame of light
He saw; the deities of crime abhorred;
The Marius to come. A voice proclaimed
Mysterious, `Hold! the fates permit thee not
That neck to sever. Many a death he owes
To time's predestined laws ere his shall come;
Cease from thy madness. If ye seek revenge
For all the blood shed by your slaughtered tribes to
Let this man, Cimbrians, live out all his days.'
Not as their darling did the gods protect
The man of blood, but for his ruthless hand
Fit to prepare that sacrifice of gore
Which fate demanded. By the sea's despite
Borne to our foes, Jugurtha's wasted realm
He saw, now conquered; there in squalid huts
Awhile he lay, and trod the hostile dust
Of Carthage, and his ruin matched with hers:
Each from the other's fate some solace drew,
And prostrate, pardoned heaven. On Libyan soil
Fresh fury gathering, next, when Fortune smiled
The prisons he threw wide and freed the slaves.
Forth rushed the murderous bands, their melted chains
Forged into weapons for his ruffian needs.
No charge he gave to mere recruits in guilt
Who brought not to the camp some proof of crime.
How dread that day when conquering Marius seized
The city's ramparts! with what fated speed
Death strode upon his victims! plebs alike
And nobles perished; far and near the sword
Struck at his pleasure, till the temple floors
Ran wet with slaughter and the crimson stream
Befouled with slippery gore the holy walls.
No age found pity men of failing years,
Just tottering to the grave, were hurled to death;
From infants, in their being's earliest dawn,
The growing life was severed. For what crime?
Twas cause enough for death that they could die.
The fury grew: soon 'twas a sluggard's part
To seek the guilty: hundreds died to swell
The tale of victims. Shamed by empty hands,
The bloodstained conqueror snatched a reeking head
From neck unknown. One way of life remained,
To kiss with shuddering lips the red right hand.
Degenerate people! Had ye hearts of men,
Though ye were threatened by a thousand swords,
Far rather death than centuries of life
Bought at such price; much more that breathing space
Till Sulla comes again. But time would fail
In weeping for the deaths of all who fell.
Encircled by innumerable bands
Fell Baebius, his limbs asunder torn,
His vitals dragged abroad. Antonius too,
Prophet of ill, whose hoary head was placed,
Dripping with blood, upon the festal board.
There headless fell the Crassi; mangled frames
'Neath Fimbria's falchion: and the prison cells
Were wet with tribunes' blood. Hard by the fane
Where dwells the goddess and the sacred fire,
Fell aged Scaevola, though that gory hand
Had spared him, but the feeble tide of blood
Still left the flame alive upon the hearth.
That selfsame year the seventh time restored
The Consul's rods; that year to Marius brought
The end of life, when he at Fortune's hands
All ills had suffered; all her goods enjoyed.

'And what of those who at the Sacriport
And Colline gate were slain, then, when the rule
Of Earth and all her nations almost left
This city for another, and the chiefs
Who led the Samnite hoped that Rome might bleed
More than at Caudium's Forks she bled of old?
Then came great Sulla to avenge the dead,
And all the blood still left within her frame
Drew from the city; for the surgeon knife
Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep,
And shed the life stream from still healthy veins.
True that the guilty fell, but not before
All else had perished. Hatred had free course
And anger reigned unbridled by the law.
The victor's voice spake once; but each man struck
Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel
Urged by the servant laid the master low.
Sons dripped with gore of sires; and brothers fought
For the foul trophy of a father slain,
Or slew each other for the price of blood.
Men sought the tombs and, mingling with the dead,
Hoped for escape; the wild beasts' dens were full.
One strangled died; another from the height
Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth,
And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death:
One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins,
And sealed the furnace ere his blood was gone.
Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads
Were piled in middle forum: hence men knew
Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates
Of Diomedes, tyrant king of Thrace,
Nor of Antaeus, Libya's giant brood,
Were hung such horrors; nor in Pisa's hall
Were seen and wept for when the suitors died.
Decay had touched the features of the slain
When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps
The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead.
I, too, the body of my brother slain
Thought to remove, my victim to the peace
Which Sulla made, and place his loved remains
On the forbidden pyre. The head I found,
But not the butchered corse.

'Why now renew
The tale of Catulus's shade appeased?
And those dread tortures which the living frame
Of Marius suffered at the tomb of him
Who haply wished them not? Pierced, mangled, torn --
Nor speech nor grasp was left: his every limb
Maimed, hacked and riven; yet the fatal blow
The murderers with savage purpose spared.
'Twere scarce believed that one poor mortal frame
Such agonies could bear e'er death should come.
Thus crushed beneath some ruin lie the dead;
Thus shapeless from the deep are borne the drowned.
Why spoil delight by mutilating thus,
The head of Marius? To please Sulla's heart
That mangled visage must be known to all.
Fortune, high goddess of Praeneste's fane,
Saw all her townsmen hurried to their deaths
In one fell instant. All the hope of Rome,
The flower of Latium, stained with blood the field
Where once the peaceful tribes their votes declared.
Famine and Sword, the raging sky and sea,
And Earth upheaved, have laid such numbers low:
But ne'er one man's revenge. Between the slain
And living victims there was space no more,
Death thus let slip, to deal the fatal blow.
Hardly when struck they fell; the severed head
Scarce toppled from the shoulders; but the slain
Blent in a weighty pile of massacre
Pressed out the life and helped the murderer's arm.
Secure from stain upon his lofty throne,
Unshuddering sat the author of the whole,
Nor feared that at his word such thousands fell.
At length the Tuscan flood received the dead
The first upon his waves; the last on those
That lay beneath them; vessels in their course
Were stayed, and while the lower current flowed
Still to the sea, the upper stood on high
Dammed back by carnage. Through the streets meanwhile
In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood,
Which furrowing its path through town and field
Forced the slow river on. But now his banks
No longer held him, and the dead were thrown
Back on the fields above. With labour huge
At length he struggled to his goal and stretched
In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.

'For deeds like these, shall Sulla now be styled
`Darling of Fortune', `Saviour of the State'?
For these, a tomb in middle field of Mars
Record his fame? Like horrors now return
For us to suffer; and the civil war
Thus shall be waged again and thus shall end.
Yet worse disasters may our fears suggest,
For now with greater carnage of mankind
The rival hosts in weightier battle meet.
To exiled Marius, successful strife
Was Rome regained; triumphant Sulla knew
No greater joy than on his hated foes
To wreak his vengeance with unsparing sword.
But these more powerful rivals Fortune calls
To worse ambitions; nor would either chief
For such reward as Sulla's wage the war.'
Thus, mindful of his youth, the aged man
Wept for the past, but feared the coming days.

Such terrors found in haughty Brutus' breast
No home. When others sat them down to fear
He did not so, but in the dewy night
When the great wain was turning round the pole
He sought his kinsman Cato's humble home.
Him sleepless did he find, not for himself
Fearing, but pondering the fates of Rome,
And deep in public cares. And thus he spake:
'O thou in whom that virtue, which of yore
Took flight from earth, now finds its only home,
Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee:
Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul
And make my weakness strength. While Caesar some,
Pompeius others, follow in the fight,
Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace,
Holding thy footsteps in a tottering world
Unshaken? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes
And with the people's fury take thy part,
And by thy presence purge the war of guilt?
In impious battles men unsheath the sword;
But each by cause impelled: the household crime;
Laws feared in peace; want by the sword removed;
And broken credit, that its ruin hides
In general ruin. Drawn by hope of gain,
And not by thirst for blood, they seek the camp.
Shall Cato for war's sake make war alone?
What profits it through all these wicked years
That thou hast lived untainted? This were all
Thy meed of virtue, that the wars which find
Guilt in all else, shall make thee guilty too.
Ye gods, permit not that this fatal strife
Should stir those hands to action! When the clouds
Of flying javelins hiss upon the air,
Let not a dart be thine; nor spent in vain
Such virtue! All the fury of the war
Shall launch itself on thee, for who, when faint
And wounded, would not rush upon thy sword,
Take thence his death, and make the murder thine?
Do thou live on thy peaceful life apart
As on their paths the stars unshaken roll.
The lower air that verges on the earth
Gives flame and fury to the levin bolt;
The deeps below the world engulph the winds
And tracts of flaming fire. By Jove's decree
Olympus rears his summit o'er the clouds:
In lowlier valleys storms and winds contend,
But peace eternal reigns upon the heights.
What joy for Caesar, if the tidings come
That such a citizen has joined the war?
Glad would he see thee e'en in Magnus' tents;
For Cato's conduct shall approve his own.
Pompeius, with the Consul in his ranks,
And half the Senate and the other chiefs,
Vexes my spirit; and should Cato too
Bend to a master's yoke, in all the world
The one man free is Caesar. But if thou
For freedom and thy country's laws alone
Be pleased to raise the sword, nor Magnus then
Nor Caesar shall in Brutus find a foe.
Not till the fight is fought shall Brutus strike,
Then strike the victor.'

Brutus thus; but spake
Cato from inmost breast these sacred words:
'Chief in all wickedness is civil war,
Yet virtue in the paths marked out by fate
Treads on securely. Heaven's will be the crime
To have made even Cato guilty. Who has strength
To gaze unawed upon a toppling world?
When stars and sky fall headlong, and when earth
Slips from her base, who sits with folded hands?
Shall unknown nations, touched by western strife,
And monarchs born beneath another clime
Brave the dividing seas to join the war?
Shall Scythian tribes desert their distant north,
And Getae haste to view the fall of Rome,
And I look idly on? As some fond sire,
Reft of his sons, compelled by grief, himself
Marshals the long procession to the tomb,
Thrusts his own hand within the funeral flames,
Soothing his heart, and, as the lofty pyre
Rises on high, applies the kindled torch:
Nought, Rome, shall tear thee from me, till I hold
Thy form in death embraced; and Freedom's name,
Shade though it be, I'll follow to the grave.
Yea! let the cruel gods exact in full
Rome's expiation: of no drop of blood
The war be robbed. I would that, to the gods
Of heaven and hell devoted, this my life
Might satisfy their vengeance. Decius fell,
Crushed by the hostile ranks. When Cato falls
Let Rhine's fierce barbarous hordes and both the hosts
Thrust through my frame their darts! May I alone
Receive in death the wounds of all the war!
Thus may the people be redeemed, and thus
Rome for her guilt pay the atonement due.
Why should men die who wish to bear the yoke
And shrink not from the tyranny to come?
Strike me, and me alone, of laws and rights
In vain the guardian: this vicarious life
Shall give Hesperia peace and end her toils.
Who then will reign shall find no need for war.
You ask, `Why follow Magnus? If he wins
He too will claim the Empire of the world.'
Then let him, conquering with my service, learn
Not for himself to conquer.' Thus he spoke
And stirred the blood that ran in Brutus' veins
Moving the youth to action in the war.

Soon as the sun dispelled the chilly night,
The sounding doors flew wide, and from the tomb
Of dead Hortensius grieving Marcia came.
First joined in wedlock to a greater man
Three children did she bear to grace his home:
Then Cato to Hortensius gave the dame
To be a fruitful mother of his sons
And join their houses in a closer tie.
And now the last sad offices were done
She came with hair dishevelled, beaten breast,
And ashes on her brow, and features worn
With grief; thus only pleasing to the man.
'When youth was in me and maternal power
I did thy bidding, Cato, and received
A second husband: now in years grown old
Ne'er to be parted I return to thee.
Renew our former pledges undefiled:
Give back the name of wife: upon my tomb
Let `Marcia, spouse to Cato,' be engraved.
Nor let men question in the time to come,
Did'st thou compel, or did I willing leave
My first espousals. Not in happy times,
Partner of joys, I come; but days of care
And labour shall be mine to share with thee.
Nor leave me here, but take me to the camp,
Thy fond companion: why should Magnus' wife
Be nearer, Cato, to the wars than thine?'

Although the times were warlike and the fates
Called to the fray, he lent a willing ear.
Yet must they plight their faith in simple form
Of law; their witnesses the gods alone.
No festal wreath of flowers crowned the gate
Nor glittering fillet on each post entwined;
No flaming torch was there, nor ivory steps,
No couch with robes of broidered gold adorned;
No comely matron placed upon her brow
The bridal garland, or forbad the foot
To touch the threshold stone; no saffron veil
Concealed the timid blushes of the bride;
No jewelled belt confined her flowing robe
Nor modest circle bound her neck; no scarf
Hung lightly on the snowy shoulder's edge
Around the naked arm. Just as she came,
Wearing the garb of sorrow, while the wool
Covered the purple border of her robe,
Thus was she wedded. As she greets her sons
So doth she greet her husband. Festal games
Graced not their nuptials, nor were friends and kin
As by the Sabines bidden: silent both
They joined in marriage, yet content, unseen
By any save by Brutus. Sad and stern
On Cato's lineaments the marks of grief
Were still unsoftened, and the hoary hair
Hung o'er his reverend visage; for since first
Men flew to arms, his locks were left unkempt
To stream upon his brow, and on his chin
His beard untended grew. 'Twas his alone
Who hated not, nor loved, for all mankind
To mourn alike. Nor did their former couch
Again receive them, for his lofty soul
E'en lawful love resisted. 'Twas his rule
Inflexible, to keep the middle path
Marked out and bounded; to observe the laws
Of natural right; and for his country's sake
To risk his life, his all, as not for self
Brought into being, but for all the world:
Such was his creed. To him a sumptuous feast
Was hunger conquered, and the lowly hut,
Which scarce kept out the winter, was a home
Equal to palaces: a robe of price
Such hairy garments as were worn of old:
The end of marriage, offspring. To the State
Father alike and husband, right and law
He ever followed with unswerving step:
No thought of selfish pleasure turned the scale
In Cato's acts, or swayed his upright soul.

Meanwhile Pompeius led his trembling host
To fields Campanian, and held the walls
First founded by the chief of Trojan race.
These chose he for the central seat of war,
Some troops despatching who might meet the foe
Where shady Apennine lifts up the ridge
Of mid Italia; nearest to the sky
Upsoaring, with the seas on either hand,
The upper and the lower. Pisa's sands
Breaking the margin of the Tuscan deep,
Here bound his mountains: there Ancona's towers
Laved by Dalmatian waves. Rivers immense,
In his recesses born, pass on their course,
To either sea diverging. To the left
Metaurus, and Crustumium's torrent, fall
And Sena's streams and Aufidus who bursts
On Adrian billows; and that mighty flood
Which, more than all the rivers of the earth,
Sweeps down the soil and tears the woods away
And drains Hesperia's springs. In fabled lore
His banks were first by poplar shade enclosed:
And when by Phaethon the waning day
Was drawn in path transverse, and all the heaven
Blazed with his car aflame, and from the depths
Of inmost earth were rapt all other floods,
Padus still rolled in pride of stream along.
Nile were no larger, but that o'er the sand
Of level Egypt he spreads out his waves;
Nor Ister, if he sought the Scythian main
Unhelped upon his journey through the world
By tributary waters not his own.
But on the right hand Tiber has his source,
Deep-flowing Rutuba, Vulturnus swift,
And Sarnus breathing vapours of the night
Rise there, and Liris with Vestinian wave
Still gliding through Marica's shady grove,
And Siler flowing through Salernian meads:
And Macra's swift unnavigable stream
By Luna lost in Ocean. On the Alps
Whose spurs strike plainwards, and on fields of Gaul
The cloudy heights of Apennine look down
In further distance: on his nearer slopes
The Sabine turns the ploughshare; Umbrian kine
And Marsian fatten; with his pineclad rocks
He girds the tribes of Latium, nor leaves
Hesperia's soil until the waves that beat
On Scylla's cave compel. His southern spurs
Extend to Juno's temple, and of old
Stretched further than Italia, till the main
O'erstepped his limits and the lands repelled.
But, when the seas were joined, Pelorus claimed
His latest summits for Sicilia's isle.

Caesar, in rage for war, rejoicing found
Foes in Italia; no bloodless steps
Nor vacant homes had pleased him; so his march
Were wasted: now the coming war was joined
Unbroken to the past; to force the gates
Not find them open, fire and sword to bring
Upon the harvests, not through fields unharmed
To pass his legions -- this was Caesar's joy;
In peaceful guise to march, this was his shame.
Italia's cities, doubtful in their choice,
Though to the earliest onset of the war
About to yield, strengthened their walls with mounds
And deepest trench encircling: massive stones
And bolts of war to hurl upon the foe
They place upon the turrets. Magnus most
The people's favour held, yet faith with fear
Fought in their breasts. As when, with strident blast,
A southern tempest has possessed the main
And all the billows follow in its track:
Then, by the Storm-king smitten, should the earth
Set Eurus free upon the swollen deep,
It shall not yield to him, though cloud and sky
Confess his strength; but in the former wind
Still find its master. But their fears prevailed,
And Caesar's fortune, o'er their wavering faith.
For Libo fled Etruria; Umbria lost
Her freedom, driving Thermus from her bounds;
Great Sulla's son, unworthy of his sire,
Feared at the name of Caesar: Varus sought
The caves and woods, when smote the hostile horse
The gates of Auximon; and Spinther driven
From Asculum, the victor on his track,
Fled with his standards, soldierless; and thou,
Scipio, did'st leave Nuceria's citadel
Deserted, though by bravest legions held
Sent home by Caesar for the Parthian war;
Whom Magnus earlier, to his kinsman gave
A loan of Roman blood, to fight the Gaul.

But brave Domitius held firm his post
Behind Corfinium's ramparts; his the troops
Who newly levied kept the judgment hall
At Milo's trial. When from far the plain
Rolled up a dusty cloud, beneath whose veil
The sheen of armour glistening in the sun,
Revealed a marching host. 'Dash down,' he cried,
Swift; as ye can, the bridge that spans the stream;
And thou, O river, from thy mountain source
With all thy torrents rushing, planks and beams
Ruined and broken on thy foaming breast
Bear onward to the sea. The war shall stop
Here, to our triumph; for this headlong chief
Here first at our firm bidding shall be stayed.'
He bade his squadrons, speeding from the walls,
Charge on the bridge: in vain: for Caesar saw
They sought to free the river from his chains
And bar his march; and roused to ire, he cried:
'Were not the walls sufficient to protect
Your coward souls? Seek ye by barricades
And streams to keep me back? What though the flood
Of swollen Ganges were across my path?
Now Rubicon is passed, no stream on earth
Shall hinder Caesar! Forward, horse and foot,
And ere it totters rush upon the bridge.'
Urged in their swiftest gallop to the front
Dashed the light horse across the sounding plain;
And suddenly, as storm in summer, flew
A cloud of javelins forth, by sinewy arms
Hurled at the foe; the guard is put to flight,
And conquering Caesar, seizing on the bridge,
Compels the enemy to keep the walls.
Now do the mighty engines, soon to hurl
Gigantic stones, press forward, and the ram
Creeps 'neath the ramparts; when the gates fly back,
And lo! the traitor troops, foul crime in war,
Yield up their leader. Him they place before

His proud compatriot; yet with upright form,
And scornful features and with noble mien,
He asks his death. But Caesar knew his wish
Was punishment, and pardon was his fear:
'Live though thou would'st not,' so the chieftain spake,
'And by my gift, unwilling, see the day:
Be to my conquered foes the cause of hope,
Proof of my clemency -- or if thou wilt
Take arms again -- and should'st thou conquer, count
This pardon nothing.' Thus he spake, and bade
Let loose the bands and set the captive free.
Ah! better had he died, and fortune spared
The Roman's last dishonour, whose worse doom
It is, that he who joined his country's camp
And fought with Magnus for the Senate's cause
Should gain for this -- a pardon! Yet he curbed
His anger, thinking, 'Wilt thou then to Rome
And peaceful scenes, degenerate? Rather war,
The furious battle and the certain end!
Break with life's ties: be Caesar's gift in vain.'

Pompeius, ignorant that his captain thus
Was taken, armed his levies newly raised
To give his legions strength; and as he thought
To sound his trumpets with the coming dawn,
To test his soldiers ere he moved his camp
Thus in majestic tones their ranks addressed:
'Soldiers of Rome! Avengers of her laws!
To whom the Senate gives no private arms,
Ask by your voices for the battle sign.
Fierce falls the pillage on Hesperian fields,
And Gallia's fury o'er the snowy Alps
Is poured upon us. Caesar's swords at last
Are red with Roman blood. But with the wound
We gain the better cause; the crime is theirs.
No war is this, but for offended Rome
We wreak the vengeance; as when Catiline
Lifted against her roofs the flaming brand
And, partner in his fury, Lentulus,
And mad Cethegus with his naked arm.
Is such thy madness, Caesar? when the Fates
With great Camillus' and Metellus' names
Might place thine own, dost thou prefer to rank
With Marius and Cinna? Swift shall be
Thy fall: as Lepidus before the sword
Of Catulus; or who my axes felt,
Carbo, now buried in Sicanian tomb;
Or who, in exile, roused Iberia's hordes,
Sertorius -- yet, witness Heaven, with these
I hate to rank thee; hate the task that Rome
Has laid upon me, to oppose thy rage.
Would that in safety from the Parthian war
And Scythian steppes had conquering Crassus come!
Then haply had'st thou fallen by the hand
That smote vile Spartacus the robber foe.
But if among my triumphs fate has said
Thy conquest shall be written, know this heart
Still sends the life blood coursing: and this arm
Still vigorously flings the dart afield.
He deems me slothful. Caesar, thou shalt learn
We brook not peace because we lag in war.
Old, does he call me? Fear not ye mine age.
Let me be elder, if his soldiers are.
The highest point a citizen can reach
And leave his people free, is mine: a throne
Alone were higher; whoso would surpass
Pompeius, aims at that. Both Consuls stand
Here; here for battle stand your lawful chiefs:
And shall this Caesar drag the Senate down?
Not with such blindness, not so lost to shame
Does Fortune rule. Does he take heart from Gaul:
For years on years rebellious, and a life
Spent there in labour? or because he fled
Rhine's icy torrent and the shifting pools
He calls an ocean? or unchallenged sought
Britannia's cliffs; then turned his back in flight?
Or does he boast because his citizens
Were driven in arms to leave their hearths and homes?
Ah, vain delusion! not from thee they fled:
My steps they follow -- mine, whose conquering signs
Swept all the ocean, and who, ere the moon
Twice filled her orb and waned, compelled to flight
The pirate, shrinking from the open sea,
And humbly begging for a narrow home
In some poor nook on shore. 'Twas I again
Who, happier far than Sulla, drave to death
That king who, exiled to the deep recess
Of Scythian Pontus, held the fates of Rome
Still in the balances. Where is the land
That hath not seen my trophies? Icy waves
Of northern Phasis, hot Egyptian shores,
And where Syene 'neath its noontide sun
Knows shade on neither hand: all these have learned
To fear Pompeius: and far Baetis' stream,
Last of all floods to join the refluent sea.
Arabia and the warlike hordes that dwell
Beside the Euxine wave: the famous land
That lost the golden fleece; Cilician wastes,
And Cappadocian, and the Jews who pray
Before an unknown God; Sophene soft --
All felt my yoke. What conquests now remain,
What wars not civil can my kinsman wage?'

No loud acclaim received his words, nor shout
Asked for the promised battle: and the chief
Drew back the standards, for the soldier's fears
Were in his soul alike; nor dared he trust
An army, vanquished by the fame alone
Of Caesar's powers, to fight for such a prize.
And as some bull, his early combat lost,
Forth driven from the herd, in exile roams
Through lonely plains or secret forest depths,
Whets on opposing trunks his growing horn,
And proves himself for battle, till his neck
Is ribbed afresh with muscle: then returns,
Defiant of the hind, and victor now
Leads wheresoe'er he will his lowing bands:
Thus Magnus, yielding to a stronger foe,
Gave up Italia, and sought in flight
Brundusium's sheltering battlements.

Here of old
Fled Cretan settlers when the dusky sail
Spread the false message of the hero dead;
Here, where Hesperia, curving as a bow,
Draws back her coast, a little tongue of land
Shuts in with bending horns the sounding main.
Yet insecure the spot, unsafe in storm,
Were it not sheltered by an isle on which
The Adriatic billows dash and fall,
And tempests lose their strength: on either hand
A craggy cliff opposing breaks the gale
That beats upon them, while the ships within
Held by their trembling cables ride secure.
Hence to the mariner the boundless deep
Lies open, whether for Corcyra's port
He shapes his sails, or for Illyria's shore,
And Epidamnus facing to the main
Ionian. Here, when raging in his might
Fierce Adria whelms in foam Calabria's coast,
When clouds tempestuous veil Ceraunus' height,
The sailor finds a haven.

When the chief
Could find no hope in battle on the soil
He now was quitting, and the lofty Alps
Forbad Iberia, to his son he spake,
The eldest scion of that noble stock:
'Search out the far recesses of the earth,
Nile and Euphrates, wheresoe'er the fame
Of Magnus lives, where, through thy father's deeds,
The people tremble at the name of Rome.
Lead to the sea again the pirate bands;
Rouse Egypt's kings; Tigranes, wholly mine,
And Pharnaces and all the vagrant tribes
Of both Armenias; and the Pontic hordes,
Warlike and fierce; the dwellers on the hills
Rhipaean, and by that dead northern marsh
Whose frozen surface bears the loaded wain.
Why further stay thee? Let the eastern world
Sound with the war, all cities of the earth
Conquered by me, as vassals, to my camp
Send all their levied hosts. And you whose names
Within the Latian book recorded stand,
Strike for Epirus with the northern wind;
And thence in Greece and Macedonian tracts,
(While winter gives us peace) new strength acquire
For coming conflicts.' They obey his words
And loose their ships and launch upon the main.

But Caesar's might, intolerant of peace
Or lengthy armistice, lest now perchance
The fates might change their edicts, swift pursued
The footsteps of his foe. To other men,
So many cities taken at a blow,
So many strongholds captured, might suffice;
And Rome herself, the mistress of the world,
Lay at his feet, the greatest prize of all.
Not so with Caesar: instant on the goal
He fiercely presses; thinking nothing done
While aught remained to do. Now in his grasp
Lay all Italia; -- but while Magnus stayed
Upon the utmost shore, his grieving soul
Deemed all was shared with him. Yet he essayed
Escape to hinder, and with labour vain
Piled in the greedy main gigantic rocks:
Mountains of earth down to the sandy depths
Were swallowed by the vortex of the sea;
Just as if Eryx and its lofty top
Were cast into the deep, yet not a speck
Should mark the watery plain; or Gaurus huge
Split from his summit to his base, were plunged
In fathomless Avernus' stagnant pool.
The billows thus unstemmed, 'twas Caesar's will
To hew the stately forests and with trees
Enchained to form a rampart. Thus of old
(If fame be true) the boastful Persian king
Prepared a way across the rapid strait
'Twixt Sestos and Abydos, and made one
The European and the Trojan shores;
And marched upon the waters, wind and storm
Counting as nought, but trusting his emprise
To one frail bridge, so that his ships might pass
Through middle Athos. Thus a mighty mole
Of fallen forests grew upon the waves,
Free until then, and lofty turrets rose,
And land usurped the entrance to the main.

This when Pompeius saw, with anxious care
His soul was filled; yet hoping to regain
The exit lost, and win a wider world
Wherein to wage the war, on chosen ships
He hoists the sails; these, driven by the wind
And drawn by cables fastened to their prows,
Scattered the beams asunder; and at night
Not seldom engines, worked by stalwart arms,
Flung flaming torches forth. But when the time
For secret flight was come, no sailor shout
Rang on the shore, no trumpet marked the hour,
No bugle called the armament to sea.
Already shone the Virgin in the sky
Leading the Scorpion in her course, whose claws
Foretell the rising Sun, when noiseless all
They cast the vessels loose; no song was heard
To greet the anchor wrenched from stubborn sand;
No captain's order, when the lofty mast
Was raised, or yards were bent; a silent crew
Drew down the sails which hung upon the ropes,
Nor shook the mighty cables, lest the wind
Should sound upon them. But the chief, in prayer,
Thus spake to Fortune: 'Thou whose high decree
Has made us exiles from Italia's shores,
Grant us at least to leave them.' Yet the fates
Hardly permitted, for a murmur vast
Came from the ocean, as the countless keels
Furrowed the waters, and with ceaseless splash
The parted billows rose again and fell.
Then were the gates thrown wide; for with the fates
The city turned to Caesar: and the foe,
Seizing the town, rushed onward by the pier
That circled in the harbour; then they knew
With shame and sorrow that the fleet was gone
And held the open: and Pompeius' flight
Gave a poor triumph.

Yet was narrower far
The channel which gave access to the sea
Than that Euboean strait whose waters lave
The shore by Chalcis. Here two ships stuck fast
Alone, of all the fleet; the fatal hook
Grappled their decks and drew them to the land,
And the first bloodshed of the civil war
Here left a blush upon the ocean wave.
As when the famous ship sought Phasis' stream
The rocky gates closed in and hardly gripped
Her flying stern; then from the empty sea
The cliffs rebounding to their ancient seat
Were fixed to move no more. But now the steps
Of morn approaching tinged the eastern sky
With roseate hues: the Pleiades were dim,
The wagon of the Charioteer grew pale,
The planets faded, and the silvery star
Which ushers in the day, was lost in light.

Then Magnus, hold'st the deep; yet not the same
Now are thy fates, as when from every sea
Thy fleet triumphant swept the pirate pest.
Tired of thy conquests, Fortune now no more
Shall smile upon thee. With thy spouse and sons,
Thy household gods, and peoples in thy train,
Still great in exile, in a distant land
Thou seek'st thy fated fall; not that the gods,
Wishing to rob thee of a Roman grave,
Decreed the strands of Egypt for thy tomb:
'Twas Italy they spared, that far away
Fortune on shores remote might hide her crime,
And Roman soil be pure of Magnus' blood.

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Peter Bell, A Tale

PROLOGUE

There's something in a flying horse,
There's something in a huge balloon;
But through the clouds I'll never float
Until I have a little Boat,
Shaped like the crescent-moon.

And now I 'have' a little Boat,
In shape a very crescent-moon
Fast through the clouds my boat can sail;
But if perchance your faith should fail,
Look up--and you shall see me soon!

The woods, my Friends, are round you roaring,
Rocking and roaring like a sea;
The noise of danger's in your ears,
And ye have all a thousand fears
Both for my little Boat and me!

Meanwhile untroubled I admire
The pointed horns of my canoe;
And, did not pity touch my breast,
To see how ye are all distrest,
Till my ribs ached, I'd laugh at you!

Away we go, my Boat and I--
Frail man ne'er sate in such another;
Whether among the winds we strive,
Or deep into the clouds we dive,
Each is contented with the other.

Away we go--and what care we
For treasons, tumults, and for wars?
We are as calm in our delight
As is the crescent-moon so bright
Among the scattered stars.

Up goes my Boat among the stars
Through many a breathless field of light,
Through many a long blue field of ether,
Leaving ten thousand stars beneath her:
Up goes my little Boat so bright!

The Crab, the Scorpion, and the Bull--
We pry among them all; have shot
High o'er the red-haired race of Mars,
Covered from top to toe with scars;
Such company I like it not!

The towns in Saturn are decayed,
And melancholy Spectres throng them;--
The Pleiads, that appear to kiss
Each other in the vast abyss,
With joy I sail among them.

Swift Mercury resounds with mirth,
Great Jove is full of stately bowers;
But these, and all that they contain,
What are they to that tiny grain,
That little Earth of ours?

Then back to Earth, the dear green Earth:--
Whole ages if I here should roam,
The world for my remarks and me
Would not a whit the better be;
I've left my heart at home.

See! there she is, the matchless Earth!
There spreads the famed Pacific Ocean!
Old Andes thrusts yon craggy spear
Through the grey clouds; the Alps are here,
Like waters in commotion!

Yon tawny slip is Libya's sands;
That silver thread the river Dnieper!
And look, where clothed in brightest green
Is a sweet Isle, of isles the Queen;
Ye fairies, from all evil keep her!

And see the town where I was born!
Around those happy fields we span
In boyish gambols;--I was lost
Where I have been, but on this coast
I feel I am a man.

Never did fifty things at once
Appear so lovely, never, never;--
How tunefully the forests ring!
To hear the earth's soft murmuring
Thus could I hang for ever!

"Shame on you!" cried my little Boat,
"Was ever such a homesick Loon,
Within a living Boat to sit,
And make no better use of it;
A Boat twin-sister of the crescent-moon!

"Ne'er in the breast of full-grown Poet
Fluttered so faint a heart before;--
Was it the music of the spheres
That overpowered your mortal ears?
--Such din shall trouble them no more.

"These nether precincts do not lack
Charms of their own;--then come with me;
I want a comrade, and for you
There's nothing that I would not do;
Nought is there that you shall not see.

"Haste! and above Siberian snows
We'll sport amid the boreal morning;
Will mingle with her lustres gliding
Among the stars, the stars now hiding,
And now the stars adorning.

"I know the secrets of a land
Where human foot did never stray;
Fair is that land as evening skies,
And cool, though in the depth it lies
Of burning Africa. 0

"Or we'll into the realm of Faery,
Among the lovely shades of things;
The shadowy forms of mountains bare,
And streams, and bowers, and ladies fair,
The shades of palaces and kings!

"Or, if you thirst with hardy zeal
Less quiet regions to explore,
Prompt voyage shall to you reveal
How earth and heaven are taught to feel
The might of magic lore!"

"My little vagrant Form of light,
My gay and beautiful Canoe,
Well have you played your friendly part;
As kindly take what from my heart
Experience forces--then adieu!

"Temptation lurks among your words;
But, while these pleasures you're pursuing
Without impediment or let,
No wonder if you quite forget
What on the earth is doing.

"There was a time when all mankind
Did listen with a faith sincere
To tuneful tongues in mystery versed;
'Then' Poets fearlessly rehearsed
The wonders of a wild career.

"Go--(but the world's a sleepy world,
And 'tis, I fear, an age too late)
Take with you some ambitious Youth!
For, restless Wanderer! I, in truth,
Am all unfit to be your mate.

"Long have I loved what I behold,
The night that calms, the day that cheers;
The common growth of mother-earth
Suffices me--her tears, her mirth,
Her humblest mirth and tears.

"The dragon's wing, the magic ring,
I shall not covet for my dower,
If I along that lowly way
With sympathetic heart may stray,
And with a soul of power.

"These given, what more need I desire
To stir, to soothe, or elevate?
What nobler marvels than the mind
May in life's daily prospect find,
May find or there create?

"A potent wand doth Sorrow wield;
What spell so strong as guilty Fear!
Repentance is a tender Sprite;
If aught on earth have heavenly might,
'Tis lodged within her silent tear.

"But grant my wishes,--let us now
Descend from this ethereal height;
Then take thy way, adventurous Skiff,
More daring far than Hippogriff,
And be thy own delight!

"To the stone-table in my garden,
Loved haunt of many a summer hour,
The Squire is come: his daughter Bess
Beside him in the cool recess
Sits blooming like a flower.

"With these are many more convened;
They know not I have been so far;--
I see them there, in number nine,
Beneath the spreading Weymouth-pine!
I see them--there they are!

"There sits the Vicar and his Dame;
And there my good friend, Stephen Otter;
And, ere the light of evening fail,
To them I must relate the Tale
Of Peter Bell the Potter."

Off flew the Boat--away she flees,
Spurning her freight with indignation!
And I, as well as I was able,
On two poor legs, toward my stone-table
Limped on with sore vexation.

"O, here he is!" cried little Bess--
She saw me at the garden-door;
"We've waited anxiously and long,"
They cried, and all around me throng,
Full nine of them or more!

"Reproach me not--your fears be still--
Be thankful we again have met;--
Resume, my Friends! within the shade
Your seats, and quickly shall be paid
The well-remembered debt."

I spake with faltering voice, like one
Not wholly rescued from the pale
Of a wild dream, or worse illusion;
But, straight, to cover my confusion,
Began the promised Tale.

PART FIRST

ALL by the moonlight river side
Groaned the poor Beast--alas! in vain;
The staff was raised to loftier height,
And the blows fell with heavier weight
As Peter struck--and struck again.

"Hold!" cried the Squire, "against the rules
Of common sense you're surely sinning;
This leap is for us all too bold;
Who Peter was, let that be told,
And start from the beginning." 0

----"A Potter, Sir, he was by trade,"
Said I, becoming quite collected;
"And wheresoever he appeared,
Full twenty times was Peter feared
For once that Peter was respected.

"He, two-and-thirty years or more,
Had been a wild and woodland rover;
Had heard the Atlantic surges roar
On farthest Cornwall's rocky shore,
And trod the cliffs of Dover.

"And he had seen Caernarvon's towers,
And well he knew the spire of Sarum;
And he had been where Lincoln bell
Flings o'er the fen that ponderous knell--
A far-renowned alarum!

"At Doncaster, at York, and Leeds,
And merry Carlisle had be been;
And all along the Lowlands fair,
All through the bonny shire of Ayr
And far as Aberdeen.

"And he had been at Inverness;
And Peter, by the mountain-rills,
Had danced his round with Highland lasses;
And he had lain beside his asses
On lofty Cheviot Hills:

"And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales,
Among the rocks and winding 'scars',
Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars:

"And all along the indented coast,
Bespattered with the salt-sea foam;
Where'er a knot of houses lay
On headland, or in hollow bay;--
Sure never man like him did roam!

"As well might Peter, in the Fleet,
Have been fast bound, a begging debtor;--
He travelled here, he travelled there,--
But not the value of a hair
Was heart or head the better.

"He roved among the vales and streams,
In the green wood and hollow dell;
They were his dwellings night and day,--
But nature ne'er could find the way
Into the heart of Peter Bell.

"In vain, through every changeful year,
Did Nature lead him as before;
A primrose by a river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.

"Small change it made on Peter's heart
To see his gentle panniered train
With more than vernal pleasure feeding,
Where'er the tender grass was leading
Its earliest green along the lane.

"In vain, through water, earth, and air,
The soul of happy sound was spread,
When Peter on some April morn,
Beneath the broom or budding thorn,
Made the warm earth his lazy bed.

"At noon, when, by the forest's edge
He lay beneath the branches high,
The soft blue shy did never melt
Into his heart; he never felt
The witchery of the soft blue sky!

"On a fair prospect some have looked
And felt, as I have heard them say,
As if the moving time had been
A thing as steadfast as the scene
On which they gazed themselves away.

"Within the breast of Peter Bell
These silent raptures found no place;
He was a Carl as wild and rude
As ever hue-and-cry pursued,
As ever ran a felon's race.

"Of all that lead a lawless life,
Of all that love their lawless lives,
In city or in village small,
He was the wildest far of all;--
He had a dozen wedded wives.

"Nay, start not!--wedded wives--and twelve!
But how one wife could e'er come near him,
In simple truth I cannot tell;
For, be it said of Peter Bell
To see him was to fear him.

"Though Nature could not touch his heart
By lovely forms, and silent weather,
And tender sounds, yet you might see
At once, that Peter Bell and she
Had often been together.

"A savage wildness round him hung
As of a dweller out of doors;
In his whole figure and his mien
A savage character was seen
Of mountains and of dreary moors.

"To all the unshaped half-human thoughts
Which solitary Nature feeds
'Mid summer storms or winter's ice,
Had Peter joined whatever vice
The cruel city breeds. 0

"His face was keen as is the wind
That cuts along the hawthorn-fence;--
Of courage you saw little there,
But, in its stead, a medley air
Of cunning and of impudence.

"He had a dark and sidelong walk,
And long and slouching was his gait;
Beneath his looks so bare and bold,
You might perceive, his spirit cold
Was playing with some inward bait.

"His forehead wrinkled was and furred;
A work, one half of which was done
By thinking of his 'whens' and 'hows;'
And half, by knitting of his brows
Beneath the glaring sun.

"There was a hardness in his cheek,
There was a hardness in his eye,
As if the man had fixed his face,
In many a solitary place,
Against the wind and open sky!"

ONE NIGHT, (and now my little Bess!
We've reached at last the promised Tale:)
One beautiful November night,
When the full moon was shining bright
Upon the rapid river Swale,

Along the river's winding banks
Peter was travelling all alone;--
Whether to buy or sell, or led
By pleasure running in his head,
To me was never known.

He trudged along through copse and brake,
He trudged along o'er hill and dale;
Nor for the moon cared he a tittle,
And for the stars he cared as little,
And for the murmuring river Swale.

But, chancing to espy a path
That promised to cut short the way
As many a wiser man hath done,
He left a trusty guide for one
That might his steps betray.

To a thick wood he soon is brought
Where cheerily his course he weaves,
And whistling loud may yet be heard,
Though often buried, like a bird
Darkling, among the boughs and leaves.

But quickly Peter's mood is changed,
And on he drives with cheeks that burn
In downright fury and in wrath;--
There's little sign the treacherous path
Will to the road return!

The path grows dim, and dimmer still;
Now up, now down, the Rover wends,
With all the sail that he can carry,
Till brought to a deserted quarry--
And there the pathway ends.

He paused--for shadows of strange shape,
Massy and black, before him lay;
But through the dark, and through the cold,
And through the yawning fissures old,
Did Peter boldly press his way

Right through the quarry;--and behold
A scene of soft and lovely hue!
Where blue and grey, and tender green,
Together make as sweet a scene
As ever human eye did view.

Beneath the clear blue sky he saw
A little field of meadow ground;
But field or meadow name it not;
Call it of earth a small green plot,
With rocks encompassed round,

The Swale flowed under the grey rocks,
But he flowed quiet and unseen;--
You need a strong and stormy gale
To bring the noises of the Swale
To that green spot, so calm and green!

And is there no one dwelling here,
No hermit with his beads and glass?
And does no little cottage look
Upon this soft and fertile nook?
Does no one live near this green grass?

Across the deep and quiet spot
Is Peter driving through the grass--
And now has reached the skirting trees;
When, turning round his head, he sees
A solitary Ass.

"A Prize!" cries Peter--but he first
Must spy about him far and near:
There's not a single house in sight,
No woodman's hut, no cottage light--
Peter, you need not fear!

There's nothing to be seen but woods,
And rocks that spread a hoary gleam,
And this one Beast, that from the bed
Of the green meadow hangs his head
Over the silent stream.

His head is with a halter bound;
The halter seizing, Peter leapt
Upon the Creature's back, and plied
With ready heels his shaggy side;
But still the Ass his station kept. 0

Then Peter gave a sudden jerk,
A jerk that from a dungeon-floor
Would have pulled up an iron ring;
But still the heavy-headed Thing
Stood just as he had stood before!

Quoth Peter, leaping from his seat,
"There is some plot against me laid;"
Once more the little meadow-ground
And all the hoary cliffs around
He cautiously surveyed,

All, all is silent--rocks and woods,
All still and silent--far and near!
Only the Ass, with motion dull,
Upon the pivot of his skull
Turns round his long left ear.

Thought Peter, What can mean all this?
Some ugly witchcraft must be here!
--Once more the Ass, with motion dull,
Upon the pivot of his skull
Turned round his long left ear.

Suspicion ripened into dread;
Yet with deliberate action slow,
His staff high-raising, in the pride
Of skill, upon the sounding hide,
He dealt a sturdy blow.

The poor Ass staggered with the shock;
And then, as if to take his ease,
In quiet uncomplaining mood,
Upon the spot where he had stood,
Dropped gently down upon his knees:

As gently on his side he fell;
And by the river's brink did lie;
And, while he lay like one that mourned,
The patient Beast on Peter turned
His shining hazel eye.

'Twas but one mild, reproachful look,
A look more tender than severe;
And straight in sorrow, not in dread,
He turned the eye-ball in his head
Towards the smooth river deep and clear.

Upon the Beast the sapling rings;
His lank sides heaved, his limbs they stirred;
He gave a groan, and then another,
Of that which went before the brother,
And then he gave a third.

All by the moonlight river side
He gave three miserable groans;
And not till now hath Peter seen
How gaunt the Creature is,--how lean
And sharp his staring bones!

With legs stretched out and stiff he lay:--
No word of kind commiseration
Fell at the sight from Peter's tongue;
With hard contempt his heart was wrung,
With hatred and vexation.

The meagre beast lay still as death;
And Peter's lips with fury quiver;
Quoth he, "You little mulish dog,
I'll fling your carcase like a log
Head-foremost down the river!"

An impious oath confirmed the threat--
Whereat from the earth on which he lay
To all the echoes, south and north,
And east and west, the Ass sent forth
A long and clamorous bray!

This outcry, on the heart of Peter,
Seems like a note of joy to strike,--
Joy at the heart of Peter knocks;
But in the echo of the rocks
Was something Peter did not like.

Whether to cheer his coward breast,
Or that he could not break the chain,
In this serene and solemn hour,
Twined round him by demoniac power,
To the blind work he turned again.

Among the rocks and winding crags;
Among the mountains far away;
Once more the ass did lengthen out
More ruefully a deep-drawn shout,
The hard dry see-saw of his horrible bray!

What is there now in Peter's heart!
Or whence the might of this strange sound?
The moon uneasy looked and dimmer,
The broad blue heavens appeared to glimmer,
And the rocks staggered all around--

From Peter's hand the sapling dropped!
Threat has he none to execute;
"If any one should come and see
That I am here, they'll think," quoth he,
"I'm helping this poor dying brute."

He scans the Ass from limb to limb,
And ventures now to uplift his eyes;
More steady looks the moon, and clear
More like themselves the rocks appear
And touch more quiet skies.

His scorn returns--his hate revives;
He stoops the Ass's neck to seize
With malice--that again takes flight;
For in the pool a startling sight
Meets him, among the inverted trees. 0

Is it the moon's distorted face?
The ghost-like image of a cloud?
Is it a gallows there portrayed?
Is Peter of himself afraid?
Is it a coffin,--or a shroud?

A grisly idol hewn in stone?
Or imp from witch's lap let fall?
Perhaps a ring of shining fairies?
Such as pursue their feared vagaries
In sylvan bower, or haunted hall?

Is it a fiend that to a stake
Of fire his desperate self is tethering?
Or stubborn spirit doomed to yell
In solitary ward or cell,
Ten thousand miles from all his brethren?

Never did pulse so quickly throb,
And never heart so loudly panted;
He looks, he cannot choose but look;
Like some one reading in a book--
A book that is enchanted.

Ah, well-a-day for Peter Bell!
He will be turned to iron soon,
Meet Statue for the court of Fear!
His hat is up--and every hair
Bristles, and whitens in the moon!

He looks, he ponders, looks again;
He sees a motion--hears a groan;
His eyes will burst--his heart will break--
He gives a loud and frightful shriek,
And back he falls, as if his life were flown!

PART SECOND

WE left our Hero in a trance,
Beneath the alders, near the river;
The Ass is by the river-side,
And, where the feeble breezes glide,
Upon the stream the moonbeams quiver.

A happy respite! but at length
He feels the glimmering of the moon;
Wakes with glazed eve. and feebly signing--
To sink, perhaps, where he is lying,
Into a second swoon!

He lifts his head, he sees his staff;
He touches--'tis to him a treasure!
Faint recollection seems to tell
That he is yet where mortals dwell--
A thought received with languid pleasure!

His head upon his elbow propped,
Becoming less and less perplexed,
Sky-ward he looks--to rock and wood--
And then--upon the glassy flood
His wandering eye is fixed.

Thought he, that is the face of one
In his last sleep securely bound!
So toward the stream his head he bent,
And downward thrust his staff, intent
The river's depth to sound.

'Now'--like a tempest-shattered bark,
That overwhelmed and prostrate lies,
And in a moment to the verge
Is lifted of a foaming surge--
Full suddenly the Ass doth rise!

His staring bones all shake with joy,
And close by Peter's side he stands:
While Peter o'er the river bends,
The little Ass his neck extends,
And fondly licks his hands.

Such life is in the Ass's eyes,
Such life is in his limbs and ears;
That Peter Bell, if he had been
The veriest coward ever seen,
Must now have thrown aside his fears.

The Ass looks on--and to his work
Is Peter quietly resigned;
He touches here--he touches there--
And now among the dead man's hair
His sapling Peter has entwined.

He pulls--and looks--and pulls again;
And he whom the poor Ass had lost,
The man who had been four days dead,
Head-foremost from the river's bed
Uprises like a ghost!

And Peter draws him to dry land;
And through the brain of Peter pass
Some poignant twitches, fast and faster,
"No doubt," quoth he, "he is the Master
Of this poor miserable Ass!"

The meagre Shadow that looks on--
What would he now? what is he doing?
His sudden fit of joy is flown,--
He on his knees hath laid him down,
As if he were his grief renewing;

But no--that Peter on his back
Must mount, he shows well as he can:
Thought Peter then, come weal or woe,
I'll do what he would have me do,
In pity to this poor drowned man.

With that resolve he boldly mounts
Upon the pleased and thankful Ass;
And then, without a moment's stay,
That earnest Creature turned away
Leaving the body on the grass. 0

Intent upon his faithful watch,
The Beast four days and nights had past;
A sweeter meadow ne'er was seen,
And there the Ass four days had been,
Nor ever once did break his fast:

Yet firm his step, and stout his heart;
The mead is crossed--the quarry's mouth
Is reached; but there the trusty guide
Into a thicket turns aside,
And deftly ambles towards the south.

When hark a burst of doleful sound!
And Peter honestly might say,
The like came never to his ears,
Though he has been, full thirty years,
A rover--night and day!

'Tis not a plover of the moors,
'Tis not a bittern of the fen;
Nor can it be a barking fox,
Nor night-bird chambered in the rocks,
Nor wild-cat in a woody glen!

The Ass is startled--and stops short
Right in the middle of the thicket;
And Peter, wont to whistle loud
Whether alone or in a crowd,
Is silent as a silent cricket.

What ails you now, my little Bess?
Well may you tremble and look grave!
This cry--that rings along the wood,
This cry--that floats adown the flood,
Comes from the entrance of a cave:

I see a blooming Wood-boy there,
And if I had the power to say
How sorrowful the wanderer is,
Your heart would be as sad as his
Till you had kissed his tears away!

Grasping a hawthorn branch in hand,
All bright with berries ripe and red,
Into the cavern's mouth he peeps;
Thence back into the moonlight creeps;
Whom seeks he--whom?--the silent dead:

His father!--Him doth he require--
Him hath he sought with fruitless pains,
Among the rocks, behind the trees;
Now creeping on his hands and knees,
Now running o'er the open plains.

And hither is he come at last,
When he through such a day has gone,
By this dark cave to be distrest
Like a poor bird--her plundered nest
Hovering around with dolorous moan!

Of that intense and piercing cry
The listening Ass conjectures well;
Wild as it is, he there can read
Some intermingled notes that plead
With touches irresistible.

But Peter--when he saw the Ass
Not only stop but turn, and change
The cherished tenor of his pace
That lamentable cry to chase--
It wrought in him conviction strange;

A faith that, for the dead man's sake
And this poor slave who loved him well,
Vengeance upon his head will fall,
Some visitation worse than all
Which ever till this night befell.

Meanwhile the Ass to reach his home,
Is striving stoutly as he may;
But, while he climbs the woody hill,
The cry grows weak--and weaker still;
And now at last it dies away.

So with his freight the Creature turns
Into a gloomy grove of beech,
Along the shade with footsteps true
Descending slowly, till the two
The open moonlight reach.

And there, along the narrow dell,
A fair smooth pathway you discern,
A length of green and open road--
As if it from a fountain flowed--
Winding away between the fern.

The rocks that tower on either side
Build up a wild fantastic scene;
Temples like those among the Hindoos,
And mosques, and spires, and abbey windows,
And castles all with ivy green!

And, while the Ass pursues his way,
Along this solitary dell,
As pensively his steps advance,
The mosques and spires change countenance
And look at Peter Bell!

That unintelligible cry
Hath left him high in preparation,--
Convinced that he, or soon or late,
This very night will meet his fate--
And so he sits in expectation!

The strenuous Animal hath clomb
With the green path; and now he wends
Where, shining like the smoothest sea,
In undisturbed immensity
A level plain extends. 0

But whence this faintly-rustling sound
By which the journeying pair are chased?
--A withered leaf is close behind,
Light plaything for the sportive wind
Upon that solitary waste.

When Peter spied the moving thing,
It only doubled his distress;
"Where there is not a bush or tree,
The very leaves they follow me--
So huge hath been my wickedness!"

To a close lane they now are come,
Where, as before, the enduring Ass
Moves on without a moment's stop,
Nor once turns round his head to crop
A bramble-leaf or blade of grass.

Between the hedges as they go,
The white dust sleeps upon the lane;
And Peter, ever and anon
Back-looking, sees, upon a stone,
Or in the dust, a crimson stain.

A stain--as of a drop of blood
By moonlight made more faint and wan;
Ha! why these sinkings of despair?
He knows not how the blood comes there--
And Peter is a wicked man.

At length he spies a bleeding wound,
Where he had struck the Ass's head;
He sees the blood, knows what it is,--
A glimpse of sudden joy was his,
But then it quickly fled;

Of him whom sudden death had seized
He thought,--of thee, O faithful Ass!
And once again those ghastly pains,
Shoot to and fro through heart and reins,
And through his brain like lightning pass.

PART THIRD

I'VE heard of one, a gentle Soul,
Though given to sadness and to gloom,
And for the fact will vouch,--one night
It chanced that by a taper's light
This man was reading in his room;

Bending, as you or I might bend
At night o'er any pious book,
When sudden blackness overspread
The snow-white page on which he read,
And made the good man round him look.

The chamber walls were dark all round,--
And to his book he turned again;
--The light had left the lonely taper,
And formed itself upon the paper
Into large letters--bright and plain!

The godly book was in his hand--
And, on the page, more black than coal,
Appeared, set forth in strange array,
A 'word'--which to his dying day
Perplexed the good man's gentle soul.

The ghostly word, thus plainly seen,
Did never from his lips depart;
But he hath said, poor gentle wight!
It brought full many a sin to light
Out of the bottom of his heart.

Dread Spirits! to confound the meek
Why wander from your course so far,
Disordering colour, form, and stature!
--Let good men feel the soul of nature,
And see things as they are.

Yet, potent Spirits! well I know,
How ye, that play with soul and sense,
Are not unused to trouble friends
Of goodness, for most gracious ends--
And this I speak in reverence!

But might I give advice to you,
Whom in my fear I love so well;
From men of pensive virtue go,
Dread Beings! and your empire show
On hearts like that of Peter Bell.

Your presence often have I felt
In darkness and the stormy night;
And, with like force, if need there be,
Ye can put forth your agency
When earth is calm, and heaven is bright.

Then, coming from the wayward world,
That powerful world in which ye dwell,
Come, Spirits of the Mind! and try
To-night, beneath the moonlight sky,
What may be done with Peter Bell!

--O, would that some more skilful voice
My further labour might prevent!
Kind Listeners, that around me sit,
I feel that I am all unfit
For such high argument.

I've played, I've danced, with my narration;
I loitered long ere I began:
Ye waited then on my good pleasure;
Pour out indulgence still, in measure
As liberal as ye can!

Our Travellers, ye remember well,
Are thridding a sequestered lane;
And Peter many tricks is trying,
And many anodynes applying,
To ease his conscience of its pain. 0

By this his heart is lighter far;
And, finding that he can account
So snugly for that crimson stain,
His evil spirit up again
Does like an empty bucket mount.

And Peter is a deep logician
Who hath no lack of wit mercurial;
"Blood drops--leaves rustle--yet," quoth he,
"This poor man never, but for me,
Could have had Christian burial.

"And, say the best you can, 'tis plain,
That here has been some wicked dealing;
No doubt the devil in me wrought;
I'm not the man who could have thought
An Ass like this was worth the stealing!"

So from his pocket Peter takes
His shining horn tobacco-box;
And, in a light and careless way,
As men who with their purpose play,
Upon the lid he knocks.

Let them whose voice can stop the clouds,
Whose cunning eye can see the wind,
Tell to a curious world the cause
Why, making here a sudden pause,
The Ass turned round his head, and 'grinned'.

Appalling process! I have marked
The like on heath, in lonely wood;
And, verily, have seldom met
A spectacle more hideous--yet
It suited Peter's present mood.

And, grinning in his turn, his teeth
He in jocose defiance showed--
When, to upset his spiteful mirth,
A murmur, pent within the earth,
In the dead earth beneath the road

Rolled audibly! it swept along,
A muffled noise--a rumbling sound!--
'Twas by a troop of miners made,
Plying with gunpowder their trade,
Some twenty fathoms under ground.

Small cause of dire effect! for, surely,
If ever mortal, King or Cotter,
Believed that earth was charged to quake
And yawn for his unworthy sake,
'Twas Peter Bell the Potter.

But, as an oak in breathless air
Will stand though to the centre hewn;
Or as the weakest things, if frost
Have stiffened them, maintain their post;
So he, beneath the gazing moon!--

The Beast bestriding thus, he reached
A spot where, in a sheltering cove,
A little chapel stands alone,
With greenest ivy overgrown,
And tufted with an ivy grove;

Dying insensibly away
From human thoughts and purposes,
It seemed--wall, window, roof and tower--
To bow to some transforming power,
And blend with the surrounding trees.

As ruinous a place it was,
Thought Peter, in the shire of Fife
That served my turn, when following still
From land to land a reckless will
I married my sixth wife!

The unheeding Ass moves slowly on,
And now is passing by an inn
Brim-full of a carousing crew,
That make, with curses not a few,
An uproar and a drunken din.

I cannot well express the thoughts
Which Peter in those noises found;--
A stifling power compressed his frame,
While-as a swimming darkness came
Over that dull and dreary sound.

For well did Peter know the sound;
The language of those drunken joys
To him, a jovial soul, I ween,
But a few hours ago, had been
A gladsome and a welcome noise.

'Now', turned adrift into the past,
He finds no solace in his course;
Like planet-stricken men of yore,
He trembles, smitten to the core
By strong compunction and remorse.

But, more than all, his heart is stung
To think of one, almost a child;
A sweet and playful Highland girl,
As light and beauteous as a squirrel,
As beauteous and as wild!

Her dwelling was a lonely house,
A cottage in a heathy dell;
And she put on her gown of green,
And left her mother at sixteen,
And followed Peter Bell.

But many good and pious thoughts
Had she; and, in the kirk to pray,
Two long Scotch miles, through rain or snow
To kirk she had been used to go,
Twice every Sabbath-day. 0

And, when she followed Peter Bell,
It was to lead an honest life;
For he, with tongue not used to falter,
Had pledged his troth before the altar
To love her as his wedded wife.

A mother's hope is hers;--but soon
She drooped and pined like one forlorn;
From Scripture she a name did borrow;
Benoni, or the child of sorrow,
She called her babe unborn.

For she had learned how Peter lived,
And took it in most grievous part;
She to the very bone was worn,
And, ere that little child was born,
Died of a broken heart.

And now the Spirits of the Mind
Are busy with poor Peter Bell;
Upon the rights of visual sense
Usurping, with a prevalence
More terrible than magic spell.

Close by a brake of flowering furze
(Above it shivering aspens play)
He sees an unsubstantial creature,
His very self in form and feature,
Not four yards from the broad highway:

And stretched beneath the furze he sees
The Highland girl--it is no other;
And hears her crying as she cried,
The very moment that she died,
"My mother! oh my mother!"

The sweat pours down from Peter's face,
So grievous is his heart's contrition;
With agony his eye-balls ache
While he beholds by the furze-brake
This miserable vision!

Calm is the well-deserving brute,
'His' peace hath no offence betrayed;
But now, while down that slope he wends,
A voice to Peter's ear ascends,
Resounding from the woody glade:

The voice, though clamorous as a horn
Re-echoed by a naked rock,
Comes from that tabernacle--List!
Within, a fervent Methodist
Is preaching to no heedless flock!

"Repent! repent!" he cries aloud,
"While yet ye may find mercy;--strive
To love the Lord with all your might;
Turn to him, seek him day and night,
And save your souls alive!

"Repent! repent! though ye have gone,
Through paths of wickedness and woe,
After the Babylonian harlot;
And, though your sins be red as scarlet,
They shall be white as snow!"

Even as he passed the door, these words
Did plainly come to Peter's ears;
And they such joyful tidings were,
The joy was more than he could bear!--
He melted into tears.

Sweet tears of hope and tenderness!
And fast they fell, a plenteous shower!
His nerves, his sinews seemed to melt;
Through all his iron frame was felt
A gentle, a relaxing, power!

Each fibre of his frame was weak;
Weak all the animal within;
But, in its helplessness, grew mild
And gentle as an infant child,
An infant that has known no sin.

'Tis said, meek Beast! that, through Heaven's grace,
He not unmoved did notice now
The cross upon thy shoulder scored,
For lasting impress, by the Lord
To whom all human-kind shall bow;

Memorial of his touch--that day
When Jesus humbly deigned to ride,
Entering the proud Jerusalem,
By an immeasurable stream
Of shouting people deified!

Meanwhile the persevering Ass,
Turned towards a gate that hung in view
Across a shady lane; his chest
Against the yielding gate he pressed
And quietly passed through.

And up the stony lane he goes;
No ghost more softly ever trod;
Among the stones and pebbles, he
Sets down his hoofs inaudibly,
As if with felt his hoofs were shod.

Along the lane the trusty Ass
Went twice two hundred yards or more,
And no one could have guessed his aim,--
Till to a lonely house he came,
And stopped beside the door.

Thought Peter, 'tis the poor man's home!
He listens--not a sound is heard
Save from the trickling household rill;
But, stepping o'er the cottage-sill,
Forthwith a little Girl appeared. 00

She to the Meeting-house was bound
In hopes some tidings there to gather:
No glimpse it is, no doubtful gleam;
She saw--and uttered with a scream,
"My father! here's my father!"

The very word was plainly heard,
Heard plainly by the wretched Mother--
Her joy was like a deep affright:
And forth she rushed into the light,
And saw it was another! 10

And, instantly, upon the earth,
Beneath the full moon shining bright,
Close to the Ass's feet she fell;
At the same moment Peter Bell
Dismounts in most unhappy plight.

As he beheld the Woman lie
Breathless and motionless, the mind
Of Peter sadly was confused;
But, though to such demands unused,
And helpless almost as the blind,

He raised her up; and, while he held
Her body propped against his knee,
The Woman waked--and when she spied
The poor Ass standing by her side,
She moaned most bitterly.

"Oh! God be praised--my heart's at ease--
For he is dead--I know it well!"
--At this she wept a bitter flood;
And, in the best way that he could,
His tale did Peter tell.

He trembles--he is pale as death;
His voice is weak with perturbation;
He turns aside his head, he pauses;
Poor Peter, from a thousand causes,
Is crippled sore in his narration.

At length she learned how he espied
The Ass in that small meadow-ground;
And that her Husband now lay dead,
Beside that luckless river's bed
In which he had been drowned.

A piercing look the Widow cast
Upon the Beast that near her stands;
She sees 'tis he, that 'tis the same;
She calls the poor Ass by his name,
And wrings, and wrings her hands.

"O wretched loss--untimely stroke!
If he had died upon his bed!
He knew not one forewarning pain;
He never will come home again--
Is dead, for ever dead!"

Beside the woman Peter stands;
His heart is opening more and more;
A holy sense pervades his mind;
He feels what he for human kind
Had never felt before.

At length, by Peter's arm sustained,
The Woman rises from the ground--
"Oh, mercy! something must be done,
My little Rachel, you must run,--
Some willing neighbour must be found.

"Make haste--my little Rachel--do,
The first you meet with--bid him come,
Ask him to lend his horse to-night,
And this good Man, whom Heaven requite,
Will help to bring the body home."

Away goes Rachel weeping loud;--
An Infant, waked by her distress,
Makes in the house a piteous cry;
And Peter hears the Mother sigh,
"Seven are they, and all fatherless!"

And now is Peter taught to feel
That man's heart is a holy thing;
And Nature, through a world of death,
Breathes into him a second breath,
More searching than the breath of spring.

Upon a stone the Woman sits
In agony of silent grief--
From his own thoughts did Peter start;
He longs to press her to his heart,
From love that cannot find relief.

But roused, as if through every limb
Had past a sudden shock of dread,
The Mother o'er the threshold flies,
And up the cottage stairs she hies,
And on the pillow lays her burning head.

And Peter turns his steps aside
Into a shade of darksome trees,
Where he sits down, he knows not how,
With his hands pressed against his brow,
His elbows on his tremulous knees.

There, self-involved, does Peter sit
Until no sign of life he makes,
As if his mind were sinking deep
Through years that have been long asleep
The trance is passed away--he wakes;

He lifts his head--and sees the Ass
Yet standing in the clear moonshine;
"When shall I be as good as thou?
Oh! would, poor beast, that I had now
A heart but half as good as thine!" 0

But 'He'--who deviously hath sought
His Father through the lonesome woods,
Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear
Of night his grief and sorrowful fear--
He comes, escaped from fields and floods;--

With weary pace is drawing nigh;
He sees the Ass--and nothing living
Had ever such a fit of joy
As hath this little orphan Boy,
For he has no misgiving!

Forth to the gentle Ass he springs,
And up about his neck he climbs;
In loving words he talks to him,
He kisses, kisses face and limb,--
He kisses him a thousand times!

This Peter sees, while in the shade
He stood beside the cottage-door;
And Peter Bell, the ruffian wild,
Sobs loud, he sobs even like a child,
"O God! I can endure no more!"

--Here ends my Tale: for in a trice
Arrived a neighbour with his horse;
Peter went forth with him straightway;
And, with due care, ere break of day,
Together they brought back the Corse.

And many years did this poor Ass,
Whom once it was my luck to see
Cropping the shrubs of Leming-Lane,
Help by his labour to maintain
The Widow and her family.

And Peter Bell, who, till that night,
Had been the wildest of his clan,
Forsook his crimes, renounced his folly,
And, after ten months' melancholy,
Became a good and honest man.

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Metamorphoses: Book The Ninth

Theseus requests the God to tell his woes,
Whence his maim'd brow, and whence his groans arose
Whence thus the Calydonian stream reply'd,
With twining reeds his careless tresses ty'd:
Ungrateful is the tale; for who can bear,
When conquer'd, to rehearse the shameful war?
Yet I'll the melancholy story trace;
So great a conqu'ror softens the disgrace:
Nor was it still so mean the prize to yield,
As great, and glorious to dispute the field.
The Story of Perhaps you've heard of Deianira's name,
Achelous and For all the country spoke her beauty's fame.
Hercules Long was the nymph by num'rous suitors woo'd,
Each with address his envy'd hopes pursu'd:
I joyn'd the loving band; to gain the fair,
Reveal'd my passion to her father's ear.
Their vain pretensions all the rest resign,
Alcides only strove to equal mine;
He boasts his birth from Jove, recounts his spoils,
His step-dame's hate subdu'd, and finish'd toils.
Can mortals then (said I), with Gods compare?
Behold a God; mine is the watry care:
Through your wide realms I take my mazy way,
Branch into streams, and o'er the region stray:
No foreign guest your daughter's charms adores,
But one who rises in your native shores.
Let not his punishment your pity move;
Is Juno's hate an argument for love?
Though you your life from fair Alcmena drew,
Jove's a feign'd father, or by fraud a true.
Chuse then; confess thy mother's honour lost,
Or thy descent from Jove no longer boast.
While thus I spoke, he look'd with stern disdain,
Nor could the sallies of his wrath restrain,
Which thus break forth. This arm decides our right;
Vanquish in words, be mine the prize in fight.
Bold he rush'd on. My honour to maintain,
I fling my verdant garments on the plain,
My arms stretch forth, my pliant limbs prepare,
And with bent hands expect the furious war.
O'er my sleek skin now gather'd dust he throws,
And yellow sand his mighty muscles strows.
Oft he my neck, and nimble legs assails,
He seems to grasp me, but as often fails.
Each part he now invades with eager hand;
Safe in my bulk, immoveable I stand.
So when loud storms break high, and foam and roar
Against some mole that stretches from the shore;
The firm foundation lasting tempests braves,
Defies the warring winds, and driving waves.
A-while we breathe, then forward rush amain,
Renew the combat, and our ground maintain;
Foot strove with foot, I prone extend my breast,
Hands war with hands, and forehead forehead prest.
Thus have I seen two furious bulls engage,
Inflam'd with equal love, and equal rage;
Each claims the fairest heifer of the grove,
And conquest only can decide their love:
The trembling herds survey the fight from far,
'Till victory decides th' important war.
Three times in vain he strove my joints to wrest,
To force my hold, and throw me from his breast;
The fourth he broke my gripe, that clasp'd him
round,
Then with new force he stretch'd me on the ground;
Close to my back the mighty burthen clung,
As if a mountain o'er my limbs were flung.
Believe my tale; nor do I, boastful, aim
By feign'd narration to extol my fame.
No sooner from his grasp I freedom get,
Unlock my arms, that flow'd with trickling sweat,
But quick he seized me, and renew'd the strife,
As my exhausted bosom pants for life:
My neck he gripes, my knee to earth he strains;
I fall, and bite the sand with shame, and pains.
O'er-match'd in strength, to wiles, and arts I
take,
And slip his hold, in form of speckled snake;
Who, when I wreath'd in spires my body round,
Or show'd my forky tongue with hissing sound,
Smiles at my threats: Such foes my cradle knew,
He cries, dire snakes my infant hand o'erthrew;
A dragon's form might other conquests gain,
To war with me you take that shape in vain.
Art thou proportion'd to the Hydra's length,
Who by his wounds receiv'd augmented strength?
He rais'd a hundred hissing heads in air;
When one I lopt, up-sprung a dreadful pair.
By his wounds fertile, and with slaughter strong,
Singly I quell'd him, and stretch'd dead along.
What canst thou do, a form precarious, prone,
To rouse my rage with terrors not thy own?
He said; and round my neck his hands he cast,
And with his straining fingers wrung me fast;
My throat he tortur'd, close as pincers clasp,
In vain I strove to loose the forceful grasp.
Thus vanquish'd too, a third form still remains,
Chang'd to a bull, my lowing fills the plains.
Strait on the left his nervous arms were thrown
Upon my brindled neck, and tugg'd it down;
Then deep he struck my horn into the sand,
And fell'd my bulk among the dusty land.
Nor yet his fury cool'd; 'twixt rage and scorn,
From my maim'd front he tore the stubborn horn:
This, heap'd with flow'rs, and fruits, the Naiads
bear,
Sacred to plenty, and the bounteous year.
He spoke; when lo, a beauteous nymph appears,
Girt like Diana's train, with flowing hairs;
The horn she brings in which all Autumn's stor'd,
And ruddy apples for the second board.
Now morn begins to dawn, the sun's bright fire
Gilds the high mountains, and the youths retire;
Nor stay'd they, 'till the troubled stream
subsides,
And in its bounds with peaceful current glides.
But Achelous in his oozy bed
Deep hides his brow deform'd, and rustick head:
No real wound the victor's triumph show'd,
But his lost honours griev'd the watry God;
Yet ev'n that loss the willow's leaves o'erspread,
And verdant reeds, in garlands, bind his head.
The Death of This virgin too, thy love, O Nessus, found,
Nessus the To her alone you owe the fatal wound.
Centaur As the strong son of Jove his bride conveys,
Where his paternal lands their bulwarks raise;
Where from her slopy urn, Evenus pours
Her rapid current, swell'd by wintry show'rs,
He came. The frequent eddies whirl'd the tide,
And the deep rolling waves all pass deny'd.
As for himself, he stood unmov'd by fears,
For now his bridal charge employ'd his cares,
The strong-limb'd Nessus thus officious cry'd
(For he the shallows of the stream had try'd),
Swim thou, Alcides, all thy strength prepare,
On yonder bank I'll lodge thy nuptial care.
Th' Aonian chief to Nessus trusts his wife,
All pale, and trembling for her heroe's life:
Cloath'd as he stood in the fierce lion's hide,
The laden quiver o'er his shoulder ty'd
(For cross the stream his bow and club were cast),
Swift he plung'd in: These billows shall be past,
He said, nor sought where smoother waters glide,
But stem'd the rapid dangers of the tide.
The bank he reach'd; again the bow he bears;
When, hark! his bride's known voice alarms his
ears.
Nessus, to thee I call (aloud he cries)
Vain is thy trust in flight, be timely wise:
Thou monster double-shap'd, my right set free;
If thou no rev'rence owe my fame and me,
Yet kindred should thy lawless lust deny;
Think not, perfidious wretch, from me to fly,
Tho' wing'd with horse's speed; wounds shall
pursue;
Swift as his words the fatal arrow flew:
The centaur's back admits the feather'd wood,
And thro' his breast the barbed weapon stood;
Which when, in anguish, thro' the flesh he tore,
From both the wounds gush'd forth the spumy gore
Mix'd with Lernaean venom; this he took,
Nor dire revenge his dying breast forsook.
His garment, in the reeking purple dy'd,
To rouse love's passion, he presents the bride.
The Death of Now a long interval of time succeeds,
Hercules When the great son of Jove's immortal deeds,
And step-dame's hate, had fill'd Earth's utmost
round;
He from Oechalia, with new lawrels crown'd,
In triumph was return'd. He rites prepares,
And to the King of Gods directs his pray'rs;
When Fame (who falshood cloaths in truth's
disguise,
And swells her little bulk with growing lies)
Thy tender ear, o Deianira, mov'd,
That Hercules the fair Iole lov'd.
Her love believes the tale; the truth she fears
Of his new passion, and gives way to tears.
The flowing tears diffus'd her wretched grief,
Why seek I thus, from streaming eyes, relief?
She cries; indulge not thus these fruitless cares,
The harlot will but triumph in thy tears:
Let something be resolv'd, while yet there's time;
My bed not conscious of a rival's crime.
In silence shall I mourn, or loud complain?
Shall I seek Calydon, or here remain?
What tho', ally'd to Meleager's fame,
I boast the honours of a sister's name?
My wrongs, perhaps, now urge me to pursue
Some desp'rate deed, by which the world shall view
How far revenge, and woman's rage can rise,
When weltring in her blood the harlot dies.
Thus various passions rul'd by turns her breast,
She now resolves to send the fatal vest,
Dy'd with Lernaean gore, whose pow'r might move
His soul anew, and rouse declining love.
Nor knew she what her sudden rage bestows,
When she to Lychas trusts her future woes;
With soft endearments she the boy commands,
To bear the garment to her husband's hands.
Th' unwitting hero takes the gift in haste,
And o'er his shoulders Lerna's poison cast,
As first the fire with frankincense he strows,
And utters to the Gods his holy vows;
And on the marble altar's polish'd frame
Pours forth the grapy stream; the rising flame
Sudden dissolves the subtle pois'nous juice,
Which taints his blood, and all his nerves bedews.
With wonted fortitude he bore the smart,
And not a groan confess'd his burning heart.
At length his patience was subdu'd by pain,
He rends the sacred altar from the plain;
Oete's wide forests echo with his cries:
Now to rip off the deathful robe he tries.
Where-e'er he plucks the vest, the skin he tears,
The mangled muscles, and huge bones he bares
(A ghastful sight!), or raging with his pain,
To rend the sticking plague he tugs in vain.
As the red iron hisses in the flood,
So boils the venom in his curdling blood.
Now with the greedy flame his entrails glow,
And livid sweats down all his body flow;
The cracking nerves burnt up are burst in twain,
The lurking venom melts his swimming brain.
Then, lifting both his hands aloft, he cries,
Glut thy revenge, dread Empress of the skies;
Sate with my death the rancour of thy heart,
Look down with pleasure, and enjoy my smart.
Or, if e'er pity mov'd a hostile breast
(For here I stand thy enemy profest),
Take hence this hateful life, with tortures torn,
Inur'd to trouble, and to labours born.
Death is the gift most welcome to my woe,
And such a gift a stepdame may bestow.
Was it for this Busiris was subdu'd,
Whose barb'rous temples reek'd with strangers'
blood?
Press'd in these arms his fate Antaeus found,
Nor gain'd recruited vigour from the ground.
Did I not triple-form'd Geryon fell?
Or did I fear the triple dog of Hell?
Did not these hands the bull's arm'd forehead hold?
Are not our mighty toils in Elis told?
Do not Stymphalian lakes proclaim thy fame?
And fair Parthenian woods resound thy name?
Who seiz'd the golden belt of Thermodon?
And who the dragon-guarded apples won?
Could the fierce centaur's strength my force
withstand,
Or the fell boar that spoil'd th' Arcadian land?
Did not these arms the Hydra's rage subdue,
Who from his wounds to double fury grew?
What if the Thracian horses, fat with gore,
Who human bodies in their mangers tore,
I saw, and with their barb'rous lord o'erthrew?
What if these hands Nemaea's lion slew?
Did not this neck the heav'nly globe sustain?
The female partner of the Thunderer's reign
Fatigu'd, at length suspends her harsh commands,
Yet no fatigue hath slack'd these valiant hands.
But now new plagues pursue me, neither force,
Nor arms, nor darts can stop their raging course.
Devouring flame thro' my rack'd entrails strays,
And on my lungs and shrivel'd muscles preys.
Yet still Eurystheus breathes the vital air.
What mortal now shall seek the Gods with pray'r?
The The hero said; and with the torture stung,
Transformation Furious o'er Oete's lofty hills he sprung.
of Lychas Stuck with the shaft, thus scours the tyger round,
into a Rock And seeks the flying author of his wound.
Now might you see him trembling, now he vents
His anguish'd soul in groans, and loud laments;
He strives to tear the clinging vest in vain,
And with up-rooted forests strows the plain;
Now kindling into rage, his hands he rears,
And to his kindred Gods directs his pray'rs.
When Lychas, lo, he spies; who trembling flew,
And in a hollow rock conceal'd from view,
Had shun'd his wrath. Now grief renew'd his pain,
His madness chaf'd, and thus he raves again.
Lychas, to thee alone my fate I owe,
Who bore the gift, the cause of all my woe.
The youth all pale, with shiv'ring fear was stung,
And vain excuses falter'd on his tongue.
Alcides snatch'd him, as with suppliant face
He strove to clasp his knees, and beg for grace:
He toss'd him o'er his head with airy course,
And hurl'd with more than with an engine's force;
Far o'er th' Eubaean main aloof he flies,
And hardens by degrees amid the skies.
So showry drops, when chilly tempests blow,
Thicken at first, then whiten into snow,
In balls congeal'd the rolling fleeces bound,
In solid hail result upon the ground.
Thus, whirl'd with nervous force thro' distant air,
The purple tide forsook his veins, with fear;
All moisture left his limbs. Transform'd to stone,
In ancient days the craggy flint was known;
Still in the Eubaean waves his front he rears,
Still the small rock in human form appears,
And still the name of hapless Lychas bears.
The Apotheosis But now the hero of immortal birth
of Hercules Fells Oete's forests on the groaning Earth;
A pile he builds; to Philoctetes' care
He leaves his deathful instruments of war;
To him commits those arrows, which again
Shall see the bulwarks of the Trojan reign.
The son of Paean lights the lofty pyre,
High round the structure climbs the greedy fire;
Plac'd on the top, thy nervous shoulders spread
With the Nemaean spoils, thy careless head
Rais'd on a knotty club, with look divine,
Here thou, dread hero, of celestial line,
Wert stretch'd at ease; as when a chearful guest,
Wine crown'd thy bowls, and flow'rs thy temples
drest.
Now on all sides the potent flames aspire,
And crackle round those limbs that mock the fire
A sudden terror seiz'd th' immortal host,
Who thought the world's profess'd defender lost.
This when the Thund'rer saw, with smiles he cries,
'Tis from your fears, ye Gods, my pleasures rise;
Joy swells my breast, that my all-ruling hand
O'er such a grateful people boasts command,
That you my suff'ring progeny would aid;
Tho' to his deeds this just respect be paid,
Me you've oblig'd. Be all your fears forborn,
Th' Oetean fires do thou, great hero, scorn.
Who vanquish'd all things, shall subdue the flame.
That part alone of gross maternal frame
Fire shall devour; while what from me he drew
Shall live immortal, and its force subdue;
That, when he's dead, I'll raise to realms above;
May all the Pow'rs the righteous act approve.
If any God dissent, and judge too great
The sacred honours of the heav'nly seat,
Ev'n he shall own his deeds deserve the sky,
Ev'n he reluctant, shall at length comply.
Th' assembled Pow'rs assent. No frown 'till now
Had mark'd with passion vengeful Juno's brow,
Mean-while whate'er was in the pow'r of flame
Was all consum'd; his body's nervous frame
No more was known, of human form bereft,
Th' eternal part of Jove alone was left.
As an old serpent casts his scaly vest,
Wreathes in the sun, in youthful glory drest;
So when Alcides mortal mold resign'd,
His better part enlarg'd, and grew refin'd;
August his visage shone; almighty Jove
In his swift carr his honour'd offspring drove;
High o'er the hollow clouds the coursers fly,
And lodge the hero in the starry sky.
The Atlas perceiv'd the load of Heav'n's new guest.
Transformation Revenge still rancour'd in Eurystheus' breast
of Galanthis Against Alcides' race. Alcmena goes
To Iole, to vent maternal woes;
Here she pours forth her grief, recounts the spoils
Her son had bravely reap'd in glorious toils.
This Iole, by Hercules' commands,
Hyllus had lov'd, and joyn'd in nuptial bands.
Her swelling womb the teeming birth confess'd,
To whom Alcmena thus her speech address'd.
O, may the Gods protect thee, in that hour,
When, 'midst thy throws, thou call'st th' Ilithyan
Pow'r!
May no delays prolong thy racking pain,
As when I su'd for Juno's aid in vain.
When now Alcides' mighty birth drew nigh,
And the tenth sign roll'd forward on the sky,
My womb extends with such a mighty load,
As Jove the parent of the burthen show'd.
I could no more th' encreasing smart sustain,
My horror kindles to recount the pain;
Cold chills my limbs while I the tale pursue,
And now methinks I feel my pangs anew.
Seven days and nights amidst incessant throws,
Fatigu'd with ills I lay, nor knew repose;
When lifting high my hands, in shrieks I pray'd,
Implor'd the Gods, and call'd Lucina's aid.
She came, but prejudic'd, to give my Fate
A sacrifice to vengeful Juno's hate.
She hears the groaning anguish of my fits,
And on the altar at my door she sits.
O'er her left knee her crossing leg she cast,
Then knits her fingers close, and wrings them fast:
This stay'd the birth; in mutt'ring verse she
pray'd,
The mutt'ring verse th' unfinish'd birth delay'd.
Now with fierce struggles, raging with my pain,
At Jove's ingratitude I rave in vain.
How did I wish for death! such groans I sent,
As might have made the flinty heart relent.
Now the Cadmeian matrons round me press,
Offer their vows, and seek to bring redress;
Among the Theban dames Galanthis stands,
Strong limb'd, red hair'd, and just to my commands:
She first perceiv'd that all these racking woes
From the persisting hate of Juno rose.
As here and there she pass'd, by chance she sees
The seated Goddess; on her close-press'd knees
Her fast-knit hands she leans; with chearful voice
Galanthis cries, Whoe'er thou art, rejoyce,
Congratulate the dame, she lies at rest,
At length the Gods Alcmena's womb have blest.
Swift from her seat the startled Goddess springs,
No more conceal'd, her hands abroad she flings;
The charm unloos'd, the birth my pangs reliev'd;
Galanthis' laughter vex'd the Pow'r deceiv'd.
Fame says, the Goddess dragg'd the laughing maid
Fast by the hair; in vain her force essay'd
Her grov'ling body from the ground to rear;
Chang'd to fore-feet her shrinking arms appear:
Her hairy back her former hue retains,
The form alone is lost; her strength remains;
Who, since the lye did from her mouth proceed,
Shall from her pregnant mouth bring forth her
breed;
Nor shall she quit her long-frequented home,
But haunt those houses where she lov'd to roam.
The Fable of She said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs;
Dryope When the fair consort of her son replies;
Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own,
Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate
A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate.
No nymph of all Oechaloa could compare
For beauteous form with Dryope the fair;
Her tender mother's only hope and pride
(My self the offspring of a second bride),
This nymph, compress'd by him who rules the day,
Whom Delphi, and the Delian isle obey,
Andraemon lov'd; and blest in all those charms
That pleas'd a God, succeeded to her arms.
A lake there was, with shelving banks around,
Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd.
Those shades, unknowing of the fates, she sought;
And to the Naiads flow'ry garlands brought;
Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest
Between her arms, and nourish'd at her breast.
Not distant far a watry lotos grows;
The Spring was new, and all the verdant boughs,
Acorn'd with blossoms, promis'd fruits that vye
In glowing colours with the Tyrian dye.
Of these she cropt, to please her infant son,
And I my self the same rash act had done,
But, lo! I saw (as near her side I stood)
The violated blossoms drop with blood;
Upon the tree I cast a frightful look,
The trembling tree with sudden horror shook.
Lotis the nymph (if rural tales be true)
As from Priapus' lawless lust she flew,
Forsook her form; and fixing here became
A flow'ry plant, which still preserves her name.
This change unknown, astonish'd at the sight,
My trembling sister strove to urge her flight;
Yet first the pardon of the Nymphs implor'd,
And those offended Sylvan pow'rs ador'd:
But when she backward would have fled, she found
Her stiff'ning feet were rooted to the ground:
In vain to free her fasten'd feet she strove,
And as she struggles only moves above;
She feels th' incroaching bark around her grow,
By slow degrees, and cover all below:
Surpriz'd at this, her trembling hand she heaves
To rend her hair; her hand is fill'd with leaves;
Where late was hair, the shooting leaves are seen
To rise, and shade her with a sudden green.
The Child Amphisus, to her bosom prest,
Perceiv'd a colder and a harder breast,
And found the springs, that n'er 'till then deny'd
Their milky moisture, on a sudden dry'd.
I saw, unhappy, what I now relate,
And stood the helpless witness of thy fate;
Embrac'd thy boughs, the rising bark delay'd,
There wish'd to grow, and mingle shade with shade.
Behold Andraemon, and th' unhappy sire
Appear, and for their Dryope enquire;
A springing tree for Dryope they find,
And print warm kisses on the panting rind;
Prostrate, with tears their kindred plant bedew,
And close embrac'd, as to the roots they grew;
The face was all that now remain'd of thee;
No more a woman, nor yet quite a tree:
Thy branches hung with humid pearls appear,
From ev'ry leaf distills a trickling tear;
And strait a voice, while yet a voice remains,
Thus thro' the trembling boughs in sighs complains.
If to the wretched any faith be giv'n,
I swear by all th' unpitying Pow'rs of Heav'n,
No wilful crime this heavy vengeance bred,
In mutual innocence our lives we led.
If this be false, let these new greens decay,
Let sounding axes lop my limbs away,
And crackling flames on all my honours prey.
Now from my branching arms this infant bear,
Let some kind nurse supply a mother's care;
Yet to his mother let him oft be led,
Sport in her shades, and in her shades be fed;
Teach him, when first his infant voice shall frame
Imperfect words, and lisp his mother's name,
To hail this tree, and say with weeping eyes,
Within this plant my hapless parent lies;
And when in youth he seeks the shady woods,
Oh, let him fly the chrystal lakes and floods,
Nor touch the fatal flow'rs; but warn'd by me,
Believe a Goddess shrin'd in ev'ry tree.
My sire, my sister, and my spouse farewel!
If in your breasts or love, or pity, dwell,
Protect your plant, nor let my branches feel
The browzing cattle, or the piercing steel.
Farewel! and since I cannot bend to join
My lips to yours, advance at least to mine.
My son, thy mother's parting kiss receive,
While yet thy mother has a kiss to give.
I can no more; the creeping rind invades
My closing lips, and hides my head in shades:
Remove your hands; the bark shall soon suffice,
Without their aid, to seal these dying eyes.
She ceas'd at once to speak, and ceas'd to be;
And all the nymph was lost within the tree:
Yet latent life thro' her new branches reign'd,
And long the plant a human heat retain'd.
Iolaus restor'd While Iole the fatal change declares,
to Youth Alcmena's pitying hand oft wip'd her tears.
Grief too stream'd down her cheeks; soon sorrow
flies,
And rising joy the trickling moisture dries,
Lo Iolaus stands before their eyes.
A youth he stood; and the soft down began
O'er his smooth chin to spread, and promise man.
Hebe submitted to her husband's pray'rs,
Instill'd new vigour, and restor'd his years.
The Prophecy of Now from her lips a solemn oath had past,
Themis That Iolaus this gift alone shou'd taste,
Had not just Themis thus maturely said
(Which check'd her vow, and aw'd the blooming
maid).
Thebes is embroil'd in war. Capaneus stands
Invincible, but by the Thund'rer's hands.
Ambition shall the guilty brothers fire,
Both rush to mutual wounds, and both expire.
The reeling Earth shall ope her gloomy womb,
Where the yet breathing bard shall find his tomb.
The son shall bath his hands in parents' blood,
And in one act be both unjust, and good.
Of home, and sense depriv'd, where-e'er he flies,
The Furies, and his mother's ghost he spies.
His wife the fatal bracelet shall implore,
And Phegeus stain his sword in kindred gore.
Callirhoe shall then with suppliant pray'r
Prevail on Jupiter's relenting ear.
Jove shall with youth her infant sons inspire,
And bid their bosoms glow with manly fire.
The Debate of When Themis thus with prescient voice had spoke,
the Gods Among the Gods a various murmur broke;
Dissention rose in each immortal breast,
That one should grant, what was deny'd the rest.
Aurora for her aged spouse complains,
And Ceres grieves for Jason's freezing veins;
Vulcan would Erichthonius' years renew,
Her future race the care of Venus drew,
She would Anchises' blooming age restore;
A diff'rent care employ'd each heav'nly Pow'r:
Thus various int'rests did their jars encrease,
'Till Jove arose; he spoke, their tumults cease.
Is any rev'rence to our presence giv'n,
Then why this discord 'mong the Pow'rs of Heav'n?
Who can the settled will of Fate subdue?
'Twas by the Fates that Iolaus knew
A second youth. The Fates' determin'd doom
Shall give Callirhoe's race a youthful bloom.
Arms, nor ambition can this pow'r obtain;
Quell your desires; ev'n me the Fates restrain.
Could I their will controul, no rolling years
Had Aeacus bent down with silver hairs;
Then Rhadamanthus still had youth possess'd,
And Minos with eternal bloom been bless'd.
Jove's words the synod mov'd; the Pow'rs give o'er,
And urge in vain unjust complaint no more.
Since Rhadamanthus' veins now slowly flow'd,
And Aeacus, and Minos bore the load;
Minos, who in the flow'r of youth, and fame,
Made mighty nations tremble at his name,
Infirm with age, the proud Miletus fears,
Vain of his birth, and in the strength of years,
And now regarding all his realms as lost,
He durst not force him from his native coast.
But you by choice, Miletus, fled his reign,
And thy swift vessel plow'd th' Aegean main;
On Asiatick shores a town you frame,
Which still is honour'd with the founder's name.
Here you Cyanee knew, the beauteous maid,
As on her father's winding banks she stray'd:
Caunus and Byblis hence their lineage trace,
The double offspring of your warm embrace.
The Passion of Let the sad fate of wretched Byblis prove
of Byblis A dismal warning to unlawful love;
One birth gave being to the hapless pair,
But more was Caunus than a sister's care;
Unknown she lov'd, for yet the gentle fire
Rose not in flames, nor kindled to desire,
'Twas thought no sin to wonder at his charms,
Hang on his neck, and languish in his arms;
Thus wing'd with joy, fled the soft hours away,
And all the fatal guilt on harmless Nature lay.
But love (too soon from piety declin'd)
Insensibly deprav'd her yielding mind.
Dress'd she appears, with nicest art adorn'd,
And ev'ry youth, but her lov'd brother, scorn'd;
For him alone she labour'd to be fair,
And curst all charms that might with hers compare.
'Twas she, and only she, must Caunus please,
Sick at her heart, yet knew not her disease:
She call'd him lord, for brother was a name
Too cold, and dull for her aspiring flame;
And when he spoke, if sister he reply'd,
For Byblis change that frozen word, she cry'd.
Yet waking still she watch'd her strugling breast,
And love's approaches were in vain address'd,
'Till gentle sleep an easy conquest made,
And in her soft embrace the conqueror was laid.
But oh too soon the pleasing vision fled,
And left her blushing on the conscious bed:
Ah me! (she cry'd) how monstrous do I seem?
Why these wild thoughts? and this incestuous dream?
Envy herself ('tis true) must own his charms,
But what is beauty in a sister's arms?
Oh were I not that despicable she,
How bless'd, how pleas'd, how happy shou'd I be!
But unregarded now must bear my pain,
And but in dreams, my wishes can obtain.
O sea-born Goddess! with thy wanton boy!
Was ever such a charming scene of joy?
Such perfect bliss! such ravishing delight!
Ne'er hid before in the kind shades of night.
How pleas'd my heart! in what sweet raptures tost!
Ev'n life it self in the soft combat lost,
While breathless he on my heav'd bosom lay,
And snatch'd the treasures of my soul away.
If the bare fancy so affects my mind,
How shou'd I rave if to the substance join'd?
Oh, gentle Caunus! quit thy hated line,
Or let thy parents be no longer mine!
Oh that in common all things were enjoy'd,
But those alone who have our hopes destroy'd.
Were I a princess, thou an humble swain,
The proudest kings shou'd rival thee in vain.
It cannot be, alas! the dreadful ill
Is fix'd by Fate, and he's my brother still.
Hear me, ye Gods! I must have friends in Heav'n,
For Jove himself was to a sister giv'n:
But what are their prerogatives above,
To the short liberties of human love?
Fantastick thoughts! down, down, forbidden fires,
Or instant death extinguish my desires.
Strict virtue, then, with thy malicious leave,
Without a crime I may a kiss receive:
But say shou'd I in spight of laws comply,
Yet cruel Caunus might himself deny,
No pity take of an afflicted maid
(For love's sweet game must be by couples play'd).
Yet why shou'd youth, and charms like mine,
despair?
Such fears ne'er startled the Aeolian pair;
No ties of blood could their full hopes destroy,
They broke thro' all, for the prevailing joy;
And who can tell but Caunus too may be
Rack'd and tormented in his breast for me?
Like me, to the extreamest anguish drove,
Like me, just waking from a dream of love?
But stay! Oh whither wou'd my fury run!
What arguments I urge to be undone!
Away fond Byblis, quench these guilty flames;
Caunus thy love but as brother claims;
Yet had he first been touch'd with love of me,
The charming youth cou'd I despairing see?
Oppress'd with grief, and dying by disdain?
Ah no! too sure I shou'd have eas'd his pain!
Since then, if Caunus ask'd me, it were done;
Asking my self, what dangers can I run?
But canst thou ask? and see that right betray'd,
From Pyrrha down to thy whole sex convey'd?
That self-denying gift we all enjoy,
Of wishing to be won, yet seeming to be coy.
Well then, for once, let a fond mistress woo;
The force of love no custom can subdue;
This frantick passion he by words shall know,
Soft as the melting heart from whence they flow.
The pencil then in her fair hand she held,
By fear discourag'd, but by love compell'd
She writes, then blots, writes on, and blots again,
Likes it as fit, then razes it as vain:
Shame, and assurance in her face appear,
And a faint hope just yielding to despair;
Sister was wrote, and blotted as a word
Which she, and Caunus too (she hop'd) abhorr'd;
But now resolv'd to be no more controul'd
By scrup'lous virtue, thus her grief she told.
Thy lover (gentle Caunus) wishes thee
That health, which thou alone canst give to me.
O charming youth! the gift I ask bestow,
Ere thou the name of the fond writer know;
To thee without a name I would be known,
Since knowing that, my frailty I must own.
Yet why shou'd I my wretched name conceal?
When thousand instances my flames reveal:
Wan looks, and weeping eyes have spoke my pain,
And sighs discharg'd from my heav'd heart in vain;
Had I not wish'd my passion might be seen,
What cou'd such fondness and embraces mean?
Such kisses too! (Oh heedless lovely boy)
Without a crime no sister cou'd enjoy:
Yet (tho' extreamest rage has rack'd my soul,
And raging fires in my parch'd bosom roul)
Be witness, Gods! how piously I strove,
To rid my thoughts of this enchanting love.
But who cou'd scape so fierce, and sure a dart,
Aim'd at a tender, and defenceless heart?
Alas! what maid cou'd suffer, I have born,
Ere the dire secret from my breast was torn;
To thee a helpless vanquish'd wretch I come,
'Tis you alone can save, or give my doom;
My life, or death this moment you may chuse.
Yet think, oh think, no hated stranger sues,
No foe; but one, alas! too near ally'd,
And wishing still much nearer to be ty'd.
The forms of decency let age debate,
And virtue's rules by their cold morals state;
Their ebbing joys give leisure to enquire,
And blame those noble flights our youth inspire:
Where Nature kindly summons let us go,
Our sprightly years no bounds in love shou'd know,
Shou'd feel no check of guilt, and fear no ill;
Lovers, and Gods act all things at their will:
We gain one blessing from our hated kin,
Since our paternal freedom hides the sin;
Uncensur'd in each other's arms we lye,
Think then how easie to compleat our joy.
Oh, pardon and oblige a blushing maid,
Whose rage the pride of her vain sex betray'd;
Nor let my tomb thus mournfully complain,
Here Byblis lies, by her lov'd Caunus slain.
Forc'd here to end, she with a falling tear
Temper'd the pliant wax, which did the signet bear:
The curious cypher was impress'd by art,
But love had stamp'd one deeper in her heart;
Her page, a youth of confidence, and skill,
(Secret as night) stood waiting on her will;
Sighing (she cry'd): Bear this, thou faithful boy,
To my sweet partner in eternal joy:
Here a long pause her secret guilt confess'd,
And when at length she would have spoke the rest,
Half the dear name lay bury'd in her breast.
Thus as he listned to her vain command,
Down fell the letter from her trembling hand.
The omen shock'd her soul. Yet go, she cry'd;
Can a request from Byblis be deny'd?
To the Maeandrian youth this message's born,
The half-read lines by his fierce rage were torn;
Hence, hence, he cry'd, thou pandar to her lust,
Bear hence the triumph of thy impious trust:
Thy instant death will but divulge her shame,
Or thy life's blood shou'd quench the guilty flame.
Frighted, from threatning Caunus he withdrew,
And with the dreadful news to his lost mistress
flew.
The sad repulse so struck the wounded fair,
Her sense was bury'd in her wild despair;
Pale was her visage, as the ghastly dead;
And her scar'd soul from the sweet mansion fled;
Yet with her life renew'd, her love returns,
And faintly thus her cruel fate she mourns:
'Tis just, ye Gods! was my false reason blind?
To write a secret of this tender kind?
With female craft I shou'd at first have strove,
By dubious hints to sound his distant love;
And try'd those useful, tho' dissembled, arts,
Which women practise on disdainful hearts:
I shou'd have watch'd whence the black storm might
rise;
Ere I had trusted the unfaithful skies.
Now on the rouling billows I am tost,
And with extended sails, on the blind shelves am
lost.
Did not indulgent Heav'n my doom foretell,
When from my hand the fatal letter fell?
What madness seiz'd my soul? and urg'd me on
To take the only course to be undone?
I cou'd my self have told the moving tale
With such alluring grace as must prevail;
Then had his eyes beheld my blushing fears,
My rising sighs, and my descending tears;
Round his dear neck these arms I then had spread,
And, if rejected, at his feet been dead:
If singly these had not his thoughts inclin'd,
Yet all united would have shock'd his mind.
Perhaps, my careless page might be in fault,
And in a luckless hour the fatal message brought;
Business, and worldly thoughts might fill his
breast,
Sometimes ev'n love itself may be an irksome guest:
He cou'd not else have treated me with scorn,
For Caunus was not of a tygress born;
Nor steel, nor adamant has fenc'd his heart;
Like mine, 'tis naked to the burning dart.
Away false fears! he must, he shall be mine;
In death alone I will my claim resign;
'Tis vain to wish my written crime unknown,
And for my guilt much vainer to atone.
Repuls'd and baffled, fiercer still she burns,
And Caunus with disdain her impious love returns.
He saw no end of her injurious flame,
And fled his country to avoid the shame.
Forsaken Byblis, who had hopes no more;
Burst out in rage, and her loose robes she tore;
With her fair hands she smote her tender breast,
And to the wond'ring world her love confess'd;
O'er hills and dales, o'er rocks and streams she
flew,
But still in vain did her wild lust pursue:
Wearied at length, on the cold earth she fell,
And now in tears alone could her sad story tell.
Relenting Gods in pity fix'd her there,
And to a fountain turn'd the weeping fair.
The Fable of The fame of this, perhaps, thro' Crete had flown:
Iphis and But Crete had newer wonders of her own,
Ianthe In Iphis chang'd; for, near the Gnossian bounds
(As loud report the miracle resounds),
At Phaestus dwelt a man of honest blood,
But meanly born, and not so rich as good;
Esteem'd, and lov'd by all the neighbourhood;
Who to his wife, before the time assign'd
For child-birth came, thus bluntly spoke his mind.
If Heav'n, said Lygdus, will vouchsafe to hear,
I have but two petitions to prefer;
Short pains for thee, for me a son and heir.
Girls cost as many throes in bringing forth;
Beside, when born, the titts are little worth;
Weak puling things, unable to sustain
Their share of labour, and their bread to gain.
If, therefore, thou a creature shalt produce,
Of so great charges, and so little use
(Bear witness, Heav'n, with what reluctancy),
Her hapless innocence I doom to die.
He said, and common tears the common grief display,
Of him who bad, and her who must obey.
Yet Telethusa still persists, to find
Fit arguments to move a father's mind;
T' extend his wishes to a larger scope,
And in one vessel not confine his hope.
Lygdus continues hard: her time drew near,
And she her heavy load could scarcely bear;
When slumbring, in the latter shades of night,
Before th' approaches of returning light,
She saw, or thought she saw, before her bed,
A glorious train, and Isis at their head:
Her moony horns were on her forehead plac'd,
And yellow shelves her shining temples grac'd:
A mitre, for a crown, she wore on high;
The dog, and dappl'd bull were waiting by;
Osyris, sought along the banks of Nile;
The silent God: the sacred crocodile;
And, last, a long procession moving on,
With timbrels, that assist the lab'ring moon.
Her slumbers seem'd dispell'd, and, broad awake,
She heard a voice, that thus distinctly spake.
My votary, thy babe from death defend,
Nor fear to save whate'er the Gods will send.
Delude with art thy husband's dire decree:
When danger calls, repose thy trust on me:
And know thou hast not serv'd a thankless deity.
This promise made, with night the Goddess fled;
With joy the woman wakes, and leaves her bed;
Devoutly lifts her spotless hands on high,
And prays the Pow'rs their gift to ratifie.
Now grinding pains proceed to bearing throes,
'Till its own weight the burden did disclose.
'Twas of the beauteous kind, and brought to light
With secrecy, to shun the father's sight.
Th' indulgent mother did her care employ,
And past it on her husband for a boy.
The nurse was conscious of the fact alone;
The father paid his vows as for a son;
And call'd him Iphis, by a common name,
Which either sex with equal right may claim.
Iphis his grandsire was; the wife was pleas'd,
Of half the fraud by Fortune's favour eas'd:
The doubtful name was us'd without deceit,
And truth was cover'd with a pious cheat.
The habit show'd a boy, the beauteous face
With manly fierceness mingled female grace.
Now thirteen years of age were swiftly run,
When the fond father thought the time drew on
Of settling in the world his only son.
Ianthe was his choice; so wondrous fair,
Her form alone with Iphis cou'd compare;
A neighbour's daughter of his own degree,
And not more bless'd with Fortune's goods than he.
They soon espous'd; for they with ease were
join'd,
Who were before contracted in the mind.
Their age the same, their inclinations too;
And bred together, in one school they grew.
Thus, fatally dispos'd to mutual fires,
They felt, before they knew, the same desires.
Equal their flame, unequal was their care;
One lov'd with hope, one languish'd in despair.
The maid accus'd the lingring day alone:
For whom she thought a man, she thought her own.
But Iphis bends beneath a greater grief;
As fiercely burns, but hopes for no relief.
Ev'n her despair adds fuel to her fire;
A maid with madness does a maid desire.
And, scarce refraining tears, Alas, said she,
What issue of my love remains for me!
How wild a passion works within my breast,
With what prodigious flames am I possest!
Could I the care of Providence deserve,
Heav'n must destroy me, if it would preserve.
And that's my fate, or sure it would have sent
Some usual evil for my punishment:
Not this unkindly curse; to rage, and burn,
Where Nature shews no prospect of return.
Nor cows for cows consume with fruitless fire;
Nor mares, when hot, their fellow-mares desire:
The father of the fold supplies his ewes;
The stag through secret woods his hind pursues;
And birds for mates the males of their own species
chuse.
Her females Nature guards from female flame,
And joins two sexes to preserve the game:
Wou'd I were nothing, or not what I am!
Crete, fam'd for monsters, wanted of her store,
'Till my new love produc'd one monster more.
The daughter of the sun a bull desir'd,
And yet ev'n then a male a female fir'd:
Her passion was extravagantly new,
But mine is much the madder of the two.
To things impossible she was not bent,
But found the means to compass her intent.
To cheat his eyes she took a different shape;
Yet still she gain'd a lover, and a leap.
Shou'd all the wit of all the world conspire,
Shou'd Daedalus assist my wild desire,
What art can make me able to enjoy,
Or what can change Ianthe to a boy?
Extinguish then thy passion, hopeless maid,
And recollect thy reason for thy aid.
Know what thou art, and love as maidens ought,
And drive these golden wishes from thy thought.
Thou canst not hope thy fond desires to gain;
Where hope is wanting, wishes are in vain.
And yet no guards against our joys conspire;
No jealous husband hinders our desire;
My parents are propitious to my wish,
And she herself consenting to the bliss.
All things concur to prosper our design;
All things to prosper any love but mine.
And yet I never can enjoy the fair;
'Tis past the pow'r of Heav'n to grant my pray'r.
Heav'n has been kind, as far as Heav'n can be;
Our parents with our own desires agree;
But Nature, stronger than the Gods above,
Refuses her assistance to my love;
She sets the bar that causes all my pain;
One gift refus'd, makes all their bounty vain.
And now the happy day is just at hand,
To bind our hearts in Hymen's holy band:
Our hearts, but not our bodies: thus accurs'd,
In midst of water I complain of thirst.
Why com'st thou, Juno, to these barren rites,
To bless a bed defrauded of delights?
But why shou'd Hymen lift his torch on high,
To see two b

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A drop of sweat spent in a drill is a drop of blood saved in a battle.

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The death clock is ticking slowly in our breast, and each drop of blood measures its time, and our life is a lingering fever.

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Nixon bleeds people. He draws every drop of blood and then drops them from a cliff. He'll blame any person he can put his foot on.

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Rubaiyat 37

Let not your thoughts constantly be fought,
Let thoughts in patience and joy be caught.
What patience? Cause what they call the heart
Is a drop of blood, and a thousand thought.

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My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle.

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Thanks to our present surgical methods in physiology we can demonstrate at any time almost all phenomena of digestion without the loss of even a single drop of blood, without a single scream from the animal undergoing the experiment.

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One Voice For Counterrevolution

Our back against the wall,
One voice to lead us all, we won't fall
Deliberation for retailitaion,
One strong hand to hold us together
Separation by crucifixion,
All powerful blood that set us apart
We need a counterrevolution,
To fight against this world,
To rise against this world
You grasp us with your greedy hands,
You try to take us for all you can
You suck ever last drop of blood,
Until there's nothing left until there's no one left to break

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