Gareth And Lynette
The last tall son of Lot and Bellicent,
And tallest, Gareth, in a showerful spring
Stared at the spate. A slender-shafted Pine
Lost footing, fell, and so was whirled away.
'How he went down,' said Gareth, 'as a false knight
Or evil king before my lance if lance
Were mine to use--O senseless cataract,
Bearing all down in thy precipitancy--
And yet thou art but swollen with cold snows
And mine is living blood: thou dost His will,
The Maker's, and not knowest, and I that know,
Have strength and wit, in my good mother's hall
Linger with vacillating obedience,
Prisoned, and kept and coaxed and whistled to--
Since the good mother holds me still a child!
Good mother is bad mother unto me!
A worse were better; yet no worse would I.
Heaven yield her for it, but in me put force
To weary her ears with one continuous prayer,
Until she let me fly discaged to sweep
In ever-highering eagle-circles up
To the great Sun of Glory, and thence swoop
Down upon all things base, and dash them dead,
A knight of Arthur, working out his will,
To cleanse the world. Why, Gawain, when he came
With Modred hither in the summertime,
Asked me to tilt with him, the proven knight.
Modred for want of worthier was the judge.
Then I so shook him in the saddle, he said,
"Thou hast half prevailed against me," said so--he--
Though Modred biting his thin lips was mute,
For he is alway sullen: what care I?'
And Gareth went, and hovering round her chair
Asked, 'Mother, though ye count me still the child,
Sweet mother, do ye love the child?' She laughed,
'Thou art but a wild-goose to question it.'
'Then, mother, an ye love the child,' he said,
'Being a goose and rather tame than wild,
Hear the child's story.' 'Yea, my well-beloved,
An 'twere but of the goose and golden eggs.'
And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes,
'Nay, nay, good mother, but this egg of mine
Was finer gold than any goose can lay;
For this an Eagle, a royal Eagle, laid
Almost beyond eye-reach, on such a palm
As glitters gilded in thy Book of Hours.
And there was ever haunting round the palm
A lusty youth, but poor, who often saw
The splendour sparkling from aloft, and thought
"An I could climb and lay my hand upon it,
Then were I wealthier than a leash of kings."
But ever when he reached a hand to climb,
One, that had loved him from his childhood, caught
And stayed him, "Climb not lest thou break thy neck,
I charge thee by my love," and so the boy,
Sweet mother, neither clomb, nor brake his neck,
But brake his very heart in pining for it,
And past away.'
To whom the mother said,
'True love, sweet son, had risked himself and climbed,
And handed down the golden treasure to him.'
And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes,
'Gold?' said I gold?--ay then, why he, or she,
Or whosoe'er it was, or half the world
Had ventured--HAD the thing I spake of been
Mere gold--but this was all of that true steel,
Whereof they forged the brand Excalibur,
And lightnings played about it in the storm,
And all the little fowl were flurried at it,
And there were cries and clashings in the nest,
That sent him from his senses: let me go.'
Then Bellicent bemoaned herself and said,
'Hast thou no pity upon my loneliness?
Lo, where thy father Lot beside the hearth
Lies like a log, and all but smouldered out!
For ever since when traitor to the King
He fought against him in the Barons' war,
And Arthur gave him back his territory,
His age hath slowly droopt, and now lies there
A yet-warm corpse, and yet unburiable,
No more; nor sees, nor hears, nor speaks, nor knows.
And both thy brethren are in Arthur's hall,
Albeit neither loved with that full love
I feel for thee, nor worthy such a love:
Stay therefore thou; red berries charm the bird,
And thee, mine innocent, the jousts, the wars,
Who never knewest finger-ache, nor pang
Of wrenched or broken limb--an often chance
In those brain-stunning shocks, and tourney-falls,
Frights to my heart; but stay: follow the deer
By these tall firs and our fast-falling burns;
So make thy manhood mightier day by day;
Sweet is the chase: and I will seek thee out
Some comfortable bride and fair, to grace
Thy climbing life, and cherish my prone year,
Till falling into Lot's forgetfulness
I know not thee, myself, nor anything.
Stay, my best son! ye are yet more boy than man.'
Then Gareth, 'An ye hold me yet for child,
Hear yet once more the story of the child.
For, mother, there was once a King, like ours.
The prince his heir, when tall and marriageable,
Asked for a bride; and thereupon the King
Set two before him. One was fair, strong, armed--
But to be won by force--and many men
Desired her; one good lack, no man desired.
And these were the conditions of the King:
That save he won the first by force, he needs
Must wed that other, whom no man desired,
A red-faced bride who knew herself so vile,
That evermore she longed to hide herself,
Nor fronted man or woman, eye to eye--
Yea--some she cleaved to, but they died of her.
And one--they called her Fame; and one,--O Mother,
How can ye keep me tethered to you--Shame.
Man am I grown, a man's work must I do.
Follow the deer? follow the Christ, the King,
Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King--
Else, wherefore born?'
To whom the mother said
'Sweet son, for there be many who deem him not,
Or will not deem him, wholly proven King--
Albeit in mine own heart I knew him King,
When I was frequent with him in my youth,
And heard him Kingly speak, and doubted him
No more than he, himself; but felt him mine,
Of closest kin to me: yet--wilt thou leave
Thine easeful biding here, and risk thine all,
Life, limbs, for one that is not proven King?
Stay, till the cloud that settles round his birth
Hath lifted but a little. Stay, sweet son.'
And Gareth answered quickly, 'Not an hour,
So that ye yield me--I will walk through fire,
Mother, to gain it--your full leave to go.
Not proven, who swept the dust of ruined Rome
From off the threshold of the realm, and crushed
The Idolaters, and made the people free?
Who should be King save him who makes us free?'
So when the Queen, who long had sought in vain
To break him from the intent to which he grew,
Found her son's will unwaveringly one,
She answered craftily, 'Will ye walk through fire?
Who walks through fire will hardly heed the smoke.
Ay, go then, an ye must: only one proof,
Before thou ask the King to make thee knight,
Of thine obedience and thy love to me,
Thy mother,--I demand.
And Gareth cried,
'A hard one, or a hundred, so I go.
Nay--quick! the proof to prove me to the quick!'
But slowly spake the mother looking at him,
'Prince, thou shalt go disguised to Arthur's hall,
And hire thyself to serve for meats and drinks
Among the scullions and the kitchen-knaves,
And those that hand the dish across the bar.
Nor shalt thou tell thy name to anyone.
And thou shalt serve a twelvemonth and a day.'
For so the Queen believed that when her son
Beheld his only way to glory lead
Low down through villain kitchen-vassalage,
Her own true Gareth was too princely-proud
To pass thereby; so should he rest with her,
Closed in her castle from the sound of arms.
Silent awhile was Gareth, then replied,
'The thrall in person may be free in soul,
And I shall see the jousts. Thy son am I,
And since thou art my mother, must obey.
I therefore yield me freely to thy will;
For hence will I, disguised, and hire myself
To serve with scullions and with kitchen-knaves;
Nor tell my name to any--no, not the King.'
Gareth awhile lingered. The mother's eye
Full of the wistful fear that he would go,
And turning toward him wheresoe'er he turned,
Perplext his outward purpose, till an hour,
When wakened by the wind which with full voice
Swept bellowing through the darkness on to dawn,
He rose, and out of slumber calling two
That still had tended on him from his birth,
Before the wakeful mother heard him, went.
The three were clad like tillers of the soil.
Southward they set their faces. The birds made
Melody on branch, and melody in mid air.
The damp hill-slopes were quickened into green,
And the live green had kindled into flowers,
For it was past the time of Easterday.
So, when their feet were planted on the plain
That broadened toward the base of Camelot,
Far off they saw the silver-misty morn
Rolling her smoke about the Royal mount,
That rose between the forest and the field.
At times the summit of the high city flashed;
At times the spires and turrets half-way down
Pricked through the mist; at times the great gate shone
Only, that opened on the field below:
Anon, the whole fair city had disappeared.
Then those who went with Gareth were amazed,
One crying, 'Let us go no further, lord.
Here is a city of Enchanters, built
By fairy Kings.' The second echoed him,
'Lord, we have heard from our wise man at home
To Northward, that this King is not the King,
But only changeling out of Fairyland,
Who drave the heathen hence by sorcery
And Merlin's glamour.' Then the first again,
'Lord, there is no such city anywhere,
But all a vision.'
Gareth answered them
With laughter, swearing he had glamour enow
In his own blood, his princedom, youth and hopes,
To plunge old Merlin in the Arabian sea;
So pushed them all unwilling toward the gate.
And there was no gate like it under heaven.
For barefoot on the keystone, which was lined
And rippled like an ever-fleeting wave,
The Lady of the Lake stood: all her dress
Wept from her sides as water flowing away;
But like the cross her great and goodly arms
Stretched under the cornice and upheld:
And drops of water fell from either hand;
And down from one a sword was hung, from one
A censer, either worn with wind and storm;
And o'er her breast floated the sacred fish;
And in the space to left of her, and right,
Were Arthur's wars in weird devices done,
New things and old co-twisted, as if Time
Were nothing, so inveterately, that men
Were giddy gazing there; and over all
High on the top were those three Queens, the friends
Of Arthur, who should help him at his need.
Then those with Gareth for so long a space
Stared at the figures, that at last it seemed
The dragon-boughts and elvish emblemings
Began to move, seethe, twine and curl: they called
To Gareth, 'Lord, the gateway is alive.'
And Gareth likewise on them fixt his eyes
So long, that even to him they seemed to move.
Out of the city a blast of music pealed.
Back from the gate started the three, to whom
From out thereunder came an ancient man,
Long-bearded, saying, 'Who be ye, my sons?'
Then Gareth, 'We be tillers of the soil,
Who leaving share in furrow come to see
The glories of our King: but these, my men,
(Your city moved so weirdly in the mist)
Doubt if the King be King at all, or come
From Fairyland; and whether this be built
By magic, and by fairy Kings and Queens;
Or whether there be any city at all,
Or all a vision: and this music now
Hath scared them both, but tell thou these the truth.'
Then that old Seer made answer playing on him
And saying, 'Son, I have seen the good ship sail
Keel upward, and mast downward, in the heavens,
And solid turrets topsy-turvy in air:
And here is truth; but an it please thee not,
Take thou the truth as thou hast told it me.
For truly as thou sayest, a Fairy King
And Fairy Queens have built the city, son;
They came from out a sacred mountain-cleft
Toward the sunrise, each with harp in hand,
And built it to the music of their harps.
And, as thou sayest, it is enchanted, son,
For there is nothing in it as it seems
Saving the King; though some there be that hold
The King a shadow, and the city real:
Yet take thou heed of him, for, so thou pass
Beneath this archway, then wilt thou become
A thrall to his enchantments, for the King
Will bind thee by such vows, as is a shame
A man should not be bound by, yet the which
No man can keep; but, so thou dread to swear,
Pass not beneath this gateway, but abide
Without, among the cattle of the field.
For an ye heard a music, like enow
They are building still, seeing the city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built for ever.'
Angered, 'Old master, reverence thine own beard
That looks as white as utter truth, and seems
Wellnigh as long as thou art statured tall!
Why mockest thou the stranger that hath been
To thee fair-spoken?'
But the Seer replied,
'Know ye not then the Riddling of the Bards?
"Confusion, and illusion, and relation,
Elusion, and occasion, and evasion"?
I mock thee not but as thou mockest me,
And all that see thee, for thou art not who
Thou seemest, but I know thee who thou art.
And now thou goest up to mock the King,
Who cannot brook the shadow of any lie.'
Unmockingly the mocker ending here
Turned to the right, and past along the plain;
Whom Gareth looking after said, 'My men,
Our one white lie sits like a little ghost
Here on the threshold of our enterprise.
Let love be blamed for it, not she, nor I:
Well, we will make amends.'
With all good cheer
He spake and laughed, then entered with his twain
Camelot, a city of shadowy palaces
And stately, rich in emblem and the work
Of ancient kings who did their days in stone;
Which Merlin's hand, the Mage at Arthur's court,
Knowing all arts, had touched, and everywhere
At Arthur's ordinance, tipt with lessening peak
And pinnacle, and had made it spire to heaven.
And ever and anon a knight would pass
Outward, or inward to the hall: his arms
Clashed; and the sound was good to Gareth's ear.
And out of bower and casement shyly glanced
Eyes of pure women, wholesome stars of love;
And all about a healthful people stept
As in the presence of a gracious king.
Then into hall Gareth ascending heard
A voice, the voice of Arthur, and beheld
Far over heads in that long-vaulted hall
The splendour of the presence of the King
Throned, and delivering doom--and looked no more--
But felt his young heart hammering in his ears,
And thought, 'For this half-shadow of a lie
The truthful King will doom me when I speak.'
Yet pressing on, though all in fear to find
Sir Gawain or Sir Modred, saw nor one
Nor other, but in all the listening eyes
Of those tall knights, that ranged about the throne,
Clear honour shining like the dewy star
Of dawn, and faith in their great King, with pure
Affection, and the light of victory,
And glory gained, and evermore to gain.
Then came a widow crying to the King,
'A boon, Sir King! Thy father, Uther, reft
From my dead lord a field with violence:
For howsoe'er at first he proffered gold,
Yet, for the field was pleasant in our eyes,
We yielded not; and then he reft us of it
Perforce, and left us neither gold nor field.'
Said Arthur, 'Whether would ye? gold or field?'
To whom the woman weeping, 'Nay, my lord,
The field was pleasant in my husband's eye.'
And Arthur, 'Have thy pleasant field again,
And thrice the gold for Uther's use thereof,
According to the years. No boon is here,
But justice, so thy say be proven true.
Accursed, who from the wrongs his father did
Would shape himself a right!'
And while she past,
Came yet another widow crying to him,
'A boon, Sir King! Thine enemy, King, am I.
With thine own hand thou slewest my dear lord,
A knight of Uther in the Barons' war,
When Lot and many another rose and fought
Against thee, saying thou wert basely born.
I held with these, and loathe to ask thee aught.
Yet lo! my husband's brother had my son
Thralled in his castle, and hath starved him dead;
And standeth seized of that inheritance
Which thou that slewest the sire hast left the son.
So though I scarce can ask it thee for hate,
Grant me some knight to do the battle for me,
Kill the foul thief, and wreak me for my son.'
Then strode a good knight forward, crying to him,
'A boon, Sir King! I am her kinsman, I.
Give me to right her wrong, and slay the man.'
Then came Sir Kay, the seneschal, and cried,
'A boon, Sir King! even that thou grant her none,
This railer, that hath mocked thee in full hall--
None; or the wholesome boon of gyve and gag.'
But Arthur, 'We sit King, to help the wronged
Through all our realm. The woman loves her lord.
Peace to thee, woman, with thy loves and hates!
The kings of old had doomed thee to the flames,
Aurelius Emrys would have scourged thee dead,
And Uther slit thy tongue: but get thee hence--
Lest that rough humour of the kings of old
Return upon me! Thou that art her kin,
Go likewise; lay him low and slay him not,
But bring him here, that I may judge the right,
According to the justice of the King:
Then, be he guilty, by that deathless King
Who lived and died for men, the man shall die.'
Then came in hall the messenger of Mark,
A name of evil savour in the land,
The Cornish king. In either hand he bore
What dazzled all, and shone far-off as shines
A field of charlock in the sudden sun
Between two showers, a cloth of palest gold,
Which down he laid before the throne, and knelt,
Delivering, that his lord, the vassal king,
Was even upon his way to Camelot;
For having heard that Arthur of his grace
Had made his goodly cousin, Tristram, knight,
And, for himself was of the greater state,
Being a king, he trusted his liege-lord
Would yield him this large honour all the more;
So prayed him well to accept this cloth of gold,
In token of true heart and felty.
Then Arthur cried to rend the cloth, to rend
In pieces, and so cast it on the hearth.
An oak-tree smouldered there. 'The goodly knight!
What! shall the shield of Mark stand among these?'
For, midway down the side of that long hall
A stately pile,--whereof along the front,
Some blazoned, some but carven, and some blank,
There ran a treble range of stony shields,--
Rose, and high-arching overbrowed the hearth.
And under every shield a knight was named:
For this was Arthur's custom in his hall;
When some good knight had done one noble deed,
His arms were carven only; but if twain
His arms were blazoned also; but if none,
The shield was blank and bare without a sign
Saving the name beneath; and Gareth saw
The shield of Gawain blazoned rich and bright,
And Modred's blank as death; and Arthur cried
To rend the cloth and cast it on the hearth.
'More like are we to reave him of his crown
Than make him knight because men call him king.
The kings we found, ye know we stayed their hands
From war among themselves, but left them kings;
Of whom were any bounteous, merciful,
Truth-speaking, brave, good livers, them we enrolled
Among us, and they sit within our hall.
But as Mark hath tarnished the great name of king,
As Mark would sully the low state of churl:
And, seeing he hath sent us cloth of gold,
Return, and meet, and hold him from our eyes,
Lest we should lap him up in cloth of lead,
Silenced for ever--craven--a man of plots,
Craft, poisonous counsels, wayside ambushings--
No fault of thine: let Kay the seneschal
Look to thy wants, and send thee satisfied--
Accursed, who strikes nor lets the hand be seen!'
And many another suppliant crying came
With noise of ravage wrought by beast and man,
And evermore a knight would ride away.
Last, Gareth leaning both hands heavily
Down on the shoulders of the twain, his men,
Approached between them toward the King, and asked,
'A boon, Sir King (his voice was all ashamed),
For see ye not how weak and hungerworn
I seem--leaning on these? grant me to serve
For meat and drink among thy kitchen-knaves
A twelvemonth and a day, nor seek my name.
Hereafter I will fight.'
To him the King,
'A goodly youth and worth a goodlier boon!
But so thou wilt no goodlier, then must Kay,
The master of the meats and drinks, be thine.'
He rose and past; then Kay, a man of mien
Wan-sallow as the plant that feels itself
Root-bitten by white lichen,
'Lo ye now!
This fellow hath broken from some Abbey, where,
God wot, he had not beef and brewis enow,
However that might chance! but an he work,
Like any pigeon will I cram his crop,
And sleeker shall he shine than any hog.'
Then Lancelot standing near, 'Sir Seneschal,
Sleuth-hound thou knowest, and gray, and all the hounds;
A horse thou knowest, a man thou dost not know:
Broad brows and fair, a fluent hair and fine,
High nose, a nostril large and fine, and hands
Large, fair and fine!--Some young lad's mystery--
But, or from sheepcot or king's hall, the boy
Is noble-natured. Treat him with all grace,
Lest he should come to shame thy judging of him.'
Then Kay, 'What murmurest thou of mystery?
Think ye this fellow will poison the King's dish?
Nay, for he spake too fool-like: mystery!
Tut, an the lad were noble, he had asked
For horse and armour: fair and fine, forsooth!
Sir Fine-face, Sir Fair-hands? but see thou to it
That thine own fineness, Lancelot, some fine day
Undo thee not--and leave my man to me.'
So Gareth all for glory underwent
The sooty yoke of kitchen-vassalage;
Ate with young lads his portion by the door,
And couched at night with grimy kitchen-knaves.
And Lancelot ever spake him pleasantly,
But Kay the seneschal, who loved him not,
Would hustle and harry him, and labour him
Beyond his comrade of the hearth, and set
To turn the broach, draw water, or hew wood,
Or grosser tasks; and Gareth bowed himself
With all obedience to the King, and wrought
All kind of service with a noble ease
That graced the lowliest act in doing it.
And when the thralls had talk among themselves,
And one would praise the love that linkt the King
And Lancelot--how the King had saved his life
In battle twice, and Lancelot once the King's--
For Lancelot was the first in Tournament,
But Arthur mightiest on the battle-field--
Gareth was glad. Or if some other told,
How once the wandering forester at dawn,
Far over the blue tarns and hazy seas,
On Caer-Eryri's highest found the King,
A naked babe, of whom the Prophet spake,
'He passes to the Isle Avilion,
He passes and is healed and cannot die'--
Gareth was glad. But if their talk were foul,
Then would he whistle rapid as any lark,
Or carol some old roundelay, and so loud
That first they mocked, but, after, reverenced him.
Or Gareth telling some prodigious tale
Of knights, who sliced a red life-bubbling way
Through twenty folds of twisted dragon, held
All in a gap-mouthed circle his good mates
Lying or sitting round him, idle hands,
Charmed; till Sir Kay, the seneschal, would come
Blustering upon them, like a sudden wind
Among dead leaves, and drive them all apart.
Or when the thralls had sport among themselves,
So there were any trial of mastery,
He, by two yards in casting bar or stone
Was counted best; and if there chanced a joust,
So that Sir Kay nodded him leave to go,
Would hurry thither, and when he saw the knights
Clash like the coming and retiring wave,
And the spear spring, and good horse reel, the boy
Was half beyond himself for ecstasy.
So for a month he wrought among the thralls;
But in the weeks that followed, the good Queen,
Repentant of the word she made him swear,
And saddening in her childless castle, sent,
Between the in-crescent and de-crescent moon,
Arms for her son, and loosed him from his vow.
This, Gareth hearing from a squire of Lot
With whom he used to play at tourney once,
When both were children, and in lonely haunts
Would scratch a ragged oval on the sand,
And each at either dash from either end--
Shame never made girl redder than Gareth joy.
He laughed; he sprang. 'Out of the smoke, at once
I leap from Satan's foot to Peter's knee--
These news be mine, none other's--nay, the King's--
Descend into the city:' whereon he sought
The King alone, and found, and told him all.
'I have staggered thy strong Gawain in a tilt
For pastime; yea, he said it: joust can I.
Make me thy knight--in secret! let my name
Be hidden, and give me the first quest, I spring
Like flame from ashes.'
Here the King's calm eye
Fell on, and checked, and made him flush, and bow
Lowly, to kiss his hand, who answered him,
'Son, the good mother let me know thee here,
And sent her wish that I would yield thee thine.
Make thee my knight? my knights are sworn to vows
Of utter hardihood, utter gentleness,
And, loving, utter faithfulness in love,
And uttermost obedience to the King.'
Then Gareth, lightly springing from his knees,
'My King, for hardihood I can promise thee.
For uttermost obedience make demand
Of whom ye gave me to, the Seneschal,
No mellow master of the meats and drinks!
And as for love, God wot, I love not yet,
But love I shall, God willing.'
And the King
'Make thee my knight in secret? yea, but he,
Our noblest brother, and our truest man,
And one with me in all, he needs must know.'
'Let Lancelot know, my King, let Lancelot know,
Thy noblest and thy truest!'
And the King--
'But wherefore would ye men should wonder at you?
Nay, rather for the sake of me, their King,
And the deed's sake my knighthood do the deed,
Than to be noised of.'
Merrily Gareth asked,
'Have I not earned my cake in baking of it?
Let be my name until I make my name!
My deeds will speak: it is but for a day.'
So with a kindly hand on Gareth's arm
Smiled the great King, and half-unwillingly
Loving his lusty youthhood yielded to him.
Then, after summoning Lancelot privily,
'I have given him the first quest: he is not proven.
Look therefore when he calls for this in hall,
Thou get to horse and follow him far away.
Cover the lions on thy shield, and see
Far as thou mayest, he be nor ta'en nor slain.'
Then that same day there past into the hall
A damsel of high lineage, and a brow
May-blossom, and a cheek of apple-blossom,
Hawk-eyes; and lightly was her slender nose
Tip-tilted like the petal of a flower;
She into hall past with her page and cried,
'O King, for thou hast driven the foe without,
See to the foe within! bridge, ford, beset
By bandits, everyone that owns a tower
The Lord for half a league. Why sit ye there?
Rest would I not, Sir King, an I were king,
Till even the lonest hold were all as free
From cursd bloodshed, as thine altar-cloth
From that best blood it is a sin to spill.'
'Comfort thyself,' said Arthur. 'I nor mine
Rest: so my knighthood keep the vows they swore,
The wastest moorland of our realm shall be
Safe, damsel, as the centre of this hall.
What is thy name? thy need?'
'My name?' she said--
'Lynette my name; noble; my need, a knight
To combat for my sister, Lyonors,
A lady of high lineage, of great lands,
And comely, yea, and comelier than myself.
She lives in Castle Perilous: a river
Runs in three loops about her living-place;
And o'er it are three passings, and three knights
Defend the passings, brethren, and a fourth
And of that four the mightiest, holds her stayed
In her own castle, and so besieges her
To break her will, and make her wed with him:
And but delays his purport till thou send
To do the battle with him, thy chief man
Sir Lancelot whom he trusts to overthrow,
Then wed, with glory: but she will not wed
Save whom she loveth, or a holy life.
Now therefore have I come for Lancelot.'
Then Arthur mindful of Sir Gareth asked,
'Damsel, ye know this Order lives to crush
All wrongers of the Realm. But say, these four,
Who be they? What the fashion of the men?'
'They be of foolish fashion, O Sir King,
The fashion of that old knight-errantry
Who ride abroad, and do but what they will;
Courteous or bestial from the moment, such
As have nor law nor king; and three of these
Proud in their fantasy call themselves the Day,
Morning-Star, and Noon-Sun, and Evening-Star,
Being strong fools; and never a whit more wise
The fourth, who alway rideth armed in black,
A huge man-beast of boundless savagery.
He names himself the Night and oftener Death,
And wears a helmet mounted with a skull,
And bears a skeleton figured on his arms,
To show that who may slay or scape the three,
Slain by himself, shall enter endless night.
And all these four be fools, but mighty men,
And therefore am I come for Lancelot.'
Hereat Sir Gareth called from where he rose,
A head with kindling eyes above the throng,
'A boon, Sir King--this quest!' then--for he marked
Kay near him groaning like a wounded bull--
'Yea, King, thou knowest thy kitchen-knave am I,
And mighty through thy meats and drinks am I,
And I can topple over a hundred such.
Thy promise, King,' and Arthur glancing at him,
Brought down a momentary brow. 'Rough, sudden,
And pardonable, worthy to be knight--
Go therefore,' and all hearers were amazed.
But on the damsel's forehead shame, pride, wrath
Slew the May-white: she lifted either arm,
'Fie on thee, King! I asked for thy chief knight,
And thou hast given me but a kitchen-knave.'
Then ere a man in hall could stay her, turned,
Fled down the lane of access to the King,
Took horse, descended the slope street, and past
The weird white gate, and paused without, beside
The field of tourney, murmuring 'kitchen-knave.'
Now two great entries opened from the hall,
At one end one, that gave upon a range
Of level pavement where the King would pace
At sunrise, gazing over plain and wood;
And down from this a lordly stairway sloped
Till lost in blowing trees and tops of towers;
And out by this main doorway past the King.
But one was counter to the hearth, and rose
High that the highest-crested helm could ride
Therethrough nor graze: and by this entry fled
The damsel in her wrath, and on to this
Sir Gareth strode, and saw without the door
King Arthur's gift, the worth of half a town,
A warhorse of the best, and near it stood
The two that out of north had followed him:
This bare a maiden shield, a casque; that held
The horse, the spear; whereat Sir Gareth loosed
A cloak that dropt from collar-bone to heel,
A cloth of roughest web, and cast it down,
And from it like a fuel-smothered fire,
That lookt half-dead, brake bright, and flashed as those
Dull-coated things, that making slide apart
Their dusk wing-cases, all beneath there burns
A jewelled harness, ere they pass and fly.
So Gareth ere he parted flashed in arms.
Then as he donned the helm, and took the shield
And mounted horse and graspt a spear, of grain
Storm-strengthened on a windy site, and tipt
With trenchant steel, around him slowly prest
The people, while from out of kitchen came
The thralls in throng, and seeing who had worked
Lustier than any, and whom they could but love,
Mounted in arms, threw up their caps and cried,
'God bless the King, and all his fellowship!'
And on through lanes of shouting Gareth rode
Down the slope street, and past without the gate.
So Gareth past with joy; but as the cur
Pluckt from the cur he fights with, ere his cause
Be cooled by fighting, follows, being named,
His owner, but remembers all, and growls
Remembering, so Sir Kay beside the door
Muttered in scorn of Gareth whom he used
To harry and hustle.
'Bound upon a quest
With horse and arms--the King hath past his time--
My scullion knave! Thralls to your work again,
For an your fire be low ye kindle mine!
Will there be dawn in West and eve in East?
Begone!--my knave!--belike and like enow
Some old head-blow not heeded in his youth
So shook his wits they wander in his prime--
Crazed! How the villain lifted up his voice,
Nor shamed to bawl himself a kitchen-knave.
Tut: he was tame and meek enow with me,
Till peacocked up with Lancelot's noticing.
Well--I will after my loud knave, and learn
Whether he know me for his master yet.
Out of the smoke he came, and so my lance
Hold, by God's grace, he shall into the mire--
Thence, if the King awaken from his craze,
Into the smoke again.'
But Lancelot said,
'Kay, wherefore wilt thou go against the King,
For that did never he whereon ye rail,
But ever meekly served the King in thee?
Abide: take counsel; for this lad is great
And lusty, and knowing both of lance and sword.'
'Tut, tell not me,' said Kay, 'ye are overfine
To mar stout knaves with foolish courtesies:'
Then mounted, on through silent faces rode
Down the slope city, and out beyond the gate.
But by the field of tourney lingering yet
Muttered the damsel, 'Wherefore did the King
Scorn me? for, were Sir Lancelot lackt, at least
He might have yielded to me one of those
Who tilt for lady's love and glory here,
Rather than--O sweet heaven! O fie upon him--
To whom Sir Gareth drew
(And there were none but few goodlier than he)
Shining in arms, 'Damsel, the quest is mine.
Lead, and I follow.' She thereat, as one
That smells a foul-fleshed agaric in the holt,
And deems it carrion of some woodland thing,
Or shrew, or weasel, nipt her slender nose
With petulant thumb and finger, shrilling, 'Hence!
Avoid, thou smellest all of kitchen-grease.
And look who comes behind,' for there was Kay.
'Knowest thou not me? thy master? I am Kay.
We lack thee by the hearth.'
And Gareth to him,
'Master no more! too well I know thee, ay--
The most ungentle knight in Arthur's hall.'
'Have at thee then,' said Kay: they shocked, and Kay
Fell shoulder-slipt, and Gareth cried again,
'Lead, and I follow,' and fast away she fled.
But after sod and shingle ceased to fly
Behind her, and the heart of her good horse
Was nigh to burst with violence of the beat,
Perforce she stayed, and overtaken spoke.
'What doest thou, scullion, in my fellowship?
Deem'st thou that I accept thee aught the more
Or love thee better, that by some device
Full cowardly, or by mere unhappiness,
Thou hast overthrown and slain thy master--thou!--
Dish-washer and broach-turner, loon!--to me
Thou smellest all of kitchen as before.'
'Damsel,' Sir Gareth answered gently, 'say
Whate'er ye will, but whatsoe'er ye say,
I leave not till I finish this fair quest,
Or die therefore.'
'Ay, wilt thou finish it?
Sweet lord, how like a noble knight he talks!
The listening rogue hath caught the manner of it.
But, knave, anon thou shalt be met with, knave,
And then by such a one that thou for all
The kitchen brewis that was ever supt
Shalt not once dare to look him in the face.'
'I shall assay,' said Gareth with a smile
That maddened her, and away she flashed again
Down the long avenues of a boundless wood,
And Gareth following was again beknaved.
'Sir Kitchen-knave, I have missed the only way
Where Arthur's men are set along the wood;
The wood is nigh as full of thieves as leaves:
If both be slain, I am rid of thee; but yet,
Sir Scullion, canst thou use that spit of thine?
Fight, an thou canst: I have missed the only way.'
So till the dusk that followed evensong
Rode on the two, reviler and reviled;
Then after one long slope was mounted, saw,
Bowl-shaped, through tops of many thousand pines
A gloomy-gladed hollow slowly sink
To westward--in the deeps whereof a mere,
Round as the red eye of an Eagle-owl,
Under the half-dead sunset glared; and shouts
Ascended, and there brake a servingman
Flying from out of the black wood, and crying,
'They have bound my lord to cast him in the mere.'
Then Gareth, 'Bound am I to right the wronged,
But straitlier bound am I to bide with thee.'
And when the damsel spake contemptuously,
'Lead, and I follow,' Gareth cried again,
'Follow, I lead!' so down among the pines
He plunged; and there, blackshadowed nigh the mere,
And mid-thigh-deep in bulrushes and reed,
Saw six tall men haling a seventh along,
A stone about his neck to drown him in it.
Three with good blows he quieted, but three
Fled through the pines; and Gareth loosed the stone
From off his neck, then in the mere beside
Tumbled it; oilily bubbled up the mere.
Last, Gareth loosed his bonds and on free feet
Set him, a stalwart Baron, Arthur's friend.
'Well that ye came, or else these caitiff rogues
Had wreaked themselves on me; good cause is theirs
To hate me, for my wont hath ever been
To catch my thief, and then like vermin here
Drown him, and with a stone about his neck;
And under this wan water many of them
Lie rotting, but at night let go the stone,
And rise, and flickering in a grimly light
Dance on the mere. Good now, ye have saved a life
Worth somewhat as the cleanser of this wood.
And fain would I reward thee worshipfully.
What guerdon will ye?'
Gareth sharply spake,
'None! for the deed's sake have I done the deed,
In uttermost obedience to the King.
But wilt thou yield this damsel harbourage?'
Whereat the Baron saying, 'I well believe
You be of Arthur's Table,' a light laugh
Broke from Lynette, 'Ay, truly of a truth,
And in a sort, being Arthur's kitchen-knave!--
But deem not I accept thee aught the more,
Scullion, for running sharply with thy spit
Down on a rout of craven foresters.
A thresher with his flail had scattered them.
Nay--for thou smellest of the kitchen still.
But an this lord will yield us harbourage,
So she spake. A league beyond the wood,
All in a full-fair manor and a rich,
His towers where that day a feast had been
Held in high hall, and many a viand left,
And many a costly cate, received the three.
And there they placed a peacock in his pride
Before the damsel, and the Baron set
Gareth beside her, but at once she rose.
'Meseems, that here is much discourtesy,
Setting this knave, Lord Baron, at my side.
Hear me--this morn I stood in Arthur's hall,
And prayed the King would grant me Lancelot
To fight the brotherhood of Day and Night--
The last a monster unsubduable
Of any save of him for whom I called--
Suddenly bawls this frontless kitchen-knave,
"The quest is mine; thy kitchen-knave am I,
And mighty through thy meats and drinks am I."
Then Arthur all at once gone mad replies,
"Go therefore," and so gives the quest to him--
Him--here--a villain fitter to stick swine
Than ride abroad redressing women's wrong,
Or sit beside a noble gentlewoman.'
Then half-ashamed and part-amazed, the lord
Now looked at one and now at other, left
The damsel by the peacock in his pride,
And, seating Gareth at another board,
Sat down beside him, ate and then began.
'Friend, whether thou be kitchen-knave, or not,
Or whether it be the maiden's fantasy,
And whether she be mad, or else the King,
Or both or neither, or thyself be mad,
I ask not: but thou strikest a strong stroke,
For strong thou art and goodly therewithal,
And saver of my life; and therefore now,
For here be mighty men to joust with, weigh
Whether thou wilt not with thy damsel back
To crave again Sir Lancelot of the King.
Thy pardon; I but speak for thine avail,
The saver of my life.'
And Gareth said,
'Full pardon, but I follow up the quest,
Despite of Day and Night and Death and Hell.'
So when, next morn, the lord whose life he saved
Had, some brief space, conveyed them on their way
And left them with God-speed, Sir Gareth spake,
'Lead, and I follow.' Haughtily she replied.
'I fly no more: I allow thee for an hour.
Lion and stout have isled together, knave,
In time of flood. Nay, furthermore, methinks
Some ruth is mine for thee. Back wilt thou, fool?
For hard by here is one will overthrow
And slay thee: then will I to court again,
And shame the King for only yielding me
My champion from the ashes of his hearth.'
To whom Sir Gareth answered courteously,
'Say thou thy say, and I will do my deed.
Allow me for mine hour, and thou wilt find
My fortunes all as fair as hers who lay
Among the ashes and wedded the King's son.'
Then to the shore of one of those long loops
Wherethrough the serpent river coiled, they came.
Rough-thicketed were the banks and steep; the stream
Full, narrow; this a bridge of single arc
Took at a leap; and on the further side
Arose a silk pavilion, gay with gold
In streaks and rays, and all Lent-lily in hue,
Save that the dome was purple, and above,
Crimson, a slender banneret fluttering.
And therebefore the lawless warrior paced
Unarmed, and calling, 'Damsel, is this he,
The champion thou hast brought from Arthur's hall?
For whom we let thee pass.' 'Nay, nay,' she said,
'Sir Morning-Star. The King in utter scorn
Of thee and thy much folly hath sent thee here
His kitchen-knave: and look thou to thyself:
See that he fall not on thee suddenly,
And slay thee unarmed: he is not knight but knave.'
Then at his call, 'O daughters of the Dawn,
And servants of the Morning-Star, approach,
Arm me,' from out the silken curtain-folds
Bare-footed and bare-headed three fair girls
In gilt and rosy raiment came: their feet
In dewy grasses glistened; and the hair
All over glanced with dewdrop or with gem
Like sparkles in the stone Avanturine.
These armed him in blue arms, and gave a shield
Blue also, and thereon the morning star.
And Gareth silent gazed upon the knight,
Who stood a moment, ere his horse was brought,
Glorying; and in the stream beneath him, shone
Immingled with Heaven's azure waveringly,
The gay pavilion and the naked feet,
His arms, the rosy raiment, and the star.
Then she that watched him, 'Wherefore stare ye so?
Thou shakest in thy fear: there yet is time:
Flee down the valley before he get to horse.
Who will cry shame? Thou art not knight but knave.'
Said Gareth, 'Damsel, whether knave or knight,
Far liefer had I fight a score of times
Than hear thee so missay me and revile.
Fair words were best for him who fights for thee;
But truly foul are better, for they send
That strength of anger through mine arms, I know
That I shall overthrow him.'
And he that bore
The star, when mounted, cried from o'er the bridge,
'A kitchen-knave, and sent in scorn of me!
Such fight not I, but answer scorn with scorn.
For this were shame to do him further wrong
Than set him on his feet, and take his horse
And arms, and so return him to the King.
Come, therefore, leave thy lady lightly, knave.
Avoid: for it beseemeth not a knave
To ride with such a lady.'
'Dog, thou liest.
I spring from loftier lineage than thine own.'
He spake; and all at fiery speed the two
Shocked on the central bridge, and either spear
Bent but not brake, and either knight at once,
Hurled as a stone from out of a catapult
Beyond his horse's crupper and the bridge,
Fell, as if dead; but quickly rose and drew,
And Gareth lashed so fiercely with his brand
He drave his enemy backward down the bridge,
The damsel crying, 'Well-stricken, kitchen-knave!'
Till Gareth's shield was cloven; but one stroke
Laid him that clove it grovelling on the ground.
Then cried the fallen, 'Take not my life: I yield.'
And Gareth, 'So this damsel ask it of me
Good--I accord it easily as a grace.'
She reddening, 'Insolent scullion: I of thee?
I bound to thee for any favour asked!'
'Then he shall die.' And Gareth there unlaced
His helmet as to slay him, but she shrieked,
'Be not so hardy, scullion, as to slay
One nobler than thyself.' 'Damsel, thy charge
Is an abounding pleasure to me. Knight,
Thy life is thine at her command. Arise
And quickly pass to Arthur's hall, and say
His kitchen-knave hath sent thee. See thou crave
His pardon for thy breaking of his laws.
Myself, when I return, will plead for thee.
Thy shield is mine--farewell; and, damsel, thou,
Lead, and I follow.'
And fast away she fled.
Then when he came upon her, spake, 'Methought,
Knave, when I watched thee striking on the bridge
The savour of thy kitchen came upon me
A little faintlier: but the wind hath changed:
I scent it twenty-fold.' And then she sang,
'"O morning star" (not that tall felon there
Whom thou by sorcery or unhappiness
Or some device, hast foully overthrown),
"O morning star that smilest in the blue,
O star, my morning dream hath proven true,
Smile sweetly, thou! my love hath smiled on me."
'But thou begone, take counsel, and away,
For hard by here is one that guards a ford--
The second brother in their fool's parable--
Will pay thee all thy wages, and to boot.
Care not for shame: thou art not knight but knave.'
To whom Sir Gareth answered, laughingly,
'Parables? Hear a parable of the knave.
When I was kitchen-knave among the rest
Fierce was the hearth, and one of my co-mates
Owned a rough dog, to whom he cast his coat,
"Guard it," and there was none to meddle with it.
And such a coat art thou, and thee the King
Gave me to guard, and such a dog am I,
To worry, and not to flee--and--knight or knave--
The knave that doth thee service as full knight
Is all as good, meseems, as any knight
Toward thy sister's freeing.'
'Ay, Sir Knave!
Ay, knave, because thou strikest as a knight,
Being but knave, I hate thee all the more.'
'Fair damsel, you should worship me the more,
That, being but knave, I throw thine enemies.'
'Ay, ay,' she said, 'but thou shalt meet thy match.'
So when they touched the second river-loop,
Huge on a huge red horse, and all in mail
Burnished to blinding, shone the Noonday Sun
Beyond a raging shallow. As if the flower,
That blows a globe of after arrowlets,
Ten thousand-fold had grown, flashed the fierce shield,
All sun; and Gareth's eyes had flying blots
Before them when he turned from watching him.
He from beyond the roaring shallow roared,
'What doest thou, brother, in my marches here?'
And she athwart the shallow shrilled again,
'Here is a kitchen-knave from Arthur's hall
Hath overthrown thy brother, and hath his arms.'
'Ugh!' cried the Sun, and vizoring up a red
And cipher face of rounded foolishness,
Pushed horse across the foamings of the ford,
Whom Gareth met midstream: no room was there
For lance or tourney-skill: four strokes they struck
With sword, and these were mighty; the new knight
Had fear he might be shamed; but as the Sun
Heaved up a ponderous arm to strike the fifth,
The hoof of his horse slipt in the stream, the stream
Descended, and the Sun was washed away.
Then Gareth laid his lance athwart the ford;
So drew him home; but he that fought no more,
As being all bone-battered on the rock,
Yielded; and Gareth sent him to the King,
'Myself when I return will plead for thee.'
'Lead, and I follow.' Quietly she led.
'Hath not the good wind, damsel, changed again?'
'Nay, not a point: nor art thou victor here.
There lies a ridge of slate across the ford;
His horse thereon stumbled--ay, for I saw it.
'"O Sun" (not this strong fool whom thou, Sir Knave,
Hast overthrown through mere unhappiness),
"O Sun, that wakenest all to bliss or pain,
O moon, that layest all to sleep again,
Shine sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me."
What knowest thou of lovesong or of love?
Nay, nay, God wot, so thou wert nobly born,
Thou hast a pleasant presence. Yea, perchance,--
'"O dewy flowers that open to the sun,
O dewy flowers that close when day is done,
Blow sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me."
'What knowest thou of flowers, except, belike,
To garnish meats with? hath not our good King
Who lent me thee, the flower of kitchendom,
A foolish love for flowers? what stick ye round
The pasty? wherewithal deck the boar's head?
Flowers? nay, the boar hath rosemaries and bay.
'"O birds, that warble to the morning sky,
O birds that warble as the day goes by,
Sing sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me."
'What knowest thou of birds, lark, mavis, merle,
Linnet? what dream ye when they utter forth
May-music growing with the growing light,
Their sweet sun-worship? these be for the snare
(So runs thy fancy) these be for the spit,
Larding and basting. See thou have not now
Larded thy last, except thou turn and fly.
There stands the third fool of their allegory.'
For there beyond a bridge of treble bow,
All in a rose-red from the west, and all
Naked it seemed, and glowing in the broad
Deep-dimpled current underneath, the knight,
That named himself the Star of Evening, stood.
And Gareth, 'Wherefore waits the madman there
Naked in open dayshine?' 'Nay,' she cried,
'Not naked, only wrapt in hardened skins
That fit him like his own; and so ye cleave
His armour off him, these will turn the blade.'
Then the third brother shouted o'er the bridge,
'O brother-star, why shine ye here so low?
Thy ward is higher up: but have ye slain
The damsel's champion?' and the damsel cried,
'No star of thine, but shot from Arthur's heaven
With all disaster unto thine and thee!
For both thy younger brethren have gone down
Before this youth; and so wilt thou, Sir Star;
Art thou not old?'
'Old, damsel, old and hard,
Old, with the might and breath of twenty boys.'
Said Gareth, 'Old, and over-bold in brag!
But that same strength which threw the Morning Star
Can throw the Evening.'
Then that other blew
A hard and deadly note upon the horn.
'Approach and arm me!' With slow steps from out
An old storm-beaten, russet, many-stained
Pavilion, forth a grizzled damsel came,
And armed him in old arms, and brought a helm
With but a drying evergreen for crest,
And gave a shield whereon the Star of Even
Half-tarnished and half-bright, his emblem, shone.
But when it glittered o'er the saddle-bow,
They madly hurled together on the bridge;
And Gareth overthrew him, lighted, drew,
There met him drawn, and overthrew him again,
But up like fire he started: and as oft
As Gareth brought him grovelling on his knees,
So many a time he vaulted up again;
Till Gareth panted hard, and his great heart,
Foredooming all his trouble was in vain,
Laboured within him, for he seemed as one
That all in later, sadder age begins
To war against ill uses of a life,
But these from all his life arise, and cry,
'Thou hast made us lords, and canst not put us down!'
He half despairs; so Gareth seemed to strike
Vainly, the damsel clamouring all the while,
'Well done, knave-knight, well-stricken, O good knight-knave--
O knave, as noble as any of all the knights--
Shame me not, shame me not. I have prophesied--
Strike, thou art worthy of the Table Round--
His arms are old, he trusts the hardened skin--
Strike--strike--the wind will never change again.'
And Gareth hearing ever stronglier smote,
And hewed great pieces of his armour off him,
But lashed in vain against the hardened skin,
And could not wholly bring him under, more
Than loud Southwesterns, rolling ridge on ridge,
The buoy that rides at sea, and dips and springs
For ever; till at length Sir Gareth's brand
Clashed his, and brake it utterly to the hilt.
'I have thee now;' but forth that other sprang,
And, all unknightlike, writhed his wiry arms
Around him, till he felt, despite his mail,
Strangled, but straining even his uttermost
Cast, and so hurled him headlong o'er the bridge
Down to the river, sink or swim, and cried,
'Lead, and I follow.'
But the damsel said,
'I lead no longer; ride thou at my side;
Thou art the kingliest of all kitchen-knaves.
'"O trefoil, sparkling on the rainy plain,
O rainbow with three colours after rain,
Shine sweetly: thrice my love hath smiled on me."
'Sir,--and, good faith, I fain had added--Knight,
But that I heard thee call thyself a knave,--
Shamed am I that I so rebuked, reviled,
Missaid thee; noble I am; and thought the King
Scorned me and mine; and now thy pardon, friend,
For thou hast ever answered courteously,
And wholly bold thou art, and meek withal
As any of Arthur's best, but, being knave,
Hast mazed my wit: I marvel what thou art.'
'Damsel,' he said, 'you be not all to blame,
Saving that you mistrusted our good King
Would handle scorn, or yield you, asking, one
Not fit to cope your quest. You said your say;
Mine answer was my deed. Good sooth! I hold
He scarce is knight, yea but half-man, nor meet
To fight for gentle damsel, he, who lets
His heart be stirred with any foolish heat
At any gentle damsel's waywardness.
Shamed? care not! thy foul sayings fought for me:
And seeing now thy words are fair, methinks
There rides no knight, not Lancelot, his great self,
Hath force to quell me.'
Nigh upon that hour
When the lone hern forgets his melancholy,
Lets down his other leg, and stretching, dreams
Of goodly supper in the distant pool,
Then turned the noble damsel smiling at him,
And told him of a cavern hard at hand,
Where bread and baken meats and good red wine
Of Southland, which the Lady Lyonors
Had sent her coming champion, waited him.
Anon they past a narrow comb wherein
Where slabs of rock with figures, knights on horse
Sculptured, and deckt in slowly-waning hues.
'Sir Knave, my knight, a hermit once was here,
Whose holy hand hath fashioned on the rock
The war of Time against the soul of man.
And yon four fools have sucked their allegory
From these damp walls, and taken but the form.
Know ye not these?' and Gareth lookt and read--
In letters like to those the vexillary
Hath left crag-carven o'er the streaming Gelt--
'PHOSPHORUS,' then 'MERIDIES'--'HESPERUS'--
'NOX'--'MORS,' beneath five figures, armd men,
Slab after slab, their faces forward all,
And running down the Soul, a Shape that fled
With broken wings, torn raiment and loose hair,
For help and shelter to the hermit's cave.
'Follow the faces, and we find it. Look,
Who comes behind?'
For one--delayed at first
Through helping back the dislocated Kay
To Camelot, then by what thereafter chanced,
The damsel's headlong error through the wood--
Sir Lancelot, having swum the river-loops--
His blue shield-lions covered--softly drew
Behind the twain, and when he saw the star
Gleam, on Sir Gareth's turning to him, cried,
'Stay, felon knight, I avenge me for my friend.'
And Gareth crying pricked against the cry;
But when they closed--in a moment--at one touch
Of that skilled spear, the wonder of the world--
Went sliding down so easily, and fell,
That when he found the grass within his hands
He laughed; the laughter jarred upon Lynette:
Harshly she asked him, 'Shamed and overthrown,
And tumbled back into the kitchen-knave,
Why laugh ye? that ye blew your boast in vain?'
'Nay, noble damsel, but that I, the son
Of old King Lot and good Queen Bellicent,
And victor of the bridges and the ford,
And knight of Arthur, here lie thrown by whom
I know not, all through mere unhappiness--
Device and sorcery and unhappiness--
Out, sword; we are thrown!' And Lancelot answered, 'Prince,
O Gareth--through the mere unhappiness
Of one who came to help thee, not to harm,
Lancelot, and all as glad to find thee whole,
As on the day when Arthur knighted him.'
Then Gareth, 'Thou--Lancelot!--thine the hand
That threw me? An some chance to mar the boast
Thy brethren of thee make--which could not chance--
Had sent thee down before a lesser spear,
Shamed had I been, and sad--O Lancelot--thou!'
Whereat the maiden, petulant, 'Lancelot,
Why came ye not, when called? and wherefore now
Come ye, not called? I gloried in my knave,
Who being still rebuked, would answer still
Courteous as any knight--but now, if knight,
The marvel dies, and leaves me fooled and tricked,
And only wondering wherefore played upon:
And doubtful whether I and mine be scorned.
Where should be truth if not in Arthur's hall,
In Arthur's presence? Knight, knave, prince and fool,
I hate thee and for ever.'
And Lancelot said,
'Blessd be thou, Sir Gareth! knight art thou
To the King's best wish. O damsel, be you wise
To call him shamed, who is but overthrown?
Thrown have I been, nor once, but many a time.
Victor from vanquished issues at the last,
And overthrower from being overthrown.
With sword we have not striven; and thy good horse
And thou are weary; yet not less I felt
Thy manhood through that wearied lance of thine.
Well hast thou done; for all the stream is freed,
And thou hast wreaked his justice on his foes,
And when reviled, hast answered graciously,
And makest merry when overthrown. Prince, Knight
Hail, Knight and Prince, and of our Table Round!'
And then when turning to Lynette he told
The tale of Gareth, petulantly she said,
'Ay well--ay well--for worse than being fooled
Of others, is to fool one's self. A cave,
Sir Lancelot, is hard by, with meats and drinks
And forage for the horse, and flint for fire.
But all about it flies a honeysuckle.
Seek, till we find.' And when they sought and found,
Sir Gareth drank and ate, and all his life
Past into sleep; on whom the maiden gazed.
'Sound sleep be thine! sound cause to sleep hast thou.
Wake lusty! Seem I not as tender to him
As any mother? Ay, but such a one
As all day long hath rated at her child,
And vext his day, but blesses him asleep--
Good lord, how sweetly smells the honeysuckle
In the hushed night, as if the world were one
Of utter peace, and love, and gentleness!
O Lancelot, Lancelot'--and she clapt her hands--
'Full merry am I to find my goodly knave
Is knight and noble. See now, sworn have I,
Else yon black felon had not let me pass,
To bring thee back to do the battle with him.
Thus an thou goest, he will fight thee first;
Who doubts thee victor? so will my knight-knave
Miss the full flower of this accomplishment.'
Said Lancelot, 'Peradventure he, you name,
May know my shield. Let Gareth, an he will,
Change his for mine, an
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The Siege of Corinth
In the year since Jesus died for men,
Eighteen hundred years and ten,
We were a gallant company,
Riding o'er land, and sailing o'er sea
Oh ! but we went merrily !
We forded the river, and clomb the high hill,
Never our steeds for a day stood still;
Whether we lay in the cave or the shed,
Our sleep fell soft on the hardest bed:
Whether we couch'd in our rough capote,
On the rougher plank of our gliding boat.
Or stretch'd on the beach, or our saddles spread
As a pillow beneath the resting head,
Fresh we woke upon the morrow:
All our thoughts and words had scope,
We had health, and we had hope,
Toil and travel, but no sorrow.
We were of all tongues and creeds; ---
Some were those who counted beads,
Some of mosque, and some of church;
Yet through the wide world might ye search,
Nor find a motlier crew nor blither.
But some are dead, and some are gone,
And some are scatter'd and alone,
And some are rebels on the hills
That look along Epirus' valleys,
Where freedom still at moments rallies,
And pays in blood oppression's ills;
And some are in a far countree,
And some all restlessly at home;
But never more, oh ! never, we
Shall meet to revel and to roam.
But those hardy days flew cheerily !
And when they now fall drearily,
My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,
And bear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird and a wanderer.
'Tis this that ever wakes my strain,
And oft, too oft, implores again
The few who may endure my lay,
To follow me so far away.
Stranger --- wilt thou follow now,
And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?
Many a vanish'd year and age,
And tempest's breath, and battle's rage,
Have swept o'er Corinth; yet she stands,
A fortress form'd to Freedom's hands.
The whirlwind's wrath, the earthquake's shock,
Have left untouch'd her hoary rock,
The keystone of a land, which still,
Though fall'n, looks proudly on that hill.
The landmark in the double tide
That purpling rolls on either side,
As if their waters chafed to meet,
Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet.
But could the blood before her shed
Since first Timoleon's brother bled,
Or baffled Persia's despot fled,
Arise from out the earth which drank
The stream of slaughter as it sank,
That sanquine ocean would o'erflow
Her isthmus idly spread below;
Or could the bones of all the slain,
Who perish'd there, be piled again,
That rival pyramid would rise
More mountain-like, through those clear skies,
Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis,
Which seems the very clouds to kiss.
On dun Cithaeron's ridge appears
The gleam of twice ten thousand spears;
And downward to the Isthmian plain,
From shore to shore of either main,
The tent is pitch'd, the crescent shines
Along the Moslem's leaguering lines;
And the dusk Spahi's bands advance
Beneath each bearded pacha's glance;
And far and wide as eye can reach
The turban'd cohorts throng the beach;
And there the Arab's camel kneels,
And there his steed the Tartar wheels;
The turcoman hath left his herd,
The sabre round his loins to gird;
And there the volleying thunders pour,
Till waves grow smoother to the roar.
The trench is dug, the cannon's breath
Wings the far hissing globe of death;
Fast whirl the fragments from the wall
Which crumbles with the ponderous ball;
And from that wall the foe replies,
O'er dusty plain and smoky skies,
With fires that answer fast and well
The summons of the Infidel.
But near and nearest to the wall
Of those who wish and work its fall,
With deeper skill in war's black art
Than Othman's sons, and high of heart
As any chief that ever stood
Triumphant in the fields of blood;
From post to post, and deed to deed,
Fast spurring on his reeking steed,
Where sallying ranks the trench assail,
And make the foremost Moslem quail;
Or where the battery, guarded well,
Remains as yet impregnable,
Alighting cheerly to inspire
The soldier slackening in his fire;
The first and freshest of the host
Which Stamboul's sultan there can boast,
To guide the follower o'er the field,
To point the tube, the lance to wield,
Or whirl around the bickering blade; ---
Was Alp, the Adrian renegade.
From Venice --- once a race of worth
His gentle sires --- he drew his birth;
But late an exile from her shore,
Against his countrymen he bore
The arms they taught to bear; and now
The turban girt his shaven brow,
Through many a change had Corinth pass'd
With Greece to Venice' rule at last;
And here, before her walls, with those
To Greece and Venice equal foes,
He stood a foe, with all the zeal
Which young and fiery converts feel,
Within whose heated bosom throngs
The memory of a thousand wrongs.
To him had Venice ceased to be
Her ancient civic boast --- "the Free;"
And in the palace of St.Mark
Unnamed accusers in the dark
Within the "Lion's mouth" had placed
A charge against him uneffaced:
He fled i time, and saved his life,
To waste his future years in strife,
That taught his land how great her loss
In him who triumph'd o'er the Cross,
"Gainst which he rear'd the Crescent high,
And battled to avenge or die.
Coumourgi --- he whose closing scene
Adorn'd the triumph of Eugene,
When on Carlowitz' bloody plain,
The last and mightiest of the slain,
He sank, regretting not to die,
But cursed the Christian's victory ---
Coumourgi --- can his glory cease,
That latest conqueror of Greece,
Till Christian hands to Greece restore
The freedom Venice gave of yore?
A hundred years have roll'd away
Since he refix'd the Moslem's sway;
And now he led the Mussulman,
And gave the guidance of the van
To Alp, who well repaid the trust
By cities levell'd with the dust;
And proved, by many a deed of death,
How firm his heart in novel faith.
The walls grew weak; and fast and hot
Against them pour'd the ceaseless shot,
With unabating fury sent
From battery to battlement;
And thunder-like the pealing din
Rose from each heated culverin;
And here and there some crackling dome
Was fired before the exploding bomb;
And as the fabric sank beneath
The shattering shell's volcanic breath,
In red and wreathing columns flash'd
The flame, as loud the ruin crash'd,
Or into countless meteors driven,
Its earth-stars melted into heaven;
Whose clouds that day grew doubly dun,
Impervious to the hidden sun,
With volumed smoke that slowly grew
To one wide sky or sulphurous hue.
But not for vengeance, long delay'd
Alone, did Alp, the renegade,
The Moslem warriors sternly teach
His skill to pierce the promised breach:
Within these walls a maid was pent
His hope would win, without consent
Of that inexorable sire,
Whose heart refused him in its ire,
When Alp, beneath his Christian name,
Her virgin hand aspired to claim.
In happier mood, and earlier time,
While unimpeach'd for traitoress crime,
Gayest in gondola or hall
He glitter'd through the Carnival;
And tuned the softest serenade
That e'er on Adria's waters played
At midnight to Italian maid.
And many deem'd her heart was won !
For sought by numbers, given to none,
Had young Francesca's hand remain'd
Still by the church's bonds unchain'd:
And when the Adriatic bore
Lanciotto to the Paynim shore,
Her wonted smiles were seen to fail,
And pensive wax'd the maid and pale;
More constant at confessional,
More rare at masque and festival;
Or seen at such, with downcast eyes,
Which conquer'd hearts they ceased to prize:
With listless look she seems to gaze:
With humbler care her form arrays
Her voice less lively in the song;
Her step though light, less fleet among
The pairs, on whom the Morning's glance
Breaks, yet unsated with the dance.
Sent by the state to guard the land,
( Which, wrested from the Moslem's hand,
While Sobieski tamed his pride
By Buda's wall and Danube's side,
The chiefs of Venice wrung away
From Patra to Euboea's bay, )
Minotti held in Corinth's towers
The Doge's delegated powers,
While yet the pitying eye of Peace
Smiled o'er her long forgotten Greece:
And ere that faithless truce was broke
Which freed her from unchristian yoke,
With him his gentle daughter came;
Nor there, since Menelaus' dame
Forsook her lord and land, to prove
What woes await on lawless love,
Had fairer form adorn'd the shore
Than she, the matchless stranger, bore.
The wall is rent, the ruins yawn;
And with to-morrow's earliest dawn,
O'er the disjointed mass shall vault
The foremost of the fierce assault.
The bands are rank'd; the chosen van
Of Tartar and of Mussulman,
The full of hope, misnamed "forlorn,"
Who hold the thought of death in scorn,
And win their way with falchion's force,
Or pave the path with many a corse,
O'er which the following brave may rise,
Their stepping-stone --- the last who dies !
'Tis midnight: on the mountains brown
The cold, round moon shines deeply down;
Blue roll the waters, blue the sky
Spreads like an ocean hun on high,
Bespangled with those isles of light,
So wildly, spiritually bright;
Who ever gazed upon them shining
And turn'd to earth without repining,
Nor wish'd for wings to flee away,
And mix with their eternal ray?
The waves on either shore lay there
Clam, clear, and azure as the air;
And scarce their foam the pebbles shook,
But murmur'd meekly as the brook.
The winds were pillow'd on the waves;
The banners droop'd along their staves,
And, as they fell around them furling,
Above them shone the crescent curling;
And that deep silence was unbroke,
Save where the watch his signal spoke,
Save where the steed neigh'd oft and shrill,
And echo answer'd from the hill,
And the wild hum of that wild host
Rustled like leaves from coast to coast,
As rose the Muezzin's voice in air
In midnight call to wonted prayer;
It rose, that chanted mournful strain,
Like some lone spirit's o'er the plan:
'Twas musical, but sadly sweet,
Such as when winds and harp-strings meet,
And take a long unmeasured tone,
To mortal minstrelsy unknown.
It seem'd to those within the wall
A cry prophetic of their fall:
It struck even the besieger's ear
With something ominous and drear,
An undefined and sudden thrill,
Which makes the heart a moment still,
Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed
Of that strange sense its silence framed;
Such as a sudden passing-bell
Wakes, though but for a stranger's knell.
The tent of Alp was on the shore;
The sound was hush'd, the prayer was o'er,
The watch was set, the night-round made,
All mandates issued and obey'd:
'Tis but another anxious night,
His pains the morrow may requite
With all revenge and love can pay,
In guerdon for their long delay.
Few hours remain, and he hath need
Of rest, to nerve for many a deed
Of slaughter; but within his soul
The thoughts like troubled waters roll.
He stood alone among the host;
Not his the loud fanatic boast
To plant the crescent o'er the cross,
Or risk a life with little loss,
Secure in paradise to be
By Houris loved immortally:
Nor his what burning patriots feel,
The stern exaltedness of zeal,
Profuse of blood, untired in toil,
When battling on the parent soil.
He stood alone --- a renegade
Against the country he betray'd;
He stood along amidst his band,
Without a trusted heart or hand:
And great the spoil he got and gave;
They crouch'd to him, for he had skill
To warp and wield the vulgar will:
But still his Christian origin
With them was little less than sin.
They envied even the faithless fame
He earn'd beneath a Moslem name;
Since he, their mightiest chief, had been
In youth a bitter Nazarene.
They did not know how pride can stoop,
When baffled feelings withering droop;
They did not know how hate can burn
In hearts once changed from soft to stern;
Nor all the false and fatal zeal
The convert of revenge can feel.
He ruled them --- man may rule the worst,
By ever daring to be first:
So lions o'er the jackal sway;
The jackal points, he fells the prey,
Then on the vulgar yelling press,
To gorge the relics of success.
His head grows fever'd, and his pulse
The quick successive throbs convulse:
In vain from side to side he throws
His form, in courtship of repose;
Or if he dozed, a sound, a start
Awoke him with a sunken heart.
The turban on his hot brow press'd,
The mail weigh'd lead-like on his breast,
Though oft and long beneath its weight
Upon his eyes had slumber sate,
Without or couch or canopy,
Except a rougher field and sky
Than now might yield a warrior's bed,
Than now along the heaven was spread.
He could not rest, he could not stay
Within his tent to wait for day,
But walk'd him forth along the sand,
Where thousand sleepers strew'd the strand.
What pillow'd them? and why should he
More wakeful than the humblest be,
Since more their peril, worse their toil?
And yet they fearless dreams of spoil;
While he alone, where thousands pass'd
A night of sleep, perchance their last,
In sickly virgil wander'd on,
And envied all he gazed upon.
He felt his soul become more light
Beneath the freshness of the night.
Cool was the silent sky, though calm,
And bathed his brow with airy balm:
Behind, the camp --- before him lay,
In many a winding creek and bay,
Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow
Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow,
High and eternal, such as shone
Through thousand summers brightly gone,
Along the gulf, the mount, the clime;
It will not melt, like man, to time:
Tyrant and slave are swept away,
Less form'd to wear before the ray;
But that white veil, the lightest, frailest,
Which on the might mount thou hailest,
While tower and tree are torn and rent,
Shines o'er its craggy battlement;
In form a peak, in height a cloud,
In texture like a hovering shroud,
Thus high by parting Freedom spread,
As from her fond abode she fled,
And linger'd on the spot, where long
Her prophet spirit, spake in song.
Oh ! still her step at moments falters
O'er wither'd fields, and ruin'd altars,
And fain would wake, in souls too broken,
By pointing to each glorious token:
But vain her voice, till better days
Dawn in those yet remember'd rays,
Which shone upon the Persian flying,
And saw the Spartan smile in dying.
Not mindless of these mighty times
Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes;
And through this night, as on he wander'd,
And o'er the past and present ponder'd,
And though upon the glorious dead
Who there in better cause had bled,
He felt how faint and feebly dim
The fame that could accrue to him.
Who cheer'd the band, and waved the sword,
A traitor in a turban'd horde;
And led them to the lawless siege,
Whose best success were sacrilege.
Not so had those his fancy number'd,
The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd;
Their phalanx marshall'd on the plain,
Whose bulwarks were not then in vain.
They fell devoted, but undying;
The very gale their name seem'd sighing;
The waters murmur'd of their name;
The woods were peopled with their fame;
The silent pillar, lone and grey,
Claim'd kindred with their sacred clay;
Their spirits wrapp'd the dusky mountain,
Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain;
The meanest rill, the mightiest river
Roll'd mingling with their fame for ever.
Despite of every yoke she bears,
That land is glory's still and theirs!
'Tis still a watchword to the earth:
When man would do a deed of worth
He points to Greece, and turns to tread,
So sanction'd, on the tyrant's head:
He looks to her, and rushes on
Where life is lost, or freedom won.
Still by the shore Alp mutely mused,
And woo'd the freshness Night diffused.
There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea,
Which changeless rolls eternally;
So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood,
Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood;
And the powerless moon beholds them flow,
Heedless if she come or go:
Calm or high, in main or bay,
On their course she hath no sway.
The rock unworn its base doth bare,
And looks o'er the surf, but it comes not there;
And the fringe of the foam may be seen below,
On the lines that it left long ages ago:
A smooth short space of yellow sand
Between it and the greener land.
He wander'd on along the beach,
Till within the range of a carbine's reach
Of the leaguer'd wall; but they saw him not,
Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot?
Did traitors lurk in the Christians hold?
Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts wax'd cold?
I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall
There flash'd no fire, and there hiss'd no ball,
Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown,
That flank'd the sea-ward gate of the town;
Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell
The sullen words of the sentinel,
As his measured step on the stone below
Clank'd, as he paced it to and fro;
And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall
Hold o'er the dead their carnival,
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb;
They were too busy to bark at him !
From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull,
As it slipp'd through their jaws, when their edge grew dull,
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed;
So well had they broken a lingering fast
With those who had fallen for that night's repast.
And Alp knew, by the turbans that roll'd on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band:
Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear,
And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair,
All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw:
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf,
There sat a vulture flapping a wolf,
Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Scared by the dogs, from the human prey;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Pick'd by the birds, on the sands of the bay.
Alp turn'd him from the sickening sight:
Never had shaken his nerves in fight;
But he better could brook to behold the dying,
Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,
Scorch'd with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain,
Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour,
Whate'er be the shape in which death may lower;
For Fame is there to say who bleeds,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds !
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead,
And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air,
Beasts of the forest, all gathering there;
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay.
There is a temple in ruin stands,
Fashion'd by long forgotten hands;
Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown !
Out upon Time ! it will leave no more
Of the things to come than the things before !
Out upon Time ! who for ever will leave
But enough of the past for the future to grieve
O'er that which hath been, and o'er that which must be:
What we have seen, our sons shall see;
Remnants of things that have pass'd away,
Fragments of stone rear'd by creatures of clay !
He sate him down at a pillar's base.
And pass'd his hand athwart his face;
Like one in dreary musing mood,
Declining was his attitude;
His head was drooping on his breast,
Fever'd, throbbing, and oppress'd;
And o'er his beating fingers went,
Hurriedly, as you may see
Your own run over the ivory key,
Ere the measured tone is taken
By the chords you would awaken.
There he sate all heavily,
As he heard the night-wind sigh.
Was it the wind through some hollow stone
Sent that soft and tender moan?
He lifted his head, and he look'd on the sea,
But it was unrippled as glass may be;
He look'd on the long grass --- it waved not a blade;
How was that gentle sound convey'd?
He look'd to the banners --- each flag lay still,
So did the leaves on Cithaeron's hill,
And he felt not a breath come over his cheek;
What did that sudden sound bespeak?
He turn'd to the left --- is he sure of sight?
There sate a lady, youthful and bright !
He started up with more of fear
That if an armed foe were near.
"God of my fathers ! what is here?
Who art thou? and wherefore sent
So near a hostile armament? "
His trembling hands refused to sign
The cross he deem'd no more divine:
He had resumed it in that hour,
But conscience wrung away the power.
He gazed, he saw: he knew the face
Of beauty, and the form of grace;
It was Francesca by his side,
The maid who might have been his bride !
The rose was yet upon her cheek,
But mellow'd with a tenderer streak:
Where was the play of her soft lips fled?
Gone was the smile that enliven'd their red.
The ocean's calm within their view,
Beside her eye had less of blue;
But like that cold wave it stood still,
And its glance though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining,
Nought conceal'd her bosom shining;
Through the parting of her hair,
Floating darkly downward there,
Her rounded arm show'd white and bare:
And ere yet she made reply,
Once she raised her hand on high;
It was so wan, and transparent of hue,
You might have seen the moon shine through.
"I come from my rest to him I love best,
That I may be happy, and he may be bless'd,
I have pass'd the guards, the gate, the wall;
Sought thee in safety through foes and all.
'Tis said the lion will turn and flee
From a maid in the pride of her purity;
And the Power on high, that can shield the good
Thus from the tyrant of the wood,
Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well
From the hands of the leaguering infidel.
I come --- and if I come in vain,
Never, oh never, we meet again !
Thou hast done a fearful deed
In falling away from thy fathers' creed:
But dash that turban to earth, and sign
The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine;
Wring the black drop from thy heart,
And to-morrow unites us no more to part."
"And where should our bridal couch be spread?
In the midst of the dying and the dead?
For to-morrow we give to the slaughter and flame
The sons and the shrines of the Christian name.
None, save thou and thine, I've sworn,
Shall be left upon the morn:
But thee will I bear to a lovely spot,
Where our hands shall be join'd and our sorrow forgot.
There thou yet shalt be my bride,
When once again I've quell'd the pride
Of Venice; and her hated race
Have felt the arm they would debase
Scourge, with a whip of scorpions, those
Whom vice and envy made my foes."
Upon his hand she laid her own ---
Light was the touch, but it thrill'd to the bone,
And shot a chillness to his heart,
Which fix'd him beyond the power to start.
Though slight was that grasp no mortal cold,
He could not loose him from its hold;
But never did clasp of one so dear
Strike on the pulse with such feeling of fear,
As those thin fingers, long and white,
Froze through his blood by their touch that night.
The feverish glow of his brow was gone,
And his heart sank so still that it felt like stone,
As he look'd on the face, and beheld its hue,
So deeply changed from what he knew:
Fair but faint --- without the ray
Of mind, that made each feature play
Like sparkling waves on a sunny day;
And her motionless lips lay still as death,
And her words came forth without her breath,
And there rose not a heave o'er her bosom's swell,
And there seem'd not a pulse in her veins to dwell.
Though her eye shone out, yet the lids were fix'd,
And the glance that it gave was wild and unmix'd
With aught of change, as the eyes may seem
Of the restless who walk in a troubled dream;
Like the figures on arras, that gloomily glare,
Stirr'd by the breath of the wintry air,
So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light,
Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight;
As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down
From the shadowy wall where their images frown;
Fearfully flitting to and fro,
As the gusts on the tapestry come and go.
"If not for love of me be given
Thus much, then, for the love of heaven, ---
Again I say --- that turban tear
From off thy faithless brow, and swear
Thine injured country's sons to spare,
Or thou art lost; and never shalt see ---
Not earth --- that's past --- but heaven or me.
If this thou dost accord, albeit
A heavy doom 'tis thine to meet,
That doom shall half absolve they sin,
And mercy's gate may receive thee within:
But pause one moment more, and take
The curse of Him thou didst forsake;
And look once more to heaven, and see
Its love for ever shut from thee.
There is a light cloud by the moon ---
'Tis passing, and will pass full soon ---
If, by the time its vapoury sail
Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil,
They heart within thee is not changed,
Then God and man are both avenged;
Dark will thy doom be, darker still
Thine immortality of ill."
Alp look'd to heaven, and saw on high
The sign she spake of in the sky;
But his heart was swollen, and turn'd aside,
By deep interminable pride.
This first false passion of his breast
Roll'd like a torrent o'er the rest.
He, wrong'd by Venice, vow to save
Her sons, devoted to the grave !
No --- though that cloud were thunder's worst,
And charged to crush him --- let it burst !
He look'd upon it earnestly,
Without an accent of reply;
He watch'd it passing; it is flow:
Full on his eye the clear moon shone,
And thus he spake --- "Whate'er my fate,
I am no changeling --- 'tis too late:
The reed in storms may bow and quiver,
Then rise again; the tree must shiver.
What Venice made me, I must be,
Her foe in all, save love to thee:
But thou art safe: oh, fly with me ! "
He turn'd but she is gone !
Nothing is there but the column stone.
Hath she sunk in the earth, or melted in air?
He saw not --- he knew not --- but nothing is there.
The night is past, and shines the sun
As if that morn were a jocund one.
Lightly and brightly breaks away
The Morning from her mantle grey,
And the noon will look on a sultry day.
Hark to the trump, and the drum,
And the mournful sound of the barbarous horn,
And the flap of the banners, that flit as they're borne,
And the clash, and the shout, "They come ! they come ! "
The horsetails are pluck'd from the ground, and the sword
From it's sheath; and they form, and but wait for the word.
Tartar, and Spahi, and Turcoman,
Strike your tents, and throng to the van;
When he breaks from the town; and none escape,
Aged or young, in the Christian shape;
While your fellows on foot, in a fiery mass,
Bloodstain the breach through which they pass.
The steeds are all bridled, and snort to the rein;
Curved in each neck, and flowing each mane;
White is the foam of their champ on the bit;
The spears are uplifted; the matches are lit;
The cannon are pointed, and ready to roar,
And crush the wall they have crumbled before:
Forms in his phalanx each janizar;
Alp at their head; his right arm is bare,
So is the blade of his scimitar;
The khan and the pachas are all at their post;
The vizier himself at the head of the host.
When the culverin's signal is fired, then on;
Leave not in Corinth a living one ---
A priest at her altars, a chief in her halls,
A hearth in her mansions, a stone on her walls.
God and the prophet --- Alla Hu !
Up to the skies with that wild halloo !
"There the breach lies for passage, the ladder to scale;
And your hands on your sabres, and how should ye fail?
He who first downs with the red cross may crave
His heart's dearest wish; let him ask it, and have ! "
Thus utter'd Coumourgi, the dauntless vizier;
The reply was the brandish of sabre and spear,
And the shout of fierce thousands in joyous ire: --- Silence --- hark to the signal --- fire !
As the wolves, that headlong go
On the stately buffalo,
Though with fiery eyes, and angry roar,
And hoofs that stamp, and horns that gore,
He tramples on earth, or tosses on high
The foremost, who rush on his strength but to die:
Thus against the wall they went,
Thus the first were backward bent;
Many a bosom sheathed in brass,
Strew'd the earth like broken glass,
Shiver'd by the shot, that tore
The ground whereon they moved no more:
Even as they fell, in files they lay,
Like the mower's grass at the close of day,
When his work is done on the levell'd plain;
Such was the fall of the foremost slain.
As the spring-tides, with heavy plash,
From the cliffs invading dash
Huge fragments, sapp'd by the ceaseless flow,
Till white and thundering down they go,
Like the avalanche's snow
On the Alpine vales below;
Thus at length, outbreathed and worn,
Corinth's sons were downward borne
By the long and oft renew'd
Charge of the Moslem multitude.
In firmness they stood, and in masses they fell,
Heap'd by the host of the infidel,
Hand to hand, and foot to foot:
Nothing there, save death, was mute:
Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
For quarter or for victory,
Mingle there with the volleying thunder,
Which make the distant cities wonder
How the sounding battle goes,
If with them, or for their foes;
If they must mourn, or may rejoice
In that annihilating voice,
Which pierces the deep hills through and through
With an echo dread and new:
You might have heard it, on that day,
O'er Salamis and Megara;
( We have heard the hearers say, )
Even unto Piraeus' bay.
From the point of encountering blades to the hilt,
Sabres and swords with blood were gilt;
But the rampart is won, and the spoil begun,
And all but the after carnage done.
Shriller shrieks now mingling come
From within the plunder'd dome:
Hark to the hast of flying feet,
That splash in the blood of the slippery street;
But here and there, were 'vantage ground
Against the foe may still be found,
Desperate groups, of twelve or ten,
Make a pause, and turn again ---
With banded backs against the wall,
Fiercely stand, or fighting fall.
There stood an old man --- his hairs were white,
But his veteran arm was full of might:
So gallantly bore he the brunt of the fray,
The dead before him, on that day,
In a semicircle lay;
Still he combated unwounded,
Though retreating, unsurrounded.
Many a scar of former fight
Lurk'd beneath his corslet bright;
But of every wound his body bore,
Each and all had been ta'en before:
Though aged, he was so iron of limb,
Few of our youth could cope with him,
And the foes, whom he singly kept at bay,
Outnumber'd his thin hairs of silver grey.
From right to left his sabre swept;
Many an Othman mother wept
Sons that were unborn, when dipp'd
His weapon first in Moslem gore,
Ere his years could count a score.
Of all he might have been the sire
Who fell that day beneath his ire:
For, sonless left long years ago,
His wrath made many a childless foe;
And since the day, when in the strait
His only boy had met his fate,
His parent's iron hand did doom
More than a human hecatomb.
If shades by carnage be appeased,
Patroclus' spirit less was pleased
Than his, Minotti's son, who died
Where Asia's bounds and ours divide.
Buried he lay, where thousands before
For thousands of years were inhumed on the shore;
What of them is left, to tell
Where they lie, and how they fell?
Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves;
But they live in the verse that immortally saves.
Hark to the Allah shout ! a band
Of the Mussulman bravest and best is at hand;
Their leader's nervous arm is bare,
Swifter to smite, and never to spare ---
Unclothed to the shoulder it waves them on;
Thus in the fight is he ever known:
Others a gaudier garb may show,
To tempt the spoil of the greedy foe;
Many a hand's on a richer hilt,
But none on a steel more ruddily gilt;
Many a loftier turban may wear, ---
Alp is but known by the white arm bare;
Look through the thick of the fight, 'tis there !
There is not a standard on that shore
So well advanced the ranks before;
There is not a banner in Moslem war
Will lure the Delhis half so far;
It glances like a falling star !
Where'er that mighty arm is seen,
The bravest be, or late have been;
There the craven cries for quarter
Vainly to the vengeful Tartar;
Or the hero, silent lying,
Scorns to yield a groan in dying;
Mustering his last feeble blow
'Gainst the nearest levell'd foe,
Though faint beneath the mutual wound,
Grappling on the gory ground.
Still the old man stood erect,
And Alp's career a moment check'd,
"Yield thee, Minotti, quarter take,
For thine own, thy daughter's sake."
"Never, renegado, never !
Though the life of thy gift would last for ever."
"Francesca ! --- Oh, my promised bride !
Must she too perish by thy pride? "
"She is safe."--- "Where? where? " --- "In heaven;
From whence thy traitor soul is driven ---
Far from thee, and undefiled."
Grimly then Minotti smiled,
As he saw Alp staggering bow
Before his words, as with a blow.
"Oh God ! when died she? " --- "Yester-night ---
Nor weep I for her spirit's flight:
None of my pure race shall be
Slaves to Mahomet and thee ---
Come on ! " --- That challenge is in vain ---
Alp's already with the slain !
While Minotti's words were wreaking
More revenge in bitter speaking
Than his falchion's point had found,
Had the time allow'd to wound,
From within the neighbouring porch
Of a long defended church,
Where the last and desperate few
Would the failing fight renew,
The sharp shot dash'd Alp to the ground;
Ere an eye could view the wound
That crash'd through the brain of the infidel,
Round he spun, and down he fell;
A flash like fire within his eyes
Blazed, as he bent no more to rise,
And then eternal darkness sunk
Through all the palpitating trunk;
Nought of life left, save a quivering
Where his limbs were slightly shivering:
They turn'd him on his back; his breast
And brow were stain'd with gore and dust,
And through his lips the life-blood oozed,
From its deep veins lately loosed:
But in his pulse there was no throb,
Nor on his lips one dying sob;
Sigh, nor word, nor struggling breath
Heralded his way to death;
Ere his very thought could pray,
Unanel'd he pass'd away.
Without a hope from mercy's aid, ---
To the last a Renegade.
Fearfully the yell arose
Of his followers, and his foes;
These in joy, in fury those:
Then again in conflict mixing,
Clashing swords, and spears transfixing,
Interchanged the blow and thrust,
Hurling warriors in the dust.
Street by street, and foot by foot,
Still Minotti dares dispute
The latest portion of the land
Left beneath his high command;
With him, aiding heart and hand,
The remnant of his gallant band.
Still the church is tenable,
Whence issued late the fated ball
That half avenged the city's fall
When Alp, her fierce assailant, fell:
Thither bending sternly back,
they leave before a bloody track;
And, with their faces to the foe,
Dealing wounds with every blow,
The chief, and his retreating train,
Join to those within the fane;
There they yet may breathe awhile,
Shelter'd by the massy pile.
Brief breathing-time ! the turban'd host,
With added ranks and raging boast,
Press onwards with such strength and heat,
Their numbers balk their own retreat;
For narrow the way that led to the spot
Where still the Christians yielded not;
And the foremost, if fearful, may vainly try
Through the massy column to turn and fly;
They perforce must do or die.
They die; but ere their eyes could close,
Avengers o'er their bodies rose;
Fresh and furious, fast they fill
The ranks unthinn'd though slaughter'd still;
And faint the weary Christians wax
Before the still renew'd attacks:
And now the Othmans gain the gate;
Still resists its iron weight,
And still,all deadly aim'd and hot,
From every crevice comes the shot;
From every shatter'd window pour
The volleys of the sulphurous shower:
But the portal wavering grows and weak---
The iron yields, the hinges creak ---
It bends --- it falls --- and all is o'er;
Lost Corinth may resist no more !
Darkly, sternly, and all alone,
Minotti stood o'er the altar-stone:
Madonna's face upon him shone,
Painted in heavenly hues above,
With eyes of light and looks of love;
And placed upon that holy shrine
To fix our thoughts on things divine,
When pictured there, we kneeling see
Her, and the boy-God on her knee,
Smiling sweetly on each prayer
To heaven, as if to waft it there.
Still she smiled; ;even now she smiles,
Though slaughter streams along her aisles:
Minotti lifted his aged eye,
And made the sign of a cross with a sigh,
Then seized a torch which blazed thereby;
And still he stood, while with steel and flame
Inward and onward the Mussulman came.
The vaults beneath the mosaic stone
Contain'd the dead of ages gone;
Their names were on the graven floor,
But now illegible with gore;
The carved crests, and curious hues
The varied marble's vein diffuse,
Were smear'd and slippery, --- stain'd, and strown
With broken swords, and helms o'erthrown:
There were dead above, and the dead below
Lay cold in many a coffin'd row;
You might see them piled in sable state,
By a pale light through a gloomy grate;
But War had enter'd their dark caves,
And stored along the vaulted graves
Her sulphurous treasures, thickly spread
In masses by the fleshless dead:
Here, throughout the siege had been
The Christians' chiefest magazine;
To these a late form'd train now led,
Minotti's last and stern resource
Against the foe's o'erwhelming force.
The foe came on, and few remain
To strive, and those must strive in vain:
For lack of further lives, to slake
The thirst of vengeance now awake,
With barbarous blows they gash the dead,
And lop the already lifeless head,
And fell the statues from their niche
And spoil the shrines of offerings rich,
And from each other's rude hands wrest
The silver vessels saints had bless'd.
To the high altar on they go;
Oh, but it made a glorious show !
On its table still behold
The cup of consecrated gold;
Massy and deep, a glittering prize,
Brightly it sparkles to plunders' eyes:
That morn it held the holy wine,
Converted by Christ to his blood so divine,
Which his worshippers drank at the break of day,
To shrive their souls ere they join'd in the fray.
Still a few drops within it lay:
And round the sacred table glow
Twelve lofty lamps, in splendid row,
From the purest metal cast;
A spoil --- the richest, and the last.
So near they came, the nearest stretch'd
To grasp the spoil he almost reach'd,
When Old Minotti's hand
Touch'd with the torch the train ---
'Tis fired !
Spire, vaults, the shrine, the spoil, the slain,
The turban'd victors, the Christian band,
All that of living or dead remain,
Hurl'd on high with the shiver'd fane,
In one wild roar expired !
The shatter'd town --- the walls thrown down ---
The waves a moment backward bent ---
The hills that shake, although unrent,
As if an earthquake pass'd ---
The thousand shapeless things all driven
In cloud and flame athwart the heaven,
By that tremendous blast ---
Proclaim'd the desperate conflict o'er
On that too long afflicted shore:
Up to the sky like rockets go
All that mingled there below:
Many a tall and goodly man,
Scorch'd and shrivell'd to a span,
When he fell to earth again
Like a cinder strew'd the plain;
Down the ashes shower like rain;
Some fell in the gulf, which received the sprinkles
With a thousand circling wrinkles;
Some fell on the shore, but, far away,
Scatter'd o'er the isthmus lay;
Christian or Moslem, which be they?
Let their mothers see and say !
When in cradled rest they lay,
And each nursing mother smiled
On the sweet sleep of her child,
Little deem'd she such a day
Would rend those tender limbs away.
Not the matrons that them bore
Could discern their offspring more;
That one moment left no trace
More human form or face
Save a scatter'd scalp or bone:
And down came blazing rafters, strown
Around, and many a falling stone,
Deeply dinted in the clay,
All blacken'd there and reeking lay.
All the living things that heard
That deadly earth-shock disappear'd:
The wild birds flew; the wild dogs fled,
And howling left the unburied dead;
The camels from their keepers broke;
The distant steer forsook the yoke ---
The nearer steed plunged o'er the plain,
And burst his girth, and tore his rein;
The bull-frog's note, from out the marsh,
Deep-mouth'd arose, and doubly harsh;
The wolves yell'd on the cavern'd hill
Where echo roll'd in thunder still;
The jackals' troop, in gather'd cry,
Bay'd from afar complainingly,
With a mix'd and mournful sound,
Like --- crying babe, and beaten hound:
With sudden wing, and ruffled breast,
The eagle left his rocky nest,
And mounted nearer to the sun,
The clouds beneath him seem'd so dun;
Their smoke assail'd his startled beak,
And made him higher soar and shriek---
Thus was Corinth lost and won !
FATHER of Heaven, and Him, by whom
It, and us for it, and all else for us,
Thou madest, and govern'st ever, come
And re-create me, now grown ruinous:
My heart is by dejection, clay,
And by self-murder, red.
From this red earth, O Father, purge away
All vicious tinctures, that new-fashioned
I may rise up from death, before I'm dead.
O Son of God, who, seeing two things,
Sin and Death, crept in, which were never made,
By bearing one, tried'st with what stings
The other could Thine heritage invade ;
O be Thou nail'd unto my heart,
And crucified again ;
Part not from it, though it from Thee would part,
But let it be by applying so Thy pain,
Drown'd in Thy blood, and in Thy passion slain.
THE HOLY GHOST.
O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls , and condensèd dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth's fires of pride and lust,
Must with new storms be weather-beat,
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend, and let—
Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim—
Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.
O blessed glorious Trinity,
Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith,
Which, as wise serpents, diversely
Most slipperiness, yet most entanglings hath,
As you distinguish'd, undistinct,
By power, love, knowledge be,
Give me a such self different instinct,
Of these let all me elemented be,
Of power, to love, to know you unnumbered three.
THE VIRGIN MARY.
For that fair blessed mother-maid,
Whose flesh redeem'd us, that she-cherubin,
Which unlock'd paradise, and made
One claim for innocence, and disseizèd sin,
Whose womb was a strange heaven, for there
God clothed Himself, and grew,
Our zealous thanks we pour. As her deeds were
Our helps, so are her prayers ; nor can she sue
In vain, who hath such titles unto you.
And since this life our nonage is,
And we in wardship to Thine angels be,
Native in heaven's fair palaces
Where we shall be but denizen'd by Thee ;
As th' earth conceiving by the sun,
Yields fair diversity,
Yet never knows what course that light doth run ;
So let me study that mine actions be
Worthy their sight, though blind in how they see.
And let Thy patriarchs' desire,
—Those great grandfathers of Thy Church, which saw
More in the cloud than we in fire,
Whom nature clear'd more, than us grace and law,
And now in heaven still pray, that we
May use our new helps right—
Be satisfied, and fructify in me ;
Let not my mind be blinder by more light,
Nor faith by reason added lose her sight.
Thy eagle-sighted prophets too,
—Which were Thy Church's organs, and did sound
That harmony which made of two
One law, and did unite, but not confound ;
Those heavenly poets which did see
Thy will, and it express
In rhythmic feet—in common pray for me,
That I by them excuse not my excess
In seeking secrets, or poeticness.
And thy illustrious zodiac
Of twelve apostles, which engirt this All,
—From whom whosoever do not take
Their light, to dark deep pits throw down and fall ;—
As through their prayers Thou'st let me know
That their books are divine,
May they pray still, and be heard, that I go
Th' old broad way in applying ; O decline
Me, when my comment would make Thy word mine.
And since Thou so desirously
Didst long to die, that long before Thou couldst,
And long since Thou no more couldst die,
Thou in thy scatter'd mystic body wouldst
In Abel die, and ever since
In Thine ; let their blood come
To beg for us a discreet patience
Of death, or of worse life ; for O, to some
Not to be martyrs, is a martyrdom.
Therefore with Thee triumpheth there
A virgin squadron of white confessors,
Whose bloods betroth'd not married were,
Tender'd, not taken by those ravishers.
They know, and pray that we may know,
In every Christian
Hourly tempestuous persecutions grow ;
Temptations martyr us alive ; a man
Is to himself a Diocletian.
The cold white snowy nunnery,
Which, as Thy Mother, their high abbess, sent
Their bodies back again to Thee,
As Thou hadst lent them, clean and innocent ;
Though they have not obtain'd of Thee,
That or Thy Church or I
Should keep, as they, our first integrity,
Divorce Thou sin in us, or bid it die,
And call chaste widowhead virginity.
The sacred academy above
Of Doctors, whose pains have unclasp'd, and taught
Both books of life to us—for love
To know Thy scriptures tells us, we are wrote
In Thy other book—pray for us there,
That what they have misdone
Or missaid, we to that may not adhere.
Their zeal may be our sin. Lord, let us run
Mean ways, and call them stars, but not the sun.
And whilst this universal quire,
That Church in triumph, this in warfare here,
Warm'd with one all-partaking fire
Of love, that none be lost, which cost Thee dear,
Prays ceaselessly, and Thou hearken too
—Since to be gracious
Our task is treble, to pray, bear, and do—
Hear this prayer, Lord ; O Lord, deliver us
From trusting in those prayers, though pour'd out
From being anxious, or secure,
Dead clods of sadness, or light squibs of mirth,
From thinking that great courts immure
All, or no happiness, or that this earth
Is only for our prison framed,
Or that Thou'rt covetous
To them whom Thou lovest, or that they are maim'd
From reaching this world's sweet who seek Thee
With all their might, good Lord, deliver us.
From needing danger, to be good,
From owing Thee yesterday's tears to-day,
From trusting so much to Thy blood
That in that hope we wound our soul away,
From bribing Thee with alms, to excuse
Some sin more burdenous,
From light affecting, in religion, news,
From thinking us all soul, neglecting thus
Our mutual duties, Lord, deliver us.
From tempting Satan to tempt us,
By our connivance, or slack company,
From measuring ill by vicious
Neglecting to choke sin's spawn, vanity,
From indiscreet humility,
Which might be scandalous
And cast reproach on Christianity,
From being spies, or to spies pervious,
From thirst or scorn of fame, deliver us.
Deliver us through Thy descent
Into the Virgin, whose womb was a place
Of middle kind ; and Thou being sent
To ungracious us, stay'dst at her full of grace ;
And through Thy poor birth, where first Thou
Glorified'st poverty ;
And yet soon after riches didst allow,
By accepting kings' gifts in th' Epiphany ;
Deliver us, and make us to both ways free.
And through that bitter agony,
Which is still th' agony of pious wits,
Disputing what distorted Thee,
And interrupted evenness with fits ;
And through Thy free confession,
Though thereby they were then
Made blind, so that Thou mightst from them have gone ;
Good Lord, deliver us, and teach us when
We may not, and we may, blind unjust men.
Through Thy submitting all, to blows
Thy face, Thy robes to spoil, Thy fame to scorn,
All ways, which rage, or justice knows,
And by which Thou couldst show that Thou wast born ;
And through Thy gallant humbleness
Which Thou in death didst show,
Dying before Thy soul they could express ;
Deliver us from death, by dying so
To this world, ere this world do bid us go.
When senses, which Thy soldiers are,
We arm against Thee, and they fight for sin ;
When want, sent but to tame, doth war,
And work despair a breach to enter in ;
When plenty, God's image, and seal,
Makes us idolatrous,
And love it, not him, whom it should reveal ;
When we are moved to seem religious
Only to vent wit ; Lord, deliver us.
In churches, when th' infirmity
Of him which speaks, diminishes the word ;
When magistrates do misapply
To us, as we judge, lay or ghostly sword ;
When plague, which is Thine angel, reigns,
Or wars, Thy champions, sway ;
When heresy, Thy second deluge, gains ;
In th' hour of death, th' eve of last Judgment day ;
Deliver us from the sinister way.
Hear us, O hear us, Lord; to Thee
A sinner is more music, when he prays,
Than spheres' or angels' praises be,
In panegyric alleluias ;
Hear us, for till Thou hear us, Lord,
We know not what to say ;
Thine ear to our sighs, tears, thoughts, gives voice and word ;
O Thou, who Satan heard'st in Job's sick day,
Hear Thyself now, for Thou in us dost pray.
That we may change to evenness
This intermitting aguish piety ;
That snatching cramps of wickedness
And apoplexies of fast sin may die ;
That music of Thy promises,
Not threats in thunder may
Awaken us to our just offices ;
What in Thy book Thou dost, or creatures say,
That we may hear, Lord, hear us when we pray.
That our ears' sickness we may cure,
And rectify those labyrinths aright,
That we by heark'ning not procure
Our praise, nor others' dispraise so invite ;
That we get not a slipp'riness
And senselessly decline,
From hearing bold wits jest at kings' excess,
To admit the like of majesty divine ;
That we may lock our ears, Lord, open Thine.
That living law, the magistrate,
Which to give us, and make us physic, doth
Our vices often aggravate ;
That preachers taxing sin, before her growth ;
That Satan, and envenom'd men—
Which will, if we starve, dine—
When they do most accuse us, may see then
Us to amendment hear them, Thee decline ;
That we may open our ears, Lord, lock Thine.
That learning, Thine ambassador,
From Thine allegiance we never tempt ;
That beauty, paradise's flower
For physic made, from poison be exempt ;
That wit—born apt high good to do—
By dwelling lazily
On nature's nothing be not nothing too ;
That our affections kill us not, nor die ;
Hear us, weak echoes, O, Thou Ear and Eye.
Son of God, hear us, and since Thou
By taking our blood, owest it us again,
Gain to Thyself, or us allow ;
And let not both us and Thyself be slain ;
O Lamb of God, which took'st our sin,
Which could not stick to Thee,
O let it not return to us again ;
But patient and physician being free,
As sin is nothing, let it nowhere be.
How gracefully, O man, with thy palm-bough,
Upon the waning century standest thou,
In proud and noble manhood's prime,
With unlocked senses, with a spirit freed,
Of firmness mild,--though silent, rich in deed,
The ripest son of Time,
Through meekness great, through precepts strong,
Through treasures rich, that time had long
Hid in thy bosom, and through reason free,--
Master of Nature, who thy fetters loves,
And who thy strength in thousand conflicts proves,
And from the desert soared in pride with thee!
Flushed with the glow of victory,
Never forget to prize the hand
That found the weeping orphan child
Deserted on life's barren strand,
And left a prey to hazard wild,--
That, ere thy spirit-honor saw the day,
Thy youthful heart watched over silently,
And from thy tender bosom turned away
Each thought that might have stained its purity;
That kind one ne'er forget who, as in sport,
Thy youth to noble aspirations trained,
And who to thee in easy riddles taught
The secret how each virtue might be gained;
Who, to receive him back more perfect still,
E'en into strangers' arms her favorite gave--
Oh, may'st thou never with degenerate will,
Humble thyself to be her abject slave!
In industry, the bee the palm may bear;
In skill, the worm a lesson may impart;
With spirits blest thy knowledge thou dost share,
But thou, O man, alone hast art!
Only through beauty's morning gate
Didst thou the land of knowledge find.
To merit a more glorious fate,
In graces trains itself the mind.
What thrilled thee through with trembling blessed,
When erst the Muses swept the chord,
That power created in thy breast,
Which to the mighty spirit soared.
When first was seen by doting reason's ken,
When many a thousand years had passed away,
A symbol of the fair and great e'en then,
Before the childlike mind uncovered lay.
Its blessed form bade us honor virtue's cause,--
The honest sense 'gainst vice put forth its powers,
Before a Solon had devised the laws
That slowly bring to light their languid flowers.
Before Eternity's vast scheme
Was to the thinker's mind revealed,
Was't not foreshadowed in his dream,
Whose eyes explored yon starry field?
Urania,--the majestic dreaded one,
Who wears a glory of Orions twined
Around her brow, and who is seen by none
Save purest spirits, when, in splendor shrined,
She soars above the stars in pride,
Ascending to her sunny throne,--
Her fiery chaplet lays aside,
And now, as beauty, stands alone;
While, with the Graces' girdle round her cast,
She seems a child, by children understood;
For we shall recognize as truth at last,
What here as beauty only we have viewed.
When the Creator banished from his sight
Frail man to dark mortality's abode,
And granted him a late return to light,
Only by treading reason's arduous road,--
When each immortal turned his face away,
She, the compassionate, alone
Took up her dwelling in that house of clay,
With the deserted, banished one.
With drooping wing she hovers here
Around her darling, near the senses' land,
And on his prison-walls so drear
Elysium paints with fond deceptive hand.
While soft humanity still lay at rest,
Within her tender arms extended,
No flame was stirred by bigots' murderous zest,
No guiltless blood on high ascended.
The heart that she in gentle fetters binds,
Views duty's slavish escort scornfully;
Her path of light, though fairer far it winds,
Sinks in the sun-track of morality.
Those who in her chaste service still remain,
No grovelling thought can tempt, no fate affright;
The spiritual life, so free from stain,
Freedom's sweet birthright, they receive again,
Under the mystic sway of holy might.
The purest among millions, happy they
Whom to her service she has sanctified,
Whose mouths the mighty one's commands convey,
Within whose breasts she deigneth to abide;
Whom she ordained to feed her holy fire
Upon her altar's ever-flaming pyre,--
Whose eyes alone her unveiled graces meet,
And whom she gathers round in union sweet
In the much-honored place be glad
Where noble order bade ye climb,
For in the spirit-world sublime,
Man's loftiest rank ye've ever had!
Ere to the world proportion ye revealed,
That every being joyfully obeys,--
A boundless structure, in night's veil concealed,
Illumed by naught but faint and languid rays,
A band of phantoms, struggling ceaselessly,
Holding his mind in slavish fetters bound,
Unsociable and rude as be,
Assailing him on every side around,--
Thus seemed to man creation in that day!
United to surrounding forms alone
By the blind chains the passions had put on,
Whilst Nature's beauteous spirit fled away
Unfelt, untasted, and unknown.
And, as it hovered o'er with parting ray,
Ye seized the shades so neighborly,
With silent hand, with feeling mind,
And taught how they might be combined
In one firm bond of harmony.
The gaze, light-soaring, felt uplifted then,
When first the cedar's slender trunk it viewed;
And pleasingly the ocean's crystal flood
Reflected back the dancing form again.
Could ye mistake the look, with beauty fraught,
That Nature gave to help ye on your way?
The image floating on the billows taught
The art the fleeting shadow to portray.
From her own being torn apart,
Her phantom, beauteous as a dream,
She plunged into the silvery stream,
Surrendering to her spoiler's art.
Creative power soon in your breast unfolded;
Too noble far, not idly to conceive,
The shadow's form in sand, in clay ye moulded,
And made it in the sketch its being leave.
The longing thirst for action then awoke,--
And from your breast the first creation broke.
By contemplation captive made,
Ensnared by your discerning eye,
The friendly phantom's soon betrayed
The talisman that roused your ecstasy.
The laws of wonder-working might,
The stores by beauty brought to light,
Inventive reason in soft union planned
To blend together 'neath your forming hand.
The obelisk, the pyramid ascended,
The Hermes stood, the column sprang on high,
The reed poured forth the woodland melody,
Immortal song on victor's deeds attended.
The fairest flowers that decked the earth,
Into a nosegay, with wise choice combined,
Thus the first art from Nature had its birth;
Into a garland then were nosegays twined,
And from the works that mortal hands had made,
A second, nobler art was now displayed.
The child of beauty, self-sufficient now,
That issued from your hands to perfect day,
Loses the chaplet that adorned its brow,
Soon as reality asserts its sway.
The column, yielding to proportion's chains,
Must with its sisters join in friendly link,
The hero in the hero-band must sink,
The Muses' harp peals forth its tuneful strains.
The wondering savages soon came
To view the new creation's plan
"Behold!"--the joyous crowds exclaim,--
"Behold, all this is done by man!"
With jocund and more social aim
The minstrel's lyre their awe awoke,
Telling of Titans, and of giant's frays
And lion-slayers, turning, as he spoke,
Even into heroes those who heard his lays.
For the first time the soul feels joy,
By raptures blessed that calmer are,
That only greet it from afar,
That passions wild can ne'er destroy,
And that, when tasted, do not cloy.
And now the spirit, free and fair,
Awoke from out its sensual sleep;
By you unchained, the slave of care
Into the arms of joy could leap.
Each brutish barrier soon was set at naught,
Humanity first graced the cloudless brow,
And the majestic, noble stranger, thought,
From out the wondering brain sprang boldly now.
Man in his glory stood upright,
And showed the stars his kingly face;
His speaking glance the sun's bright light
Blessed in the realms sublime of space.
Upon the cheek now bloomed the smile,
The voice's soulful harmony
Expanded into song the while,
And feeling swam in the moist eye;
And from the mouth, with spirit teeming o'er,
Jest, sweetly linked with grace, began to pour.
Sunk in the instincts of the worm,
By naught but sensual lust possessed,
Ye recognized within his breast
Love-spiritual's noble germ;
And that this germ of love so blest
Escaped the senses' abject load,
To the first pastoral song he owed.
Raised to the dignity of thought,
Passions more calm to flow were taught
From the bard's mouth with melody.
The cheeks with dewy softness burned;
The longing that, though quenched, still yearned,
Proclaimed the spirit-harmony.
The wisest's wisdom, and the strongest's vigor,--
The meekest's meekness, and the noblest's grace,
By you were knit together in one figure,
Wreathing a radiant glory round the place.
Man at the Unknown's sight must tremble,
Yet its refulgence needs must love;
That mighty Being to resemble,
Each glorious hero madly strove;
The prototype of beauty's earliest strain
Ye made resound through Nature's wide domain.
The passions' wild and headlong course,
The ever-varying plan of fate,
Duty and instinct's twofold force,
With proving mind and guidance straight
Ye then conducted to their ends.
What Nature, as she moves along,
Far from each other ever rends,
Become upon the stage, in song,
Members of order, firmly bound.
Awed by the Furies' chorus dread,
Murder draws down upon its head
The doom of death from their wild sound.
Long e'er the wise to give a verdict dared,
An Iliad had fate's mysteries declared
To early ages from afar;
While Providence in silence fared
Into the world from Thespis' car.
Yet into that world's current so sublime
Your symmetry was borne before its time,
When the dark hand of destiny
Failed in your sight to part by force.
What it had fashioned 'neath your eye,
In darkness life made haste to die,
Ere it fulfilled its beauteous course.
Then ye with bold and self-sufficient might
Led the arch further through the future's night:
Then, too, ye plunged, without a fear,
Into Avernus' ocean black,
And found the vanished life so dear
Beyond the urn, and brought it back.
A blooming Pollux-form appeared now soon,
On Castor leaning, and enshrined in light--
The shadow that is seen upon the moon,
Ere she has filled her silvery circle bright!
Yet higher,--higher still above the earth
Inventive genius never ceased to rise:
Creations from creations had their birth,
And harmonies from harmonies.
What here alone enchants the ravished sight,
A nobler beauty yonder must obey;
The graceful charms that in the nymph unite,
In the divine Athene melt away;
The strength with which the wrestler is endowed,
In the god's beauty we no longer find:
The wonder of his time--Jove's image proud--
In the Olympian temple is enshrined.
The world, transformed by industry's bold hand,
The human heart, by new-born instincts moved,
That have in burning fights been fully proved,
Your circle of creation now expand.
Advancing man bears on his soaring pinions,
In gratitude, art with him in his flight,
And out of Nature's now-enriched dominions
New worlds of beauty issue forth to light.
The barriers upon knowledge are o'erthrown;
The spirit that, with pleasure soon matured,
Has in your easy triumphs been inured
To hasten through an artist-whole of graces,
Nature's more distant columns duly places.
And overtakes her on her pathway lone.
He weighs her now with weights that human are,
Metes her with measures that she lent of old;
While in her beauty's rites more practised far,
She now must let his eye her form behold.
With youthful and self-pleasing bliss,
He lends the spheres his harmony,
And, if he praise earth's edifice,
'Tis for its wondrous symmetry.
In all that now around him breathes,
Proportion sweet is ever rife;
And beauty's golden girdle wreathes
With mildness round his path through life;
Perfection blest, triumphantly,
Before him in your works soars high;
Wherever boisterous rapture swells,
Wherever silent sorrow flees,
Where pensive contemplation dwells,
Where he the tears of anguish sees,
Where thousand terrors on him glare,
Harmonious streams are yet behind--
He sees the Graces sporting there,
With feeling silent and refined.
Gentle as beauty's lines together linking,
As the appearances that round him play,
In tender outline in each other sinking,
The soft breath of his life thus fleets away.
His spirit melts in the harmonious sea,
That, rich in rapture, round his senses flows,
And the dissolving thought all silently
To omnipresent Cytherea grows.
Joining in lofty union with the Fates,
On Graces and on Muses calm relying,
With freely-offered bosom he awaits
The shaft that soon against him will be flying
From the soft bow necessity creates.
Favorites beloved of blissful harmony,
Welcome attendants on life's dreary road,
The noblest and the dearest far that she,
Who gave us life, to bless that life bestowed!
That unyoked man his duties bears in mind,
And loves the fetters that his motions bind,
That Chance with brazen sceptre rules him not,--
For this eternity is now your lot,
Your heart has won a bright reward for this.
That round the cup where freedom flows,
Merrily sport the gods of bliss,--
The beauteous dream its fragrance throws,
For this, receive a loving kiss!
The spirit, glorious and serene,
Who round necessity the graces trains,--
Who bids his ether and his starry plains
Upon us wait with pleasing mien,--
Who, 'mid his terrors, by his majesty gives joy,
And who is beauteous e'en when seeking to destroy,--
Him imitate, the artist good!
As o'er the streamlet's crystal flood
The banks with checkered dances hover,
The flowery mead, the sunset's light,--
Thus gleams, life's barren pathway over,
Poesy's shadowy world so bright.
In bridal dress ye led us on
Before the terrible Unknown,
Before the inexorable fate,
As in your urns the bones are laid,
With beauteous magic veil ye shade
The chorus dread that cares create.
Thousands of years I hastened through
The boundless realm of vanished time
How sad it seems when left by you--
But where ye linger, how sublime!
She who, with fleeting wing, of yore
From your creating hand arose in might,
Within your arms was found once more,
When, vanquished by Time's silent flight,
Life's blossoms faded from the cheek,
And from the limbs all vigor went,
And mournfully, with footstep weak,
Upon his staff the gray-beard leant.
Then gave ye to the languishing,
Life's waters from a new-born spring;
Twice was the youth of time renewed,
Twice, from the seeds that ye had strewed.
When chased by fierce barbarian hordes away,
The last remaining votive brand ye tore
From Orient's altars, now pollution's prey,
And to these western lands in safety bore.
The fugitive from yonder eastern shore,
The youthful day, the West her dwelling made;
And on Hesperia's plains sprang up once more
Ionia's flowers, in pristine bloom arrayed.
Over the spirit fairer Nature shed,
With soft refulgence, a reflection bright,
And through the graceful soul with stately tread
Advanced the mighty Deity of light.
Millions of chains were burst asunder then,
And to the slave then human laws applied,
And mildly rose the younger race of men,
As brethren, gently wandering side by side,
With noble inward ecstasy,
The bliss imparted ye receive,
And in the veil of modesty,
With silent merit take your leave.
If on the paths of thought, so freely given,
The searcher now with daring fortune stands,
And, by triumphant Paeans onward driven,
Would seize upon the crown with dauntless hands--
If he with grovelling hireling's pay
Thinks to dismiss his glorious guide--
Or, with the first slave's-place array
Art near the throne his dream supplied--
Forgive him!--O'er your head to-day
Hovers perfection's crown in pride,
With you the earliest plant Spring had,
Soul-forming Nature first began;
With you, the harvest-chaplet glad,
Perfected Nature ends her plan.
The art creative, that all-modestly arose
From clay and stone, with silent triumph throws
Its arms around the spirit's vast domain.
What in the land of knowledge the discoverer knows,
He knows, discovers, only for your gain
The treasures that the thinker has amassed,
He will enjoy within your arms alone,
Soon as his knowledge, beauty-ripe at last.
To art ennobled shall have grown,--
Soon as with you he scales a mountain-height,
And there, illumined by the setting sun,
The smiling valley bursts upon his sight.
The richer ye reward the eager gaze
The higher, fairer orders that the mind
May traverse with its magic rays,
Or compass with enjoyment unconfined--
The wider thoughts and feelings open lie
To more luxuriant floods of harmony.
To beauty's richer, more majestic stream,--
The fair members of the world's vast scheme,
That, maimed, disgrace on his creation bring,
He sees the lofty forms then perfecting--
The fairer riddles come from out the night--
The richer is the world his arms enclose,
The broader stream the sea with which he flows--
The weaker, too, is destiny's blind might--
The nobler instincts does he prove--
The smaller he himself, the greater grows his love.
Thus is he led, in still and hidden race,
By poetry, who strews his path with flowers,
Through ever-purer forms, and purer powers,
Through ever higher heights, and fairer grace.
At length, arrived at the ripe goal of time,--
Yet one more inspiration all-sublime,
Poetic outburst of man's latest youth,
And--he will glide into the arms of truth!
Herself, the gentle Cypria,
Illumined by her fiery crown,
Then stands before her full-grown son
Unveiled--as great Urania;
The sooner only by him caught,
The fairer he had fled away!
Thus stood, in wonder rapture-fraught,
Ulysses' noble son that day,
When the sage mentor who his youth beguiled;
Herself transfigured as Jove's glorious child!
Man's honor is confided to your hand,--
There let it well protected be!
It sinks with you! with you it will expand!
Poesy's sacred sorcery
Obeys a world-plan wise and good;
In silence let it swell the flood
Of mighty-rolling harmony.
By her own time viewed with disdain,
Let solemn truth in song remain,
And let the Muses' band defend her!
In all the fullness of her splendor,
Let her survive in numbers glorious,
More dread, when veiled her charms appear,
And vengeance take, with strains victorious,
On her tormentor's ear!
The freest mother's children free,
With steadfast countenance then rise
To highest beauty's radiancy,
And every other crown despise!
The sisters who escaped you here,
Within your mother's arms ye'll meet;
What noble spirits may revere,
Must be deserving and complete.
High over your own course of time
Exalt yourselves with pinion bold,
And dimly let your glass sublime
The coming century unfold!
On thousand roads advancing fast
Of ever-rich variety,
With fond embraces meet at last
Before the throne of harmony!
As into seven mild rays we view
With softness break the glimmer white,
As rainbow-beams of sevenfold hue
Dissolve again in that soft light,
In clearness thousandfold thus throw
Your magic round the ravished gaze,--
Into one stream of light thus flow,--
One bond of truth that ne'er decays!
Thou Dost Not Know
Thou dost not know it! but to hear
One word of praise from thee,
There is no pain I would not bear,
No task too great for me.
My hands could tireless toil all day,
My feet could tireless run,
If at the close thy lips would say,
'Brave, noble heart, well done.'
* * * * *
Thou dost not know it! but to win
Approval from thine eyes,
My soul has conquered many a sin,
And conquering neared the skies.
And though the reward may not be given,
In all my earthly days,
I feel that after death, in heaven,
Thy lips will give me praise.
* * * * *
Thou dost not know, may never know,
That all I strive to be,
All things praiseworthy that I do,
I strive, and do, for thee.
And though I seldom see thy face,
Or touch thy hand, my friend,
Those meetings are the means of grace,
That help me to the end.
* * * * *
Thou dost not know that thy grand life
Has been my beacon light.
I aim to conquer in the strife,
That I may reach thy height.
I strive to live, so that my feet
May walk the fields most fair,
For the after-life, seems, oh! so sweet,
Because thou wilt be there.
* * * * *
Thou dost not know how brave and strong
A woman's heart can be.
But few could hide so well and long
What mine has hid from thee.
So well, that should this idyl chance
To meet thine eye, my friend,
Thou'd scan it with a careless glance,
Nor dream to whom 'twas penned.
A Ghost At The Dancing
A WIND-SWEPT tulip-bed--a colored cloud
Of butterflies careering in the air--
A many-figured arras stirred to life,
And merry unto midnight music dumb--
So the dance whirls. Do any think of thee,
Friends greet each other--countless rills of talk
Meander round, scattering a spray of smiles.
Surely--the news was false. One minute more
And thou wilt stand here, tall and quiet-eyed,
Shakespearian beauty in they pensive face,
Many here knew and loved thee--I nor loved,
Scarce knew--yet in thy place a shadow glides,
And a face shapes itself from empty air,
Watching the dancers, grave and quiet-eyed--
Eyes that now see the angels evermore,
On just such night as this, 'midst dance and song,
I bade thee carelessly a light good by--
'Good by'--saidst thou; 'A happy journey home!'
Was the unseen death-angel at thy side,
Mocking those words--('A happy journey home,'
Ay, we play fool's play still; thou hast gone home.
While these dance here, a mile hence o'er thy grave
Drifts the deep New Year snow. The wondrous gate
We spoke of, thou hast entered; I without
Grope ignorant still--thou dost its secrets know,
What if, thus sitting where we sat last year,
Thou camest, took'st up our broken thread of talk,
And told'st of that new Home, which far I view,
As children, wandering on through wintry fields,
Mark on the hill the father's window shine,
No. We shall see thy pleasant face no more;
Thy words on earth are ended. Yet thou livest;
'T is we who die.--I too, one day shall come,
And, unseen, watch these shadows, quiet-eyed--
Then flit back to thy land, the living land,
To a Marsh Hawk in Spring
There is health in thy gray wing,
Health of nature’s furnishing.
Say, thou modern-winged antique,
Was thy mistress ever sick?
In each heaving of thy wing
Thou dost health and leisure bring,
Thou dost waive disease and pain
And resume new life again.
To The Small Celandine
PANSIES, lilies, kingcups, daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there's a sun that sets,
Primroses will have their glory;
Long as there are violets,
They will have a place in story:
There's a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine.
Eyes of some men travel far
For the finding of a star;
Up and down the heavens they go,
Men that keep a mighty rout!
I'm as great as they, I trow,
Since the day I found thee out,
Little Flower!--I'll make a stir,
Like a sage astronomer.
Modest, yet withal an Elf
Bold, and lavish of thyself;
Since we needs must first have met
I have seen thee, high and low,
Thirty years or more, and yet
'Twas a face I did not know;
Thou hast now, go where I may,
Fifty greetings in a day.
Ere a leaf is on a bush,
In the time before the thrush
Has a thought about her nest,
Thou wilt come with half a call,
Spreading out thy glossy breast
Like a careless Prodigal;
Telling tales about the sun,
When we've little warmth, or none.
Poets, vain men in their mood!
Travel with the multitude:
Never heed them; I aver
That they all are wanton wooers;
But the thrifty cottager,
Who stirs little out of doors,
Joys to spy thee near her home;
Spring is coming, Thou art come!
Comfort have thou of thy merit,
Kindly, unassuming Spirit!
Careless of thy neighbourhood,
Thou dost show thy pleasant face
On the moor, and in the wood,
In the lane;--there's not a place,
Howsoever mean it be,
But 'tis good enough for thee.
Ill befall the yellow flowers,
Children of the flaring hours!
Buttercups, that will be seen,
Whether we will see or no;
Others, too, of lofty mien;
They have done as worldlings do,
Taken praise that should be thine,
Little, humble Celandine!
Prophet of delight and mirth,
Ill-requited upon earth;
Herald of a mighty band,
Of a joyous train ensuing,
Serving at my heart's command,
Tasks that are no tasks renewing,
I will sing, as doth behove,
Hymns in praise of what I love!
At Beauty's Bar As I Did Stand
AT Beauty's bar as I did stand,
When False Suspect accused,
``George,'' quod the judge, ``hold up thy hand;
Thou art arraigned of flattery.
Tell therefore how thou wilt be tried.
Whose judgment here wilt thou abide?''
``My lord,'' quod I, ``this lady here,
Whom I esteem above the rest,
Doth know my guilt, if any were,
Wherefore her doom shall please me best;
Let her be judge and juror both,
To try me, guiltless by mine oath.''
Quod Beauty, ``No, it fitteth not,
A Prince herself to judge the cause;
Will is our Justice, well you wot,
Appointed to discuss our laws;
If you will guiltless seem to go,
God and your country quit you so.''
Then Craft, the crier, called a quest,
Of whom was Falsehood foremost fere;
A pack of pickthanks were the rest,
Which came fale witness for to bear;
The jury such, the judge unjust,
Sentence was said I should be trussed.
Jealous, the jailer, bound me fast,
To hear the verdict of the bill;
``George,'' quod the judge, ``now thou art cast,
Thou must go hence to Heavy Hill,
And there be hanged, all but the head;
God rest thy soul when thou art dead.''
Down fell I thn upon my knee,
All flat before Dame Beauty's face,
And cried, ``Good Lady, pardon me,
Which here appeal unto your Grace;
You know if I have been untrue,
It was in too much praising you.
``And though this judge do make such haste
To shed with shame my guiltless blood,
Yet let your pity first be placed,
To save the man that meant you good;
So shall you show yourself a queen,
And I may be your servant seen.''
Quod Beauty, ``Well; because I guess
What thou dost mean henceforth to be,
Although thy faults deserve no less
Than Justice here hath judged thee,
Wilt thou be bound to stint all strife,
And be true prisoner all thy life?''
``Yea, madam,'' quod I, ``that I shall;
Lo, Faith and Truth, my sureties.''
``Why, then,'' quod she, ``come when I call,
I ask no better warrantise.''
Thus am I Beauty's bounden thrall,
At her command when she doth call.
Wise emblem of our politic world,
Sage snail, within thine own self curl'd;
Instruct me softly to make haste,
Whilst these my feet go slowly fast.
Compendious snail! thou seem'st to me,
Large Euclid's strict epitome;
And in each diagram dost fling
Thee from the point unto the ring;
A figure now triangular,
An oval now, and now a square;
And then a serpentine dost crawl,
Now a straight line, now crook'd, now all.
Preventing rival of the day,
Th'art up and openest thy ray,
And ere the morn cradles the moon
Th'art broke into a beauteous noon.
Then when the sun sups in the deep,
Thy silver horns ere Cynthia's peep;
And thou from thine own liquid bed
New Phoebus heav'st thy pleasant head.
Who shall a name for thee create,
Deep riddle of mysterious state?
Bold Nature that gives common birth
To all products of seas and earth,
Of thee, as earthquakes, is afraid,
Nor will thy dire deliv'ry aid.
Thou thine own daughter then, and sire,
That son and mother art entire,
That big still with thy self dost go,
And liv'st an aged embryo;
That like the cubs of India,
Thou from thyself a while dost play;
But frighted with a dog or gun,
In thine own belly thou dost run,
And as thy house was thine own womb,
So thine own womb concludes thy tomb.
But now I must (analyz'd king)
Thy economic virtues sing;
Thou great stay'd husband still within,
Thou, thee, that's thine dost discipline;
And when thou art to progress bent,
Thou mov'st thy self and tenement,
As warlike Scythians travell'd, you
Remove your men and city too;
Then after a sad dearth and rain,
Thou scatterest thy silver train;
And when the trees grow nak'd and old,
Thou clothest them with cloth of gold,
Which from thy bowels thou dost spin,
And draw from the rich mines within.
Now hast thou chang'd thee saint; and made
Thy self a fane that's cupola'd;
And in thy wreathed cloister thou
Walkest thine own grey friar too;
Strict, and lock'd up, th'art hood all o'er,
And ne'er eliminat'st thy door.
On salads thou dost feed severe,
And 'stead of beads thou dropp'st a tear;
And when to rest, each calls the bell,
Thou sleep'st within thy marble cell,
Where in dark contemplation plac'd,
The sweets of nature thou dost taste;
Who now with time thy days resolve,
And in a jelly thee dissolve,
Like a shot star, which doth repair
Upward, and rarify the air.
Wise emblem of our politick world,
Sage Snayl, within thine own self curl'd,
Instruct me softly to make hast,
Whilst these my feet go slowly fast.
Compendious Snayl! thou seem'st to me
Large Euclid's strict epitome;
And in each diagram dost fling
Thee from the point unto the ring.
A figure now trianglare,
An oval now, and now a square,
And then a serpentine, dost crawl,
Now a straight line, now crook'd, now all.
Preventing rival of the day,
Th' art up and openest thy ray;
And ere the morn cradles the moon,
Th' art broke into a beauteous noon.
Then, when the Sun sups in the deep,
Thy silver horns e're Cinthia's peep;
And thou, from thine own liquid bed,
New Phoebus, heav'st thy pleasant head.
Who shall a name for thee create,
Deep riddle of mysterious state?
Bold Nature, that gives common birth
To all products of seas and earth,
Of thee, as earth-quakes, is afraid,
Nor will thy dire deliv'ry aid.
Thou, thine own daughter, then, and sire,
That son and mother art intire,
That big still with thy self dost go,
And liv'st an aged embrio;
That like the cubbs of India,
Thou from thy self a while dost play;
But frighted with a dog or gun,
In thine own belly thou dost run,
And as thy house was thine own womb,
So thine own womb concludes thy tomb.
But now I must (analys'd king)
Thy oeconomick virtues sing;
Thou great stay'd husband still within,
Thou thee that's thine dost discipline;
And when thou art to progress bent,
Thou mov'st thy self and tenement,
As warlike Scythians travayl'd, you
Remove your men and city too;
Then, after a sad dearth and rain,
Thou scatterest thy silver train;
And when the trees grow nak'd and old,
Thou cloathest them with cloth of gold,
Which from thy bowels thou dost spin,
And draw from the rich mines within.
Now hast thou chang'd thee, saint, and made
Thy self a fane that's cupula'd;
And in thy wreathed cloister thou
Walkest thine own gray fryer too;
Strickt and lock'd up, th'art hood all ore,
And ne'r eliminat'st thy dore.
On sallads thou dost feed severe,
And 'stead of beads thou drop'st a tear,
And when to rest each calls the bell,
Thou sleep'st within thy marble cell,
Where, in dark contemplation plac'd,
The sweets of Nature thou dost tast,
Who now with time thy days resolve,
And in a jelly thee dissolve,
Like a shot star, which doth repair
Upward, and rarifie the air.
To the Moon
With musing mind I watch thee steal
Above those envious clouds that hid
Till now thy face; thou dost reveal
More than the glaring sunlight did;
So round me would I have thy light
In one broad sea of beauty lie,
And who, while thou dost rule the night,
For day would sigh,
Nor long for wings that he might flee
To find thy hidden face and ride the dark with thee?
And hence it was that ever forth
My fancy doated more and more
Upon the wild poetic worth
Of that old tale in Grecian lore,
Which to the head of Latmos gave
Supernal glories, passion-won
By him who, in the mystic cave—
Was wont to meet thee night by night,
And drink into his soul the spirit of thy light.
Not thus it was thy beauty shone
In these drear summers lately past;
Disheartened, world-distrusting, lone,
I shuddered in misfortune’s blast!
Many that loved me, once were nigh
Of whom now these I may not trust,
And those forget me—or they lie
Dark in the dust!
And never can we meet again,
Loving and loved as then, beneath thy friendly reign.
O Cynthia! It would even seem
That portions from our spirits fell,
Like scent from flowers, throughout life’s dream;
And by that clue invisible,
A gathered after-scene of all
Affection builded high in vain,
Is drawn thus in dim funeral
Past us again;
The which, where shadowed most with gloom,
Uncertain thought is fain to map with spells of doom.
Let me this night the past forget,
For though its dying voices be
At times like tones from Eden, yet
The years have brought such change for me
That when but now my thoughts were given
To all I’d suffered, loved, and lost,
Turning my eyes again to heaven,
I started with impatience strange,
To find thee, even thee, smiling untouched by change!
O vain display of secred pride!
My human heart, what irks thee so?
What, in the scale of being tried,
Should weigh thy happiness or woe?
Pale millions, so by fortune curst,
Have loved for sorrow in the light
Of this yet youthful morn, since first
She claimed the night,
And thus mature even from her birth,
With pale beam chased the glooms that swathed the infant earth.
And be it humbling, too, to know
That when this pile of haughty clay
For ages shall have ceased to glow—
Shrunk to a line of ashes grey,
Which, as the invasive ploughshare drills
The unremembered burial sward,
The wild winds o’er a hundred hills
May whirl abroad—
That in the midnight heavens thou
Shalt hang thy unfaded lamp, and smile serene as now.
Nay, more than this: could even those,
The Edenites, who sorrowed here
Ere Noah’s tilted ark arose,
Or Nimrod chased the bounding deer—
Wherever sepulchred, could they
The rigid bonds of death and doom
Now for a moment shake away—
From out their tomb
They watchful face they still might see,
Just as they dying left it, gazing solemnly.
I sadden! Ah! Why bringest thou
Yet later memories to my mind?
I would but gaze upon thee now
A wiser counsel thence to find!
Shall I not even henceforth aim
To shun in act, in thought control,
Whatever dims the heaven-born flame—
The essential soul
I feel within, and which must be
A living light when thine is quenched eternally?
Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers ; then the light and glorie
More rev'rend grows, & more doth win:
Which else shows watrish, bleak, & thin.
Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw : but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.
Joy Of My Life While Left Me Here!
Joy of my life while left me here!
And still my love!
How in thy absence thou dost steer
Me from above!
A life well led
This truth commends,
With quick or dead
It never ends.
Stars are of mighty use; the night
Is dark, and long;
The road foul; and where one goes right,
Six may go wrong.
One twinkling ray,
Shot o'er some cloud,
May clear much away,
And guide a crowd.
God's saints are shining lights: who stays
Here long must pass
O'er dark hills, swift streams, and steep ways
As smooth as glass;
But these all night,
Like candles, shed
Their beams, and light
Us into bed.
They are, indeed, our pillar-fires,
Seen as we go;
They are that city's shining spires
We travel to:
A swordlike gleam
Kept man for sin
; this beam
Will guide them
Happy insect, what can be
In happiness compared to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy morning's gentle wine!
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill;
'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread,
Nature's self's thy Ganymede.
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing,
Happier than the happiest king!
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants belong to thee;
All the summer hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice.
Man for thee does sow and plow,
Farmer he, and landlord thou!
Thou dost innocently enjoy;
Nor does thy luxury destroy.
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
Thee country hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripened year!
Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire
Phoebus is himself thy sire.
To thee, of all things upon earth,
Life is no longer than thy mirth.
Happy insect! happy thou,
Dost neither age nor winter know;
But when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung
Thy fill, the flowery leaves among,
(Voluptuous and wise withal,
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.
Homer's Hymn To The Earth: Mother Of All
O universal Mother, who dost keep
From everlasting thy foundations deep,
Eldest of things, Great Earth, I sing of thee!
All shapes that have their dwelling in the sea,
All things that fly, or on the ground divine
Live, move, and there are nourished—these are thine;
These from thy wealth thou dost sustain; from thee
Fair babes are born, and fruits on every tree
Hang ripe and large, revered Divinity!
The life of mortal men beneath thy sway
Is held; thy power both gives and takes away!
Happy are they whom thy mild favours nourish;
All things unstinted round them grow and flourish.
For them, endures the life-sustaining field
Its load of harvest, and their cattle yield
Large increase, and their house with wealth is filled.
Such honoured dwell in cities fair and free,
The homes of lovely women, prosperously;
Their sons exult in youth’s new budding gladness,
And their fresh daughters free from care or sadness,
With bloom-inwoven dance and happy song,
On the soft flowers the meadow-grass among,
Leap round them sporting--such delights by thee
Are given, rich Power, revered Divinity.
Mother of gods, thou Wife of starry Heaven,
Farewell! be thou propitious, and be given
A happy life for this brief melody,
Nor thou nor other songs shall unremembered be.
Sweet Innisfallen, fare thee well,
May calm and sunshine long be thine!
How fair thou art let others tell --
To feel how fair shall long be mine.
Sweet Innisfallen, long shall dwell
In memory's dream that sunny smile,
Which o'er thee on that evening fell,
When first I saw thy fairy isle.
'Twas light, indeed, too blest for one,
Who had to turn to paths of care --
Through crowded haunts again to run,
And leave thee bright and silent there;
No more unto thy shores to come,
But, on the world's rude ocean tost,
Dream of thee sometimes as a home
Of sunshine he had seen and lost.
Far better in thy weeping hour
To part from thee, as I do now,
When mist is o'er thy blooming bowers,
Like sorrow's veil on beauty's brow.
For, though unrivall'd still thy grace,
Thou dost not look, as then, too blest,
But, thus in shadow, seem'st a place
Where erring man might hope to rest --
Might hope to rest, and find in thee
A gloom like Eden's, on the day
He left its shade, when every tree,
Like thine, hung weeping o'er his way.
Weeping or smiling, lovely isle!
And all the lovelier for thy tears --
For though but rare thy sunny smile,
'Tis heaven's own glance when it appears.
Like feeling hearts whose joys are few,
But, when indeed they come, divine --
The brightest light the sun e'er threw
Is lifeless to one gleam of thine!
WHEN Francis (named the first) o'er Frenchmen reign'd,
In Italy young Arthur laurels gained,
And oft such daring valour showed in fight,
With ev'ry honour he was made a knight;
The monarch placed the spur upon his heel,
That all around his proper worth might feel.
Then household deities at home he sought,
Where--not at prayers his beauteous dame he caught:
He'd left her, truly, quite dissolv'd in tears;
But now the belle had bid adieu to fears;
And oft was dancing joyously around,
With all the company that could be found.
GALLANTS in crowds Sir Arthur soon perceived;
At sight of these the knight was sorely grieved;
And, turning in his mind how best to act;
Cried he, Can this be truly held a fact,
That I've been worthy while I'd fame in view,
Of cuckoldom at home, and knighthood too?
It ought to be but half:--the truth let's know;
From constancy the purest blessings flow.
Then like a father-confessor he dressed,
And took his seat where priests their flock confessed.
His lady absolution sought that day,
And on her knees before him 'gan to pray;
The minor sins were told with downcast eyes,
And then for hearing those of larger size,
The husband-confessor prepared his ears:--
Said she, Good father, ('mid a flood of tears),
My bed receives, (the fault I fear's not slight,)
A gentleman, a parson, and a knight.
Still more had followed, but, by rage o'ercome,
Sir Arthur cut the thread, and she was mum;
Though, doubtless, had the fair been let proceed,
Quite long her Litany had been decreed.
THe husband, in a rage, exclaimed, thou jade,
A parson, say'st thou? t'whom dost think thou'st made
This curst confession?--To my spouse, cried she,
I saw you enter here, and came with glee,
Supposing you'd a trick to raise surprise;
Howe'er 'tis strange that one so very wise,
The riddle should not fully comprehend:--
A KNIGHT, the king created you, my friend;
A GENTLEMAN, your rank was long ago;
A PARSON, you have made yourself you know.
Good heav'ns! exclaimed the knight, 'tis very clear,
And I a blockhead surely must appear
My soul exalt the Lord with Hymns of praise:
O Lord my God, how boundless is thy might?
Whose Throne of State is cloath'd with glorious rays,
And round about hast rob'd thy self with light.
Who like a curtain hast the Heavens display'd,
And in the watry Roofs thy Chambers laid.
Whose chariots are the thickned clouds above,
Who walk'st upon the winged winds below,
At whose command the airy Spirits move,
And fiery meteors their obedience show.
Who on this Base the earth didst firmly found,
And mad'st the deep to circumvest it round.
The waves that rise would drown the highest hill,
But at thy cheek they flie, and when they hear
Thy thundring voice, they post to do thy will,
And bound their furies in their proper sphere:
Where surging floods, and valing ebbs can tell,
That none beyond thy marks must sink or swell.
Who hath dispos'd, but thou, the winding way
Where springs down from the steepy crags do beat,
At which doth foster'd Beasts their thirsts allay,
And the wild Asses come to quench their heat;
Where Birds resort, and in their kind, thy praise
Among the branches chant in warbling laies.
The mounts are watred from thy dwelling place,
The barns and meads are fill'd for man and beast;
Wine glads the heart, and oyl adorns the face,
And bread the staff whereon our strength doth rest;
Nor shrubs alone feel thy suffizing hand,
But even the Cedars that so proudly stand.
So have the Fowls their sundry seats to breed,
The ranging Stork, in stately Beeches dwells;
The climing Goats on hills securely feed,
The mining Conies shroud in rocky Cells:
Nor can the heavenly lights their course forget,
The Moon her turns, or Sun his times to set.
Thou mak'st the Night to over-vail the Day;
The savage Beasts creep from the silent wood,
Then Lions whelps lie roaring for their prey,
And at thy powerful hand demand their food:
Who when at morn they all recouch again,
Then toyling man till eve pursues his pain.
O Lord, when on thy various works we look,
How richly furnish'd is the earth we tread!
Where, in the fair Contents of Nature's Book,
We may the wonders of thy wisdom read:
Nor earth alone, but lo, the sea so wide,
Where great & small, a world of creatures glide.
There go the Ships that furrow out their way;
Yea, thereof Whales enormous sights we see,
Which yet have scope among the rest to play,
And all do wait for their support on thee:
Who hast assign'd each thing his proper food,
And in due season dost dispence thy good.
They gather when thy gifts thou dost divide;
Their stores abound, if thou thy hand enlarge;
Confus'd they are, when thou thy beams dost hide;
In dust resolv'd, if thou their breath discharge.
Again, when thou of life renew'st the seeds,
The withered fields revest their chearful weeds.
Be ever gloried here thy Soveraign Name,
That thou may'st smile on all which thou hast made;
Whose frown alone can shake this earthly frame,
And at whose touch the hills in smoak shall vade.
For me, may (while I breathe) both harp & voice,
In sweet indictment of thy Hymns rejoyce.
Let Sinners fail, let all Profaness cease;
His Praise, (my Soul) His Praise shall be thy Peace.
Light silken curtain, colorless and soft,
Dreamlike before me floating! what abides
Behind thy pearly veil's
Opaque, mysterious woof?
Where sleek red kine, and dappled, crunch day-long
Thick, luscious blades and purple clover-heads,
Nigh me I still can mark
Cool fields of beaded grass.
No more; for on the rim of the globed world
I seem to stand and stare at nothingness.
But songs of unseen birds
And tranquil roll of waves
Bring sweet assurance of continuous life
Beyond this silvery cloud. Fantastic dreams,
Of tissue subtler still
Than the wreathed fog, arise,
And cheat my brain with airy vanishings
And mystic glories of the world beyond.
A whole enchanted town
Thy baffling folds conceal-
An Orient town, with slender-steepled mosques,
Turret from turret springing, dome from dome,
Fretted with burning stones,
And trellised with red gold.
Through spacious streets, where running waters flow,
Sun-screened by fruit-trees and the broad-leaved palm,
Past the gay-decked bazaars,
Walk turbaned, dark-eyed men.
Hark! you can hear the many murmuring tongues,
While loud the merchants vaunt their gorgeous wares.
The sultry air is spiced
With fragrance of rich gums,
And through the lattice high in yon dead wall,
See where, unveiled, an arch, young, dimpled face,
Flushed like a musky peach,
Peers down upon the mart!
From her dark, ringleted and bird-poised head
She hath cast back the milk-white silken veil:
'Midst the blank blackness there
She blossoms like a rose.
Beckons she not with those bright, full-orbed eyes,
And open arms that like twin moonbeams gleam?
Behold her smile on me
With honeyed, scarlet lips!
Divine Scheherazade! I am thine.
I come! I come!-Hark! from some far-off mosque
The shrill muezzin calls
The hour of silent prayer,
And from the lattice he hath scared my love.
The lattice vanisheth itself-the street,
The mart, the Orient town;
Only through still, soft air
That cry is yet prolonged. I wake to hear
The distant fog-horn peal: before mine eyes
Stands the white wall of mist,
Blending with vaporous skies.
Elusive gossamer, impervious
Even to the mighty sun-god's keen red shafts!
With what a jealous art
Thy secret thou dost guard!
Well do I know deep in thine inmost folds,
Within an opal hollow, there abides
The lady of the mist,
The Undine of the air-
A slender, winged, ethereal, lily form,
Dove-eyed, with fair, free-floating, pearl-wreathed hair,
In waving raiment swathed
Of changing, irised hues.
Where her feet, rosy as a shell, have grazed
The freshened grass, a richer emerald glows:
Into each flower-cup
Her cool dews she distills.
She knows the tops of jagged mountain-peaks,
She knows the green soft hollows of their sides,
And unafraid she floats
O'er the vast-circled seas.
She loves to bask within the moon's wan beams,
Lying, night-long upon the moist, dark earth,
And leave her seeded pearls
With morning on the grass.
Ah! that athwart these dim, gray outer courts
Of her fantastic palace I might pass,
And reach the inmost shrine
Of her chaste solitude,
And feel her cool and dewy fingers press
My mortal-fevered brow, while in my heart
She poured with tender love
Her healing Lethe-balm!
See! the close curtain moves, the spell dissolves!
Slowly it lifts: the dazzling sunshine streams
Upon a newborn world
And laughing summer seas.
Swift, snowy-breasted sandbirds twittering glance
Through crystal air. On the horizon's marge,
Like a huge purple wraith,
The dusky fog retreats.
The Skeleton in Armor
"Speak! speak! thou fearful guest!
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armor drest,
Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,
Why dost thou haunt me?"
Then from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the northern skies
Gleam in December;
And, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe
From the heart's chamber.
"I was a Viking old!
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told,
No Saga taught thee!
Take heed, that in thy verse
Thou dost the tale rehearse,
Else drear a dead man's curse;
For this I sought thee.
"Far in the Northern Land,
By the wild Baltic's strand,
I, with my childish hand,
Tamed the gerfalcon;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound
Trembled to walk on.
"Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare
Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark
Sang from the meadow.
"But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair's crew,
O'er the dark sea flew
With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led;
Many the sould that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,
By our stern orders.
"Manu a wassail bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout
Set the cocks crowing;
As we the Berserk's tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,
Filled to o'erflowing.
"Once as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,
Burning yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine
Fell their soft splendor.
"I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forests shade
Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast,
Like birds within their nest
By the hawk frighted.
"Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,
Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrels stand
To hear my story.
"While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.
"She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,
I was discarded!
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night
Her nest unguarded?
"Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,
Fairest of all was she
Among the Norsemen!
When on the white sea-strand,
Waving his armèd hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,
With twenty horsemen.
"Then launched they to the blast,
Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,
When the wind failed us;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw
Laugh as he hailed us.
"And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
'Death!' was the helmsman's hail,
'Death without quarter!'
Mid-ships with iron keel
Struck we her ribs of steel;
Down her black hulk did reel
Through the black water!
"As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cororant,
Seeking some rocky haunt,
With its prey laden,--
So toward the open main,
Beating to sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,
Bore I the maiden.
"Three weeks we westward bore,
And when the storm was o'er,
Cloud-like we saw the shore
Stretching to leeward;
There for my lady's bower
Built there the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour
Stands looking seaward.
"There lived we many years;
Time dried the maiden's tears;
She had forgot her fears;
She was a mother;
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower she lies;
Ne'er shall the sun arise
On such another!
"Still grew my bosom then,
Still as a stagnant fen!
Hateful to me were men,
The sunlight hateful!
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,
Oh, death was greatful!
"Thus, seamed with my scars,
Bursting these prison bars,
Up to its native stars
My soul ascended!
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!"
Thus the tale ended.