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The nights I tried to kill myself

I tried to kill my self a few nights ago
I cut my Wrists
And tied a loose around my neck.
Still I did not succeed

I was stopped yet again
By the police
Sticking their nose in.

I tried to kill myself
What is it with people?
Why cant they see what I see?

Why can they not let me go?
Why did they have to save me?
On the nights I tried to kill myself.

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Fourth Year

Four years have gone
And something's well done
It's not just the book
but the courage I took....
To have come this far
and winning the war
Of sleepless nights I battle
with my notes I patiently handle....
Through the rain and the sun
my school life's been fun
For the friends I made
half the weather is paid...
From the guards on the gate
and the bus drivers who wait
To the instructors who inspire
my grades got a little higher...
I'll come to acknowledge
for you all have given me advantage
To learn my lessons either ways
For both hard and easy pays...
I was neither disobedient
nor a student that obedient
But school life will be a miss
Along with people I used to tease...
Now I'll go and be on my own
Four long years I have grown
To be someone worthy of recognition
So now, it's time for my graduation.

P.S. written 8 days to go
before my graduation...^_^

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The night I tried to kill myself

The night I tried to kill myself
Was like a scary dream
A knife held to my neck
No one heard me scream

The cuts over my body
As I tried to bleed to death
It didn't seem to work
As I took a deep breathe

Theres not point living life
If it's going to hurt with pain
Death seems more peaceful
Life is like a stain

One little cut on my neck
Thats all it was going to take
I told myself I could do it
For all goodness sake

A knock on my door
Reminded me someone must care
I broke out in tears
I felt so scared

Death can seem peaceful
It can seem truley right
But for now I chose to live
As I hang on really tight

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If I Were to Kill Myself Tonight

If I were to kill myself tonight.
What would you think or do?
Would you hate me?
Or think of my differently maybe.

Would I see you at my graveside.
With the flowers that you leave?
Will I hear yopu cry?

I hope I dont see or hear it.
Becuase this is what I wanted.

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Kill Myself

Tim McGraw
Kill Myself
I'm gonna clean the house
I'm gonna fix the fence
In my final hours
I'm gonna tie up these loose ends
I wont leave a note
For anyone to find
Tomorrow they'll know
What I've done here tonight
[Chorus]
The drastic steps I'm takin'
Are just an act of desperation
I knew no one would miss me
So what the hell
I fought and lied I drank too much
Hurt every one I ever touched
Just how much I hurt you is hard to tell
This is not some of cry for help
It's good bye I wish you well
Because I love you
I'm gonna kill myself
Now who is that
In my easy chair
Now wait a minute
That's the old me sittin' there
And I thank God
The devil in me died
I stand before you now
A man changed and alive
[Chorus]
The drastic steps I'm takin'
Are just an act of desperation
I knew no one would miss me
So what the hell
I fought and lied I drank too much
Hurt every one I ever touched
Just how much I hurt you is hard to tell
This is not some of cry for help
It's good bye I wish you well
Because I love you
I had to kill myself
Gonna clean the house
Gonna fix that fence
In my final hours I'm gonna tie up these loose ends

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Kill Myself

Tim McGraw
Kill Myself
I'm gonna clean the house
I'm gonna fix the fence
In my final hours
I'm gonna tie up these loose ends
I wont leave a note
For anyone to find
Tomorrow they'll know
What I've done here tonight
[Chorus]
The drastic steps I'm takin'
Are just an act of desperation
I knew no one would miss me
So what the hell
I fought and lied I drank too much
Hurt every one I ever touched
Just how much I hurt you is hard to tell
This is not some of cry for help
It's good bye I wish you well
Because I love you
I'm gonna kill myself
Now who is that
In my easy chair
Now wait a minute
That's the old me sittin' there
And I thank God
The devil in me died
I stand before you now
A man changed and alive
[Chorus]
The drastic steps I'm takin'
Are just an act of desperation
I knew no one would miss me
So what the hell
I fought and lied I drank too much
Hurt every one I ever touched
Just how much I hurt you is hard to tell
This is not some of cry for help
It's good bye I wish you well
Because I love you
I had to kill myself
Gonna clean the house
Gonna fix that fence
In my final hours I'm gonna tie up these loose ends

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After Liking What They Have Tried

No man can love another man,
Like a woman when its been tried.
And...
No woman who knows love,
From another woman...
Denies with attempts to hide.

No man can love another man,
Like a woman when its been tried.
But...
One who loves another man,
When it happens...
Cares less what a woman denies.

And...
No woman who knows loving,
From another woman...
Who has tried it,
Will never run back to a man...
After having a woman provide.

Women and men will get what they can...
From each other.
And when the doing done is liked,
Well...
Who is going say who lies?
After liking what they have tried.

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Orlando Furioso Canto 19

ARGUMENT
Medoro, by Angelica's quaint hand,
Is healed, and weds, and bears her to Catay.
At length Marphisa, with the chosen band,
After long suffering, makes Laiazzi's bay.
Guido the savage, bondsman in the land,
Which impious women rule with civil sway,
With Marphisa strives in single fight,
And lodges her and hers at full of night.

I
By whom he is beloved can no one know,
Who on the top of Fortune's wheel is seated;
Since he, by true and faithless friends, with show
Of equal faith, in glad estate is greeted.
But, should felicity be changed to woe,
The flattering multitude is turned and fleeted!
While he who loves his master from his heart,
Even after death performs his faithful part.

II
Were the heart seen as is the outward cheer,
He who at court is held in sovereign grace,
And he that to his lord is little dear,
With parts reversed, would fill each other's place;
The humble man the greater would appear,
And he, now first, be hindmost in the race.
But be Medoro's faithful story said,
The youth who loved his lord, alive or dead.

III
The closest path, amid the forest gray,
To save himself, pursued the youth forlorn;
But all his schemes were marred by the delay
Of that sore weight upon his shoulders born.
The place he knew not, and mistook the way,
And hid himself again in sheltering thorn.
Secure and distant was his mate, that through
The greenwood shade with lighter shoulders flew.

IV
So far was Cloridan advanced before,
He heard the boy no longer in the wind;
But when he marked the absence of Medore,
It seemed as if his heart was left behind.
'Ah! how was I so negligent,' (the Moor
Exclaimed) 'so far beside myself, and blind,
That I, Medoro, should without thee fare,
Nor know when I deserted thee or where?'

V
So saying, in the wood he disappears,
Plunging into the maze with hurried pace;
And thither, whence he lately issued, steers,
And, desperate, of death returns in trace.
Cries and the tread of steeds this while he hears,
And word and the tread of foemen, as in chase:
Lastly Medoro by his voice is known,
Disarmed, on foot, 'mid many horse, alone.

VI
A hundred horsemen who the youth surround,
Zerbino leads, and bids his followers seize
The stripling: like a top, the boy turns round
And keeps him as he can: among the trees,
Behind oak, elm, beech, ash, he takes his ground,
Nor from the cherished load his shoulders frees.
Wearied, at length, the burden he bestowed
Upon the grass, and stalked about his load.

VII
As in her rocky cavern the she-bear,
With whom close warfare Alpine hunters wage,
Uncertain hangs about her shaggy care,
And growls in mingled sound of love and rage,
To unsheath her claws, and blood her tushes bare,
Would natural hate and wrath the beast engage;
Love softens her, and bids from strife retire,
And for her offspring watch, amid her ire.

VIII
Cloridan who to aid him knows not how,
And with Medoro willingly would die,
But who would not for death this being forego,
Until more foes than one should lifeless lie,
Ambushed, his sharpest arrow to his bow
Fits, and directs it with so true an eye,
The feathered weapon bores a Scotchman's brain,
And lays the warrior dead upon the plain.

IX
Together, all the others of the band
Turned thither, whence was shot the murderous reed;
Meanwhile he launched another from his stand,
That a new foe might by the weapon bleed,
Whom (while he made of this and that demand,
And loudly questioned who had done the deed)
The arrow reached - transfixed the wretch's throat,
And cut his question short in middle note.

X
Zerbino, captain of those horse, no more
Can at the piteous sight his wrath refrain;
In furious heat, he springs upon Medore,
Exclaiming, 'Thou of this shalt bear the pain.'
One hand he in his locks of golden ore
Enwreaths, and drags him to himself amain;
But, as his eyes that beauteous face survey,
Takes pity on the boy, and does not slay.

XI
To him the stripling turns, with suppliant cry,
And, 'By thy God, sir knight,' exclaims, 'I pray,
Be not so passing cruel, nor deny
That I in earth my honoured king may lay:
No other grace I supplicate, nor I
This for the love of life, believe me, say.
So much, no longer, space of life I crave.
As may suffice to give my lord a grave.

XII
'And if you needs must feed the beast and bird,
Like Theban Creon, let their worst be done
Upon these limbs; so that by me interred
In earth be those of good Almontes' son.'
Medoro thus his suit, with grace, preferred,
And words - to move a mountain, and so won
Upon Zerbino's mood, to kindness turned,
With love and pity he all over burned.

XIII
This while, a churlish horseman of the band,
Who little deference for his lord confest,
His lance uplifting, wounded overhand
The unhappy suppliant in his dainty breast.
Zerbino, who the cruel action scanned,
Was deeply stirred, the rather that, opprest
And livid with the blow the churl had sped,
Medoro fell as he was wholly dead.

XIV
So grieved Zerbino, with such wrath was stung,
'Not unavenged shalt thou remain,' he cries;
Then full of evil will in fury sprung
Upon the author of the foul emprize.
But he his vantage marks, and, from among
The warriors, in a moment slips and flies.
Cloridan who beholds the deed, at sight
Of young Medoro's fall, springs forth to fight;

XV
And casts away his bow, and, 'mid the band
Of foemen, whirls his falchion, in desire
Rather of death, than hoping that his hand
May snatch a vengeance equal to his ire.
Amid so many blades, he views the sand
Tinged with his blood, and ready to expire,
And feeling he the sword no more can guide,
Lets himself drop by his Medoro's side.

XVI
The Scots pursue their chief, who pricks before,
Through the deep wood, inspired by high disdain,
When he has left the one and the other Moor,
This dead, that scarce alive, upon the plain.
There for a mighty space lay young Medore,
Spouting his life-blood from so large a vein,
He would have perished, but that thither made
A stranger, as it chanced, who lent him aid.

XVII
By chance arrived a damsel at the place,
Who was (though mean and rustic was her wear)
Of royal presence and of beauteous face,
And lofty manners, sagely debonair:
Her have I left unsung so long a space,
That you will hardly recognise the fair.
Angelica, in her (if known not) scan,
The lofty daughter of Catay's great khan.

XVIII
Angelica, when she had won again
The ring Brunello had from her conveyed,
So waxed in stubborn pride and haught disdain,
She seemed to scorn this ample world, and strayed
Alone, and held as cheap each living swain,
Although, amid the best, by Fame arrayed:
Nor brooked she to remember a galant
In Count Orlando or king Sacripant;

XIX
And above every other deed repented,
That good Rinaldo she had loved of yore;
And that to look so low she had consented,
(As by such choice dishonoured) grieved her sore.
Love, hearing this, such arrogance resented,
And would the damsel's pride endure no more.
Where young Medoro lay he took his stand,
And waited her, with bow and shaft in hand.

XX
When fair Angelica the stripling spies,
Nigh hurt to death in that disastrous fray,
Who for his king, that there unsheltered lies,
More sad than for his own misfortune lay,
She feels new pity in her bosom rise,
Which makes its entry in unwonted way.
Touched was her haughty heart, once hard and curst,
And more when he his piteous tale rehearsed.

XXI
And calling back to memory her art,
For she in Ind had learned chirurgery,
(Since it appears such studies in that part
Worthy of praise and fame are held to be,
And, as an heir-loom, sires to sons impart,
With little aid of books, the mystery)
Disposed herself to work with simples' juice,
Till she in him should healthier life produce;

XXII
And recollects a herb had caught her sight
In passing hither, on a pleasant plain,
What (whether dittany or pancy hight)
I know not; fraught with virtue to restrain
The crimson blood forth-welling, and of might
To sheathe each perilous and piercing pain,
She found it near, and having pulled the weed,
Returned to seek Medoro on the mead.

XXIII
Returning, she upon a swain did light,
Who was on horseback passing through the wood.
Strayed from the lowing herd, the rustic wight
A heifer, missing for two days, pursued.
Him she with her conducted, where the might
Of the faint youth was ebbing with his blood:
Which had the ground about so deeply dyed,
Life was nigh wasted with the gushing tide.

XXIV
Angelica alights upon the ground,
And he her rustic comrade, at her hest.
She hastened 'twixt two stones the herb to pound,
Then took it, and the healing juice exprest:
With this did she foment the stripling's wound,
And, even to the hips, his waist and breast;
And (with such virtue was the salve endued)
It stanched his life-blood, and his strength renewed;

XXV
And into him infused such force again,
That he could mount the horse the swain conveyed;
But good Medoro would not leave the plain
Till he in earth had seen his master laid.
He, with the monarch, buried Cloridane,
And after followed whither pleased the maid,
Who was to stay with him, by pity led,
Beneath the courteous shepherd's humble shed.

XXVI
Nor would the damsel quit the lowly pile
(So she esteemed the youth) till he was sound;
Such pity first she felt, when him erewhile
She saw outstretched and bleeding on the ground.
Touched by his mien and manners next, a file
She felt corrode her heart with secret wound;
She felt corrode her heart, and with desire,
By little and by little warmed, took fire.

XXVII
The shepherd dwelt, between two mountains hoar,
In goodly cabin, in the greenwood shade,
With wife and children; and, short time before,
The brent-new shed had builded in the glade.
Here of his griesly wound the youthful Moor
Was briefly healed by the Catayan maid;
But who in briefer space, a sorer smart
Than young Medoro's, suffered at her heart.

XXVIII
A wound far wider and which deeper lies,
Now in her heart she feels, from viewless bow;
Which from the boy's fair hair and beauteous eyes
Had the winged archer dealt: a sudden glow
She feels, and still the flames increasing rise;
Yet less she heeds her own than other's woe:
- Heeds not herself, and only to content
The author of her cruel ill is bent.

XXIX
Her ill but festered and increased the more
The stripling's wounds were seen to heal and close:
The youth grew lusty, while she suffered sore,
And, with new fever parched, now burnt, now froze:
From day to day in beauty waxed Medore:
She miserably wasted; like the snow's
Unseasonable flake, which melts away
Exposed, in sunny place, to scorching ray.

XXX
She, if of vain desire will not die,
Must help herself, nor yet delay the aid.
And she in truth, her will to satisfy,
Deemed 'twas no time to wait till she was prayed.
And next of shame renouncing every tye,
With tongue as bold as eyes, petition made,
And begged him, haply an unwitting foe,
To sheathe the suffering of that cruel blow.

XXXI
O Count Orlando, O king of Circassy,
Say what your valour has availed to you!
Say what your honour boots, what goodly fee
Remunerates ye both, for service true!
Sirs, show me but a single courtesy,
With which she ever graced ye, - old or new, -
As some poor recompense, desert, or guerdon,
For having born so long so sore a burden!

XXXII
Oh! couldst thou yet again to life return,
How hard would this appear, O Agricane!
In that she whilom thee was wont to spurn,
With sharp repulse and insolent disdain.
O Ferrau, O ye thousand more, forlorn,
Unsung, who wrought a thousand feats in vain
For this ungrateful fair, what pain 'twould be
Could you within his arms the damsel see!

XXXIII
To pluck, as yet untouched, the virgin rose,
Angelica permits the young Medore.
Was none so blest as in that garden's close
Yet to have set his venturous foot before.
They holy ceremonies interpose,
Somedeal to veil - to gild - the matter o'er.
Young Love was bridesman there the tie to bless,
And for brideswoman stood the shepherdess.

XXXIV
In the low shed, with all solemnities,
The couple made their wedding as they might;
And there above a month, in tranquil guise,
The happy lovers rested in delight.
Save for the youth the lady has no eyes,
Nor with his looks can satisfy her sight.
Nor yet of hanging on his neck can tire,
Of feel she can content her fond desire.

XXXV
The beauteous boy is with her night and day,
Does she untent herself, or keep the shed.
Morning or eve they to some meadow stray,
Now to this bank, and to that other led:
Haply, in cavern harboured, at mid-day,
Grateful as that to which Aeneas fled
With Dido, when the tempest raged above,
The faithful witness to their secret love.

XXXVI
Amid such pleasures, where, with tree o'ergrown,
Ran stream, or bubbling fountain's wave did spin,
On bark or rock, if yielding were the stone,
The knife was straight at work or ready pin.
And there, without, in thousand places lone,
And in as many places graved, within,
MEDORO and ANGELICA were traced,
In divers cyphers quaintly interlaced.

XXXVII
When she believed they had prolonged their stay
More than enow, the damsel made design
In India to revisit her Catay,
And with its crown Medoro's head entwine.
She had upon her wrist an armlet, gay
With costly gems, in witness and in sign
Of love to her by Count Orlando borne,
And which the damsel for long time had worn.

XXXVIII
On Ziliantes, hid beneath the wave,
This Morgue bestowed; and from captivity
The youth (restored to Monodantes grave,
His ancient sire, through Roland's chivalry)
To Roland in return the bracelet gave:
Roland, a lover, deigned the gorgeous fee
To wear, with the intention to convey
The present to his queen, of whom I say.

XXXIX
No love which to the paladin she bears,
But that it costly is and wrought with care,
This to Angelica so much endears,
That never more esteemed was matter rare:
This she was suffered, in THE ISLE OF TEARS,
I know not by what privilege, to wear,
When, naked, to the whale exposed for food
By that inhospitable race and rude.

XL
She, not possessing wherewithal to pay
The kindly couple's hospitality,
Served by them in their cabin, from the day
She there was lodged, with such fidelity,
Unfastened from her arm the bracelet gay,
And bade them keep it for her memory.
Departing hence the lovers climb the side
Of hills, which fertile France from Spain divide.

XLI
Within Valencia or Barcelona's town
The couple thought a little to remain,
Until some goodly ship should make her boun
To loose for the Levant: as so the twain
Journey, beneath Gerona, - coming down
Those mountains - they behold the subject main;
And keeping on their left the beach below,
By beaten track to Barcelona go.

XLII
But, ere they there arrive, a crazed wight
They find, extended on the outer shore;
Who is bedaubed like swine, in filthy plight,
And smeared with mud, face, reins, and bosom o'er'
He comes upon them, as a dog in spite
Swiftly assails the stranger at the door;
And is about to do the lovers scorn,
But to the bold Marphisa I return -

XLIII
Marphisa, Astolpho, Gryphon, Aquilant.
Of these and of the others will I tell:
Who, death before their eyes, the vext Levant
Traverse, and ill resist the boisterous swell.
While aye more passing proud and arrogant,
Waxes in rage and threat the tempest fell.
And now three days the angry gale has blown,
Nor signal of abatement yet has shown.

XLIV
Waves lifted by the waxing tempest start
Castle and flooring, and, if yet there be
Aught standing left in any other part,
'Tis cut away and cast into the sea.
Here, pricking out their course upon the chart,
One by a lantern does his ministry,
Upon a sea-chest propt; another wight
Is busied in the well by torch's light.

XLV
This one beneath the poop, beneath the prow
That other, stands to watch the ebbing sand;
And (each half-glass run out) returns to know
What way the ship has made, and towards what land.
Thence all to speak their different thoughts, below,
To midships make resort, with chart in hand;
There where the mariners, assembled all,
Are met in council, at the master's call.

XLVI
One says: 'Abreast of Limisso are we
Among the shoals' - and by his reckoning, nigh
The rocks of Tripoli and bark must be,
Where shipwrecked, for the most part, vessels lie.
Another: 'We are lost on Sataly,
Whose coast makes many patrons weep and sigh.'
According to their judgment, all suggest
Their treasons, each with equal dread opprest.

XLVII
More spitefully the wind on the third day
Blows, and the sea more yeasty billows rears:
The fore-mast by the first is borne away,
The rudder by the last, with him who steers.
Better than steel that man will bide the assay,
- Of marble breast - who has not now his fears.
Marphisa, erst so confident 'mid harms,
Denied not but that day she felt alarms.

XLVIII
A pilgrimage is vowed to Sinai,
To Cyprus and Gallicia, and to Rome,
Ettino, and other place of sanctity,
If such is named, and to the holy tomb.
Meanwhile, above the sea and near the sky,
The bark is tost, with shattered plank and boom;
From which the crew had cut, in her distress,
The mizenmast, to make her labour less.

XLIX
They bale and chest and all their heavy lumber
Cast overboard, from poop, and prow, and side;
And every birth and cabin disencumber
Of merchandize, to feed the greedy tide.
Water to water others of the number
Rendered, by whom the spouting pumps were plied.
This in the hold bestirs himself, where'er
Planks opened by the beating sea appear.

L
They in this trouble, in this woe, remained
For full four days; and helpless was their plight,
And a full victory the sea had gained,
If yet a little had endured its spite:
But them with hope of clearer sky sustained
The wished appearance of St. Elmo's light,
Which (every spar was gone) descending glowed
Upon a boat, which in the prow was stowed.

LI
When, flaming, they the beauteous light surveyed,
All those aboard kneeled down in humble guise,
And Heaven for peace and for smooth water prayed,
With trembling voices and with watery eyes.
Nor longer waxed the storm, which had dismayed,
Till then enduring in such cruel wise.
North-wester or cross-wind no longer reigns;
But tyrant of the sea the south remains.

LII
This on the sea remained so passing strong,
And from its sable mouth so fiercely blew,
And bore with it so swift a stream and strong
Of the vext waters, that it hurried through
Their tumbling waves the shattered bark along,
Faster than gentle falcon ever flew;
And sore the patron feared, to the world's brink
It would transport his bark, or wreck or sink.

LIII
For this the master finds a remedy,
Who bids them cast out spars, and veer away
A line which holds this float, and as they flee,
So, by two-thirds, their furious course delay.
This counsel boots, and more the augury
From him whose lights upon the gunwale play.
This saves the vessel, haply else undone;
And makes her through the sea securely run.

LIV
They, driven on Syria, in Laiazzo's bay
A mighty city rise; so nigh at hand,
That they can from the vessel's deck survey
Two castles, which the port within command.
Pale turns the patron's visage with dismay,
When he perceives what is the neighbouring land,
Who will not to the port for shelter hie,
Nor yet can keep the open sea, nor fly.

LV
They cannot fly, nor yet can keep the sea;
For mast and yards are gone, and by the stroke
Of the huge billows beating frequently,
Loosened is plank, and beam and timber broke:
And certain death to make the port would be,
Or to be doomed to a perpetual yoke.
For each is made a slave, or sentenced dead,
Thither by evil Chance or Error led.

LVI
Sore dangerous 'twas to doubt; lest hostile band
Should sally from the puissant town in sight,
With armed barks, and upon theirs lay hand,
In evil case for sea, and worse for fight.
What time the patron knows not what command
To give, of him inquires the English knight
What kept his mind suspended in that sort,
And why at first he had not made the port.

LVII
To him relates the patron how a crew
Of murderous women tenanted that shore,
Which, by their ancient law, enslave or slew
All those whom Fortune to this kingdom bore;
And that he only could such for eschew
That in the lists ten champions overbore,
And having this achieved, the following night
In bed should with ten damsels take delight.

LVIII
And if he brings to end the former feat,
But afterwards the next unfinished leaves,
They kill him, and as slaves his following treat,
Condemned to delve their land or keep their beeves.
- If for the first and second labour meet -
He liberty for all his band achieves,
Not for himself; who there must stay and wed
Ten wives by him selected for his bed.

LIX
So strange a custom of the neighbouring strand
Without a laugh Astolpho cannot hear;
Sansonet and Marphisa, near at hand,
Next Aquilant, and he, his brother dear,
Arrive: to them the patron who from land
Aye keeps aloof, explains the cause of fear,
And cries: 'I liefer in the sea would choke,
Than here of servitude endure the yoke.'

LX
The sailors by the patron's rede abide,
And all the passengers affrighted sore;
Save that Marphisa took the other side
With hers, who deemed that safer was the shore
Than sea, which raging round them, far and wide,
Than a hundred thousand swords dismayed them more.
Them little this, or other place alarms,
So that they have but power to wield their arms.

LXI
The warriors are impatient all to land:
But boldest is of these the English peer;
Knowing how soon his horn will clear the strand,
When the scared foe its pealing sound shall hear.
To put into the neighbouring port this band
Desires, and are at strife with those who fear.
And they who are the strongest, in such sort
Compel the patron, that he makes the port.

LXII
Already when their bark was first espied
At sea, within the cruel city's view,
They had observed a galley, well supplied
With practised mariners and numerous crew
(While them uncertain counsels did divide)
Make for their wretched ship, the billows through:
Her lofty prow to their short stern and low
These lash, and into port the vessel tow.

LXIII
They thitherward were worked with warp and oar,
Rather than with assistance of the sail;
Since to lay starboard course or larboard more,
No means were left them by the cruel gale.
Again their rugged rhind the champions wore,
Girding the faithful falchion with the mail,
And with unceasing hope of comfort fed
Master and mariners opprest with dread.

LXIV
Like a half-moon, projected from the beach,
More than four miles about, the city's port;
Six hundred paces deep; and crowning each
Horn of the circling haven, was a fort;
On every side, secure from storm or breach,
(Save only from the south, a safe resort)
In guise of theatre the town extended
About it, and a hill behind ascended.

LXV
No sooner there the harboured ship was seen
(The news had spread already through the land)
Than thitherward, with martial garb and mien,
Six thousand women trooped, with bow in hand;
And, to remove all hope of flight, between
One castle and the other, drew a band;
And with strong chains and barks the port enclosed;
Which ever, for that use, they kept disposed.

LXVI
A dame, as the Cumean sybil gray,
Or Hector's ancient mother of renown,
Made call the patron out, and bade him say,
If they their lives were willing to lay down;
Or were content beneath the yoke to stay,
According to the custom of the town,
- One of two evils they must choose, - be slain,
Or captives, one and all, must there remain.

LXVII
' 'Tis true, if one so bold and of such might
Be found amid your crew,' (the matron said),
'That he ten men of ours engage in fight,
And can in cruel battle lay them dead,
And, after, with ten women, in one night,
Suffice to play the husband's part in bed,
He shall remain our sovereign, and shall sway
The land, and you may homeward wend your way.

LXVIII
'And at your choice to stay shall also be,
Whether a part or all, but with this pact,
That he who here would stay and would be free,
Can with ten dames the husband's part enact.
But if your chosen warrior fall or flee,
By his ten enemies at once attacked,
Or for the second function have not breath,
To slavery you we doom, and him to death.'

LXIX
At what she deemed the cavaliers would start,
The beldam found them bold; for to compete
With those they should engage, and play their part
The champions hoped alike in either feat.
Nor failed renowned Marphisa's valiant heart,
Albeit for the second dance unmeet;
Secure, where nature had her aid denied,
The want should with the falchion be supplied.

LXX
The patron is commanded their reply
Resolved in common council to unfold;
The dames at pleasure may their prowess try,
And shall in lists and bed allow them bold.
The lashings from the vessels they untie,
The skipper heaves the warp, and bids lay hold,
And lowers the bridge; o'er which, in warlike weed,
The expectant cavaliers their coursers lead.

LXXI
These through the middle of the city go,
And see the damsels, as they forward fare,
Ride through the streets, succinct, in haughty show,
And arm, in guise of warriors, in the square.
Nor to gird sword, nor fasten spur below,
Is man allowed, nor any arm to wear;
Excepting, as I said, the ten; to follow
The ancient usage which those women hallow.

LXXII
All others of the manly sex they seat,
To ply the distaff, broider, card and sow,
In female gown descending to the feet,
Which renders them effeminate and slow;
Some chained, another labour to complete,
Are tasked, to keep their cattle, or to plough.
Few are the males; and scarce the warriors ken,
Amid a thousand dames, a hundred men.

LXXIII
The knights determining by lot to try
Who in their common cause on listed ground,
Should slay the ten, with whom they were to vie,
And in the other field ten others wound,
Designed to pass the bold Marphisa by,
Believing she unfitting would be found;
And would be, in the second joust at eve,
Ill-qualified the victory to achieve.

LXXIV
But with the others she, the martial maid,
Will run her risque; and 'tis her destiny.
'I will lay down this life,' the damsel said,
'Rather than you lay down your liberty.
But this' - with that she pointed to the blade
Which she had girt - 'is your security,
I will all tangles in such manner loose,
As Alexander did the Gordian noose.

LXXV
'I will not henceforth stranger shall complain,
So long as the world lasts, of this repair.'
So said the maid, nor could the friendly train
Take from her what had fallen to her share.
Then, - either every thing to lose, or gain
Their liberty, - to her they leave the care.
With stubborn plate and mail all over steeled,
Ready for cruel fight, she takes the field.

LXXVI
High up the spacious city is place,
With steps, which serve as seats in rising rows;
Which for nought else is used, except the chase,
Tourney, or wrestling match, or such-like shows.
Four gates of solid bronze the rabble flows
In troubled tide; and to Marphisa bold,
That she may enter, afterwards is told.

LXXVII
On pieballed horse Marphisa entered, - spread
Were circles dappling all about his hair, -
Of a bold countenance and little head,
And beauteous points, and haughty gait and air.
Out of a thousand coursers which he fed,
Him, as the best, and biggest, and most rare,
King Norandino chose, and, decked with brave
And costly trappings, to Marphisa gave.

LXXVIII
Through the south gate, from the mid-day, the plain
Marphisa entered, nor expected long,
Before she heard approaching trumpet-strain
Peal through the lists in shrilling notes and strong;
And, looking next towards the northern wain,
Saw her ten opposites appear: among
These, as their leader, pricked a cavalier,
Excelling all the rest in goodly cheer.

LXXIX
On a large courser came the leading foe,
Which was, excepting the near foot behind
And forehead, darker than was ever crow:
His foot and forehead with some white were signed.
The horseman did his horse's colours show
In his own dress; and hence might be divined,
He, as the mournful hue o'erpowered the clear,
Was less inclined to smile, than mournful tear.

LXXX
At once their spears in rest nine warriors laid,
When the trump sounded, in the hostile train,
But he in black no sign of jousting made,
As if he held such vantage in disdain:
Better he deemed the law were disobeyed,
Than that his courtesy should suffer stain.
The knight retires apart, and sits to view
What against nine one single lance can do.

LXXXI
Of smooth and balanced pace, the damsel's horse
To the encounter her with swiftness bore;
Who poised a lance so massive in the course,
It would have been an overweight for four.
She, disembarking, as of greatest force,
The boom had chosen out of many more.
At her fierce semblance when in motion, quail
A thousand hearts, a thousand looks grow pale.

LXXXII
The bosom of the first she opens so,
As might surprise, if naked were the breast:
She pierced the cuirass and the mail below;
But first a buckler, solid and well prest,
A yard behind the shoulders of the foe
Was seen the steel, so well was it addrest.
Speared on her lance she left him on the plain,
And at the others drove with flowing rein;

LXXXIII
And so she shocked the second of the crew,
And dealt the third so terrible a blow,
From sell and life, with broken spine, the two
She drove at once. So fell the overthrow,
And with such weight she charged the warriors through!
So serried was the battle of the foe! -
I have seen bombard open in such mode
The squadrons, as that band Marphisa strowed.

LXXXIV
Many good spears were broken on the dame,
Who was as little moved as solid wall,
When revellers play the chace's merry game,
Is ever moved by stroke of heavy ball.
So hard the temper of her corslet's mail,
The strokes aye harmless on the breast-plate fall,
Whose steel was heated in the fires of hell,
And in Avernus' water slaked by spell.

LXXXV
At the end of the career, she checked her steed,
Wheeled him about, and for a little stayed;
And then against the others drove at speed,
Broke them, and to the handle dyed her blade.
Here shorn of arms, and there of head, they bleed;
And other in such manner cleft the maid,
That breast, and head, and arms together fell,
Belly and legs remaining in the sell.

LXXXVI
With such just measure him she cleaves, I say,
Where the two haunches and the ribs confine:
And leaves him a half figure, in such way
As what we before images divine,
Of silver, oftener made of wax, survey;
Which supplicants from far and near enshrine,
In thanks for mercy shown, and to bestow
A pious quittance for accepted vow.

LXXXVII
Marphisa next made after one that flew,
And overtook the wretch, and cleft (before
He the mid square had won) his collar through,
So clean, no surgeon ever pieced it more.
One after other, all in fine she slew,
Or wounded every one she smote so sore,
She was secure, that never more would foe
Arise anew from earth, to work her woe.

LXXXVIII
The cavalier this while had stood aside,
Who had the ten conducted to the place,
Since, with so many against one to ride,
Had seemed to him advantage four and base;
Who, now he by a single hand espied
So speedily his whole array displaced,
Pricked forth against the martial maid, to show
'Twas courtesy, not fear, had made him slow.

LXXXIX
He, signing with his right hand, made appear
That he would speak ere their career was run,
Nor thinking that beneath such manly cheer
A gentle virgin was concealed, begun:
'I wot thou needs must be, sir cavalier,
Sore wearied with such mighty slaughter done;
And if I were disposed to weary thee
More than thou art, it were discourtesy.

XC
'To thee, to rest until to-morrow's light,
Then to renew the battle, I concede.
No honour 'twere to-day to prove my might
On thee, whom weak and overwrought I read.'
- 'Arms are not new to me, nor listed fight;
Nor does fatigue so short a toil succeed,'
Answered Marphisa, 'and I, at my post,
Hope to prove this upon thee, to thy cost.

XCI
'I thank thee for thy offer of delay,
But need not what thy courtesy agrees;
And yet remains so large a space of day
'Twere very shame to spend it all in ease.'
- 'Oh! were I (he replied) so sure to appay
My heart with everything which best would please,
As thine I shall appay in this! - but see,
That ere thou thinkest, daylight fail not thee.'

XCII
So said he, and obedient to his hest
Two spears, say rather heavy booms, they bear.
He to Marphisa bids consigns the best,
And the other takes himself: the martial pair
Already, with their lances in the rest,
Wait but till other blast the joust declare.
Lo! earth and air and sea the noise rebound,
As they prick forth, at the first trumpet's sound!

XCIII
No mouth was opened and no eyelid fell,
Nor breath was drawn, amid the observant crew:
So sore intent was every one to spell
Which should be conqueror of the warlike two.
Marphisa the black champion from his sell,
So to o'erthrow he shall not rise anew,
Levels her lance; and the black champion, bent
To slay Marphisa, spurs with like intent.

XCIV
Both lances, made of willow thin and dry,
Rather than stout and stubborn oak, appeared;
So splintered even to the rest, they fly:
While with such force the encountering steeds careered,
It seemed, as with a scythe-blade equally
The hams of either courser had been sheared.
Alike both fall; but voiding quick the seat,
The nimble riders start upon their feet.

XCV
Marphisa in her life, with certain wound,
A thousand cavaliers on earth had laid;
And never had herself been borne to ground;
Yet quitted now the saddle, as was said.
Not only at the accident astound,
But nigh beside herself, remained the maid.
Strange to the sable cavalier withal,
Unwont to be unhorsed, appeared his fall.

XCVI
They scarcely touch the ground before they gain
Their feet, and now the fierce assault renew,
With cut and thrust; which now with shield the twain
Or blade ward off, and now by leaps eschew.
Whether the foes strike home, or smite in vain,
Blows ring, and echo parted aether through.
More force those shields, those helms, those breast-plates show
Than anvils underneath the sounding blow.

XCVII
If heavy falls the savage damsel's blade,
That falls not lightly of her warlike foe.
Equal the measure one the other paid;
And both receive as much as they bestow.
He who would see two daring spirits weighed,
To seek two fiercer need no further go.
Nor to seek more dexterity or might;
For greater could not be in mortal wight.

XCVIII
The women who have sate long time, to view
The champions with such horrid strokes offend,
Nor sign of trouble in the warriors true
Behold, nor yet of weariness, commend
Them with just praises, as the worthiest two
That are, where'er the sea's wide arms extend.
They deem these of mere toil and labour long
Must die, save they be strongest of the strong.

XCIX
Communing with herself, Marphisa said,
'That he moved not before was well for me!
Who risqued to have been numbered with the dead,
If he at first had joined his company.
Since, as it is, I hardly can make head
Against his deadly blows.' This colloquy
She with herself maintained, and while she spoke,
Ceased not to ply her sword with circling stroke.

C
' 'Twas well for me,' the other cried again,
'That to repose I did not leave the knight.
I now from him defend myself with pain,
Who is o'erwearied with the former fight:
What had he been, renewed in might and main,
If he had rested till to-morrow's light?
Right fortunate was I, as man could be,
That he refused my proffered courtesy!'

CI
Till eve they strove, nor did it yet appear
Which had the vantage of the doubtful fray:
Nor, without light, could either foe see clear
Now to avoid the furious blows; when day
Was done, again the courteous cavalier
To his illustrious opposite 'gan say;
'What shall we do, since ill-timed shades descend,
While we with equal fortune thus contend?'

CII
'Meseems, at least, that till to-morrow's morn
'Twere better thou prolonged thy life: no right
Have I thy doom, sir warrior, to adjourn
Beyond the limits of one little night.
Nor will I that by me the blame be born
That thou no longer shalt enjoy the light.
With reason to the sex's charge, by whom
This place is governed, lay thy cruel doom.'

CIII
'If I lament thee and thy company,
HE knows, by whom all hidden things are spied.
Thou and thy comrades may repose with me,
For whom there is no safe abode beside:
Since leagued against you in conspiracy
Are all those husbands by thy hand have died.
For every valiant warrior of the men
Slain in the tourney, consort was of ten.

CIV
'The scathe they have to-day received from thee,
Would ninety women wreak with vengeful spite;
And, save thou take my hospitality,
Except by them to be assailed this night.'
- 'I take thy proffer in security,'
(Replied Marphisa), 'that the faith so plight,
And goodness of thy heart, will prove no less,
Than are thy corporal strength and hardiness.

CV
'But if, as having to kill me, thou grieve,
Thou well mayst grieve, for reasons opposite;
Nor hast thou cause to laugh, as I conceive,
Nor hitherto has found me worst in fight.
Whether thou wouldst defer the fray, or leave,
Or prosecute by this or other light,
Behold me prompt thy wishes to fulfil;
Where and whenever it shall be thy will!'

CVI
So by consent the combatants divided,
Till the dawn broke from Ganges' stream anew;
And so remained the question undecided,
Which was the better champion of the two,
To both the brothers and the rest who sided
Upon that part, the liberal lord did sue
With courteous prayer, that till the coming day
They would be pleased beneath his roof to stay.

CVII
They unsuspecting with the prayer complied,
And by the cheerful blaze of torches white
A royal dome ascended, with their guide,
Divided into many bowers and bright.
The combatants remain as stupified,
On lifting up their vizors, at the sight
One of the other; for (by what appears)
The warrior hardly numbers eighteen years.

CVIII
Much marvels with herself the gentle dame,
That one so young so well should do and dare.
Much marvels he (his wonderment the same)
When he her sex agnizes by her hair.
Questioning one another of their name,
As speedily reply the youthful pair.
But how was hight the youthful cavalier,
Await till the ensuing strain to hear.

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Quatrains Of Life

What has my youth been that I love it thus,
Sad youth, to all but one grown tedious,
Stale as the news which last week wearied us,
Or a tired actor's tale told to an empty house?

What did it bring me that I loved it, even
With joy before it and that dream of Heaven,
Boyhood's first rapture of requited bliss,
What did it give? What ever has it given?

'Let me recount the value of my days,
Call up each witness, mete out blame and praise,
Set life itself before me as it was,
And--for I love it--list to what it says.

Oh, I will judge it fairly. Each old pleasure
Shared with dead lips shall stand a separate treasure.
Each untold grief, which now seems lesser pain,
Shall here be weighed and argued of at leisure.

I will not mark mere follies. These would make
The count too large and in the telling take
More tears than I can spare from seemlier themes
To cure its laughter when my heart should ache.

Only the griefs which are essential things,
The bitter fruit which all experience brings;
Nor only of crossed pleasures, but the creed
Men learn who deal with nations and with kings.

All shall be counted fairly, griefs and joys,
Solely distinguishing 'twixt mirth and noise,
The thing which was and that which falsely seemed,
Pleasure and vanity, man's bliss and boy's.

So I shall learn the reason of my trust
In this poor life, these particles of dust
Made sentient for a little while with tears,
Till the great ``may--be'' ends for me in ``must.''

My childhood? Ah, my childhood! What of it
Stripped of all fancy, bare of all conceit?
Where is the infancy the poets sang?
Which was the true and which the counterfeit?

I see it now, alas, with eyes unsealed,
That age of innocence too well revealed.
The flowers I gathered--for I gathered flowers--
Were not more vain than I in that far field.

Self was my god, the self I most despise,
Blind in its joys and swine--like gluttonies,
The rule of the brute beast that in us is,
Its heaven a kitchen and a gorge its prize.

No other pleasures knew I but of sense,
No other loves but lusts without pretence.
Oh, childhood is but Nature unredeemed,
Blind in desire, unshamed in ignorance.

I was all vanity and greed, my hand
Uncaring, as a panther's, whom it pained,
My nurse, my sisters, the young birds my prey.
I saw them grieve nor stopped to understand.

My mother loved me. Did I love her? Yes,
When I had need of her to soothe distress
Or serve my wants. But when the need was by,
Others were there more dear in idleness.

These coaxed and flattered me. Their wit afforded
Edge to my wit, and I would strut and lord it
Among them a young god--for god I seemed--
Or goose--for goose I was--they still encored it.

Alas, poor mother! What a love was yours!
How little profit of it all endures!
What wasted vigils, what ill--omened prayers;
What thankless thanks for what disastrous cures!

Why did you bind yourself in such harsh fetter,
To serve a heart so hard? It had been better
Surely to take your rest through those long nights,
Than watching on to leave me thus your debtor.

I heard but heeded not her warning voice;
I grudged her face its sadness in my joys,
And when she looked at me I did not guess
The secret of her sorrow and my loss.

They told me she was dying, but my eyes
Brimmed not with tears. I hardly felt surprise,
Nay, rather anger at their trouble when
I asked them ``what it was one does who dies.''

She threw her weak arms round me, and my face
Pressed to her own in one supreme embrace;
I felt her tears upon my cheeks all wet,
And I was carried frightened from the place.

I lost her thus who was indeed my all,
Lost her with scarce a pang whom now I call
Aloud to in the night a grieving man,
Hoar in his sins, and only clasp the wall.

This the beginning. Next my boyhood came,
Childhood embittered, its brute joys the same,
Only in place of kindness cruelty,
For courage fear, and for vain--glory shame.

Here now was none to flatter or to sue.
My lords were of the many, I the few;
These gave command nor heeded my vain prayers.
It was their will, not mine, my hands must do.

I was their slave. My body was the prey
Of their rude sports, more savage still than they,
My every sense the pastime of their whim,
My soul a hunted thing by night and day.

Pain was my portion, hunger, wakefulness,
And cold more bitter still, and that distress
Which is unnamed of tears that dare not fall,
When the weak body grieves and none may guess.

There was no place where I might lay my head,
No refuge from the world which was my dread,
No shrine inviolate for me from my foes,
No corner quite my own, not even my bed.

I would have changed then with the meanest thing
Which has its home in the free fields in Spring,
And makes its lair in the Earth's secret dells,
Or hides in her dark womb by burrowing.

I used to gaze into the depths of Earth,
And watch the worms and beetles that have birth
Under the stones secure from outer ills,
And envy them their loneliness in mirth.

One treasure had I, one thing that I loved,
A snail with shell most delicately grooved,
And a mute patient face which seemed to see,
And horns which moved towards me as I moved.

It was like me a creature full of fear,
But happier far for its strong household gear,
The living fortress on its back wherein
Its griefs could shrink away and disappear.

I kept it in a nest, the hollow bole
Of a dead elm, and for its daily dole,
And my own comfort in its luckier state,
Brought it a lettuce I in secret stole.

It waited for my coming each new noon,
When from my fellows I could steal so soon,
And there I fed it and arranged its cell,
All through a single happy month of June.

And then--ah, then--who even now shall tell,
The terror of that moment, when with yell
Of triumph on their prize they broke and me,
And crushed it 'neath their heels, those hounds of Hell!

Even yet the thought of it makes my blood rush
Back to my temples with an angry flush;
And for an instant, if Man's race could be
Crushed with it, God forgive me, I would crush.

Ay, God forgive me! 'Tis an evil thought,
And thus it is that wrong on wrong is wrought,
Vengeance on vengeance by a single deed
Of violent ill or idleness untaught.

Nay, rather let me love. I will not be
Partner with Man even thus in cruelty
For one least instant, though the prize should stand,
Hate slain for ever and the Nations free.

Thus for four years I lived of slaves the slave,
Too weak to fight, too beaten to be brave.
Who mocks at impotence and coward fear
Knows little of the pangs mute creatures have.

Yet wherefore grieve? Perhaps of all my days
This is the thing I mostly need to praise,
My chiefest treasure to have suffered wrong,
For God is cunning in His works and ways.

The sense of justice which He gives to Man
Is his own suffering, and His pity's plan
Man's own great need of pity which brims o'er
In alms to Africa and Hindostan.

And he who has not suffered nothing knows;
Therefore I chide not at these ancient woes,
But keep them as a lesson to my pride,
Lest I should smite the meanest of my foes.

And it is ended. Kindly Death drew near
And warned them from me with his face of fear.
I did not fear him, but the rest stood awed,
As at the frown of some dread minister.

I passed out of their sight, one living still,
But dead to sense who knows not good or ill,
Their blessings were the last thing that I heard
In that dark house. I wish them only well.

What next befell me was as some have found,
Peace to their wounds upon a battle ground,
Who sleep through days of pain and nights of fear,
Conscious of nothing but their dream profound.

My dream was of a convent with smooth floors,
And whitewashed walls, a place of corridors,
Where the wind blew in summer all day long,
And a shut garden filled with altar flowers.

Here lived in piety a score of men,
Who, having found the world a place of pain,
Or fearing it ere yet they knew it well,
Sought in God's service their eternal gain.

With these it was my privilege to be
The pensioner of their great pity's fee,
Nor favoured less for my dim soul's dark ways,
Awhile 'twixt boyhood and maturity.

My sorrow to their zeal was fruitful soil,
My wounds their pride as needing wine and oil;
All knowledge had they to redeem and save,
Mirth, silence, prayer, and that best opiate, toil.

The garden was my task. I learned to dig,
To nail the fruit--trees, pear, and peach, and fig;
To trim the grass plots and the box make good,
And keep the gravel smooth from leaf or twig.

Dear blessed garden! In this night of days
I see it still with its fair formal face,
Where even the flowers looked prim, as who should ask
Pardon for beauty in so pure a place.

This for the summer. But when winter fell,
A gentler service called me from my cell,
As suited to the frailty of my needs,
To serve the mass and ring the chapel bell.

Mine was the sacristy, the care of copes,
Albs, censers, pyxes, gifts of kings and popes,
Of lace and linen and the lamps which hung
For ever lit with oil of human hopes.

There on the altar steps, as one at home,
I hourly knelt the servant of old Rome,
And learned her ritual, and assuaged my soul
With the high lessons of her martyrdom.

Not seldom in those hours the dream was mine
Of voices speaking and a call divine.
God in all ages thus has shown to men
His secret will, and I too sought a sign.

The voice that called me was a voice of good.
It spoke of feasts less vain than the world's food,
And showed me my place set a guest for aye
Of heavenly things in that calm brotherhood.

Why did I shrink? What profit to my soul
Has the world proved that I must yield it toll?
What its ambitions that for these my zeal
Turned backward then from its eternal goal?

Yet thus it is. Our fallen human blood
Is ever a mixed stream 'twixt bad and good;
And mine, perhaps, worse mingled than the rest,
Flowed in a baser, a more prurient flood.

And so it might not be. There came a day
When I must grasp my fate and choose my way,
And when my will was weaker than a child's,
And pride stood in rebellion and said nay.

There in the garden, while the thrushes sang,
I listened to his prayer with a mute pang.
That man of God who argued with my soul,
And still the vesper chorus rang and rang.

Below us a pool lay with depths profound,
And in its face I gazed as if to sound
His reason's meaning, while the rain of grace
Was shed on all things but my heart around.

``For lo,'' he said, ``thus near us lies the end;
A step--no more--may mar our lives or mend.
This side a little, and Hell gapes for us;
On that side Heaven holds out strong hands, a friend.

``And he who fears is wise. Oh look,'' he cried,
``Here in this pool lies Death with its arms wide.
Speak. Shall I buy you life at cost of mine?
Nay; I would drown, though in my sin I died.''

Thus Moses argued with his people, these
Than I less stubborn and less hard to please.
God on that night spoke loudly to my soul,
And I refused Him--weeping--on my knees.

Here my dream ended. From that hidden life
I went out hungry to a world of strife,
The world of pleasure, and with heart keen set
For human joy as having felt the knife.

What is the root of pleasure in Man's heart?
The need to know made practical in part,
The shaping of the thing the soul has dreamed,
In gold or clay, with art or little art.

Youth knows not how to fashion its own pleasure;
It deals with Fortune without scale or measure.
And so is cheated of the gold life holds,
A treasure house of hope without the treasure.

The need is there, as swallows need to fly,
The strength of wing which longs for liberty;
The courage of the soul which upward tends,
And the eye's light, a truth which is no lie.

Behind us the past sinks, too tedious night,
Whose shadows brighter show the world of light.
And who shall say that laughter is not good,
When the blood pulses in the veins aright?

An April morning with the birds awake;
The sound of waters lapping by a lake;
The scent of flowers, the rhyme of dancing feet;
The breath of midnight with the heart aquake.

These are the moods of pleasure. And no less
The soul itself has need of wantonness.
The thirst of knowledge fired not only Eve,
And youth grieves still to guess and only guess.

We ask for wisdom. Knowledge first of all
Demands our vows from her high pedestal.
We wish ourselves in act as wise as gods,
Nor even in age dare quite our oath recall.

The truth !--to hold the actual thing and be
Bound by no law but hers and liberty.
Such was my youth's ambition, the fruit fair
And good for food of the forbidden tree.

Two things I was resolved my soul should know;
The physical meaning of the Earth below,
With its dumb forces armed for good and ill,
And its blind fires which in their cycles go;

This, and the power of Love. Here doubly set,
The riddle stood which holds life's alphabet.
What of a very truth were God and Man?
I dared not die till I had answered it.

And first of God. What Quixote on what steed
Of foundered folly urged to headlong speed,
Ere chose his path more madly, or fell down
Proner on life's least lenient stones to bleed?

Striding my horse of reason with loose rein,
I tilted at all shadows in disdain.
To each eternal I my question put,
``What art thou, for Man's pleasure or his pain?''

The Maker I had worshipped, where was He,
In the Earth's fields, or the circumfluent sea?
The footsteps of His presence on the wind,
How should I trace them through infinity?

The huge world in its naked shape unclad,
Mocked me with silence, as a thing gone mad.
A brainless virgin, passionless and blind,
Reeling through space, unsentient--yet how sad!

The stars of heaven! Their voices once went out
Through all a firmament in psalm and shout.
What word have they to--night? Nay, Jesse's son
Had only mocked in our new world of doubt.

I searched them, and I numbered, and I came
To numbers only, flame evolved of flame,
Orb wheeled on orb, a meaningless machine,
A handless clock without the maker's name.

Where was my God the Father? Not in space,
Which needs no god for glory or disgrace,
Being itself eternal. He I sought
Knew not the stars but smiled with human face.

Darkly the night looked at me; darker still
The inner Earth with its tumultuous will,
Its legion of destroyers and destroyed,
Its law of hunger and the need to kill.

In this too was no god, or--monstrous thought--
A god of endless wrong, of treason wrought
Through countless ages still against the weak.
Out on such truth if this be all it taught!

Out on such reason! From that cave of dread
Like one despoiled of thieves I naked fled,
My thirst for knowledge slaked in bitterness,
And Earth's blank riddle all too sternly read.

What has my youth been that I love it thus?
The love of Woman? Ah, thou virtuous
Dear face of wisdom which first filled my heaven,
How art thou fled from life's deserted house!

I see thee pure and noble as a vision,
Rapt in the joy of thy sublime derision
Of all things base, yet tender to the pain
Of him that loved thee spite of love's misprision.

Joyous thou wert as a Spring morning filled
With mirth of birds which strive and wive and build,
A presence of all pleasure on the Earth
Transformed through thee and with thy laughter thrilled.

True were thy eyes and pitiful thy voice,
The colour of thy cheeks how rare a choice,
The smiling of thy lips how strangely dear
When thy wit moved and made our souls rejoice!

Few years thou countedst to thy wisdom's score,
But more than mine and than thy pleasure more
I deemed thee roof and crown of womanhood,
Framed for all fame to blazon and adore.

Why wert thou fashioned thus for Earth and Man,
If only Heaven was to possess thy plan?
Why wert thou beautiful as God to me,
If only God should see thee and should scan?

Oh, thou wert cruel in thy ignorance,
Thou first beloved of my time's romance.
The love within thee was a light of death,
Set for a snare and luring to mischance.

What didst thou think of him, the boy untried,
To whom thou spakest of Heaven as speaks a bride?
The love of Heaven! Alas, thou couldst not guess
The fires he nursed or surely thou hadst lied.

His secret springs of passion had no art,
Nor loosed his tongue to any counterpart
Of mastering words. You neither feared nor knew
The rage of cursing hidden in his heart.

If thou hadst seen it, wouldst thou not have said
A soul by Satan tortured and misled?
Thou didst not guess the truth, that in thy hand
The scourges lay, the pincers, and the lead.

Or haply didst thou love me? Not so heaven
Possessed thee then but sometimes there were given
Glimpses which, to my later eyes of light,
Have shown new worlds as if by lightnings riven.

How had it been if I had ventured quite
That first enchanted, unforgotten night,
When I surprised thee weeping and in fear
Forbore the wrong that should have proved me right?

How had it been if youth had been less weak,
And love's mute hand had found the wit to speak.
If thou hadst been less valiant in thy tears,
And I had touched the heaven which was thy cheek?

Would life have been to me what now it is,
A thing of dreams half wise and half unwise,
A web unpatterned where each idler's hand
Has woven his thoughts, flowers, scrolls, and butterflies?

Or rather, had it not, redeemed of bliss,
Grasped at new worlds less impotent than this,
And made of love a heaven? for depths of fate
Lie in the issue of a woman's kiss.

Alas, it was not, and it may not be
Now, though the sun were melted in the sea,
And though thou livedst, and though I still should live,
Searching thy soul through all Eternity.

The ideal love, how fondly it gives place
To loves all real--alas, and flavourless.
The heart in hunger needs its meat to live,
And takes what dole it finds of happiness.

Then are strange spectacles of treason seen,
Earthquakes and tempests and the wars of men,
Shipwrecks of faith, ungodly interludes
And pagan rites to Moloch on the green.

Lust travestied as love goes nightly forth,
Preaching its creed unclean from South to North,
Using the very gestures of true love,
Its words, its prayers, its vows--how little worth!

Where are ye now, ye poor unfortunates,
Who once my partners were in these mad gaits,
Sad souls of women half unsexed by shame,
In what dire clutches of what felon fates?

Dark--eyed I see her, her who caused my fall,
Nay, caused it not who knew it not at all.
I hear her babble her fool's creed of bliss,
While I lie mute, a swine--like prodigal.

Her chamber redolent of unctuous glooms
Prisons me yet with its profane perfumes,
A cell of follies used and cast aside,
Painted in pleasure's likeness--and a tomb's.

Oh, those dead flowers upon her table set,
How loud they preach to me of wisdom yet,
Poor slaughtered innocents there parched in Hell,
Which Heaven had seen at dawn with dewdrops wet!

Littered they lay, those maidenheads of saints,
Mid pots of fard and powder--puffs and paints,
Egregious relics of lost purity
Tortured on wires with all that mars and taints.

Beneath, upon the floor her slippers lay
Who was the queen of all that disarray,
Left where she dropped them when she fled the room
To speed her latest gallant on his way.

The pictures on the wall--by what strange chance--
Showed sacred scenes of Biblical romance;
Among them Pilate on his judgment--seat
Washing before the multitude his hands.

Smiling he sat while in reproachful mood
He they led forth to crucifixion stood.
``Innocent am I,'' thus the legend ran
Inscribed beneath it, ``of this just One's blood.''

Innocent! Ah, the sad forgotten thought
Of that mute face my convent dreams had sought.
And while I sighed, behold the arms of sin
In my own arms enlatticed and enwrought.

A life of pleasure is a misnamed thing,
Soulless at best, an insect on the wing,
But mostly sad with its unconquered griefs,
The noise that frets, the vanities that sting.

The weapons of youth's armoury are these--
The chase, the dance, the gambler's ecstasies.
Each in its turn I handled with the rest,
And drained my cup of folly to the lees.

What days I murdered thus without design,
What nights deflowered in madness and lewd wine!
The ghosts of those lost hours are with me still,
Crying, ``Give back my life, and mine, and mine!''

Yet was it glorious on the scented morn
To wake the woods with clamouring hound and horn,
To ride red--coated where the red fox ran,
And shout with those who laughed to see him torn.

Glorious to lie 'neath the tall reeds in wait
For the swift fowl at flight returning late,
And pull them from their path with lightning shot,
The bolt of Jove less certain in its fate.

Glorious to battle with the crested wave
For the full nets engulphed in the sea's grave,
And see the fishes flash entangled there,
With only courage and strong arms to save.

And glorious more, with sword high--poised and still,
To meet the bull's rush with o'ermastering skill,
And watch the stricken mass in anger die,
Tamed by the potency of human will.

All glorious and vain--glorious and most sad,
Because of the dark death their doing made,
And of the nothingness that swept the track,
Leaving no footprint or of good or bad.

The light--heeled love of laughter and the dance
Held me, yet held not, in its transient trance.
The hours were few when, fired with love and wine,
I trod the Bacchanalian maze of France.

Yet do I mind me of one afternoon
In Meudon wood, when night came all too soon;
And then again the morning, and unstayed
We pranced our measure out from noon to noon.

That day of dancing in my memory stands
A thing apart and almost of romance,
A day of pleasure physical and strong,
Unwearied and unwearying, feet, lips, hands.

The ``Coq de Bruyère'' was the fortunate sign
Of the lone inn where we had met to dine,
And found a score companions light as we
To turn our rustic hostel to a shrine.

If it still stands, how strangely it must view
This older world with hopes of paler hue!
Or was it youth so painted the grass green,
The apple--blossoms pink, the heavens blue?

Alas! I know not, nor remember yet
Her name with whom those foolish hours seemed sweet,
Only that she laughed on and danced with me,
And that my fingers just could span her feet.

How far away! And Meudon, too, how far!
And all those souls of women lost in care,
And even fair France herself how merged in pain!
It was the Spring before the Prussian war.

One day, one only day, and then the light
Waned in the place and hid our faces white,
And, our score paid, we left the empty room
And met no more on this side of the night.

Who speaks of play speaks treason to youth's state.
Youth is the heir to passion, love and hate,
The passion of the body in its strength,
The passion of the soul commensurate.

Nought needs it in its force of whip or goad,
Say rather a strong bridle for the road.
He who would spur it to a fiercer heat
Is an ill rider whom no fortunes bode.

Shame is it that the glory of youth's eyes
Should be lack--lustred with the grape's disguise,
And doubly shame its vast desires should swoon
In maniac clutchings at a vagrant prize.

Gold is the last least noble stake of life,
When all is gone, friends, fashion, fame, love's strife,
The thing men still can chase when dotage stings
And joy is dead and gout is as the knife.

Youth, seeking gold at Fortune's hand, goes bare
Of its best weapons with the humblest there,
As impotent to win a smile from fate
As the least valiant, the most cursed with care.

Watch well the doors of Fortune. Who goes in?
The prince, the peasant, the gay child of sin,
The red--cheeked soldier, the mad crook--backed crone,
Which shall prevail with Fortune? Which shall win?

Nay, who shall tell? Luck levels all pretence,
Manhood's high pride, youth's first concupiscence.
The arbiter of fame it stands and wit,
The judge supreme of sense and lack of sense.

The gambler's heaven is Youth's untimely Hell.
And I, who dwelt there as lost spirits dwell,
There touched the bottom of the pit. Even yet
I dare not nakedly its secrets tell.

What saved me from the gulf? All ye who preach
Art the physician and consoling leech
Of fallen souls, if but a single spark
Of genius lives, behold the text you teach.

In Art's high hall for whoso holds the key
Honour does service on a suppliant knee,
Virtue his handmaid is, to work his will,
And beauty crowns him, be he bond or free.

His sad soul's raiment from his shoulders fall,
Light pure is given, and he is clothed withal,
His eye grows single and his madness parts
As once in song the raging mood of Saul.

What saved me from the gulf? Thrice generous hand,
A king's in gifts, a prophet's in command,
All potent intellect designed to guide,
Transforming grief as with a master's wand!

This life, if it be worthy grown, is thine;
These tears made sweet once bitter with such brine,
This impotence of will to purpose fired,
This death fenced out with mine and countermine.

For I insensate had resolved to fly
From life's despairs and sick pride's misery,
A craven braggart to the arms of death,
And die dishonoured as the wretched die.

Thou stoodst, how oft, between me and my fate,
Bidding me cheer, or, if I dared not, wait,
From morn to night and then from night to morn
Pointing to Fame as to an open gate;

Till Time, the healer, had half closed the wound,
And Spring in the year's mercy came back crowned
With leaves and blossoms, and I could not choose
To lie unknown forgotten underground.

If there be aught of pleasure worth the living
'Tis to be loved when trouble has done grieving,
And the sick soul, resigned to her mute state,
Forgets the pain forgiven and forgiving.

With wan eyes set upon life's door ajar
She waits half conscious of the rising star,
And lo! 'tis Happiness on tip--toe comes
With fruits and flowers and incense from afar.

Scarcely she heeds him as he stops and smiles.
She does not doubt his innocent lips' wiles.
She lies in weakness wondering and half won,
While beauty cunningly her sense beguiles.

Then at her feet he sets his stores unrolled
Of spice and gums and treasure manifold.
All kingdoms of the Earth have tribute paid
To heap the myrrh and frankincense and gold.

These are his gifts, and tenderly he stands
With eyes of reverence and mute folded hands,
Pleading her grace, and lo! her heaven is filled
With music as of archangelic bands.

What saved me from the gulf? A woman's prayer
Sublimely venturing all a soul might dare,
A saint's high constancy outwitting Fate
And dowered with love supreme in its despair.

I had done naught to merit such high lot,
Given naught in hostage and adventured naught.
The gift was free as heaven's own copious rains,
And came like these unseeking and unsought.

O noble heart of woman! On life's sea
Thou sailedst bravely, a proud argosy,
Freighted with wisdom's wealth and ordered well,
Defiant of all storms--since storms must be.

On thy high way thou passedst pursuant only
Of Virtue's purpose and Truth's instinct thronely.
Strength's symbol wert thou, self--contained and free,
Lone in thy path of good but never lonely.

What glory of the morning lit thy shrouds!
What pure thought limned thee white on thunder--clouds!
I from my shattered raft afar in pain
Kneeled to thy form and prayed across the floods.

In godlike patience, to my soul's surprise,
Thou paused and parleyed wise with me unwise.
Ah, dearest soul seraphic! Who shall paint
The heaven revealed of pity in thine eyes?

She took me to her riches. All the gladness
Of her great joy she gave to cure my sadness,
All her soul's garment of unearthly hopes
To ease the ache which fructified to madness.

She took me to her pleasure, wealth long stored
Of silent thought and fancy in full hoard,
Treasures of wisdom and discerning wit,
And dreams of beauty chaste and unexplored.

She took me to her heart,--and what a heart,
Vast as all heaven and love itself and art!
She gave it royally as monarchs give
Who hold back nothing when they give a part.

A king I rose who had knelt down a slave,
A soul new born who only sought a grave,
A victor from the fight whence I had fled,
A hero crowned with bays who was not brave.

Blest transformation! Circe's ancient curse
See here interpreted in plain reverse.
Love, generous love, in me devised a spell
Ennobling all and subtler far than hers.

Thus was I saved. Yet, mark how hardly Fate
Deals with its victors vanquished soon or late.
The ransomed captive of his chains goes free.
She pines in durance who has paid the debt.

Behold this woman of all joy the heir,
Robed in high virtue and worth's worthiest wear,
A saint by saints esteemed, a matron wise
As Rome's Cornelia chastely debonnaire.

Behold her touched with my own soul's disease,
Grieving in joy and easeless still in ease,
The gall of sorrow and the thorn of shame
Twined ever in the wreaths love framed to please.

Behold her languishing for honour's loss,
Her pride nailed daily to a nameless cross,
Her vesture sullied with the dust of sin,
Her gold of purity transfused with dross.

The echo of her voice has tones that thrill:
I hear her weeping with a blind wild will.
A name she speaks to the dim night, his name
Her virtue spared not yet remembered still.

``Say, shall I comfort thee?'' ``O soul of mine,
Thy comfort slays me with its joys like wine.
Thy love is dear to me--then let me go.
Bid me fare forth for aye from thee and thine.''

``Is there no pleasure?'' ``Pleasure is not sweet
When doors are shut and veiled Man's mercy--seat.
My heaven thou wert, but heaven itself is pain
When God is dumb and angels turn their feet.''

``Is there no beauty? See, the sun is fair
And the world laughs because the Spring is there.
Hast thou no laughter?'' ``Ay, I laugh as Eve
Laughed with her lord the night of their despair.''

``The past is passed.'' ``Nay, 'tis a ghost that lives.''
``Grief dies.'' ``We slew it truly and it thrives.
Pain walks behind us like a murdered man
Asking an alms of joy which vainly gives.

``Give me thy tears: their bitterness is true.
Give me thy patience: it is all my due.
Give me thy silence, if thou wilt thy scorn,
But spare thy kisses, for they pierce me through.''

I saw her perish, not at once by death,
Which has an edge of mercy in its sheath.
No bodily pleadings heralded decay;
No violence of pity stopped her breath.

Only the eternal part which was her mind
Had withered there as by a breath unkind.
Only the reason of her eyes was mute;
Their meaning vanished, leaving naught behind.

``No bells shall ring my burial hour,'' she said.
``No prayers be sung, no requiem for the dead.
Only the wind shall chaunt in its wild way,
And be thou there to lay flowers on my head.''

I laid them on her grave. Alas! dear heart,
What love can follow thee where now thou art?
Sleep on. My youth sleeps with thee--and the rest
Would but disturb. We are too far apart.

What has my life been? What life has the wind
Wandering for ever on in change of mind
Winter and summer, chasing hopes as vain
And seeking still the rest it may not find?

When she was dead I rose up in my place,
Like Israel's king, and smiled and washed my face.
My grief had died in me with her long tears,
And I was changed and maimed and passionless.

I said, ``There are griefs wider than this grief,
Hopes broader harvested, of ampler sheaf.
Man may not live the caged bird of his pride,
And he who wends afar shall win relief.''

The world of sea and mountain shape high browed
Lured me to dreams of nobler solitude,
Fair plains beyond the limits of the dawn,
And desert places lawless and untrod.

Beyond youth's lamp of bitter--sweet desires
And manhood's kindling of less lawful fires
A star I sought should lead me to my dream
Of a new Bethlehem and angelic choirs.

This passionate England with its wild unrest,
How has it straitened us to needs unblest!
Need is that somewhere in the world there be
A better wisdom, seek it East or West.

I sought it first on that great Continent
Which is the eldest born of man's intent.
All that the race of Japhet has devised
Of wit to live lives there pre--eminent.

The record of the ages proudly stand
Revealed in constancy and close at hand,
Man's march triumphant against natural foes,
His conquest of the air and sea and land,

From that far day when, wielding shafts of stone,
He drove the bear back from the banks of Rhone,
And built his dwelling on the fair lake's shore
He earliest learned to love and call his own,

On thro' the generations of wild men,
The skin--clad hunters of the field and fen,
At war with life, all life than theirs less strong
Less fenced with cunning in its lawless den,

Until the dawn broke of a larger age,
With milder fortunes and designs more sage,
And men raised cities on the naked plains
With wine and corn and oil for heritage.

Etruscan Italy! Pelasgic Greece!
How did they labour in the arts of peace!
If strong men were before the time of Troy,
What of the wise who planned their palaces?

The men of cunning who, ere letters came
To hand their learning down from fame to fame,
Dealt with Titanic square and basalt slab
And found the law of parallelogram?

Unnamed discoverers, or of those who gave
Its rule to beauty, line and curve and wave,
Smelters of bronze, artificers in gold,
Painters of tear--cups for the hero's grave?

Or those, the last, who of Man's social state
Devised the code his lusts to mitigate,
Who set a bridle on his jaws of pride,
And manacled with law his limbs of hate,

Till each fair town its separate polity
Enjoyed in its own walls well--fenced and free,
With king and court and poet and buffoon
And burgess roll inscribed of chivalry?

This was the old world's golden age renowned
Shown thro' dim glimpses of a past spell--bound.
Some shadow of it lives in Homer's story.
In vain we search. Its like shall not be found.

It vanished in the impatient march of Man
When Empires rose, with Cyrus in the van,
The Assyrian tyranny, the Persian scourge,
And his the all--conquering boy of Macedon.

Then were the little freedoms swept aside,
The household industries for fields more wide.
With heavy hand Rome weighed upon the world
A blind Colossus, order classified.

And what of the new world, the world that is?
Ah, Europe! What a tragedy there lies!
Thy faiths forgotten and thy laws made void,
Hunger and toil thy sole known destinies.

The sombre livery of thy bastard races
Proclaims thee slave and their ignoble faces,
Gaul, Teuton, Serb, all fortunes merged in one,
All bloods commingled in thy frail embraces.

No type, no image of the God in thee,
No form survives of nobler ancestry,
No mark is on thy brow, even that of Cain,
By which to learn thy soul's lost pedigree.

Thou toilest blindly in thy central hive
Of the world's hopes impatient and alive,
Waiting the reason which shall light thy years
To a new gospel of initiative,

Rueful, unconscious, to thy labour bound
And dumb to love, above or underground.
He were the Sage of the new discipline
Who first should wake thy silence into sound.

Where is the poet who shall sing of Man
In his new world, a better Caliban,
And show him Heaven? What nobler Prospero
To cure his ache on an Eternal plan?

The voice that should arouse that slumbering clod
Must echo boldly as to steps unshod
Of angels heralding the advent day
Of a new Saviour and a latest God.

But whose the voice? And where the listeners?
I sought and found not. Rather in my ears
The discord grew of that ungodly host
Whose laughter mocks the music of the Spheres.

``Glory of glories!'' Thus it was they chaunted,
But not to Heaven for which men blindly panted,
Rather to that Hell's master who hath held
Their backs to pain in labour covenanted.

To him the honour and obedience due
Of their lost Moab where the bluebells blew,
Now the sad washpot of his engines' slime,
Their childhood's Edom darkened by his shoe.

Through that dim murk no glimpse of the Divine
Shall pierce with song where the sun dares not shine,
No praise of beauty in a land all bleared
With poison--smoke and waters aniline?

Better they died unchronicled. Their room
Would then be for each weed that wreathed their tomb,
More beautiful than they with all their love
It is not worth a spray of butcher's broom.

All this I read as in an open book
Wandering in bye paths with my pilgrim's crook,
Through Alp and Apennine and Eastward on
To where the Balkans on the Danube look.

On Trajan's wall I lay in the tall grass
And watched the Tartar shepherds wandering pass.
A boy was blowing in his flute below;
Afar the river shone, a sea of glass.

This was the world's once boundary; and beyond
What terrors reigned for fearful hearts and fond,
The Scythian wilderness, where were--wolves were
And night for ever lay in frozen bond!

The subtle wonder of the desert came
And touched my longing with its breath of flame.
I too, methought, sad child of a new age,
Would learn its mystery and inscribe my name,

Clothed in the garments of its ancient past,
My race forgotten and my creed outcast,
On some lone pile whence centuries look down
On days unchanged the earliest with the last.

As Abraham was at Mamre on the leas,
I too would be, or Ur of the Chaldees,
Feeding my flocks in patience at God's hand,
Guided by signs and girt with mysteries.

With staff in hand and wallet for all need,
Footing the goat--tracks or with ass for steed,
Clad in mean raiment, with attendants none,
And fed on locusts as the prophets feed.

Climbing the dunes each morning to behold
The world's last miracle of light enfold
The Eastern heaven, and see the victor sun
Press back the darkness with his spears of gold.

The fair Earth, pure in her sweet nakedness,
Should smile for me each day with a new face,
Her only lover; and her virgin sands
Should be my daily sacrilege to press.

The deep blue shadows of the rocks at noon
My tent should be from a burnt world in swoon,
Rocks scored with what dead names of worshippers,
Of Gods as dead, the sun and stars and moon.

There would I stand in prayer, with unshod feet
And folded arms, at Time's true mercy seat,
Making my vows to the one God of gods
Whose praise the Nations of the East repeat.

Haply some wonder of prophetic kind
My eyes should see to the world's reason blind,
Some ladder to the Heaven, or a face
Speaking in thunder to me from the wind.

I lay in the tall grass, and overhead
The ravens called who once Elisha fed.
It was a message meet for my desires,
And I arose and followed where they led,

Arose and followed;--and behold, at hand,
With tinkling bells and tread as if on sand,
Toward me spectral from the Orient came
The pilgrim camels of that holy Land.

The rock of Horeb is the holiest place
Of all Earth's holies. In the wilderness
It stands with its gaunt head bare to the heaven
As when God spake with Moses face to face.

Red in the eternal sunset of the years,
Crowned with a glory the world's evening wears,
Where evening is with morning a first day
Unchanged in the mute music of the Spheres.

From base to top the boulder crags high thrown
Fortress the plain which Israel camped upon,
A living presence in the unliving waste,
A couchant lion with a mane of stone.

Aloft in the dread shadow of his brows
And shut from summer suns and winter snows,
When snows there be in the parched wilderness,
A cell I found and of it made my house.

A single hewn stone chamber, carved of old
By hermits' hands, of rocks with labour rolled,
Undoored, unwindowed, with the earth for floor,
Within, an altar where their beads they told.

Without, a rood of soil and a scant spring,
Their garden once, where deep in the vast ring
Of those grave granite domes they delved and prayed,
One thorn tree its sole life left blossoming.

There laid I down the burden of my care
And dwelt a space in the clean upper air.
I dwelt, how many days or months or years
I know not, for I owned no calendar;

Only the rising of the winter's sun
Daily more northward as the months moved on,
Only the sun's return along his ways
When summer slackened his first rage outrun;

Only the bee--birds passing overhead
With their Spring twitter and eyes crimson red,
The storks and pelicans in soldier bands,
The purple doves that stayed to coo and wed;

These and the shepherds of the waste, the few
Poor Bedouin clansmen, with their weak flocks, who
Strayed through the valleys at appointed days,
As water failed them or the herbage grew,

Lean hungry--eyed wild sons of Ishmael
Who climbed the rocks and sought me in my cell
With their poor wares of butter, dates and corn
And almond--cake in skins and hydromel,

Unwise in the world's learning, yet with gleams
Of subtler instinct than the vain world deems,
Glimpses of faiths transmitted from afar
In signs and wonders and revealed in dreams.

They taught me their strange knowledge, how to read
The forms celestial ordered to Man's need,
To count on sand the arrow heads of fate
And mark the bird's flight and the grey hare's speed.

The empty waste informed with their keen eyes
Became a scroll close writ with mysteries
Unknown to reason yet compelling awe
With that brave folly which confounds the wise.

Nor less the faith was there of the revealed
God of their fathers, Ishmael's sword and shield,
Their own, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
By martyrs witnessed in the stricken field.

His name was on their lips, a living name.
His law was in their hearts, their pride in shame.
His will their fortitude in hours of ill
When the skies rained not and the locusts came.

I learned their creed in this as in the rest,
Making submission to God's ways as best.
What matter if in truth the ways were His,
So I should abdicate my own unblest!

And thus I might have lived--and died, who knows,
A Moslem saint, on those high mountain brows,
Prayed to by alien lips in alien prayer
As intercessor for their mortal woes,

Lived, died, and been remembered for some good
In the world's chronicle of brotherhood,
Nor yet through strife with his own Bedlam kind,
The Hydra--headed Saxon multitude.

But for the clamour of untimely war,
The sound of Nations marching from afar.
Their voice was on the tongue of winds and men,
Their presaging in sun and moon and star.

I dreamed a dream of our fair mother Earth
In her first beauty, ere mankind had birth,
Peopled with forms how perfect in design,
How rich in purpose, of what varied worth,

Birds, four--foot beasts and fishes of the Sea
Each in its kind and order and degree
Holding their place unchid, her children all,
And none with right to strain her liberty.

Her deep green garment of the forest glade
Held monsters grim, but none was there afraid.
The lion and the antelope lay down
In the same thicket for their noon--day shade.

The tyranny of strength was powerless all
To break her order with unseemly brawl.
No single kind, how stout soe'er of limb,
Might drive her weakest further than the wall.

All was in harmony and all was true
On the green Earth beneath her tent of blue.
When lo, the advent of her first born lie,
The beast with mind from which her bondage grew.

O woeful apparition! what a shape
To set the world's expectancy agape,
To crown its wonders! what lewd naked thing
To wreck its Paradise! The human ape!

Among the forms of dignity and awe
It moved a ribald in the world of law,
In the world's cleanness it alone unclean,
With hairless buttocks and prognathous jaw.

Behold it in that Eden once so fair,
Pirate and wanton, a blind pillager,
With axe and fire and spade among the trees
Blackening a league to build itself a lair.

Behold it marshalling its court,--soft kine,
And foolish sheep and belly--lorded swine,
Striding the horse anon, high--mettled fool,
And fawned on by the dog as one divine.

Outrage on sense and decent Nature's pride!
Feast high of reason--nay of Barmecide,
Where every guest goes hungry but this one,
The Harpy--clawed, too foul to be denied!

I saw it, and I blushed for my Man's race,
And once again when in the foremost place
Of human tyranny its latest born
Stood threatening conquest with an English face.

Chief of the sons of Japhet he, with hand
Hard on the nations of the sea and land,
Intolerant of all, tongues, customs, creeds,
Too dull to spare, too proud to understand.

I saw them shrink abashed before his might,
Like tropic birds before the sparrow's flight.
The world was poorer when they fled. But he
Deemed he had done ``God'' service and ``his right.''

I saw it and I heard it and I rose
With the clear vision of a seer that knows.
I had a message to the powers of wrong
And counted not the number of my foes.

I stood forth in the strength of my soul's rage
And spoke my word of truth to a lewd age.
It was the first blow struck in that mad war,
My last farewell to my fair hermitage.

O God of many battles! Thou that art
Strong to withstand when warriors close and part,
That art or wast the Lord of the right cause!
How has thy hand grown feeble in its smart!

How are the vassals of thy power to--day
Set in rebellion mastering the fray!
Blaspheming Thee they smite with tongues obscene,
While these Thy saints lie slaughtered where they pray.

How is the cauldron of thy wrath the deepest,
Cold on its stones? No fire for it thou heapest.
Thou in the old time wert a jealous God.
Thieves have dishonoured Thee. And lo, Thou sleepest!

Between the camps I passed in the still night,
The breath of heaven how pure, the stars how bright.
On either hand the life impetuous flowed
Waiting the morrow which should crown the fight.

How did they greet it? With what voice, what word,
What mood of preparation for the sword?
On this side and on that a chaunt was borne
Faint on the night--wind from each hostile horde.

Here lay the camps. The sound from one rose clear,
A single voice through the thrilled listening air.
``There is no God but God,'' it cried aloud.
``Arise, ye faithful, 'tis your hour of prayer.''

And from the other? Hark the ignoble chorus,
Strains of the music halls, the slums before us.
Let our last thought be as our lives were there,
Drink and debauchery! The drabs adore us.

And these were proved the victors on that morrow,
And those the vanquished, fools, beneath war's harrow.
And the world laughed applauding what was done,
And if the angels wept none heard their sorrow.

What has my life been in its last best scene
Stripped of Time's violence, its one serene
Experience of things fair without a flaw,
Its grasp of Heaven's own paradisal green?

After the storm the clouds white laughters fly;
After the battle hark the children's cry!
After the stress of pain, if God so will,
We too may taste our honey ere we die.

What little secret 'tis we need discover!
How small a drop to make the cup brim over!
A single word half spoken between two,
And Heaven is there, the loved one and the lover.

Tell me not, thou, of youth as Time's last glory.
Tell not of manhood when it strikes its quarry.
The prime of years is not the prime of pleasure.
Give me life's later love when locks are hoary,

Love, when the hurry and the rush are past,
Love when the soul knows what will fade what last,
The worth of simple joys youth trampled on,
Its pearl of price upon the dunghill cast.

Time was, I mocked, I too, at life's plain blisses,
The rustic treasure of connubial kisses,
The bourgeois wealth of amorous maid and man
Made man and wife in legal tendernesses.

Time was, but is not, since the scales of pride
Fell from my eyes and left me glorified.
Now 'tis the world's turn. Let it laugh at me,
Who care not, having Love's self on my side.

How came I by this jewel, this sweet friend,
This best companion of my lone life's end?
So young she was, so fair, of soul so gay,
And I with only wisdom to commend.

I looked into her eyes and saw them seek
My own with questions, roses on her cheek.
One sign there is of love no words belie,
The soul's wide windows watching where lips speak.

What wouldst thou with me, thou dear wise one, say?
My face is withered, my few locks are grey.
Time has dealt with me like a dolorous Jew.
My gold he holds; in silver now I pay.

How shall I serve thee? Shall I be thy priest,
To read thy dear sins to the last and least?
I have some knowledge of the ways of men,
Some too of women. Wilt thou be confessed?

Nay, but thou lovest? A gay youth and fair?
Is he less kind to thee than lovers are?
Shall I chastise him for his backward ways,
Teach him thy whole worth and his own despair?

Thou dost deny? Thou lovest none? To thee
Youth, sayest thou, is void, mere vanity.
Yet how to build up life and leave out love,
The corner stone of all its joys to be?

Thou wouldst be wise. Thou swearest to me this.
Know then, all wisdom is but happiness.
So thou art happy, there is none more sage
Than thou of the wise seven famed of Greece.

She did not answer me, but heaved a sigh
And raised her eyes, where tears stood, silently.
I kissed her hands, the outside and the in,
``Child, dost thou love me?'' And she whispered ``Ay.''

Thus the thing happened. And between us two
Was now a secret beautiful and new.
We hid it from all eyes as fearing ill,
And cherished it in wonder, and it grew.

Some say that Heaven is but to be with God,
Hell--but without God--the same blest abode.
How wide the difference only those may know
Whose eyes have seen the glory and the cloud.

We two beheld the glory. Every morn
We rose to greet it with the day new born;
No laggards we when Love was in the fields
Waiting to walk there with us in the corn.

O those first hours of the yet folded day,
While Man still sleeps and Nature has its play,
When beast and bird secure from death and him
Wander and wanton in their own wild way.

These were our prize untroubled by the whim
Of slugging fools still wrapped in dreamings dim.
In these we lived a whole life ere their day
And heard the birds chaunt and the seraphim.

How good it was to see her through the grass,
Pressing to meet me with her morning face
Wreathed in new smiles by the sweet thought within
Triumphant o'er the world and worldlings base!

How good to mark her beauty decked anew
With leaf and blossom, crimson, white and blue!
The beechen spray fresh gathered in her hand
Was her queen's sceptre diamonded with dew.

I heard her young voice long ere she was near,
Calling her call--note of the wood dove clear.
It was our signal. And I answered low
In the same note, ``Beloved, I am here.''

And then the meeting. Who shall count the bliss
Of sweet words said and sweeter silences.
It was agreed between us we should wed
Some happy day nor yet forestall a kiss.

Sublime convention by true lovers made
To try their joy more nearly in the shade.
``Not yet, dear love! Thy mad lips take from mine,
Lest thou shouldst harm me and the world upbraid.''

Who says a wedding day is not all white
From dawn to dusk, nay far into the night?
The man who makes not that one day divine
Dullard is he and dastard in Love's sight.

First day of the new month, the honeymoon,
Last of the old life naked and alone.
The apparent heirship come to actual reign,
The entrance in possession of a throne.

Why grudge rejoicings? The vain world is there.
It sees the feast spread that it may not share.
God's angels envy thee; then why not these?
Let them make merry with thy wealth to spare.

Nay, join it thou. The foolish old life waits,
A slave discharged, to see thee to the gates.
Give it thy bounty, though it claim thy all,
Thy clothes, thy bed, thy empty cups and plates.

The world hath loved thee, or it loved thee not,
What matter now! Thou needest raise no doubt.
All smile on thee to--day, the false, the true.
The new king pardons. Shout then with their shout.

Thy friends surround thee, sceptics of thy reason.
They ply thee gaily in and out of season.
Thou in thy heart the while art far away
True to thy god. Thou heedest not their treason.

Proud in the face of all thou vowest thy vow,
Love in thine eyes and glory on thy brow,
Thou hast sworn to cherish her, to have, to hold,
``Till death us twain do part.'' Ah she! Ah thou!

What has my life been? Nay, my life is good.
Dear life, I love thee, now thou art subdued.
Thou hast fled the battle, cast thine arms away,
And so art victor of the multitude.

Thou art forgotten wholly of thy foes,
Of thy friends wholly, these alike with those.
One garden of the world thy kingdom is
Walled from the wicked, and there blooms thy rose.

She that I love lives there and lives with me.
Enough, kind heaven, I make my terms with thee.
Worth, wealth, renown, power, honour--shadows all!
This is the substance, this reality.

O world that I have known! how well, things, men,
Glories of vanity, the sword, the pen!
Fair praise of kings, applause of crowds--nay more,
Saints' pure approval of the loss and gain!

High deeds of fame which made the eyelids brim
With tears of pride grief's anguish could not dim,
The day of triumph crowning all the days,
The harvest of the years brought home by Time!

What are you to Man's heart, his soul, his sense
Prouder than this, more robed in incidence?
The cry of the first babe, his own, and hers,
Thrilling to joy? Ah matchless eloquence!

The wisdom of all Time is in that cry,
The knowledge of Life's whence, at last, and why,
The root of Love new grafted in the tree,
Even as it falls, which shall not wholly die.

To rest in a new being! Here it stands
The science of all ages in all lands,
The joy which makes us kin with the Earth's life,
And knits us with all Nature joining hands,

Till we forget our heritage of gloom,
Our dark humanity how near its doom.
Away! Man's soul was a disease. 'Tis fled
Scared by this infant face of perfect bloom.

And so, farewell, poor passionate Life, the past.
I close thy record with this word, ``Thou wast.''
Why wait upon the Future? Lo To--day
Smiles on our tears, Time's toy, his best and last.

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Pharsalia - Book IX: Cato

Yet in those ashes on the Pharian shore,
In that small heap of dust, was not confined
So great a shade; but from the limbs half burnt
And narrow cell sprang forth and sought the sky
Where dwells the Thunderer. Black the space of air
Upreaching to the poles that bear on high
The constellations in their nightly round;
There 'twixt the orbit of the moon and earth
Abide those lofty spirits, half divine,
Who by their blameless lives and fire of soul
Are fit to tolerate the pure expanse
That bounds the lower ether: there shall dwell,
Where nor the monument encased in gold,
Nor richest incense, shall suffice to bring
The buried dead, in union with the spheres,
Pompeius' spirit. When with heavenly light
His soul was filled, first on the wandering stars
And fixed orbs he bent his wondering gaze;
Then saw what darkness veils our earthly day
And scorned the insults heaped upon his corse.
Next o'er Emathian plains he winged his flight,
And ruthless Caesar's standards, and the fleet
Tossed on the deep: in Brutus' blameless breast
Tarried awhile, and roused his angered soul
To reap the vengeance; last possessed the mind
Of haughty Cato.

He while yet the scales
Were poised and balanced, nor the war had given
The world its master, hating both the chiefs,
Had followed Magnus for the Senate's cause
And for his country: since Pharsalia's field
Ran red with carnage, now was all his heart
Bound to Pompeius. Rome in him received
Her guardian; a people's trembling limbs
He cherished with new hope and weapons gave
Back to the craven hands that cast them forth.
Nor yet for empire did he wage the war
Nor fearing slavery: nor in arms achieved
Aught for himself: freedom, since Magnus fell,
The aim of all his host. And lest the foe
In rapid course triumphant should collect
His scattered bands, he sought Corcyra's gulfs
Concealed, and thence in ships unnumbered bore
The fragments of the ruin wrought in Thrace.
Who in such mighty armament had thought
A routed army sailed upon the main
Thronging the sea with keels? Round Malea's cape
And Taenarus open to the shades below
And fair Cythera's isle, th' advancing fleet
Sweeps o'er the yielding wave, by northern breeze
Borne past the Cretan shores. But Phycus dared
Refuse her harbour, and th' avenging hand
Left her in ruins. Thus with gentle airs
They glide along the main and reach the shore
From Palinurus named; for not alone
On seas Italian, Pilot of the deep,
Hast thou thy monument; and Libya too
Claims that her waters pleased thy soul of yore.
Then in the distance on the main arose
The shining canvas of a stranger fleet,
Or friend or foe they knew not. Yet they dread
In every keel the presence of that chief
Their fear-compelling conqueror. But in truth
That navy tears and sorrow bore, and woes
To make e'en Cato weep.

For when in vain
Cornelia prayed her stepson and the crew
To stay their flight, lest haply from the shore
Back to the sea might float the headless corse;
And when the flame arising marked the place
Of that unhallowed rite, 'Fortune, didst thou
Judge me unfit,' she cried, 'to light the pyre
To cast myself upon the hero dead,
The lock to sever, and compose the limbs
Tossed by the cruel billows of the deep,
To shed a flood of tears upon his wounds,
And from the flickering flame to bear away
And place within the temples of the gods
All that I could, his dust? That pyre bestows
No honour, haply by some Pharian hand
Piled up in insult to his mighty shade.
Happy the Crassi lying on the waste
Unburied. To the greater shame of heaven
Pompeius has such funeral. And shall this
For ever be my lot? her husbands slain
Cornelia ne'er enclose within the tomb,
Nor shed the tear beside the urn that holds
The ashes of the loved? Yet for my grief
What boots or monument or ordered pomp?
Dost thou not, impious, upon thy heart
Pompeius' image, and upon thy soul
Bear ineffaceable? Dust closed in urns
Is for the wife who would survive her lord
Not such as thee, Cornelia! And yet
Yon scanty light that glimmers from afar
Upon the Pharian shore, somewhat of thee
Recalls, Pompeius! Now the flame sinks down
And smoke drifts up across the eastern sky
Bearing thine ashes, and the rising wind
Sighs hateful in the sail. To me no more
Dearer than this whatever land may yield
Pompeius' victory, nor the frequent car
That carried him in triumph to the hill;
Gone is that happy husband from my thoughts;
Here did I lose the hero whom I knew;
Here let me stay; his presence shall endear
The sands of Nile where fell the fatal blow.
Thou, Sextus, brave the chances of the war
And bear Pompeius' standard through the world.
For thus thy father spake within mine ear:
`When sounds my fatal hour let both my sons
Urge on the war; nor let some Caesar find
Room for an empire, while shall live on earth
Still one in whom Pompeius' blood shall run.
This your appointed task; all cities strong
In freedom of their own, all kingdoms urge
To join the combat; for Pompeius calls.
Nor shall a chieftain of that famous name
Ride on the seas and fail to find a fleet.
Urged by his sire's unconquerable will
And mindful of his rights, mine heir shall rouse
All nations to the conflict. One alone,
(Should he contend for freedom) may ye serve;
Cato, none else!' Thus have I kept the faith;
Thy plot prevailed upon me, and I lived
Thy mandate to discharge. Now through the void
Of space, and shades of Hell, if such there be,
I follow; yet how distant be my doom
I know not: first my spirit must endure
The punishment of life, which saw thine end
And could survive it; sighs shall break my heart,
Tears shall dissolve it: sword nor noose I need
Nor headlong plunge. 'Twere shameful since thy death,
Were aught but grief required to cause my own.'

She seeks the cabin, veiled, in funeral garb,
In tears to find her solace, and to love
Grief in her husband's room; no prayers were hers
For life, as were the sailors'; nor their shout
Roused by the height of peril, moved her soul,
Nor angered waves: but sorrowing there she lay,
Resigned to death and welcoming the storm.

First reached they Cyprus on the foamy brine;
Then as the eastern breeze more gently held
The favouring deep, they touched the Libyan shore
Where stood the camp of Cato. Sad as one
Who deep in fear presages ills to come,
Cnaeus beheld his brother and his band
Of patriot comrades. Swift into the wave
He leaps and cries, 'Where, brother, is our sire?
Still stands our country mistress of the world,
Or are we fallen, Rome with Magnus' death
Rapt to the shades?' Thus he: but Sextus said

'Oh happy thou who by report alone
Hear'st of the deed that chanced on yonder shore!
These eyes that saw, my brother, share the guilt.
Not Caesar wrought the murder of our sire,
Nor any captain worthy in the fray.
He fell beneath the orders of a king
Shameful and base, while trusting to the gods
Who shield the guest; a king who in that land
By his concession ruled: (this the reward
For favours erst bestowed). Within my sight
Pierced through with wounds our noble father fell:
Yet deeming not the petty prince of Nile
So fell a deed would dare, to Egypt's strand
I thought great Caesar come. But worse than all,
Worse than the wounds which gaped upon his frame
Struck me with horror to the inmost heart,
Our murdered father's head, shorn from the trunk
And borne aloft on javelin; this sight,
As rumour said, the cruel victor asked
To feast his eyes, and prove the bloody deed.
For whether ravenous birds and Pharian dogs
Have torn his corse asunder, or a fire
Consumed it, which with stealthy flame arose
Upon the shore, I know not. For the parts
Devoured by destiny I only blame
The gods: I weep the part preserved by men.'

Thus Sextus spake: and Cnaeus at the words
Flamed into fury for his father's shame.
'Sailors, launch forth our navies, by your oars
Forced through the deep though wind and sea oppose:
Captains, lead on: for civil strife ne'er gave
So great a prize; to lay in earth the limbs
Of Magnus, and avenge him with the blood
Of that unmanly tyrant. Shall I spare
Great Alexander's fort, nor sack the shrine
And plunge his body in the tideless marsh?
Nor drag Amasis from the Pyramids,
And all their ancient Kings, to swim the Nile?
Torn from his tomb, that god of all mankind
Isis, unburied, shall avenge thy shade;
And veiled Osiris shall I hurl abroad
In mutilated fragments; and the form
Of sacred Apis; and with these their gods
Shall light a furnace, that shall burn the head
They held in insult. Thus their land shall pay
The fullest penalty for the shameful deed.
No husbandman shall live to till the fields
Nor reap the benefit of brimming Nile.
Thou only, Father, gods and men alike
Fallen and perished, shalt possess the land.'

Such were the words he spake; and soon the fleet
Had dared the angry deep: but Cato's voice
While praising, calmed the youthful chieftain's rage.

Meanwhile, when Magnus' fate was known, the air
Sounded with lamentations which the shore
Re-echoed; never through the ages past,
By history recorded, was it known
That thus a people mourned their ruler's death.
Yet more when worn with tears, her pallid cheek
Veiled by her loosened tresses, from the ship
Cornelia came, they wept and beat the breast.
The friendly land once gained, her husband's garb,
His arms and spoils, embroidered deep in gold,
Thrice worn of old upon the sacred hill
She placed upon the flame. Such were for her
The ashes of her spouse: and such the love
Which glowed in every heart, that soon the shore
Blazed with his obsequies. Thus at winter-tide
By frequent fires th' Apulian herdsman seeks
To render to the fields their verdant growth;
Till blaze Garganus' uplands and the meads
Of Vultur, and the pasture of the herds
By warm Matinum.

Yet Pompeius' shade
Nought else so gratified, not all the blame
The people dared to heap upon the gods,
For him their hero slain, as these few words
From Cato's noble breast instinct with truth:
'Gone is a citizen who though no peer
Of those who disciplined the state of yore
In due submission to the bounds of right,
Yet in this age irreverent of law
Has played a noble part. Great was his power,
But freedom safe: when all the plebs was prone
To be his slaves, he chose the private gown;
So that the Senate ruled the Roman state,
The Senate's ruler: nought by right of arms
He e'er demanded: willing took he gifts
Yet from a willing giver: wealth was his
Vast, yet the coffers of the State he filled
Beyond his own. He seized upon the sword,
Knew when to sheath it; war did he prefer
To arts of peace, yet armed loved peace the more.
Pleased took he power, pleased he laid it down:
Chaste was his home and simple, by his wealth
Untarnished. Mid the peoples great his name
And venerated: to his native Rome
He wrought much good. True faith in liberty
Long since with Marius and Sulla fled:
Now when Pompeius has been reft away
Its counterfeit has perished. Now unshamed
Shall seize the despot on Imperial power,
Unshamed shall cringe the Senate. Happy he
Who with disaster found his latest breath
And met the Pharian sword prepared to slay.
Life might have been his lot, in despot rule,
Prone at his kinsman's throne. Best gift of all
The knowledge how to die; next, death compelled.
If cruel Fortune doth reserve for me
An alien conqueror, may Juba be
As Ptolemaeus. So he take my head
My body grace his triumph, if he will.'
More than had Rome resounded with his praise
Words such as these gave honour to the shade
Of that most noble dead.

Meanwhile the crowd
Weary of warfare, since Pompeius' fall,
Broke into discord, as their ancient chief
Cilician called them to desert the camp.
But Cato hailed them from the furthest beach:
'Untamed Cilician, is thy course now set
For Ocean theft again; Pompeius gone,
Once more a pirate?' Thus he spake, and gazed
At all the stirring throng; but one whose mind
Was fixed on flight, thus answered, 'Pardon, chief,
'Twas love of Magnus, not of civil war,
That led us to the fight: his side was ours:
With him whom all the world preferred to peace,
Our cause is perished. Let us seek our homes
Long since unseen, our children and our wives.
If nor the rout nor dread Pharsalia's field
Nor yet Pompeius' death shall close the war,
Whence comes the end? The vigour of a life
For us is vanished: in our failing years
Give us at least some pious hand to speed
The parting soul, and light the funeral pyre.
Scarce even to its captains civil strife
Concedes due burial. Nor in our defeat
Does Fortune threaten us with the savage yoke
Of distant nations. In the garb of Rome
And with her rights, I leave thee. Who had been
Second to Magnus living, he shall be
My first hereafter: to that sacred shade
Be the prime honour. Chance of war appoints
My lord but not my leader. Thee alone
I followed, Magnus; after thee the fates.
Nor hope we now for victory, nor wish;
For all our Thracian army is fled
In Caesar's victory, whose potent star
Of fortune rules the world, and none but he
Has power to keep or save. That civil war
Which while Pompeius lived was loyalty
Is impious now. If in the public right
Thou, patriot Cato, find'st thy guide, we seek
The standards of the Consul.' Thus he spake
And with him leaped into the ship a throng
Of eager comrades.

Then was Rome undone,
For all the shore was stirring with a crowd
Athirst for slavery. But burst these words
From Cato's blameless breast: 'Then with like vows
As Caesar's rival host ye too did seek
A lord and master! not for Rome the fight,
But for Pompeius! For that now no more
Ye fight for tyranny, but for yourselves,
Not for some despot chief, ye live and die;
Since now 'tis safe to conquer and no lord
Shall rob you, victors, of a world subdued --
Ye flee the war, and on your abject necks
Feel for the absent yoke; nor can endure
Without a despot! Yet to men the prize
Were worth the danger. Magnus might have used
To evil ends your blood; refuse ye now,
With liberty so near, your country's call?
Now lives one tyrant only of the three;
Thus far in favour of the laws have wrought
The Pharian weapons and the Parthian bow;
Not you, degenerate! Begone, and spurn
This gift of Ptolemaeus. Who would think
Your hands were stained with blood? The foe will deem
That you upon that dread Thessalian day
First turned your backs. Then flee in safety, flee!
By neither battle nor blockade subdued
Caesar shall give you life! O slaves most base,
Your former master slain, ye seek his heir!
Why doth it please you not yet more to earn
Than life and pardon? Bear across the sea
Metellus' daughter, Magnus' weeping spouse,
And both his sons; outstrip the Pharian gift,
Nor spare this head, which, laid before the feet
Of that detested tyrant, shall deserve
A full reward. Thus, cowards, shall ye learn
In that ye followed me how great your gain.
Quick to your task and purchase thus with blood
Your claim on Caesar. Dastardly is flight
Which crime commends not.'

Cato thus recalled
The parting vessels. So when bees in swarm
Desert their waxen cells, forget the hive
Ceasing to cling together, and with wings
Untrammelled seek the air, nor slothful light
On thyme to taste its bitterness -- then rings
The Phrygian gong -- at once they pause aloft
Astonied; and with love of toil resumed
Through all the flowers for their honey store
In ceaseless wanderings search; the shepherd joys,
Sure that th' Hyblaean mead for him has kept
His cottage store, the riches of his home.

Now in the active conduct of the war
Were brought to discipline their minds, untaught
To bear repose; first on the sandy shore
Toiling they learned fatigue: then stormed thy walls,
Cyrene; prizeless, for to Cato's mind
'Twas prize enough to conquer. Juba next
He bids attack, though Nature on the path
Had placed the Syrtes; which his sturdy heart
Aspired to conquer. Either at the first
When Nature gave the universe its form
She left this region neither land nor sea;
Not wholly shrunk, so that it should receive
The ocean flood; nor firm enough to stand
Against its buffets -- all the pathless coast
Lies in uncertain shape; the land by earth
Is parted from the deep; on sandy banks
The seas are broken, and from shoal to shoal
The waves advance to sound upon the shore.
Nature, in spite, thus left her work undone,
Unfashioned to men's use -- Or else of old
A foaming ocean filled the wide expanse,
But Titan feeding from the briny depths
His burning fires (near to the zone of heat)
Reduced the waters; and the sea still fights
With Phoebus' beams, which in the length of time
Drank deeper of its fountains.

When the main
Struck by the oars gave passage to the fleet,
Black from the sky rushed down a southern gale
Upon his realm, and from the watery plain
Drave back th' invading ships, and from the shoals
Compelled the billows, and in middle sea
Raised up a bank. Forth flew the bellying sails
Beyond the prows, despite the ropes that dared
Resist the tempest's fury; and for those
Who prescient housed their canvas to the storm,
Bare-masted they were driven from their course.
Best was their lot who gained the open waves
Of ocean; others lightened of their masts
Shook off the tempest; but a sweeping tide
Hurried them southwards, victor of the gale.
Some freed of shallows on a bank were forced
Which broke the deep: their ship in part was fast,
Part hanging on the sea; their fates in doubt.
Fierce rage the waves till hems them in the land;
Nor Auster's force in frequent buffets spent
Prevails upon the shore. High from the main
By seas inviolate one bank of sand,
Far from the coast arose; there watched in vain
The storm-tossed mariners, their keel aground,
No shore descrying. Thus in sea were lost
Some portion, but the major part by helm
And rudder guided, and by pilots' hands
Who knew the devious channels, safe at length
Floated the marsh of Triton loved (as saith
The fable) by that god, whose sounding shell
All seas and shores re-echo; and by her,
Pallas, who springing from her father's head
First lit on Libya, nearest land to heaven,
(As by its heat is proved); here on the brink
She stood, reflected in the placid wave
And called herself Tritonis. Lethe's flood
Flows silent near, in fable from a source
Infernal sprung, oblivion in his stream;
Here, too, that garden of the Hesperids
Where once the sleepless dragon held his watch,
Shorn of its leafy wealth. Shame be on him
Who calls upon the poet for the proof
Of that which in the ancient days befell;
But here were golden groves by yellow growth
Weighed down in richness, here a maiden band
Were guardians; and a serpent, on whose eyes
Sleep never fell, was coiled around the trees,
Whose branches bowed beneath their ruddy load.
But great Alcides stripped the bending boughs,
And bore their shining apples (thus his task
Accomplished) to the court of Argos' king.

Driven on the Libyan realms, more fruitful here,
Pompeius stayed the fleet, nor further dared
In Garamantian waves. But Cato's soul
Leaped in his breast, impatient of delay,
To pass the Syrtes by a landward march,
And trusting to their swords, 'gainst tribes unknown
To lead his legions. And the storm which closed
The main to navies gave them hope of rain;
Nor biting frosts they feared, in Libyan clime;
Nor suns too scorching in the falling year.

Thus ere they trod the deserts, Cato spake:
'Ye men of Rome, who through mine arms alone
Can find the death ye covet, and shall fall
With pride unbroken should the fates command,
Meet this your weighty task, your high emprise
With hearts resolved to conquer. For we march
On sterile wastes, burnt regions of the world;
Scarce are the wells, and Titan from the height
Burns pitiless, unclouded; and the slime
Of poisonous serpents fouls the dusty earth.
Yet shall men venture for the love of laws
And country perishing, upon the sands
Of trackless Libya; men who brave in soul
Rely not on the end, and in attempt
Will risk their all. 'Tis not in Cato's thoughts
On this our enterprise to lead a band
Blind to the truth, unwitting of the risk.
Nay, give me comrades for the danger's sake,
Whom I shall see for honour and for Rome
Bear up against the worst. But whose needs
A pledge of safety, to whom life is sweet,
Let him by fairer journey seek his lord.
First be my foot upon the sand; on me
First strike the burning sun; across my path
The serpent void his venom; by my fate
Know ye your perils. Let him only thirst
Who sees me at the spring: who sees me seek
The shade, alone sink fainting in the heat;
Or whoso sees me ride before the ranks
Plodding their weary march: such be the lot
Of each, who, toiling, finds in me a chief
And not a comrade. Snakes, thirst, burning sand
The brave man welcomes, and the patient breast
Finds happiness in labour. By its cost
Courage is sweeter; and this Libyan land
Such cloud of ills can furnish as might make
Men flee unshamed.' 'Twas thus that Cato spake,
Kindling the torch of valour and the love
Of toil: then reckless of his fate he strode
The desert path from which was no return:
And Libya ruled his destinies, to shut
His sacred name within a narrow tomb.

One-third of all the world, if fame we trust,
Is Libya; yet by winds and sky she yields
Some part to Europe; for the shores of Nile
No more than Scythian Tanais are remote
From furthest Gades, where with bending coast,
Yielding a place to Ocean, Europe parts
From Afric shores. Yet falls the larger world
To Asia only. From the former two
Issues the Western wind; but Asia's right
Touches the Southern limits and her left
The Northern tempest's home; and of the East
She's mistress to the rising of the Sun.
All that is fertile of the Afric lands
Lies to the west, but even here abound
No wells of water: though the Northern wind,
Infrequent, leaving us with skies serene,
Falls there in showers. Not gold nor wealth of brass
It yields the seeker: pure and unalloyed
Down to its lowest depths is Libyan soil.
Yet citron forests to Maurusian tribes
Were riches, had they known; but they, content,
Lived 'neath the shady foliage, till gleamed
The axe of Rome amid the virgin grove,
To bring from furthest limits of the world
Our banquet tables and the fruit they bear.
But suns excessive and a scorching air
Burn all the glebe beside the shifting sands:
There die the harvests on the crumbling mould;
No root finds sustenance, nor kindly Jove
Makes rich the furrow nor matures the vine.
Sleep binds all nature and the tract of sand
Lies ever fruitless, save that by the shore
The hardy Nasamon plucks a scanty grass.
Unclothed their race, and living on the woes
Worked by the cruel Syrtes on mankind;
For spoilers are they of the luckless ships
Cast on the shoals: and with the world by wrecks
Their only commerce.

Here at Cato's word
His soldiers passed, in fancy from the winds
That sweep the sea secure: here on them fell
Smiting with greater strength upon the shore,
Than on the ocean, Auster's tempest force,
And yet more fraught with mischief: for no crags
Repelled his strength, nor lofty mountains tamed
His furious onset, nor in sturdy woods
He found a bar; but free from reining hand,
Raged at his will o'er the defenceless earth.
Nor did he mingle dust and clouds of rain
In whirling circles, but the earth was swept
And hung in air suspended, till amazed
The Nasamon saw his scanty field and home
Reft by the tempest, and the native huts
From roof to base were hurried on the blast.
Not higher, when some all-devouring flame
Has seized upon its prey, in volumes dense
Rolls up the smoke, and darkens all the air.
Then with fresh might he fell upon the host
Of marching Romans, snatching from their feet
The sand they trod. Had Auster been enclosed
In some vast cavernous vault with solid walls
And mighty barriers, he had moved the world
Upon its ancient base and made the lands
To tremble: but the facile Libyan soil
By not resisting stood, and blasts that whirled
The surface upwards left the depths unmoved.
Helmet and shield and spear were torn away
By his most violent breath, and borne aloft
Through all the regions of the boundless sky;
Perchance a wonder in some distant land,
Where men may fear the weapons from the heaven
There falling, as the armour of the gods,
Nor deem them ravished from a soldier's arm.
'Twas thus on Numa by the sacred fire
Those shields descended which our chosen priests
Bear on their shoulders; from some warlike race
By tempest rapt, to be the prize of Rome.

Fearing the storm prone fell the host to earth
Winding their garments tight, and with clenched hands
Gripping the earth: for not their weight alone
Withstood the tempest which upon their frames
Piled mighty heaps, and their recumbent limbs
Buried in sand. At length they struggling rose
Back to their feet, when lo! around them stood,
Forced by the storm, a growing bank of earth
Which held them motionless. And from afar
Where walls lay prostrate, mighty stones were hurled,
Thus piling ills on ills in wondrous form:
No dwellings had they seen, yet at their feet
Beheld the ruins. All the earth was hid
In vast envelopment, nor found they guide
Save from the stars, which as in middle deep
Flamed o'er them wandering: yet some were hid
Beneath the circle of the Libyan earth
Which tending downwards hid the Northern sky.

When warmth dispersed the tempest-driven air,
And rose upon the earth the flaming day,
Bathed were their limbs in sweat, but parched and dry
Their gaping lips; when to a scanty spring
Far off beheld they came, whose meagre drops
All gathered in the hollow of a helm
They offered to their chief. Caked were their throats
With dust, and panting; and one little drop
Had made him envied. 'Wretch, and dost thou deem
Me wanting in a brave man's heart?' he cried,
'Me only in this throng? And have I seemed
Tender, unfit to bear the morning heat?
He who would quench his thirst 'mid such a host,
Doth most deserve its pangs.' Then in his wrath
Dashed down the helmet, and the scanty spring,
Thus by their leader spurned, sufficed for all.

Now had they reached that temple which possess
Sole in all Libya, th' untutored tribes
Of Garamantians. Here holds his seat
(So saith the story) a prophetic Jove,
Wielding no thunderbolts, nor like to ours,
The Libyan Hammen of the curved horn.
No wealth adorns his fane by Afric tribes
Bestowed, nor glittering hoard of Eastern gems.
Though rich Arabians, Ind and Ethiop
Know him alone as Jove, still is he poor
Holding his shrine by riches undefiled
Through time, and god as of the olden days
Spurns all the wealth of Rome. That here some god
Dwells, witnesses the only grove
That buds in Libya -- for that which grows
Upon the arid dust which Leptis parts
From Berenice, knows no leaves; alone
Hammon uprears a wood; a fount the cause
Which with its waters binds the crumbling soil.
Yet shall the Sun when poised upon the height
Strike through the foliage: hardly can the tree
Protect its trunk, and to a little space
His rays draw in the circle of the shade.
Here have men found the spot where that high band
Solstitial divides in middle sky
The zodiac stars: not here oblique their course,
Nor Scorpion rises straighter than the Bull,
Nor to the Scales does Ram give back his hours,
Nor does Astraea bid the Fishes sink
More slowly down: but watery Capricorn
Is equal with the Crab, and with the Twins
The Archer; neither does the Lion rise
Above Aquarius. But the race that dwells
Beyond the fervour of the Libyan fires
Sees to the South that shadow which with us
Falls to the North: slow Cynosure sinks
For them below the deep; and, dry with us,
The Wagon plunges; far from either pole,
No star they know that does not seek the main,
But all the constellations in their course
Whirl to their vision through the middle sky.

Before the doors the Eastern peoples stood
Seeking from horned Jove to know their fates:
Yet to the Roman chief they yielded place,
Whose comrades prayed him to entreat the gods
Famed through the Libyan world, and judge the voice
Renowned from distant ages. First of these
Was Labienus: 'Chance,' he said, 'to us
The voice and counsel of this mighty god
Has offered as we march; from such a guide
To know the issues of the war, and learn
To track the Syrtes. For to whom on earth
If not to blameless Cato, shall the gods
Entrust their secrets? Faithful thou at least,
Their follower through all thy life hast been;
Now hast thou liberty to speak with Jove.
Ask impious Caesar's fates, and learn the laws
That wait our country in the future days:
Whether the people shall be free to use
Their rights and customs, or the civil war
For us is wasted. To thy sacred breast,
Lover of virtue, take the voice divine;
Demand what virtue is and guide thy steps
By heaven's high counsellor.'

But Cato, full
Of godlike thoughts borne in his quiet breast,
This answer uttered, worthy of the shrines:
'What, Labienus, dost thou bid me ask?
Whether in arms and freedom I should wish
To perish, rather than endure a king?
Is longest life worth aught? And doth its term
Make difference? Can violence to the good
Do injury? Do Fortune's threats avail
Outweighed by virtue? Doth it not suffice
To aim at deeds of bravery? Can fame
Grow by achievement? Nay! No Hammen's voice
Shall teach us this more surely than we know.
Bound are we to the gods; no voice we need;
They live in all our acts, although the shrine
Be silent: at our birth and once for all
What may be known the author of our being
Revealed; nor Chose these thirsty sands to chaunt
To few his truth, whelmed in the dusty waste.
God has his dwelling in all things that be,
In earth and air and sea and starry vault,
In virtuous deeds; in all that thou can'st see,
In all thy thoughts contained. Why further, then,
Seek we our deities? Let those who doubt
And halting, tremble for their coming fates,
Go ask the oracles. No mystic words,
Make sure my heart, but surely-coming Death.
Coward alike and brave, we all must die.
Thus hath Jove spoken: seek to know no more.'

Thus Cato spake, and faithful to his creed
He parted from the temple of the god
And left the oracle of Hammon dumb.

Bearing his javelin, as one of them
Before the troops he marched: no panting slave
With bending neck, no litter bore his form.
He bade them not, but showed them how to toil.
Spare in his sleep, the last to sip the spring
When at some rivulet to quench their thirst
The eager ranks pressed onward, he alone
Until the humblest follower might drink
Stood motionless. If for the truly good
Is fame, and virtue by the deed itself,
Not by sucoessful issue, should be judged,
Yield, famous ancestors! Fortune, not worth
Gained you your glory. But such name as his
Who ever merited by successful war
Or slaughtered peoples? Rather would I lead
With him his triumph through the pathless sands
And Libya's bounds, than in Pompeius' car
Three times ascend the Capitol, or break
The proud Jugurtha. Rome! in him behold
His country's father, worthiest of thy vows;
A name by which men shall not blush to swear,
Whom, should'st thou break the fetters from thy neck,
Thou may'st in distant days decree divine.

Now was the heat more dense, and through that clime
Than which no further on the Southern side
The gods permit, they trod; and scarcer still
The water, till in middle sands they found
One bounteous spring which clustered serpents held
Though scaroe the space sufficed. By thirsting snakes
The fount was thronged and asps pressed on the marge.
But when the chieftain saw that speedy fate
Was on the host, if they should leave the well
Untasted, 'Vain,' he cried, 'your fear of death.
Drink, nor delay: 'tis from the threatening tooth
Men draw their deaths, and fatal from the fang
Issues the juice if mingled with the blood;
The cup is harmless.' Then he sipped the fount,
Still doubting, and in all the Libyan waste
There only was he first to touch the stream.

Why fertile thus in death the pestilent air
Of Libya, what poison in her soil
Her several nature mixed, my care to know
Has not availed: but from the days of old
A fabled story has deceived the world.

Far on her limits, where the burning shore
Admits the ocean fervid from the sun
Plunged in its waters, lay Medusa's fields
Untilled; nor forests shaded, nor the plough
Furrowed the soil, which by its mistress' gaze
Was hardened into stone: Phorcus, her sire.
Malevolent nature from her body first
Drew forth these noisome pests; first from her jaws
Issued the sibilant rattle of serpent tongues;
Clustered around her head the poisonous brood
Like to a woman's hair, wreathed on her neck
Which gloried in their touch; their glittering heads
Advanced towards her; and her tresses kempt
Dripped down with viper's venom. This alone
Thou hast, accursed one, which men can see
Unharmed; for who upon that gaping mouth
Looked and could dread? To whom who met her glance,
Was death permitted? Fate delayed no more.
But ere the victim feared had struck him down:
Perished the limbs while living, and the soul
Grew stiff and stark ere yet it fled the frame.
Men have been frenzied by the Furies' locks,
Not killed; and Cerberus at Orpheus' song
Ceased from his hissing, and Alcides saw
The Hydra ere he slew. This monster born
Brought horror with her birth upon her sire
Phorcus, in second order God of Waves,
And upon Ceto and the Gorgon brood,
Her sisters. She could threat the sea and sky
With deadly calm unknown, and from the world
Bid cease the soil. Borne down by instant weight
Fowls fell from air, and beasts were fixed in stone.
Whole Ethiop tribes who tilled the neighbouring lands
Rigid in marble stood. The Gorgon sight
No creature bore and even her serpents turned
Back from her visage. Atlas in his place
Beside the Western columns, by her look
Was turned to rocks; and when on snakes of old
Phlegraean giants stood and frighted heaven,
She made them mountains, and the Gorgon head
Borne on Athena's bosom closed the war.
Here born of Danae and the golden shower,
Floating on wings Parrhasian, by the god
Arcadian given, author of the lyre
And wrestling art, came Perseus, down from heaven
Swooping. Cyllenian Harp did he bear
Still crimson from another monster slain,
The guardian of the heifer loved by Jove.
This to her winged brother Pallas lent
Price of the monster's head: by her command
Upon the limits of the Libyan land
He sought the rising sun, with flight averse,
Poised o'er Medusa's realm; a burnished shield
Of yellow brass upon his other arm,
Her gift, he bore: in which she bade him see
The fatal face unscathed. Nor yet in sleep
Lay all the monster, for such total rest
To her were death -- so fated: serpent locks
In vigilant watch, some reaching forth defend
Her head, while others lay upon her face
And slumbering eyes. Then hero Perseus shook
Though turned averse; trembled his dexter hand:
But Pallas held, and the descending blade
Shore the broad neck whence sprang the viper brood.
What visage bore the Gorgon as the steel
Thus reft her life! what poison from her throat
Breathed! from her eyes what venom of death distilled!
The goddess dared not look, and Perseus' face
Had frozen, averse, had not Athena veiled
With coils of writhing snakes the features dead.
Then with the Gorgon head the hero flew
Uplifted on his wings and sought the sky.
Shorter had been his voyage through the midst
Of Europe's cities; but Athena bade
To spare her peoples and their fruitful lands;
For who when such an airy courser passed
Had not looked up to heaven? Western winds
Now sped his pinions, and he took his course
O'er Libya's regions, from the stars and suns
Veiled by no culture. Phoebus' nearer track
There burns the soil, and loftiest on the sky
There fails the night, to shade the wandering moon,
If o'er forgetful of her course oblique,
Straight through the stars, nor bending to the North
Nor to the South, she hastens. Yet that earth,
In nothing fertile, void of fruitful yield,
Drank in the poison of Medusa's blood,
Dripping in dreadful dews upon the soil,
And in the crumbling sands by heat matured.

First from the dust was raised a gory clot
In guise of Asp, sleep-bringing, swollen of neck:
Full was the blood and thick the poison drop
That were its making; in no other snake
More copious held. Greedy of warmth it seeks
No frozen world itself, nor haunts the sands
Beyond the Nile; yet has our thirst of gain
No shame nor limit, and this Libyan death,
This fatal pest we purchase for our own.
Haemorrhois huge spreads out his scaly coils,
Who suffers not his hapless victims' blood
To stay within their veins. Chersydros sprang
To life, to dwell within the doubtful marsh
Where land nor sea prevails. A cloud of spray
Marked fell Chelyder's track: and Cenchris rose
Straight gliding to his prey, his belly tinged
With various spots unnumbered, more than those
Which paint the Theban marble; horned snakes
With spines contorted: like to torrid sand
Ammodytes, of hue invisible:
Sole of all serpents Scytale to shed
In vernal frosts his slough; and thirsty Dipsas;
Dread Amphisbaena with his double head
Tapering; and Natrix who in bubbling fount
Fuses his venom. Greedy Prester swells
His foaming jaws; Pareas, head erect
Furrows with tail alone his sandy path;
Swift Jaculus there, and Seps whose poisonous juice
Makes putrid flesh and frame: and there upreared
His regal head, and frighted from his track
With sibilant terror all the subject swam,
Baneful ere darts his poison, Basilisk
In sands deserted king. Ye serpents too
Who in all other regions harmless glide
Adored as gods, and bright with golden scales,
In those hot wastes are deadly; poised in air
Whole herds of kine ye follow, and with coils
Encircling close, crush in the mighty bull.
Nor does the elephant in his giant bulk,
Nor aught, find safety; and ye need no fang
Nor poison, to compel the fatal end.

Amid these pests undaunted Cato urged
His desert journey on. His hardy troops
Beneath his eyes, pricked by a scanty wound,
In strangest forms of death unnumbered fall.
Tyrrhenian Aulus, bearer of a flag,
Trod on a Dipsas; quick with head reversed
The serpent struck; no mark betrayed the tooth:
The aspect of the wound nor threatened death,
Nor any evil; but the poison germ
In silence working as consuming fire
Absorbed the moisture of his inward frame,
Draining the natural juices that were spread
Around his vitals; in his arid jaws
Set flame upon his tongue: his wearied limbs
No sweat bedewed; dried up, the fount of tears
Fled from his eyelids. Tortured by the fire
Nor Cato's sternness, nor of his sacred charge
The honour could withhold him; but he dared
To dash his standard down, and through the plains
Raging, to seek for water that might slake
The fatal venom thirsting at his heart.
Plunge him in Tanais, in Rhone and Po,
Pour on his burning tongue the flood of Nile,
Yet were the fire unquenched. So fell the fang
Of Dipsas in the torrid Libyan lands;
In other climes less fatal. Next he seeks
Amid the sands, all barren to the depths,
For moisture: then returning to the shoals
Laps them with greed -- in vain -- the briny draught
Scarce quenched the thirst it made. Nor knowing yet
The poison in his frame, he steels himself
To rip his swollen veins and drink the gore.
Cato bids lift the standard, lest his troops
May find in thirst a pardon for the deed.

But on Sabellus' yet more piteous death
Their eyes were fastened. Clinging to his skin
A Seps with curving tooth, of little size,
He seized and tore away, and to the sands
Pierced with his javelin. Small the serpent's bulk;
None deals a death more horrible in form.
For swift the flesh dissolving round the wound
Bared the pale bone; swam all his limbs in blood;
Wasted the tissue of his calves and knees:
And all the muscles of his thighs were thawed
In black distilment, and file membrane sheath
Parted, that bound his vitals, which abroad
Flowed upon earth: yet seemed it not that all
His frame was loosed, for by the venomous drop
Were all the bands that held his muscles drawn
Down to a juice; the framework of his chest
Was bare, its cavity, and all the parts
Hid by the organs of life, that make the man.
So by unholy death there stood revealed
His inmost nature. Head and stalwart arms,
And neck and shoulders, from their solid mass
Melt in corruption. Not more swiftly flows
Wax at the sun's command, nor snow compelled
By southern breezes. Yet not all is said:
For so to noxious humours fire consumes
Our fleshly frame; but on the funeral pyre
What bones have perished? These dissolve no less
Than did the mouldered tissues, nor of death
Thus swift is left a trace. Of Afric pests
Thou bear'st the palm for hurtfulness: the life
They snatch away, thou only with the life
The clay that held it.

Lo! a different fate,
Not this by melting! for a Prester's fang
Nasidius struck, who erst in Marsian fields
Guided the ploughshare. Burned upon his face
A redness as of flame: swollen the skin,
His features hidden, swollen all his limbs
Till more than human: and his definite frame
One tumour huge concealed. A ghastly gore
Is puffed from inwards as the virulent juice
Courses through all his body; which, thus grown,
His corselet holds not. Not in caldron so
Boils up to mountainous height the steaming wave;
Nor in such bellying curves does canvas bend
To Eastern tempests. Now the ponderous bulk
Rejects the limbs, and as a shapeless trunk
Burdens the earth: and there, to beasts and birds
A fatal feast, his comrades left the corse
Nor dared to place, yet swelling, in the tomb.

But for their eyes the Libyan pests prepared
More dreadful sights. On Tullus great in heart,
And bound to Cato with admiring soul,
A fierce Haemorrhois fixed. From every limb,
(As from a statue saffron spray is showered
In every part) there spouted forth for blood
A sable poison: from the natural pores
Of moisture, gore profuse; his mouth was filled
And gaping nostrils, and his tears were blood.
Brimmed full his veins; his very sweat was red;
All was one wound.

Then piteous Levus next
In sleep was victim, for around his heart
Stood still the blood congealed: no pain he felt
Of venomous tooth, but swift upon him fell
Death, and he sought the shades; more swift to kill
No draught in poisonous cups from ripened plants
Of direst growth Sabaean wizards brew.

Lo! Upon branchless trunk a serpent, named
By Libyans Jaculus, rose in coils to dart
His venom from afar. Through Paullus' brain
It rushed, nor stayed; for in the wound itself
Was death. Then did they know how slowly flies,
Flung from a sling, the stone; how gently speed
Through air the shafts of Scythia.

What availed,
Murrus, the lance by which thou didst transfix
A Basilisk? Swift through the weapon ran
The poison to his hand: he draws his sword
And severs arm and shoulder at a blow:
Then gazed secure upon his severed hand
Which perished as he looked. So had'st thou died,
And such had been thy fate!

Whoe'er had thought
A scorpion had strength o'er death or fate?
Yet with his threatening coils and barb erect
He won the glory of Orion slain;
So bear the stars their witness. And who would fear
Thy haunts, Salpuga? Yet the Stygian Maids
Have given thee power to snap the fatal threads.

Thus nor the day with brightness, nor the night
With darkness gave them peace. The very earth
On which they lay they feared; nor leaves nor straw
They piled for couches, but upon the ground
Unshielded from the fates they laid their limbs,
Cherished beneath whose warmth in chill of night
The frozen pests found shelter; in whose jaws
Harmless the while, the lurking venom slept.
Nor did they know the measure of their march
Accomplished, nor their path; the stars in heaven
Their only guide. 'Return, ye gods,' they cried,
In frequent wail, 'the arms from which we fled.
Give back Thessalia. Sworn to meet the sword
Why, lingering, fall we thus? In Caesar's place
The thirsty Dipsas and the horned snake
Now wage the warfare. Rather let us seek
That region by the horses of the sun
Scorched, and the zone most torrid: let us fall
Slain by some heavenly cause, and from the sky
Descend our fate! Not, Africa, of thee
Complain we, nor of Nature. From mankind
Cut off, this quarter, teeming thus with pests
She gave to snakes, and to the barren fields
Denied the husbandman, nor wished that men
Should perish by their venom. To the realms
Of serpents have we come. Hater of men,
Receive thy vengeance, whoso of the gods
Severed this region upon either hand,
With death in middle space. Our march is set
Through thy sequestered kingdom, and the host
Which knows thy secret seeks the furthest world.
Perchance some greater wonders on our path
May still await us; in the waves be plunged
Heaven's constellations, and the lofty pole
Stoop from its height. By further space removed
No land, than Juba's realm; by rumour's voice
Drear, mournful. Haply for this serpent land
There may we long, where yet some living thing
Gives consolation. Not my native land
Nor European fields I hope for now
Lit by far other suns, nor Asia's plains.
But in what land, what region of the sky,
Where left we Africa? But now with frosts
Cyrene stiffened: have we changed the laws
Which rule the seasons, in this little space?
Cast from the world we know, 'neath other skies
And stars we tread; behind our backs the home
Of southern tempests: Rome herself perchance
Now lies beneath our feet. Yet for our fates
This solace pray we, that on this our track
Pursuing Caesar with his host may come.'

Thus was their stubborn patience of its plaints
Disburdened. But the bravery of their chief
Forced them to bear their toils. Upon the sand,
All bare, he lies and dares at every hour
Fortune to strike: he only at the fate
Of each is present, flies to every call;
And greatest boon of all, greater than life,
Brought strength to die. To groan in death was shame
In such a presence. What power had all the ills
Possessed upon him? In another's breast
He conquers misery, teaching by his mien
That pain is powerless.

Hardly aid at length
Did Fortune, wearied of their perils, grant.
Alone unharmed of all who till the earth,
By deadly serpents, dwells the Psyllian race.
Potent as herbs their song; safe is their blood,
Nor gives admission to the poison germ
E'en when the chant has ceased. Their home itself
Placed in such venomous tract and serpent-thronged
Gained them this vantage, and a truce with death,
Else could they not have lived. Such is their trust
In purity of blood, that newly born
Each babe they prove by test of deadly asp
For foreign lineage. So the bird of Jove
Turns his new fledglings to the rising sun
And such as gaze upon the beams of day
With eves unwavering, for the use of heaven
He rears; but such as blink at Phoebus' rays
Casts from the nest. Thus of unmixed descent
The babe who, dreading not the serpent touch,
Plays in his cradle with the deadly snake.
Nor with their own immunity from harm
Contented do they rest, but watch for guests
Who need their help against the noisome plague.

Now to the Roman standards are they come,
And when the chieftain bade the tents be fixed,
First all the sandy space within the lines
With song they purify and magic words
From which all serpents flee: next round the camp
In widest circuit from a kindled fire
Rise aromatic odours: danewort burns,
And juice distils from Syrian galbanum;
Then tamarisk and costum, Eastern herbs,
Strong panacea mixt with centaury
From Thrace, and leaves of fennel feed the flames,
And thapsus brought from Eryx: and they burn
Larch, southern-wood and antlers of a deer
Which lived afar. From these in densest fumes,
Deadly to snakes, a pungent smoke arose;
And thus in safety passed the night away.
But should some victim feel the fatal fang
Upon the march, then of this magic race
Were seen the wonders, for a mighty strife
Rose 'twixt the Psyllian and the poison germ.
First with saliva they anoint the limbs
That held the venomous juice within the wound;
Nor suffer it to spread. From foaming mouth
Next with continuous cadence would they pour
Unceasing chants -- nor breathing space nor pause --
Else spreads the poison: nor does fate permit
A moment's silence. Oft from the black flesh
Flies forth the pest beneath the magic song:
But should it linger nor obey the voice,
Repugmant to the summons, on the wound
Prostrate they lay their lips and from the depths
Now paling draw the venom. In their mouths,
Sucked from the freezing flesh, they hold the death,
Then spew it forth; and from the taste shall know
The snake they conquer.

Aided thus at length
Wanders the Roman host in better guise
Upon the barren fields in lengthy march.
Twice veiled the moon her light and twice renewed;
Yet still, with waning or with growing orb
Saw Cato's steps upon the sandy waste.
But more and more beneath their feet the dust
Began to harden, till the Libyan tracts
Once more were earth, and in the distance rose
Some groves of scanty foliage, and huts
Of plastered straw unfashioned: and their hearts
Leaped at the prospect of a better land.
How fled their sorrow! how with growing joy
They met the savage lion in the path!
In tranquil Leptis first they found retreat:
And passed a winter free from heat and rain.

When Caesar sated with Emathia's slain
Forsook the battlefield, all other cares
Neglected, he pursued his kinsman fled,
On him alone intent: by land his steps
He traced in vain; then, rumour for his guide,
He crossed the sea and reached the Thracian strait
For love renowned; where on the mournful shore
Rose Hero's tower, and Helle born of cloud
Took from the rolling waves their former name.
Nowhere with shorter space the sea divides
Europe from Asia; though Pontus parts
By scant division from Byzantium's hold
Chalcedon oyster-rich: and small the strait
Through which Propontis pours the Euxine wave.
Then marvelling at their ancient fame, he seeks
Sigeum's sandy beach and Simois' stream,
Rhoeteum noble for its Grecian tomb,
And all the hero's shades, the theme of song.
Next by the town of Troy burnt down of old
Now but a memorable name, he turns
His steps, and searches for the mighty stones
Relics of Phoebus' wall. But bare with age
Forests of trees and hollow mouldering trunks
Pressed down Assaracus' palace, and with roots
Wearied, possessed the temples of the gods.
All Pergamus with densest brake was veiled
And even her stones were perished. He beheld
Thy rock, Hesione; the hidden grove,
Anchises' nuptial chamber; and the cave
Where sat the arbiter; the spot from which
Was snatched the beauteous youth; the mountain lawn
Where played Oenone. Not a stone but told
The story of the past. A little stream
Scarce trickling through the arid plain he passed,
Nor knew 'twas Xanthus: deep in grass he placed,
Careless, his footstep; but the herdsman cried
'Thou tread'st the dust of Hector.' Stones confused
Lay at his feet in sacred shape no more:
'Look on the altar of Jove,' thus spake the guide,
'God of the household, guardian of the home.'

O sacred task of poets, toil supreme,
Which rescuing all things from allotted fate
Dost give eternity to mortal men!
Grudge not the glory, Caesar, of such fame.
For if the Latian Muse may promise aught,
Long as the heroes of the Trojan time
Shall live upon the page of Smyrna's bard,
So long shall future races read of thee
In this my poem; and Pharsalia's song
Live unforgotten in the age to come.

When by the ancient grandeur of the place
The chieftain's sight was filled, of gathered turf
Altars he raised: and as the sacred flame
Cast forth its odours, these not idle vows
Gave to the gods, 'Ye deities of the dead,
Who watch o'er Phrygian ruins: ye who now
Lavinia's homes inhabit, and Alba's height:
Gods of my sire Aeneas, in whose fanes
The Trojan fire still burns: pledge of the past
Mysterious Pallas, of the inmost shrine,
Unseen of men! here in your ancient seat,
Most famous offspring of Iulus' race,
I call upon you and with pious hand
Burn frequent offerings. To my emprise
Give prosperous ending! Here shall I replace
The Phrygian peoples, here with glad return
Italia's sons shall build another Troy,
Here rise a Roman Pergamus.'

This said,
He seeks his fleet, and eager to regain
Time spent at Ilium, to the favouring breeze
Spreads all his canvas. Past rich Asia borne,
Rhodes soon he left while foamed the sparkling main
Beneath his keels; nor ceased the wind to stretch
His bending sails, till on the seventh night
The Pharian beam proclaimed Egyptian shores.
But day arose, and veiled the nightly lamp
Ere rode his barks on waters safe from storm.
Then Caesar saw that tumult held the shore,
And mingled voices of uncertain sound
Struck on his ear: and trusting not himself
To doubtful kingdoms, of uncertain troth,
He kept his ships from land.
But from the king
Came his vile minion forth upon the wave,
Bearing his dreadful gift, Pompeius' head,
Wrapped in a covering of Pharian wool.
First took he speech and thus in shameless words
Commends the murder: 'Conqueror of the world,
First of the Roman race, and, what as yet
Thou dost not know, safe by thy kinsman slain;
This gift receive from the Pellaean king,
Sole trophy absent from the Thracian field,
To crown thy toils on lands and on the deep.
Here in thine absence have we placed for thee
An end upon the war. Here Magnus came
To mend his fallen fortunes; on our swords
Here met his death. With such a pledge of faith
Here have we bought thee, Caesar; with his blood
Seal we this treaty. Take the Pharian realm
Sought by no bloodshed, take the rule of Nile,
Take all that thou would'st give for Magnus' life:
And hold him vassal worthy of thy camp
To whom the fates against thy son-in-law
Such power entrusted; nor hold thou the deed
Lightly accomplished by the swordsman's stroke,
And so the merit. Guest ancestral he
Who was its victim; who, his sire expelled,
Gave back to him the sceptre. For a deed
So great, thou'lt find a name -- or ask the world.
If 'twas a crime, thou must confess the debt
To us the greater, for that from thy hand
We took the doing.'

Then he held and showed
Unveiled the head. Now had the hand of death
Passed with its changing touch upon the face:
Nor at first sight did Caesar on the gift
Pass condemnation; nor avert his gaze,
But dwelt upon the features till he knew
The crime accomplished. Then when truth was sure
The loving father rose, and tears he shed
Which flowed at his command, and glad in heart
Forced from his breast a groan: thus by the flow
Of feigned tears and grief he hoped to hide
His joy else manifest: and the ghastly boon
Sent by the king disparaging, professed
Rather to mourn his son's dissevered head,
Than count it for a debt. For thee alone,
Magnus, he durst not fail to find a tear:
He, Caesar, who with mien unaltered spurned
The Roman Senate, and with eyes undimmed
Looked on Pharsalia's field. O fate most hard!
Didst thou with impious war pursue the man
Whom 'twas thy lot to mourn? No kindred ties
No memory of thy daughter and her son
Touch on thy heart. Didst think perchance that grief
Might help thy cause 'mid lovers of his name?
Or haply, moved by envy of the king,
Griev'st that to other hands than thine was given
To shed the captive's life-blood? and complain'st
Thy vengeance perished and the conquered chief
Snatched from thy haughty hand? Whate'er the cause
That urged thy grief, 'twas far removed from love.
Was this forsooth the object of thy toil
O'er lands and oceans, that without thy ken
He should not perish? Nay! but well was reft
From thine arbitrament his fate. What crime
Did cruel Fortune spare, what depth of shame
To Roman honour! since she suffered not,
Perfidious traitor, while yet Magnus lived,
That thou should'st pity him!

Thus by words he dared,
To gain their credence in his sembled grief:
'Hence from my sight with thy detested gift,
Thou minion, to thy King. Worse does your crime
Deserve from Caesar than from Magnus' hands.
The only prize that civil war affords
Thus have we lost -- to bid the conquered live.
If but the sister of this Pharian king
Were not by him detested, by the head
Of Cleopatra had I paid this gift.
Such were the fit return. Why did he draw
His separate sword, and in the toil that's ours
Mingle his weapons? In Thessalia's field
Gave we such right to the Pellaean blade?
Magnus as partner in the rule of Rome
I had not brooked; and shall I tolerate
Thee, Ptolemaeus? In vain with civil wars
Thus have we roused the nations, if there be
Now any might but Caesar's. If one land
Yet owned two masters, I had turned from yours
The prows of Latium; but fame forbids,
Lest men should whisper that I did not damn
This deed of blood, but feared the Pharian land.
Nor think ye to deceive; victorious here
I stand: else had my welcome at your hands
Been that of Magnus; and that neck were mine
But for Pharsalia's chance. At greater risk
So seems it, than we dreamed of, took we arms;
Exile, and Magnus' threats, and Rome I knew,
Not Ptolemaeus. But we spare the boy:
Pass by the murder. Let the princeling know
We give no more than pardon for his crime.
And now in honour of the mighty dead,
Not merely that the earth may hide your guilt,
Lay ye the chieftain's head within the tomb;
With proper sepulture appease his shade
And place his scattered ashes in an urn.
Thus may he know my coming, and may hear
Affection's accents, and my fond complaints.
Me sought he not, but rather, for his life,
This Pharian vassal; snatching from mankind
The happy morning which had shown the world
A peace between us. But my prayers to heaven
No favouring answer found; that arms laid down
In happy victory, Magnus, once again
I might embrace thee, begging thee to grant
Thine ancient love to Caesar, and thy life.
Thus for my labours with a worthy prize
Content, thine equal, bound in faithful peace,
I might have brought thee to forgive the gods
For thy disaster; thou had'st gained for me
From Rome forgiveness.'

Thus he spake, but found
No comrade in his tears; nor did the host
Give credit to his grief. Deep in their breasts
They hide their groans, and gaze with joyful front
(O famous Freedom!) on the deed of blood:
And dare to laugh when mighty Caesar wept.

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Too slow to even kill myself

4 years ago
I was supposed
to be gone
to have jumped
to have fallen
down the cliff
into the wild
Mediterranean
crabs jellyfish sharks,
i was supposed
to become the meal
the dead drunkard
the nerd that flipped out,
it was graduation night
it was long
and i was tired,
why did he have to
grab me
and
pull me back
when i was already
supposed to be
on my way?

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The Poor Of The Borough. Letter XXI: Abel Keene

A QUIET, simple man was Abel Keene,
He meant no harm, nor did he often mean;
He kept a school of loud rebellious boys,
And growing old, grew nervous with the noise;
When a kind merchant hired his useful pen,
And made him happiest of accompting men;
With glee he rose to every easy day,
When half the labour brought him twice the pay.
There were young clerks, and there the

merchant's son,
Choice spirits all, who wish'd him to be one;
It must, no question, give them lively joy,
Hopes long indulged to combat and destroy;
At these they levelled all their skill and

strength, -
He fell not quickly, but he fell at length:
They quoted books, to him both bold and new,
And scorn'd as fables all he held as true;
'Such monkish stories, and such nursery lies,'
That he was struck with terror and surprise.
'What! all his life had he the laws obey'd,
Which they broke through and were not once afraid?
Had he so long his evil passions check'd,
And yet at last had nothing to expect?
While they their lives in joy and pleasure led,
And then had nothing at the end to dread?
Was all his priest with so much zeal convey'd
A part! a speech! for which the man was paid!
And were his pious books, his solemn prayers,
Not worth one tale of the admir'd Voltaire's?
Then was it time, while yet some years remain'd,
To drink untroubled and to think unchain'd,
And on all pleasues, which his purse could give,
Freely to seize, and while he lived, to live.'
Much time he pass'd in this important strife,
The bliss or bane of his remaining life;
For converts all are made with care and grief,
And pangs attend the birth of unbelief;
Nor pass they soon;--with awe and fear he took
The flowery way, and cast back many a look.
The youths applauded much his wise design,
With weighty reasoning o'er their evening wine;
And much in private 'twould their mirth improve,
To hear how Abel spake of life and love;
To hear him own what grievous pains it cost,
Ere the old saint was in the sinner lost,
Ere his poor mind, with every deed alarm'd,
By wit was settled, and by vice was charm'd.
For Abel enter'd in his bold career,
Like boys on ice, with pleasure and with fear;
Lingering, yet longing for the joy, he went,
Repenting now, now dreading to repent:
With awkward pace, and with himself at war,
Far gone, yet frighten'd that he went so far;
Oft for his efforts he'd solicit praise,
And then proceed with blunders and delays:
The young more aptly passions' calls pursue,
But age and weakness start at scenes so new,
And tremble, when they've done, for all they dared

to do.
At length example Abel's dread removed,
With small concern he sought the joys he loved;
Not resting here, he claim'd his share of fame,
And first their votary, then their wit became;
His jest was bitter and his satire bold,
When he his tales of formal brethren told;
What time with pious neighbours he discuss'd,
Their boasted treasure and their boundless trust:
'Such were our dreams,' the jovial elder cried;
'Awake and live,' his youthful friends replied.
Now the gay clerk a modest drab despised,
And clad him smartly, as his friends advised;
So fine a coat upon his back he threw,
That not an alley-boy old Abel knew;
Broad polish'd buttons blazed that coat upon,
And just beneath the watch's trinkets shone, -
A splendid watch, that pointed out the time,
To fly from business and make free with crime:
The crimson waistcoat and the silken hose
Rank'd the lean man among the Borough beaux:
His raven hair he cropp'd with fierce disdain,
And light elastic locks encased his brain:
More pliant pupil who could hope to find,
Se deck'd in person and so changed in mind?
When Abel walked the streets, with pleasent mien
He met his friends, delighted to be seen;
And when he rode along the public way,
No beau so gaudy, and no youth so gay.
His pious sister, now an ancient maid,
For Abel fearing, first in secret pray'd;
Then thus in love and scorn her notions she

convey'd.
'Alas! my brother! can I see thee pace
Hoodwink'd to hell, and not lament thy case,
Nor stretch my feeble hand to stop thy headlong

race?
Lo! thou art bound; a slave in Satan's chain;
The righteous Abel turn'd the wretched Cain;
His brother's blood against the murderer cried,
Against thee thine, unhappy suicide!
Are all our pious nights and peaceful days,
Our evening readings and our morning praise,
Our spirits' comfort in the trials sent,
Our hearts' rejoicings in the blessings lent,
All that o'er grief a cheering influence shed,
Are these for ever and for ever fled?
'When in the years gone by, the trying years,
When faith and hope had strife with wants and

fears,
Thy nerves have trembled till thou couldst not eat
(Dress'd by this hand) thy mess of simple meat;
When, grieved by fastings, gall'd by fates severe,
Slow pass'd the days of the successless year;
Still in these gloomy hours, my brother then
Had glorious views, unseen by prosperous men:
And when thy heart has felt its wish denied,
What gracious texts hast thou to grief applied;
Till thou hast enter'd in thine humble bed,
By lofty hopes and heavenly musings fed;
Then I have seen thy lively looks express
The spirit's comforts in the man's distress.
'Then didst thou cry, exulting, 'Yes, 'tis fit,
'Tis meet and right, my heart! that we submit:'
And wilt thou, Abel, thy new pleasures weigh
Against such triumphs?--Oh? repent and pray.
'What are thy pleasures?--with the gay to sit,
And thy poor brain torment for awkward wit;
All thy good thoughts (thou hat'st them) to

restrain,
And give a wicked pleasure to the vain;
Thy long, lean frame by fashion to attire,
That lads may laugh and wantons may admire;
To raise the mirth of boys, and not to see,
Unhappy maniac! that they laugh at thee
'These boyish follies, which alone the boy
Can idly act, or gracefully enjoy,
Add new reproaches to thy fallen state,
And make men scorn what they would only hate.
'What pains, my brother, dost thou take to prove
A taste for follies which thou canst not love!
Why do thy stiffening limbs the steed bestride -
That lads may laugh to see thou canst not ride?
And why (I feel the crimson tinge my cheek)
Dost thou by night in Diamond-Alley sneak?
'Farewell! the parish will thy sister keep,
Where she in peace shall pray and sing and sleep,
Save when for thee she mourns, thou wicked,

wandering sheep.
When youth is fallen, there's hope the young may

rise,
But fallen age for ever hopeless lies;
Torn up by storms, and placed in earth once more,
The younger tree may sun and soil restore;
But when the old and sapless trunk lies low,
No care or soil can former life bestow;
Reserved for burning is the worthless tree -
And what, O Abel! is reserved for thee?'
These angry words our hero deeply felt,
Though hard his heart, and indisposed to melt!
To gain relief he took a glass the more,
And then went on as careless as before;
Thenceforth, uncheck'd, amusements he partook,
And (save his ledger) saw no decent book;
Him found the merchant punctual at his task,
And that performed, he'd nothing more to ask;
He cared not how old Abel play'd the fool,
No master he, beyond the hours of school:
Thus they proceeding, had their wine and joke,
Till merchant Dixon felt a warning stroke,
And, after struggling half a gloomy week,
Left his poor clerk another friend to seek.
Alas! the son, who led the saint astray,
Forgot the man whose follies made him gay;
He cared no more for Abel in his need,
Than Abel cared about his hackney steed:
He now, alas! had all his earnings spent,
And thus was left to languish and repent;
No school nor clerkship found he in the place,
Now lost to fortune, as before to grace.
For town-relief the grieving man applied,
And begg'd with tears what some with scorn denied;
Others look'd down upon the glowing vest,
And frowning, ask'd him at what price he dress'd?
Happy for him his country's laws are mild,
They must support him, though they still reviled;
Grieved, abject, scorn'd, insulted, and betray'd,
Of God unmindful, and of man afraid, -
No more he talk'd; 'twas pain, 'twas shame to

speak,
His heart was sinking, and his frame was weak.
His sister died with such serene delight,
He once again began to think her right;
Poor like himself, the happy spinster lay,
And sweet assurance bless'd her dying-day:
Poor like the spinster, he, when death was nigh,
Assured of nothing, felt afraid to die.
The cheerful clerks who sometimes pass'd the door,
Just mention'd 'Abel!' and then thought no more.
So Abel, pondering on his state forlorn,
Look'd round for comfort, and was chased by scorn.
And now we saw him on the beach reclined,
Or causeless walking in the wintry wind;
And when it raised a loud and angry sea,
He stood and gazed, in wretched reverie:
He heeded not the frost, the rain, the snow,
Close by the sea he walk'd alone and slow:
Sometimes his frame through many an hour he spread
Upon a tombstone, moveless as the dead;
And was there found a sad and silent place,
There would he creep with slow and measured pace;
Then would he wander by the river's side,
And fix his eyes upon the falling tide;
The deep dry ditch, the rushes in the fen,
And mossy crag-pits were his lodgings then:
There, to his discontented thought a prey,
The melancholy mortal pined away.
The neighb'ring poor at length began to speak
Of Abel's ramblings--he'd been gone a week;
They knew not where, and little care they took
For one so friendless and so poor to look.
At last a stranger, in a pedlar's shed,
Beheld him hanging--he had long been dead.
He left a paper, penn'd at sundry times,
Entitled thus--'My Groanings and my Crimes!'
'I was a Christian man, and none could lay
Aught to my charge; I walk'd the narrow way:
All then was simple faith, serene and pure,
My hope was stedfast and my prospects sure;
Then was I tried by want and sickness sore,
But these I clapp'd my shield of faith before,
And cares and wants and man's rebukes I bore:
Alas! new foes assail'd me; I was vain,
They stung my pride and they confused my brain:
Oh! these deluders! with what glee they saw
Their simple dupe transgress the righteous law;
'Twas joy to them to view that dreadful strife,
When faith and frailty warr'd for more than life;
So with their pleasures they beguiled the heart,
Then with their logic they allay'd the smart;
They proved (so thought I then) with reasons

strong,
That no man's feelings ever lead him wrong:
And thus I went, as on the varnish'd ice,
The smooth career of unbelief and vice.
Oft would the youths, with sprightly speech and

bold,
Their witty tales of naughty priests unfold;
'Twas all a craft,' they said, 'a cunning trade;
Not she the priests, but priests Religion made.'
So I believed:'--No, Abel! to thy grief:
So thou relinquish'dst all that was belief: -
'I grew as very flint, and when the rest
Laugh'd at devotion, I enjoy'd the jest;
But this all vanish'd like the morning-dew,
When unemploy'd, and poor again I grew;
Yea! I was doubly poor, for I was wicked too.
'The mouse that trespass'd and the treasure

stole,
Found his lean body fitted to the hole;
Till, having fatted, he was forced to stay,
And, fasting, starve his stolen bulk away:
Ah ! worse for me--grown poor, I yet remain
In sinful bonds, and pray and fast in vain.
'At length I thought, although these friends of

sin
Have spread their net, and caught their prey

therein;
Though my hard heart could not for mercy call,
Because though great my grief, my faith was small;
Yet, as the sick on skilful men rely,
The soul diseased may to a doctor fly.
'A famous one there was, whose skill had wrought
Cures past belief, and him the sinners sought;
Numbers there were defiled by mire and filth,
Whom he recovered by his goodly tilth:
'Come then,' I said, 'let me the man behold,
And tell my case:'--I saw him and I told.
'With trembling voice, 'Oh! reverend sir,' I

said,
'I once believed, and I was then misled;
And now such doubts my sinful soul beset,
I dare not say that I'm a Christian yet;
Canst thou, good sir, by thy superior skill,
Inform my judgment and direct my will?
Ah! give thy cordial; let my soul have rest,
And be the outward man alone distress'd;
For at my state I tremble.'--'Tremble more,'
Said the good man, 'and then rejoice therefore!
'Tis good to tremble; prospects then are fair,
When the lost soul is plunged in deep despair:
Once thou wert simply honest, just, and pure,
Whole, as thou thought'st, and never wish'd a cure:
Now thou hast plunged in folly, shame, disgrace,
Now thou'rt an object meet for healing grace;
No merit thine, no virtue, hope, belief,
Nothing hast thou, but misery, sin, and grief;
The best, the only titles to relief.'
'What must I do,' I said, 'my soul to free?' -
'Do nothing, man; it will be done for thee.'
'But must I not, my reverend guide, believe?' -
'If thou art call'd, thou wilt the faith receive.'
'But I repent not.'--Angry he replied,
'If thou art call'd, though needest nought beside:
Attend on us, and if 'tis Heaven's decree,
The call will come,--if not, ah! woe for thee.'
'There then I waited, ever on the watch,
A spark of hope, a ray of light to catch;
His words fell softly like the flakes of snow,
But I could never find my heart o'erflow:
He cried aloud, till in the flock began
The sigh, the tear, as caught from man to man;
They wept and they rejoiced, and there was I
Hard as a flint, and as the desert dry:
To me no tokens of the call would come,
I felt my sentence, and received my doom;
But I complain'd--'Let thy repinings cease,
Oh! man of sin, for they thy guilt increase;
It bloweth where it listeth;--die in peace.'
- In peace, and perish?' I replied; 'impart
Some better comfort to a burthen'd heart.'
'Alas!' the priest return'd, 'can I direct
The heavenly call?--Do I proclaim th' elect?
Raise not thy voice against th' Eternal will,
But take thy part with sinners, and be still.'
'Alas, for me! no more the times of peace
Are mine on earth--in death my pains may cease.
'Foes to my soul! ye young seducers, know
What serious ills from your amusements flow;
Opinions you with so much ease profess,
Overwhelm the simple and their minds oppress:
Let such be happy, nor with reasons strong,
That make them wretched, prove their notions wrong;
Let them proceed in that they deem the way,
Fast when they will, and at their pleasure pray:
Yes, I have pity for my brethren's lot,
And so had Dives, but it help'd him not:
And is it thus?--I'm full of doubts: --Adieu!
Perhaps his reverence is mistaken too.'

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A Last Confession

Our Lombard country-girls along the coast
Wear daggers in their garters: for they know
That they might hate another girl to death
Or meet a German lover. Such a knife
I bought her, with a hilt of horn and pearl.
Father, you cannot know of all my thoughts
That day in going to meet her,—that last day
For the last time, she said;—of all the love
And all the hopeless hope that she might change
And go back with me. Ah! and everywhere,
At places we both knew along the road,
Some fresh shape of herself as once she was
Grew present at my side; until it seemed—
So close they gathered round methey would all
Be with me when I reached the spot at last,
To plead my cause with her against herself
So changed. O Father, if you knew all this
You cannot know, then you would know too, Father,
And only then, if God can pardon me.
What can be told I'll tell, if you will hear.
I passed a village-fair upon my road,
And thought, being empty-handed, I would take
Some little present: such might prove, I said,
Either a pledge between us, or (God help me!)
A parting gift. And there it was I bought
The knife I spoke of, such as women wear.
That day, some three hours afterwards, I found
For certain, it must be a parting gift.
And, standing silent now at last, I looked
Into her scornful face; and heard the sea
Still trying hard to din into my ears
Some speech it knew which still might change her heart,
If only it could make me understand.
One moment thus. Another, and her face
Seemed further off than the last line of sea,
So that I thought, if now she were to speak
I could not hear her. Then again I knew
All, as we stood together on the sand
At Iglio, in the first thin shade o' the hills.
“Take it,” I said, and held it out to her,
While the hilt glanced within my trembling hold;
“Take it and keep it for my sake,” I said.
Her neck unbent not, neither did her eyes
Move, nor her foot left beating of the sand;
Only she put it by from her and laughed.
Father, you hear my speech and not her laugh;
But God heard that. Will God remember all?
It was another laugh than the sweet sound
Which rose from her sweet childish heart, that day
Eleven years before, when first I found her
Alone upon the hill-side; and her curls
Shook down in the warm grass as she looked up
Out of her curls in my eyes bent to hers.
She might have served a painter to pourtray
That heavenly child which in the latter days
Shall walk between the lion and the lamb.
I had been for nights in hiding, worn and sick
And hardly fed; and so her words at first
Seemed fiftul like the talking of the trees
And voices in the air that knew my name.
And I remember that I sat me down
Upon the slope with her, and thought the world
Must be all over or had never been,
We seemed there so alone. And soon she told me
Her parents both were gone away from her.
I thought perhaps she meant that they had died;
But when I asked her this, she looked again
Into my face and said that yestereve
They kissed her long, and wept and made her weep,
And gave her all the bread they had with them,
And then had gone together up the hill
Where we were sitting now, and had walked on
Into the great red light; “and so,” she said,
I have come up here too; and when this evening
They step out of the light as they stepped in,
I shall be here to kiss them.” And she laughed.
Then I bethought me suddenly of the famine;
And how the church-steps throughout all the town,
When last I had been there a month ago,
Swarmed with starved folk; and how the bread was weighed
By Austrians armed; and women that I knew
For wives and mothers walked the public street,
Saying aloud that if their husbands feared
To snatch the children's food, themselves would stay
Till they had earned it there. So then this child
Was piteous to me; for all told me then
Her parents must have left her to God's chance,
To man's or to the Church's charity,
Because of the great famine, rather than
To watch her growing thin between their knees.
With that, God took my mother's voice and spoke,
And sights and sounds came back and things long since,
And all my childhood found me on the hills;
And so I took her with me.
I was young.
Scarce man then, Father: but the cause which gave
The wounds I die of now had brought me then
Some wounds already; and I lived alone,
As any hiding hunted man must live.
It was no easy thing to keep a child
In safety; for herself it was not safe,
And doubled my own danger: but I knew
That God would help me.
Yet a little while
Pardon me, Father, if I pause. I think
I have been speaking to you of some matters
There was no need to speak of, have I not?
You do not know how clearly those things stood
Within my mind, which I have spoken of,
Nor how they strove for utterance. Life all past
Is like the sky when the sun sets in it,
Clearest where furthest off.
I told you how
She scorned my parting gift and laughed. And yet
A woman's laugh's another thing sometimes:
I think they laugh in Heaven. I know last night
I dreamed I saw into the garden of God,
Where women walked whose painted images
I have seen with candles round them in the church.
They bent this way and that, one to another,
Playing: and over the long golden hair
Of each there floated like a ring of fire
Which when she stooped stooped with her, and when she rose
Rose with her. Then a breeze flew in among them,
As if a window had been opened in heaven
For God to give His blessing from, before
This world of ours should set; (for in my dream
I thought our world was setting, and the sun
Flared, a spent taper; ) and beneath that gust
The rings of light quivered like forest-leaves.
Then all the blessed maidens who were there
Stood up together, as it were a voice
That called them; and they threw their tresses back,
And smote their palms, and all laughed up at once,
For the strong heavenly joy they had in them
To hear God bless the world. Wherewith I woke:
And looking round, I saw as usual
That she was standing there with her long locks
Pressed to her side; and her laugh ended theirs.
For always when I see her now, she laughs.
And yet her childish laughter haunts me too,
The life of this dead terror; as in days
When she, a child, dwelt with me. I must tell
Something of those days yet before the end.
I brought her from the city—one such day
When she was still a merry loving child,—
The earliest gift I mind my giving her;
A little image of a flying Love
Made of our coloured glass-ware, in his hands
A dart of gilded metal and a torch.
And him she kissed and me, and fain would know
Why were his poor eyes blindfold, why the wings
And why the arrow. What I knew I told
Of Venus and of Cupid,—strange old tales.
And when she heard that he could rule the loves
Of men and women, still she shook her head
And wondered; and, “Nay, nay,” she murmured still,
“So strong, and he a younger child than I!”
And then she'd have me fix him on the wall
Fronting her little bed; and then again
She needs must fix him there herself, because
I gave him to her and she loved him so,
And he should make her love me better yet,
If women loved the more, the more they grew.
But the fit place upon the wall was high
For her, and so I held her in my arms:
And each time that the heavy pruning-hook
I gave her for a hammer slipped away
As it would often, still she laughed and laughed
And kissed and kissed me. But amid her mirth,
Just as she hung the image on the nail,
It slipped and all its fragments strewed the ground:
And as it fell she screamed, for in her hand
The dart had entered deeply and drawn blood.
And so her laughter turned to tears: and “Oh!”
I said, the while I bandaged the small hand,—
“That I should be the first to make you bleed,
Who love and love and love you!”—kissing still
The fingers till I got her safe to bed.
And still she sobbed,—“not for the pain at all,”
She said, “but for the Love, the poor good Love
You gave me.” So she cried herself to sleep.
Another later thing comes back to me.
'Twas in those hardest foulest days of all,
When still from his shut palace, sitting clean
Above the splash of blood, old Metternich
(May his soul die, and never-dying worms
Feast on its pain for ever! ) used to thin
His year's doomed hundreds daintily, each month
Thirties and fifties. This time, as I think,
Was when his thrift forbad the poor to take
That evil brackish salt which the dry rocks
Keep all through winter when the sea draws in.
The first I heard of it was a chance shot
In the street here and there, and on the stones
A stumbling clatter as of horse hemmed round.
Then, when she saw me hurry out of doors,
My gun slung at my shoulder and my knife
Stuck in my girdle, she smoothed down my hair
And laughed to see me look so brave, and leaped
Up to my neck and kissed me. She was still
A child; and yet that kiss was on my lips
So hot all day where the smoke shut us in.
For now, being always with her, the first love
I had—the father's, brother's love—was changed,
I think, in somewise; like a holy thought
Which is a prayer before one knows of it.
The first time I perceived this, I remember,
Was once when after hunting I came home
Weary, and she brought food and fruit for me,
And sat down at my feet upon the floor
Leaning against my side. But when I felt
Her sweet head reach from that low seat of hers
So high as to be laid upon my heart,
I turned and looked upon my darling there
And marked for the first time how tall she was;
And my heart beat with so much violence
Under her cheek, I thought she could not choose
But wonder at it soon and ask me why;
And so I bade her rise and eat with me.
And when, remembering all and counting back
The time, I made out fourteen years for her
And told her so, she gazed at me with eyes
As of the sky and sea on a grey day,
And drew her long hands through her hair, and asked me
If she was not a woman; and then laughed:
And as she stooped in laughing, I could see
Beneath the growing throat the breasts half-globed
Like folded lilies deepset in the stream.
Yes, let me think of her as then; for so
Her image, Father, is not like the sights
Which come when you are gone. She had a mouth
Made to bring death to life,—the underlip
Sucked in, as if it strove to kiss itself.
Her face was pearly pale, as when one stoops
Over wan water; and the dark crisped hair
And the hair's shadow made it paler still:—
Deep-serried locks, the dimness of the cloud
Where the moon's gaze is set in eddying gloom.
Her body bore her neck as the tree's stem
Bears the top branch; and as the branch sustains
The flower of the year's pride, her high neck bore
That face made wonderful with night and day.
Her voice was swift, yet ever the last words
Fell lingeringly; and rounded finger-tips
She had, that clung a little where they touched
And then were gone o' the instant. Her great eyes,
That sometimes turned half dizzily beneath
The passionate lids, as faint, when she would speak,
Had also in them hidden springs of mirth,
Which under the dark lashes evermore
Shook to her laugh, as when a bird flies low
Between the water and the willow-leaves,
And the shade quivers till he wins the light.
I was a moody comrade to her then,
For all the love I bore her. Italy,
The weeping desolate mother, long has claimed
Her sons' strong arms to lean on, and their hands
To lop the poisonous thicket from her path,
Cleaving her way to light. And from her need
Had grown the fashion of my whole poor life
Which I was proud to yield her, as my father
Had yielded his. And this had come to be
A game to play, a love to clasp, a hate
To wreak, all things together that a man
Needs for his blood to ripen; till at times
All else seemed shadows, and I wondered still
To see such life pass muster and be deemed
Time's bodily substance. In those hours, no doubt,
To the young girl my eyes were like my soul,—
Dark wells of death-in-life that yearned for day.
Sig.
And though she ruled me always, I remember
That once when I was thus and she still kept
Leaping about the place and laughing, I
Did almost chide her; whereupon she knelt
And putting her two hands into my breast
Sang me a song. Are these tears in my eyes?
'Tis long since I have wept for anything.
I thought that song forgotten out of mind;
And now, just as I spoke of it, it came
All back. It is but a rude thing, ill rhymed,
Such as a blind man chaunts and his dog hears
Holding the platter, when the children run
To merrier sport and leave him. Thus it goes:—
La bella donna*
Piangendo disse:
“Come son fisse
Le stelle in cielo!
Quel fiato anelo
Dello stanco sole,
Quanto m' assonna!
E la luna, macchiata
Come uno specchio
Logoro e vecchio,—
Faccia affannata,
Che cosa vuole?
“Chè stelle, luna, e sole,
Ciascun m' annoja
E m' annojano insieme;
Non me ne preme
Nè ci prendo gioja.
E veramente,
Che le spalle sien franche
E la braccia bianche
She wept, sweet lady,
And said in weeping:
What spell is keeping
The stars so steady?
Why does the power
Of the sun's noon-hour
To sleep so move me?
And the moon in heaven,
Stained where she passes
As a worn-out glass is,—
Wearily driven,
Why walks she above me?
“Stars, moon, and sun too,
I'm tired of either
And all together!
Whom speak they unto
That I should listen?
For very surely,
Though my arms and shoulders
Dazzle beholders,
And my eyes glisten,
All's nothing purely!
What are words said for
At all about them,
If he they are made for
Can do without them?”
She laughed, sweet lady,
And said in laughing:
“His hand clings half in
My own already!
Oh! do you love me?
Oh! speak of passion
In no new fashion,
No loud inveighings,
But the old sayings
You once said of me.
“You said: ‘As summer,
Through boughs grown brittle,
Comes back a little
Ere frosts benumb her,—
So bring'st thou to me
All leaves and flowers,
Though autumn's gloomy
To-day in the bowers.’
“Oh! does he love me,
When my voice teaches
The very speeches
He then spoke of me?
Alas! what flavour
Still with me lingers?”
(But she laughed as my kisses
Glowed in her fingers
With love's old blisses.)
“Oh! what one favour
Remains to woo him,
Whose whole poor savour
Belongs not to him?”
E il seno caldo e tondo,
Non mi fa niente.
Che cosa al mondo
Posso più far di questi
Se non piacciono a te, come dicesti?”
La donna rise
E riprese ridendo:—
“Questa mano che prendo
È dunque mia?
Tu m' ami dunque?
Dimmelo ancora,
Non in modo qualunque,
Ma le parole
Belle e precise
Che dicesti pria.
‘Siccome suole
La state talora
(Dicesti) un qualche istante
Tornare innanzi inverno,
Così tu fai ch' io scerno
Le foglie tutte quante,
Ben ch' io certo tenessi
Per passato l' autunno.’
“Eccolo il mio alunno!
Io debbo insegnargli
Quei cari detti istessi
Ch' ei mi disse una volta!
Oimè! Che cosa dargli,”
(Ma ridea piano piano
Dei baci in sulla mano,)
“Ch' ei non m'abbia da lungo tempo tolta?”
That I should sing upon this bed!—with you
To listen, and such words still left to say!
Yet was it I that sang? The voice seemed hers,
As on the very day she sang to me;
When, having done, she took out of my hand
Something that I had played with all the while
And laid it down beyond my reach; and so
Turning my face round till it fronted hers,—
“Weeping or laughing, which was best?” she said.
But these are foolish tales. How should I show
The heart that glowed then with love's heat, each day
More and more brightly?—when for long years now
The very flame that flew about the heart,
And gave it fiery wings, has come to be
The lapping blaze of hell's environment
Whose tongues all bid the molten heart despair.
Yet one more thing comes back on me to-night
Which I may tell you: for it bore my soul
Dread firstlings of the brood that rend it now.
It chanced that in our last year's wanderings
We dwelt at Monza, far away from home,
If home we had: and in the Duomo there
I sometimes entered with her when she prayed.
An image of Our Lady stands there, wrought
In marble by some great Italian hand
In the great days when she and Italy
Sat on one throne together: and to her
And to none else my loved one told her heart.
She was a woman then; and as she knelt,—
Her sweet brow in the sweet brow's shadow there,—
They seemed two kindred forms whereby our land
(Whose work still serves the world for miracle)
Made manifest herself in womanhood.
Father, the day I speak of was the first
For weeks that I had borne her company
Into the Duomo; and those weeks had been
Much troubled, for then first the glimpses came
Of some impenetrable restlessness
Growing in her to make her changed and cold.
And as we entered there that day, I bent
My eyes on the fair Image, and I said
Within my heart, “Oh turn her heart to me!”
And so I left her to her prayers, and went
To gaze upon the pride of Monza's shrine,
Where in the sacristy the light still falls
Upon the Iron Crown of Italy,
On whose crowned heads the day has closed, nor yet
The daybreak gilds another head to crown.
But coming back, I wondered when I saw
That the sweet Lady of her prayers now stood
Alone without her; until further off,
Before some new Madonna gaily decked,
Tinselled and gewgawed, a slight German toy,
I saw her kneel, still praying. At my step
She rose, and side by side we left the church.
I was much moved, and sharply questioned her
Of her transferred devotion; but she seemed
Stubborn and heedless; till she lightly laughed
And said: “The old Madonna? Aye indeed,
She had my old thoughts,—this one has my new.”
Then silent to the soul I held my way:
And from the fountains of the public place
Unto the pigeon-haunted pinnacles,
Bright wings and water winnowed the bright air;
And stately with her laugh's subsiding smile
She went, with clear-swayed waist and towering neck
And hands held light before her; and the face
Which long had made a day in my life's night
Was night in day to me; as all men's eyes
Turned on her beauty, and she seemed to tread
Beyond my heart to the world made for her.
Ah there! my wounds will snatch my sense again:
The pain comes billowing on like a full cloud
Of thunder, and the flash that breaks from it
Leaves my brain burning. That's the wound he gave,
The Austrian whose white coat I still made match
With his white face, only the two grew red
As suits his trade. The devil makes them wear
White for a livery, that the blood may show
Braver that brings them to him. So he looks
Sheer o'er the field and knows his own at once.
Give me a draught of water in that cup;
My voice feels thick; perhaps you do not hear;
But you must hear. If you mistake my words
And so absolve me, I am sure the blessing
Will burn my soul. If you mistake my words
And so absolve me, Father, the great sin
Is yours, not mine: mark this: your soul shall burn
With mine for it. I have seen pictures where
Souls burned with Latin shriekings in their mouths:
Shall my end be as theirs? Nay, but I know
'Tis you shall shriek in Latin. Some bell rings,
Rings through my brain: it strikes the hour in hell.
You see I cannot, Father; I have tried,
But cannot, as you see. These twenty times
Beginning, I have come to the same point
And stopped. Beyond, there are but broken words
Which will not let you understand my tale.
It is that then we have her with us here,
As when she wrung her hair out in my dream
To-night, till all the darkness reeked of it.
Her hair is always wet, for she has kept
Its tresses wrapped about her side for years;
And when she wrung them round over the floor,
I heard the blood between her fingers hiss;
So that I sat up in my bed and screamed
Once and again; and once to once, she laughed.
Look that you turn not now,—she's at your back:
Gather your robe up, Father, and keep close,
Or she'll sit down on it and send you mad.
At Iglio in the first thin shade o' the hills
The sand is black and red. The black was black
When what was spilt that day sank into it,
And the red scarcely darkened. There I stood
This night with her, and saw the sand the same.
What would you have me tell you? Father, father,
How shall I make you know? You have not known
The dreadful soul of woman, who one day
Forgets the old and takes the new to heart,
Forgets what man remembers, and therewith
Forgets the man. Nor can I clearly tell
How the change happened between her and me.
Her eyes looked on me from an emptied heart
When most my heart was full of her; and still
In every corner of myself I sought
To find what service failed her; and no less
Than in the good time past, there all was hers.
What do you love? Your Heaven? Conceive it spread
For one first year of all eternity
All round you with all joys and gifts of God;
And then when most your soul is blent with it
And all yields song together,—then it stands
O' the sudden like a pool that once gave back
Your image, but now drowns it and is clear
Again,—or like a sun bewitched, that burns
Your shadow from you, and still shines in sight.
How could you bear it? Would you not cry out,
Among those eyes grown blind to you, those ears
That hear no more your voice you hear the same,—
“God! what is left but hell for company,
But hell, hell, hell?”—until the name so breathed
Whirled with hot wind and sucked you down in fire?
Even so I stood the day her empty heart
Left her place empty in our home, while yet
I knew not why she went nor where she went
Nor how to reach her: so I stood the day
When to my prayers at last one sight of her
Was granted, and I looked on heaven made pale
With scorn, and heard heaven mock me in that laugh.
O sweet, long sweet! Was that some ghost of you,
Even as your ghost that haunts me now,—twin shapes
Of fear and hatred? May I find you yet
Mine when death wakes? Ah! be it even in flame,
We may have sweetness yet, if you but say
As once in childish sorrow: “Not my pain,
My pain was nothing: oh your poor poor love,
Your broken love!”
My Father, have I not
Yet told you the last things of that last day
On which I went to meet her by the sea?
O God, O God! but I must tell you all.
Midway upon my journey, when I stopped
To buy the dagger at the village fair,
I saw two cursed rats about the place
I knew for spies—blood-sellers both. That day
Was not yet over; for three hours to come
I prized my life: and so I looked around
For safety. A poor painted mountebank
Was playing tricks and shouting in a crowd.
I knew he must have heard my name, so I
Pushed past and whispered to him who I was,
And of my danger. Straight he hustled me
Into his booth, as it were in the trick,
And brought me out next minute with my face
All smeared in patches and a zany's gown;
And there I handed him his cups and balls
And swung the sand-bags round to clear the ring
For half an hour. The spies came once and looked;
And while they stopped, and made all sights and sounds
Sharp to my startled senses, I remember
A woman laughed above me. I looked up
And saw where a brown-shouldered harlot leaned
Half through a tavern window thick with vine.
Some man had come behind her in the room
And caught her by her arms, and she had turned
With that coarse empty laugh on him, as now
He munched her neck with kisses, while the vine
Crawled in her back.
And three hours afterwards,
When she that I had run all risks to meet
Laughed as I told you, my life burned to death
Within me, for I thought it like the laugh
Heard at the fair. She had not left me long;
But all she might have changed to, or might change to,
(I know nought since—she never speaks a word—)
Seemed in that laugh. Have I not told you yet,
Not told you all this time what happened, Father,
When I had offered her the little knife,
And bade her keep it for my sake that loved her,
And she had laughed? Have I not told you yet?
“Take it,” I said to her the second time,
“Take it and keep it.” And then came a fire
That burnt my hand; and then the fire was blood,
And sea and sky were blood and fire, and all
The day was one red blindness; till it seemed,
Within the whirling brain's eclipse, that she
Or I or all things bled or burned to death.
And then I found her laid against my feet
And knew that I had stabbed her, and saw still
Her look in falling. For she took the knife
Deep in her heart, even as I bade her then,
And fell; and her stiff bodice scooped the sand
Into her bosom.
And she keeps it, see,
Do you not see she keeps it?—there, beneath
Wet fingers and wet tresses, in her heart.
For look you, when she stirs her hand, it shows
The little hilt of horn and pearl,—even such
A dagger as our women of the coast
Twist in their garters.
Father, I have done:
And from her side now she unwinds the thick
Dark hair; all round her side it is wet through,
But, like the sand at Iglio, does not change.
Now you may see the dagger clearly. Father,
I have told all: tell me at once what hope
Can reach me still. For now she draws it out
Slowly, and only smiles as yet: look, Father,
She scarcely smiles: but I shall hear her laugh
Soon, when she shows the crimson steel to God.

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Flying Drones

The problem with combat pilots
is they have no noble commands

beyond secret political kill orders
of their covert CIA target missions.


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The Poems Bring Me Back To Myself

THE POEMS BRING ME BACK TO MYSELF

The poems bring me back to myself
I begin to live again

Without the poems
I would have to make a new life-

I do not know if I am capable of it-

A life without poems without poetry
With other words perhaps-

I am too old to slowly write the long narrative
I never was capable of before

Little poems
Little lines
What I am capable of now.

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The World I Wait For Within Myself/ Is A Poem

THE WORLD I WAIT FOR WITHIN MYSELF/ IS A POEM

The world I wait for within myself
Is a poem
When it comes
I simply write it down-
I am doing this now
As if this were the most natural simple and easy thing in the world-
I dream and you dream and we all dream
And whatever comes to us
Is what we are-
And we are all poems
If we can write it down
Simply and clearly and beautifully
So that when someone else reads it
They believe it.

Is this a poem now?
Perhaps.

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One Choice

Theres only one reason left for me to stay
But you wont like the reason why
Tried so many times to get through the two of you
But you dont even want to try
Times are hard and people need all they have got
Look around and see whats left today
Aint so easy making it on your own
What more do I need to say
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Never knew a good thing
Till it moved away
Now its too late to turn it back
Youd buy the world if it would make me stay
Listen now to what I have to say
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Sitting here thinking
But nothing seems to change
And I cant stand it anymore
Theres always someone trying to pull you down
Do you really want this constant war
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way

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One Choice

Theres only one reason left for me to stay
But you wont like the reason why
Tried so many times to get through the two of you
But you dont even want to try
Times are hard and people need all they have got
Look around and see whats left today
Aint so easy making it on your own
What more do I need to say
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Never knew a good thing
Till it moved away
Now its too late to turn it back
Youd buy the world if it would make me stay
Listen now to what I have to say
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Sitting here thinking
But nothing seems to change
And I cant stand it anymore
Theres always someone trying to pull you down
Do you really want this constant war
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way
Theres only one choice to be made
And I cant help it
If you take the wrong way

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We can't

We can’t build permanent shelters
We can make people run helter and skater
We can go to outer space and walk
We can’t see eye to eye and talk

We can spend millions on nuclear
We may know but still not clear
Prepared to go for innocent’s kill
Unable to go for and protect the will

We may build many more dungeons
But will not go for help to regions
We can witness hunger and starvation
We have no time to go for observation

We have powerful greed to swallow
But not let others something to allow
We have systems to annihilate human beings
But no will power to make poor a king

We have everything at our disposal
But no mechanism for its addressable
We may go for or dwell at any length
But not enough courage to go with strength

We are being graced with many resources
We are equipped to meet undesirable forces
It is needed for and waiting for skillful execution
What required is human touch and firm resolution

No hunger, no starvation deaths and poverty
Movement and freedom with full liberty
We can do or achieve anything impossible
Make it worth while with trend reversible

So many things we may be unable to perform
Fully alive to the situation and readily informed
We weigh it in term of loss or gain
All good efforts should not go in vain

Think in terms what I can perform or do?
How much I can be sensitive or true?
Has that got large bearing on masses?
Have I to be sincere without making any passes?

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I Suppose

I've given up everything for you
I thought you were different
I thought you were true
But for some reason
I don't blame you.

Now I sit and wait
Staring at the closed gate
Sitting by a tree
All alone with only me
Now I see

I can do so much with time
My only wish is you were mine
That would be my time well spent
If one day it ever comes to an end.
I could do so much with time
If only you were mine
Now I know
I should have never let you go
But I screwed up again
I suppose.

We haven't talked in forever
It's obvious we're not together
I miss you so
But I want you to know.

As I sit and wait
Staring at this closed gate
There's nothing I'd want more
Than to have you here with me
So you could see

I can do so much with time
My only wish is you were mine
That would be my time well spent
If one day it ever comes to an end.
I could do so much with time
If only you were mine
Now I know
I should have never let you go
I tried to push you away
Now I think about you every freaking lonely day
I love you so
I'd never let you go
I had you so close
But I screwed up again
I suppose.

Yesterday I talked to you
And yesterday we talked it through.
Now I know everything is right
When I can't stop thinking about you tonight.

As I sit and wait
Staring at the closed gate
Sitting by a tree
Now together you're with me
It would be impossible to see.

I can do so much with time
Still my only wish is you were mine
I know we're friends
But I want us to be more
Before the end
It'd be impossible
I suppose.
But there's only one sure way to know.
I'm taking my time
I'm asking you
Will you be true
Will you be mine
What you will say
I do not know
But there I go again
I suppose.

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The Great Escape

Left alone in a dreary mood,
With none to lean on and look for,
She tethered her soul to sordid gloom,
And chained her fancy, never letting to soar.

Dull were the days and sore were the nights,
Time slouched on in mechanical beats,
Mind devoid of any buoyant thoughts,
Senses shut to every cheery throb of life,

She lay awake, staring on the ceiling above,
Her eyes so lost in a fixed stare,
Never a smile alighted her stony face,
Nor a gleam of hope brightened up her brain.

Inertia crept over from head to foot.
She had long lost her zest for life,
With life saps drained out like an empty well,
She felt nothing but the heat of scorching drought.

Nothing could move her grief laden soul,
None could lift the weight off her back,
Embers of fire sparked from the anvil of her heart,
Heaves of sighs escaped from her parched mouth,

She wriggled and writhed in unspeakable pain,
Her spirits sank deeper into a slithery marsh,
She saw around only a thick pall of gloom,
Or was it a projection of her own self?

Anguish gnawed her nerves and sinews,
Flames of pain danced within her spine,
She felt her head beginning to reel,
And the heavy weight of lead all around her neck.

She felt being pushed down to abysmal depths,
And the octopus tightening its tentacles all around.
Who on earth will set me free?
What on earth can lift me up?

With thundering force the question shook her weary self.
She sprang to her feet and broke loose her chains,
She found she was but in self - exile,
A captive entrapped within boundless space.
She saw the door opening to infinite lengths,
And the arched horizon looming larger than life,
She spread her wings and propelled up,
And darted through the clouds to distant shores.

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