The Third World War
As our world dips deeper into recession,
Unemployment then falls through the floor,
Millions without work causes depression,
As the working class are shown the door.
They watch as the rich go on their merry way,
The very people who caused this crash,
On their lavish lifestyles we do not have a say,
They look upon us as their trash.
As worldwide we lose our work and homes,
Our patience is running out fast,
As the rich sit back polishing their chromes,
We are asking how long can this last.
We need to be very careful here,
Our history shows were we are heading,
The very thought should fill us with fear,
It's world leaders we should be dreading.
To curb unemployment in one fell swoop,
The answer is there in their face,
We already know just how low they'll stoop,
Millions of us will vanish without trace.
It creates work for all in a very short time,
It's a solution they do like to use,
Any other day it would be classed as a crime,
So we need to watch out for their ruse.
The Eurozone ‘' PLEBS ‘' are up in arms,
We're all paying for the rich boys mistakes,
Why they're not affected should sound our alarms,
While we starve the politician takes.
The whole Middle East is about to erupt,
Turkey and Syria are about to implode,
Israel is watching with baited breath,
As their weapons of death they unload.
Their allies stand by waiting to move in,
With nuclear weapons in hand,
They'll then start a battle no one can win,
Claiming against evil we must make a stand.
This will be Armageddon of that there's no doubt,
They need to know their actions we abhor,
Common rules of decency politicians will flout,
As they instigate,
‘' The Third World War ‘'
- quotes about work
- quotes about nuclear
- quotes about Israel
- quotes about paying
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about war
- quotes about boys
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about sound
World Leaders Count Civilized Zeroes
in nomadic myth legendary ages
once fabricated their footheels
over stony calligraphic structures”
hoards invade ride still from steeps
nomadic pastoral safer age planet breaths
earth before we harnessed razor atoms
learned how to strip deforest continents
indifference melt pristine polar ice caps
before blind greed became repeat earth rapes
conventional nuclear chemical biological wars
button push threatens humanity all species
with horrific global event horizon extinctions
ghost echoes we return again to night themes
while world leaders seemingly count zeroes
Lets go down to the sunset grill
We can watch the working girls go by
Watch the basket people walk around and
And stare out at the auburn sky
Theres an old man there from the old world
To him, its all the same
Calls all his customers by name
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
You see a lot more meanness in the city
Its the kind that tears you up inside
Hard to come away with anything that feels
Hard to get home with any pride
These days a man makes you somethin
And you never see his face
But there is no hiding place
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Respectable little murders pay
They get more respectable every day
Dont worry girl, Im gonna stick by you
And someday soon were gonna get in that
Car and get outta here
Lets go down to the sunset grill
Watch the working girls go by
Watch the basket people walk around and
And gaze out at the auburn sky
Maybe well leave come springtime
Meanwhile, have another beer
What would we do without these jerks
Besides, all our friends are here
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
Down at the sunset grill
The Tower Beyond Tragedy
You'd never have thought the Queen was Helen's sister- Troy's
burning-flower from Sparta, the beautiful sea-flower
Cut in clear stone, crowned with the fragrant golden mane, she
the ageless, the uncontaminable-
This Clytemnestra was her sister, low-statured, fierce-lipped, not
dark nor blonde, greenish-gray-eyed,
Sinewed with strength, you saw, under the purple folds of the
queen-cloak, but craftier than queenly,
Standing between the gilded wooden porch-pillars, great steps of
stone above the steep street,
Awaiting the King.
Most of his men were quartered on the town;
he, clanking bronze, with fifty
And certain captives, came to the stair. The Queen's men were
a hundred in the street and a hundred
Lining the ramp, eighty on the great flags of the porch; she
raising her white arms the spear-butts
Thundered on the stone, and the shields clashed; eight shining
Let fly from the wide window over the entrance the wildbirds of
their metal throats, air-cleaving
Over the King come home. He raised his thick burnt-colored
beard and smiled; then Clytemnestra,
Gathering the robe, setting the golden-sandaled feet carefully,
stone by stone, descended
One half the stair. But one of the captives marred the comeliness
of that embrace with a cry
Gull-shrill, blade-sharp, cutting between the purple cloak and
the bronze plates, then Clytemnestra:
Who was it? The King answered: A piece of our goods out of
the snatch of Asia, a daughter of the king,
So treat her kindly and she may come into her wits again. Eh,
you keep state here my queen.
You've not been the poorer for me.- In heart, in the widowed
chamber, dear, she pale replied, though the slaves
Toiled, the spearmen were faithful. What's her name, the slavegirl's?
AGAMEMNON Come up the stair. They tell me my kinsman's
Lodged himself on you.
CLYTEMNESTRA Your cousin Aegisthus? He was out of refuge,
flits between here and Tiryns.
Dear: the girl's name?
AGAMEMNON Cassandra. We've a hundred or so other
captives; besides two hundred
Rotted in the hulls, they tell odd stories about you and your
guest: eh? no matter: the ships
Ooze pitch and the August road smokes dirt, I smell like an
old shepherd's goatskin, you'll have bath-water?
They're making it hot. Come, my lord. My hands will pour it.
(They enter the palace.)
In the holy city,
In Troy, when the stone was standing walls and the ash
Was painted and carved wood and pictured curtains,
And those lived that are dead, they had caged a den
Of wolves out of the mountain, and I a maiden
Was led to see them: it stank and snarled,
The smell was the smell here, the eyes were the eyes
Of steep Mycenae: O God guardian of wanderers
Let me die easily.
So cried Cassandra the daughter of King Priam, treading the steps
of the palace at Mycenae.
Swaying like a drunken woman, drunk with the rolling of the
ship, and with tears, and with prophecy.
The stair may yet be seen, among the old stones that are Mycenae;
tall dark Cassandra, the prophetess,
The beautiful girl with whom a God bargained for love, high-nurtured,
captive, shamefully stained
With the ship's filth and the sea's, rolled her dark head upon her
shoulders like a drunken woman
And trod the great stones of the stair. The captives, she among
them, were ranked into a file
On the flagged porch, between the parapet and the spearmen.
The people below shouted for the King,
King Agamemnon, returned conqueror, after the ten years of
battle and death in Asia.
Then cried Cassandra:
Good spearmen you did not kill my father, not you
Violated my mother with the piercing
That makes no life in the womb, not you defiled
My tall blond brothers with the masculine lust
That strikes its loved one standing,
And leaves him what no man again nor a girl
Ever will gaze upon with the eyes of desire:
Therefore you'll tell me
Whether it's an old custom in the Greek country
The cow goring the bull, break the inner door back
And see in what red water how cloaked your King
Bathes, and my brothers are avenged a little.
One said: Captive be quiet. And she: What have I to be quiet for,
you will not believe me.
Such wings my heart spreads when the red runs out of any
Greek, I must let the bird fly. O soldiers
He that mishandled me dies! The first, one of your two brute
Aj axes, that threw me backward
On the temple flagstones, a hard bride-bed, I enduring him
heard the roofs of my city breaking,
The roar of flames and spearmen: what came to Ajax? Out of a
cloud the loud-winged falcon lightning
Came on him shipwrecked, clapped its wings about him, clung
to him, the violent flesh burned and the bones
Broke from each other in that passion; and now this one, returned
safe, the Queen is his lightning.
While she yet spoke a slave with haggard eyes darted from the
door; there were hushed cries and motions
In the inner dark of the great hall. Then the Queen Clytemnestra
issued, smiling. She drew
Her cloak up, for the brooch on the left shoulder was broken; the
fillet of her hair had come unbound;
Yet now she was queenly at length; and standing at the stair-head
spoke: Men of Mycenae, I have made
Sacrifice for the joy this day has brought to us, the King come
home, the enemy fallen, fallen,
In the ashes of Asia. I have made sacrifice. I made the prayer
with my own lips, and struck the bullock
With my own hand. The people murmured together, She's not
a priestess, the Queen is not a priestess,
What has she done there, what wild sayings
Make wing in the Queen's throat?
CLYTEMNESTRA I have something to tell you.
Too much joy is a message-bearer of misery.
A little is good; but come too much and it devours us. Therefore
we give of a great harvest
Sheaves to the smiling Gods; and therefore out of a full cup we
pour the quarter. No man
Dare take all that God sends him, whom God favors, or destruction
Rides into the house in the last basket. I have been twelve years
your shepherdess, I the Queen have ruled you
And I am accountable for you.
Why should a man kill his own mother?
The cub of the lion being grown
Will fight with the lion, but neither lion nor wolf
Nor the unclean jackal
Bares tooth against the womb that he dropped out of:
Yet I have seen
Strike that captive woman with your hand, spearman; and then
if the spirit
Of the she-wolf in her will not quiet, with the butt of the spear.
CASSANDRA -the blade in the child's hand
Enter the breast that the child sucked-that woman's-
The left breast that the robe has dropped from, for the brooch is
That very hillock of whiteness, and she crying, she kneeling
(The spearman 'who is nearest CASSANDRA covers her mouth
twith his hand.)
My sister's beauty entered Troy with too much gladness. They
forgot to make sacrifice.
Therefore destruction entered; therefore the daughters of Troy
cry out in strange dispersals, and this one
Grief has turned mad. I will not have that horror march under
the Lion-gate of Mycenae
That split the citadel of Priam. Therefore I say I have made
sacrifice; I have subtracted
A fraction from immoderate joy. For consider, my people,
How unaccountably God has favored the city and brought home
the army. King Agamemnon,
My dear, my husband, my lord and yours,
Is yet not such a man as the Gods love; but insolent, fierce, overbearing,
Brought many times many great evils
On all the heads and fighting hopes of the Greek force. Why,
even before the fleet made sail,
While yet it gathered on Boeotian Aulis, this man offended. He
slew one of the deer
Of the sacred herd of Artemis, out of pure impudence, hunter's
pride that froths in a young boy
Laying nock to string of his first bow: this man, grown, a grave
king, leader of the Greeks.
The angry Goddess
Blew therefore from the horn of the Trojan shore storm without
end, no slackening, no turn, no slumber
Of the eagle bound to break the oars of the fleet and split the
hulls venturing: you know what answer
Calchas the priest gave: his flesh must pay whose hand did the
evil-his flesh! mine also. His? My daughter.
They knew that of my three there was one that I loved.
Blameless white maid, my Iphigenia, whose throat the knife,
Whose delicate soft throat the thing that cuts sheep open was
drawn across by a priest's hand
And the soft-colored lips drained bloodless
That had clung here-here- Oh!
(Drawing the robe from her breasts.)
These feel soft, townsmen; these are red at the tips, they have
neither blackened nor turned marble.
King Agamemnon hoped to pillow his black-haired breast upon
them, my husband, that mighty conqueror,
Come home with glory. He thought they were still a woman's,
they appear a woman's. I'll tell you something.
Since fawn slaughtered for slaughtered fawn evened the debt
these that feel soft and warm are wounding ice,
They ache with their hardness . . .
Shall I go on and count the other follies of the King? The
insolences to God and man
That brought down plague, and brought Achilles' anger against
the army? Yet God brought home a remnant
Against all hope: therefore rejoice.
But lest too much rejoicing slay us I have made sacrifice. A little
girl's brought you over the sea.
What could be great enough for safe return? A sheep's death?
A bull's? What thank-offering?
All these captives, battered from the ships, bruised with captivity,
damaged flesh and forlorn minds?
God requires wholeness in the victim. You dare not think what
he demands. I dared. I, I,
Men of the Argolis, you that went over the sea and you that
guarded the home coasts
And high stone war-belts of the cities: remember how many
spearmen these twelve years have called me
Queen, and have loved me, and been faithful, and remain faithful.
What I bring you is accomplished.
King Agamemnon. The King. We will hear the King.
CLYTEMNESTRA What I bring you is accomplished.
Accept it, the cities are at peace, the ways are safe between
them, the Gods favor us. Refuse it ...
You will not refuse it ...
VOICES The King. We will hear the King. Let
us see the King.
You will not refuse it; I have my faithful They would run, the
From the gate and by the graves through every crooked street
of the great city, they would run in the pasture
Outside the walls: and on this stair: stemmed at this entrance-
Ah, sister, do you also behold visions? I was watching red
Be wise, townsmen. As for the King: slaves will bring him to you
when he has bathed; you will see him.
The slaves will carry him on a litter, he has learned Asian ways in
Asia, too great a ruler
To walk, like common spearmen.
CASSANDRA Who is that, standing behind
you, Clytemnestra? What God
Dark in the doorway?
CLYTEMNESTRA Deal you with your own demons. You
know what I have done, captive. You know
I am holding lions with my two eyes: if I turn and loose
them . . .
CASSANDRA It is . . . the King. There! There! Ah!
Or of I should make any move to increase confusion. If I should
say for example, Spearman
Kill that woman. I cannot say it this moment; so little as from
one spear wound in your body
A trickle would loose them on us.
CASSANDRA Yet he stands behind you.
A-ah! I can bear it. I have seen much lately
A CAPTAIN (down the stair; standing forward from his men)
O Queen, there is no man in the world, but one (if that one
lives), may ask you to speak
Otherwise than you will. You have spoken in riddles to the
people . . .
CASSANDRA Not me! Why will you choose
Me! I submitted to you living, I was forced, you entered me . . .
THE CAPTAIN Also there was a slave here,
Whose eyes stood out from his chalk face, came buzzing from
the palace postern gate, whimpering
A horrible thing. I killed him. But the men have heard it.
CASSANDRA You were the king, I was your slave.
Here you see, here, I took the black-haired breast of the bull,
I endured it, I opened my thighs, I suffered
The other thing besides death that you Greeks have to give
THE CAPTAIN Though this one raves and you are silent,
Queen, terrible-eyed . . .
CASSANDRA That was the slave's part: but this
time . . . dead King . . .
I ... will . . . not submit. Ah! Ah! No!
If you will steal the body of someone living take your wife's,
take that soldier's there
I pray you Queen command the captive woman be quieted in a
stone chamber; she increases confusion,
The soldiers cannot know some terrible thing may not have
happened; you men and the King's grin
Like wolves over the kill, the whole city totters on a swordedge
Drive him off me! Pity, pity!
I have no power; I thought when he was dead another man would
use me, your Greek custom,
Not he, he, newly slain.
He is driving me out, he enters, he possesses, this is my last defilement.
Ah . . . Greeks . . .
With the voice the spirit seemed to fly out.
She upflung her shining
Arms with the dreadful and sweet gesture of a woman surrendering
utterly to force and love,
She in the eyes of the people, like a shameless woman, and fell
writhing, and the dead King's soul
Entered her body. In that respite the Queen:
Captain: and you,
soldiers, that shift unsoldierly
The weapons that should be upright, at attention, like stiff
grass-blades: and you, people of Mycenae:
While this one maddened, and you muttered, echoing together,
and you, soldier, with anxious questions
Increased confusion: who was it that stood firm, who was it that
stood silent, who was it that held
With her two eyes the whole city from splitting wide asunder?
Your Queen was it? I am your Queen,
And now I will answer what you asked. ... It is true. . . . He
has died. ... I am the Queen.
My little son Orestes will grow up and govern you.
spoke the body of Cassandra
Arose among the shaken spears, taller than the spears, and stood
among the waving spears
Stone-quiet, like a high war-tower in a windy pinewood, but
deadly to look at, with blind and tyrannous
Eyes; and the Queen: All is accomplished; and if you are wise,
people of Mycenae: quietness is wisdom.
No tumult will call home a dead man out of judgment. The end
is the end. Ah, soldiers! Down spears!
What, now Troy's fallen you think there's not a foreigner in
the world bronze may quench thirst on? Lion-cubs,
If you will tear each other in the lair happy the wolves, happy
the hook-nose vultures.
Call the eaters of carrion? I am your Queen, I am speaking to
you, you will hear me out before you whistle
The foul beaks from the mountain nest. I tell you I will forget
mercy if one man moves now.
I rule you, I.
The Gods have satisfied themselves in this man's death; there
shall not one drop of the blood of the city
Be shed further. I say the high Gods are content; as for the
And the great ghost of the King: my slaves will bring out the
King's body decently before you
And set it here, in the eyes of the city: spices the ships bring from
the south will comfort his spirit;
Mycenae and Tiryns and the shores will mourn him aloud; sheep
will be slain for him; a hundred beeves
Spill their thick blood into the trenches; captives and slaves go
down to serve him, yes all these captives
Burn in the ten-day fire with him, unmeasured wine quench it,
urned in pure gold the gathered ashes
Rest forever in the sacred rock; honored; a conqueror. . . .
Slaves, bring the King out of the house.
Alas my husband! she cried, clutching the brown strands of her
hair in both her hands, you have left me
A woman among lions! Ah, the King's power, ah the King's
victories! Weep for me, Mycenae!
Widowed of the King!
The people stood amazed, like sheep that
snuff at their dead shepherd, some hunter's
Ill-handled arrow having struck him from the covert, all by
mischance; he is fallen on the hillside
Between the oak-shadow and the stream; the sun burns his dead
face, his staff lies by him, his dog
Licks his hand, whining. So, like sheep, the people
Regarded that dead majesty whom the slaves brought out of the
house on a gold bed, and set it
Between the pillars of the porch. His royal robe covered his
wounds, there was no stain
Then that captain who had spoken before:
O Queen, before the mourning
The punishment: tell us who has done this. She raised her head,
and not a woman but a lioness
Blazed at him from her eyes: Dog, she answered, dog of the
Who said Speak dog, and you dared speak? Justice is mine.
Then he was silent; but Cassandra's
Body standing tall among the spears, over the parapet, her body
but not her spirit
Cried with a man's voice: Shall not even the stones of the stair,
shall not the stones under the columns
Speak, and the towers of the great wall of my city come down
against the murderess? O Mycenae
I yearned to night and day under the tents by Troy, O Tiryns,
O Mycenae, the door
Of death, and the gate before the door!
CLYTEMNESTRA That woman lies, or the
spirit of a lie cries from her. Spearman,
Kill that woman!
But Cassandra's body set its back against the
parapet, its face
Terribly fronting the raised knife; and called the soldier by his
name, in the King's voice, saying
Sheathe it; and the knife lowered, and the soldier
Fell on his knees before the King in the woman's body; and the
body of Cassandra cried from the parapet:
Horrible things, horrible things this house has witnessed: but here
is the most vile, that hundreds
Of spears are idle while the murderess, Clytemnestra the murderess,
the snake that came upon me
Naked and bathing, the death that lay with me in bed, the death
that has borne children to me,
Stands there unslain.
CLYTEMNESTRA Cowards, if the bawling of that bewildered
heifer from Troy fields has frightened you
How did you bear the horns of her brothers? Bring her to me.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
Let no man doubt, men of Mycenae,
She has yet the knife hid in her clothes, the very blade that
stabbed her husband and the blood is on it.
Look, she handles it now. Look, fellows. The hand under the
robe. Slay her not easily, that she-wolf.
Do her no honor with a spear! Ah! If I could find the word, if
I could find it,
The name of her, to say husband-slayer and bed-defiler, bitch
and wolf-bitch, king's assassin
And beast, beast, beast, all in one breath, in one word: spearmen
You would heap your shields over this woman and crush her
slowly, slowly, while she choked and screamed,
No, you would peel her bare and on the pavement for a bridebed
with a spear-butt for husband
Dig the lewd womb until it burst: this for Agamemnon, this for
Aegisthus Agh, cowards of the city
Do you stand quiet?
CLYTEMNESTRA Truly, soldiers,
I think it is he verily. No one could invent the abominable voice,
the unspeakable gesture,
The actual raging insolence of the tyrant. I am the hand ridded
the Argolis of him.
I here, I killed him, I, justly.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA You have heard her, you have
heard her, she has made confession.
Now if she'll show you the knife too
CLYTEMNESTRA Here. I kept it for safety.
And, as that beast said, his blood's yet on it.
Look at it, with so little a key I unlocked the kingdom of destruction.
Stand firm, till a God
Lead home this ghost to the dark country
So many Greeks have peopled, through his crimes, his violence,
his insolence, stand firm till that moment
And through the act of this hand and of this point no man shall
suffer anything again forever
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
I say if you let this woman live, this crime go
unpunished, what man among you
Will be safe in his bed? The woman ever envies the man, his
strength, his freedom, his loves.
Her envy is like a snake beside him, all his life through, her envy
and hatred: law tames that viper:
Law dies if the Queen die not: the viper is free then.
It will be poison in your meat or a knife to bleed you sleeping.
They fawn and slaver over us
And then we are slain.
CLYTEMNESTRA (to one of the slaves that carried the King’s
Is my lord Aegisthus
Slain on the way? How long? How long?
(To the people) He
came, fat with his crimes.
Greek valor broke down Troy, your valor, soldiers, and the brain
of Odysseus, the battle-fury of Achilles,
The stubborn strength of Menelaus, the excellence of you all:
this dead man here, his pride
Ruined you a hundred times: he helped nowise, he brought bitter
destruction: but he gathered your glory
For the cloak of his shoulders. I saw him come up the stair, I saw
my child Iphigenia
Killed for his crime; I saw his harlot, the captive woman there,
crying out behind him, I saw . . .
I saw ... I saw . . . how can I speak what crowd of the dead
faces of the faithful Greeks,
Your brothers, dead of his crimes; those that perished of plague
and those that died in the lost battles
After he had soured the help of Achilles for another harlot
those dead faces of your brothers,
Some black with the death-blood, many trampled under the
hooves of horses, many spotted with pestilence,
Flew all about him, all lamenting, all crying out against him,
horrible horrible I gave them
Vengeance; and you freedom.
(To the slave) Go up and look,
for God's sake, go up to the parapets,
Look toward the mountain. Bring me word quickly, my strength
How can I hold all the Argolis with my eyes forever? I alone?
Hell cannot hold her dead men,
Keep watch there-send me word by others-go, go!
(To the people) He
Magnificent, abominable, all in bronze.
I brought him to the bath; my hands undid the armor;
My hands poured out the water;
Dead faces like flies buzzed all about us;
He stripped himself before me, loathsome, unclean, with laughter;
The labors of the Greeks had made him fat, the deaths of the
faithful had swelled his belly;
I threw a cloak over him for a net and struck, struck, struck,
Blindly, in the steam of the bath; he bellowed, netted,
And bubbled in the water;
All the stone vault asweat with steam bellowed;
And I undid the net and the beast was dead, and the broad vessel
Stank with his blood.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
The word! The word! O burning mind of Godr
If ever I gave you bulls teach me that word, the name for her,
the name for her!
A SLAVE (running from the door; to CLYTEMNESTRA)
My lord. Aegisthus has come down the mountain, Queen, he
approaches the Lion-gate.
CLYTEMNESTRA It is time. I am tired now.
Meet him and tell him to come in the postern doorway.
THE CAPTAIN (on the stair: addressing the soldiers and the people
Companions: before God, hating the smell of crimes, crushes the
city into gray ashes
We must make haste. Judge now and act. For the husband-slayer
I say she must die, let her pay forfeit. And for the great ghost
of the King, let all these captives,
But chiefly the woman Cassandra, the crier in a man's voice there,
be slain upon his pyre to quiet him.
He will go down to his dark place and God will spare the city.
(To the soldiers above, on the ramp and the porch)
Comrades: Mycenae is greater
Than the Queen of Mycenae. The King is dead: let the Queen
die: let the city live. Comrades,
We suffered something in Asia, on the stranger's coast, laboring
for you. We dreamed of home there
In the bleak wind and drift of battle; we continued ten years,
laboring and dying; we accomplished
The task set us; we gathered what will make all the Greek cities
glorious, a name forever;
We shared the spoil, taking our share to enrich Mycenae. O but
our hearts burned then, O comrades
But our hearts melted when the great oars moved the ships, the
water carried us, the blue sea-waves
Slid under the black keel; I could not see them, I was blind with
tears, thinking of Mycenae.
We have come home. Behold the dear streets of our longing,
The stones that we desired, the steep ways of the city and the
Reek and steam with pollution, the accursed vessel
Spills a red flood over the floors.
The fountain of it stands there and calls herself the Queen. No
Queen, no Queen, that husband-slayer,
A common murderess. Comrades join us
We will make clean the city and sweeten it before God. We
will mourn together at the King's burying,
And a good year will come, we will rejoice together.
CLYTEMNESTRA Dog, you dare
something. Fling no spear, soldiers,
He has a few fools back of him would attempt the stair if the
dog were slain: I will have no one
Killed out of need.
ONE OF HER MEN ON THE PORCH (flinging his spear)
Not at him: at you
But some God, no lover of justice, turned it; the
great bronze tip grazing her shoulder
Clanged on the stones behind: the gong of a change in the dance:
now Clytemnestra, none to help her,
One against all, swayed raging by the King's corpse, over the
golden bed: it is said that a fire
Stood visibly over her head, mixed in the hair, pale flames and
CLYTEMNESTRA Here am I, thieves, thieves,
Drunkards, here is my breast, a deep white mark for cowards to
aim at: kings have lain on it.
No spear yet, heroes, heroes?
See, I have no blemish: the arms are white, the breasts are deep
and white, the whole body is blemishless:
You are tired of your brown wives, draw lots for me, rabble,
thieves, there is loot here, shake the dice, thieves, a game yet!
One of you will take the bronze and one the silver,
One the gold, and one me,
Me Clytemnestra a spoil worth having:
Kings have kissed me, this dead dog was a king, there is another
King at the gate: thieves, thieves, would not this shining
Breast brighten a sad thief's hut, roll in his bed's filth
Shiningly? You could teach me to draw water at the fountain,
A dirty child on the other hip: where are the dice? Let me
throw first, if I throw sixes
I choose my masters: closer you rabble, let me smell you.
Don't fear the knife, it has king's blood on it, I keep it for an
It has shot its sting.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA Fools, fools, Strike!
Are your hands dead?
CLYTEMNESTRA You Would see all of me
Before you choose whether to kill or dirtily cherish? If what
the King's used needs commending
To the eyes of thieves for thieves' use: give me room, give me
room, fellows, you'll see it is faultless.
The dress . . . there . . .
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA Fools this wide whore played wife
When she was going about to murder me the King; you, will
you let her trip you
With the harlot's trick? Strike! Make an end!
CLYTEMNESTRA I have not my
sister's, Troy's flame's beauty, but I have something.
This arm, round, firm, skin without hair, polished like marble:
the supple-jointed shoulders:
Men have praised the smooth neck, too,
The strong clear throat over the deep wide breasts . . .
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA She is
buying an hour: sheep: it may be Aegisthus
Is at the Lion-gate.
CLYTEMNESTRA If he were here, Aegisthus,
I’d not be the pedlar of what trifling charms I have for an
hour of life yet. You have wolves' eyes:
Yet there is something kindly about the blue ones there yours,
young soldier, young soldier. . . . The last,
The under-garment? You won't buy me yet? This dead dog,
The King here, never saw me naked: I had the night for nurse:
turn his head sideways, the eyes
Are only half shut. If I should touch him, and the blood came,
you'd say I had killed him. Nobody, nobody,
Killed him: his pride burst.
Ah, no one has pity!
I can serve well, I have always envied your women, the public ones.
Who takes me first? Tip that burnt log onto the flagstones,
This will be in a king's bed then. Your eyes are wolves' eyes:
So many, so many, so famishing
I will undo it, handle me not yet, I can undo it ...
Or I will tear it.
And when it is off me then I will be delivered to you beasts . . .
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
Then strip her and use her to the bones, wear her through, kill
her with it.
When it is torn
You'll say I am lovely: no one has seen before . . .
It won't tear: I'll slit it with this knife
(Aegisthus, with many spearmen, issues from the great door.
CLYTEMNESTRA stabs right and left with the knife; the
men are too close to strike her with their long spears.)
It's time. Cowards, goats, goats. Here! Aegisthus!
I am here. What have they done?
Nothing: clear the porch: I have done something. Drive them
on the stair!
Three of them I've scarred for life: a rough bridegroom, the
rabble, met a fierce bride.
(She catches up her robe.)
I held them with my eyes, hours, hours. I am not tired. . . .
My lord, my lover:
I have killed a twelve-point stag for a present for you: with my
own hands: look, on the golden litter.
You arrive timely.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
Tricked, stabbed, shamed, mocked at, the spoil of a lewd woman,
I lie there ready for her back-stairs darling to spit on. Tricked,
stabbed, sunk in the drain
And gutter of time. I that thundered the assault, I that mustered
the Achaeans. Cast out of my kingdom,
Cast out of time, out of the light.
CLYTEMNESTRA One of the captives, dear.
It left its poor wits
Over the sea. If it annoys you I'll quiet it. But post your sentinels.
All's not safe yet, though I am burning with joy now.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA O single-eyed
glare of the sky
Flying southwest to the mountain: sun, through a slave's eyes,
My own broken, I see you this last day; my own darkened, no
dawn forever; the adulterers
Will swim in your warm gold, day after day; the eyes of the
murderess will possess you;
And I have gone away down: knowing that no God in the earth
nor sky loves justice; and having tasted
The toad that serves women for heart. From now on may all
Marry them with swords. Those that have borne children
Their sons rape them with spears.
CLYTEMNESTRA More yet, more, more, more,
while my hand's in? It's not a little
You easily living lords of the sky require of who'd be like you,
who'd take time in the triumph,
Build joy solid. Do we have to do everything? I have killed
what I hated:
Kill what I love? The prophetess said it, this dead man says it:
my little son, the small soft image
That squirmed in my arms be an avenger? Love, from your loins
Seed: I begin new, I will be childless for you. The child my son,
the child my daughter!
Though I cry I feel nothing.
AEGISTHUS O strongest spirit in the world.
We have dared enough, there is an end to it.
We may pass nature a little, an arrow-flight,
But two shots over the wall you come in a cloud upon the feasting
Gods, lightning and madness.
Dear: make them safe. They may try to run away, the children.
Set spears to watch them: no harm, no harm,
But stab the nurse if they go near a door. Watch them, keep the
gates, order the sentinels,
While I make myself Queen over this people again. I can do it.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA The sun's gone; that glimmer's
The moon of the dead. The dark God calls me. Yes, God,
I'll come in a moment.
CLYTEMNESTRA (at the head of the great stairs)
Soldiers: townsmen: it seems
I am not at the end delivered to you: dogs, for the lion came:
the poor brown and spotted women
Will have to suffice you. But is it nothing to have come within
handling distance of the clear heaven
This dead man knew when he was young and God endured him?
Is it nothing to you?
It is something to me to have felt the fury
And concentration of you: I will not say I am grateful: I am
not angry: to be desired
Is wine even to a queen. You bathed me in it, from brow to foot-sole,
I had nearly enough.
But now remember that the dream is over. I am the Queen:
Mycenae is my city. If you grin at me
I have spears: also Tiryns and all the country people of the
Argolis will come against you and swallow you,
Empty out these ways and walls, stock them with better subjects.
A rock nest for new birds here, townsfolk:
You are not essential.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA. I hear him calling through the shewolf's
noise, Agamemnon, Agamemnon,
The dark God calls. Some old king in a fable is it?
CLYTEMNESTRA So choose.
What choices? To reenter my service
Unpunished, no thought of things past, free of conditions . . .
Or dine at this man's table, have new mouths made in you to
eat bronze with.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA Who is Agamemnon?
You letting go of the sun: is it dark the land you are running
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA It is dark.
CLYTEMNESTRA IS it Sorrowful?
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA
There is nothing but misery.
CLYTEMNESTRA Has any man ever come back thence?
Hear me, not the dark God.
THE BODY OF CASSANDRA No man has ever.
Go then, go, go down. You will not choose to follow him, people
of the rock-city? No one
Will choose to follow him. I have killed: it is easy: it may be
I shall kill nearer than this yet:
But not you, townsfolk, you will give me no cause; I want
security; I want service, not blood.
I have been desired of the whole city, publicly; I want service,
not lust. You will make no sign
Of your submission; you will not give up your weapons; neither
shall your leaders be slain;
And he that flung the spear, I have forgotten his face.
AEGISTHUS (entering) Dearest,
they have gone, the nurse and the children,
No one knows where.
CLYTEMNESTRA I am taming this people: send men after
them. If any harm comes to the children
Bring me tokens. I will not be in doubt, I will not have the arch
fall on us. I dare
What no one dares. I envy a little the dirty mothers of the city.
Nothing in me hurts. I have animal waters in my eyes, but the
spirit is not wounded. Electra and Orestes
Are not to live when they are caught. Bring me sure tokens.
CASSANDRA Who is this woman like a beacon
Lit on the stair, who are these men with dogs' heads?
I have ranged time and seen no sight like this one.
Have you returned, Cassandra? . . . The dead king has gone
down to his place, we may bury his leavings.
I have witnessed all the wars to be; I am not sorrowful
For one drop from the pail of desolation
Spilt on my father's city; they were carrying it forward
To water the world under the latter starlight.
CLYTEMNESTRA (to her slaves)
Take up the poles of the bed; reverently; careful on the stair;
give him to the people. (To the people) O soldiers
This was your leader; lay him with honor in the burial-chapel;
guard him with the spears of victory;
Mourn him until to-morrow, when the pyre shall be built.
Ah, King of men, sleep, sleep, sleep!
. . . But when shall I? ... They are after their corpse, like
dogs after the butcher's cart. Cleomenes, that captain
With the big voice: Neobulus was the boy who flung the spear
and missed. I shall not miss
When spear-flinging-time comes. . . . Captive woman, you have
seen the future, tell me my fortune.
(Aegisthus comes from the doorway.)
Have your hounds got them?
AEGISTHUS I've covered every escape with men,
they'll not slip through me. But commanded
To bring them here living.
CLYTEMNESTRA That's hard: tigresses don't do it: I
have some strength yet: don't speak of it
And I shall do it.
AEGISTHUS It is a thing not to be done: we'll guard them
closely: but mere madness
Lies over the wall of too-much.
CLYTEMNESTRA King of Mycenae, new-crowned
king, who was your mother?
What mark do you aim at?
CLYTEMNESTRA And your father?
CLYTEMNESTRA And her father?
same man, Thyestes.
See, dearest, dearest? They love what men call crime, they have
taken her crime to be the king of Mycenae.
Here is the stone garden of the plants that pass nature: there is
no too-much here: the monstrous
Old rocks want monstrous roots to serpent among them. I will
have security. I'd burn the standing world
Up to this hour and begin new. You think I am too much used
for a new brood? Ah, lover,
I have fountains in me. I had a fondness for the brown cheek
of that boy, the curl of his
The widening blue of the doomed eyes ... I will be spared
nothing. Come in, come in, they'll have news for us.
If anywhere in the world
Were a tower with foundations, or a treasure-chamber
With a firm vault, or a walled fortress
That stood on the years, not staggering, not moving
As the mortar were mixed with wine for water
And poppy for lime: they reel, they are all drunkards,
The piled strengths of the world: no pyramid
In bitter Egypt in the desert
But skips at moonrise; no mountain
Over the Black Sea in awful Caucasus
But whirls like a young kid, like a bud of the herd,
Under the hundredth star: I am sick after steadfastness
Watching the world cataractlike
Pour screaming onto steep ruins: for the wings of prophecy
God once my lover give me stone sandals
Planted on stone: he hates me, the God, he will never
Take home the gift of the bridleless horse
The stallion, the unbitted stallion: the bed
Naked to the sky on Mount Ida,
The soft clear grass there,
Be blackened forever, may vipers and Greeks
In that glen breed
Twisting together, where the God
Come golden from the sun
Gave me for a bride-gift prophecy and I took it for a treasure:
I a fool, I a maiden,
I would not let him touch me though love of him maddened me
Till he fed me that poison, till he planted that fire in me,
The girdle flew loose then.
The Queen considered this rock, she gazed on the great stone
blocks of Mycenae's acropolis;
Monstrous they seemed to her, solid they appeared to her, safe
rootage for monstrous deeds: Ah fierce one
Who knows who laid them for a snare? What people in the
world's dawn breathed on chill air and the vapor
Of their breath seemed stone and has stood and you dream it is
established? These also are a foam on the stream
Of the falling of the world: there is nothing to lay hold on:
No crime is a crime, the slaying of the King was a meeting of
two bubbles on the lip of the cataract,
One winked . . . and the killing of your children would be
nothing: I tell you for a marvel that the earth is a dancer,
The grave dark earth is less quiet than a fool's fingers,
That old one, spinning in the emptiness, blown by no wind in
vain circles, light-witted and a dancer.
You are prophesying: prophesy to a purpose, captive woman.
My children, the boy and the girl,
Have wandered astray, no one can find them.
CASSANDRA Shall I tell the lioness
Where meat is, or the she-wolf where the lambs wander astray?
CLYTEMNESTRA But look into the darkness
And foam of the world: the boy has great tender blue eyes,
brown hair, disdainful lips, you'll know him
By the gold stripe bordering his garments; the girl's eyes are
my color, white her clothing
Of shining bubbles burst and wander
On the stream of the world falling . . .
CLYTEMNESTRA These are my children!
CASSANDRA I see
mountains, I see no faces.
Tell me and I make you free; conceal it from me and a soldier's
spear finishes the matter.
I am the spear's bride, I have been waiting, waiting for that
CLYTEMNESTRA (striking her) Live then. It will not be unpainful.
(CLYTEMNESTRA goes in.)
O fair roads north where the land narrows
Over the mountains between the great gulfs,
that I too with the King's children
Might wander northward hand in hand.
Mine are worse wanderings:
They will shelter on Mount Parnassus,
For me there is no mountain firm enough,
The storms of light beating on the headlands,
The storms of music undermine the mountains, they stumble
and fall inward,
Such music the stars
Make in their courses, the vast vibration
Plucks the iron heart of the earth like a harp-string.
Iron and stone core, O stubborn axle of the earth, you also
Dissolving in a little time like salt in water,
What does it matter that I have seen Macedon
Roll all the Greek cities into one billow and strand in Asia
The anthers and bracts of the flower of the world?
That I have seen Egypt and Nineveh
Crumble, and a Latian village
Plant the earth with javelins? It made laws for all men, it dissolved
like a cloud.
I have also stood watching a storm of wild swans
Rise from one river-mouth . . . O force of the earth rising,
O fallings of the earth: forever no rest, not forever
From the wave and the trough, from the stream and the slack,
from growth and decay: O vulture-
Pinioned, my spirit, one flight yet, last, longest, unguided,
Try into the gulf,
Over Greece, over Rome, you have space O my spirit for the
Are not few of captivity: how many have I stood here
Among the great stones, while the Queen's people
Go in and out of the gate, wearing light linen
For summer and the wet spoils of wild beasts
In the season of storms: and the stars have changed, I have
The grievous and unprayed-to constellations
Pile steaming spring and patient autumn
Over the enduring walls: but you over the walls of the world,
Over the unquieted centuries, over the darkness-hearted
Millenniums wailing thinly to be born, O vulture-pinioned
Try into the dark,
Watch the north spawn white bodies and red-gold hair,
Race after race of beastlike warriors; and the cities
Burn, and the cities build, and new lands be uncovered
In the way of the sun to his setting ... go on farther, what
In the wars and the toils? but I say
Where are prosperous people my enemies are, as you pass them
O my spirit
Curse Athens for the joy and the marble, curse Corinth
For the wine and the purple, and Syracuse
For the gold and the ships; but Rome, Rome,
With many destructions for the corn and the laws and the javelins,
the insolence, the threefold
Abominable power: pass the humble
And the lordships of darkness, but far down
Smite Spain for the blood on the sunset gold, curse France
For the fields abounding and the running rivers, the lights in the
cities, the laughter, curse England
For the meat on the tables and the terrible gray ships, for old
laws, far dominions, there remains
A mightier to be cursed and a higher for malediction
When America has eaten Europe and takes tribute of Asia, when
the ends of the world grow aware of each other
And are dogs in one kennel, they will tear
The master of the hunt with the mouths of the pack: new fallings,
new risings, O winged one
No end of the fallings and risings? An end shall be surely,
Though unnatural things are accomplished, they breathe in the
They swim in the air, they bridle the cloud-leaper lightning to
carry their messages:
Though the eagles of the east and the west and the falcons of
the north were not quieted, you have seen a white cloth
Cover the lands from the north and the eyes of the lands and the
claws of the hunters,
The mouths of the hungry with snow
Were filled, and their claws
Took hold upon ice in the pasture, a morsel of ice was their
catch in the rivers,
That pure white quietness
Waits on the heads of the mountains, not sleep but death, will
Of burnt cities and ships in that year warm you my enemies?
The frost, the old frost,
Like a cat with a broken-winged bird it will play with you,
It will nip and let go; you will say it is gone, but the next
Season it increases: O clean, clean,
White and most clean, colorless quietness,
Without trace, without trail, without stain in the garment, drawn
From the poles to the girdle. ... I have known one Godhead
To my sore hurt: I am growing to come to another: O grave
Last of the lords of the earth, I pray you lead my substance
Speedily into another shape, make me grass, Death, make me
Make me air to wander free between the stars and the peaks;
but cut humanity
Out of my being, that is the wound that festers in me,
Not captivity, not my enemies: you will heal the earth also,
Death, in your time; but speedily Cassandra.
You rock-fleas hopping in the clefts of Mycenae,
Suckers of blood, you carrying the scepter farther, Persian,
Roman and Mongol and American, and you half-gods
Indian and Syrian and the third, emperors of peace, I have seen
on what stage
You sing the little tragedy; the column of the ice that was before
on one side flanks it,
The column of the ice to come closes it up on the other: audience
I have never seen yet: I have heard the silence: it is I Cassandra,
Eight years the bitter watchdog of these doors,
Have watched a vision
And now approach to my end. Eight years I have seen the
Walk up and down this stair; and the rocks groan in the night,
the great stones move when no man sees them.
And I have forgotten the fine ashlar masonry of the courts of my
father. I am not Cassandra
But a counter of sunrises, permitted to live because I am crying
to die; three thousand,
Pale and red, have flowed over the towers in the wall since I was
here watching; the deep east widens,
The cold wind blows, the deep earth sighs, the dim gray finger
of light crooks at the morning star.
The palace feasted late and sleeps with its locked doors; the last
drunkard from the alleys of the city
Long has reeled home. Whose foot is this then, what phantom
Toils on the stair?
A VOICE BELOW Is someone watching above? Good sentinel I
am only a girl beggar.
I would sit on the stair and hold my bowl.
CASSANDRA I here eight years have
begged for a thing and not received it.
You are not a sentinel? You have been asking some great boon,
out of all reason.
CASSANDRA No: what the meanest
Beggar disdains to take.
THE GIRL BEGGAR Beggars disdain nothing: what is it that
they refuse you?
CASSANDRA What's given
Even to the sheep and to the bullock.
THE GIRL Men give them salt, grass
they find out for themselves.
CASSANDRA Men give them
The gift that you though a beggar have brought down from the
north to give my mistress.
THE GIRL You speak riddles.
I am starving, a crust is my desire.
CASSANDRA Your voice is young though
winds have hoarsened it, your body appears
Flexible under the rags: have you some hidden sickness, the
young men will not give you silver?
I have a sickness: I will hide it until I am cured. You are not
a Greek woman?
CASSANDRA But you
Born in Mycenae return home. And you bring gifts from Phocis:
for my once master who's dead
Vengeance; and for my mistress peace, for my master the King
peace, and, by-shot of the doom's day,
Peace for me also. But I have prayed for it.
THE GIRL I know you, I knew
you before you spoke to me, captive woman,
And I unarmed will kill you with my hands if you babble
That peace you have prayed for, I will bring it to you
If you utter warnings.
CASSANDRA To-day I shall have peace, you cannot
tempt me, daughter of the Queen, Electra.
Eight years ago I watched you and your brother going north
to Phocis: the Queen saw knowledge of you
Move in my eyes: I would not tell her where you were when
she commanded me: I will not betray you
To-day either: it is not doleful to me
To see before I die generations of destruction enter the doors
Where is your brother?
ELECTRA Prophetess: you see all: I will tell you
CASSANDRA He has well chosen his ambush,
It is true Aegisthus passes under that house to-day, to hunt in
ELECTRA Now I remember
Your name. Cassandra.
CASSANDRA Hush: the gray has turned yellow, the
Stream up from the east; they stir there in the palace; strange,
is it not, the dawn of one's last day's
Like all the others? Your brother would be fortunate if to-day
The last of his.
ELECTRA He will endure his destinies; and Cassandra hers;
and Electra mine.
He has been for years like one tortured with fire: this day will
CASSANDRA They are opening the gates: beg now.
To your trade, beggar-woman.
THE PORTER (coming out) Eh, pillar of miseries,
You still on guard there? Like a mare in a tight stall, never lying
down. What's this then?
A second ragged one? This at least can bend in the middle and
sit on a stone.
ELECTRA Dear gentleman
I am not used to it, my father is dead and hunger forces me to
beg, a crust or a penny.
This tall one's licensed in a manner. I think they'll not let two
bundles of rag
Camp on the stair: but if you'd come to the back door and please
me nicely: with a little washing
It'd do for pastime.
ELECTRA I was reared gently: I will sit here, the King
will see me,
And none mishandle me.
THE PORTER I bear no blame for you.
I have not seen you: you came after the gates were opened.
(He goes in.)
O blossom of fire, bitter to men,
Watchdog of the woeful days,
How many sleepers
Bathing in peace, dreaming themselves delight,
All over the city, all over the Argolid plain, all over the dark
(Not me, a deeper draught of peace
And darker waters alone may wash me)
Do you, terrible star, star without pity,
Wolf of the east, waken to misery.
To the wants unaccomplished, to the eating desires,
To unanswered love, to hunger, to the hard edges
And mold of reality, to the whips of their masters.
They had flown away home to the happy darkness,
They were safe until sunrise.
(King Aegisthus, with his retinue, comes from the great
Even here, in the midst of the city, the early day
Has a clear savor. (To ELECTRA) What, are you miserable, holding
the bowl out?
We'll hear the lark to-day in the wide hills and smell the mountain.
I'd share happiness with you.
What's your best wish, girl beggar?
ELECTRA It is covered, my lord, how
should a beggar
Know what to wish for beyond a crust and a dark corner and a
AEGISTHUS Why do you tremble?
I was reared gently; my father is dead.
AEGISTHUS Stand up: will you take
service here in the house? What country
Bred you gently and proved ungentle to you?
ELECTRA I have wandered
north from the Eurotas, my lord,
Begging at farmsteads.
AEGISTHUS The Queen's countrywoman then, she'll
use you kindly. She'll be coming
In a moment, then I'll speak for you. -Did you bid them yoke
the roans into my chariot, Menalcas,
The two from Orchomenus?
ONE OF THE RETINUE Yesterday evening, my lord,
I sent to the stable.
AEGISTHUS They cost a pretty penny, we'll see how they
carry it. She's coming: hold up your head, girl.
(CLYTEMNESTRA, with two serving-women, comes from
Good hunt, dearest. Here's a long idle day for me to look to.
Kill early, come home early.
There's a poor creature on the step who's been reared nicely
and slipped into misery. I said you'd feed her,
And maybe find her a service. Farewell, sweet one.
CLYTEMNESTRA Where did she come from? How long have you
AEGISTHUS She says she has begged her way up from Sparta.
The horses are stamping on the cobbles, good-by, good-by.
(He goes down the stair with his huntsmen.)
CLYTEMNESTRA Good-by, dearest. Well. Let me see your face.
ELECTRA It is filthy to look at. I am ashamed.
CLYTEMNESTRA (to one of her serving-women) Leucippe do
you think this is a gayety of my lord's, he's not used to be
so kindly to beggars?
-Let me see your face.
LEUCIPPE She is very dirty, my lady. It is possible one of the
house-boys . . .
CLYTEMNESTRA I say draw that rag back, let me see your face.
I'd have him whipped then.
ELECTRA It was only in hope that someone would put a crust
in the bowl, your majesty, for I am starving. I didn't think
your majesty would see me.
CLYTEMNESTRA Draw back the rag.
ELECTRA I am very faint and starving but I will go down; I am
CLYTEMNESTRA Stop her, Corinna. Fetch the porter, Leucippe.
You will not go so easily. (ELECTRA sinks down on the steps
and lies prone, her head covered.) I am aging out of queenship
indeed, when even the beggars refuse my bidding.
(LEUCIPPE comes in 'with the porter.) You have a dirty stair,
porter. How long has this been here?
THE PORTER O my lady it has crept up since I opened the doors,
it was not here when I opened the doors.
CLYTEMNESTRA Lift it up and uncover its face. What is that
cry in the city? Stop: silent: I heard a cry . . .
Prophetess, your nostrils move like a dog's, what is that shouting?
. . .
I have grown weak, I am exhausted, things frighten me ...
Tell her to be gone, Leucippe, I don't wish to see her, I don't
wish to see her.
ELECTRA Ah, Queen, I will show you my face.
CLYTEMNESTRA No ... no ... be gone.
ELECTRA (uncovering her face)
Mother: I have come home: I am humbled. This house keeps
a dark welcome
For those coming home out of far countries.
CLYTEMNESTRA I Won't look: how
could I know anyone? I am old and shaking.
He said, Over the wall beyond nature
Lightning, and the laughter of the Gods. I did not cross it,
I will not kill what I gave life to.
Whoever you are, go, go, let me grow downward to the grave
ELECTRA I cannot
Go: I have no other refuge. Mother! Will you not kiss me, will
you not take me into the house,
Your child once, long a wanderer? Electra my name. I have
begged my way from Phocis, my brother is dead there,
Who used to care for me.
CLYTEMNESTRA Who is dead, who?
ELECTRA My brother Orestes,
Killed in a court quarrel
CLYTEMNESTRA (weeping) Oh, you lie! The widening blue
The little voice of the child . . . Liar.
ELECTRA It is true. I have wept
long, on every mountain. You, mother,
Have only begun weeping. Far off, in a far country, no fit
burial . . .
CLYTEMNESTRA And do you bringing
Bitterness ... or lies . . . look for a welcome? I have only
killed my daughter for a lamb on a stone and now
you say the boy too . . . dead, dead?
The world's full of it, a shoreless lake of lies and floating rumors
. . . pack up your wares, peddler,
Too false for a queen. Why, no, if I believed you . . . Beast,
treacherous beast, that shouting comes nearer,
What's in the city?
ELECTRA I am a stranger, I know nothing of the city,
I know only
My mother hates me, and Orestes my brother
Died pitifully, far off.
CLYTEMNESTRA Too many things, too many things call
me, what shall I do? Electra,
Electra help me. This comes of living softly, I had a lion's
ELECTRA Me for help? I am utterly helpless, I had help in my
brother and he is dead in Phocis.
Give me refuge: but each of us two must weep for herself, one
sorrow. An end of the world were on us
What would it matter to us weeping? Do you remember him,
CLYTEMNESTRA I have dared too much: never dare anything,
Electra, the ache is afterward,
At the hour it hurts nothing. Prophetess, you lied.
You said he would come with vengeance on me: but now he is
dead, this girl says: and because he was lovely, blue-eyed,
And born in a most unhappy house I will believe it. But the
world's fogged with the breath of liars,
And if she has laid a net for me . . .
I'll call up the old lioness lives yet in my body, I have dared,
I have dared, and tooth and talon
Carve a way through. Lie to me?
ELECTRA Have I endured for months,
with feet bleeding, among the mountains,
Between the great gulfs alone and starving, to bring you a lie
now? I know the worst of you, I looked for the worst,
Mother, mother, and have expected nothing but to die of this
home-coming: but Orestes
Has entered the cave before; he is gathered up in a lonely mountain
quietness, he is guarded from angers
In the tough cloud that spears fall back from.
CLYTEMNESTRA Was he still beautiful?
The brown mothers down in the city
Keep their brats about them; what it is to live high! Oh!
Tell them down there, tell them in Tiryns,
Tell them in Sparta,
That water drips through the Queen's fingers and trickles down
her wrists, for the boy, for the boy
Born of her body, whom she, fool, fool, fool,
Drove out of the world. Electra,
Make peace with me.
Oh, Oh, Oh!
I have labored violently all the days of my life for nothing--
nothing-worse than anything- this death
Was a thing I wished. See how they make fools of us.
Amusement for them, to watch us labor after the thing that will
tear us in
pieces. . . . Well, strength's good.
I am the Queen; I will gather up my fragments
And not go mad now.
ELECTRA Mother, what are the men
With spears gathering at the stair's foot? Not of Mycenae by
their armor, have you mercenaries
Wanting pay? Do they serve . . . Aegisthus?
CLYTEMNESTRA What men? I seem
not to know . . .
Who has laid a net for me, what fool
For me, me? Porter, by me.
Leucippe, my guards; into the house, rouse them. I am sorry
I am best in storm. You, Electra?
The death you'll die, my daughter. Guards, out! Was it a lie?
No matter, no matter, no matter,
Here's peace. Spears, out, out! They bungled the job making
me a woman. Here's youth come back to me,
And all the days of gladness.
LEUCIPPE (running back from the door) O, Queen, strangers ...
ORESTES (a sword in his hand, 'with spearmen following, comes
from the door) Where is that woman
The Gods utterly hate?
ELECTRA Brother: let her not speak, kill quickly.
Is the other one safe now?
ORESTES That dog
Fell under his chariot, we made sure of him between the wheels
and the hooves, squealing. Now for this one.
Wait. I was weeping, Electra will tell you, my hands are wet
For your blue eyes that death had closed she said away up in
Phocis. I die now, justly or not
Is out of the story, before I die I'd tell you wait, child, wait.
Did I quiver
Or pale at the blade? I say, caught in a net, netted in by my
enemies, my husband murdered,
Myself to die, I am joyful knowing she lied, you live, the only
Under all the spread and arch of daylight
That I love, lives.
ELECTRA The great fangs drawn fear craftiness now,
CLYTEMNESTRA As for her, the wife of a shepherd
Suckled her, but you
These very breasts nourished: rather one of your northern
spearmen do what's needful; not you
Draw blood where you drew milk. The Gods endure much, but
ORESTES This, a God in his temple
CLYTEMNESTRA Ah, child, child, who has mistaught you and
who has betrayed you? What voice had the God?
How was it different from a man's and did you see him? Who
sent the priest presents? They fool us,
And the Gods let them. No doubt also the envious King of
Phocis has lent you counsel as he lent you
Men: let one of them do it. Life's not jewel enough
That I should plead for it: this much I pray, for your sake, not
with your hand, not with your hand, or the memory
Will so mother you, so glue to you, so embracing you,
Not the deep sea's green day, no cleft of a rock in the bed of
the deep sea, no ocean of darkness
Outside the stars, will hide nor wash you. What is it to me that
I have rejoiced knowing you alive,
child, O precious to me, O alone loved, if now dying by my
manner of death
I make nightmare the heir, nightmare, horror, in all I have of
And you haunted forever, never to sleep dreamless again, never
to see blue cloth
But the red runs over it; fugitive of dreams, madman at length,
the memory of a scream following you houndlike,
Inherit Mycenae? Child, for this has not been done before, there
is no old fable, no whisper
Out of the foundation, among the people that were before our
people, no echo has ever
Moved among these most ancient stones, the monsters here, nor
stirred under any mountain, nor fluttered
Under any sky, of a man slaying his mother. Sons have kil
- quotes about Greece
- quotes about slavery
- quotes about sheep
- quotes about mountains
- quotes about walls
- quotes about violence
- quotes about palaces
- quotes about army
- quotes about screams
I Dips me Lid
'Young sir,' 'E sez . . . Like that . . . It made me feel
Romantic like, as if me dream was reel.
'Is dress was fancy, an' 'is style was grave.
An' me ? I 'ope I know 'ow to be'ave
In 'igh-toned company, for ain't I been
Instructed careful by me wife, Doreen ?
' Sing small,' she sez. An' that's iist wot I did.
I sounds me haitches, an' I dips me lid.
'Young sir,' 'e sez . . . O' course you understand
'Twus jist a dream. But, on the other 'and,
E seemed so reel as 'e sat spoutin' there
Beside me on ole Dame Macquarie's Chair,
Lookin' across the 'arbor while 'e talked-
Seemed sumpthink more that jist a ghost 'oo walked
Out o' the past . . . 'Phillip by name,' 'e said.
A queer ole cock, wif lace, an' wig on 'ead.
It 'appened this way: I 'ad jist come down,
After long years, to look at Sydney town.
An' 'struth! Was I knocked endways? Fair su'prised?
I never dreamed! That arch that cut the skies
The Bridge! I never thort there could 'a' been-
I never knoo, nor guessed - I never seen . . . .
Well, Sydney's 'ad some knocks since I been gone,
But strike! This shows she keeps on keepin' on.
I'd strolled about the town for 'arf a day
Then dragged me carcass round the 'arbor way
To view the Bridge from Dame Macquarrie's Chair
Then parks me frame, an' gits to thinkin' there-
Thinkin' of older days; an' I suppose
I must 'ave nodded orf into a doze.
Nex' thing I knoo, ole Phillip come an' sat
Beside me, friendly like, an' starts to chat.
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'You, too, in sheer amaze
Look upon this, and hark to other days,
An' dream of this fair city's early start.
In which ('e bows) I played my 'umble part-
My 'umble part - a flagpole an' a tent.'
'Come orf!' sez I. 'You was a fine ole gent.
Reel nob. I've read about the things you did.
You picked some site.' ('E bows. I dips me lid).
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'I've dwelt in spirit 'ere
To watch this city waxin' year by year:
But yesterday, from a mere staff, a tent,
Wonder on wonder as the swift years went-
A thrivin' village, then a busy town,
Then, as a stride, a city of renown.
Oh! what a wondrous miracle of growth
Think you not so?' 'Too right,' I sez. 'My oath!'
'I've watched, young sir,' 'e sez. 'An' I 'ave feared
Sometimes; feared greatly when ill days appeared.
Yet still they fought and wrought. I had small need
To doubt the great heart of this sturdy breed.
Black war has come. Yet, over half a world,
Their sons into that bloody fray they hurled
And still they triumphed. Still their lodestar shone.'
'Sure thing,' sez I. ' They kep' on keepin' on.'
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'The tears well in my eyes
When I behold von arch that cleaves the skies -
That mighty span, triumphant, where we view
My old friend Darwin's vision now made true:
'There the proud arch, Colossus-like, bestride
Yon glittering stream and bound the chafing tide!
'Twas so he dreamed a few short years agone.
Spoke truly, sir; they keep on keeping on.'
So Phillip spoke 'is piece, fair puffed wif pride.
An' 'im an' me dreamed by the 'arbor-side
I, of the scene before, of years to be,
An' of the marvels that men yet might see
'Im, of a lantern gleamin' thro' the fog
To light a tent, an' two men, an' a dog . . . .
Then both of us, like some queer instinct bids,
Stands up, serloots the Bridge, an' dips our lids.
IN yonder red-brick mansion, tight and square,
Just at the town's commencement, lives the mayor.
Some yards of shining gravel, fenced with box,
Lead to the painted portal--where one knocks :
There, in the left-hand parlour, all in state,
Sit he and she, on either side the grate.
But though their goods and chattels, sound and new,
Bespeak the owners very well to do,
His worship's wig and morning suit betray
Slight indications of an humbler day
That long, low shop, where still the name appears,
Some doors below, they kept for forty years :
And there, with various fortunes, smooth and rough,
They sold tobacco, coffee, tea, and snuff.
There labelled drawers display their spicy row--
Clove, mace, and nutmeg : from the ceiling low
Dangle long twelves and eights , and slender rush,
Mix'd with the varied forms of genus brush ;
Cask, firkin, bag, and barrel, crowd the floor,
And piles of country cheeses guard the door.
The frugal dames came in from far and near,
To buy their ounces and their quarterns here.
Hard was the toil, the profits slow to count,
And yet the mole-hill was at last a mount.
Those petty gains were hoarded day by day,
With little cost, for not a child had they ;
Till, long proceeding on the saving plan,
He found himself a warm, fore-handed man :
And being now arrived at life's decline,
Both he and she, they formed the bold design,
(Although it touched their prudence to the quick)
To turn their savings into stone and brick.
How many an ounce of tea and ounce of snuff,
There must have been consumed to make enough !
At length, with paint and paper, bright and gay,
The box was finished, and they went away.
But when their faces were no longer seen
Amongst the canisters of black and green ,
--Those well-known faces, all the country round--
'Twas said that had they levelled to the ground
The two old walnut trees before the door,
The customers would not have missed them more.
Now, like a pair of parrots in a cage,
They live, and civic honours crown their age :
Thrice, since the Whitsuntide they settled there,
Seven years ago, has he been chosen mayor ;
And now you'd scarcely know they were the same ;
Conscious he struts, of power, and wealth, and fame ;
Proud in official dignity, the dame :
And extra stateliness of dress and mien,
During the mayoralty, is plainly seen ;
With nicer care bestowed to puff and pin
The august lappet that contains her chin.
Such is her life ; and, like the wise and great,
The mind has journeyed hand in hand with fate :
Her thoughts, unused to take a longer flight
Than from the left-hand counter to the right,
With little change, are vacillating still,
Between his worship's glory, and the till.
The few ideas moving, slow and dull,
Across the sandy desert of her skull,
Still the same course must follow, to and fro,
As first they traversed three-score years ago ;
From whence, not all the world could turn them back,
Or lead them out upon another track.
What once was right or wrong, or high or low
In her opinion, always must be so :--
You might, perhaps, with reasons new and pat,
Have made Columbus think the world was flat ;
There might be times of energy worn out,
When his own theory would Sir Isaac doubt ;
But not the powers of argument combined,
Could make this dear good woman change her mind,
Or give her intellect the slightest clue
To that vast world of things she never knew.
Were but her brain dissected, it would show
Her stiff opinions fastened in a row,
Ranged duly, side by side, without a gap,
Much like the plaiting on her Sunday cap.
It is not worth our while, but if it were,
We all could undertake to laugh at her ;
Since vulgar prejudice, the lowest kind,
Of course, has full possession of her mind ;
Here, therefore, let us leave her, and inquire
Wherein it differs as it rises higher.
--As for the few who claim distinction here,
The little gentry of our narrow sphere,
Who occupy a safe enclosure, made
Completely inaccessible to trade,
Where, 'tis a trespass on forbidden ground,
If any foot plebeian pass the bound ;--
Wide as the distance that we choose to make
For pride, precedence, and for custom's sake,
Yet philosophic eyes (though passing fine)
Could scarcely ascertain the boundary line ;
So that, if any should be found at all,
The difference must be infinitely small.
The powdered matron, who for many a year
Has held her mimic routs and parties here,
(Exchanging just the counter, scales, and till
For cups of coffee, scandal, and quadrille)
Could boast nor range of thought, nor views of life,
Much more extended than our grocer's wife.
Although her notions may be better drest,
They are but vulgar notions at the best,--
Mere petrifactions, formed as time runs by,
Hard and unmalleable, and dull and dry,
Ne'er to the test of truth and reason brought,
--Opinions made by habit, not by thought.
Then let inquiry rise, with sudden flight,
To reason's utmost intellectual height ;
Where native powers, with culture high combined,
Present the choicest specimen of mind.
--Those minds that stand from all mankind aloof,
To smile at folly, or dispense reproof ;
Enlarged, excursive, reason soars away,
And breaks the shackles that confine its sway :
Their keen, dissecting, penetrating view,
Searches poor human nature through and through ;
But while they notice all the forms absurd,
That prejudice assumes among the herd,
And every nicer variation see,
Theirs lies in thinking that themselves are free.
There is a science reason cannot teach ;
It lies beyond the depth her line can reach ;
It is but taught by Heaven's imparted grace,
The feet of Jesus is the only place ;
And they who mental riches largely share,
But seldom stoop to seek their wisdom there.
'Not many mighty' in His train appear ;
The simple poor adorn it best ;--and here,
While prejudice the mental sight impairs
Of vulgar minds,--'tis like a beam in theirs.
Religion, as in common course professed,
Is first a question with them, then a jest :
Quick to discern the ludicrous and base,
With which blind votaries have deformed her face,
Errors, abuses, creeds imposed by man,
Are undistinguished from the Scripture plan.
Rome's proud ambition, tyranny, and fraud,
The Christian standard's bloody deeds abroad,
Priestcraft, the same in every age and clime,
From earliest record to the present time,
Contending parties' never-dying strife,
Each calling vengeance on the other's life,
The wretched hypocrite,--the wild extreme
Of blind fanatics,--the enthusiast's dream,
The lives of those who bear the Christian name,--
Of this, of all, religion bears the blame ;
Though these are men who most reject its sway,
And know as little what it means as they.
There's not a wolf within the church's fold,
But what the Bible has itself foretold ;
Yet these triumphantly are brought to view,
To prove that word of prophecy untrue.
A cold acknowledgment of one Supreme,
Avoids, they argue, every wide extreme ;
And this, if made by Christian, Turk, or Jew,
Is all the same in His impartial view.
But all beyond their rational degree
Of distant homage to the Deity,--
A firm attachment to the truth revealed ,
(Truth which with blood the Lord of glory sealed)
Zeal to obey, as well as to adore,--
Is vulgar prejudice, and nothing more.
Thus, christian service, spiritual and free,
They class (with pleased and proud complacency)
With rights impure that pagan India boasts,
The blood-dyed Koran, and the idol hosts ;
The cross, perhaps, held up with least respect,
The hated symbol of the hated sect :
That seal which marks it Heaven's appointed way,
They caring nor to read, nor to obey,
--That whoso names that name, must first depart
From all iniquity of life and heart.
Or, should the Christian code from all the rest
Be singled out, and owned to be the best,
The same keen shafts of ridicule are bent
Against its spirit, and its true intent.
Of all that gives it energy bereft,
There are but some mere scraps of ethics left,
Scarce more enlightened than were heard to flow
From Socrates and Plato long ago :
As though, had Scripture never solved a doubt,
We might have managed vastly well without.
Religion's nature, and its worth, are known
To those by whom it is possessed alone.
The Christian's aims and motives, simple, grand,
The wisest worldlings cannot understand :
Those views which worldly principles condemn,
Are so incomprehensible to them,
That they, unanimous in self defence,
Pronounce them mere delusion or pretence ;
And prejudice (a favourite word) explains
All that still unaccounted for remains.
Mid the strong course of passion's wonted sway,
What makes the wicked man forsake his way ?
Conquers the habits years had rooted in,
All fear subduing, but the fear of sin ?
And him who toiled for earthly bliss, arise,
Leave all, and lay up treasure in the skies ?
These are phenomena that, strange to say,
Religion is presenting every day ;
Changes, which they who witness dare not doubt,
Though little heard of by the world without.
The man now goes rejoicing on his way,
With inward peace, and cheerful, though not gay ;
Unseen the motives that his path define ;
His life is hidden, though his graces shine.
He walks through life's distracting changes now,
With even pace, and with an even brow ;
Hears the vain world's tumultuous hue and cry,
Just turns his head, and passes calmly by ;
Yet takes his cheerful share when duty draws,
And still is foremost found in mercy's cause.
What works this strange philosophy in him,
Is it misanthropy, or merely whim ?
No ; 'tis the glowing, present sense he feels
Of things invisible, which faith reveals.
And should the man thus walking with his God,
Be one unpolished as the valley's clod,
Should all his science but amount to this,
--To loathe iniquity, and long for bliss ?
This is not prejudice--or if it be,
'Twere well if all were prejudiced as he !
But things to come--the vast unfathomed state,
To which death opens instantly the gate,--
Although the thought of that expected change,
Affords the finest intellectual range,
Although that change must soon become our lot,
Whether the subject suit our taste or not,
Although objectors cannot well reply,
That 'tis a vulgar prejudice to die,--
The subject seems (howe'er it came to pass)
Avoided much by this enlightened class.
All other themes, whose tendencies appear
To add to our accommodation here,
Every contrivance of contriving men
To make a pleasant three-score years and ten,
--Inventions and improvements, whether made
In science, commerce, agriculture, trade,
The arts, belles lettres , politics, finance,
Their value is acknowledged at a glance ;
And these are studied, patronised, and taught,
With active diligence,--and so they ought.
But since a moment may--some moment must
Consign our interest in them all to dust,
Has not the business of the world to come,
Mid all our thoughts, at least a claim to some ?
But these are things mysterious and obscure,
Not tangible, and rational, and sure ;
'Tis such a vague untenable expanse :--
In short, they mean to wait, and take their chance.
Could you but show by demonstration clear,
How forms and things invisible appear ;
Produce your apparatus, bright and clean,
And try experiments on things unseen ;
Rare specimens, in due assortment bring,
Of seraph's eyes, and slips of angel's wing,
Or metaphysic air-pumps work, to show
A disembodied soul in vacuo ;
Then 'twere a study worthy of alliance
With any other branch of modern science.
But mere assertion of a future state,
By unknown writers, at a distant date,
If this be all its advocates advance,
It is but superstition and romance.
Thus, mental pride, unsubject to control ;
To God a secret enmity of soul ;
That stubbornness which scorns to yield assent
To aught unfounded on experiment ;
A wretched clinging to the present state,
That loathes to dwell on things beyond its date ;
That dread of death which ne'er the thought pursues,
And which the Christian's hope alone subdues,--
Combine a veil of prejudice to place
Between dark reason and the light of grace ;
--A prejudice as hopeless as can bind
The meanest, most illiterate of mankind.
Would that the films of error were allowed
But by the vulgar worldling, or the proud !
But this distemper of the moral eye
Never affects it more inveterately,
Than when the false of prejudice's view
Is intermingled with a little true .
And hence, the conscientious and sincere,
Who know essential truth, and hold it dear,
If education (as she doubtless can)
Have formed their souls upon the narrow plan,
Permit no notion from its nook to stir ;
Most obstinately certain--where they err.
Thus are opinions, as received in youth,
Wedged down immovably with slips of truth ;
Assured of part, they deem the whole is right ;
And what astonishment it would excite,
Should any have the boldness to allege,
That all is rubbish but the golden wedge !
--'Tis pity, for the sceptic world without
Produce the error to confirm their doubt,
Therefore refuse the sterling to behold ;
And thus the rubbish tarnishes the gold.
There is a tender, captivating glow
Which certain views on certain objects throw :
Taste, and poetic feeling, range alone
A fairy world exclusively their own ;
And delicacies gather that arise,
Where'er they turn, unseen by vulgar eyes.
Their dainty aliment serenely floats
On every breeze--they live like gnats on motes.
There they might safely, innocently stray ;
But when they come and stand in Reason's way,
They blind her views, demean her princely air,
And do more mischief than their smiles repair.
Why she their interference should restrain,
A simple instance shall at once explain.
When Paul the walks of beauteous Athens trod,
To point its children to their 'unknown God,'
If some refined Athenian, passing by,
Heard that new doctrine, how would he reply ?
Regarding first, with polished, scornful smile,
The stranger's figure and unclassic style,
Perceiving then the argument was bent
Against the gods of his establishment,
He need but cast his tutored eye around,
And in that glance he has an answer found :
--Altars and theatres, and sacred groves,
Temples and deities where'er it roves,
Each long perspective that the eye pervades,
Peopled with heroes, thickening as it fades;
Those awful forms that hold their silent sway,
Matchless in grace, while ages roll away;
There, softly blending with the evening shade,
Less light and less, the airy colonnade ;
Here, in magnificence of Attic grace,
Minerva's Temple, rising from its base ;
Its spotless marble forming to the eye
A ghostly outline on the deep-blue sky :--
'Enough--the doctrine that would undermine
These forms of beauty cannot be divine.'
Thus taste would, doubtless, intercept his view
Of that 'strange thing,' which after all--was true.
When Luther's sun arose, to chase away
The 'dim religious light' of Romish day,
Opposing, only, to the mellow glare
Of gold and gems that deck the papal chair,
And each imposing pageant of the church,
Good sense, plain argument, and sound research ;--
Here taste, again, would prove a dangerous guide,
And raise a prejudice on error's side.
--Behold the slow procession move along !
The Pontiff's blessing on the prostrate throng ;
The solemn service, and the anthem loud,
The altar's radiance on the kneeling crowd :--
Or seek, at summons of the convent bell,
Deep, sacred shades, where fair recluses dwell ;
See the long train of white-robed sisters come,
Appearing now--now lost amid the gloom,
Chanting shrill vespers in the twilight dim,
The plaintive music of the Virgin's hymn :--
Then would not taste and fancy join the cry
Against the rude, barbarian heresy,
That sought those sacred walls to overthrow,
And rend the veil from that seducing show ?
And yet, according to our present light,
That barbarous, tasteless heretic--was right.
It might not be convenient had we gone
To carry this reflection further on.
--But whether, mid the faint and foggy ray,
Of ages past, or at the present day,
Truth's native lustre ever must decline
When human art attempts to make it shine :
--Truth is too strong to need the proffered hand
Of human feebleness to make it stand.
Inveterate prejudice, infirm and blind,
May take possession of an honest mind :
Though weakly yielding to its stubborn sway,
'Tis not determined to be led astray.
But is there not a sin that must not claim,
Though near of kindred, such a gentle name ?
A daring sin, that comes with open face,
To rear its standard in the holy place ?
E'en from that day, when some would fain condemn
The works of those who followed not with them,
And for that early spark of party rage
Received reproof designed for every age,
Down to the present noisy moment, when
'Tis spirting from the tip of many a pen,--
E'en from that day to this, with ceaseless reign,
Has party spirit been the church's bane.
Then, let the verse trace clearly as it can,
The finer features of the party man.
By birth, connexion, interest, pride, or taste,
On one or other side we find him placed ;
No matter which, nor is there need to say,
For there he is--and there he means to stay.
That point decided, 'tis his second care
To find a reason for his being there ;
Some reason that may make a brave defence
Against assaults from truth and common sense ;
--Supposing for the present, that his ground
Is not exactly tenable all round.
He, not contented like the vulgar herd
To take his creed on other people's word,
And urged amain, by intellectual pride,
To prove he is not on the weaker side,
His choisest stores of wit and fancy draws,
To prop and beautify the needy cause :
And well do wit and fancy suit their end,
Who seek not to examine , but defend.
His is no simple scrupulous mistake,
Like the weak brother, wrong for conscience' sake ;
But prejudice, in him, has had to bind
A knowing, subtle, and enlightened mind.
Hence, at each step, he has to bear along
The secret consciousness of something wrong ;
But that suspicion, unavowed of course,
Serves but to nerve his arm with triple force ;
Provokes his zeal to lend its utmost aid,
And gives the edge of keenness to his blade.
His mind is formed, as though 'twere nature's plan
To cut him out to be a party man,
And send him down, in pity, to his post,
As foremost champion of the weaker host :
Not of that grander, philosophic tone,
That lets all party littleness alone ;
But keen, sagacious, armed for quick reply,
And, though not visible to every eye,
Nor from his courteous manner to be guessed--
A dash of gall and wormwood in his breast.
Yet, every harsher quality is graced
With wit and learning, eloquence and taste ;
Yes--and as charity delights to say,
Much self deceived, and hoping that he may,
While gratifying self, and party spleen,
Squeeze in some love to God and man between.
A show of candour too, at times, is lent,
To add its lustre to his argument :
To those who advocate the favorite notion,
It flows as wide as the Atlantic Ocean ;
But towards the heretic who turns it over,
About as narrow as the straits of Dover.
It seems too much for either side to boast
The right in every contest, if in most :
Yet our true partizan from none withdraws,
But lends his talents out to every cause.
Each new encounter prompt to undertake,
Asking no questions first for conscience' sake :
'Tis not for him the right and wrong to sift,
Enough to know his party wants a lift ;
And, though so hazardous none other can,
He boldly takes the field with--'I'm your man !'
And thus he dares the controversial fray ;
Though careful, first of all, to clear away
A little rubbish, till he finds a stone
Just broad enough to set his foot upon.
On that one stone he loudly stamps, to show
How firm a standing-place it is, although
Should he advance a step, or step retire,
He plunges all at once knee-deep in mire.
If thence beat off by some opposing band,
He finds some neighbouring jutment where to stand ;
There followed, seeks the old support amain,
Driv'n off anew--anew slips back again.
draft board may exemplify the thing ;
When chased from post to post, one hapless king,
At length, betakes him to--by marches short,
The double corner as his last resort ;
Where long, from square to square he bravely courses,
And stands his ground though robbed of all his forces.
Meantime, he trusts the checks his arms receive
But few will hear of--fewer still believe ;
Hopes the dry record will be little sought ;
And feels a Jesuit-pleasure at the thought.
It seems the choicest secret of his art,
To ward invasion from the weaker part ;
To veil all blemishes, and make the most
Of what he has, or thinks he has, to boast.
Of full exposure more than all afraid,
He trusts to neat manoeuvres to evade
That thorough search, in every hole and nook,
Which unencumbered truth alone can brook ;
And labours hard, by hiding all the traces,
To intimate that there are no such places.
His fairest movements seem to wear disguise ;
His plans are rather politic than wise ;
Not to elicit truth, but o'er the dross
To spread a plausible and specious gloss,
But he, who finds it needful, on his part,
To ply the mean artillery of art,
And sharpen every arrow that he draws,
May well suspect the soundness of his cause.
Suspect he may,--but vain that lucid doubt,
Devoid of nobleness to search it out.
--Between the man on controversial ground,
Panting for truth wherever it be found,
And him who does but seek it on one side,
There lies a gulf immeasurably wide.
Two brother sportsmen, on a blithsome morn,
Obey the summons of the inspiring horn :
One, predetermined to pursue the chase
Within the limits of a certain space ;
The other, glowing with the bold intent,
Lead where it may, to follow up the scent.
--They start the hare--and after many a bound
Doubling and winding on file aforesaid ground,
She leaps the fence and gains the neighbouring mead ;
At which our doughty sportsman checks his steed ;
Rather than follow boldly on to that,
He stays behind the hedge--and starts a cat ;
Pursues poor puss with vast advantage thence,
And has brave sport within his blessed fence.
--Then having clipt and trimmed her, here and there,
Assures the world that he has caught the hare ;
And should his sporting friends confirm the lie,
Ere there is time to ask the reason why,
A hare--though common sense should stand appalled--
She was, is now, and ever shall be called.
Meantime, the brother sportsman does not fail
To chase his victim over hill and dale ;
The five-barred gate, tall rampart, hedge and ditch,
Alike to him--he leaps, and cares not which
At length he sees,--nor sees without dismay,
The pack strike off an unexpected way ;
The path they take, by tact unerring shown,
Must cross a fine enclosure of his own ;
The fair plantation, on his favorite grounds,
Is rudely torn and trampled by the hounds :
Safe from attack the sheltered spot appeared ;
His fathers raised it, and himself revered :
Though startled, he disdains to call them back,
But leaps, and follows the sagacious pack ;
Tramples the ground himself, with noble pride,
And hears the death-cry on the other side ;
Secures his prey--content to bear the shame,
If such it be,--for he has got the game.
Interest its secret bias may impart,
When least suspected, to an upright heart :
But when a creed and worldly views unite,
Where interest is the only rule of right ;
Where loaves and fishes--all our goodly show
Depend on people's thinking so and so ;
What pompous, loud, declamatory wrath,
The mere expression of a doubt calls forth !
The weight of argument is balanced here,
Against so many thousand pounds a year ;
--What dreadful, dangerous heresy is taught !
It must be silenced--will not bear a thought !
Is party spirit, therefore, only found
In one enclosure of disputed ground ?
No ; while Nathaniels stand on either side
The boundary lines that differing sects divide,
Unchristian tempers every form may take,
And truth itself be loved for party's sake.
The man whom conscience, less than mental pride,
Early enlisted on the opposing side,
Proves that the flames of an unhallowed fire,
Not love to God and man, his zeal inspire.
--Pleased, proud to differ, eloquent to teach
The lesser doctrines that enlarge the breach,
In bold defiance of the christian rule,
Says to his brother, 'raca,' and 'thou fool ;'
Or vainly hopes to violate its laws,
Beneath the sanction of a righteous cause.
Rejoiced, not grieved in spirit, to behold
Abuses thicken in the neighbouring fold ;
And doubting, grudging, backward to concede
That any sheep within that pasture feed.
Intent his controversial shafts to draw,
Omits the weightier matters of the law ;
Wont more on points of party strife to dwell,
Than emulous to save a soul from hell.
Yet,--if his soul be free from wilful guile,
Believes he does God service all the while.
But oh ! the darkest candidate for bliss,
Who seeking that, spares not a thought for this,
Though much encumbered should his notions be,
Is safer, happier, nearer Heaven than he.
Come, let us rise from party's noisy sphere,
To trace an honest mind in its career ;
And see how far true greatness spreads its flight
Above the cleverness of party spite.
He, from the regions of a calmer day,
Hears the faint clamour of the distant fray :
Hears but to pity--while in tranquil mood
He holds his course in happy solitude.
Truth his sole object, this, with simple aim,
He follows, caring little for the name ;
Not with the poor intent to make her stand
And wave his party's ensign in her hand,
Mocking his neighbour's pitiful mistake ;
But for her own invaluable sake.
That is the truly philosophic mind,
Which no inferior influence can bind ;
Which all endeavours to confine were vain,
Though the earth's orbit were its length of chain.
--But not that boldness which delights to break
From what our fathers taught, for license' sake,
Through all dry places wandering, still in quest,
Like lawless fiends, of some unhallowed rest ;--
The love of truth is genuine, when combined
With unaffected humbleness of mind.
He values most, who feels with sense acute
His own deep interest in the grand pursuit ;
Who heaven-ward spreads his undiverted wing,
Godly simplicity the moving spring.
No meaner power can regulate his flight,
Too much is staked upon his going right.
Dry, heartless speculation may succeed,
Where the sole object is to frame a creed ;
The sophist's heart may suit their eager quest,
Who only aim to prove their creed the best ;
But not such views his anxious search control,
Who loves the truth because he loves his soul.
Truth is but one with Heaven, in his esteem,
The sparkling spring of life's eternal stream ;
And hence, with equal singleness of heart,
He traces out each less essential part :
No worldly motives can his views entice ;
He parts with all to gain the pearl of price.
Why is opinion, singly as it stands,
So much inherited like house and lands ?
Whence comes it that from sire to son it goes,
Like a dark eye-brow or a Roman nose ?
How comes it, too, that notions, wrong or right,
Which no direct affinities unite,
On every side of party ground, one sees,
Clung close together like a swarm of bees ?
Where one is held, through habit, form, or force,
The rest are all consented to of course,
As though combined by some interior plot ;
Is it necessity, or chance, or what ?
Where'er the undiscovered cause be sought,
No man would trace its origin to thought :
Then shall we say, with leave of Dr. Gall,
It comes to pass from thinking not at all ?
Though man a thinking being is defined,
Few use the grand prerogative of mind :
How few think justly of the thinking few !
How many never think, who think they do !
Opinion, therefore--such our mental dearth--
Depends on mere locality or birth.
Hence, the warm tory, eloquent and big
With loyal zeal, had he been born a whig,
Would rave for liberty with equal flame,
No shadow of distinction but the name.
Hence, Christian bigots, 'neath the pagan cloud,
Had roared for 'great Diana' just as loud ;
Or, dropped at Rome, at Mecca, or Pekin,
For Fo , the prophet, or the man of sin,
Much of the light and soundness of our creed,
Whate'er it be, depends on what we read.
How many clamour loudly for their way,
Who never heard what others have to say :
Fixt where they are, determined to be right,
They fear to be disturbed by further light ;
And where the voice of argument is heard,
Away they run, and will not hear a word.
Form notions vague, and gathered up by chance,
Or mere report, of what you might advance ;
Resolve the old frequented path to tread,
And still to think as they were born and bred.
Besides this blind devotion to a sect
Custom produces much the same effect.
Our desks with piles of controversy groan ;
But still, alas ! each party's with its own,
Each deems his logic must conviction bring,
If people would but read ;--but there's the thing !
The sermons, pamphlets, papers, books, reviews,
That plead our own opinions, we peruse ;
And these alone--as though the plan had been
To rivet all our prejudices in.
'Tis really droll to see how people's shelves,
Go where you will, are labelled like themselves.
Ask if your neighbour--he whose party tone,
Polemic, or political, is known--
Sees such a publication--naming one
That takes a different side, or sides with none ;
And straight in flat, uncomfortable-wise,
That damps all further mention, he replies,
'No, sir, we do not see that work--I know
Its general views ;--we take in so and so.'
Thus each retains his notions, every one ;
Thus they descend complete from sire to son ;
And hence, the blind contempt so freely shown
For every one's opinions but our own.
How oft from public or from private pique,
Conscience and truth are not allowed to speak :
Reasons might weigh that now are quite forgot,
If such a man or party urged them not ;
But oh, what logic strong enough can be,
To prove that they have clearer views than we !
In times like ours, 'twere wise if people would
Well scrutinize their zeal for doing good.
A few plain questions might suffice, to prove
What flows from party--what from christian love.
--Our prayers are heard--some Mussulman, at last
Forsakes his prophet--some Hindoo his caste ;
Accepts a Saviour, and avows the choice ;
How glad we are, how much our hearts rejoice !
The news is told and echoed, till the tale,
Howe'er reviving, almost waxes stale.
--A second convert Gospel grace allures--
Oh, but this time he was not ours but yours ;
It came to pass we know not when or how ;
Well, are we quite as glad and thankful now ?
Or can we scarce the rising wish suppress,
That we were honoured with the whole success ?
There is an eye that marks the ways of men,
With strict, impartial, analyzing ken :
Our motley creeds, our crude opinions, lie
All, all unveiled to that omniscient eye.
He sees the softest shades by error thrown ;
Marks where His truth is left to shine alone ;
Decides with most exact, unerring skill,
Wherein we differ from His word and will.
No specious names nor reasonings to His view,
The false can varnish, or deform the true ;
Nor vain excuses e'er avail, to plead
The right of theory for the wrong of deed.
Before that unembarrassed, just survey,
What heaps of refuse must be swept away ;
How must its search from every creed remove
All but the golden grains of truth and love !
Yet, with compassion for our feeble powers,
For oh ! His thoughts and ways are not as ours.
--There is a day, in flaming terrors bright,
When truth and error shall be brought to light.
Who then shall rise, amid the shining throng,
To boast that he was right, and you were wrong ?
When each rejoicing saint shall veil his face,
And none may triumph, but in glorious grace !
No meaner praise shall heavenly tongues employ :
Yet, they shall reap the more abundant joy,
Who sought His truth, with simple, humble aim
To do His will, and glorify His name.
OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII (Entire)
Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.
Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.
Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.
Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.
I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro’ time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?
Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground,
Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,
‘Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overworn.’
Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.
O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:
And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.
O Sorrow, cruel fellowship,
O Priestess in the vaults of Death,
O sweet and bitter in a breath,
What whispers from thy lying lip?
‘The stars,’ she whispers, ‘blindly run;
A web is wov’n across the sky;
From out waste places comes a cry,
And murmurs from the dying sun:
‘And all the phantom, Nature, stands–
With all the music in her tone,
A hollow echo of my own,–
A hollow form with empty hands.’
And shall I take a thing so blind,
Embrace her as my natural good;
Or crush her, like a vice of blood,
Upon the threshold of the mind?
To Sleep I give my powers away;
My will is bondsman to the dark;
I sit within a helmless bark,
And with my heart I muse and say:
O heart, how fares it with thee now,
That thou should’st fail from thy desire,
Who scarcely darest to inquire,
‘What is it makes me beat so low?’
Something it is which thou hast lost,
Some pleasure from thine early years.
Break, thou deep vase of chilling tears,
That grief hath shaken into frost!
Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
All night below the darken’d eyes;
With morning wakes the will, and cries,
‘Thou shalt not be the fool of loss.’
I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
One writes, that ‘Other friends remain,’
That ‘Loss is common to the race’–
And common is the commonplace,
And vacant chaff well meant for grain.
That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.
O father, wheresoe’er thou be,
Who pledgest now thy gallant son;
A shot, ere half thy draught be done,
Hath still’d the life that beat from thee.
O mother, praying God will save
Thy sailor,–while thy head is bow’d,
His heavy-shotted hammock-shroud
Drops in his vast and wandering grave.
Ye know no more than I who wrought
At that last hour to please him well;
Who mused on all I had to tell,
And something written, something thought;
Expecting still his advent home;
And ever met him on his way
With wishes, thinking, ‘here to-day,’
Or ‘here to-morrow will he come.’
O somewhere, meek, unconscious dove,
That sittest ranging golden hair;
And glad to find thyself so fair,
Poor child, that waitest for thy love!
For now her father’s chimney glows
In expectation of a guest;
And thinking ‘this will please him best,’
She takes a riband or a rose;
For he will see them on to-night;
And with the thought her colour burns;
And, having left the glass, she turns
Once more to set a ringlet right;
And, even when she turn’d, the curse
Had fallen, and her future Lord
Was drown’d in passing thro’ the ford,
Or kill’d in falling from his horse.
O what to her shall be the end?
And what to me remains of good?
To her, perpetual maidenhood,
And unto me no second friend.
Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp’d no more–
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
A happy lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who ’lights and rings the gateway bell,
And learns her gone and far from home;
He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight:
So find I every pleasant spot
In which we two were wont to meet,
The field, the chamber and the street,
For all is dark where thou art not.
Yet as that other, wandering there
In those deserted walks, may find
A flower beat with rain and wind,
Which once she foster'd up with care;
So seems it in my deep regret,
O my forsaken heart, with thee
And this poor flower of poesy
Which little cared for fades not yet.
But since it pleased a vanish’d eye,
I go to plant it on his tomb,
That if it can it there may bloom,
Or dying, there at least may die.
Fair ship, that from the Italian shore
Sailest the placid ocean-plains
With my lost Arthur’s loved remains,
Spread thy full wings, and waft him o’er.
So draw him home to those that mourn
In vain; a favourable speed
Ruffle thy mirror’d mast, and lead
Thro’ prosperous floods his holy urn.
All night no ruder air perplex
Thy sliding keel, till Phosphor, bright
As our pure love, thro’ early light
Shall glimmer on the dewy decks.
Sphere all your lights around, above;
Sleep, gentle heavens, before the prow;
Sleep, gentle winds, as he sleeps now,
My friend, the brother of my love;
My Arthur, whom I shall not see
Till all my widow’d race be run;
Dear as the mother to the son,
More than my brothers are to me.
I hear the noise about thy keel;
I hear the bell struck in the night:
I see the cabin-window bright;
I see the sailor at the wheel.
Thou bring’st the sailor to his wife,
And travell’d men from foreign lands;
And letters unto trembling hands;
And, thy dark freight, a vanish’d life.
So bring him: we have idle dreams:
This look of quiet flatters thus
Our home-bred fancies: O to us,
The fools of habit, sweeter seems
To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
The chalice of the grapes of God;
Than if with thee the roaring wells
Should gulf him fathom-deep in brine;
And hands so often clasp’d in mine,
Should toss with tangle and with shells.
Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro’ the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:
Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:
Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main:
Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
These leaves that redden to the fall;
And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair:
Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
And waves that sway themselves in rest,
And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.
Lo, as a dove when up she springs
To bear thro’ Heaven a tale of woe,
Some dolorous message knit below
The wild pulsation of her wings;
Like her I go; I cannot stay;
I leave this mortal ark behind,
A weight of nerves without a mind,
And leave the cliffs, and haste away
O’er ocean-mirrors rounded large,
And reach the glow of southern skies,
And see the sails at distance rise,
And linger weeping on the marge,
And saying; ‘Comes he thus, my friend?
Is this the end of all my care?’
And circle moaning in the air:
‘Is this the end? Is this the end?’
And forward dart again, and play
About the prow, and back return
To where the body sits, and learn
That I have been an hour away.
Tears of the widower, when he sees
A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
Her place is empty, fall like these;
Which weep a loss for ever new,
A void where heart on heart reposed;
And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
Silence, till I be silent too.
Which weeps the comrade of my choice,
An awful thought, a life removed,
The human-hearted man I loved,
A Spirit, not a breathing voice.
Come Time, and teach me, many years,
I do not suffer in a dream;
For now so strange do these things seem,
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears;
My fancies time to rise on wing,
And glance about the approaching sails,
As tho’ they brought but merchants’ bales,
And not the burthen that they bring.
If one should bring me this report,
That thou hadst touch’d the land to-day,
And I went down unto the quay,
And found thee lying in the port;
And standing, muffled round with woe,
Should see thy passengers in rank
Come stepping lightly down the plank,
And beckoning unto those they know;
And if along with these should come
The man I held as half-divine;
Should strike a sudden hand in mine,
And ask a thousand things of home;
And I should tell him all my pain,
And how my life had droop’d of late,
And he should sorrow o’er my state
And marvel what possess’d my brain;
And I perceived no touch of change,
No hint of death in all his frame,
But found him all in all the same,
I should not feel it to be strange.
To-night the winds begin to rise
And roar from yonder dropping day:
The last red leaf is whirl’d away,
The rooks are blown about the skies;
The forest crack’d, the waters curl’d,
The cattle huddled on the lea;
And wildly dash’d on tower and tree
The sunbeam strikes along the world:
And but for fancies, which aver
That all thy motions gently pass
Athwart a plane of molten glass,
I scarce could brook the strain and stir
That makes the barren branches loud;
And but for fear it is not so,
The wild unrest that lives in woe
Would dote and pore on yonder cloud
That rises upward always higher,
And onward drags a labouring breast,
And topples round the dreary west,
A looming bastion fringed with fire.
What words are these have fall’n from me?
Can calm despair and wild unrest
Be tenants of a single breast,
Or sorrow such a changeling be?
Or doth she only seem to take
The touch of change in calm or storm;
But knows no more of transient form
In her deep self, than some dead lake
That holds the shadow of a lark
Hung in the shadow of a heaven?
Or has the shock, so harshly given,
Confused me like the unhappy bark
That strikes by night a craggy shelf,
And staggers blindly ere she sink?
And stunn’d me from my power to think
And all my knowledge of myself;
And made me that delirious man
Whose fancy fuses old and new,
And flashes into false and true,
And mingles all without a plan?
Thou comest, much wept for: such a breeze
Compell’d thy canvas, and my prayer
Was as the whisper of an air
To breathe thee over lonely seas.
For I in spirit saw thee move
Thro’ circles of the bounding sky,
Week after week: the days go by:
Come quick, thou bringest all I love.
Henceforth, wherever thou may’st roam,
My blessing, like a line of light,
Is on the waters day and night,
And like a beacon guards thee home.
So may whatever tempest mars
Mid-ocean, spare thee, sacred bark;
And balmy drops in summer dark
Slide from the bosom of the stars.
So kind an office hath been done,
Such precious relics brought by thee;
The dust of him I shall not see
Till all my widow’d race be run.
’Tis well; ’tis something; we may stand
Where he in English earth is laid,
And from his ashes may be made
The violet of his native land.
’Tis little; but it looks in truth
As if the quiet bones were blest
Among familiar names to rest
And in the places of his youth.
Come then, pure hands, and bear the head
That sleeps or wears the mask of sleep,
And come, whatever loves to weep,
And hear the ritual of the dead.
Ah yet, ev’n yet, if this might be,
I, falling on his faithful heart,
Would breathing thro’ his lips impart
The life that almost dies in me;
That dies not, but endures with pain,
And slowly forms the the firmer mind,
Treasuring the look it cannot find,
The words that are not heard again.
The Danube to the Severn gave
The darken’d heart that beat no more;
They laid him by the pleasant shore,
And in the hearing of the wave.
There twice a day the Severn fills;
That salt sea-water passes by,
And hushes half the babbling Wye,
And makes a silence in the hills.
The Wye is hush’d nor moved along,
And hush’d my deepest grief of all,
When fill’d with tears that cannot fall,
I brim with sorrow drowning song.
The tide flows down, the wave again
Is vocal in its wooded walls;
My deeper anguish also falls,
And I can speak a little then.
The lesser griefs that may be said,
That breathe a thousand tender vows,
Are but as servants in a house
Where lies the master newly dead;
Who speak their feeling as it is,
And weep the fulness from the mind:
‘It will be hard,’ they say, ‘to find
Another service such as this.’
My lighter moods are like to these,
That out of words a comfort win;
But there are other griefs within,
And tears that at their fountain freeze;
For by the hearth the children sit
Cold in that atmosphere of Death,
And scarce endure to draw the breath,
Or like to noiseless phantoms flit:
But open converse is there none,
So much the vital spirits sink
To see the vacant chair, and think,
‘How good! how kind! and he is gone.’
I sing to him that rests below,
And, since the grasses round me wave,
I take the grasses of the grave,
And make them pipes whereon to blow.
The traveller hears me now and then,
And sometimes harshly will he speak:
‘This fellow would make weakness weak,
And melt the waxen hearts of men.’
Another answers, ‘Let him be,
He loves to make parade of pain,
That with his piping he may gain
The praise that comes to constancy.’
A third is wroth: ‘Is this an hour
For private sorrow’s barren song,
When more and more the people throng
The chairs and thrones of civil power?
‘A time to sicken and to swoon,
When Science reaches forth her arms
To feel from world to world, and charms
Her secret from the latest moon?’
Behold, ye speak an idle thing:
Ye never knew the sacred dust:
I do but sing because I must,
And pipe but as the linnets sing:
And one is glad; her note is gay,
For now her little ones have ranged;
And one is sad; her note is changed,
Because her brood is stol’n away.
The path by which we twain did go,
Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
Thro’ four sweet years arose and fell,
From flower to flower, from snow to snow:
And we with singing cheer’d the way,
And, crown’d with all the season lent,
From April on to April went,
And glad at heart from May to May:
But where the path we walk’d began
To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
As we descended following Hope,
There sat the Shadow fear’d of man;
Who broke our fair companionship,
And spread his mantle dark and cold,
And wrapt thee formless in the fold,
And dull’d the murmur on thy lip,
And bore thee where I could not see
Nor follow, tho’ I walk in haste,
And think, that somewhere in the waste
The Shadow sits and waits for me.
Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
Or breaking into song by fits,
Alone, alone, to where he sits,
The Shadow cloak’d from head to foot,
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
I wander, often falling lame,
And looking back to whence I came,
Or on to where the pathway leads;
And crying, How changed from where it ran
Thro’ lands where not a leaf was dumb;
But all the lavish hills would hum
The murmur of a happy Pan:
When each by turns was guide to each,
And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;
And all we met was fair and good,
And all was good that Time could bring,
And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;
And many an old philosophy
On Argive heights divinely sang,
And round us all the thicket rang
To many a flute of Arcady.
And was the day of my delight
As pure and perfect as I say?
The very source and fount of Day
Is dash’d with wandering isles of night.
If all was good and fair we met,
This earth had been the Paradise
It never look’d to human eyes
Since our first Sun arose and set.
And is it that the haze of grief
Makes former gladness loom so great?
The lowness of the present state,
That sets the past in this relief?
Or that the past will always win
A glory from its being far;
And orb into the perfect star
We saw not, when we moved therein?
I know that this was Life,–the track
Whereon with equal feet we fared;
And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.
But this it was that made me move
As light as carrier-birds in air;
I loved the weight I had to bear,
Because it needed help of Love:
Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
When mighty Love would cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.
Still onward winds the dreary way;
I with it; for I long to prove
No lapse of moons can canker Love,
Whatever fickle tongues may say.
And if that eye which watches guilt
And goodness, and hath power to see
Within the green the moulder’d tree,
And towers fall’n as soon as built–
Oh, if indeed that eye foresee
Or see (in Him is no before)
In more of life true life no more
And Love the indifference to be,
Then might I find, ere yet the morn
Breaks hither over Indian seas,
That Shadow waiting with the keys,
To shroud me from my proper scorn.
I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.
Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:
Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.
This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:
But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.
With such compelling cause to grieve
As daily vexes household peace,
And chains regret to his decease,
How dare we keep our Christmas-eve;
Which brings no more a welcome guest
To enrich the threshold of the night
With shower’d largess of delight
In dance and song and game and jest?
Yet go, and while the holly boughs
Entwine the cold baptismal font,
Make one wreath more for Use and Wont,
That guard the portals of the house;
Old sisters of a day gone by,
Gray nurses, loving nothing new;
Why should they miss their yearly due
Before their time? They too will die.
With trembling fingers did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
A rainy cloud possess’d the earth,
And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.
At our old pastimes in the hall
We gambol’d, making vain pretence
Of gladness, with an awful sense
Of one mute Shadow watching all.
We paused: the winds were in the beech:
We heard them sweep the winter land;
And in a circle hand-in-hand
Sat silent, looking each at each.
Then echo-like our voices rang;
We sung, tho’ every eye was dim,
A merry song we sang with him
Last year: impetuously we sang:
We ceased: a gentler feeling crept
Upon us: surely rest is meet:
‘They rest,’ we said, ‘their sleep is sweet,’
And silence follow’d, and we wept.
Our voices took a higher range;
Once more we sang: ‘They do not die
Nor lose their mortal sympathy,
Nor change to us, although they change;
‘Rapt from the fickle and the frail
With gather’d power, yet the same,
Pierces the keen seraphic flame
From orb to orb, from veil to veil.’
Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn,
Draw forth the cheerful day from night:
O Father, touch the east, and light
The light that shone when Hope was born.
When Lazarus left his charnel-cave,
And home to Mary’s house return’d,
Was this demanded–if he yearn’d
To hear her weeping by his grave?
‘Where wert thou, brother, those four days?’
There lives no record of reply,
Which telling what it is to die
Had surely added praise to praise.
From every house the neighbours met,
The streets were fill’d with joyful sound,
A solemn gladness even crown’d
The purple brows of Olivet.
Behold a man raised up by Christ!
The rest remaineth unreveal’d;
He told it not; or something seal’d
The lips of that Evangelist.
Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
Nor other thought her mind admits
But, he was dead, and there he sits,
And he that brought him back is there.
Then one deep love doth supersede
All other, when her ardent gaze
Roves from the living brother’s face,
And rests upon the Life indeed.
All subtle thought, all curious fears,
Borne down by gladness so complete,
She bows, she bathes the Saviour’s feet
With costly spikenard and with tears.
Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,
Whose loves in higher love endure;
What souls possess themselves so pure,
Or is there blessedness like theirs?
O thou that after toil and storm
Mayst seem to have reach’d a purer air,
Whose faith has centre everywhere,
Nor cares to fix itself to form,
Leave thou thy sister when she prays,
Her early Heaven, her happy views;
Nor thou with shadow’d hint confuse
A life that leads melodious days.
Her faith thro’ form is pure as thine,
Her hands are quicker unto good:
Oh, sacred be the flesh and blood
To which she links a truth divine!
See thou, that countest reason ripe
In holding by the law within,
Thou fail not in a world of sin,
And ev’n for want of such a type.
My own dim life should teach me this,
That life shall live for evermore,
Else earth is darkness at the core,
And dust and ashes all that is;
This round of green, this orb of flame,
Fantastic beauty; such as lurks
In some wild Poet, when he works
Without a conscience or an aim.
What then were God to such as I?
’Twere hardly worth my while to choose
Of things all mortal, or to use
A little patience ere I die;
’Twere best at once to sink to peace,
Like birds the charming serpent draws,
To drop head-foremost in the jaws
Of vacant darkness and to cease.
Yet if some voice that man could trust
Should murmur from the narrow house,
‘The cheeks drop in; the body bows;
Man dies: nor is there hope in dust:’
Might I not say? ‘Yet even here,
But for one hour, O Love, I strive
To keep so sweet a thing alive:’
But I should turn mine ears and hear
The moanings of the homeless sea,
The sound of streams that swift or slow
Draw down Æonian hills, and sow
The dust of continents to be;
And Love would answer with a sigh,
‘The sound of that forgetful shore
Will change my sweetness more and more,
Half-dead to know that I shall die.’
O me, what profits it to put
And idle case? If Death were seen
At first as Death, Love had not been,
Or been in narrowest working shut,
Mere fellowship of sluggish moods,
Or in his coarsest Satyr-shape
Had bruised the herb and crush’d the grape,
And bask’d and batten’d in the woods.
Tho’ truths in manhood darkly join,
Deep-seated in our mystic frame,
We yield all blessing to the name
Of Him that made them current coin;
For Wisdom dealt with mortal powers,
Where truth in closest words shall fail,
When truth embodied in a tale
Shall enter in at lowly doors.
And so the Word had breath, and wrought
With human hands the creed of creeds
In loveliness of perfect deeds,
More strong than all poetic thought;
Which he may read that binds the sheaf,
Or builds the house, or digs the grave,
And those wild eyes that watch the wave
In roarings round the coral reef.
Urania speaks with darken’d brow:
‘Thou pratest here where thou art least;
This faith has many a purer priest,
And many an abler voice than thou.
‘Go down beside thy native rill,
On thy Parnassus set thy feet,
And hear thy laurel whisper sweet
About the ledges of the hill.’
And my Melpomene replies,
A touch of shame upon her cheek:
‘I am not worthy ev’n to speak
Of thy prevailing mysteries;
‘For I am but an earthly Muse,
And owning but a little art
To lull with song an aching heart,
And render human love his dues;
‘But brooding on the dear one dead,
And all he said of things divine,
(And dear to me as sacred wine
To dying lips is all he said),
‘I murmur’d, as I came along,
Of comfort clasp’d in truth reveal’d;
And loiter’d in the master’s field,
And darken’d sanctities with song.’
With weary steps I loiter on,
Tho’ always under alter’d skies
The purple from the distance dies,
My prospect and horizon gone.
No joy the blowing season gives,
The herald melodies of spring,
But in the songs I love to sing
A doubtful gleam of solace lives.
If any care for what is here
Survive in spirits render’d free,
Then are these songs I sing of thee
Not all ungrateful to thine ear.
Old warder of these buried bones,
And answering now my random stroke
With fruitful cloud and living smoke,
Dark yew, that graspest at the stones
And dippest toward the dreamless head,
To thee too comes the golden hour
When flower is feeling after flower;
But Sorrow–fixt upon the dead,
And darkening the dark graves of men,–
What whisper’d from her lying lips?
Thy gloom is kindled at the tips,
And passes into gloom again.
Could we forget the widow’d hour
And look on Spirits breathed away,
As on a maiden in the day
When first she wears her orange-flower!
When crown’d with blessing she doth rise
To take her latest leave of home,
And hopes and light regrets that come
Make April of her tender eyes;
And doubtful joys the father move,
And tears are on the mother’s face,
As parting with a long embrace
She enters other realms of love;
Her office there to rear, to teach,
Becoming as is meet and fit
A link among the days, to knit
The generations each with each;
And, doubtless, unto thee is given
A life that bears immortal fruit
In those great offices that suit
The full-grown energies of heaven.
Ay me, the difference I discern!
How often shall her old fireside
Be cheer’d with tidings of the bride,
How often she herself return,
And tell them all they would have told,
And bring her babe, and make her boast,
Till even those that miss’d her most
Shall count new things as dear as old:
But thou and I have shaken hands,
Till growing winters lay me low;
My paths are in the fields I know,
And thine in undiscover’d lands.
The spirit ere our fatal loss
Did ever rise from high to higher;
As mounts the heavenward altar-fire,
As flies the lighter thro’ the gross.
But thou art turn’d to something strange,
And I have lost the links that bound
Thy changes; here upon the ground,
No more partaker of thy change.
Deep folly! yet that this could be–
That I could wing my will with might
To leap the grades of life and light,
And flash at once, my friend, to thee.
For tho’ my nature rarely yields
To that vague fear implied in death;
Nor shudders at the gulfs beneath,
The howlings from forgotten fields;
Yet oft when sundown skirts the moor
An inner trouble I behold,
A spectral doubt which makes me cold,
That I shall be thy mate no more,
Tho’ following with an upward mind
The wonders that have come to thee,
Thro’ all the secular to-be,
But evermore a life behind.
I vex my heart with fancies dim:
He still outstript me in the race;
It was but unity of place
That made me dream I rank’d with him.
And so may Place retain us still,
And he the much-beloved again,
A lord of large experience, train
To riper growth the mind and will:
And what delights can equal those
That stir the spirit’s inner deeps,
When one that loves but knows not, reaps
A truth from one that loves and knows?
If Sleep and Death be truly one,
And every spirit’s folded bloom
Thro’ all its intervital gloom
In some long trance should slumber on;
Unconscious of the sliding hour,
Bare of the body, might it last,
And silent traces of the past
Be all the colour of the flower:
So then were nothing lost to man;
So that still garden of the souls
In many a figured leaf enrolls
The total world since life began;
And love will last as pure and whole
As when he loved me here in Time,
And at the spiritual prime
Rewaken with the dawning soul.
How fares it with the happy dead?
For here the man is more and more;
But he forgets the days before
God shut the doorways of his head.
The days have vanish’d, tone and tint,
And yet perhaps the hoarding sense
Gives out at times (he knows not whence)
A little flash, a mystic hint;
And in the long harmonious years
(If Death so taste Lethean springs),
May some dim touch of earthly things
Surprise thee ranging with thy peers.
If such a dreamy touch should fall,
O turn thee round, resolve the doubt;
My guardian angel will speak out
In that high place, and tell thee all.
The baby new to earth and sky,
What time his tender palm is prest
Against the circle of the breast,
Has never thought that ‘this is I:’
But as he grows he gathers much,
And learns the use of ‘I,’ and ‘me,’
And finds ‘I am not what I see,
And other than the things I touch.’
So rounds he to a separate mind
From whence clear memory may begin,
As thro’ the frame that binds him in
His isolation grows defined.
This use may lie in blood and breath,
Which else were fruitless of their due,
Had man to learn himself anew
Beyond the second birth of Death.
We ranging down this lower track,
The path we came by, thorn and flower,
Is shadow’d by the growing hour,
Lest life should fail in looking back.
So be it: there no shade can last
In that deep dawn behind the tomb,
But clear from marge to marge shall bloom
The eternal landscape of the past;
A lifelong tract of time reveal’d;
The fruitful hours of still increase;
Days order’d in a wealthy peace,
And those five years its richest field.
O Love, thy province were not large,
A bounded field, nor stretching far;
Look also, Love, a brooding star,
A rosy warmth from marge to marge.
That each, who seems a separate whole,
Should move his rounds, and fusing all
The skirts of self again, should fall
Remerging in the general Soul,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
Eternal form shall still divide
The eternal soul from all beside;
And I shall know him when we meet:
And we shall sit at endless feast,
Enjoying each the other’s good:
What vaster dream can hit the mood
Of Love on earth? He seeks at least
Upon the last and sharpest height,
Before the spirits fade away,
Some landing-place, to clasp and say,
‘Farewell! We lose ourselves in light.’
If these brief lays, of Sorrow born,
Were taken to be such as closed
Grave doubts and answers here proposed,
Then these were such as men might scorn:
Her care is not to part and prove;
She takes, when harsher moods remit,
What slender shade of doubt may flit,
And makes it vassal unto love:
And hence, indeed, she sports with words,
But better serves a wholesome law,
And holds it sin and shame to draw
The deepest measure from the chords:
Nor dare she trust a larger lay,
But rather loosens from the lip
Short swallow-flights of song, that dip
Their wings in tears, and skim away.
From art, from nature, from the schools,
Let random influences glance,
Like light in many a shiver’d lance
That breaks about the dappled pools:
The lightest wave of thought shall lisp,
The fancy’s tenderest eddy wreathe,
The slightest air of song shall breathe
To make the sullen surface crisp.
And look thy look, and go thy way,
But blame not thou the winds that make
The seeming-wanton ripple break,
The tender-pencil’d shadow play.
Beneath all fancied hopes and fears
Ay me, the sorrow deepens down,
Whose muffled motions blindly drown
The bases of my life in tears.
Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.
Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.
Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.
Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.
Do we indeed desire the dead
Should still be near us at our side?
Is there no baseness we would hide?
No inner vileness that we dread?
Shall he for whose applause I strove,
I had such reverence for his blame,
See with clear eye some hidden shame
And I be lessen’d in his love?
I wrong the grave with fears untrue:
Shall love be blamed for want of faith?
There must be wisdom with great Death:
The dead shall look me thro’ and thro’.
Be near us when we climb or fall:
Ye watch, like God, the rolling hours
With larger other eyes than ours,
To make allowance for us all.
I cannot love thee as I ought,
For love reflects the thing beloved;
My words are only words, and moved
Upon the topmost froth of thought.
‘Yet blame not thou thy plaintive song,’
The Spirit of true love replied;
‘Thou canst not move me from thy side,
Nor human frailty do me wrong.
‘What keeps a spirit wholly true
To that ideal which he bears?
What record? not the sinless years
That breathed beneath the Syrian blue:
‘So fret not, like an idle girl,
That life is dash’d with flecks of sin.
Abide: thy wealth is gather’d in,
When Time hath sunder’d shell from pearl.’
How many a father have I seen,
A sober man, among his boys,
Whose youth was full of foolish noise,
Who wears his manhood hale and green:
And dare we to this fancy give,
That had the wild oat not been sown,
The soil, left barren, scarce had grown
The grain by which a man may live?
Or, if we held the doctrine sound
For life outliving heats of youth,
Yet who would preach it as a truth
To those that eddy round and round?
Hold thou the good: define it well:
For fear divine Philosophy
Should push beyond her mark, and be
Procuress to the Lords of Hell.
Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;
That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy’d,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;
That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell’d in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another’s gain.
Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last–far off–at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.
So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.
The wish, that of the living whole
No life may fail beyond the grave,
Derives it not from what we have
The likest God within the soul?
Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;
That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,
I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
That slope thro’ darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.
‘So careful of the type?’ but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, ‘A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.
‘Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.’ And he, shall he,
Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law–
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed–
Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal’d within the iron hills?
No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match’d with him.
O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.
Peace; come away: the song of woe
Is after all an earthly song:
Peace; come away: we do him wrong
To sing so wildly: let us go.
Come; let us go: your cheeks are pale;
But half my life I leave behind:
Methinks my friend is richly shrined;
But I shall pass; my work will fail.
Yet in these ears, till hearing dies,
One set slow bell will seem to toll
The passing of the sweetest soul
That ever look’d with human eyes.
I hear it now, and o’er and o’er,
Eternal greetings to the dead;
And ‘Ave, Ave, Ave,’ said,
‘Adieu, adieu’ for evermore.
In those sad words I took farewell:
Like echoes in sepulchral halls,
As drop by drop the water falls
In vaults and catacombs, they fell;
And, falling, idly broke the peace
Of hearts that beat from day to day,
Half-conscious of their dying clay,
And those cold crypts where they shall cease.
The high Muse answer’d: ‘Wherefore grieve
Thy brethren with a fruitless tear?
Abide a little longer here,
And thou shalt take a nobler leave.’
O Sorrow, wilt thou live with me
No casual mistress, but a wife,
My bosom-friend and half of life;
As I confess it needs must be;
O Sorrow, wilt thou rule my blood,
Be sometimes lovely like a bride,
And put thy harsher moods aside,
If thou wilt have me wise and good.
My centred passion cannot move,
Nor will it lessen from to-day;
But I’ll have leave at times to play
As with the creature of my love;
And set thee forth, for thou art mine,
With so much hope for years to come,
That, howsoe’er I know thee, some
Could hardly tell what name were thine.
He past; a soul of nobler tone:
My spirit loved and loves him yet,
Like some poor girl whose heart is set
On one whose rank exceeds her own.
He mixing with his proper sphere,
She finds the baseness of her lot,
Half jealous of she knows not what,
And envying all that meet him there.
The little village looks forlorn;
She sighs amid her narrow days,
Moving about the household ways,
In that dark house where she was born.
The foolish neighbours come and go,
And tease her till the day draws by:
At night she weeps, ‘How vain am I!
How should he love a thing so low?’
If, in thy second state sublime,
Thy ransom’d reason change replies
With all the circle of the wise,
The perfect flower of human time;
And if thou cast thine eyes below,
How dimly character’d and slight,
How dwarf’d a growth of cold and night,
How blanch'd with darkness must I grow!
Yet turn thee to the doubtful shore,
Where thy first form was made a man:
I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can
The soul of Shakespeare love thee more.
Tho’ if an eye that’s downward cast
Could make thee somewhat blench or fail,
Then be my love an idle tale,
And fading legend of the past;
And thou, as one that once declined,
When he was little more than boy,
On some unworthy heart with joy,
But lives to wed an equal mind;
And breathes a novel world, the while
His other passion wholly dies,
Or in the light of deeper eyes
Is matter for a flying smile.
Yet pity for a horse o’er-driven,
And love in which my hound has part,
Can hang no weight upon my heart
In its assumptions up to heaven;
And I am so much more than these,
As thou, perchance, art more than I,
And yet I spare them sympathy,
And I would set their pains at ease.
So mayst thou watch me where I weep,
As, unto vaster motions bound,
The circuits of thine orbit round
A higher height, a deeper deep.
Dost thou look back on what hath been,
As some divinely gifted man,
Whose life in low estate began
And on a simple village green;
Who breaks his birth’s invidious bar,
And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
And breasts the blows of circumstance,
And grapples with his evil star;
Who makes by force his merit known
And lives to clutch the golden keys,
To mould a mighty state’s decrees,
And shape the whisper of the throne;
And moving up from high to higher,
Becomes on Fortune’s crowning slope
The pillar of a people’s hope,
The centre of a world’s desire;
Yet feels, as in a pensive dream,
When all his active powers are still,
A distant dearness in the hill,
A secret sweetness in the stream,
The limit of his narrower fate,
While yet beside its vocal springs
He play’d at counsellors and kings,
With one that was his earliest mate;
Who ploughs with pain his native lea
And reaps the labour of his hands,
Or in the furrow musing stands;
‘Does my old friend remember me?’
Sweet soul, do with me as thou wilt;
I lull a fancy trouble-tost
With ‘Love’s too precious to be lost,
A little grain shall not be spilt.’
And in that solace can I sing,
Till out of painful phases wrought
There flutters up a happy thought,
Self-balanced on a lightsome wing:
Since we deserved the name of friends,
And thine effect so lives in me,
A part of mine may live in thee
And move thee on to noble ends.
You thought my heart too far diseased;
You wonder when my fancies play
To find me gay among the gay,
Like one with any trifle pleased.
The shade by which my life was crost,
Which makes a desert in the mind,
Has made me kindly with my kind,
And like to him whose sight is lost;
Whose feet are guided thro’ the land,
Whose jest among his friends is free,
Who takes the children on his knee,
And winds their curls about his hand:
He plays with threads, he beats his chair
For pastime, dreaming of the sky;
His inner day can never die,
His night of loss is always there.
When on my bed the moonlight falls,
I know that in thy place of rest
By that broad water of the west,
There comes a glory on the walls:
Thy marble bright in dark appears,
As slowly steals a silver flame
Along the letters of thy name,
And o’er the number of thy years.
The mystic glory swims away;
From off my bed the moonlight dies;
And closing eaves of wearied eyes
I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray:
And then I know the mist is drawn
A lucid veil from coast to coast,
And in the dark church like a ghost
Thy tablet glimmers to the dawn.
When in the down I sink my head,
Sleep, Death’s twin-brother, times my breath;
Sleep, Death’s twin-brother, knows not Death,
Nor can I dream of thee as dead:
I walk as ere I walk’d forlorn,
When all our path was fresh with dew,
And all the bugle breezes blew
Reveillée to the breaking morn.
But what is this? I turn about,
I find a trouble in thine eye,
Which makes me sad I know not why,
Nor can my dream resolve the doubt:
But ere the lark hath left the lea
I wake, and I discern the truth;
It is the trouble of my youth
That foolish sleep transfers to thee.
I dream’d there would be Spring no more,
That Nature’s ancient power was lost:
The streets were black with smoke and frost,
They chatter’d trifles at the door:
I wander’d from the noisy town,
I found a wood with thorny boughs:
I took the thorns to bind my brows,
I wore them like a civic crown:
I met with scoffs, I met with scorns
From youth and babe and hoary hairs:
They call’d me in the public squares
The fool that wears a crown of thorns:
They call’d me fool, they call’d me child:
I found an angel of the night;
The voice was low, the look was bright;
He look’d upon my crown and smiled:
He reach’d the glory of a hand,
That seem’d to touch it into leaf:
The voice was not the voice of grief,
The words were hard to understand.
I cannot see the features right,
When on the gloom I strive to paint
The face I know; the hues are faint
And mix with hollow masks of night;
Cloud-towers by ghostly masons wrought,
A gulf that ever shuts and gapes,
A hand that points, and palled shapes
In shadowy thoroughfares of thought;
And crowds that stream from yawning doors,
And shoals of pucker’d faces drive;
Dark bulks that tumble half alive,
And lazy lengths on boundless shores;
Till all at once beyond the will
I hear a wizard music roll,
And thro’ a lattice on the soul
Looks thy fair face and makes it still.
Sleep, kinsman thou to death and trance
And madness, thou hast forged at last
A night-long Present of the Past
In which we went thro’ summer France.
Hadst thou such credit with the soul?
Then bring an opiate trebly strong,
Drug down the blindfold sense of wrong
That so my pleasure may be whole;
While now we talk as once we talk’d
Of men and minds, the dust of change,
The days that grow to something strange,
In walking as of old we walk’d
Beside the river’s wooded reach,
The fortress, and the mountain ridge,
The cataract flashing from the bridge,
The breaker breaking on the beach.
Risest thou thus, dim dawn, again,
And howlest, issuing out of night,
With blasts that blow the poplar white,
And lash with storm the streaming pane?
Day, when my crown’d estate begun
To pine in that reverse of doom,
Which sicken’d every living bloom,
And blurr’d the splendour of the sun;
Who usherest in the dolorous hour
With thy quick tears that make the rose
Pull sideways, and the daisy close
Her crimson fringes to the shower;
Who might’st have heaved a windless flame
Up the deep East, or, whispering, play’d
A chequer-work of beam and shade
Along the hills, yet look’d the same.
As wan, as chill, as wild as now;
Day, mark’d as with some hideous crime,
When the dark hand struck down thro’ time,
And cancell’d nature’s best: but thou,
Lift as thou may’st thy burthen’d brows
Thro’ clouds that drench the morning star,
And whirl the ungarner’d sheaf afar,
And sow the sky with flying boughs,
And up thy vault with roaring sound
Climb thy thick noon, disastrous day;
Touch thy dull goal of joyless gray,
And hide thy shame beneath the ground.
So many worlds, so much to do,
So little done, such things to be,
How know I what had need of thee,
For thou wert strong as thou wert true?
The fame is quench’d that I foresaw,
The head hath miss’d an earthly wreath:
I curse not nature, no, nor death;
For nothing is that errs from law.
We pass; the path that each man trod
Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds:
What fame is left for human deeds
In endless age? It rests with God.
O hollow wraith of dying fame,
Fade wholly, while the soul exults,
And self-infolds the large results
Of force that would have forged a name.
As sometimes in a dead man’s face,
To those that watch it more and more,
A likeness, hardly seen before,
Comes out–to some one of his race:
So, dearest, now thy brows are cold,
I see thee what thou art, and know
Thy likeness to the wise below,
Thy kindred with the great of old.
But there is more than I can see,
And what I see I leave unsaid,
Nor speak it, knowing Death has made
His darkness beautiful with thee.
I leave thy praises unexpress’d
In verse that brings myself relief,
And by the measure of my grief
I leave thy greatness to be guess’d;
What practice howsoe’er expert
In fitting aptest words to things,
Or voice the richest-toned that sings,
Hath power to give thee as thou wert?
I care not in these fading days
To raise a cry that lasts not long,
And round thee with the breeze of song
To stir a little dust of praise.
Thy leaf has perish’d in the green,
And, while we breathe beneath the sun,
The world which credits what is done
Is cold to all that might have been.
So here shall silence guard thy fame;
But somewhere, out of human view,
Whate’er thy hands are set to do
Is wrought with tumult of acclaim.
Take wings of fancy, and ascend,
And in a moment set thy face
Where all the starry heavens of space
Are sharpen’d to a needle’s end;
Take wings of foresight; lighten thro’
The secular abyss to come,
And lo, thy deepest lays are dumb
Before the mouldering of a yew;
And if the matin songs, that woke
The darkness of our planet, last,
Thine own shall wither in the vast,
Ere half the lifetime of an oak.
Ere these have clothed their branchy bowers
With fifty Mays, thy songs are vain;
And what are they when these remain
The ruin’d shells of hollow towers?
What hope is here for modern rhyme
To him, who turns a musing eye
On songs, and deeds, and lives, that lie
Foreshorten’d in the tract of time?
These mortal lullabies of pain
May bind a book, may line a box,
May serve to curl a maiden’s locks;
Or when a thousand moons shall wane
A man upon a stall may find,
And, passing, turn the page that tells
A grief, then changed to something else,
Sung by a long-forgotten mind.
But what of that? My darken’d ways
Shall ring with music all the same;
To breathe my loss is more than fame,
To utter love more sweet than praise.
Again at Christmas did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
The silent snow possess’d the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:
The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.
As in the winters left behind,
Again our ancient games had place,
The mimic picture’s breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind.
Who show’d a token of distress?
No single tear, no mark of pain:
O sorrow, then can sorrow wane?
O grief, can grief be changed to less?
O last regret, regret can die!
No–mixt with all this mystic frame,
Her deep relations are the same,
But with long use her tears are dry.
‘More than my brothers are to me,’–
Let this not vex thee, noble heart!
I know thee of what force thou art
To hold the costliest love in fee.
But thou and I are one in kind,
As moulded like in Nature’s mint;
And hill and wood and field did print
The same sweet forms in either mind.
For us the same cold streamlet curl’d
Thro’ all his eddying coves; the same
All winds that roam the twilight came
In whispers of the beauteous world.
At one dear knee we proffer’d vows,
One lesson from one book we learn’d,
Ere childhood’s flaxen ringlet turn’d
To black and brown
September on Jessore Road
Millions of babies watching the skies
Bellies swollen, with big round eyes
On Jessore Road--long bamboo huts
Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts
Millions of fathers in rain
Millions of mothers in pain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of sisters nowhere to go
One Million aunts are dying for bread
One Million uncles lamenting the dead
Grandfather millions homeless and sad
Grandmother millions silently mad
Millions of daughters walk in the mud
Millions of children wash in the flood
A Million girls vomit & groan
Millions of families hopeless alone
Millions of souls nineteenseventyone
homeless on Jessore road under grey sun
A million are dead, the million who can
Walk toward Calcutta from East Pakistan
Taxi September along Jessore Road
Oxcart skeletons drag charcoal load
past watery fields thru rain flood ruts
Dung cakes on treetrunks, plastic-roof huts
Wet processions Families walk
Stunted boys big heads don't talk
Look bony skulls & silent round eyes
Starving black angels in human disguise
Mother squats weeping & points to her sons
Standing thin legged like elderly nuns
small bodied hands to their mouths in prayer
Five months small food since they settled there
on one floor mat with small empty pot
Father lifts up his hands at their lot
Tears come to their mother's eye
Pain makes mother Maya cry
Two children together in palmroof shade
Stare at me no word is said
Rice ration, lentils one time a week
Milk powder for warweary infants meek
No vegetable money or work for the man
Rice lasts four days eat while they can
Then children starve three days in a row
and vomit their next food unless they eat slow.
On Jessore road Mother wept at my knees
Bengali tongue cried mister Please
Identity card torn up on the floor
Husband still waits at the camp office door
Baby at play I was washing the flood
Now they won't give us any more food
The pieces are here in my celluloid purse
Innocent baby play our death curse
Two policemen surrounded by thousands of boys
Crowded waiting their daily bread joys
Carry big whistles & long bamboo sticks
to whack them in line They play hungry tricks
Breaking the line and jumping in front
Into the circle sneaks one skinny runt
Two brothers dance forward on the mud stage
Teh gaurds blow their whistles & chase them in rage
Why are these infants massed in this place
Laughing in play & pushing for space
Why do they wait here so cheerful & dread
Why this is the House where they give children bread
The man in the bread door Cries & comes out
Thousands of boys and girls Take up his shout
Is it joy? is it prayer? "No more bread today"
Thousands of Children at once scream "Hooray!"
Run home to tents where elders await
Messenger children with bread from the state
No bread more today! & and no place to squat
Painful baby, sick shit he has got.
Malnutrition skulls thousands for months
Dysentery drains bowels all at once
Nurse shows disease card Enterostrep
Suspension is wanting or else chlorostrep
Refugee camps in hospital shacks
Newborn lay naked on mother's thin laps
Monkeysized week old Rheumatic babe eye
Gastoenteritis Blood Poison thousands must die
September Jessore Road rickshaw
50,000 souls in one camp I saw
Rows of bamboo huts in the flood
Open drains, & wet families waiting for food
Border trucks flooded, food cant get past,
American Angel machine please come fast!
Where is Ambassador Bunker today?
Are his Helios machinegunning children at play?
Where are the helicopters of U.S. AID?
Smuggling dope in Bangkok's green shade.
Where is America's Air Force of Light?
Bombing North Laos all day and all night?
Where are the President's Armies of Gold?
Billionaire Navies merciful Bold?
Bringing us medicine food and relief?
Napalming North Viet Nam and causing more grief?
Where are our tears? Who weeps for the pain?
Where can these families go in the rain?
Jessore Road's children close their big eyes
Where will we sleep when Our Father dies?
Whom shall we pray to for rice and for care?
Who can bring bread to this shit flood foul'd lair?
Millions of children alone in the rain!
Millions of children weeping in pain!
Ring O ye tongues of the world for their woe
Ring out ye voices for Love we don't know
Ring out ye bells of electrical pain
Ring in the conscious of America brain
How many children are we who are lost
Whose are these daughters we see turn to ghost?
What are our souls that we have lost care?
Ring out ye musics and weep if you dare--
Cries in the mud by the thatch'd house sand drain
Sleeps in huge pipes in the wet shit-field rain
waits by the pump well, Woe to the world!
whose children still starve in their mother's arms curled.
Is this what I did to myself in the past?
What shall I do Sunil Poet I asked?
Move on and leave them without any coins?
What should I care for the love of my loins?
What should we care for our cities and cars?
What shall we buy with our Food Stamps on Mars?
How many millions sit down in New York
& sup this night's table on bone & roast pork?
How many millions of beer cans are tossed
in Oceans of Mother? How much does She cost?
Cigar gasolines and asphalt car dreams
Stinking the world and dimming star beams--
Finish the war in your breast with a sigh
Come tast the tears in your own Human eye
Pity us millions of phantoms you see
Starved in Samsara on planet TV
How many millions of children die more
before our Good Mothers perceive the Great Lord?
How many good fathers pay tax to rebuild
Armed forces that boast the children they've killed?
How many souls walk through Maya in pain
How many babes in illusory pain?
How many families hollow eyed lost?
How many grandmothers turning to ghost?
How many loves who never get bread?
How many Aunts with holes in their head?
How many sisters skulls on the ground?
How many grandfathers make no more sound?
How many fathers in woe
How many sons nowhere to go?
How many daughters nothing to eat?
How many uncles with swollen sick feet?
Millions of babies in pain
Millions of mothers in rain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of children nowhere to go
Book V - Part 03 - The World is Not Eternal
Since body of earth and water, air's light breath,
And fiery exhalations (of which four
This sum of things is seen to be compact)
So all have birth and perishable frame,
Thus the whole nature of the world itself
Must be conceived as perishable too.
For, verily, those things of which we see
The parts and members to have birth in time
And perishable shapes, those same we mark
To be invariably born in time
And born to die. And therefore when I see
The mightiest members and the parts of this
Our world consumed and begot again,
'Tis mine to know that also sky above
And earth beneath began of old in time
And shall in time go under to disaster.
And lest in these affairs thou deemest me
To have seized upon this point by sleight to serve
My own caprice- because I have assumed
That earth and fire are mortal things indeed,
And have not doubted water and the air
Both perish too and have affirmed the same
To be again begotten and wax big-
Mark well the argument: in first place, lo,
Some certain parts of earth, grievously parched
By unremitting suns, and trampled on
By a vast throng of feet, exhale abroad
A powdery haze and flying clouds of dust,
Which the stout winds disperse in the whole air.
A part, moreover, of her sod and soil
Is summoned to inundation by the rains;
And rivers graze and gouge the banks away.
Besides, whatever takes a part its own
In fostering and increasing aught...
Is rendered back; and since, beyond a doubt,
Earth, the all-mother, is beheld to be
Likewise the common sepulchre of things,
Therefore thou seest her minished of her plenty,
And then again augmented with new growth.
And for the rest, that sea, and streams, and springs
Forever with new waters overflow
And that perennially the fluids well.
Needeth no words- the mighty flux itself
Of multitudinous waters round about
Declareth this. But whatso water first
Streams up is ever straightway carried off,
And thus it comes to pass that all in all
There is no overflow; in part because
The burly winds (that over-sweep amain)
And skiey sun (that with his rays dissolves)
Do minish the level seas; in part because
The water is diffused underground
Through all the lands. The brine is filtered off,
And then the liquid stuff seeps back again
And all re-gathers at the river-heads,
Whence in fresh-water currents on it flows
Over the lands, adown the channels which
Were cleft erstwhile and erstwhile bore along
The liquid-footed floods.
Now, then, of air
I'll speak, which hour by hour in all its body
Is changed innumerably. For whatso'er
Streams up in dust or vapour off of things,
The same is all and always borne along
Into the mighty ocean of the air;
And did not air in turn restore to things
Bodies, and thus recruit them as they stream,
All things by this time had resolved been
And changed into air. Therefore it never
Ceases to be engendered off of things
And to return to things, since verily
In constant flux do all things stream.
The abounding well-spring of the liquid light,
The ethereal sun, doth flood the heaven o'er
With constant flux of radiance ever new,
And with fresh light supplies the place of light,
Upon the instant. For whatever effulgence
Hath first streamed off, no matter where it falls,
Is lost unto the sun. And this 'tis thine
To know from these examples: soon as clouds
Have first begun to under-pass the sun,
And, as it were, to rend the days of light
In twain, at once the lower part of them
Is lost entire, and earth is overcast
Where'er the thunderheads are rolled along-
So know thou mayst that things forever need
A fresh replenishment of gleam and glow,
And each effulgence, foremost flashed forth,
Perisheth one by one. Nor otherwise
Can things be seen in sunlight, lest alway
The fountain-head of light supply new light.
Indeed your earthly beacons of the night,
The hanging lampions and the torches, bright
With darting gleams and dense with livid soot,
Do hurry in like manner to supply
With ministering heat new light amain;
Are all alive to quiver with their fires,-
Are so alive, that thus the light ne'er leaves
The spots it shines on, as if rent in twain:
So speedily is its destruction veiled
By the swift birth of flame from all the fires.
Thus, then, we must suppose that sun and moon
And stars dart forth their light from under-births
Ever and ever new, and whatso flames
First rise do perish always one by one-
Lest, haply, thou shouldst think they each endure
Again, perceivest not
How stones are also conquered by Time?-
Not how the lofty towers ruin down,
And boulders crumble?- Not how shrines of gods
And idols crack outworn?- Nor how indeed
The holy Influence hath yet no power
There to postpone the Terminals of Fate,
Or headway make 'gainst Nature's fixed decrees?
Again, behold we not the monuments
Of heroes, now in ruins, asking us,
In their turn likewise, if we don't believe
They also age with eld? Behold we not
The rended basalt ruining amain
Down from the lofty mountains, powerless
To dure and dree the mighty forces there
Of finite time?- for they would never fall
Rended asudden, if from infinite Past
They had prevailed against all engin'ries
Of the assaulting aeons, with no crash.
Again, now look at This, which round, above,
Contains the whole earth in its one embrace:
If from itself it procreates all things-
As some men tell- and takes them to itself
When once destroyed, entirely must it be
Of mortal birth and body; for whate'er
From out itself giveth to other things
Increase and food, the same perforce must be
Minished, and then recruited when it takes
Things back into itself.
Besides all this,
If there had been no origin-in-birth
Of lands and sky, and they had ever been
The everlasting, why, ere Theban war
And obsequies of Troy, have other bards
Not also chanted other high affairs?
Whither have sunk so oft so many deeds
Of heroes? Why do those deeds live no more,
Ingrafted in eternal monuments
Of glory? Verily, I guess, because
The Sum is new, and of a recent date
The nature of our universe, and had
Not long ago its own exordium.
Wherefore, even now some arts are being still
Refined, still increased: now unto ships
Is being added many a new device;
And but the other day musician-folk
Gave birth to melic sounds of organing;
And, then, this nature, this account of things
Hath been discovered latterly, and I
Myself have been discovered only now,
As first among the first, able to turn
The same into ancestral Roman speech.
Yet if, percase, thou deemest that ere this
Existed all things even the same, but that
Perished the cycles of the human race
In fiery exhalations, or cities fell
By some tremendous quaking of the world,
Or rivers in fury, after constant rains,
Had plunged forth across the lands of earth
And whelmed the towns- then, all the more must thou
Confess, defeated by the argument,
That there shall be annihilation too
Of lands and sky. For at a time when things
Were being taxed by maladies so great,
And so great perils, if some cause more fell
Had then assailed them, far and wide they would
Have gone to disaster and supreme collapse.
And by no other reasoning are we
Seen to be mortal, save that all of us
Sicken in turn with those same maladies
With which have sickened in the past those men
Whom Nature hath removed from life.
Whatever abides eternal must indeed
Either repel all strokes, because 'tis made
Of solid body, and permit no entrance
Of aught with power to sunder from within
The parts compact- as are those seeds of stuff
Whose nature we've exhibited before;
Or else be able to endure through time
For this: because they are from blows exempt,
As is the void, the which abides untouched,
Unsmit by any stroke; or else because
There is no room around, whereto things can,
As 'twere, depart in dissolution all-
Even as the sum of sums eternal is,
Without or place beyond whereto things may
Asunder fly, or bodies which can smite,
And thus dissolve them by the blows of might.
But not of solid body, as I've shown,
Exists the nature of the world, because
In things is intermingled there a void;
Nor is the world yet as the void, nor are,
Moreover, bodies lacking which, percase,
Rising from out the infinite, can fell
With fury-whirlwinds all this sum of things,
Or bring upon them other cataclysm
Of peril strange; and yonder, too, abides
The infinite space and the profound abyss-
Whereinto, lo, the ramparts of the world
Can yet be shivered. Or some other power
Can pound upon them till they perish all.
Thus is the door of doom, O nowise barred
Against the sky, against the sun and earth
And deep-sea waters, but wide open stands
And gloats upon them, monstrous and agape.
Wherefore, again, 'tis needful to confess
That these same things are born in time; for things
Which are of mortal body could indeed
Never from infinite past until to-day
Have spurned the multitudinous assaults
Of the immeasurable aeons old.
Again, since battle so fiercely one with other
The four most mighty members the world,
Aroused in an all unholy war,
Seest not that there may be for them an end
Of the long strife?- Or when the skiey sun
And all the heat have won dominion o'er
The sucked-up waters all?- And this they try
Still to accomplish, though as yet they fail,-
For so aboundingly the streams supply
New store of waters that 'tis rather they
Who menace the world with inundations vast
From forth the unplumbed chasms of the sea.
But vain- since winds (that over-sweep amain)
And skiey sun (that with his rays dissolves)
Do minish the level seas and trust their power
To dry up all, before the waters can
Arrive at the end of their endeavouring.
Breathing such vasty warfare, they contend
In balanced strife the one with other still
Concerning mighty issues- though indeed
The fire was once the more victorious,
And once- as goes the tale- the water won
A kingdom in the fields. For fire o'ermastered
And licked up many things and burnt away,
What time the impetuous horses of the Sun
Snatched Phaethon headlong from his skiey road
Down the whole ether and over all the lands.
But the omnipotent Father in keen wrath
Then with the sudden smite of thunderbolt
Did hurl the mighty-minded hero off
Those horses to the earth. And Sol, his sire,
Meeting him as he fell, caught up in hand
The ever-blazing lampion of the world,
And drave together the pell-mell horses there
And yoked them all a-tremble, and amain,
Steering them over along their own old road,
Restored the cosmos- as forsooth we hear
From songs of ancient poets of the Greeks-
A tale too far away from truth, meseems.
For fire can win when from the infinite
Has risen a larger throng of particles
Of fiery stuff; and then its powers succumb,
Somehow subdued again, or else at last
It shrivels in torrid atmospheres the world.
And whilom water too began to win-
As goes the story- when it overwhelmed
The lives of men with billows; and thereafter,
When all that force of water-stuff which forth
From out the infinite had risen up
Did now retire, as somehow turned aside,
The rain-storms stopped, and streams their fury checked.
Ch 07 On The Effects Of Education Story 20
Contention of Sa’di with a Disputant concerning Wealth and Poverty
I saw a man in the form but not with the character of a dervish, sitting in an assembly, who had begun a quarrel; and, having opened the record of complaints, reviled wealthy men, alleging at last that the hand of power of dervishes to do good was tied and that the foot of the intention of wealthy men to do good was broken.
The liberal have no money.
The wealthy have no liberality.
I, who had been cherished by the wealth of great men, considered these words offensive and said: ‘My good friend, the rich are the income of the destitute and the hoarded store of recluses, the objects of pilgrims, the refuge of travellers, the bearers of heavy loads for the relief of others. They give repasts and partake of them to feed their dependants and servants, the surplus of their liberalities being extended to widows, aged persons, relatives and neighbours.’
The rich must spend for pious uses, vows and hospitality,
Tithes, offerings, manumissions, gifts and sacrifices.
How canst thou attain their power of doing good who art able
To perform only the prayer-flections and these with a hundred distractions?
If there be efficacy in the power to be liberal and in the ability of performing religious duties, the rich can attain it better because they possess money to give alms, their garments are pure, their reputation is guarded, their hearts are at leisure. Inasmuch as the power of obedience depends upon nice morsels and correct worship upon elegant clothes, it is evident that hungry bowels have but little strength, an empty hand can afford no liberality, shackled feet cannot walk, and no good can come from a hungry belly.
He sleeps troubled in the night
Who has no support for the morrow.
The ant collects in summer a subsistence
For spending the winter in ease.
Freedom from care and destitution are not joined together and comfort in poverty is an impossibility. A man who is rich is engaged in his evening devotions whilst another who is poor is looking for his evening meal. How can they resemble each other?
He who possesses means is engaged in worship.
Whose means are scattered, his heart is distracted.
The worship of those who are comfortable is more likely to meet with acceptance, their minds being more attentive and not distracted or scattered. Having a secure income, they may attend to devotion. The Arab says: ‘I take refuge with Allah against base poverty and neighbours whom I do not love. There is also a tradition: Poverty is blackness of face in both worlds.’ He retorted by asking me whether I had heard the Prophet’s saying: Poverty is my glory. I replied: ‘Hush! The prince of the world alluded to the poverty of warriors in the battlefield of acquiescence and of submission to the arrow of destiny; not to those who don the patched garb of righteousness but sell the doles of food given them as alms.’
O drum of high sound and nothing within,
What wilt thou do without means when the struggle comes?
Turn away the face of greed from people if thou art a man.
Trust not the rosary of one thousand beads in thy hand.
A dervish without divine knowledge rests not until his poverty, culminates in unbelief; for poverty is almost infidelity, because a nude person cannot be clothed without money nor a prisoner liberated. How can the like of us attain their high position and how does the bestowing resemble the receiving hand? Knowest thou not that God the most high and glorious mentions in his revealed word the Pleasures of paradise-They shall have a certain provision in paradise-to inform thee that those who are occupied with cares for a subsistence are excluded from the felicity of piety and that the realm of leisure is under the ring of the certain provision.
The thirsty look in their sleep
On the whole world as a spring of water.
Wherever thou beholdest one who has experienced destitution and tasted bitterness, throwing himself wickedly into fearful adventures and not avoiding their consequences, he fears not the punishment of Yazed and does not discriminate between what is licit or illicit.
The dog whose head is touched by a clod of earth
Leaps for joy, imagining it to be a bone.
And when two men take a corpse on their shoulders,
A greedy fellow supposes it to be a table with food.
But the possessor of wealth is regarded with a favourable eye by the Almighty for the lawful acts he has done and preserved from the unlawful acts he might commit. Although I have not fully explained this matter nor adduced arguments, I rely on thy sense of justice to tell me whether thou hast ever seen a mendicant with his hands tied up to his shoulders or a poor fellow sitting in prison or a veil of innocence rent or a guilty hand amputated, except in consequence of poverty? Lion-hearted men were on account of their necessities captured in mines which they had dug to rob houses and their heels were perforated. It is also possible that a dervish, impelled by the cravings of his lust and unable to restrain it, may commit sin because the stomach and the sexual organs are twins, that is to say, they are the two children of one belly and as long as one of these is contented, the other will likewise be satisfied. I heard that a dervish had been seen committing a wicked act with a youth, and although he had been put to shame, he was also in danger of being stoned. He said: ‘O Musalmans, I have no power to marry a wife and no patience to restrain myself. What am I to do? There is no monasticism in Islam.” Among the number of causes producing internal tranquility and comfort in wealthy people, the fact may be reckoned that they take every night a sweetheart in their arms and may every day contemplate a youth whose brightness excels that of the shining morn and causes the feet of walking cypresses to conceal themselves abashed.
Plunging the fist into the blood of beloved persons,
Dying the finger-tips with the colour of the jujube-fruit.
It is impossible that with his beauteous stature he should prowl around prohibited things or entertain intentions of ruin to himself.
How could he who took as booty a Huri of paradise
Take any notice of the benes of Yaghma?
Who has before him fresh dates which he loves
Has no need to throw stones on clusters upon trees.
Mostly empty handed persons pollute the skirt of modesty by transgression, and those who are hungry steal bread.
When a ferocious dog has found meat
He asks not whether it is of the camel of Saleh or the ass of Dujjal.
What a number of modest women have on account of poverty fallen into complete profligacy, throwing away their precious reputation to the wind of dishonour!
With hunger the power of abstinence cannot abide.
Poverty snatches the reins from the hands of piety.
Whilst I was uttering these words, the dervish lost the bridle of patience from his hands, drew forth the sword of his tongue, caused the steed of eloquence to caper in the plain of reproach and said: ‘Thou hast been so profuse in this panegyric of wealthy men and hast talked so much nonsense that they might be supposed to be the antidote to poverty or the key to the storehouse of provisions; whereas they are a handful of proud, arrogant, conceited and abominable fellows intent upon accumulating property and money and so thirsting for dignity and abundance, that they do not speak to poor people except with insolence, and look upon them with contempt. They consider scholars to be mendicants and insult poor men on account of the wealth which they themselves possess and the glory of dignity which they imagine is inherent in them. They sit in the highest places and believe they are better than anyone else. They never show kindness to anybody and are ignorant of the maxim of sages that he who is inferior to others in piety but superior in riches is outwardly powerful but in reality a destitute man.
If a wretch on account of his wealth is proud to a sage
Consider him to be the podex of an ass, though he may be a perfumed ox.’
I said: ‘Do not think it allowable to insult them for they are possessors of generosity.’ He rejoined: ‘Thou art mistaken. They are slaves of money. Of what use is it that they are like bulky clouds and rain not, like the fountain of light, the sun, and shine upon no one? They are mounted on the steed of ability but do not use it; they would not stir a step for God’s sake nor spend one dirhem without imposing obligation and insult. They accumulate property with difficulty, guard it with meanness and abandon it with reluctance, according to the saying of illustrious men that the silver of an avaricious man will come up from the ground when he goes into the ground.
One man gathers wealth with trouble and labour
And if another comes, he takes it without either.’
I retorted: ‘Thou hast not become aware of the parsimony of wealthy men except by reason of mendicancy or else, to him who has laid aside covetousness, a liberal and an avaricious man would appear to be the same. The touchstone knows what gold is and the beggar knows him who is stingy.’ He rejoined: ‘I am speaking from experience when I say that they station rude and insolent men at their gates to keep off worthy persons, to place violent hands upon men of piety and discretion, saying: “Nobody is here”, and verily they have spoken the truth.’
Of him who has no sense, intention, plan or opinion,
The gatekeeper has beautifully said: ‘No one is in the house.’
I said this is excusable because they are teased out of their lives by people expecting favours and driven to lamentation by petitions of mendicants; it being according to common sense an impossibility to satisfy beggars even if the sand of the desert were to be transmuted into pearls.
The eye of greediness, the wealthy of the world
Can no more fill than dew can replenish a well.
Hatim Tai dwelt in the desert; had he been in a town he would have been helpless against the assaults of beggars and they would have torn to pieces his upper garments as it is recorded in the Tayibat:
Look not at me that others may not conceive hopes
Because there is no reward to be got from beggars.
He said: ‘No. I take pity on their state.’ I replied: ‘No. Thou enviest them their wealth.’ We were thus contending with each other, every pawn he put forward I endeavoured to repel, and every time he announced check to my king, I covered him with my queen until he had gambled away all his ready cash and had shot off all the arrows of his quiver in arguing.
Have a care; do not throw away the shield when attacked by an orator
Who has nothing except borrowed eloquence to show,
Practise thou religion and marifet because a Suja-speaking orator
Displays weapons at the gate but no one is in the fort.
At last no arguments remained to him and, having been defeated, he commenced to speak nonsense as is the custom of ignorant men who, when they can no more address proofs against their opponent, shake the chain of enmity like the idol-carver Azer who being unable to overcome his son in argument began to quarrel with him saying if thou forbearest not I will surely stone thee. The man insulted me. I spoke harshly to him. He tore my collar and I caught hold of his chin-case.
He falling upon me and I on him,
Crowds running after us and laughing,
The finger of astonishment of a world
On the teeth; from what was said and heard by us.
In short we carried our dispute to the qazi and agreed to abide by a just decision of the judge of Musalmans, who would investigate the affair and tell the difference between the rich and the poor. When the qazi had seen our state and heard our logic, he plunged his head into his collar and after meditating for a while spoke as follows: ‘O thou, who hast lauded the wealthy and hast indulged in violent language towards dervishes, thou art to know that wherever a rose exists, there also thorns occur; that wine is followed by intoxication, that a treasure is guarded by a serpent, and that wherever royal pearls are found, men-devouring sharks must also be. The sting of death is the sequel of the delights of life and a cunning demon bars the enjoyment of paradise.
‘What will the violence of a foe do if it cannot touch the seeker of the Friend?
Treasure, serpent; rose, thorn; grief and pleasure are all linked together.
‘Perceivest thou not that in a garden there are musk-willows as well as withered sticks? And likewise in the crowd of the rich there are grateful and impious men, as also in the circle of dervishes some are forbearing and some are impatient.
‘If every drop of dew were to become a pearl
The bazar would be full of them as of ass-shells.
‘Those near to the presence of the most high and glorious are rich men with the disposition of dervishes and dervishes with the inclination of the rich. The greatest of rich men is he who sympathizes with dervishes and the best of dervishes is he who looks but little towards rich men. Who trusts in Allah, he will be his sufficient support.’
After this the qazi turned the face of reproof from me to the dervish and said: ‘O thou who hast alleged that the wealthy are engaged in wickedness and intoxicated with pleasure, some certainly are of the kind thou hast described; of defective aspirations, and ungrateful for benefits received. Sometimes they accumulate and put by, eat and give not; if for instance the rain were to fail or a deluge were to distress the world, they, trusting in their own power, would not care for the misery of dervishes, would not fear God and would say:
If another perishes for want of food
I have some; what cares a duck for the deluge?
The women riding on camels in their howdahs
Take no notice of him who sinks in the sana.
The base when they have saved their own blankets
Say: What boots it if all mankind perishes?
‘There are people of the kind thou hast heard of, and other persons who keep the table of beneficence spread out, the hand of liberality open, seeking a good name and pardon from God. They are the possessors of this world and of the next, like the slaves of His Majesty Padshah of the world who is aided by devine grace, conqueror, possessor of authority among nations, defender of the frontiers of Islam, heir of the realm of Solomon, the most righteous of the kings of the period, Muzaffar-ud-dunia wa uddin Atabek Abu Bekr Ben Sa’d Ben Zanki, may Allah prolong his days and aid his banners.
‘A father never shows the kindness to his son
Which the hand of thy liberality has bestowed on mankind.
God desired to vouchsafe a blessing to the world
And in his mercy made thee padshah of the world.’
When the qazi had thus far protracted his remarks and had caused the horse of his eloquence to roam beyond the limits of our expectation, we submitted to his judicial decision, condoned to each other what had passed between us, took the path of reconciliation, placed our heads on each other’s feet by way of apology, kissed each other’s head and face, terminating the discussion with the following two distichs:
Complain not of the turning of the spheres, O dervish,
Because thou wilt be luckless if thou diest in this frame of mind.
O wealthy man, since thy heart and hand are successful
Eat and be liberal for thou hast conquered this world and the next.
The Poor Of The Borough. Letter XX: Ellen Orford
'No charms she now can boast,'--'tis true,
But other charmers wither too:
'And she is old,'--the fact I know,
And old will other heroines grow;
But not like them has she been laid,
In ruin'd castle sore dismay'd;
Where naughty man and ghostly spright
Fill'd her pure mind with awe and dread,
Stalk'd round the room, put out the light,
And shook the curtains round her bed.
No cruel uncle kept her land,
No tyrant father forced her hand;
She had no vixen virgin-aunt,
Without whose aid she could not eat,
And yet who poison'd all her meat,
With gibe and sneer and taunt.
Yet of the heroine she'd a share, -
She saved a lover from despair,
And granted all his wish in spite
Of what she knew and felt was right:
But, heroine then no more,
She own'd the fault, and wept and pray'd
And humbly took the parish aid,
And dwelt among the poor.
OBSERVE yon tenement, apart and small,
Where the wet pebbles shine upon the wall;
Where the low benches lean beside the door,
And the red paling bounds the space before;
Where thrift and lavender, and lad's-love bloom, -
That humble dwelling is the widow's home;
There live a pair, for various fortunes known,
But the blind EUen will relate her own; -
Yet ere we hear the story she can tell,
On prouder sorrows let us briefly dwell.
I've often marvell'd, when, by night, by day,
I've mark'd the manners moving in my way,
And heard the language and beheld the lives
Of lass and lover, goddesses and wives,
That books, which promise much of life to give,
Should show so little how we truly live.
To me, it seems, their females and their men
Are but the creatures of the author's pen;
Nay, creatures borrow'd and again convey'd
From book to book--the shadows of a shade:
Life, if they'd search, would show them many a
The ruin sudden, and the misery strange!
With more of grievous, base, and dreadful things,
Than novelists relate or poet sings:
But they, who ought to look the world around,
Spy out a single spot in fairy-ground;
Where all, in turn, ideal forms behold,
And plots are laid and histories are told.
Time have I lent--I would their debt were less -
To flow'ry pages of sublime distress;
And to the heroine's soul-distracting fears
I early gave my sixpences and tears:
Oft have I travell'd in these tender tales,
To Darnley-Cottages and Maple-Vales,
And watch'd the fair-one from the first-born sigh,
When Henry pass'd and gazed in passing by;
Till I beheld them pacing in the park
Close by a coppice where 'twas cold and dark;
When such affection with such fate appear'd,
Want and a father to be shunn'd and fear'd,
Without employment, prospect, cot, or cash;
That I have judged th' heroic souls were rash.
Now shifts the scene,--the fair in tower
In all things suffers but in change of mind;
Now woo'd by greatness to a bed of state,
Now deeply threaten'd with a dungeon's grate;
Till, suffering much, and being tried enough,
She shines, triumphant maid!--temptation-proof.
Then was I led to vengeful monks, who mix
With nymphs and swains, and play unpriestly tricks;
Then view'd banditti who in forest wide,
And cavern vast, indignant virgins hide;
Who, hemm'd with bands of sturdiest rogues about,
Find some strange succour, and come virgins out.
I've watch'd a wint'ry night on castle-walls,
I've stalk'd by moonlight through deserted halls,
And when the weary world was sunk to rest,
I've had such sights as may not be express'd.
Lo! that chateau, the western tower decay'd,
The peasants shun it,--they are all afraid;
For there was done a deed!--could walls reveal,
Or timbers tell it, how the heart would feel!
Most horrid was it: --for, behold, the floor
Has stain of blood, and will be clean no more:
Hark to the winds! which through the wide saloon
And the long passage send a dismal tune, -
Music that ghosts delight in; and now heed
Yon beauteous nymph, who must unmask the deed;
See! with majestic sweep she swims alone,
Through rooms, all dreary, guided by a groan:
Though windows rattle, and though tap'stries shake,
And the feet falter every step they take,
'Mid moans and gibing sprights she silent goes,
To find a something, which will soon expose
The villanies and wiles of her determined foes:
And, having thus adventured, thus endured,
Fame, wealth, and lover, are for life secured.
Much have I fear'd, but am no more afraid,
When some chaste beauty, by some wretch betray'd,
Is drawn away with such distracted speed,
That she anticipates a dreadful deed:
Not so do I--Let solid walls impound
The captive fair, and dig a moat around;
Let there be brazen locks and bars of steel,
And keepers cruel, such as never feel;
With not a single note the purse supply,
And when she begs, let men and maids deny;
Be windows those from which she dares not fall,
And help so distant, 'tis in vain to call;
Still means of freedom will some power devise,
And from the baffled ruffian snatch his prize.
To Northern Wales, in some sequester'd spot,
I've follow'd fair Louisa to her cot:
Where, then a wretched and deserted bride,
The injur'd fair-one wished from man to hide;
Till by her fond repenting Belville found,
By some kind chance--the straying of a hound,
He at her feet craved mercy, nor in vain,
For the relenting dove flew back again.
There's something rapturous in distress, or oh!
Could Clementina bear her lot of woe?
Or what she underwent could maiden undergoe?
The day was fix'd; for so the lover sigh'd,
So knelt and craved, he couldn't be denied;
When, tale most dreadful! every hope adieu, -
For the fond lover is the brother too:
All other griefs abate; this monstrous grief
Has no remission, comfort, or relief;
Four ample volumes, through each page disclose, -
Good Heaven protect us! only woes on woes;
Till some strange means afford a sudden view
Of some vile plot, and every woe adieu!
Now, should we grant these beauties all endure
Severest pangs, they've still the speediest cure;
Before one charm be withered from the face,
Except the bloom, which shall again have place,
In wedlock ends each wish, in triumph all disgrace;
And life to come, we fairly may suppose,
One light, bright contrast to these wild dark woes.
These let us leave, and at her sorrows look,
Too often seen, but seldom in a book;
Let her who felt, relate them;--on her chair
The heroine sits--in former years, the fair,
Now aged and poor; but Ellen Orford knows
That we should humbly take what Heaven bestows.
'My father died--again my mother wed,
And found the comforts of her life were fled;
Her angry husband, vex'd through half his years
By loss and troubles, filled her soul with fears:
Their children many, and 'twas my poor place
To nurse and wait on all the infant-race;
Labour and hunger were indeed my part,
And should have strengthen'd an erroneous heart.
'Sore was the grief to see him angry come,
And teased with business, make distress at home;
The father's fury and the children's cries
I soon could bear, but not my mother's sighs;
For she look'd back on comforts, and would say,
'I wrong'd thee, Ellen,' and then turn away:
Thus, for my age's good, my youth was tried,
And this my fortune till my mother died.
'So, amid sorrow much and little cheer -
A common case--I pass'd my twentieth year;
For these are frequent evils; thousands share
An equal grief--the like domestic care.
'Then in my days of bloom, of health, and youth,
One, much above me, vow'd his love and truth:
We often met, he dreading to be seen,
And much I question'd what such dread might mean;
Yet I believed him true; my simple heart
And undirected reason took his part.
'Can he who loves me, whom I love, deceive?
Can I such wrong of one so kind believe,
Who lives but in my smile, who trembles when I
'He dared not marry, but we met to prove
What sad encroachments and deceits has love:
Weak that I was, when he, rebuked, withdrew,
I let him see that I was wretched too;
When less my caution, I had still the pain
Of his or mine own weakness to complain.
'Happy the lovers class'd alike in life,
Or happier yet the rich endowing wife;
But most aggrieved the fond believing maid.
Of her rich lover tenderly afraid:
You judge th' event; for grievous was my fate,
Painful to feel, and shameful to relate:
Ah! sad it was my burthen to sustain,
When the least misery was the dread of pain;
When I have grieving told him my disgrace,
And plainly mark'd indifference in his face.
'Hard! with these fears and terrors to behold
The cause of all, the faithless lover, cold;
Impatient grown at every wish denied,
And barely civil, soothed and gratified;
Peevish when urged to think of vows so strong,
And angry when I spake of crime and wrong.
All this I felt, and still the sorrow grew,
Because I felt that I deserved it too,
And begg'd my infant stranger to forgive
The mother's shame, which in herself must live.
When known that shame, I, soon expell'd from home,
With a frail sister shared a hovel's gloom;
There barely fed--(what could I more request?)
My infant slumberer sleeping at my breast,
I from my window saw his blooming bride,
And my seducer smiling at her side;
Hope lived till then; I sank upon the floor,
And grief and thought and feeling were no more:
Although revived, I judged that life would close,
And went to rest, to wonder that I rose:
My dreams were dismal,--wheresoe'er I stray'd,
I seem'd ashamed, alarm'd, despised, betray'd;
Always in grief, in guilt, disgraced, forlorn,
Mourning that one so weak, so vile, was born;
The earth a desert, tumult in the sea,
The birds affrighten'd fled from tree to tree,
Obscured the setting sun, and every thing like me.
But Heav'n had mercy, and my need at length
Urged me to labour, and renew'd my strength.
I strove for patience as a sinner must,
Yet felt th' opinion of the world unjust:
There was my lover, in his joy esteem'd,
And I, in my distress, as guilty deemed;
Yet sure, not all the guilt and shame belong
To her who feels and suffers for the wrong:
The cheat at play may use the wealth he's won,
But is not honour'd for the mischief done;
The cheat in love may use each villain art,
And boast the deed that breaks the victim's heart.
'Four years were past; I might again have found
Some erring wish, but for another wound:
Lovely my daughter grew, her face was fair,
But no expression ever brighten'd there;
I doubted long, and vainly strove to make
Some certain meaning of the words she spake;
But meaning there was none, and I survey'd
With dread the beauties of my idiot-maid.
Still I submitted;--Oh! 'tis meet and fit
In all we feel to make the heart submit;
Gloomy and calm my days, but I had then,
It seem'd, attractions for the eyes of men:
The sober master of a decent trade
O'erlook'd my errors, and his offer made;
Reason assented: --true, my heart denied,
'But thou,' I said,'shalt be no more my guide.'
'When wed, our toil and trouble, pains and care,
Of means to live procured us humble share;
Five were our sons,--and we, though careful, found
Our hopes declining as the year came round:
For I perceived, yet would not soon perceive,
My husband stealing from my view to grieve:
Silent he grew, and when he spoke he sigh'd,
And surly look'd, and peevishly replied:
Pensive by nature, he had gone of late
To those who preach'd of destiny and fate,
Of things foredoom'd, and of election-grace,
And how in vain we strive to run our race;
That all by works and moral worth we gain
Is to perceive our care and labour vain;
That still the more we pay, our debts the more
That he who feels not the mysterious call,
Lies bound in sin, still grov'ling from the fall.
My husband felt not: --our persuasion, prayer,
And our best reason, darken'd his despair;
His very nature changed; he now reviled
My former conduct,--he reproach'd my child:
He talked of bastard slips, and cursed his bed,
And from our kindness to concealment fled;
For ever to some evil change inclined,
To every gloomy thought he lent his mind,
Nor rest would give to us, nor rest himself could
His son suspended saw him, long bereft
Of life, nor prospect of revival left.
'With him died all our prospects, and once more
I shared th' allotments of the parish poor;
They took my children too, and this I know
Was just and lawful, but I felt the blow:
My idiot-maid and one unhealthy boy
Were left, a mother's misery and her joy.
'Three sons I follow'd to the grave, and one -
Oh! can I speak of that unhappy son?
Would all the memory of that time were fled,
And all those horrors, with my child, were dead!
Before the world seduced him, what a grace
And smile of gladness shone upon his face!
Then, he had knowledge; finely would he write;
Study to him was pleasure and delight;
Great was his courage, and but few could stand
Against the sleight and vigour of his hand;
The maidens loved him;--when he came to die,
No, not the coldest could suppress a sigh:
Here I must cease--how can I say, my child
Was by the bad of either sex beguiled?
Worst of the bad--they taught him that the laws
Made wrong and right; there was no other cause,
That all religion was the trade of priests,
And men, when dead, must perish like the beasts: -
And he, so lively and so gay, before -
Ah; spare a mother--I can tell no more.
'Int'rest was made that they should not destroy
The comely form of my deluded boy -
But pardon came not; damp the place and deep
Where he was kept, as they'd a tiger keep;
For he, unhappy! had before them all
Vow'd he'd escape, whatever might befall.
He'd means of dress, and dress'd beyond his means,
And so to see him in such dismal scenes,
I cannot speak it--cannot bear to tell
Of that sad hour--I heard the passing bell!
'Slowly they went; he smiled, and look'd so
Yet sure he shudder'd when he saw the cart,
And gave a look--until my dying day,
That look will never from my mind away:
Oft as I sit, and ever in my dreams,
I see that look, and they have heard my screams.
'Now let me speak no more--yet all declared
That one so young, in pity, should be spared.
And one so manly;--on his graceful neck,
That chains of jewels may be proud to deck,
To a small mole a mother's lips have press'd -
And there the cord--my breath is sore oppress'd.
'I now can speak again: --my elder boy
Was that year drown'd,--a seaman in a hoy:
He left a numerous race; of these would some
In their young troubles to my cottage come,
And these I taught--an humble teacher I -
Upon their heavenly Parent to rely.
'Alas! I needed such reliance more:
My idiot-girl, so simply gay before,
Now wept in pain: some wretch had found a time,
Depraved and wicked, for that coward crime;
I had indeed my doubt, but I suppress'd
The thought that day and night disturb'd my rest;
She and that sick-pale brother--but why strive
To keep the terrors of that time alive?
'The hour arrived, the new, th' undreaded pain,
That came with violence, and yet came in vain.
I saw her die: her brother too is dead;
Nor own'd such crime--what is it that I dread?
'The parish aid withdrawn, I look'd around,
And in my school a bless'd subsistence found -
My winter-calm of life: to be of use
Would pleasant thoughts and heavenly hopes produce;
I loved them all; it soothed me to presage
The various trials of their riper age,
Then dwell on mine, and bless the Power who gave
Pains to correct us, and remorse to save.
'Yes! these were days of peace, but they are
A trial came, I will believe, a last;
I lost my sight, and my employment gone,
Useless I live, but to the day live on;
Those eyes which long the light of heaven enjoy'd,
Were not by pain, by agony destroy'd:
My senses fail not all; I speak, I pray;
By night my rest, my food I take by day;
And, as my mind looks cheerful to my end,
I love mankind, and call my GOD my friend.'
THESE hallowed precincts, long to memory dear,
Smile with fresh welcome as our feet draw near;
With softer gales the opening leaves are fanned,
With fairer hues the kindling flowers expand,
The rose-bush reddens with the blush of June,
The groves are vocal with their minstrels' tune,
The mighty elm, beneath whose arching shade
The wandering children of the forest strayed,
Greets the bright morning in its bridal dress,
And spreads its arms the gladsome dawn to bless.
Is it an idle dream that nature shares
Our joys, our griefs, our pastimes, and our cares?
Is there no summons when, at morning's call,
The sable vestments of the darkness fall?
Does not meek evening's low-voiced Ave blend
With the soft vesper as its notes ascend?
Is there no whisper in the perfumed air
When the sweet bosom of the rose is bare?
Does not the sunshine call us to rejoice?
Is there no meaning in the storm-cloud's voice?
No silent message when from midnight skies
Heaven looks upon us with its myriad eyes?
Or shift the mirror; say our dreams diffuse
O'er life's pale landscape their celestial hues,
Lend heaven the rainbow it has never known,
And robe the earth in glories not its own,
Sing their own music in the summer breeze,
With fresher foliage clothe the stately trees,
Stain the June blossoms with a livelier dye
And spread a bluer azure on the sky,--
Blest be the power that works its lawless will
And finds the weediest patch an Eden still;
No walls so fair as those our fancies build,--
No views so bright as those our visions gild!
So ran my lines, as pen and paper met,
The truant goose-quill travelling like Planchette;
Too ready servant, whose deceitful ways
Full many a slipshod line, alas! betrays;
Hence of the rhyming thousand not a few
Have builded worse--a great deal--than they knew.
What need of idle fancy to adorn
Our mother's birthplace on her birthday morn?
Hers are the blossoms of eternal spring,
From these green boughs her new-fledged birds take wing,
These echoes hear their earliest carols sung,
In this old nest the brood is ever young.
If some tired wanderer, resting from his flight,
Amid the gay young choristers alight,
These gather round him, mark his faded plumes
That faintly still the far-off grove perfumes,
And listen, wondering if some feeble note
Yet lingers, quavering in his weary throat:--
I, whose fresh voice yon red-faced temple knew,
What tune is left me, fit to sing to you?
Ask not the grandeurs of a labored song,
But let my easy couplets slide along;
Much could I tell you that you know too well;
Much I remember, but I will not tell;
Age brings experience; graybeards oft are wise,
But oh! how sharp a youngster's ears and eyes!
My cheek was bare of adolescent down
When first I sought the academic town;
Slow rolls the coach along the dusty road,
Big with its filial and parental load;
The frequent hills, the lonely woods are past,
The school-boy's chosen home is reached at last.
I see it now, the same unchanging spot,
The swinging gate, the little garden plot,
The narrow yard, the rock that made its floor,
The flat, pale house, the knocker-garnished door,
The small, trim parlor, neat, decorous, chill,
The strange, new faces, kind, but grave and still;
Two, creased with age,--or what I then called age,--
Life's volume open at its fiftieth page;
One, a shy maiden's, pallid, placid, sweet
As the first snow-drop, which the sunbeams greet;
One, the last nursling's; slight she was, and fair,
Her smooth white forehead warmed with auburn hair;
Last came the virgin Hymen long had spared,
Whose daily cares the grateful household shared,
Strong, patient, humble; her substantial frame
Stretched the chaste draperies I forbear to name.
Brave, but with effort, had the school-boy come
To the cold comfort of a stranger's home;
How like a dagger to my sinking heart
Came the dry summons, 'It is time to part;
Good-by!' 'Goo-ood-by!' one fond maternal kiss. . . .
Homesick as death! Was ever pang like this?
Too young as yet with willing feet to stray
From the tame fireside, glad to get away,--
Too old to let my watery grief appear,--
And what so bitter as a swallowed tear!
One figure still my vagrant thoughts pursue;
First boy to greet me, Ariel, where are you?
Imp of all mischief, heaven alone knows how
You learned it all,--are you an angel now,
Or tottering gently down the slope of years,
Your face grown sober in the vale of tears?
Forgive my freedom if you are breathing still;
If in a happier world, I know you will.
You were a school-boy--what beneath the sun
So like a monkey? I was also one.
Strange, sure enough, to see what curious shoots
The nursery raises from the study's roots!
In those old days the very, very good
Took up more room--a little--than they should;
Something too much one's eyes encountered then
Of serious youth and funeral-visaged men;
The solemn elders saw life's mournful half,--
Heaven sent this boy, whose mission was to laugh,
Drollest of buffos, Nature's odd protest,
A catbird squealing in a blackbird's nest.
Kind, faithful Nature! While the sour-eyed Scot--
Her cheerful smiles forbidden or forgot--
Talks only of his preacher and his kirk,--
Hears five-hour sermons for his Sunday work,--
Praying and fasting till his meagre face
Gains its due length, the genuine sign of grace,--
An Ayrshire mother in the land of Knox
Her embryo poet in his cradle rocks;--
Nature, long shivering in her dim eclipse,
Steals in a sunbeam to those baby lips;
So to its home her banished smile returns,
And Scotland sweetens with the song of Burns!
The morning came; I reached the classic hall;
A clock-face eyed me, staring from the wall;
Beneath its hands a printed line I read
YOUTH IS LIFE'S SEED-TIME: so the clock-face said:
Some took its counsel, as the sequel showed,--
Sowed,--their wild oats,--and reaped as they had sowed.
How all comes back! the upward slanting floor,--
The masters' thrones that flank the central door,--
The long, outstretching alleys that divide
The rows of desks that stand on either side,--
The staring boys, a face to every desk,
Bright, dull, pale, blooming, common, picturesque.
Grave is the Master's look; his forehead wears
Thick rows of wrinkles, prints of worrying cares;
Uneasy lie the heads of all that rule,
His most of all whose kingdom is a school.
Supreme he sits; before the awful frown
That bends his brows the boldest eye goes down;
Not more submissive Israel heard and saw
At Sinai's foot the Giver of the Law.
Less stern he seems, who sits in equal Mate
On the twin throne and shares the empire's weight;
Around his lips the subtle life that plays
Steals quaintly forth in many a jesting phrase;
A lightsome nature, not so hard to chafe,
Pleasant when pleased; rough-handled, not so safe;
Some tingling memories vaguely I recall,
But to forgive him. God forgive us all!
One yet remains, whose well-remembered name
Pleads in my grateful heart its tender claim;
His was the charm magnetic, the bright look
That sheds its sunshine on the dreariest book;
A loving soul to every task he brought
That sweetly mingled with the lore he taught;
Sprung from a saintly race that never could
From youth to age be anything but good,
His few brief years in holiest labors spent,
Earth lost too soon the treasure heaven had lent.
Kindest of teachers, studious to divine
Some hint of promise in my earliest line,
These faint and faltering words thou canst not hear
Throb from a heart that holds thy memory dear.
As to the traveller's eye the varied plain
Shows through the window of the flying train,
A mingled landscape, rather felt than seen,
A gravelly bank, a sudden flash of green,
A tangled wood, a glittering stream that flows
Through the cleft summit where the cliff once rose,
All strangely blended in a hurried gleam,
Rock, wood, waste, meadow, village, hill-side, stream,--
So, as we look behind us, life appears,
Seen through the vista of our bygone years.
Yet in the dead past's shadow-filled domain,
Some vanished shapes the hues of life retain;
Unbidden, oft, before our dreaming eyes
From the vague mists in memory's path they rise.
So comes his blooming image to my view,
The friend of joyous days when life was new,
Hope yet untamed, the blood of youth unchilled,
No blank arrear of promise unfulfilled,
Life's flower yet hidden in its sheltering fold,
Its pictured canvas yet to be unrolled.
His the frank smile I vainly look to greet,
His the warm grasp my clasping hand should meet;
How would our lips renew their school-boy talk,
Our feet retrace the old familiar walk!
For thee no more earth's cheerful morning shines
Through the green fringes of the tented pines;
Ah me! is heaven so far thou canst not hear,
Or is thy viewless spirit hovering near,
A fair young presence, bright with morning's glow,
The fresh-cheeked boy of fifty years ago?
Yes, fifty years, with all their circling suns,
Behind them all my glance reverted runs;
Where now that time remote, its griefs, its joys,
Where are its gray-haired men, its bright-haired boys?
Where is the patriarch time could hardly tire,--
The good old, wrinkled, immemorial 'squire '?
(An honest treasurer, like a black-plumed swan,
Not every day our eyes may look upon.)
Where the tough champion who, with Calvin's sword,
In wordy conflicts battled for the Lord?
Where the grave scholar, lonely, calm, austere,
Whose voice like music charmed the listening ear,
Whose light rekindled, like the morning star
Still shines upon us through the gates ajar?
Where the still, solemn, weary, sad-eyed man,
Whose care-worn face and wandering eyes would scan,--
His features wasted in the lingering strife
With the pale foe that drains the student's life?
Where my old friend, the scholar, teacher, saint,
Whose creed, some hinted, showed a speck of taint;
He broached his own opinion, which is not
Lightly to be forgiven or forgot;
Some riddle's point,--I scarce remember now,--
Homoi-, perhaps, where they said homo-ou.
(If the unlettered greatly wish to know
Where lies the difference betwixt oi and o,
Those of the curious who have time may search
Among the stale conundrums of their church.)
Beneath his roof his peaceful life I shared,
And for his modes of faith I little cared,--
I, taught to judge men's dogmas by their deeds,
Long ere the days of india-rubber creeds.
Why should we look one common faith to find,
Where one in every score is color-blind?
If here on earth they know not red from green,
Will they see better into things unseen!
Once more to time's old graveyard I return
And scrape the moss from memory's pictured urn.
Who, in these days when all things go by steam,
Recalls the stage-coach with its four-horse team?
Its sturdy driver,--who remembers him?
Or the old landlord, saturnine and grim,
Who left our hill-top for a new abode
And reared his sign-post farther down the road?
Still in the waters of the dark Shawshine
Do the young bathers splash and think they're clean?
Do pilgrims find their way to Indian Ridge,
Or journey onward to the far-off bridge,
And bring to younger ears the story back
Of the broad stream, the mighty Merrimac?
Are there still truant feet that stray beyond
These circling bounds to Pomp's or Haggett's Pond,
Or where the legendary name recalls
The forest's earlier tenant,--'Deerjump Falls'?
Yes, every nook these youthful feet explore,
Just as our sires and grand sires did of yore;
So all life's opening paths, where nature led
Their father's feet, the children's children tread.
Roll the round century's fivescore years away,
Call from our storied past that earliest day
When great Eliphalet (I can see him now,--
Big name, big frame, big voice, and beetling brow),
Then young Eliphalet,--ruled the rows of boys
In homespun gray or old-world corduroys,--
And save for fashion's whims, the benches show
The self-same youths, the very boys we know.
Time works strange marvels: since I trod the green
And swung the gates, what wonders I have seen!
But come what will,--the sky itself may fall,--
As things of course the boy accepts them all.
The prophet's chariot, drawn by steeds of flame,
For daily use our travelling millions claim;
The face we love a sunbeam makes our own;
No more the surgeon hears the sufferer's groan;
What unwrit histories wrapped in darkness lay
Till shovelling Schliemann bared them to the day!
Your Richelieu says, and says it well, my lord,
The pen is (sometimes) mightier than the sword;
Great is the goosequill, say we all; Amen!
Sometimes the spade is mightier than the pen;
It shows where Babel's terraced walls were raised,
The slabs that cracked when Nimrod's palace blazed,
Unearths Mycenee, rediscovers Troy,--
Calmly he listens, that immortal boy.
A new Prometheus tips our wands with fire,
A mightier Orpheus strains the whispering wire,
Whose lightning thrills the lazy winds outrun
And hold the hours as Joshua stayed the sun,--
So swift, in truth, we hardly find a place
For those dim fictions known as time and space.
Still a new miracle each year supplies,--
See at his work the chemist of the skies,
Who questions Sirius in his tortured rays
And steals the secret of the solar blaze;
Hush! while the window-rattling bugles play
The nation's airs a hundred miles away!
That wicked phonograph! hark! how it swears!
Turn it again and make it say its prayers!
And was it true, then, what the story said
Of Oxford's friar and his brazen head?
While wondering Science stands, herself perplexed
At each day's miracle, and asks 'What next?'
The immortal boy, the coming heir of all,
Springs from his desk to 'urge the flying ball,'
Cleaves with his bending oar the glassy waves,
With sinewy arm the dashing current braves,
The same bright creature in these haunts of ours
That Eton shadowed with her 'antique towers.'
Boy! Where is he? the long-limbed youth inquires,
Whom his rough chin with manly pride inspires;
Ah, when the ruddy cheek no longer glows,
When the bright hair is white as winter snows,
When the dim eye has lost its lambent flame,
Sweet to his ear will be his school-boy name
Nor think the difference mighty as it seems
Between life's morning and its evening dreams;
Fourscore, like twenty, has its tasks and toys;
In earth's wide school-house all are girls and boys.
Brothers, forgive my wayward fancy. Who
Can guess beforehand what his pen will do?
Too light my strain for listeners such as these,
Whom graver thoughts and soberer speech shall please.
Is he not here whose breath of holy song
Has raised the downcast eyes of Faith so long?
Are they not here, the strangers in your gates,
For whom the wearied ear impatient waits,--
The large-brained scholars whom their toils release,--
The bannered heralds of the Prince of Peace?
Such was the gentle friend whose youth unblamed
In years long past our student-benches claimed;
Whose name, illumined on the sacred page,
Lives in the labors of his riper age;
Such he whose record time's destroying march
Leaves uneffaced on Zion's springing arch
Not to the scanty phrase of measured song,
Cramped in its fetters, names like these belong;
One ray they lend to gild my slender line,--
Their praise I leave to sweeter lips than mine.
Homes of our sires, where Learning's temple rose,
While vet they struggled with their banded foes,
As in the West thy century's sun descends,
One parting gleam its dying radiance lends.
Darker and deeper though the shadows fall
From the gray towers on Doubting Castle's wall,
Though Pope and Pagan re-array their hosts,
And her new armor youthful Science boasts,
Truth, for whose altar rose this holy shrine,
Shall fly for refuge to these bowers of thine;
No past shall chain her with its rusted vow,
No Jew's phylactery bind her Christian brow,
But Faith shall smile to find her sister free,
And nobler manhood draw its life from thee.
Long as the arching skies above thee spread,
As on thy groves the dews of heaven are shed,
With currents widening still from year to year,
And deepening channels, calm, untroubled, clear,
Flow the twin streamlets from thy sacred hill--
Pieria's fount and Siloam's shaded rill!
Amours de Voyage, Canto I
Over the great windy waters, and over the clear-crested summits,
Unto the sun and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth,
Come, let us go,--to a land wherein gods of the old time wandered,
Where every breath even now changes to ether divine.
Come, let us go; though withal a voice whisper, 'The world that we live in,
Whithersoever we turn, still is the same narrow crib;
'Tis but to prove limitation, and measure a cord, that we travel;
Let who would 'scape and be free go to his chamber and think;
'Tis but to change idle fancies for memories wilfully falser;
'Tis but to go and have been.'--Come, little bark! let us go.
I. Claude to Eustace.
Dear Eustatio, I write that you may write me an answer,
Or at the least to put us again en rapport with each other.
Rome disappoints me much,--St Peter's, perhaps, in especial;
Only the Arch of Titus and view from the Lateran please me:
This, however, perhaps is the weather, which truly is horrid.
Greece must be better, surely; and yet I am feeling so spiteful,
That I could travel to Athens, to Delphi, and Troy, and Mount Sinai,
Though but to see with my eyes that these are vanity also.
Rome disappoints me much; I hardly as yet understand it, but
Rubbishy seems the word that most exactly would suit it.
All the foolish destructions, and all the sillier savings,
All the incongruous things of past incompatible ages,
Seem to be treasured up here to make fools of present and future.
Would to Heaven the old Goths had made a cleaner sweep of it!
Would to Heaven some new ones would come and destroy these churches!
However, one can live in Rome as also in London.*
It is a blessing, no doubt, to be rid, at least for a time, of
All one's friends and relations,--yourself (forgive me!) included,--
All the assujettissement of having been what one has been,
What one thinks one is, or thinks that others suppose one;
Yet, in despite of all, we turn like fools to the English.
Vernon has been my fate; who is here the same that you knew him,--
Making the tour, it seems, with friends of the name of Trevellyn.
* The 1968 Oxford Edition, edited by A.L.P. Norrington,
includes a line immediately following this:
Rome is better than London, because it is other than London.
II. Claude to Eustace.
Rome disappoints me still; but I shrink and adapt myself to it.
Somehow a tyrannous sense of a superincumbent oppression
Still, wherever I go, accompanies ever, and makes me
Feel like a tree (shall I say?) buried under a ruin of brickwork.
Rome, believe me, my friend, is like its own Monte Testaceo,
Merely a marvellous mass of broken and castaway wine-pots.
Ye gods! what do I want with this rubbish of ages departed,
Things that Nature abhors, the experiments that she has failed in?
What do I find in the Forum? An archway and two or three pillars.
Well, but St. Peter's? Alas, Bernini has filled it with sculpture!
No one can cavil, I grant, at the size of the great Coliseum.
Doubtless the notion of grand and capacious and massive amusement,
This the old Romans had; but tell me, is this an idea?
Yet of solidity much, but of splendour little is extant:
'Brickwork I found thee, and marble I left thee!' their Emperor vaunted;
'Marble I thought thee, and brickwork I find thee!' the Tourist may answer.
III. Georgina Trevellyn to Louisa ----.
At last, dearest Louisa, I take up my pen to address you.
Here we are, you see, with the seven-and-seventy boxes,
Courier, Papa and Mamma, the children, and Mary and Susan:
Here we all are at Rome, and delighted of course with St. Peter's,
And very pleasantly lodged in the famous Piazza di Spagna.
Rome is a wonderful place, but Mary shall tell you about it;
Not very gay, however; the English are mostly at Naples;
There are the A.'s, we hear, and most of the W. party.
George, however, is come; did I tell you about his mustachios?
Dear, I must really stop, for the carriage, they tell me, is waiting;
Mary will finish; and Susan is writing, they say, to Sophia.
Adieu, dearest Louise,--evermore your faithful Georgina.
Who can a Mr. Claude be whom George has taken to be with?
Very stupid, I think, but George says so very clever.
IV. Claude to Eustace.
No, the Christian faith, as at any rate I understood it,
With its humiliations and exaltations combining,
Exaltations sublime, and yet diviner abasements,
Aspirations from something most shameful here upon earth and
In our poor selves to something most perfect above in the heavens,--
No, the Christian faith, as I, at least, understood it,
Is not here, O Rome, in any of these thy churches;
Is not here, but in Freiburg, or Rheims, or Westminster Abbey.
What in thy Dome I find, in all thy recenter efforts,
Is a something, I think, more rational far, more earthly,
Actual, less ideal, devout not in scorn and refusal,
But in a positive, calm, Stoic-Epicurean acceptance.
This I begin to detect in St. Peter's and some of the churches,
Mostly in all that I see of the sixteenth-century masters;
Overlaid of course with infinite gauds and gewgaws,
Innocent, playful follies, the toys and trinkets of childhood,
Forced on maturer years, as the serious one thing needful,
By the barbarian will of the rigid and ignorant Spaniard.
Curious work, meantime, re-entering society: how we
Walk a livelong day, great Heaven, and watch our shadows!
What our shadows seem, forsooth, we will ourselves be.
Do I look like that? you think me that: then I am that.
V. Claude to Eustace.
Luther, they say, was unwise; like a half-taught German, he could not
See that old follies were passing most tranquilly out of remembrance;
Leo the Tenth was employing all efforts to clear out abuses;
Jupiter, Juno, and Venus, Fine Arts, and Fine Letters, the Poets,
Scholars, and Sculptors, and Painters, were quietly clearing away the
Martyrs, and Virgins, and Saints, or at any rate Thomas Aquinas:
He must forsooth make a fuss and distend his huge Wittenberg lungs, and
Bring back Theology once yet again in a flood upon Europe:
Lo you, for forty days from the windows of heaven it fell; the
Waters prevail on the earth yet more for a hundred and fifty;
Are they abating at last? the doves that are sent to explore are
Wearily fain to return, at the best with a leaflet of promise,--
Fain to return, as they went, to the wandering wave-tost vessel,--
Fain to re-enter the roof which covers the clean and the unclean,--
Luther, they say, was unwise; he didn't see how things were going;
Luther was foolish,--but, O great God! what call you Ignatius?
O my tolerant soul, be still! but you talk of barbarians,
Alaric, Attila, Genseric;--why, they came, they killed, they
Ravaged, and went on their way; but these vile, tyrannous Spaniards,
These are here still,--how long, O ye heavens, in the country of Dante?
These, that fanaticized Europe, which now can forget them, release not
This, their choicest of prey, this Italy; here you see them,--
Here, with emasculate pupils and gimcrack churches of Gesu,
Pseudo-learning and lies, confessional-boxes and postures,--
Here, with metallic beliefs and regimental devotions,--
Here, overcrusting with slime, perverting, defacing, debasing,
Michael Angelo's Dome, that had hung the Pantheon in heaven,
Raphael's Joys and Graces, and thy clear stars, Galileo!
VI. Claude to Eustace.
Which of three Misses Trevellyn it is that Vernon shall marry
Is not a thing to be known; for our friend is one of those natures
Which have their perfect delight in the general tender-domestic,
So that he trifles with Mary's shawl, ties Susan's bonnet,
Dances with all, but at home is most, they say, with Georgina,
Who is, however, too silly in my apprehension for Vernon.
I, as before when I wrote, continue to see them a little;
Not that I like them much or care a bajocco for Vernon,
But I am slow at Italian, have not many English acquaintance,
And I am asked, in short, and am not good at excuses.
Middle-class people these, bankers very likely, not wholly
Pure of the taint of the shop; will at table d'hôte and restaurant
Have their shilling's worth, their penny's pennyworth even:
Neither man's aristocracy this, nor God's, God knoweth!
Yet they are fairly descended, they give you to know, well connected;
Doubtless somewhere in some neighbourhood have, and are careful to keep, some
Threadbare-genteel relations, who in their turn are enchanted
Grandly among county people to introduce at assemblies
To the unpennied cadets our cousins with excellent fortunes.
Neither man's aristocracy this, nor God's, God knoweth!
VII. Claude to Eustace.
Ah, what a shame, indeed, to abuse these most worthy people!
Ah, what a sin to have sneered at their innocent rustic pretensions!
Is it not laudable really, this reverent worship of station?
Is it not fitting that wealth should tender this homage to culture?
Is it not touching to witness these efforts, if little availing,
Painfully made, to perform the old ritual service of manners?
Shall not devotion atone for the absence of knowledge? and fervour
Palliate, cover, the fault of a superstitious observance?
Dear, dear, what do I say? but, alas! just now, like Iago,
I can be nothing at all, if it is not critical wholly;
So in fantastic height, in coxcomb exaltation,
Here in the garden I walk, can freely concede to the Maker
That the works of His hand are all very good: His creatures,
Beast of the field and fowl, He brings them before me; I name them;
That which I name them, they are,--the bird, the beast, and the cattle.
But for Adam,--alas, poor critical coxcomb Adam!
But for Adam there is not found an help-meet for him.
VIII. Claude to Eustace.
No, great Dome of Agrippa, thou art not Christian! canst not,
Strip and replaster and daub and do what they will with thee, be so!
Here underneath the great porch of colossal Corinthian columns,
Here as I walk, do I dream of the Christian belfries above them?
Or, on a bench as I sit and abide for long hours, till thy whole vast
Round grows dim as in dreams to my eyes, I repeople thy niches,
Not with the Martyrs, and Saints, and Confessors, and Virgins, and children,
But with the mightier forms of an older, austerer worship;
And I recite to myself, how
Eager for battle here
Stood Vulcan, here matronal Juno,
And with the bow to his shoulder faithful
He who with pure dew laveth of Castaly
His flowing locks, who holdeth of Lycia
The oak forest and the wood that bore him,
Delos' and Patara's own Apollo.*
* Hic avidus stetit
Vulcanus, hic matrona Juno, et
Nunquam humeris positurus arcum;
Qui rore puro Castaliae lavit
Crines solutos, qui Lyciae tenet
Dumeta natalemque silvam,
Delius et Patareus Apollo.
IX. Claude to Eustace.
Yet it is pleasant, I own it, to be in their company; pleasant,
Whatever else it may be, to abide in the feminine presence.
Pleasant, but wrong, will you say? But this happy, serene coexistence
Is to some poor soft souls, I fear, a necessity simple,
Meat and drink and life, and music, filling with sweetness,
Thrilling with melody sweet, with harmonies strange overwhelming,
All the long-silent strings of an awkward, meaningless fabric.
Yet as for that, I could live, I believe, with children; to have those
Pure and delicate forms encompassing, moving about you,
This were enough, I could think; and truly with glad resignation
Could from the dream of Romance, from the fever of flushed adolescence,
Look to escape and subside into peaceful avuncular functions.
Nephews and nieces! alas, for as yet I have none! and, moreover,
Mothers are jealous, I fear me, too often, too rightfully; fathers
Think they have title exclusive to spoiling their own little darlings;
And by the law of the land, in despite of Malthusian doctrine,
No sort of proper provision is made for that most patriotic,
Most meritorious subject, the childless and bachelor uncle.
X. Claude to Eustace.
Ye, too, marvellous Twain, that erect on the Monte Cavallo
Stand by your rearing steeds in the grace of your motionless movement,
Stand with your upstretched arms and tranquil regardant faces,
Stand as instinct with life in the might of immutable manhood,--
O ye mighty and strange, ye ancient divine ones of Hellas.
Are ye Christian too? to convert and redeem and renew you,
Will the brief form have sufficed, that a Pope has set up on the apex
Of the Egyptian stone that o'ertops you, the Christian symbol?
And ye, silent, supreme in serene and victorious marble,
Ye that encircle the walls of the stately Vatican chambers,
Juno and Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, the Muses and Bacchus,
Ye unto whom far and near come posting the Christian pilgrims,
Ye that are ranged in the halls of the mystic Christian Pontiff,
Are ye also baptized? are ye of the kingdom of Heaven?
Utter, O some one, the word that shall reconcile Ancient and Modern!
Am I to turn me from this unto thee, great Chapel of Sixtus?
XI. Claude to Eustace.
These are the facts. The uncle, the elder brother, the squire (a
Little embarrassed, I fancy), resides in the family place in
Cornwall, of course; 'Papa is in business,' Mary informs me;
He's a good sensible man, whatever his trade is. The mother
Is--shall I call it fine?--herself she would tell you refined, and
Greatly, I fear me, looks down on my bookish and maladroit manners;
Somewhat affecteth the blue; would talk to me often of poets;
Quotes, which I hate, Childe Harold; but also appreciates Wordsworth;
Sometimes adventures on Schiller; and then to religion diverges;
Questions me much about Oxford; and yet, in her loftiest flights still
Grates the fastidious ear with the slightly mercantile accent.
Is it contemptible, Eustace--I'm perfectly ready to think so,--
Is it,--the horrible pleasure of pleasing inferior people?
I am ashamed of my own self; and yet true it is, if disgraceful,
That for the first time in life I am living and moving with freedom.
I, who never could talk to the people I meet with my uncle,--
I, who have always failed,--I, trust me, can suit the Trevellyns;
I, believe me,--great conquest, am liked by the country bankers.
And I am glad to be liked, and like in return very kindly.
So it proceeds; Laissez faire, laissez aller,--such is the watchword.
Well, I know there are thousands as pretty and hundreds as pleasant,
Girls by the dozen as good, and girls in abundance with polish
Higher and manners more perfect than Susan or Mary Trevellyn.
Well, I know, after all, it is only juxtaposition,--
Juxtaposition, in short; and what is juxtaposition?
XII. Claude to Eustace.
But I am in for it now,--laissez faire, of a truth, laissez aller.
Yes, I am going,--I feel it, I feel and cannot recall it,--
Fusing with this thing and that, entering into all sorts of relations,
Tying I know not what ties, which, whatever they are, I know one thing,
Will, and must, woe is me, be one day painfully broken,--
Broken with painful remorses, with shrinkings of soul, and relentings,
Foolish delays, more foolish evasions, most foolish renewals.
But I have made the step, have quitted the ship of Ulysses;
Quitted the sea and the shore, passed into the magical island;
Yet on my lips is the moly, medicinal, offered of Hermes.
I have come into the precinct, the labyrinth closes around me,
Path into path rounding slyly; I pace slowly on, and the fancy,
Struggling awhile to sustain the long sequences, weary, bewildered,
Fain must collapse in despair; I yield, I am lost, and know nothing;
Yet in my bosom unbroken remaineth the clue; I shall use it.
Lo, with the rope on my loins I descend through the fissure; I sink, yet
Inly secure in the strength of invisible arms up above me;
Still, wheresoever I swing, wherever to shore, or to shelf, or
Floor of cavern untrodden, shell sprinkled, enchanting, I know I
Yet shall one time feel the strong cord tighten about me,--
Feel it, relentless, upbear me from spots I would rest in; and though the
Rope sway wildly, I faint, crags wound me, from crag unto crag re-
Bounding, or, wide in the void, I die ten deaths, ere the end I
Yet shall plant firm foot on the broad lofty spaces I quit, shall
Feel underneath me again the great massy strengths of abstraction,
Look yet abroad from the height o'er the sea whose salt wave I have tasted.
XIII. Georgina Trevellyn to Louisa ----.
Dearest Louisa,--Inquire, if you please, about Mr. Claude ----.
He has been once at R., and remembers meeting the H.'s.
Harriet L., perhaps, may be able to tell you about him.
It is an awkward youth, but still with very good manners;
Not without prospects, we hear; and, George says, highly connected.
Georgy declares it absurd, but Mamma is alarmed, and insists he has
Taken up strange opinions, and may be turning a Papist.
Certainly once he spoke of a daily service he went to.
'Where?' we asked, and he laughed and answered, 'At the Pantheon.'
This was a temple, you know, and now is a Catholic church; and
Though it is said that Mazzini has sold it for Protestant service,
Yet I suppose this change can hardly as yet be effected.
Adieu again,--evermore, my dearest, your loving Georgina.
P.S. by Mary Trevellyn.
I am to tell you, you say, what I think of our last new acquaintance.
Well, then, I think that George has a very fair right to be jealous.
I do not like him much, though I do not dislike being with him.
He is what people call, I suppose, a superior man, and
Certainly seems so to me; but I think he is terribly selfish.
Alba, thou findest me still, and, Alba, thou findest me ever,
Now from the Capitol steps, now over Titus's Arch,
Here from the large grassy spaces that spread from the Lateran portal,
Towering o'er aqueduct lines lost in perspective between,
Or from a Vatican window, or bridge, or the high Coliseum,
Clear by the garlanded line cut of the Flavian ring.
Beautiful can I not call thee, and yet thou hast power to o'ermaster,
Power of mere beauty; in dreams, Alba, thou hauntest me still.
Is it religion? I ask me; or is it a vain superstition?
Slavery abject and gross? service, too feeble, of truth?
Is it an idol I bow to, or is it a god that I worship?
Do I sink back on the old, or do I soar from the mean?
So through the city I wander and question, unsatisfied ever,
Reverent so I accept, doubtful because I revere.
Book Fourth [Summer Vacation]
BRIGHT was the summer's noon when quickening steps
Followed each other till a dreary moor
Was crossed, a bare ridge clomb, upon whose top
Standing alone, as from a rampart's edge,
I overlooked the bed of Windermere,
Like a vast river, stretching in the sun.
With exultation, at my feet I saw
Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays,
A universe of Nature's fairest forms
Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst,
Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay.
I bounded down the hill shouting amain
For the old Ferryman; to the shout the rocks
Replied, and when the Charon of the flood
Had staid his oars, and touched the jutting pier,
I did not step into the well-known boat
Without a cordial greeting. Thence with speed
Up the familiar hill I took my way
Towards that sweet Valley where I had been reared;
'Twas but a short hour's walk, ere veering round
I saw the snow-white church upon her hill
Sit like a throned Lady, sending out
A gracious look all over her domain.
Yon azure smoke betrays the lurking town;
With eager footsteps I advance and reach
The cottage threshold where my journey closed.
Glad welcome had I, with some tears, perhaps,
From my old Dame, so kind and motherly,
While she perused me with a parent's pride.
The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew
Upon thy grave, good creature! While my heart
Can beat never will I forget thy name.
Heaven's blessing be upon thee where thou liest
After thy innocent and busy stir
In narrow cares, thy little daily growth
Of calm enjoyments, after eighty years,
And more than eighty, of untroubled life;
Childless, yet by the strangers to thy blood
Honoured with little less than filial love.
What joy was mine to see thee once again,
Thee and thy dwelling, and a crowd of things
About its narrow precincts all beloved,
And many of them seeming yet my own!
Why should I speak of what a thousand hearts
Have felt, and every man alive can guess?
The rooms, the court, the garden were not left
Long unsaluted, nor the sunny seat
Round the stone table under the dark pine,
Friendly to studious or to festive hours;
Nor that unruly child of mountain birth,
The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed
Within our garden, found himself at once,
As if by trick insidious and unkind,
Stripped of his voice and left to dimple down
(Without an effort and without a will)
A channel paved by man's officious care.
I looked at him and smiled, and smiled again,
And in the press of twenty thousand thoughts,
'Ha,' quoth I, 'pretty prisoner, are you there!'
Well might sarcastic Fancy then have whispered,
'An emblem here behold of thy own life;
In its late course of even days with all
Their smooth enthralment;' but the heart was full,
Too full for that reproach. My aged Dame
Walked proudly at my side: she guided me;
I willing, nay--nay, wishing to be led.
--The face of every neighbour whom I met
Was like a volume to me; some were hailed
Upon the road, some busy at their work,
Unceremonious greetings interchanged
With half the length of a long field between.
Among my schoolfellows I scattered round
Like recognitions, but with some constraint
Attended, doubtless, with a little pride,
But with more shame, for my habiliments,
The transformation wrought by gay attire.
Not less delighted did I take my place
At our domestic table: and, dear Friend!
In this endeavour simply to relate
A Poet's history, may I leave untold
The thankfulness with which I laid me down
In my accustomed bed, more welcome now
Perhaps than if it had been more desired
Or been more often thought of with regret;
That lowly bed whence I had heard the wind
Roar, and the rain beat hard; where I so oft
Had lain awake on summer nights to watch
The moon in splendour couched among the leaves
Of a tall ash, that near our cottage stood;
Had watched her with fixed eyes while to and fro
In the dark summit of the waving tree
She rocked with every impulse of the breeze.
Among the favourites whom it pleased me well
To see again, was one by ancient right
Our inmate, a rough terrier of the hills;
By birth and call of nature pre-ordained
To hunt the badger and unearth the fox
Among the impervious crags, but having been
From youth our own adopted, he had passed
Into a gentler service. And when first
The boyish spirit flagged, and day by day
Along my veins I kindled with the stir,
The fermentation, and the vernal heat
Of poesy, affecting private shades
Like a sick Lover, then this dog was used
To watch me, an attendant and a friend,
Obsequious to my steps early and late,
Though often of such dilatory walk
Tired, and uneasy at the halts I made.
A hundred times when, roving high and low,
I have been harassed with the toil of verse,
Much pains and little progress, and at once
Some lovely Image in the song rose up
Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea;
Then have I darted forwards to let loose
My hand upon his back with stormy joy,
Caressing him again and yet again.
And when at evening on the public way
I sauntered, like a river murmuring
And talking to itself when all things else
Are still, the creature trotted on before;
Such was his custom; but whene'er he met
A passenger approaching, he would turn
To give me timely notice, and straightway,
Grateful for that admonishment, I hushed
My voice, composed my gait, and, with the air
And mien of one whose thoughts are free, advanced
To give and take a greeting that might save
My name from piteous rumours, such as wait
On men suspected to be crazed in brain.
Those walks well worthy to be prized and loved--
Regretted!--that word, too, was on my tongue,
But they were richly laden with all good,
And cannot be remembered but with thanks
And gratitude, and perfect joy of heart--
Those walks in all their freshness now came back
Like a returning Spring. When first I made
Once more the circuit of our little lake,
If ever happiness hath lodged with man,
That day consummate happiness was mine,
Wide-spreading, steady, calm, contemplative.
The sun was set, or setting, when I left
Our cottage door, and evening soon brought on
A sober hour, not winning or serene,
For cold and raw the air was, and untuned:
But as a face we love is sweetest then
When sorrow damps it, or, whatever look
It chance to wear, is sweetest if the heart
Have fulness in herself; even so with me
It fared that evening. Gently did my soul
Put off her veil, and, self-transmuted, stood
Naked, as in the presence of her God.
While on I walked, a comfort seemed to touch
A heart that had not been disconsolate:
Strength came where weakness was not known to be,
At least not felt; and restoration came
Like an intruder knocking at the door
Of unacknowledged weariness. I took
The balance, and with firm hand weighed myself.
--Of that external scene which round me lay,
Little, in this abstraction, did I see;
Remembered less; but I had inward hopes
And swellings of the spirit, was rapt and soothed,
Conversed with promises, had glimmering views
How life pervades the undecaying mind;
How the immortal soul with God-like power
Informs, creates, and thaws the deepest sleep
That time can lay upon her; how on earth,
Man, if he do but live within the light
Of high endeavours, daily spreads abroad
His being armed with strength that cannot fail.
Nor was there want of milder thoughts, of love,
Of innocence, and holiday repose;
And more than pastoral quiet, 'mid the stir
Of boldest projects, and a peaceful end
At last, or glorious, by endurance won.
Thus musing, in a wood I sate me down
Alone, continuing there to muse: the slopes
And heights meanwhile were slowly overspread
With darkness, and before a rippling breeze
The long lake lengthened out its hoary line,
And in the sheltered coppice where I sate,
Around me from among the hazel leaves,
Now here, now there, moved by the straggling wind,
Came ever and anon a breath-like sound,
Quick as the pantings of the faithful dog,
The off and on companion of my walk;
And such, at times, believing them to be,
I turned my head to look if he were there;
Then into solemn thought I passed once more.
A freshness also found I at this time
In human Life, the daily life of those
Whose occupations really I loved;
The peaceful scene oft filled me with surprise
Changed like a garden in the heat of spring
After an eight-days' absence. For (to omit
The things which were the same and yet appeared
Far otherwise) amid this rural solitude,
A narrow Vale where each was known to all,
'Twas not indifferent to a youthful mind
To mark some sheltering bower or sunny nook
Where an old man had used to sit alone,
Now vacant; pale-faced babes whom I had left
In arms, now rosy prattlers at the feet
Of a pleased grandame tottering up and down;
And growing girls whose beauty, filched away
With all its pleasant promises, was gone
To deck some slighted playmate's homely cheek.
Yes, I had something of a subtler sense,
And often looking round was moved to smiles
Such as a delicate work of humour breeds;
I read, without design, the opinions, thoughts,
Of those plain-living people now observed
With clearer knowledge; with another eye
I saw the quiet woodman in the woods,
The shepherd roam the hills. With new delight,
This chiefly, did I note my grey-haired Dame;
Saw her go forth to church or other work
Of state equipped in monumental trim;
Short velvet cloak, (her bonnet of the like),
A mantle such as Spanish Cavaliers
Wore in old times. Her smooth domestic life,
Affectionate without disquietude,
Her talk, her business, pleased me; and no less
Her clear though shallow stream of piety
That ran on Sabbath days a fresher course;
With thoughts unfelt till now I saw her read
Her Bible on hot Sunday afternoons,
And loved the book, when she had dropped asleep
And made of it a pillow for her head.
Nor less do I remember to have felt,
Distinctly manifested at this time,
A human-heartedness about my love
For objects hitherto the absolute wealth
Of my own private being and no more;
Which I had loved, even as a blessed spirit
Or Angel, if he were to dwell on earth,
Might love in individual happiness.
But now there opened on me other thoughts
Of change, congratulation or regret,
A pensive feeling! It spread far and wide;
The trees, the mountains shared it, and the brooks,
The stars of Heaven, now seen in their old haunts--
White Sirius glittering o'er the southern crags,
Orion with his belt, and those fair Seven,
Acquaintances of every little child,
And Jupiter, my own beloved star!
Whatever shadings of mortality,
Whatever imports from the world of death
Had come among these objects heretofore,
Were, in the main, of mood less tender: strong,
Deep, gloomy were they, and severe; the scatterings
Of awe or tremulous dread, that had given way
In later youth to yearnings of a love
Enthusiastic, to delight and hope.
As one who hangs down-bending from the side
Of a slow-moving boat, upon the breast
Of a still water, solacing himself
With such discoveries as his eye can make
Beneath him in the bottom of the deep,
Sees many beauteous sights--weeds, fishes, flowers,
Grots, pebbles, roots of trees, and fancies more,
Yet often is perplexed, and cannot part
The shadow from the substance, rocks and sky,
Mountains and clouds, reflected in the depth
Of the clear flood, from things which there abide
In their true dwelling; now is crossed by gleam
Of his own image, by a sunbeam now,
And wavering motions sent he knows not whence,
Impediments that make his task more sweet;
Such pleasant office have we long pursued
Incumbent o'er the surface of past time
With like success, nor often have appeared
Shapes fairer or less doubtfully discerned
Than these to which the Tale, indulgent Friend!
Would now direct thy notice. Yet in spite
Of pleasure won, and knowledge not withheld,
There was an inner falling off--I loved,
Loved deeply all that had been loved before,
More deeply even than ever: but a swarm
Of heady schemes jostling each other, gawds
And feast and dance, and public revelry,
And sports and games (too grateful in themselves,
Yet in themselves less grateful, I believe,
Than as they were a badge glossy and fresh
Of manliness and freedom) all conspired
To lure my mind from firm habitual quest
Of feeding pleasures, to depress the zeal
And damp those yearnings which had once been mine--
A wild, unworldly-minded youth, given up
To his own eager thoughts. It would demand
Some skill, and longer time than may be spared
To paint these vanities, and how they wrought
In haunts where they, till now, had been unknown.
It seemed the very garments that I wore
Preyed on my strength, and stopped the quiet stream
Yes, that heartless chase
Of trivial pleasures was a poor exchange
For books and nature at that early age.
'Tis true, some casual knowledge might be gained
Of character or life; but at that time,
Of manners put to school I took small note,
And all my deeper passions lay elsewhere.
Far better had it been to exalt the mind
By solitary study, to uphold
Intense desire through meditative peace;
And yet, for chastisement of these regrets,
The memory of one particular hour
Doth here rise up against me. 'Mid a throng
Of maids and youths, old men, and matrons staid,
A medley of all tempers, I had passed
The night in dancing, gaiety, and mirth,
With din of instruments and shuffling feet,
And glancing forms, and tapers glittering,
And unaimed prattle flying up and down;
Spirits upon the stretch, and here and there
Slight shocks of young love-liking interspersed,
Whose transient pleasure mounted to the head,
And tingled through the veins. Ere we retired,
The cock had crowed, and now the eastern sky
Was kindling, not unseen, from humble copse
And open field, through which the pathway wound,
And homeward led my steps. Magnificent
The morning rose, in memorable pomp,
Glorious as e'er I had beheld--in front,
The sea lay laughing at a distance; near,
The solid mountains shone, bright as the clouds,
Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light;
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn--
Dews, vapours, and the melody of birds,
And labourers going forth to till the fields.
Ah! need I say, dear Friend! that to the brim
My heart was full; I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
A dedicated Spirit. On I walked
In thankful blessedness, which yet survives.
Strange rendezvous! My mind was at that time
A parti-coloured show of grave and gay,
Solid and light, short-sighted and profound;
Of inconsiderate habits and sedate,
Consorting in one mansion unreproved.
The worth I knew of powers that I possessed,
Though slighted and too oft misused. Besides,
That summer, swarming as it did with thoughts
Transient and idle, lacked not intervals
When Folly from the frown of fleeting Time
Shrunk, and the mind experienced in herself
Conformity as just as that of old
To the end and written spirit of God's works,
Whether held forth in Nature or in Man,
Through pregnant vision, separate or conjoined.
When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude;
How potent a mere image of her sway;
Most potent when impressed upon the mind
With an appropriate human centre--hermit,
Deep in the bosom of the wilderness;
Votary (in vast cathedral, where no foot
Is treading, where no other face is seen)
Kneeling at prayers; or watchman on the top
Of lighthouse, beaten by Atlantic waves;
Or as the soul of that great Power is met
Sometimes embodied on a public road,
When, for the night deserted, it assumes
A character of quiet more profound
Than pathless wastes.
Once, when those summer months
Were flown, and autumn brought its annual show
Of oars with oars contending, sails with sails,
Upon Winander's spacious breast, it chanced
That--after I had left a flower-decked room
(Whose in-door pastime, lighted up, survived
To a late hour), and spirits overwrought
Were making night do penance for a day
Spent in a round of strenuous idleness--
My homeward course led up a long ascent,
Where the road's watery surface, to the top
Of that sharp rising, glittered to the moon
And bore the semblance of another stream
Stealing with silent lapse to join the brook
That murmured in the vale. All else was still;
No living thing appeared in earth or air,
And, save the flowing water's peaceful voice,
Sound there was none--but, lo! an uncouth shape,
Shown by a sudden turning of the road,
So near that, slipping back into the shade
Of a thick hawthorn, I could mark him well,
Myself unseen. He was of stature tall,
A span above man's common measure, tall,
Stiff, lank, and upright; a more meagre man
Was never seen before by night or day.
Long were his arms, pallid his hands; his mouth
Looked ghastly in the moonlight: from behind,
A mile-stone propped him; I could also ken
That he was clothed in military garb,
Though faded, yet entire. Companionless,
No dog attending, by no staff sustained,
He stood, and in his very dress appeared
A desolation, a simplicity,
To which the trappings of a gaudy world
Make a strange back-ground. From his lips, ere long,
Issued low muttered sounds, as if of pain
Or some uneasy thought; yet still his form
Kept the same awful steadiness--at his feet
His shadow lay, and moved not. From self-blame
Not wholly free, I watched him thus; at length
Subduing my heart's specious cowardice,
I left the shady nook where I had stood
And hailed him. Slowly from his resting-place
He rose, and with a lean and wasted arm
In measured gesture lifted to his head
Returned my salutation; then resumed
His station as before; and when I asked
His history, the veteran, in reply,
Was neither slow nor eager; but, unmoved,
And with a quiet uncomplaining voice,
A stately air of mild indifference,
He told in few plain words a soldier's tale--
That in the Tropic Islands he had served,
Whence he had landed scarcely three weeks past;
That on his landing he had been dismissed,
And now was travelling towards his native home.
This heard, I said, in pity, 'Come with me.'
He stooped, and straightway from the ground took up
An oaken staff by me yet unobserved--
A staff which must have dropped from his slack hand
And lay till now neglected in the grass.
Though weak his step and cautious, he appeared
To travel without pain, and I beheld,
With an astonishment but ill suppressed,
His ghostly figure moving at my side;
Nor could I, while we journeyed thus, forbear
To turn from present hardships to the past,
And speak of war, battle, and pestilence,
Sprinkling this talk with questions, better spared,
On what he might himself have seen or felt.
He all the while was in demeanour calm,
Concise in answer; solemn and sublime
He might have seemed, but that in all he said
There was a strange half-absence, as of one
Knowing too well the importance of his theme,
But feeling it no longer. Our discourse
Soon ended, and together on we passed
In silence through a wood gloomy and still.
Up-turning, then, along an open field,
We reached a cottage. At the door I knocked,
And earnestly to charitable care
Commended him as a poor friendless man,
Belated and by sickness overcome.
Assured that now the traveller would repose
In comfort, I entreated that henceforth
He would not linger in the public ways,
But ask for timely furtherance and help
Such as his state required. At this reproof,
With the same ghastly mildness in his look,
He said, 'My trust is in the God of Heaven,
And in the eye of him who passes me!'
The cottage door was speedily unbarred,
And now the soldier touched his hat once more
With his lean hand, and in a faltering voice,
Whose tone bespake reviving interests
Till then unfelt, he thanked me; I returned
The farewell blessing of the patient man,
And so we parted. Back I cast a look,
And lingered near the door a little space,
Then sought with quiet heart my distant home.
The Athenaid: Volume II: Book the Nineteenth
The morning breaks; Nicanor sudden greets
The gen'ral; welcome tidings in these words
He utters loud: The citadel is won,
The tyrant slaughter'd. With our sacred guide
A rugged, winding track, in brambles hid,
Half up a crag we climb'd; there, stooping low,
A narrow cleft we enter'd; mazy still
We trod through dusky bowels of a rock,
While our conductor gather'd, as he stepp'd,
A clue, which careful in his hand he coil'd.
Our spears we trail'd; each soldier held the skirt
Of his preceding comrade. We attain'd
An iron wicket, where the ending line
Was fasten'd; thence a long and steep ascent
Was hewn in steps; suspended on the sides,
Bright rows of tapers cheer'd our eyes with light.
We reach'd the top; there lifting o'er his head
A staff, against two horizontal valves
Our leader smote, which open'd at the sound.
Behind me Hyacinthus on the rock
Sunk sudden down, pronouncing in his fall
Cleora; I on Hyacinthus call'd.
Is this Cleora's husband? cried the priest;
Descend, my Pamphila, my wife, descend.
She came, a rev'rend priestess; tender both
With me assisting plac'd my speechless friend
Within a cleft by me unmark'd before,
Which seem'd a passage to some devious cell.
Me by the hand Elephenor remov'd
Precipitate; a grating door of brass
Clos'd on my parting steps. Ascend, he said,
Make no enquiry; but remain assur'd,
His absence now is best. I mount, I rise
Behind a massy basis which upheld
Jove grasping thunder, and Saturnia crown'd,
Who at his side outstretch'd her scepter'd hand.
The troops succeeding fill the spacious dome.
Last, unexpected, thence more welcome, rose,
Detach'd from Medon with five hundred spears,
Brave Haliartus, who repair'd the want
Of my disabled colleague. Now the priest:
Ye chiefs, auxiliar to the gods profan'd,
And men oppress'd, securely you have reach'd
The citadel of Oreus. The dark hour
Befriends your high attempt. Let one possess
The only entrance from the town below,
The other swift the palace must surprise,
Where Demonax lies slumb'ring, if his guilt
Admits of rest, and dreams not of your spears.
With small resistance from a drowsy guard
I seiz'd the gate; the palace soon was forc'd
By Haliartus. Demonax maintain'd,
From door to door fierce combat, till he sunk,
Blaspheming ev'ry pow'r of heav'n and hell,
On his own couch, beneath repeated wounds
Delv'd in his body by the Carian sword,
Whose point produc'd the sever'd head in view.
These news, Sicinus, to Eudora bear,
Themistocles began. Before her feet
Fall grateful, kiss for me her hallow'd robe;
My venerable friend Tisander hail,
To her, to him, this victory we owe.
Salute Timoxenus, my noble host,
Greet his excelling daughter; let them hear
Of brave Nicanor, and the Carian sword,
Which, closing at a blow this dang'rous war,
Preserves so many Greeks. Carystian chief,
Accept from me good tidings in return
For thine. Intelligence this hour hath brought,
That vigilant Cleander hath possess'd
The naval fort, an inlet to the town
For this whole army, pouring from our ships
Successive numbers, if the Persian bands
Yet meditate resistance. Not to give
Their consternation leisure to subside,
Against the walls each standard shall advance.
He said, and gave command. The diff'rent chiefs
Head their battalions. Oreus trembling sees
Encircling danger; heralds in their pomp,
Dread summoners, are nigh. Her foreign guard,
Depriv'd of wonted leaders, at the fall
Of Demonax aghast, in thought behold
Death in the conquer'd citadel extend
His hideous arms to beckon from the fleet
Cleander's valour, and from swarming tents
Themistocles. On his approach the gates
Are thrown abroad. From all the Persian bands
Their javelins, shields, and banners on the ground
Pale fear deposits. Thus the yielding masts
Of all their canvass mariners divest,
When Æolus is riding on a storm
To overwhelm the vessel, which would drive
In full apparel to resist his ire.
Th' Athenian, though triumphant, in his joy
Omits no care. To Æschylus awhile
The charge supreme transferring, he ascends
The citadel; the Catian victor there
Conducts him o'er the palace, shews the corse
Of Demonax, his treasury unspoil'd,
By chosen Locrians guarded. Pleas'd, the chief
Embraces Haliartus: Friend, he said,
Though late acquir'd, inestimable friend,
How shall I praise thee? but my bosom wrapt
In long concealment, now to thee alone
Disclos'd, shall warrant my profess'd regard.
Know, that whatever thou hast heard, or seen
Of my Euboean labours, are no more,
Than preparation for a wider stage
Of action. Gold, one necessary means,
Thou hast provided; but I want a man
Of hardy limbs and vig'rous, bold, discreet,
Who all the Persian quarters would explore,
On either side Thermopylæ; would trace
Whate'er employs Mardonius, what the time
He takes the field, and where his gather'd stores
Of war deposits. Thessaly provok'd
Long since my just resentment. Ere the king
Of Asia pass'd the Hellespont, I led
Ten thousand Greeks her passes to defend;
By her deserted and betray'd, I march'd
Unprofitably back. The Carian here:
Had I endowments equal to my will,
I were that man. Accept me, as I am,
Vers'd in those borders, me, whose faithful zeal
Leonidas experienc'd and approv'd;
So let Themistocles. My rustic weeds
I can resume to range th' OEtæan crags,
The fields of Locris, and Thessalia's plains.
Thou art that man, th' Athenian quick rejoin'd;
Then hold thee ready. Sudden in their birth
Are my resolves, and when mature have wings.
This said, he visits Æschylus below.
Judicious he in stations had dispos'd
The various bands; the pris'ners were secur'd.
Throughout th' Orean streets and dwellings reign'd
Tranquillity and order. Him the son
Of Neocles bespake: To-morrow's dawn
Shall see thee honour'd, as becomes a chief,
Whom Aristides nam'd, and Athens chose
To save Euboea. I defer till night
Our consultations. I, not wanted here,
Will reascend the citadel; the voice
Of friendship calls me to a tender care.
He seeks the fane. Elephenor he greets;
Applause to him in gratitude unfeign'd
Presenting, next his earnest lips enquire
Of Hyacinthus. Here the rev'rend man:
First know, his dear Cleora is alive.
I, priest of Jove, and Pamphila my wife,
Who to th' Olympian empress in this feat
Of blended rites are ministers, when told
That Demonax had doom'd his child to death,
Solicited her pardon in the names
Of both divinities. At both he spurn'd,
While we contriv'd this stratagem. Her nurse,
By us admonish'd, in due time declar'd
Cleora dead. The body of a slave,
A youthful maiden recently expir'd,
Was for Cleora carried to the flames,
While her we shelter'd in a secret cell,
From human sight, from sight of day conceal'd.
These pow'rs, alike offended at th' intent
As perpetration of an impious deed,
Have sent thee forth their instrument of wrath,
Divinely-prompted hero. Wilt thou shed
On Hyacinthus and Cleora's bliss
Thy guardian smile? This utter'd, down the steps
He guides th' Athenian to the hidden cell.
By his Cleora Hyacinthus sat.
The youthful husband o'er the snowy breast,
Which lull'd and cherish'd a reposing babe,
The blooming father o'er that precious fruit
Hung fondly. Thoughtful ecstasy recall'd
His dream at Juno's temple; where he saw
The visionary bosom of his bride
Disclose maternal to an infant new
That pillow smooth of lillies. Wan her cheek
Told her confinement from the cheerful day.
Six moons in deep obscurity she dwelt;
Where, as a sea-nymph underneath a rock,
Or Indian genie in the cavern'd earth,
Her cell in conchs and coral she had dress'd,
By gracious Pamphila supply'd to cheat
Time and despair. The loom her patient art
Had plied, her own sad story had begun,
Now to conclude in joy. The starting youth
Beholds his patron, rushes on his breast
In transport thus: Redeemer of my peace!
Balm of my grief! of happiness my source!
My health of mind and body is thy gift.
If in his anguish Hyacinthus felt
His obligation, in the hour of bliss
To what excess must gratitude expand
His bosom now! Cleora and my child
I owe to thy protection-this is she,
This is my goddess, this my light, my joy,
Deriv'd from thy humanity. Thou god
Of Hyacinthus, tutelary god!
Thou from the pit of horror didst upraise
My limbs, for ever to its bottom chain'd
Without thy helpful hand; without thee death
Had been my portion; never had I liv'd
To see Cleora, never known this day!
But will my gen'ral overlook my fault?
Thy soldier, in his subterranean march
Tow'rds this retirement, threw a casual glance,
Which met Cleora's. Down the shield and spear
Dropp'd from my hands disabled; life forsook
My heart, which irrecoverably lost
All sense of duty both to thee and Greece,
By me alone deserted. Bless that chance,
Themistocles replies, and leads aside
Th' attentive youth. Perhaps these gods ordain'd,
In compensation of thy long distress,
In recompense of pure and constant love,
That to Cleora thou unstain'd with blood,
Blood of her father by another slain,
Shouldst be restor'd, nor taint with horrors new
This thy new hymen. Æschylus by morn
Will sit in judgment righteous, but severe,
On each Euboean criminal, the dead
Not less than living. Instantly remove
To thy Carystian home thy wife and babe;
Whate'er can pass in Oreus must offend
Her eye and ear. Then turning to the fair:
From warlike toils thy consort I dismiss;
He, who so nobly signaliz'd his sword
In single combat, and the open field,
And prov'd his valour equal to his love,
All future palms to others may resign.
Whatever comforts, time and peace can yield,
Are due to both your suff'rings; nor an hour
Shalt thou be cloister'd in this rueful cell.
Elephenor, discreet and rev'rend man,
Let thy kind clue conduct their secret steps.
With presents laden, tokens of my love,
Cars shall attend them at the cavern's mouth;
Thou add thy blessing, that their new-born day
May never set in sorrow. Thus the chief,
Relax'd from busy care, amid success,
Which not a shade of obstacle o'erhangs,
Spake, as he felt, remunerating full
For all his service Hyacinthus brave.
His knees embracing, thus Cleora spake:
I have not utt'rance for my grateful heart;
If thou dismiss us never more to see
Thy guardian face, our day will set in grief.
In smiles th' Athenian dissipates that fear:
Long ere thy husband's magisterial term
Is finish'd, I have further still to crave
From him as archon, not as soldier, help.
This to Carystus would alone direct
My footsteps; else amid domestic joys
To see thy days illumin'd, precious time
Themistocles would borrow from his charge.
Thus in the grateful fair-one he secur'd
Another friend, if wanted to support
His vast designs, which, gath'ring on his mind,
Speed his departure with a kind farewell.
The cars he orders, from the tyrant's stores
Rich presents draws, to Æschylus returns,
With him in conf'rence spends remaining day.
Aurora hears Themistocles command
Stern proclamation by the trumpet's voice
For judgment on the guilty. All in chains
The tyrant's hated counsellors are brought,
Save Lamachus by faith of treaty safe
Bound to Thessalian shores; but chief the sev'n
Geræstian ruffians, their assassin heads
Hang hopeless down. Amid the widest space
In Oreus lofty a tribunal stands,
Which Æschylus ascends, commander high
Of troops enroll'd by Athens. So her son
Disgrac'd, but courting favour new, devis'd
Her democratic jealousy to sooth.
The various chieftains, through this glorious war
So late distinguish'd, round the solemn seat
Conspicuous wait, Themistocles himself
At the right hand of Æschylus. He sits
Like Minos sage, whose justice gain'd from Jove
Th' appointment awful to condemn, or spare
His fellow mortals in the world below.
When now th' accusers and accus'd were heard,
Thus spake the warrior-poet: Crimes like these
The legislator punishes with death;
Let us attempt within our scanty sphere,
Far as we may, to imitate the gods
In punishment deserv'd. Through those abodes
Which Hades governs, long the vulture gnaws;
Long is the toil of Sisyphus; to fill
Their leaking vases long the murd'rous seed
Of Danaus must strive. By labour, pain,
And shame continu'd, let flagitious men
Long wish to end their suff'rings, not enjoy
That wish'd-for period in a single pang.
This heavy sentence on assassin heads,
On foul atrocious counsellors of ill,
Lo! I pronounce. An ignominious brand
Imprint on every forehead; plunge them chain'd,
Debas'd by vile impurity of garb,
In deep Chalcidian quarries; give them food
Just for endurance of continued toil,
With daily stripes, that cruelty may feel
What she inflicts on others, and, impell'd
By desperation, court relief in death.
Before the gate of Oreus on a cross
Extend the limbs of Demonax; the flesh
Let kites deform, let parching air the bones
Of that despotic malefactor bleach,
Avenging man, and vindicating heav'n.
Flow next a strain more pleasing through the ear,
A strain delightful to that fav'ring god
Who first created laurel to adorn
The good and brave. A chaplet from his tree,
Ten captives, ten selected suits of arms
To ev'ry leader; one Barbarian slave,
A sabre, targe, whatever to the field
Accouters one Barbarian, I allot
To ev'ry soldier. Phoebus will supply
His laurel too, encompassing your brows,
Ye gen'rous people. But a splendid store
Of tripods, urns, and images provide
For great Eudora, and th' Eretrian seer,
That your triumphal off'ring may emblaze
Euboea's fanes; nor less with honours greet
Elephenor, your genius of success.
Eudora's portion thou, heroic priest,
Phoebean Timon, to her presence bear.
I need but name Acanthè to attract
Your veneration; for Acanthè chuse,
Sweet paragon of Chalcis, from your spoils
The costly tissue of Barbaric looms,
And dazzling gems, that gratitude may vie
With obligation. Haliartus, bright
In recent glories from a tyrant slain,
Thou at her feet the precious tribute lay.
For me, if, servant of Cecropia's state,
I have upheld her justice and renown,
Your approbation is the sole reward
Which I solicit, or will bear away
On my returning keel. He ceas'd. In roar
Surpassing waves, which beat the craggy strand
Amidst a tempest, from the gen'ral host
Broke forth applause. Themistocles subjoin'd:
Awhile, my friends, your labours I suspend;
Go to your homes; to kind, expecting wives
Recount your trophies; let your children see
Paternal mansions hung with Asian spòils.
Remember still, that valour must not sleep;
That law restor'd and freedom are not firm
While Asia's trumpet sounds a blast in Greece.
Two days elapse; Timoxenus, arriv'd
From Chalcis, joyful gratulation brings.
Solicitous th' Athenian first enquires
Of fair Acanthè's state. The father fond
Thus answers: Wasting malady is fled,
But hath behind it left indiff'rence cold
To ev'ry joy. Thy wife a bracelet sent;
These words the bearer Haliartus brought,
Charg'd by Timothea elegant and wise.
'From me this present when Acanthè takes,
'Say, how I prize her elevated mind,
'Enabling my Themistocles to quell
'The hateful breed of tyrants. Further say,
'The man engaging her connubial hand
'I should esteem the favorite of heav'n.'
I heard approving; on the grateful hint
A secret hour I chose; my daughter's ear
I thus address'd. 'My only child and hope,
'Shall no sweet offspring cheer a grandsire's age?
'Shall my possessions to a stranger pass,
'My blood be lost for ever? Shall this war,
'Thy work, Acanthè, which a father's love,
'In all to thee complying, at thy suit
'Commenc'd, produce no hero to console
'Thy widow'd couch?' 'The sacrifice of life,
'Of my ideal, or my real peace,
'Is due to such a father,' she exclaim'd
In pious fervour. 'Arguments to urge
'Against thy plea my age and thine forbid;
'But ah! dear parent, my capricious fate
'Presents no suitor to thy child's esteem.'
The Amarynthian priestess, whose controul
Surpasses mine, with sternness oft enforc'd
My just desire. At length my daughter thus
On my departure: 'I obey; consult
'Themistocles; let him a consort name,
'Who best hath serv'd him in this righteous war.'
Ne'er yet ill chance, or sorrow, from the son
Of Neocles drew tears. His soul reflects
On this transcendent fair one, who had chang'd
The violence of passion to respect
So confidential, dress'd in sweetest grace
So far beyond his merits tow'rds a heart
Of purest texture, late by him misled
To error, now to purity restor'd
By native honour. At th' affecting thought
He turns those eyes, till then of stedfast look
On all events and objects, turns aside
To hide their oozing dews; yet soon he spake:
None can I name, but wise Timothea's choice
To bear her present, Haliartus brave,
Who hath avow'd to Æschylus and me
A veneration for thy matchless child;
But he, appointed to a service high,
Like Hercules must labour yet to gain
The sum of bliss. For three successive moons
He must continue mine. The past events
In copious strains the hero now rehears'd,
Concluding thus: The army I disband;
Great Æschylus for Athens straight embarks;
I shall remain in Oreus to compose
This troubled city; thou resume thy way;
The criminals transported in thy train
Lock in the quarries; to Acanthè all
Unravel; her and Chalcis too prepare
For due reception of that happy man,
Whom Jove hath honour'd in a tyrant's death,
Whom Juno soon in nuptial ties will bless,
And all Euboea to Acanthè sends
With tokens rich of public praise and love.
With joy Timoxenus assents; the morn
Sees him depart; at Chalcis he arrives,
Performing all Themistocles enjoin'd.
Now ev'ry temple breathes perfumes; prepar'd
Are chosen victims, colonnades and gates
With chaplets hung; the garden's flow'ry growth,
Each scented produce of luxuriant fields,
The maids and matrons bear to welcome home
Triumphant warriors. Now th' expected gleams
Of armour tinge the champaign's utmost verge;
Near and more near the military pomp,
At large develop'd o'er the green expanse,
Spears, bucklers, helmets, plumes, Barbaric spoils
In trophies pil'd on hollow-sounding cars,
Grow on the sight. Through Chalcis lies the march;
Those in abode the most remote precede.
Geræstian banners first Eudemus shews;
With Lampon follow Styra's gallant troop;
The Amarynthian and Carystian bands
Nicanor leads; th' Eretrians, now become
Once more a people, with their wives and race
At length redeem'd, to Cleon's orders move.
In blooming garlands had the mothers deck'd
Their children's heads, whom, tripping through the streets,
Spectatress equal to the loftiest scene,
Eudora blesses. Sweet Acanthè melts
In tears of gladness, while her father nigh
Awakes attention to a num'rous train,
Her native friends, whom brave Nearchus heads.
These are thy warriors, fondly cries the sire;
To whom Eudora: Who is he in state
Pontifical, a holy man in arms?
Three hundred Delphians then were passing by,
Phoebean branches twisted round their spears.
Behind them, lodg'd on axles rolling slow,
Were vases, tripods, images and busts,
Spoils of the palace Demonax had rais'd.
Thou seest, replies Timoxenus, a form
To Phoebus dear, the venerable form
Of Timon, priest and soldier. From that car
He will descend to kiss thy sacred hand,
Before thy feet a precious tribute lay
For thy pure goddess, sister of his god.
But look, my sweet Acanthè, on the man
Themistocles hath chosen to revive
My drooping years. Preceded by a troop
Of youths, whom Medon, ever kind, hath cull'd
From all his Locrian files to grace his friend;
Preceded by a trophy, which displays
The silver mail of Demonax, his shield,
His helm of gold, his variegated arms,
And spear in length ten cubits, which upholds
The tyrant's head, his victor meets our eyes,
Th' illustrious son of Lygdamis. She cast
Not an impassion'd, but revering glance
On one, whose might victorious had dissolv'd
Euboean thraldom, one of noble frame,
In feature comely, and in look serene,
Whom her sole guide, the all controlling son
Of Neocles, had destin'd for her lord.
Her dream recurs; the tyrant's head she sees;
Th' exploit sublime, though not by him achiev'd,
Whom partial fancy on her pillow shew'd,
Her ever-wakeful loftiness of mind
Admires impartial, and applauds the hand
Which dealt the glorious blow. Her awful brow
The priestess softens to a smile, and thus:
Is this the suitor, whom my hero chose
For bright Acanthè? Favour'd by the gods,
Themistocles in ev'ry action proves
He cannot err. Acanthè hears, and press'd
By duty's insurmountable controul,
Aw'd by Eudora's majesty austere,
Resolves to meet him with becoming grace,
But of his virtue make one trial more.
The Delphian priest and Haliartus quit
Their chariots; them Timoxenus receives
To his rich mansion and a sumptuous board.
Eudora there, with curious eyes and voice,
Explores and questions oft the Carian brave.
His Delphian friend, observing, in these words
Besought him: O, distinguish'd by the gods!
Who have in thee their care of virtue shewn,
Since from Euboea thou must soon depart,
Lose not the present hour. These matchless dames
Must hear thy wond'rous narrative at large;
For singular thy fortunes with events
Are interwoven to delight the ear,
Affect the heart, and win th' applauding tongue;
That all may honour thy desert supreme
Like me, so much thy debtor. Straight complies
The modest Carian; list'ning silence reigns.
In native windings from his Lydian fount
As various flow'd Mæander, here along
A level champaign, daisy-painted meads,
Or golden fields of Ceres, here through woods
In green arcades projecting o'er his banks,
There shut in rock, which irritates the stream,
Here by low hamlets, there by stately towns,
Till he attained the rich Magnesian seat;
Thence with augmented fame and prouder floods
Roll'd down his plenteous tribute to the main:
So through the mazes of his fortune winds
In artless eloquence th' expressive strain
Of Haliartus, from his peasant state
To scenes heroic. Humble still in mind,
Compell'd to follow truth's historic clue,
He ends in glory, which his blushes grace;
Nor less they grace these frank and manly words,
Which to Acanthè singly he directs:
Such as I am, thou elevated fair,
Who hast Euboea's liberty restor'd,
Her grateful off'rings to thy feet I bring;
With them an humble suppliant to thy smile,
That he may rank thy soldier, in thy name
His own distinguish, and, achieving well
The task by great Themistocles impos'd,
Deserve Acanthè's favour. She replies
With virtuous art: Can soldiers never know
Satiety of fame? must her career
Be still beginning, never be complete?
Must ev'ry passion yield to thirst of praise?
Should I request thee, wouldst thou for my sake
Thy new attempt relinquish, to enjoy
Thy ample portion of acquir'd renown
In peace at Chalcis? Haliartus then:
Not love of fame, which oft'ner frowns than smiles,
Not victory, nor spoil inflate my breast
All unaspiring. Sense of duty pure,
Of obligation, which I owe to Greece,
Themistocles, and Medon, rules supreme
Within my soul. O first of mortal fair,
Thou of his peace thy servant might'st deprive;
But, wert thou fairer than the Paphian queen,
In each excelling art like Pallas skill'd,
Her paragon in wisdom, thy request
Should thus be answer'd from a bleeding heart:
To my performance of the trust repos'd
The only bar is fate. Astonish'd gaz'd
Timoxenus; nor knew the timid sire
That his Acanthè's breast then first conceiv'd
A spark of passion, but a spark divine,
Such as for heroes goddesses have felt;
As Thetis glow'd for Peleus. Thus the fair:
O most deserving of that hero's choice,
To which alone Acanthè left her fate!
Weigh'd in the balance, nor deficient found,
Thou more than worthy of a hand like mine!
Go, but return; triumphantly return
Lord of Acanthè; of my truth unchang'd
Accept this pledge. She gave, he kiss'd her hand.
Eudora's vestment, while the solemn scene
Her looks approv'd, with fervent lips he touch'd;
Then, clasping glad Timoxenus, retir'd
To hoist his canvass in the morning gale.
\End of the Nineteenth Book
(Shadows over a cradle…
throws something in the fire
and a smaller hand
runs into the flame and out again,
singed and empty….
settling over a cradle…
and a fire.)
Cherry, cherry, glowing on the hearth, bright red cherry…. When you try to pick up cherry Celia's shriek sticks in you like a pin.
When God throws hailstones you cuddle in Celia's shawl and press your feet on her belly high up like a stool. When Celia makes umbrella of her hand. Rain falls through big pink spokes of her fingers. When wind blows Celia's gown up off her legs she runs under pillars of the bank— great round pillars of the bank have on white stockings too.
Celia says my father
will bring me a golden bowl.
When I think of my father
I cannot see him
for the big yellow bowl
like the moon with two handles
he carries in front of him.
(Light all about you…
ginger… pouring out of green jars…)
You don't believe he has gone away and left his great coat…
so you pretend… you see his face up in the ceiling.
When you clap your hands and cry, grandpa, grandpa, grandpa,
Celia crosses herself.
It isn't a dream…. It comes again and again…. You hear ivy crying on steeples the flames haven't caught yet and images screaming when they see red light on the lilies on the stained glass window of St. Joseph. The girl with the black eyes holds you tight, and you run… and run past the wild, wild towers… and trees in the gardens tugging at their feet and little frightened dolls shut up in the shops crying… and crying… because no one stops… you spin like a penny thrown out in the street. Then the man clutches her by the hair…. He always clutches her by the hair…. His eyes stick out like spears. You see her pulled-back face and her black, black eyes lit up by the glare…. Then everything goes out. Please God, don't let me dream any more of the girl with the black, black eyes.
Celia's shadow rocks and rocks… and mama's eyes stare out of the pillow as though she had gone away and the night had come in her place as it comes in empty rooms… you can't bear it— the night threshing about and lashing its tail on its sides as bold as a wolf that isn't afraid— and you scream at her face, that is white as a stone on a grave and pull it around to the light, till the night draws backward… the night that walks alone and goes away without end. Mama says, I am cold, Betty, and shivers. Celia tucks the quilt about her feet, but I run for my little red cloak because red is hot like fire.
I wish Celia
could see the sea climb up on the sky
and slide off again…
I'd beg the world with you….
Celia… holding on to the cab…
hands wrenched away…
wind in the masts… like Celia crying….
Celia never minded if you slapped her
when the comb made your hairs ache,
but though you rub your cheek against mama's hand
she has not said darling since….
Now I will slap her again….
I will bite her hand till it bleeds.
It is cool by the port hole.
The wet rags of the wind
flap in your face.
Because you are four years old
the candle is all dressed up in a new frill.
And stars nod to you through the hole in the curtain,
(except the big stiff planets
too fat to move about much,)
and you curtsey back to the stars
when no one is looking.
You feel sorry for the poor wooden chair
that knows it isn't nice to sit on,
and no one is sad but mama.
You don't like mama to be sad
when you are four years old,
so you pretend
you like the bitter gold-pale tea—
if you don't drink it up pretty quick
a little gold-fish
will think it is a pond
and come and get born in it.
It's hot in our street and the breeze is a dirty little broom that sweeps dust into our room and bits of paper out of the alley. You are not let to play with the children in the alley But you must be very polite— so you pass them and say good day and when they fling banana skins you fling them back again.
There is no one to play with and the flies on the window buzz and buzz… …you can pull out their legs and stick pins in their bodies but still they buzz… and mama says: When Nero was a little boy he caught flies on his mama's window and pulled out their legs and stuck pins in their bodies and nobody loved him. Buzz, blue-bellied flies— buzz, nasty black wheel of mama's machine— you are the biggest fly of all— you have the loudest buzz. I hear you at dawn before the locusts. But I like the picture of the Flood and the little babies getting drowned…. If I were there I would save them, but as I can't save them I like to watch them getting drowned.
When mama buys of Ling Ho, he smiles very wide and picks her the largest loquots. The greens-man gave her a cabbage and she held it against her black bodice and said what a beautiful green it was and put it on the table as though it had been a flower. But next day we boiled and ate it with salt. It was our dinner.
Christmas day I found Janie on my pillow. Janie is made of rubber. Her red and blue jacket won't come off. Christmas dinner was green and white chicken and lettuce and peas and drops of oil on the salad smiley and full of light like the gold on the lady's teeth.
But mama said politely Thank you, we are dining out. She wouldn't let you take one pea to put in the hole where the whistle was at the back of Janie's head, so Janie should have some dinner So you went to the park with biscuits and black tea in a bottle.
You feel very sad
when you climb on the fence
to watch mama out of sight.
The women in the alley
poke their heads out of doorways
and watch her too.
You know her
by the way she holds her shoulders
till she is only a speck
in a chain of specks—
till she is swallowed up.
that day after day
you were to watch for her face
and it didn't come back?
it were to drop out of the string of white faces
like the pearl out of my chain
I never found again?
Mabel minds you while mama is out,
she washes while she sings
Three blind mice!
they all run away from the farmer's wife
who cut off their tails
with a carving knife—
Wind blows out Mabel's sheets,
way you blow in a bag before you burst it.
Wind has a soapy smell.
It's heavier'n sun
that lies all over you without any weight
and makes you feel happy
and crinkly like bubbling water.
There's no sun on the empty house—
you can't see in its windows
that watch you out of their corners.
Perhaps there's a big spider there
spinning gray threads over the windows
till they look like dead people's faces….
Jimmie's hair is white as a white mouse.
His lashes are gold as mama's wedding ring
and his mouth feels cool and smooth
like a flower wet with rain.
You wouldn't believe Jimmie was different…
till he showed you….
Blind wet sheets flapping on the lines… sun in your eyes, dark gold sun full of little black spots, you have to blink and blink… round eyes of Jimmie…. Jimmie's blue jumper… blue shadow of wall… all the world holding still as when a clock stops… streets still… people still… no streets… no people… only sky and wall… sun glaring bright as God down at you and Jimmie… shadow like a purple cloth trailing off the wall…
Wild wet sheets flapping in the wind… big slippered feet flapping too… big-balloon-face rushing up the alley… houses closing up again… windows looking round… … Mabel pulls you in the gate and shakes you and tells you not to tell your mama… And you wonder if God has spoiled Jimmie.
is smooth and pale as tea-rose leaves.
That ivory oval of aunt Gem
you sucked the miniature off
had black black hair like mama.
Pit-it-ty-pat, Mama walks so fast, street lamps jig without bending a leg… lights in the windows play twinkling tunes on crimson and blue bottles like bubbles big as balloons… Faster and faster… and pink light spurts over cakes doing polkas in little white shirts, with cake-princesses in flounced white skirts.
mama walks slower…
slower and… slower…
Eyes… lamps… stars…
acres and acres of stars…
bells… and sleepily
You're glad mama walks slow.
It's nice to be carried along
up high near the stars
that look at you with a grave, great look.
mama sings you to sleep.
When she sings, O for the light of thine eyes Dolores,
there's a castle on a cliff
and the sea roars like lions.
It leaps at the castle
and the cliff knocks it down
but always the sea
shakes its flattened head
and gets up again.
The castle has no roof
so the rain spins silvery webs in it,
and Dolores' face
floats dim and beautiful
the way flowers do when they are drowned.
Step by white step
she goes up the castle stairs,
but the stair goes up into the sky
and the sky keeps going up too,
and none of them ever get there.
When mama sings Ba ba black sheep, the stars seem to shine through her voice so everything has to be still, and when she has finished singing her song goes up off the earth, higher and higher… till it is only as big as a tiny silver bird with nothing but moonlight around it.
You can see the sandhills from our new room. Butterflies live in the sandhills and lizards and centipedes. If you keep very still lizards will think you a stone and run over your lap. Butterflies' liveries are scarlet and black. They drive chariots in air. People in the chariots are pale as dew— you can see right through them— but the chariots are made of gold of the sun. They go up to heaven and never catch fire. There are green centipedes and brown centipedes and black centipedes, because green and brown and black are the colors in hell's flag. Centipedes have hundreds of feet because it is so far from hell to come up for air. Centipedes do not hurry. They are waiting for the last day when they will creep over the false prophets who will have their hands tied.
Night calls to the sandhills and gathers them under her. she pushes away cities because their sharp lights hurt her soft breast. Even candles make a sore place when they stick in the night.
There are things in the sandhills that no one knows about… they come out at dark when the young snakes play and tell each other secrets in the deaf logs.
Sometimes… before rain… when the stars have gone inside… the night comes close to your window and sniffs at the light…. But you must not run away— you must keep your face to the night and walk backward.
When it rains and you are pulling off flies' legs… mama lets you play houses with Lizzie and Clara. Because you are the Only One— and because Only Ones have to live alone while sisters stay together, Lizzie and Clara give you the dry house and take the one with the leaking roof.
Rain like curly hairpins
blows on Lizzie and Clara's two heads
turned like one head—
spread into one laugh.
Lizzie is saying:
why don't you want to play—
when you feel you'd like to braid
the crinkled-silver rain
into a shining rope
to climb up… and up… and up… into the wet sky
and never see any one again.
Our gate doesn't hang right. It must have pawed at the wind and gotten a kick as the wind passed over. The sitting sky puffs out a gray smoke and the wind makes a red-striped sound blowing out straight, but our gate drags its foot and whines to itself on one hinge.
What do you think I've found—
two wee knickers of fairy brass,
or two gold sovereigns folded up
in a bit of green silk,
or two gold bugs
in little green shirts?
If you want to know,
you must walk tip-toe
so your feet just whisper in the grass—
you must carry them careful
and very proud,
for their stems bleed drops of milk—
but Lizzie and Clara shout in glee:
You look in the eyes of grown-up people
to see if they feel
the way you feel…
but they hide inside of themselves,
and so you do not find out.
Grown-up people say:
The stars are bright to-night,
but they do not say
what you are thinking about stars—
not even mama says what you are thinking about stars.
This makes you feel very lonely.
It's strange about stars…. You have to be still when they look at you. They push your song inside of you with their song. Their long silvery rays sink into you and do not hurt. It is good to feel them resting on you like great white birds… and their shining whiteness doesn't burn like the sun— it washes all over you and makes you feel cleaner'n water.
My doll Janie has no waist and her body is like a tub with feet on it. Sometimes I beat her but I always kiss her afterwards. When I have kissed all the paint off her body I shall tie a ribbon about it so she shan't look shabby. But it must be blue— it mustn't be pink— pink shows the dirt on her face that won't wash off.
I beat Janie
and beat her…
but still she smiled…
so I scratched her between the eyes with a pin.
Now she doesn't love me anymore…
she scowls… and scowls…
though I've begged her to forgive me
and poured sugar in the hole at the back of her head.
Mama says Janie is a fairy doll
and she has forgiven me—
that she's gone to the market
to buy me some sweets.
—Now she's at the door
and a little bag tied to her neck—
I run to Janie
and kiss her all over….
Ah… she is still frowning.
I let the sweets drop on the floor—
has told you a lie.
singing in street:
gleen ledd-ish-es, gleen ledd-ish-es—
shining on your face—
it must be a new day.
But why aren't you happy
if it's a new day?
Because something has happened…
something sad and terrible….
Now I remember… it's Janie.
I took Janie out
and tied my handkerchief over her face
and put sand in it
and threw her into the ditch
down in the black water
under the dock leaves…
and when mama asked me where Janie was
I said I had lost her.
I'm glad it is night-time
so I'll be able to go to sleep
and forget all about it….
But mama looks at my tongue
and says she will give me senna tea.
When you smell the tea
you shut your eyes tight
and pretend not to hear
the soft, cool voice of mama
that goes over your forehead
like a little wind.
And then you lie in the dark
and stare… and stare…
till the faces come…
yellow faces with leering eyes
drifting in a greeny mist….
if Janie sees faces
out there… alone in the dark….
if she has got the handkerchief off
or if the water has gone in the hole
where the whistle was
at the back of her head
and drowned her…
or if the stars
can see her under the dock leaves?
It's smoky-blue and still over the red road. Wind must be lying down with its tail under it— doesn't even flick off the flies. And you can hear the silence buzzing in the gum trees, the way the angels buzzed when they flew through the cedars of Lebanon with thin gauze wings you could see through. Nice to hear the silence buzzing— till it comes too close and booms in your ears and presses all over you till you scream…. When you scream at the silence it goes to jingling pieces like a silver mirror broken into tiny bits. Perhaps its wings are made of glass— perhaps it lives down in a dark, dark cave and only comes up to warm its wings in the sun…. It's cold in the cave— no matter how you cover yourself up. Little girls sit there dressed in white and the dolls in their arms all have white handkerchiefs over their faces. Their shadows cannot play with them… their shadows lie down at their feet… for the little girls sit stiff as stones with their backs to the mouth of the cave where a little light falls off the wings of the silence when it comes down out of the sun.
Moon catches the flying fish
as they dive in the bay.
spin over and over
into the water.
Mom bends over jungles
and touches the foreheads of tigers
as they pass under openings made by dropped leaves.
Tigers stop on the trail of the deer
while the moon is on their foreheads—
they let the stags go by.
Moon is shining strangely on the white palings of the fence. Fence keeps very still… most times it moves a little… everything moves a little though you mayn't know it… but now the little fence wouldn't change places with the great cross that stands so stiff and high with its back to the moon. Moon shining strangely on the white palings of the fence, I am shining too but my light is shut inside of me and can't get out.
Old house with black windows— blind house begging moonlight to put out the shadows— why do you want so much light? You creak when the wind steps on you— you cough up dust and your beams ache— you know you will soon fall, the moon just pities you! Don't waste yourself moon— come on my bed and play with me. Wrap me up in blue light, you who are cool. I am too hot, I am all alive and the shadows are outside of me.
There are different kinds of shadows.
The blind ones
are the shadows of things.
These are the tame shadows—
they love to play on the wall with you
and follow you about like cats and dogs.
they hiss at you softly
like snakes that do not bite,
or swish like women's dresses,
but if you poke a candle at them
they pull in their heads and disappear.
But there is a shadow that is not the shadow of a thing… it is a thing itself. When you meet this shadow you must not look at it too long… it grows with your looking at it… till you are all alone with nothing around you… nothing… nothing… nothing… but a shadow with its eyes full of black light.
There's a shadow in the corner of the shed, crouching, lying in wait… a black coiled shadow, watching… ready to strike… but I mustn't be afraid of it— I mustn't be afraid of anything. Poor evil shadow, the candle would chase it away only she can't get at it. Do you think that every one hates you, shadow with your back to the wall, afraid to lie down and sleep? But I don't hate you. Even the moon means to be kind. She just treads on you as I'd tread on a worm that I didn't see. Don't be afraid of me, shadow. See—I've no light in my hand— nothing to save myself with— yet I walk right up to you— if you'll let me I'll put my arms around you and stroke you softly. Are you surprised I'd put my arms around you? Is it your black black sorrow that nobody loves you?
When you tell mama you are going to do something great she looks at you as though you were a window she were trying to see through, and says she hopes you will be good instead of great.
When you are five years old
you spend the day in the Gardens.
The grass is greener than cabbages,
and orange lilies
stand up very straight
and will not curtsey to the sun
when the wind tells them.
Only pansies bow down very low.
Pansies make little purple cushions
for queen bees to stand on.
have brown silk hair on their bodies.
If you are careful
they will let you stroke them.
The trees over the marble man catch up all the sunbeams so the shadows have it their way— the shadows swallow him up like a blue shark. When you scoop a sunbeam up on your palm and offer it to the marble man, he does not notice… he looks into his stone beard. … When you do something great people give you a stone face, so you do not care any more when the sun throws gold on you through leaf-holes the wind makes in green bushes…. This thought makes me very sad.
Jude has eyes like tobacco
with yellow specks on it
and his hair is red as a red orange.
Jude and I
have made a garden in the field
that no one knows about.
We creep in and out
through a little place
where the barbed wire is down.
We lie in the long grass
and crush dandelions
between our two cheeks
till the milk comes out on our faces.
We hold each other tight
and the wind tip-toes all over us
and pelts us with thistle-down.
Jude isn't afraid of shadows—
not even of the ones that have eyes in them.
And he can look in the face of the sun
without blinking at all.
Hush! don't say sun so loud.
The sun gets angry when you stare at him.
If you peek in his glory-windows
he spreads into a great white flame
like God out of his Burning Bush…
till you put your hands up on your face
and tremble like a drop of rain upon a flower
that some one throws into the fire…
the sun makes himself small,
the sun swings down out of the sky—
littler'n a star,
little as a spark
little as a fierce red spider
on a burning thread…
the light goes out…
shivers into blackened bits….
You hold on to a wall that whirls around
and the gate is a black hole.
You grope your way in like a toad
that's blinded by a stone…
and mama puts on cold wet rags
that get hot soon….
Hush! don't let's talk about the sun.
When you pass by the ditch where Janie is You run very fast and look at the other side. Jude says Janie did love me only she couldn't forgive me, and that you can love people very much and never, never, never forgive them…. so we poked a stick in the bottle-green water. But only weeds came up and an old top with the paint washed off.
Jude and I
wave to the new moon
curled right up like one gold hair
on the bald-head sandhill.
Mama peeps out the window and smiles.
I am playing with myself…
Run, Jude, run with the wind—
but hold my hand tight
or the wind,
looking for some one to play with,
will take me away from you!
Wind with no one to play with
cooees the orange-trees—
stay-at-home orange trees,
have to nurse oranges,
Wind shouts to the grass—
tugs at its roots,
but the earth holds tight
and the grass falls down
and wind boos over it.
Wind whistles the bees—
bees too busy
with taking home stuff out of flowers
won't look back—
bees always going somewhere.
Only Jude and I—
heads over shoulders
watching all roads at one time—
run with the wind,
going to nowhere.
Jude and I
were weeding our garden
when we heard his whip—
must have been a new whip
to cut off dandelion-heads at one swing….
He was the kind of boy you knew when you had Celia….
with nice clothes on and curls
crawling about his collar
like little golden slugs,
and his man was leading his horse.
I wish I hadn't run to meet him….
If you hadn't run to meet him
he mightn't have trod on your garden and said:
Get out of my field you dirty little beggar…
he mightn't have struck you with his whip….
How the daisies stared….
I hate daisies—
stupid white faces—
craning over the grass!
I said It is not your field,
and he struck me again.
But he didn't make me run.
smelled of sweet soap…
he couldn't shake me off,
but his man did….
Funny—how the sky fell down
and turned over and over
like a blue carpet rolling you up,
and the grass caught at your face—
it couldn't have been spiteful—
it must have been saving itself.
Hot road… silly wind playing with your hair….
The road smelled of horses.
I only got up
when I heard a dray.
Mama has sung ba ba black sheep,
and put a chair with a cloth on it
between me and the light.
But the clock keeps saying:
Dirty little beggar,
dirty little beggar….
I will get that boy.
I will pull off his arms and legs
and put him in a box
and hide the box
under the bed….
will he buzz
when I take him out to look at his body
that will have no arms to whip me?
Mama drew my cot to the window
so I can look at the stars.
I will not look at the stars.
There is a black chimney
throwing up sparks
and one tall flame
like gold hair in a blaze….
I know now
what I shall do….
I will set fire to him
and he will burn up into a tall flame—
he will scream into the sky
and sparks will fly out of him—
he will burn and burn…
and his blazing hair
shall light up the world.
Before he hit me— I knew he was going to— I thought about Jude…. I thought if he'd fight… but he shriveled all up… he lay down like a fear.
Mama never knew about Jude. You always wanted to tell her, but somehow you never did. You were afraid she'd smile and say he wasn't real— that he was only a little dream-boy, because the grass didn't fall down under his feet…. He is fading now…. He is just lines… like a drawing…. You can see mama in between. When she moves she rubs some of him out.
Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl
To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author:
"As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits,which be Angels of Light, are augmented not only by the Divine lightof the Sun, but also by our common Wood Fire: and as the CelestialFire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth thesame." -- Cor. Agrippa, Occult Philosophy,
Book I.ch. v.
"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of Storm." EMERSON, The Snow Storm.
The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, --
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd's-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold's pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature's geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, --
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa's leaning miracle.
A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: "Boys, a path!"
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin's wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp's supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse thrust his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The cock his lusty greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt's Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.
All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.
As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, --
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art
The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks' heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: "Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea."
The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where'er it fell
To make the coldness visible.
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons' straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October's wood.
What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! -- with hair as gray
As was my sire's that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, --
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o'er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.
We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o'er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!
We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
"The Chief of Gambia's golden shore."
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery's shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
The languorous sin-sick air, I heard:
"Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of bondage to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave!"
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog's wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper's hut and Indian camp;
Lived o'er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François' hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury's level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar's Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the pot.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.
Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, --
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard's conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon's weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks' black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel's ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley's Journal, old and quaint, --
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! --
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-butt and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,
Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
"Take, eat," he said, "and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham."
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature's unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature's heart so near
That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne's loving view, --
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle's eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i' the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover gray,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason's trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.
Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, --
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love's unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe'er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, --
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The virgin fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.
O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, -- rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one's blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!
As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household bosom lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: --
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where'er I went
With dark eyes full of love's content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June's unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life's late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?
Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle's hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth's college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar's gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation's reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater's keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man's-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,
Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame's winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
'Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.
A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom's young apostles be,
Who, following in War's bloody trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason's monstrous growth,
Made murder pastime, and the hell
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery's lash the freeman's will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor's free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.
Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,
Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will's majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The vixen and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio's Kate,
The raptures of Siena's saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath's surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.
Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna's plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta's rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord's quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where'er her troubled path may be,
The Lord's sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul's debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!
At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull's-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love's contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O'er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.
Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Next morn we wakened with the shout
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O'er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature's subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball's compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells' sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty's call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother's aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer's sight
The Quaker matron's inward light,
The Doctor's mail of Calvin's creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!
So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o'er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood's meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
And daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica's everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti's Mainote Greeks,
A Turk's head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!
Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid'st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that slope to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands' incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century's aloe flowers to-day!
Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling's eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends -- the few
Who yet remain -- shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire's blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Or lilies floating in some pond,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.
HE was a Grecian lad, who coming home
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily
Stood at his galley's prow, and let the foam
Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously,
And holding wave and wind in boy's despite
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and stormy night
Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky,
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear,
And bade the pilot head her lustily
Against the nor'west gale, and all day long
Held on his way, and marked the rowers' time with measured song,
And when the faint Corinthian hills were red
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay,
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head,
And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray,
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen-soled,
And a rich robe stained with the fishes' juice
Which of some swarthy trader he had bought
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse,
And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought,
And by the questioning merchants made his way
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when the labouring day
Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud,
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet
Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat
Watched the young swains his frolic playmates bring
The firstling of their little flock, and the shy shepherd fling
The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang
His studded crook against the temple wall
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang
Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall;
And then the clear-voiced maidens 'gan to sing,
And to the altar each man brought some goodly offering,
A beechen cup brimming with milky foam,
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery
Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb
Dripping with oozy gold which scarce the bee
Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil
Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce and white-tusked
Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid
To please Athena, and the dappled hide
Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade
Had met the shaft; and then the herald cried,
And from the pillared precinct one by one
Went the glad Greeks well pleased that they their simple vows had
And the old priest put out the waning fires
Save that one lamp whose restless ruby glowed
For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyres
Came fainter on the wind, as down the road
In joyous dance these country folk did pass,
And with stout hands the warder closed the gates of polished brass.
Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe,
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine,
And the rose-petals falling from the wreath
As the night breezes wandered through the shrine,
And seemed to be in some entrancèd swoon
Till through the open roof above the full and brimming moon
Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor,
When from his nook upleapt the venturous lad,
And flinging wide the cedar-carven door
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad
And armed for battle! the gaunt Griffin glared
From the huge helm, and the long lance of wreck and ruin flared
Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled
The Gorgon's head its leaden eyeballs rolled,
And writhed its snaky horrors through the shield,
And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold
In passion impotent, while with blind gaze
The blinking owl between the feet hooted in shrill amaze.
The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp
Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen tramp
Of horses smite the waves, and a wild blast
Divide the folded curtains of the night,
And knelt upon the little poop, and prayed in holy fright.
And guilty lovers in their venery
Forgat a little while their stolen sweets,
Deeming they heard dread Dian's bitter cry;
And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats
Ran to their shields in haste precipitate,
Or strained black-bearded throats across the dusky parapet.
For round the temple rolled the clang of arms,
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble fear,
And the air quaked with dissonant alarums
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear,
And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed,
And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from the cavalcade.
Ready for death with parted lips he stood,
And well content at such a price to see
That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood,
The marvel of that pitiless chastity,
Ah! well content indeed, for never wight
Since Troy's young shepherd prince had seen so wonderful a sight.
Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air
Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh,
And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair,
And from his limbs he threw the cloak away,
For whom would not such love make desperate,
And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with hands violate
Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown,
And bared the breasts of polished ivory,
Till from the waist the peplos falling down
Left visible the secret mystery
Which to no lover will Athena show,
The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the bossy hills of snow.
Those who have never known a lover's sin
Let them not read my ditty, it will be
To their dull ears so musicless and thin
That they will have no joy of it, but ye
To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile,
Ye who have learned who Eros is,--O listen yet a-while.
A little space he let his greedy eyes
Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight
Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries,
And then his lips in hungering delight
Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck
He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion's will to check.
Never I ween did lover hold such tryst,
For all night long he murmured honeyed word,
And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed
Her pale and argent body undisturbed,
And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed
His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy breast.
It was as if Numidian javelins
Pierced through and through his wild and whirling brain,
And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins
In exquisite pulsation, and the pain
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning flew.
They who have never seen the daylight peer
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain,
And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear
And worshipped body risen, they for certain
Will never know of what I try to sing,
How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.
The moon was girdled with a crystal rim,
The sign which shipmen say is ominous
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim,
And the low lightening east was tremulous
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn,
Ere from the silent sombre shrine this lover had withdrawn.
Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan,
And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed,
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran
Like a young fawn unto an olive wood
Which in a shady valley by the well-built city stood.
And sought a little stream, which well he knew,
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout
The green and crested grebe he would pursue,
Or snare in woven net the silver trout,
And down amid the startled reeds he lay
Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited for the day.
On the green bank he lay, and let one hand
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly,
And soon the breath of morning came and fanned
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly
The tangled curls from off his forehead, while
He on the running water gazed with strange and secret smile.
And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes,
And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke
Curled through the air across the ripening oats,
And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed
As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy cattle strayed.
And when the light-foot mower went afield
Across the meadows laced with threaded dew,
And the sheep bleated on the misty weald,
And from its nest the waking corn-crake flew,
Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream
And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful could seem,
Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said,
'It is young Hylas, that false runaway
Who with a Naiad now would make his bed
Forgetting Herakles,' but others, 'Nay,
It is Narcissus, his own paramour,
Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can allure.'
And when they nearer came a third one cried,
'It is young Dionysos who has hid
His spear and fawnskin by the river side
Weary of hunting with the Bassarid,
And wise indeed were we away to fly
They live not long who on the gods immortal come to spy.'
So turned they back, and feared to look behind,
And told the timid swain how they had seen
Amid the reeds some woodland God reclined,
And no man dared to cross the open green,
And on that day no olive-tree was slain,
Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair domain.
Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail
Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound
Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail
Hoping that he some comrade new had found,
And gat no answer, and then half afraid
Passed on his simple way, or down the still and silent glade
A little girl ran laughing from the farm
Not thinking of love's secret mysteries,
And when she saw the white and gleaming arm
And all his manlihood, with longing eyes
Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity
Watched him a-while, and then stole back sadly and wearily.
Far off he heard the city's hum and noise,
And now and then the shriller laughter where
The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air,
And now and then a little tinkling bell
As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the mossy well.
Through the grey willows danced the fretful gnat,
The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree,
In sleek and oily coat the water-rat
Breasting the little ripples manfully
Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to bough
Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept across the slough.
On the faint wind floated the silky seeds,
As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass,
The ousel-cock splashed circles in the reeds
And flecked with silver whorls the forest's glass,
Which scarce had caught again its imagery
Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the dragonfly.
But little care had he for any thing
Though up and down the beech the squirrel played,
And from the copse the linnet 'gan to sing
To her brown mate her sweetest serenade,
Ah! little care indeed, for he had seen
The breasts of Pallas and the naked wonder of the Queen.
But when the herdsman called his straggling goats
With whistling pipe across the rocky road,
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes
Boomed through the darkening woods, and seemed to bode
Of coming storm, and the belated crane
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull big drops of rain
Fell on the pattering fig-leaves, up he rose,
And from the gloomy forest went his way
Past sombre homestead and wet orchard-close,
And came at last unto a little quay,
And called his mates a-board, and took his seat
On the high poop, and pushed from land, and loosed the dripping
And steered across the bay, and when nine suns
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold,
And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told
Their dearest secret to the downy moth
That will not fly at noonday, through the foam and surging froth
Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked
As though the lading of three argosies
Were in the hold, and flapped its wings, and shrieked,
And darkness straightway stole across the deep,
Sheathed was Orion's sword, dread Mars himself fled down the steep,
And the moon hid behind a tawny mask
Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean's marge
Rose the red plume, the huge and hornèd casque,
The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe!
And clad in bright and burnished panoply
Athena strode across the stretch of sick and shivering sea!
To the dull sailors' sight her loosened locks
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her feet
Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks,
And marking how the rising waters beat
Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried
To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to windward side.
But he, the over-bold adulterer,
A dear profaner of great mysteries,
An ardent amorous idolater,
When he beheld those grand relentless eyes
Laughed loud for joy, and crying out 'I come'
Leapt from the lofty poop into the chill and churning foam.
Then fell from the high heaven one bright star,
One dancer left the circling galaxy,
And back to Athens on her clattering car
In all the pride of venged divinity
Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank,
And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy lover sank.
And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew
With mocking hoots after the wrathful Queen,
And the old pilot bade the trembling crew
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen
Close to the stern a dim and giant form,
And like a dipping swallow the stout ship dashed through the storm.
And no man dared to speak of Charmides
Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought,
And when they reached the strait Symplegades
They beached their galley on the shore, and sought
The toll-gate of the city hastily,
And in the market showed their brown and pictured pottery.
But some good Triton-god had ruth, and bare
The boy's drowned body back to Grecian land,
And mermaids combed his dank and dripping hair
And smoothed his brow, and loosed his clenching hand,
Some brought sweet spices from far Araby,
And others bade the halcyon sing her softest lullaby.
And when he neared his old Athenian home,
A mighty billow rose up suddenly
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam
Lay diapered in some strange fantasy,
And clasping him unto its glassy breast,
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon a venturous quest!
Now where Colonos leans unto the sea
There lies a long and level stretch of lawn,
The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee
For it deserts Hymettus, and the Faun
Is not afraid, for never through the day
Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd lads at play.
But often from the thorny labyrinth
And tangled branches of the circling wood
The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth
Hurling the polished disk, and draws his hood
Over his guilty gaze, and creeps away,
Nor dares to wind his horn, or--else at the first break of day
The Dyrads come and throw the leathern ball
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent
Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal
For fear of bold Poseidon's ravishment,
And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes,
Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple beard should rise.
On this side and on that a rocky cave,
Hung with the yellow-bell'd laburnum, stands,
Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing wave
Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands,
As though it feared to be too soon forgot
By the green rush, its playfellow,--and yet, it is a spot
So small, that the inconstant butterfly
Could steal the hoarded honey from each flower
Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy
Its over-greedy love,--within an hour
A sailor boy, were he but rude enow
To land and pluck a garland for his galley's painted prow,
Would almost leave the little meadow bare,
For it knows nothing of great pageantry,
Only a few narcissi here and there
Stand separate in sweet austerity,
Dotting the unmown grass with silver stars,
And here and there a daffodil waves tiny scimetars.
Hither the billow brought him, and was glad
Of such dear servitude, and where the land
Was virgin of all waters laid the lad
Upon the golden margent of the strand,
And like a lingering lover oft returned
To kiss those pallid limbs which once with intense fire burned,
Ere the wet seas had quenched that holocaust,
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead,
Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost
Had withered up those lilies white and red
Which, while the boy would through the forest range,
Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal counterchange.
And when at dawn the woodnymphs, hand-in-hand,
Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied
The boy's pale body stretched upon the sand,
And feared Poseidon's treachery, and cried,
And like bright sunbeams flitting through a glade,
Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy ambuscade.
Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be
So dread a thing to feel a sea-god's arms
Crushing her breasts in amorous tyranny,
And longed to listen to those subtle charms
Insidious lovers weave when they would win
Some fencèd fortress, and stole back again, nor thought it sin
To yield her treasure unto one so fair,
And lay beside him, thirsty with love's drouth,
Called him soft names, played with his tangled hair,
And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth
Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid
Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and then, fond renegade,
Returned to fresh assault, and all day long
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy,
And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song,
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy
Who would not with her maidenhood entwine,
Nor knew that three days since his eyes had looked on Proserpine,
Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done,
But said, 'He will awake, I know him well,
He will awake at evening when the sun
Hangs his red shield on Corinth's citadel,
This sleep is but a cruel treachery
To make me love him more, and in some cavern of the sea
Deeper than ever falls the fisher's line
Already a huge Triton blows his horn,
And weaves a garland from the crystalline
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn
The emerald pillars of our bridal bed,
For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral-crownèd head,
We two will sit upon a throne of pearl,
And a blue wave will be our canopy,
And at our feet the water-snakes will curl
In all their amethystine panoply
Of diamonded mail, and we will mark
The mullets swimming by the mast of some storm-foundered bark,
Vermilion-finned with eyes of bossy gold
Like flakes of crimson light, and the great deep
His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold,
And we will see the painted dolphins sleep
Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks
Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures his monstrous flocks.
And tremulous opal-hued anemones
Will wave their purple fringes where we tread
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies
Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck,
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining limbs will deck.'
But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun
With gaudy pennon flying passed away
Into his brazen House, and one by one
The little yellow stars began to stray
Across the field of heaven, ah! then indeed
She feared his lips upon her lips would never care to feed,
And cried, 'Awake, already the pale moon
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave
Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune,
The croaking frogs are out, and from the cave
The night-jar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass,
And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps through the dusky
Nay, though thou art a God, be not so coy,
For in yon stream there is a little reed
That often whispers how a lovely boy
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead,
Who when his cruel pleasure he had done
Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft into the sun.
Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still
With great Apollo's kisses, and the fir
Whose clustering sisters fringe the sea-ward hill
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher
Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen
The mocking eyes of Hermes through the poplar's silvery sheen.
Even the jealous Naiads call me fair,
And every morn a young and ruddy swain
Wooes me with apples and with locks of hair,
And seeks to soothe my virginal disdain
By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love;
But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged dove
With little crimson feet, which with its store
Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore
At day-break, when her amorous comrade had
Flown off in search of berried juniper
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that earliest vintager
Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy
For my poor lips, his joyous purity
And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy
A Dryad from her oath to Artemis;
For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made to kiss,
His argent forehead, like a rising moon
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows,
Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier spouse
For Cytheræa, the first silky down
Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young limbs are strong and
And he is rich, and fat and fleecy herds
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie,
And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly
To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead
Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe on oaten reed.
And yet I love him not, it was for thee
I kept my love, I knew that thou would'st come
To rid me of this pallid chastity;
Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam
Of all the wide Ægean, brightest star
Of ocean's azure heavens where the mirrored planets are!
I knew that thou would'st come, for when at first
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of Spring
Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst
To myriad multitudinous blossoming
Which mocked the midnight with its mimic moons
That did not dread the dawn, and first the thrushes' rapturous tunes
Startled the squirrel from its granary,
And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane,
Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy
Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein
Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood,
And the wild winds of passion shook my slim stem's maidenhood.
The trooping fawns at evening came and laid
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs
And on my topmost branch the blackbird made
A little nest of grasses for his spouse,
And now and then a twittering wren would light
On a thin twig which hardly bare the weigh of such delight.
I was the Attic shepherd's trysting place,
Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay,
And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis chase
The timorous girl, till tired out with play
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair,
And turned, and looked, and fled no more from such delightful snare.
Then come away unto my ambuscade
Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy
For amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify
The dearest rites of love, there in the cool
And green recesses of its farthest depth there is a pool,
The ouzel's haunt, the wild bee's pasturage,
For round its rim great creamy lilies float
Through their flat leaves in verdant anchorage,
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat
Steered by a dragon-fly,--be not afraid
To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely the place were made
For lovers such as we, the Cyprian Queen,
One arm around her boyish paramour,
Strays often there at eve, and I have seen
The moon strip off her misty vestiture
For young Endymion's eyes, be not afraid,
The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret glade.
Nay if thou wil'st, back to the beating brine,
Back to the boisterous billow let us go,
And walk all day beneath the hyaline
Huge vault of Neptune's watery portico,
And watch the purple monsters of the deep
Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen Xiphias leap.
For if my mistress find me lying here
She will not ruth or gentle pity show,
But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow,
And draw the feathered notch against her breast,
And loose the archèd cord, ay, even now upon the quest
I hear her hurrying feet,--awake, awake,
Thou laggard in love's battle! once at least
Let me drink deep of passion's wine, and slake
My parchèd being with the nectarous feast
Which even Gods affect! O come Love come,
Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine azure home.'
Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering trees
Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air
Grew conscious of a God, and the grey seas
Crawled backward, and a long and dismal blare
Blew from some tasselled horn, a sleuth-hound bayed,
And like a flame a barbèd reed flew whizzing down the glade.
And where the little flowers of her breast
Just brake into their milky blossoming,
This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest,
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering,
And ploughed a bloody furrow with its dart,
And dug a long red road, and cleft with wingèd death her heart.
Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry
On the boy's body fell the Dryad maid,
Sobbing for incomplete virginity,
And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead,
And all the pain of things unsatisfied,
And the bright drops of crimson youth crept down her throbbing
Ah! pitiful it was to hear her moan,
And very pitiful to see her die
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known
The joy of passion, that dread mystery
Which not to know is not to live at all,
And yet to know is to be held in death's most deadly thrall.
But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere,
Who with Adonis all night long had lain
Within some shepherd's hut in Arcady,
On team of silver doves and gilded wane
Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar
From mortal ken between the mountains and the morning star,
And when low down she spied the hapless pair,
And heard the Oread's faint despairing cry,
Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air
As though it were a viol, hastily
She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume,
And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and saw their dolorous
For as a gardener turning back his head
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows
With careless scythe too near some flower bed,
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose,
And with the flower's loosened loveliness
Strews the brown mould, or as some shepherd lad in wantonness
Driving his little flock along the mead
Treads down two daffodils which side by side
Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride,
Treads down their brimming golden chalices
Under light feet which were not made for such rude ravages,
Or as a schoolboy tired of his book
Flings himself down upon the reedy grass
And plucks two water-lilies from the brook,
And for a time forgets the hour glass,
Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his way,
And lets the hot sun kill them, even so these lovers lay.
And Venus cried, 'It is dread Artemis
Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty,
Or else that mightier may whose care it is
To guard her strong and stainless majesty
Upon the hill Athenian,--alas!
That they who loved so well unloved into Death's house should pass.
So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl
In the great golden waggon tenderly,
Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl
Just threaded with a blue vein's tapestry
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest.
And then each pigeon spread its milky van,
The bright car soared into the dawning sky,
And like a cloud the aerial caravan
Passed over the Ægean silently,
Till the faint air was troubled with the song
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.
But when the doves had reached their wonted goal
Where the wide stair of orbèd marble dips
Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips
And passed into the void, and Venus knew
That one fair maid the less would walk amid her retinue,
And bade her servants carve a cedar chest
With all the wonder of this history,
Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest
Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky
On the low hills of Paphos, and the faun
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings on till dawn.
Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere
The morning bee had stung the daffodil
With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair
The waking stag had leapt across the rill
And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept
Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their bodies slept.
And when day brake, within that silver shrine
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous,
Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine
That she whose beauty made Death amorous
Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord,
And let Desire pass across dread Charon's icy ford.
In melancholy moonless Acheron,
Far from the goodly earth and joyous day,
Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun
Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May
Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor,
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethæan well
Young Charmides was lying, wearily
He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel,
And with its little rifled treasury
Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream,
And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a
When as he gazed into the watery glass
And through his brown hair's curly tangles scanned
His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass
Across the mirror, and a little hand
Stole into his, and warm lips timidly
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their secret forth into a sigh.
Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw,
And ever nigher still their faces came,
And nigher ever did their young mouths draw
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame,
And longing arms around her neck he cast,
And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath came hot and fast,
And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss,
And all her maidenhood was his to slay,
And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss
Their passion waxed and waned,--O why essay
To pipe again of love too venturous reed!
Enough, enough that Erôs laughed upon that flowerless mead.
Too venturous poesy O why essay
To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings
O'er daring Icarus and bid thy lay
Sleep hidden in the lyre's silent strings,
Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill,
Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned Sappho's golden quill!
Enough, enough that he whose life had been
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame,
Could in the loveless land of Hades glean
One scorching harvest from those fields of flame
Where passion walks with naked unshod feet
And is not wounded,--ah! enough that once their lips could meet
In that wild throb when all existences
Seem narrowed to one single ecstasy
Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress
Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone
Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne
Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed her zone.
Madhur Veena Comment: Who is she? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ....You write good!
Margaret Alice Comment: Beautiful, it stikes as heartfelt words and touches the heart, beautiful sentiments, sorry, I repeat myself, but I am delighted. Your poem is like the trinkets I collect to adorn my personal space, pure joy to read, wonderful! Only a beautiful mind can harbour such sentiments, you have a beautiful mind. I am glad you have found someone that inspires you to such heights and that you share it with us, you make the world a mroe wonderful place.
Margaret Alice Comment: Within the context set by the previous poem, “Cosmic Probe”, the description of a lover’s adoration for his beloved becomes a universal ode sung to the abstract values of love, joy and hope personified by light, colours, fragrance and beauty, qualities the poet assigns to his beloved, thus elevating her to the status of an uplifting force because she brings all these qualities to his attention. The poet recognises that these personified values brings him fulfilment and chose the image of a love relationship to illustrate how this comes about; thus a love poem becomes the vehicle to convey spiritual epiphany.
Margaret Alice Comment: Your words seem to be directed to a divine entity, you seem to be addressing your adoration to a divinity, and it is wonderful to read of such sublime sentiments kindled in a human soul. Mankind is always lifted up by their vision and awareness of divinity, thank you for such pure, clear diction and sharing your awareness of the sublime with us, you have uplifted me so much by this vision you have created!
Margaret Alice Comment: The poet’s words seem to be directed to a divine entity, express adoration to a divinity who is the personification of wonderful qualities which awakens a sense of the sublime in the human soul. An uplifting vision and awareness of uplifting qualities of innocence represented by a beautiful person.
I WENT THERE TO BID HER ADIEU
Kente Lucy Comment: wow great writing, what a way to bid farewell
Margaret Alice Comment: Sensory experience is elevated by its symbolical meaning, your description of the scene shows two souls becoming one and your awareness of the importance of tempory experience as a symbol of the eternal duration of love and companionship - were temporary experience only valid for one moment in time, it would be a sad world, but once it is seen as a symbol of eternal things, it becomes enchanting.
I’M INCOMPLETE WITHOUT YOU
Margaret Alice Comment: You elevate the humnan experience of longing for love to a striving for sublimity in uniting with a beloved person, and this poem is stirring, your style of writing is effective, everything flows together perfectly.
Margaret Alice Comment:
'To a resplendent glow of celestial flow
And two split halves unite never to part.'
Reading your fluent poems is a delight, I have to tear myself away and return to the life of a drudge, but what a treasure trove of jewels you made for the weary soul who needs to contemplate higher ideals from time to time!
IN CELESTIAL WINGS
Margaret Alice Comment: When you describe how you are strengthened by your loved one, it is clear that your inner flame is so strong that you need not fear growing old, your spirit seems to become stronger, you manage to convey this impression by your striking poetry. It is a privilege to read your work.
Obed Dela Cruz Comment: wow.... i remembered will shakespeare.... nice poem!
Margaret Alice Comment: The poet has transcended the barriers of time and space by becoming an image of his beloved and being able to find peace in the joy he confers to his beloved.
'You transcend my limits, transcend my soul, I forget my distress in your thoughts And discover my peace in your joy, For, I’m mere image of you, my beloved.'
Margaret Alice Comment: You are my peace and solace, I know, I am, yours too; A mere flash of your thoughts Enlivens my tired soul And fills me with light, peace and solace, A giant in new world, I become, I rise to divine heights in celestial wings. How I desire to reciprocate To fill you with light and inner strength raise you to divine heights; I must cross over nd hold you in arms, light up your soul, Fill you with strength from my inner core, Wipe away your tears burst out in pure joy How I yearn to instill hope and confidence in you we never part And we shall wait, till time comes right. the flame in my soul always seeks you, you transcend my limits, transcend my soul, I forget my distress in your thoughts And discover my peace in your joy, For, I’m mere image of you, my beloved.
Margaret Alice Comment: As usual, it is the symbolism of making love that is important to me, you clearly depicts the sensual delight, which is fleeting, the enduring aspect of temporary sensory experience lies in its symbolism of unity and inifnite love and read within the context of your previous poems, I think the symbolism is present in this poem also.
Margaret Alice Comment: The symbolism of making love is important, the poem depicts sensual delights, which are fleeting, the enduring aspect of temporary experience lies in its symbolical value of unity and infinite love. Read within the context of the previous poems, the symbolism can be read in this poem also.
SHE SPELLS SIMPLICITY
Sarah Loves Comment: this is awesome
Margaret Alice Comment: Once again you weave the tapestry of the symbolical meaning of her presence in your life and create the context within which sensory experience of love is elevated to the sublime. I repeat myself, I know, but I love these themes.
Margaret Alice Comment: Weaving a tapestry, using a description of lovers to symbolise the presence of love in, creating the context within which sensory experience is elevated to the sublime.
WE DISSOLVED IN THE OTHER
Margaret Alice Comment: Still within context, the poet gives description of sensory love as a symbol of souls united in one goal, eternal love. Humanity is always in danger of separating the playful aspect of lovemaking from its deeper significance. When young, love is the best game their is with no strings attached, as people grow older, they discover how lovemaking becomes a symbol for real affection as loyalty and integrity to a loved one.
Margaret Alice Comment: The scene is very evocative, it could also be the description of sensual love without any other significance than momentary joy, the way young people love, abandoning themselves to physical pleasure without emotional involvement, since young people are on a voyage of discovery and making love is one of the stations along the way. Within the context of this series of poems, I assume the poet wishes to assign an emotional significance to the love he depicts, a love relationship that is meant to last. Very well written, you have done a splendid job.
RHYTHMS OF LIFE
Guillermo Veloso Comment: What a wonderful manifesto. I have been thinking lately of life as a see-saw with our goal the fulcrum. your poem adds clarity to my journey. thank
you for sharing Praveen
I LOVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE
Hasmukh Amathalal Comment: Love sprouts in heart and sits in soul,
Love bounces from the soul to light up loved things,
Love lights steady flame of heavenly bliss
And melts all pride and binds loved ones....ya love bounces from soul to light... truely said... i liked the theme....10
A WALL OF TIME
Rose-marie Mitchell Comment: Nice poem! Nice words! - 'In the womb of deep slumber'.- very poetic.
WE LIVE IN HOPES
Jay greene Comment: amazing is the only word i can think of speechless 10+++++
SHE IS THIRTY, I’M SIXTY
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: This is simple mathematics. Use your lower half (sixty divided by two is equal to thirty) or wait another thirty years for her to become sixty.
BE YOU IN WORDS
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: Good advice, worth following. Will take it to my list, for reference. Thanks for sharing Praveen.10
HIS SMILE FLOODS TREASURE
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: Lucky guy.....................
Sumita Datta Comment: But... it's a recurring strokes... It won't stop...
BYGONES ARE BYGONES
Sumita Datta Comment: Actually, bygones are bygones.. liked your piece of work...
Bonnie Shipman Comment: Praveen, this is very beautiful. The words flow smoothly and finely. In it, I see God's search for man. Even when we would hide ourselves from the living God, He finds us and calls to us. We need only to respond.
Margaret Alice Comment:
'I chose words, I created worlds
To impale you in poetry's net; '
Struck me forcibly - to catch and hold through the power of words...
Bonnie Shipman Comment: I am glad for the expression of this poem. But one question- what of the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit? It is the spirit which holds the most beauty.
I see music in his hands.
I see eloquence in her mouth.
I see dancing in his feet.
I see understanding in her eyes.
I see prayer in he knees.
I see giving in her arms.
I see compassion in his shoulders.
I see love in their eyes.
I see God in their soul.
Margaret Alice Comment: 'makes sorrow sweet and excess joy bitter
To guide the life through a healthy rich path
Of eternal peace and contentment; '
Eternal, the magic word, take sweetness from joy to sweeten sorrow...
Margaret Alice Comment: A cosmic scope, the speaker becomes a symbol of the dark earth [body] lying in wait for the power of light [spirit] to find and fill it with life and joy. The reader can find several symbols in the poem, find the image of imprisoned lover waiting to be found by the beloved who seeks him out in his despondency and brings hope and joy to his soul. the soul keeps seeking the physical body because it is home, allowing it to interact with other aspects of reality – or infinity. The lover and his beloved becomes a symbol of the unity between spirit and soul. It is a pleasure to come upon a poem that allows the reader scope to speculate in this way.
HER SWEET SOUL NEVER HURTS ANY
Margaret Alice Comment: The poet personifies the qualities of love, compassion, humility, upliftment, righteousness, as a “queen” that reigns over him and controls his actions. He uses the description of adoration for a beloved as a symbol to illustrate his relationship with these qualities that he admires so much. He assigns these admirable virtues to a powerful being who has the ability to reign over him.
Margaret Alice Comment: The unity aspired to and attained in embracing a beloved can be seen symbolise the eternity of love – memories and thoughts are important as ties that bind the poet to the beloved – within the context of this series of poems the beloved is the personification of man’s higher aspirations. When memories and thoughts are lost, love remains and love is symbolised by unity.
IN NATURE’S CELESTIAL TIE
Margaret Alice Comment: 'I live in her, and she, in me, indivisible ever, '
A beautiful depiction of love and hope.
MY SELFLESS ANGEL
Margaret Alice Comment: 'She found her joy I could not give her In my barren shadow, sadly bleak and cold.'
What a strange poem, it can be interpreted in so many ways, within the context of these series, it seems that the virtues personified by the angel would not desert the poet even when he refused to embrace them wholly - I think.
SOUL BOUND TO SOUL
Margaret Alice Comment: 'We know we are one and destined to blend.'
'But, comes our time, all is worth of it.'
Now this is positive, what a great exmaple for the discouraged and tired seeker, keep the faith and all is worth it - great words, inspiring, lovely.
Margaret Alice Comment:
'Oh, how a thing of beauty, breeds that much pain!
How gentle love throttles joy, brings misfortunes! '
I always goes with Terry Pratchett's interpretations when confronted with sad tales like these - just as Romeo and Juliet should have checked for pulse before killing themselves, these characters should have acted in a different way - seems like Pratchett and I refuse to accept sad endings as inevitable - I never shall. Quantum physics says the universe splits every time a decision is made and quite the reverse takes place somewhere else - the universe split and in a parallel universe these two lovers are living happily!
SHE IS PURE GOLD
Margaret Alice Comment: “Wisdom” calling to foolish men and women mentioned to in Proverbs, the Bible, seems to be delineated in this description. Wisdom always seemed to be an aspect of beauty, because beauty without wisdom would lack harmony, balance, truth, joy, peace – this description seems to refer to the highest ideals men aspire to. Lovely way to put it.
WHILE TIME COMES RIGHT
Margaret Alice Comment:
'Yet, a distant glimmer deep in my heart
Distinctly whispers that all is not lost,
Everything will be right while time comes right.'
That's it, hope and trust always, it gives meaning to human lives and best of all, it creates a positive ending, if you don't waver, your wishes will be fulfilled.
SHE FLOODS MY SOUL
Margaret Alice Comment: 'She is the precious jewel I sought all my life.'
This reminds the reader of the parable in the New Testament, when a man found a precious jewel in a piece of land, he buried it again and went away and sold all his possessions and bought that piece of land to keep that jewel for himself.
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: ‘I’m “Simply Yours”’ a Romantic poem the …vibe spinning tangentially into horizon and picturesque…10
Margaret Alice Comment: You are my world, my light, You are my fulfillment, You are my reason, my meaning, You are my cause and target, Wherefore I move all through life.
Hasmukh Amathalal Comment:
You are my world, my light,
You are my fulfillment,
You are my reason, my meaning,
You are my cause and target,
Wherefore I move all through life............open and frank admission I am yours' so beautifully interwove3nwith clear heart and it has moved me with its words.. lovely sir.....10
GULF OF LIFE AND DEATH
Cyanic Orchid Comment: nice expressions........
DIVINE IS MY STATE
MaKayla Straight Comment: WOW! ! ! GOOD JOB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Margaret Alice Comment:
“You fill me with such wealth that I, whether high or low,
Need no worldly grace or scope unto me ever flow.”
Ooo, wish all love was like this! I am paid to read dark letters of despair and your uplifting lines is taking me on a journey far away into a new universe of light, love, music and verse. You sing beautifully.
Margaret Alice Comment: 'With an ocean of emotions churning between.'
The universal human condition, yet we all live on surface, we never probe the ice-floes beneath...
TEMPLE OF WORDS
Margaret Alice Comment:
You bring huge waves in the ocean of soul
That washes the shores of heart and mind
With melodious tunes and passions' foams;
While low tides set on the soul's trough,
All go still and disturbingly calm.
This is striking rhythm and melody, oceans of soul and passion's foams, great imagery...
THE TOUCH OF SPRING
Margaret Alice Comment: Comfort, gentle care, warmth - this is real love, wonderful.
Margar et Alice Comment: 'Make life a vaulting heaven, this world, a joy's holy shrine.'
'rousing pleasures' are fleeting, can be a trap, leaves the reveller feeling empty, but the last line is wonderful, the discovery of infinity in the here and now - that is something to dream about.
MY ELUSIVE PRETTY WIFE
Margaret Alice Comment: 'To seek, search and discover my elusive pretty wife. '
What a delightful ode to your wife! I am reading ice-cold words in official grey documents ashen with meaninglessness, therefore it is a delight to follow a series of poems in which a poet delineates love in spiritual terms and emotions are more important than rational logic.
Margaret Alice Comment: What a lovely way to end the official day, words that remind of spiritual truths and joys in feelings and uplifting ideas!
Margaret Alice Comment: it is very difficult to read grey words after these beautiful visions
Margaret Alice Comment: you know not what you are for me, how deep and wide you fill my self,
I LOVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE
Margaret Alice Comment: 'Love is pure bliss, Love is pure feel'
thank you for this reminder that life is bigger than the small official space here and now...
Margaret Alice Comment:
'I love you for what you are,
Not for what you ought to be,
Nor for what you some day is;
You, as you are now, here and near, '
Unconditional love and acceptance, no ifs and buts and demands, to love because, not in spite of.
RISE AGAIN IN THE EAST
Margaret Alice Comment: “on immortal mortal face”
I love juxtapositions like this!
“unite in immortal love’s bond”
That is the only kind of love there is, immortal – I agree.
Margaret Alice Comment:
'You made this life a dulcet music,
A passionate painting, a sensuous poetry.'
You felt this, or imagined it, the ability to feel so much and dream of such visions, it has me in thrall...
Margaret Alice Comment:
You made this life a dulcet music,
A passionate painting, a sensuous poetry.
You dyed my heart in everlasting beauty,
You dyed my soul in everlasting joy;
Margaret Alice Comment: Enormous scope of your visions… bigger than anything I have ever thought about...
Margaret Alice Comment: Shades and hues of infinite joy It is a great world of divine joy Where divinity spreads in fluid opulence, Where love cries in unbound joy, sacred temple Where gods come to worship the queen Who created the world with her pristine charm And lord over it all over since then; The hymns of love and dim temple light Come across to reach only graceful souls. No dusts and smokes of forlorn years Ever ravage her pristine form, Ever disturb her unworldly love, She lives and lives forever and ever in the old world, in all new worlds too.
SHE SMILES FROM A MYSTIC LAND
Margaret Alice Comment: 'Where we dwell in immortal rest.'
Forever and immortal - concepts that give meaning to life.
IN COSMIC CYCLE
Margaret Alice Comment: 'In timeless love that blends our hearts.'
Key word: Timeless - the temporary world is but a window on the eternal timeless spirit that lives forever.
IN CELESTIAL RHYTHM
Margaret Alice Comment: 'She lives in me forever in the shine of my soul, '
'In every streak of love I find anywhere.'
Perfect, love as eternal, every instance of love is one more channel to the infinite source of love, one instance of love opened awareness to all other manifestations of love.
I HEAR ALL DAY YOUR LITTLE WHISPERS
Margaret Alice Comment: ', you are unbound joy, inner peace, sheer harmony, my beauty, my truth and essence.'
'nothing I find harder than knowing you'
So many of us share your quest for mental peace and spiritual joy!
Margaret Alice Comment: 'find her lurking in all splendid things,
In all noble deeds, trusts and all human needs, '
Once again the theme of finding the constant wonder within changing things, finding the eternal beauty within the stream of life ever-changing - holding the eternal within.
I’M JUST NOUGHT WITHOUT HER
Lady Grace Comment: so nice..this poem talks a lot...well appreciated...very nice dear....smileeee
Margaret Alice Comment: “immortal flame of my soul / timeless together / endless bliss / endless future”
This is a language that stirs the soul, uncovers temporality to show the eternal spirit burning wondrously behind short-lived manifestations, the symbols of eternal consciousness.
Margaret Alice Comment: Sarva Karana Karanam, Cause of all causes, Root of all roots, Source of all sources is she.
Yoonoos Peerbocus Comment: you control each stanza up to the theme/ nice write
ALONG THE VENNELS OF YORE
Margaret Alice Comment: 'And held me fast to her for all ages to come.'
Love enduring forever - that is the only true love, the only reality, it lives forever, it is eternity.
ACROSS THE GULF
Margaret Alice Comment: “endless dance, a world of everlasting love and trust”
“endless” and “everlasting”, words that hold more charm than any other in every universe
Margaret Alice Comment: ”Unknown hopes Deepen passions and strengthen bonds.
love does not wait for time's swing, But bides on steadfast patient growth”
Love transcends time’s pendulum and instead of withering, keeps growing, across all intervening space, across the span of time.
Margaret Alice Comment: She sprang from time's tapestry, Like full moon, And streamed soft light all over him; She blew over his heart's barrenness Like the gust of westerly wind do to clouds And poured sprightly rain of joy.A skyward climb discovers descend, ”Unknown hopes Deepen passions and strengthen bonds. love does not wait for time's swing, But bides on steadfast patient growth”
My comment: Yes, love transcends time’s pendulum and instead of withering, keeps growing, across all intervening space.
PARTINGS MEANT TO DEEPEN BOND
Margaret Alice Comment: “While soul is on focus, no labours count, No obstacles haunt, no hurdles mount.”
Having a purpose and led by an ideal, no amount of sacrifice can hold us back, obstacles shrink away under inner power.
“Inseparably we are spliced in endless heavenly field,
Partings we suffer meant perchance to deepen bond.”
When the magnificent effect of temporary pain is understood and meekly submitted to, the pain creates a space for more joy and leaves no scar – we grow stronger at the places where life has broken us, and discover that pain changes us into glowing sticks if we let it!
Margaret Alice Comment: Intense like sun and soft like pure gold,
She stirred my soul to my singular goal
FROM UNKNOWN HORIZONS
Margaret Alice Comment: Perfect description of the soul becoming one with the all, although painful swelling of passion is stilled, the joy of inner experience as oneness is richer with feeling and experience than the physical world ever offered, and giving up the movement of passion is no sacrifice, but the door to a new horizon of celestial joy never experienced before.
“And absorbs me head-on like water on sand;
All passions still, but pure streaks of joy
And I glow as light in communion with light
I see with inner eyes and feel with inner mind;
The soul that drinks the divine glow,
No more sinks back to the hell of black passions.”
Margaret Alice Comment: The reason I love this poem is because it gives hope for transcendence into joy, not away from it. “And absorbs me head-on like water on sand; All passions still, but pure streaks of joy And I glow as light in communion with light I see with inner eyes and feel with inner mind; The soul that drinks the divine glow, No more sinks back to the hell of black passions.”
BLOOMED IN ENDLESS JOY
Margaret Alice Comment: 'Hearts seared in pain for each,
Now bloomed in endless joy; '
Wonderful, the steady, loyal heart recompensed, and even the journey only, the challenge, holds joy indescribable, love is its own recompense, if it also brings the travellers to their beloveds, just so much more beautiful!
Margaret Alice Comment:
'What an immortal joy, you carried on you!
You came and you went, but the light persists all over.
the streams of immortal light, '
This is true love, when the appearance of the loved one changes the lover forever, the joy that was brought is immortal, the light persists even after the person left - the change is eternal and the lovers will be reunited after death for ever and ever. This is the only vision of love that makes life livable - and beautiful.
I KNOW HER
Margaret Alice Comment:
'For eternal commune of souls,
In ecstatic speck of continual 'now', '
Heidegger - in following Zen-Buddhism - experience wihout interpretation - phenomenology - eternal unity and ecstasy as one big eternal present tense - THIS is the perfect spiritual ideal, love becomes godly, the only kind of love to strive for, the dream and ideal...
Margaret Alice Comment: An epic tale of cosmic dimensions...
'Her easy marking him shook deep his soul;
Like life to sunshine, soul to sweet notes,
Her heart danced wild in his warm presence; '
Margaret Alice Comment:
“Trust me”, cried I, “trust the divine designs,
I swear on my lovely Goddess, destiny shall shine bright;
All fears and tears just meant to deepen our mutual bonds;
Nothing shall stop me from bonding to my pretty queen,
Margaret Alice Comment: Only shallow eyes do see me in cage.
MY MORTAL EYES
Margaret Alice Comment: How much I desire to take you in arms And hold you tight to my yearning heart! Tell me where you hide from my mortal eyes; I reach far worlds and find you there
Margaret Alice Comment:
She is my rhythm, the perfect rhyme,
The cosmic dance that bounces worth.
The world is a desert without her presence,
A void is life, devoid of essence;
The spin of time, a whine of hollowness,
Cool and dull, whimpers of shallowness.
Booklover Tv Lounger Comment: Pretty cool. Sounds epic in my opinion, like it should belong to the beggining of an awesome movie or game. Great job! Keep it up
Abhinav Baruah Comment: Thank you
Beautiful fragrance and positive vibrant.....
Abhinav Baruah Comment: 'Man loses to gain,
Falls to rise and bends to standup'
..... Beauty of living.....
Indira Renganathan Comment: The nature is a clean mirror of the soul
Where the soul itself reflects for real,
Bright like the sun, yet soft like the moon
And refreshingly pure like the morning dews.
Amazing observation and study on nature....great
SHINE LIKE THE SUN
Margaret Alice Comment: The poem reminded me of the highest challenge for people who want to shine like the sun: ….. The ideal is to realize one’s full potential without infringing on the rights and happiness of other people. ….. The one who truly shines can love and accept unconditionally without expecting anything in return, ….. – who simply adores and loves the world and its people for the pure reason of the glory of their existence.
Margaret Alice Comment: This exhortation rings beautiful ….. it should be directed to every human being everywhere, …..
“Be different, be the jewel of the crown,
Shine like the sun all over the heaven;
Stand up above the mediocre din
And show how high you are deep within; ”
Margaret Alice Comment: ….. the poet approaching the goddess and asking her to be his muse and share herself, her own inspiring mind and feelings with him, to inspire his poetry so that he can write about the sublime. …..
“Lo, poetry surfaces from discontented soul.
The outside world in the inner cauldron
Sublimates to hot soothing vapour
That lingers in soul like poetic notes;
Trivials of the world, while churned in self,
Coagulate soft and sweet precipitates
That raise this world to enlightenment”,
the poet is addressing his own soul and his own muse, …..
What can I hold to impale you in words,
You wait on the side-stage to dance to tunes
To enter centre-stage, to create new realms,
Build bridges to the mind,
….. it is beautifully written containing all the rhythms and rhymes,
“You pour live words of myriad hues
In forms and shapes and rhythms and depths” the poet is dreaming about.
WINNOCKS OF BEAUTY
Margaret Alice Comment: “as conceived by a poet in a great epic; ” what an overpowering beholder ….. to write an epic song like this, ….. celestial ideal, ….. style is a lovely, alliterative music and ….. take the reader on a heavenly journey –“where desires and peace rise hand in hand, where the heat and light of enlightenment grips the soul glows in divine passions.”
Margaret Alice Comment:
“The road is wild, but a pleasant pursuit
To walk, head held high, in proud respect,
Though hungry beasts with bloody teeth
Wait to pounce and tear her Self.
…..poem brings all the elements of self-respect together that make life worthwhile. The only beasts who can tear self-respect is the subject’s own vision and decision, nobody else’s criticism, opinions or action can ever touch self-respect – it is a citadel, a safe sanctuary, and the source of love – of self and everything else.
Margaret Alice Comment:
The Buddha found his final solace in flight and passivity, the end of all change.
“In nirvana he found the supreme tool;
He attained awareness, he sought all his life;
Gouthama, the Sakyamuni, found abstinence
The cure for all the pain and sorrow.”
”He suffered for all, sacrificed all,
To find the path of deliverance;
He sought and lit the spiritual light
That illumed and liberated self and world
And cast gentle rays on the human race.”
The Buddha gave his life to help those who need to follow the road of sorrow to its very end and attain sainthood – a wonderful thing.
Margaret Alice Comment:
”We partake in a mysterious game,
Where as mere tools, we play the game,
Though inside it, nowhere belong.”
I have great respect for all who share your sentiments and feel the alienation implied by these statements.
THOSE CAREFREE DAYS
Margaret Alice Comment:
“the world was a huge playground then,
but, trust and love filled my world;
the carefree days did light my spirit”
The poet creates a picture of a perfect childhood, an idyllic picture ….
Margaret Alice Comment: Inspiration and ideal personified as a woman, which in turn can be read as the personification of the subconscious also –
Margaret Alice Comment: Theme of inspiration personified as a woman: Together “Blue Beauty and “Poetic Inspiration” form a wonderful whole and the personification of ….. Muse, ascribing sensory experience and inner feeling to the experience, makes it exciting and provocative – thank you for wording your ideas in this way!
LIFE AND COSMOS
Margaret Alice Comment: Thank you for writing a poem about life and its meaning.
“Life is a speck of light
In the womb of infinite darkness,
Life is a chance movement
In the ocean of ceaseless stillness.
Life is a celestial pinhole,
Where matter rocks in endless cycle”
Thank you for offering an opportunity to ponder these things.
I NEVER REACH YOU
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Indeed your poetic affect will ‘cynosure’ you … weather off … is just wreathing in … Excellent emotive poem... thro’ and thro’ vibe...oscillating…
Ms. Nivedita UK
Dilwyn Bowen Comment: Excellent piece of writing. Your pride and sadness come through with great skill. Must give this a ten and a favourite read.
Margaret Alice Comment: What a lovely way to describe finding an ideal, personifying the ideal as a woman and filling the poem with concrete images and enabling the reader to interact with the poem.
Venkatesh Ram Comment: marvellous.unguided it seems but in reality everything has a cyclic life
Milica Franchi de Luri Comment: 'Life is an ocean of infinite waves' What a lovely metaphor...
Resten Swondo Comment: That befall in grotesque forms
Beyond reason’s confines
beyond reason, there is beauty. for love knows know reason as any man with two good eyes will tell you.
Interesting lyrical power...
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: Rich in metaphor, very elaborate, and thought provoking.10 from me, Kumar.
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: How far should I sail to touch the shore of dreams?
........Nice opening sentence.
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: Long reading. The last stanza summs up.
Is It Poetry Comment: These are...
some of the wisest words
i have come to hear...
Fighting is so useless..
wise fight for family, child, country
and reward of labors...from thief...
Sadiqullah Khan Comment: Thought and knowledge. Well explained.10
Niyas Jamal Comment: jai ho! ! ! ! jai ho! ! ! ! jai ho! ! ! ! jai ho! ! ! !
SHE SPELLS SIMPLICITY
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Wonderful portraying of femininity in various tones and tunes ….svelte supple lissome limber…
Yeah we women are like that…and look for cooperation from all….this poem aesthetically sounds like: Glory Unto Women …thanks for this tribute-type poem especially when the aura and aroma of World Woman’s Day still oscillating …spreading noetic message … enjoyed by all heart…
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Amazing…spellbound…full of wisdom…gleaming glittering with all noble thoughts… Finish is ‘We ride the tides of ruthless time/In timeless love that blends our hearts. ‘Ruthless time can’t shackle us where Love is the propelling force… We stay anchored in the sanctuary of Love. Finest diction and plenty of food for contemplation and deeply…10+
IN CELESTIAL RHYTHM
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Sir to me it is narrative poem rich in metaphor ambience and spilling vibes of emotions. Who she was? Indeed a poetic riddle poets’ love to keep inside …allow readers to ponder and find the answer…and your crafting is likewise… ‘Lay still and breathless, alas, in endless sleep... ‘gush of gosh… well it’s a part of poetry…thanks for sharing. Voted 10
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Magnificent chant soliloquizing with the All Highest. The canvas is unfathomable but your vibe outstretched max to cover in allness and fullness… you’ve made a free to and fro travel with ‘You and me and I ‘
Finally consecrated yourself ‘And spur you to the probe/By the sheer strength of our bond. ‘ Excellent poetic experience for me and learning …than you very much for such a great poem… Voted 10
SHE IS PURE GOLD
Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK Comment: Your poem reminds me great Swami Vivekananda’s opinion: Unless she [read women] are respected and adored no nation can progress. Here I find you’ve beautifully followed [might be unknowingly] the same thing… being a woman please don’t think it’s a gender bias I’m favoring for… it’s because of my great country India where I originated…that genotype working subconsciously… Its wonderful poem and enjoyed and cherished thro’ and thru…
The Columbiad: Book III
Actions of the Inca Capac. A general invasion of his dominions threatened by the mountain savages. Rocha, the Inca's son, sent with a few companions to offer terms of peace. His embassy. His adventure with the worshippers of the volcano. With those of the storm, on the Andes. Falls in with the savage armies. Character and speech of Zamor, their chief. Capture of Rocha and his companions. Sacrifice of the latter. Death song of Azonto. War dance. March of the savage armies down the mountains to Peru. Incan army meets them. Battle joins. Peruvians terrified by an eclipse of the sun, and routed. They fly to Cusco. Grief of Oella, supposing the darkness to be occasioned by the death of Rocha. Sun appears. Peruvians from the city wall discover Roch an altar in the savage camp. They march in haste out of the city and engage the savages. Exploits of Capac. Death of Zamor. Recovery of Rocha, and submission of the enemy.
Now twenty years these children of the skies
Beheld their gradual growing empire rise.
They ruled with rigid but with generous care,
Diffused their arts and sooth'd the rage of war,
Bade yon tall temple grace their favorite isle,
The mines unfold, the cultured valleys smile,
Those broad foundations bend their arches high,
And rear imperial Cusco to the sky;
Wealth, wisdom, force consolidate the reign
From the rude Andes to the western main.
But frequent inroads from the savage bands
Lead fire and slaughter o'er the labor'd lands;
They sack the temples, the gay fields deface,
And vow destruction to the Incan race.
The king, undaunted in defensive war,
Repels their hordes, and speeds their flight afar;
Stung with defeat, they range a wider wood,
And rouse fresh tribes for future fields of blood.
Where yon blue ridges hang their cliffs on high,
And suns infulminate the stormful sky,
The nations, temper'd to the turbid air,
Breathe deadly strife, and sigh for battle's blare;
Tis here they meditate, with one vast blow,
To crush the race that rules the plains below.
Capac with caution views the dark design,
Learns from all points what hostile myriads join.
And seeks in time by proffer'd leagues to gain
A bloodless victory, and enlarge his reign.
His eldest hope, young Rocha, at his call,
Resigns his charge within the temple wall;
In whom began, with reverend forms of awe,
The functions grave of priesthood and of law,
In early youth, ere yet the ripening sun
Had three short lustres o'er his childhood run,
The prince had learnt, beneath his father's hand,
The well-framed code that sway'd the sacred land;
With rites mysterious served the Power divine,
Prepared the altar and adorn'd the shrine,
Responsive hail'd, with still returning praise,
Each circling season that the God displays,
Sooth'd with funereal hymns the parting dead,
At nuptial feasts the joyful chorus led;
While evening incense and the morning song
Rose from his hand or trembled on his tongue.
Thus form'd for empire ere he gain'd the sway,
To rule with reverence and with power obey,
Reflect the glories of the parent Sun,
And shine the Capac of his future throne,
Employed his docile years; till now from far
The rumor'd leagues proclaim approaching war;
Matured for active scenes he quits the shrine,
To aid in council or in arms to shine.
Amid the chieftains that the court compose,
In modest mien the stripling pontiff rose,
With reverence bow'd, conspicuous o'er the rest,
Approach'd the throne, and thus the sire addrest:
Great king of nations, heaven-descended sage,
Thy second heir has reach'd the destined age
To take these priestly robes; to his pure hand
I yield them pure, and wait thy kind command.
Should foes invade, permit this arm to share
The toils, the triumphs, every chance of war;
For this dread conflict all our force demands,
In one wide field to whelm the brutal bands,
Pour to the mountain gods their wonted food,
And save thy realms from future leagues of blood.
Yet oh, may sovereign mercy first ordain
Propounded compact to the savage train!
I'll go with terms of peace to spread thy sway,
And teach the blessings of the God of day.
The sire return'd: My great desire you know,
To shield from slaughter and preserve the foe,
In bands of concord all their tribes to bind,
And live the friend and guardian of mankind.
Should strife begin, thy youthful arm shall share
The toils of glory thro the walks of war;
But o'er their hills to seek alone the foes,
To gain their confidence or brave their blows,
Bend their proud souls to reason's voice divine,
Claims hardier limbs and riper years than thine.
Yet one of heavenly race the task requires,
Whose mystic rites control the solar fires;
So the sooth'd Godhead proves to faithless eyes
His love to man, his empire of the skies.
Some veteran chief, in those rough labors tried,
Shall aid thee on, and go thy faithful guide;
O'er dreary heights thy sinking limbs sustain.
Teach the dark wiles of each insidious train,
Thro all extremes of life thy voice attend,
In counsel lead thee, or in arms defend.
And three firm youths, thy chosen friends, shall go
To learn the climes and meditate the foe;
That wars of future years their skill may find,
To serve the realm and save the savage kind.
Rise then, my son, first partner of my fame,
With early toils to build thy sacred name;
In high behest, for his own legate known,
Proclaim the bounties of our sire the Sun.
Tell how his fruits beneath our culture rise,
His stars, how glorious, gem our cloudless skies;
And how to us his hand hath kindly given
His peaceful laws, the purest grace of heaven,
With power to widen his terrestrial sway,
And give our blessings where he gives the day.
Yet, should the stubborn nations still prepare
The shaft of slaughter for the barbarous war,
Tell them we know to tread the crimson plain,
And God's own children never yield to man.
But ah, my child, with steps of caution go,
The ways are hideous, and enraged the foe;
Blood stains their altars, all their feasts are blood,
Death their delight, and darkness reigns their God;
Tigers and vultures, storms and earthquakes share
Their rites of worship and their spoils of war.
Shouldst thou, my Rocha, tempt too far their ire,
Should those dear relics feed a murderous fire,
Deep sighs would rend thy wretched mother's breast,
The pale Sun sink in clouds of darkness drest,
Thy sire and mournful nations rue the day
That drew thy steps from these sad walls away.
Yet go; tis virtue calls; and realms unknown,
Won by these works, may bless thy future throne;
Millions of unborn souls in time may see
Their doom reversed, and owe their peace to thee,
Deluded sires, with murdering hands, no more
Feed fancied demons with their children's gore,
But, sway'd by happier sceptres, here behold
The rites of freedom and the shrines of gold.
Be wise, be mindful of thy realm and throne;
God speed thy labors and preserve my son!
Soon the glad prince, in robes of white array'd,
Call'd his attendants and the sire obey'd.
A diamond broad, in burning gold imprest,
Display'd the sun's bright image on his breast;
A pearl-dropt girdle bound his waist below,
And the white lautu graced his lofty brow.
They journey'd forth, o'ermarching far the mound
That flank'd the kingdom on its Andean bound;
Ridge after ridge thro vagrant hordes they past,
Where each new tribe seem'd wilder than the last;
To all they preach and prove the solar sway,
And climb fresh mountains on their tedious way.
At length, as thro disparting clouds they rise,
And hills above them still obstruct the skies,
While a dead calm o'er all the region stood?
And not a leaf could fan its parent wood,
Sudden a strange portentous noise began;
The birds fled wild, the beasts for shelter ran;
Slow, sullen, loud, with deep astounding blare,
Swell the strong tones of subterranean war;
Behind, before, beneath them groans the ground,
Earth heaves and labors with the shuddering sound;
Columns of smoke, that cap the rumbling height,
Roll reddening far thro heaven, and choke the light;
From tottering steeps descend their cliffs of snow,
The mountains reel, the valleys rend below;
The headlong streams forget their usual round,
And shrink and vanish in the gaping ground.
The sun descends; but night recals in vain
Her silent shades, to recommence her reign;
The bursting mount gapes high, a sudden glare
Coruscates wide, till all the purpling air
Breaks into flame, and wheels and roars and raves
And wraps the welkin in its folding waves;
Light sailing cinders, thro its vortex driven,
Stream high and brighten to the midst of heaven;
And, following slow, full floods of boiling ore
Swell, swoop aloft and thro the concave roar.
Torrents of molten rocks, on every side,
Lead o'er the shelves of ice their fiery tide;
Hills slide before them, skies around them burn,
Towns sink beneath and heaving plains upturn;
O'er many a league the flaming deluge hurl'd,
Sweeps total nations from the staggering world.
Meanwhile, at distance thro the livid light,
A busy concourse met their wondering sight;
The prince drew near; where lo! an altar stood,
Rude in its form, and fill'd with burning wood;
Wrapt in the flames a youth expiring lay,
And the fond father thus was heard to pray:
Receive, O dreadful Power, from feeble age,
This last pure offering to thy sateless rage;
Thrice has thy vengeance on this hated land
Claim'd a dear infant from my yielding hand;
Thrice have those lovely lips the victim prest,
And all the mother torn that tender breast;
When the dread duty stifled every sigh,
And not a tear escaped her beauteous eye.
Our fourth and last now meets the fatal doom;
Groan not, my child, thy God remands thee home;
Attend once more, thou dark infernal Name,
From yon far streaming pyramid of flame;
Snatch from his heaving flesh the blasted breath.
Sacred to thee and all the fiends of death;
Then in thy hall, with spoils of nations crown'd,
Confine thy walks beneath the rending ground;
No more on earth the embowel'd flames to pour,
And scourge my people and my race no more.
Thus Rocha heard; and to the trembling crowd
Turn'd the bright image of his beaming God.
The afflicted chief, with fear and grief opprest,
Beheld the sign, and thus the prince addrest:
From what far land, O royal stranger, say,
Ascend thy wandering steps this nightly way?
From plains like ours, by holy demons fired?
Have thy brave people in the flames expired?
And hast thou now, to stay the whelming flood,
No son to offer to the furious God?
From happier lands I came, the prince returns,
Where no red flaming flood the concave burns,
No furious God bestorms our soil and skies,
Nor yield our hands the bloody sacrifice;
But life and joy the Power delights to give,
And bids his children but rejoice and live.
Thou seest thro heaven the day-dispensing Sun
In living radiance wheel his golden throne,
O'er earth's gay surface send his genial beams,
Force from yon cliffs of ice the vernal streams;
While fruits and flowers adorn the cultured field,
And seas and lakes their copious treasures yield;
He reigns our only God. In him we trace
The friend, the father of our happy race.
Late the lone tribes, on those unlabor'd shores,
Ran wild and served imaginary Powers;
Till he, in pity, taught their feuds to cease,
Devised their laws, and fashion'd all for peace.
My sacred parents first the reign began,
Sent from his courts to guide the paths of man,
To plant his fruits, to manifest his sway,
And give their blessings where he gives the day.
The sachem proud replied: Thy garb and face
Proclaim thy lineage of superior race;
And our progenitors, no less than thine,
Sprang from a God, and own a birth divine.
From that sky-scorching mount, on floods of flame,
In elder times my great forefathers came;
There dwells the Sire, and from his dark abode
Oft claims, as now, the tribute of a God.
This victim due when willing mortals pay,
His terrors lessen and his fires decay;
While purer sleet regales the mountain air,
And our glad hosts are fired for fiercer war.
Yet know, dread chief, the pious youth rejoin'd,
Some one prime Power produced all human kind:
Some Sire supreme, whose ever-ruling soul
Creates, preserves, and regulates the whole.
That Sire supreme must roll his radiant eye
Round the wide earth and thro the boundless sky;
That all their habitants, their gods and men,
May rise unveil'd beneath his careful ken.
Could thy dark fiend, that hides his blind abode,
And cauldrons in his cave that fiery flood,
Yield the rich fruits that distant nations find?
Or praise or punish or behold mankind?
But when my God, resurging from the night,
Shall gild his chambers with the morning light,
By mystic rites he'll vindicate his throne,
And own thy servant for his duteous son.
Meantime, the chief replied, thy cares releast,
Rest here the night and share our scanty feast;
Which, driven in hasty rout, our train supplied,
When trembling earth foretold the boiling tide.
They fared, they rested; till with lucid horn
All-cheering Phosphor led the lively morn;
The prince arose, an altar rear'd in haste,
And watch'd the splendors of the reddening east.
As o'er the mountain flamed the sun's broad eye,
He call'd the host, his holy rites to try;
Then took the loaves of maize, the bounties brake,
Gave to the chief, and bade them all partake;
The hallow'd relics on the pile he placed,
With tufts of flowers the simple offering graced,
Held to the sun the image from his breast,
Whose glowing concave all the God exprest;
O'er the dried leaves the rays concentred fly,
And thus his voice ascends the listening sky:
O thou, whose splendors kindle heaven with fire.
Great Soul of nature, man's immortal Sire,
If e'er my father found thy sovereign grace,
Or thy blest will ordain'd the Incan race,
Give these lorn tribes to learn thy awful name,
Receive this offering, and the pile inflame;
So shall thy laws o'er wider bounds be known,
And earth's whole race be happy as thy own.
Thus pray'd the prince; the focal flames aspire,
The mute beholders tremble and retire,
Gaze on the miracle, full credence own,
And vow obedience to the sacred Sun.
The legates now their farther course descried,
A young cazique attending as a guide,
O'er craggy cliffs pursued their eastern way,
Trod loftier champaigns, meeting high the day,
Saw timorous tribes, in these sublime abodes,
Adore the blasts and turn the storms to gods;
While every cloud that thunders thro the skies
Claims from their hands a human sacrifice.
Awhile the youth, their better faith to gain,
Strives with his usual art, but strives in vain;
In vain he pleads the mildness of the sun;
A gale refutes him ere his speech be done;
Continual tempests from their orient blow,
And load the mountains with eternal snow.
The sun's own beam, the timid clans declare,
Drives all their evils on the tortured air;
He draws the vapors up their eastern sky,
That sail and centre round his dazzling eye;
Leads the loud storms along his midday course,
And bids the Andes meet their sweeping force;
Builds their bleak summits with an icy throne,
To shine thro heaven, a semblance of his own;
Hence the sharp sleet, these lifted lawns that wait,
And all the scourges that attend their state.
Two toilsome days the virtuous Inca strove
To social life their savage minds to move;
When the third morning glow'd serenely bright,
He led their elders to an eastern height;
The world unlimited beneath them lay,
And not a cloud obscured the rising day.
Vast Amazonia, starr'd with twinkling streams,
In azure drest, a heaven inverted seems;
Dim Paraguay extends the aching sight,
Xaraya glimmers like the moon of night,
Land, water, sky in blending borders play,
And smile and brighten to the lamp of day.
When thus the prince: What majesty divine!
What robes of gold! what flames about him shine!
There walks the God! his starry sons on high
Draw their dim veil and shrink behind the sky;
Earth with surrounding nature's born anew,
And men by millions greet the glorious view!
Who can behold his all-delighting soul
Give life and joy, and heaven and earth control,
Bid death and darkness from his presence move,
Who can behold, and not adore and love?
Those plains, immensely circling, feel his beams,
He greens the groves, he silvers gay the streams,
Swells the wild fruitage, gives the beast his food,
And mute creation hails the genial God.
But richer boons his righteous laws impart,
To aid the life and mould the social heart,
His arts of peace thro happy realms to spread,
And altars grace with sacrificial bread;
Such our distinguish'd lot, who own his sway,
Mild as his morning stars and liberal as the day.
His unknown laws, the mountain chief replied,
May serve perchance your boasted race to guide;
And yon low plains, that drink his partial ray,
At his glad shrine their just devotions pay.
But we nor fear his frown nor trust his smile;
Vain as our prayers is every anxious toil;
Our beasts are buried in his whirls of snow,
Our cabins drifted to his slaves below.
Even now his placid looks thy hopes beguile,
He lures thy raptures with a morning smile;
But soon (for so those saffron robes proclaim)
His own black tempest shall obstruct his flame,
Storm, thunder, fire, against the mountains driven,
Rake deep their sulphur'd sides, disgorging here his
He spoke; they waited, till the fervid ray
High from the noontide shot the faithless day;
When lo, far gathering under eastern skies,
Solemn and slow, the dark red vapors rise;
Full clouds, convolving on the turbid air,
Move like an ocean to the watery war.
The host, securely raised, no dangers harm,
They sit unclouded and o'erlook the storm;
While far beneath, the sky-borne waters ride,
Veil the dark deep and sheet the mountain's side;
The lightning's glancing fires, in fury curl'd,
Bend their long forky foldings o'er the world;
Torrents and broken crags and floods of rain
From steep to steep roll down their force amain,
In dreadful cataracts; the bolts confound
The tumbling clouds, and rock the solid ground.
The blasts unburden'd take their upward course,
And o'er the mountain top resume their force.
Swift thro the long white ridges from the north
The rapid whirlwinds lead their terrors forth;
High walks the storm, the circling surges rise,
And wild gyrations wheel the hovering skies;
Vast hills of snow, in sweeping columns driven,
Deluge the air and choke the void of heaven;
Floods burst their bounds, the rocks forget their place,
And the firm Andes tremble to their base.
Long gazed the host; when thus the stubborn chief,
With eyes on fire, and fill'd with sullen grief:
Behold thy careless god, secure on high,
Laughs at our woes and peaceful walks the sky,
Drives all his evils on these seats sublime,
And wafts his favors to a happier clime;
Sire of the dastard race thy words disclose,
There glads his children, here afflicts his foes.
Hence! speed thy flight! pursue him where he leads;
Lest vengeance seize thee for thy father's deeds,
Thy immolated limbs assuage the fire
Of those curst Powers, who now a gift require.
The youth in haste collects his scanty train,
And, with the sun, flies o'er the western plain;
The fading orb with plaintive voice he plies,
To guide his steps and light him down the skies.
So when the moon and all the host of even
Hang pale and trembling on the verge of heaven,
While storms ascending threat their nightly reign,
They seek their absent sire, and sink below the main.
Now to the south he turns; where one vast plain
Calls from a hundred hordes the warrior train;
Of various dress and various form they show'd;
Each wore the ensign of his local god.
From eastern hills a grisly troop descends,
Whose war song wild the shuddering concave rends;
Cloak'd in a tiger's hide their grim chief towers,
And apes the brinded god his tribe adores.
The tusky jaws grin o'er the sachem's brow,
The bald eyes glare, the paws depend below,
From his bored ears contorted serpents hung,
And drops of gore seem'd rolling on his tongue.
The northern glens pour forth the Vulture-race;
Brown tufts of quills their shaded foreheads grace;
The claws branch wide, the beak expands for blood,
And all the armor imitates the god.
The Condor, frowning from a southern plain,
Borne on a standard, leads a numerous train:
Clench'd in his talons hangs an infant dead,
His long bill pointing where the sachems tread,
His wings, tho lifeless, frighten still the wind,
And his broad tail o'ershades the file behind.
From other plains and other hills afar,
The tribes throng dreadful to the promised war;
Some twine their forelock with a crested snake,
Some wear the emblems of a stream or lake;
All from the Power they serve assume their mode,
And foam and yell to taste the Incan blood.
The prince incautious with his men drew near,
Known for an Inca by his dress and air;
Till coop'd and caught amid the warrior trains,
They bow in silence to the victor's chains.
When now the gather'd thousands throng the plain,
And echoing skies the rending shouts retain;
Zamor, the chieftain of the Tiger-band,
By choice appointed to the first command,
Shrugg'd up his brinded spoils above the rest,
And grimly frowning thus the crowd addrest:
Warriors, attend! tomorrow leads abroad
Our sacred vengeance for our brothers' blood.
On those scorch'd plains for ever must they lie,
Their bones still naked to the burning sky?
Left in the field for foreign hawks to tear,
Nor our own vultures can the banquet share.
But soon, ye mountain gods, yon dreary west
Shall sate your hunger with an ampler feast;
When the proud Sun, that terror of the plain,
Shall grieve in heaven for all his children slain,
As o'er his realm our slaughtering armies roam,
And give to your sad Powers a happier home.
Meanwhile, ye tribes, these men of solar race,
Food for the flames, your bloody rites shall grace;
Each to a different god his panting breath
Resigns in fire; this night demands their death:
All but the Inca; him reserved in state
These conquering hands ere long shall immolate
To all the Powers at once that storm the skies,
A grateful gift, before his mother's eyes.
The sachem ceased; the chiefs of every race
Lead the bold captives to their destined place;
The sun descends, the parting day expires,
And earth and heaven display their sparkling fires.
Soon the raised altars kindle round the gloom,
And call the victims to their vengeful doom;
Led to their pyres, in sullen pomp they tread,
And sing by turns the triumphs of the dead.
Amid the crowd beside his altar stood
The youth devoted to the Tiger-god;
A beauteous form he rose, of noble grace,
The only hope of his illustrious race.
His aged sire, for numerous years, had shone
The first supporter of the Incan throne;
Wise Capac loved the youth, and graced his hand
With a fair virgin from a neighboring band;
And him the legate prince, in equal prime,
Had chose to share his mission round the clime.
He mounts the pyre, the flames approach his breath.
And thus he wakes the dauntless song of death:
Dark vault of heaven, that greet his daily throne.
Where flee the glories of your absent Sun?
Ye starry hosts, who kindle from his eye,
Can you behold him in the western sky?
Or if unseen beneath his watery bed,
The wearied God reclines his radiant head,
When next his morning steps your courts inflame,
And seek on earth for young Azonto's name,
Then point these ashes, mark the smoky pile,
And say the hero suffer'd with a smile.
So shall the Power in vengeance view the place,
In crimson clothe his terror-beaming face,
Pour swift destruction on these curst abodes,
Whelm the grim tribes and all their savage gods.
But ah, forbear to tell my stooping sire
His darling hopes have fed a coward fire;
Why should he know the tortures of the brave?
Why fruitless sorrows bend him to the grave?
Nor shalt thou e'er be told, my bridal fair,
What silent pangs these panting vitals tear;
But blooming still the patient hours employ
On the blind hope of future scenes of joy.
Now haste, ye fiends of death; the Sire of day
In absent slumber gives your malice way;
While fainter light these livid flames supply,
And short-lived thousands learn of me to die,
He ceased not speaking; when the yell of war
Drowns all their death songs in a hideous jar;
The cries rebounding from the hillsides pour,
And wolves and tigers catch the distant roar.
Now more concordant all their voices join,
And round the plain they form the festive line;
When, to the music of the dismal din,
Indignant Zamor bids the dance begin.
Dim thro the shadowy fires each changing form
Moves like a cloud before an evening storm,
When o'er the moon's pale face and starry plain
The shifting shades lead on their broken train;
The mingling tribes their mazy gambols tread,
Till the last groan proclaims the victims dead,
Then part the smoky flesh, enjoy the feast,
And lose their labors in oblivious rest.
Soon as the western hills announced the morn,
And falling fires were scarcely seen to burn,
Grimm'd by the horrors of the dreadful night,
The hosts woke fiercer for the promised fight;
And dark and silent thro the frowning grove
The different tribes beneath their standards move.
Meantime the solar king collects from far
His martial bands, to meet the expected war,
Camps on the confines of an eastern plain
That skirts the steep rough limit of his reign;
He trains their ranks, their pliant force combines,
To close in columns or extend in lines,
To wheel, change front, in broken files dispart,
And draw new strength from all the warrior's art.
But now the rising sun relumes the plain,
And calls to arms the well-accustom'd train.
High in the front imperial Capac strode,
In fair effulgence like the beaming God;
A golden girdle bound his snowy vest,
A mimic sun hung sparkling on his breast;
The lautu's horned wreath his temples twined,
The bow, the quiver shade his waist behind;
Raised high in air his golden sceptre burn'd,
And hosts surrounding trembled as he turn'd.
O'er eastern hills he cast his watchful eye,
Thro the broad breaks that lengthen down the sky;
In whose blue clefts the sloping pathways bend,
Where annual floods from melting snows descend.
Now dry and deep, they lead from every height
The savage files that headlong rush to fight;
They throng and thicken thro the smoky air,
And every breach pours down the dusky war.
So when a hundred streams explore their way,
Down the same slopes, convolving to the sea,
They boil, they bend, they force their floods amain,
Swell o'er obstructing crags, and sweep the plain.
Capac beholds and waits the coming shock,
As for the billows waits the storm-beat rock;
And while for fight his ardent troops prepare,
Thus thro the ranks he breathes the soul of war:
Ye tribes that flourish in the Sun's mild reign,
Long have your flocks adorn'd the peaceful plain,
As o'er the realm his smiles persuasive flow'd,
And conquer'd all without the stain of blood;
But lo, at last that wild infuriate band
With savage war demands your happy land.
Beneath the dark immeasurable host,
Descending, swarming, how the crags are lost!
Already now their ravening eyes behold
Your star-bright temples and your gates of gold;
And to their gods in fancied goblets pour
The warm libation of your children's gore.
Move then to vengeance, meet the sons of blood,
Led by this arm and lighted by that God;
The strife is fierce, your fanes and fields the prize,
The warrior conquers or the infant dies.
Fill'd with his fire, the troops in squared array
Wait the wild hordes loose huddling to the fray;
Their pointed arrows, rising on the bow,
Look up the sky and chide the lagging foe.
Dread Zamor leads the homicidious train,
Moves from the clefts and stretches o'er the plain.
He gives the shriek; the deep convulsing sound
The hosts reecho, and the hills around
Retain the rending tumult; all the air
Clangs in the conflict of the clashing war;
But firm undaunted as a shelvy strand
That meets the surge, the bold Peruvians stand,
With steady aim the sounding bowstring ply,
And showers of arrows thicken thro the sky;
When each grim host, in closer conflict join'd,
Clench the dire ax and cast the bow behind;
Thro broken ranks sweep wide their slaughtering course.
Now struggle back, now sidelong swray the force.
Here from grim chiefs is lopt the grisly head;
All gride the dying, all deface the dead;
There scattering o'er the field in thin array,
Man tugs with man, and clubs with axes play;
With broken shafts they follow and they fly,
And yells and groans and shouts invade the sky;
Round all the shatter'd groves the ground is strow'd
With sever'd limbs and corses bathed in blood.
Long raged the strife; and where, on either side,
A friend, a father or a brother died,
No trace remain'd of what he was before,
Mangled with horrid wounds and black with gore.
Now the Peruvians, in collected might,
With one wide stroke had wing'd the savage flighty
But their bright Godhead, in his midday race,
With glooms unusual veil'd his radiant face,
Quench'd all his beams, tho cloudless, in affright,
As loth to view from heaven the finish'd fight.
A trembling twilight o'er the welkin moves,
Browns the dim void, and darkens deep the groves;
The waking stars, embolden'd at the sight,
Peep out and gem the anticipated night;
Day-birds, and beasts of light to covert fly,
And owls and wolves begin their evening cry.
The astonish'd Inca marks, with wild surprise,
Dead chills on earth, no cloud in all the skies,
His host o'ershaded in the field of blood,
Gored by his foes, deserted by his God.
Mute with amaze, they cease the war to wage,
Gaze on their leaders and forget their rage;
When pious Capac to the listening crowd
Raised high his wand and pour'd his voice aloud:
Ye chiefs and warriors of Peruvian race,
Some sore offence obscures my father's face;
What moves the Numen to desert the plain,
Nor save his children, nor behold them slain?
Fly! speed your course, regain the guardian town,
Ere darkness shroud you in a deeper frown;
The faithful walls your squadrons shall defend,
While my sad steps the sacred dome ascend,
To learn the cause, and ward the woes we fear:
Haste, haste, my sons! I guard the flying rear.
The hero spoke; the trembling tribes obey,
While deeper glooms obscure the source of day.
Sudden the savage bands collect amain,
Hang on the rear and sweep them o'er the plain;
Their shouts, redoubling with the flying war.
Drown the loud groans and torture all the air.
The hawks of heaven, that o'er the field had stood,
Scared by the tumult from the scent of blood,
Cleave the far gloom; the beasts forget their prey,
And scour the waste, and give the war its way.
Zamor elate with horrid joy beheld
The Sun depart, his children fly the field,
And raised his rending voice: Thou darkening sky,
Deepen thy damps, the fiend of death is nigh;
Behold him rising from his shadowy throne,
To veil this heaven and drive the conquer'd Sun;
The glaring Godhead yields to sacred night,
And his foil'd armies imitate his flight.
Confirm, infernal Power, thy rightful reign,
Give deadlier shades and heap the piles of slain;
Soon the young captive prince shall roll in fire,
And all his race accumulate the pyre.
Ye mountain vultures, here your food explore,
Tigers and condors, all ye gods of gore,
In these rich fields, beneath your frowning sky,
A plenteous feast shall every god supply.
Rush forward, warriors, hide the plains with dead;
Twas here our friends in former combat bled;
Strow'd thro the waste their naked bones demand
This tardy vengeance from our conquering hand.
He said; and high before the Tiger-train
With longer strides hangs forward o'er the slain,
Bends like a falling tree to reach the foe,
And o'er tall Capac aims a forceful blow.
The king beheld the ax, and with his wand
Struck the raised weapon from the sachem's hand;
Then clench'd the falling helve, and whirling round,
Fell'd a close file of heroes to the ground;
Nor stay'd, but follow'd where his people run,
Fearing to fight, forsaken by the Sun;
Till Cusco's walls salute their longing sight,
And the wide gates receive their rapid flight.
The folds are barr'd, the foes in shade conceal'd,
Like howling wolves, rave round the frighted field.
The monarch now ascends the sacred dome;
The Sun's fixt image there partakes the gloom;
Thro all the shrines, where erst on new-moon day
Swell'd the full quires of consecrated praise,
A tomb-like silence reigns; till female cries
Burst forth at last, and these sad accents rise:
Was it for this, my son to distant lands
Must trace the wilds, and tempt those lawless bands?
And does the God obscure his golden throne
In mournful darkness for my slaughter'd son?
Oh, had his beam; ere that disastrous day
That call'd the youth from these fond arms away,
Received my spirit to its native sky,
That sad Oella might have seen him die!
Where slept thy shaft of vengeance, O my God,
When those fell tigers drank his sacred blood?
Did not the pious prince, with rites divine,
Feed the pure flame in this thy hallow'd shrine;
And early learn, beneath his father's hand,
To shed thy blessings round the favor'd land?
Form'd by thy laws the royal seat to grace,
Son of thy son, and glory of his race.
Where, my lost Rocha, rests thy lovely head?
Where the rent robes thy hapless mother made?
I see thee, mid those hideous hills of snow,
Pursued and slaughter'd by the wildman foe;
Or, doom'd a feast for some pretended god,
Drench his black altar with celestial blood.
Snatch me, O Sun, to happier worlds of light-
No: shroud me, shroud me with thyself in night.
Thou hear'st me not, thou dread departed Power,
Thy face is dark, and Rocha lives no more.
Thus heard the silent king; his equal heart
Caught all her grief, and bore a father's part.
The cause, suggested by her tender moan,
The cause perchance that veil'd the midday sun,
And shouts that spoke the still approaching foe,
Fixt him suspense, in all the strength of woe.
A doubtful moment held his changing choice;
Now would he sooth her, half assumes his voice;
But greater cares the rising wish control,
And call forth all his energy of soul.
Why should he cease to ward the coming fate?
Or she be told the foes besiege the gate?
He turn'd in haste; and now their image-god
High on the spire with newborn lustre glow'd;
Swift thro the portal flew the hero's eye,
And hail'd the growing splendor in the sky.
The troops courageous at return of light
Throng round the dome, impatient for the fight;
The king descending in the portal stood,
And thus addrest the all-delighting God:
O sovereign Soul of heaven, thy changing face
Makes or destroys the glory of thy race.
If from this mortal life my child he fled,
First of thy line that ever graced the dead;
If thy bright splendor ceased on high to burn
For that loved youth who never must return.
Forgive thine armies, when in fields of blood
They lose their strength and fear the frowning God.
As now thy glory, with superior day,
Glows thro the field and leads the warrior's way,
May our exalted souls, to vengeance driven,
Burn with new brightness in the cause of heaven!
For thy slain son the murderous horde shall bleed;
We mourn the hero, but avenge the deed.
He said; and from the battlement on high
A watchful warrior raised a sudden cry:
'An Inca white on yonder altar tied-
Tis Rocha's self-the flame ascends his side.'
In sweeping haste the bursting gates unbar,
And flood the champaign with a tide of war;
A cloud of arrows leads the rapid train,
They shout, they swarm, they hide the dusty plain;
Bows, quivers, girdles strow the field behind,
And the raised axes cleave the passing wind.
The prince, confest to every warrior's sight,
Inspires each soul and centres all the fight;
Each hopes to snatch him from the kindling pyre,
Each fears his breath already flits in fire.
Here Zamor ranged his ax-men deep and wide,
Wedged like a wall, and thus the king defied:
Haste, son of Light, pour fast the winged war,
The prince, the dying prince demands your care;
Hear how his death song chides your dull delay,
Lift longer strides, bend forward to the fray,
Ere flames infolding suffocate his groan,
Child of your beaming God, a victim to our own.
This said, he raised his shaggy shoulders high,
And bade the shafts glide thicker thro the sky.
Like the broad billows of the lifted main,
Rolls into sight the long Peruvian train;
A white sail bounding, on the billows tost,
Is Capac towering o'er the furious host.
Now meet the dreadful chiefs, with eyes on fire;
Beneath their blows the parting ranks retire;
In whirlwind-sweep their meeting axes bound,
Wheel, crash in air, and plow the trembling ground;
Their sinewy limbs in fierce contortions bend,
And mutual strokes with equal force descend,
Parried with equal art, now gyring prest
High at the head, now plunging for the breast.
The king starts backward from the struggling foe,
Collects new strength, and with a circling blow
Rush'd furious on; his flinty edge, whirl'd wide,
Met Zamor's helve, and glancing grazed his side
And settled in his groin; so plunged it lay,
That scarce the king could tear his ax away.
The savage fell; when thro the Tiger-train
The driving Inca turns his force amain;
Where still compact they hem the murderous pyre,
And Rocha's voice seems faltering to expire.
The phrensied father rages, thunders wild,
Hews armies down, to save the sinking child;
The ranks fall staggering where he lifts his arm,
Or roll before him like a billowy storm;
Behind his steps collecting warriors close;
Deep centred in a circling ridge of foes
He cleaves his wasting way; the prince unties,
And thus his voice: Dread Sovereign of the skies.
Accept my living son, again bestow'd
To grace with rites the temple of his God.
Move, heroes, move; complete the work begun.
Crush the grim race, avenge your injured Sun.
The savage host, that view'd the daring deed,
And saw their nations with their leader bleed,
Raised high the shriek of horror; all the plain
Is trod with flight and cover'd with the slain.
The bold Peruvians compass round the field,
Confine their flight, and force the rest to yield;
When Capac raised his placid voice again;
Ye conquering troops, collect the vanquish'd train;
The Sun commands to stay the rage of war,
He knows to conquer, but he loves to spare.
He ceased; and where the savage leader lay
Weltering in gore, directs his eager way,
Unwraps the tiger's hide, and strives in vain
To close the wound, and mitigate the pain;
And while compassion for a foe distrest
Mixt with reproach, he thus the chief addrest:
Too long, proud prince, thy fearless heart withstood
Our sacred arms, and braved the living God;
His sovereign will commands all feuds to cease,
His realm is concord and his pleasure peace;
This copious carnage, spreading far the plain,
Insults his bounties, but confirms his reign.
Enough! tis past; thy parting breath demands
The last sad office from my yielding hands.
To share thy pains and feel thy hopeless woe,
Are rites ungrateful to a fallen foe:
Yet rest in peace; and know, a chief so brave,
When life departs, shall find an honor'd grave;
Myself in princely pomp thy tomb shall rear,
And tribes unborn thy hapless fate declare.
Insult me not with tombs! the monster cried,
Let closing clods thy coward carcase hide;
But these brave bones, unburied on the plain,
Touch not with dust, nor dare with rites profane;
Let no curst earth conceal this gory head,
Nor songs proclaim the dreadful Zamor dead,
Me, whom the hungry gods from plain to plain
Have follow'd, feasting on thy slaughter'd train,
Me wouldst thou cover? No! from yonder sky,
The wide-beak'd hawk, that now beholds me die,
Soon with his cowering train my flesh shall tear,
And wolves and tigers vindicate their share.
Receive, dread Powers (since I can slay no more),
My last glad victim, this devoved gore.
Thus pour'd the vengeful chief his fainting breath,
And lost his utterance in the gasp of death.
The sad remaining tribes confess the Power,
That sheds his bounties round Peruvia's shore;
All bow obedient to the Incan throne,
And blest Oella hails her living son.
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt. Canto II.
Come, blue-eyed maid of heaven!-but thou, alas!
Didst never yet one mortal song inspire-
Goddess of Wisdom! here thy temple was,
And is, despite of war and wasting fire,
And years, that bade thy worship to expire:
But worse than steel, and flame, and ages slow,
Is the dread sceptre and dominion dire
Of men who never felt the sacred glow
That thoughts of thee and thine on polish'd breasts bestow.
Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul?
Gone-glimmering through the dream of things that were:
First in the race that led to Glory's goal,
They won, and pass'd away-is this the whole?
A school-boy's tale, the wonder of an hour!
The warrior's weapon and the sophist's stole
Are sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower,
Dim with the mist of years, grey flits the shade of power.
Son of the morning, rise! approach you here!
Come-but molest not yon defenceless urn:
Look on this spot-a nation's sepulchre!
Abode of gods, whose shrines no longer burn.
Even gods must yield-religions take their turn:
'Twas Jove's--2tis Mahomet's-and other creeds
Will rise with other years, till man shall learn
Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds;
Poor child of Doubt and Death, whose hope is built on reeds.
Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven-
Is't not enough, unhappy thing! to know
Thou art? Is this a boon so kindly given,
That being, thou wouldst be again, and go,
Thou know'st not, reck'st not to what region, so
On earth no more, but mingled with the skies?
Still wilt thou dream on future joy and woe?
Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies:
That little urn saith more than thousand homilies.
Or burst the vanish'd Hero's lofty mound;
Far on the solitary shore he sleeps:
He fell, and falling nations mourn'd around;
But now not one of saddening thousands weeps,
Nor warlike-worshipper his vigil keeps
Where demi-gods appear'd, as records tell.
Remove yon skull from out the scatte?d heaps:
Is that a temple where a God may dwell?
Why ev'n the worm at last disdains her shatter’d cell!
Look on its broken arch, its ruin'd wall,
Its chambers desolate, and portals foul:
Yes, this was once Ambition's airy hall,
The dome of Thought, the palace of the Soul:
Behold through each lack-lustre, eyeless hole,
The gay recess of Wisdom and of Wit
And Passion's host, that never brook'd control:
Can all, saint, sage, or sophist ever writ,
People this lonely tower, this tenement refit?
Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
'All that we know is, nothing can be known.'
Why should we shrink from what we cannot shun?
Each has his pang, but feeble sufferers groan
With brain-born dreams of evil all their own.
Pursue what Chance or.Fate proclaimeth best;
Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron:
There no forc'd banquet claims the sated guest,
But Silence spreads the couch of ever welcome rest.
Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd, there be
A land of souls beyond that sable shore,
To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee
And sophists, madly vain of dubious lore;
How sweet it were in concert to adore
With those who made our mortal labours light!
To hear each voice we fear'd to hear no more!
Behold each mighty shade reveal'd to sight,
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the right!
There, thou!-whose love and life together fled,
Have left me here to love and live in vain-
Twin'd with my heart, and can I deem thee dead,
When busy Memory flashes on my brain?
Well-I will dream that we may meet again,
And woo the vision to my vacant breast:
If aught of young Remembrance then remain,
Be as it may Futurity's behest,
For me 'twere bliss enough to know thy spirit blest!
Here let me sit upon this massy stone,
The marble column's yet unshaken base;
Here, son of Saturn! was thy favrite throne:
Mightiest of many such! Hence let me trace
The latent grandeur of thy dwelling place.
It may not be: nor ev'n can Fancy's eye
Restore what Time hath labour'd to deface.
Yet these proud pillars claim no passing sigh,
Unmov'd the Moslem sits, the light Greek carols by.
But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane
On high, where Pallas linger'd, loth to flee
The latest relic of her ancient reign;
The last, the worst, dull spoiler, who was he?
Blush, Caledonia! such thy son could be!
England! I joy no child he was of thine:
Thy free-born men should spare what once was free
Yet they could violate each saddening shrine,
And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine.
But most the modern Pict’s ignoble boast,
To rive what Goth, and Turk, and Time hath spar’d:
Cold as the crags upon his native coast,
His mind as barren and his heart as hard,
Is he whose head conceiv’d, whose hand prepar’d,
Aught to displace Athena’s poor remains:
Her sons too weak the sacred shrine to guard,
Yet felt some portion of their mother’s pains,
And never knew, till then, the weight of Despot’s chains.
What! Shall it e'er be said by British tongue,
Albion was happy in Athena's tears?
Though in thy name the slaves her bosom wrung,
Tell not the deed to blushing Europe's ears;
The ocean queen, the free Britannia bears
The last poor plunder from a bleeding land:
Yes, she, whose gen'rous aid her name endears,
Tore down those remnants with a Harpy's hand,
Which envious Eld forbore, and tyrnats left to stand.
Where was thine Aegis, Pallas! that appall'd
Stern Alaric and Havoc on their way?
Where Peleus' son? whom Hell in vain enthrall'd,
His shade from Hades upon that dread day,
Bursting to light in terrible array!
What? could not Pluto spare the chief once more,
To scare a second robber from his prey?
Idly he wander'd on the Stygian shore,
Nor now preserv'd the walls he lov'd to shield before.
Cold is the heart, fair Greece! that looks on thee,
Nor feels as lovers o'er the dust they lov'd;
Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defac'd, thy mouldering shrines remov'd
By British hands, which it had best behov'd
To guard those relics ne'er to be restor'd.
Curst be the hour when from their isle they rov'd,
And once again thy hapless bosom gor'd,
And snatch'd thy shrinking Gods to northern climes abhorr'd!
But where is Harold? shall I then forget
To urge the gloomy wanderer o'er the wave?
Little reck'd he of all that men regret;
No lov'd-one now in feign'd lament could rave;
No friend the parting hand extended gave,
Ere the cold stranger pass'd to other climes:
Hard is his heart whom charms may not enslave;
But Harold felt not as in other times,
And left without a sigh the land of war and crimes.
He that has sail'd upon the dark blue sea,
Has view'd at times, I ween, a full fair sight;
When the fresh breeze is fair as breeze may be,
The white sail set, the gallant frigate tight;
Masts, spires, and strand retiring to the right,
The glorious main expanding o'er the bow,
The convoy spread like wild swans in their flight,
The dullest sailer wearing bravely now,
So gaily curl the waves before each dashing prow.
And oh, the little warlike world within!
The well-reev'd guns, the netted canopy,
The hoarse command, the busy humming din,
When, at a word, the tops are mann'd on high:
Hark to the Boatswain's call, the cheering cry!
While through the seaman's hand the tackle glides;
Or school-boy Midshipman that, standing by,
Strains his shrill pipe as good or ill betides,
And well the docile crew that skilful urchin guides.
White is the glassy deck, without a stain,
Where on the watch the staid Lieutenant walks:
Look on that part which sacred doth remain
For the lone chieftain, who majestic stalks,
Silent and fear'd by all--not oft he talks
With aught beneath him, if he would preserve
That strict restraint, which broken, ever balks
Conquest and Fame: but Britons rarely swerve
From Law, however stern, which tends their strength to nerve.
Blow! swiftly blow, thou keel-compelling gale!
Till the broad sun withdraws his lessening ray;
Then must the pennant-bearer slacken sail,
That lagging barks may make their lazy way.
Ah! grievance sore, and listless dull delay,
To waste on sluggish hulks the sweetest breeze!
What leagues are lost before the dawn of day,
Thus loitering pensive on the willing seas,
The flapping sail haul'd down to halt for logs like these!
The moon is up; by Heaven a lovely eve!
Long streams of llight o'er dancing waves expand;
Now lads on shore may sigh, and maids believe:
Such be our fate when we return to land!
Meantime some rude Arion's restless hand
Wakes the brisk harmony that sailors love;
A circle there of merry listeners stand,
Or to some well-known measure featly move,
Thoughtless, as if on shore they still were free to rove.
Through Calpe's straits survey the streepy shore;
Europe and Afric on each other gaze!
Lands of the dark-ey'd Maid and dusky Moor
Alike beheld beneath pale Hecate's blaze:
How softly on the Spanish shore she play,
Disclosing rock, and slope, and forest brown,
Distinct, though darkening with her waning phase;
But Mauritania's giant-shadows frown,
From mountain-cliff to coast descending sombre down.
'Tis night, when Meditation bids us feel
We once have lov'd, thoug hlove is at an end:
The heart, lone mourner of its baffled zeal,
Though friendless now, will dream it had a friend.
Who with the weight of years would wish to bend,
When Youth itself survives young Love and Joy?
Alas! when mingling souls forget to blend,
Death hath but little left him to destroy!
Ah! happy years! once more who would not be a boy?
Thus bending o'er the vessel's laving side,
To gaze on Dian's wave-reflected sphere;
The soul forgets her schemes of Hope and Pride,
And flies unconscious o'er each backward year.
None are so desolate but something dear,
Dearer than self, possesses or possess'd
A though, and claims the homage of a tear;
A flashing pang! of which the weary breast
Would still, albeit in vain, the heavy heart divest.
To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flook and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er, or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude; 'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unroll'd.
But midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
And roam along, the world's tir'd denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all that flatter'd, follow'd, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!
More blest the life of godly Eremite,
Such as on lonely Athos may be seen,
Watching at Eve upon the giant height,
That looks o'er waves so blue, skies so serene,
That he who there at such an hour hath been
Will wistful linger on that hallow'd spot;
Then slowly tear him from the 'witching scene,
Sight forth one wish that such had been his lot,
Then turn to hate a world he had almost forgot.
Pass we the long, unvarying course, the track
Oft trod, that never leaves a trace behind;
Pass we the calm, the gale, the change, the tack,
ANd each well known caprice of wave and wind;
Pass we the joys and sorrows sailors find,
Coop'd in their winged sea-girt citadel;
The foul, the fair, the contrary, the kind,
As breezes rise and fall and billows swell,
TIll on some jocund morn--lo, land! and all is well.
But not in silence pass Calypso's isles,
The sister tenants of the middle deep;
There for the weary still a haven smiles,
Though the fair goddess long hath ceas'd to weep,
And o'er her cliffs a fruitless watch to keep
For him who dar'd prefer a mortal bride:
Here, too, his boy essay'd the dreadful leap
Stern Mentor urg'd from high to yonder tide;
While thus of both bereft, the nymph-queen doubly sigh'd.
Her reign is past, her gentle glories gone:
But trust not this; too easy youth, beware!
A mortal sovereign holds her dangerous throne,
And thou may'st find a new Calypso there.
Sweet Florence! could another ever share
This wayward, loveless heart, it would be thine:
But check'd by every tie, I may not dare
To cast a worthless offering at thy shrine,
Nor ask so dear a breast to feel one pang for mine.
Thus Harold deem'd, as on that lady's eye
He look'd, and met its beam without a thought,
Save Admiration glancing harmless by:
Love kept aloof, albeit not far remote,
Who knew his votary often lost and caught,
But knew him as his worshipper no more,
And ne'er again the boy his bosom sought:
Since now he vainly urg'd him to adore,
Well deem'd the little God his ancient sway was o'er.
Fair Florence found, in sooth with some amaze,
One who, 'twas said, still sigh'd to all he saw,
Withstand, unmov'd, the lustre of her gaze,
Which others hail'd with real, or mimic awe,
Their hope, their doom, their punishment, their law;
All that gay Beauty from her bondsmen claims:
And much she marvell'd that a youth so raw
Nor felt, nor feign'd at least, the oft-told flames,
Which, though sometimes they frown, yet rarely anger dames.
Little knew she that seeming marble-heart,
Now mask'd in silence or withheld by pride,
Was not unskilful in the spoiler's art,
And spread its snares licentious far and wide;
Nor from the base pursuit had turn'd aside,
As long as aught was worthy to pursue:
But Harold on such arts no more relied;
And had he doated on those eyes so blue,
Yet never would he join the lover's whining crew.
Not much he kens, I ween, of woman's breast,
Who thinks that wanton thing is won by sighs;
Who careth she for hearts when once possess'd?
Do proper homage to thine idol's eyes;
But not too humbly, or she will despise
Thee and thy suit, though told in moving tropes:
Disguise ev'n tenderness, if thou art wise;
Brisk Confidence still best with woman copes;
Pique her and soothe in turn, soon Passion crowns thy hopes.
'Tis an old lesson; Time approves it true,
And those who know it best, deplore it most;
When all is won that all desire to woo,
The paltry prize is hardly worth the cost:
Youth wasted, minds degraded, honour lost,
These are thy fruits, successful Passion! these!
If, kiindly cruel, early Hope is crost,
Still to the last it rankles, a disease,
Not to be cur'd when Love itself forgets to please.
Away! nor let me loiter in my song,
For we have many a mountain-path to tread,
And many a varied shore to sail along,
By pensive Sadness, not by Fiction, led--
Climes, fair withal as every mortal head
Imagin'd in its little schemes of thought;
Or e'er in new Utopias were ared,
To teach man what he might be, or he ought;
If that corrupted thing could ever such be taught.
Dear Nature is the kindest mother still,
Though alway changing, in her aspect mild;
From her bare bosom let me take my fill,
Her never-wean'd, though not her favour'd child.
Oh! she is fairest in her features wild,
Where nothing polish'd dares pollute her path:
To me by day or night she ever smil'd,
Though I have mark'd her when none other hath,
And sought her more and more, and lov'd her best in wrath.
Land of Albania! where Iskander rose,
Theme of the young, and beacon of the wise,
And he his name-sake, whose oft-baffled foes
Shrunk from his deeds of chivalrous emprize:
Land of Albania! let me bend mine eyes
On thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men!
The cross descends, thy minarets arise,
And the pale crescent sparkles in the glen,
Through many a cypress grove within each city's ken.
Childe Harold sail'd, and pass'd the barren spot,
Where sad Penelope o'erlook'd the wave;
And onward view'd the mount, not yet forgot,
The lover's refuge, and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire?
Could she not live who life eternal gave?
If life eternal may await the lyre,
That only Heaven to which Earth's children may aspire.
'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve
Childe Harold hail'd Leucadia's cape afar;
A spot he long'd to see, nor cared to leave:
Oft did he mark the scenes of vanish'd war,
Actium, Lepanto, fatal Trafalgar;
Mark them unmov'd, for he would not delight
(Born beneath some remote inglorious star)
In themes of bloody fray, or gallant fight,
But loath'd the bravo's trade, and laugh'd at martial wight.
But when he saw the evening star above
Leucadia's far-projecting rock of woe,
And hail'd the last resort of fruitless love,
He felt, or deem'd he felt, no common glow:
And as the stately vessel glided slow
Beneath the shadow of that ancient mount,
He watch'd the billows' melancholy flow,
And, sunk albeit in thought as he was wont,
More placid seem'd his eye, and smooth his pallid front.
Morn dawns; and with it stern Albania's hills,
Dark Suli's rocks, and Pindus' inland peak,
Rob'd half in mist, bedew'd with snowy rills,
Array'd in many a dun and purple streak,
Arise; and, as the clouds among the break,
Disclose the dwelling of the mountaineer:
Here roams the wolf, the eage whets his beak,
Birds, beasts of prey, and wilder men appear,
And gathering storms around convulse the closing year.
Now Harold felt himself at length alone,
And bade to Christian tongues a long adieu;
Now he adventur'd on a shore unknown,
Which all admre, but many dread to view:
His breast was arm'd 'gainst fate, his wants were few;
Peril he sought not, but ne'er shrank to meet,
The scene was savage, but the scene was new;
This made the ceaseless toil of travel sweet,
Beat back keen winter's blast, and welcom'd summer's heat.
Here the red cross, for still the cross is here,
Though sadly scoff'd at by the circumcis'd,
Forgets that pride to pamper'd Priesthood dear;
Churchman and votary alike despis'd.
Foul Superstition! howsoe'er disguis'd,
Idol, saint, virgin, prophet, crescent, cross,
For whatsoever symbol thou art priz'd,
Thou sacerdotal gain, but general loss!
Who from true worship's gold can separate thy dross?
Ambracia's gulph behold, where once was lost
A world for woman, lovely, harmless thing!
In yonder rippling bay, their naval host
Did many a Roman chief and Asian king
To doubtful conflict, certain slaughter bring:
Look where the second Caesar's trophies rose!
Now, like the hands that rear'd them, withering:
Imperial Anarchs, doubling human woes!
GOD! was thy globe ordain'd for such to win and lose?
From the dark barriers of that rugged clime,
Ev'n to the centre of Illyria's vales,
Childe Harold pass'd o'er many a mount sublime,
Through lands scarce notic'd in historic tales;
Yet in fam'd Attica such lovely dales
Are rarely seen; nor can fair Tempe boast
A charm they know not; lov'd Parnassus fails,
Though classic ground and consecrated most,
To match some spots that lurk within this lowering coast.
He pass'd bleak Pindus, Acherusia's lake,
And left the primal city of the land,
And onwards did his further journey take
To greet Albania's chief, whose dread command
Is lawless law; for with a bloody hand
He sways a nation, turbulent and bold:
Yet here and there some daring mountain-band
Disdain his power, and from their rocky hold
Hurl their defiance far, nor yield, unless to gold.
Monastic Zitza! from thy shady brow,
Thou small, but favour'd spot of holy ground!
Where'er we gaze, around, above, below,
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found!
Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound,
And bluest skies that harmonize the whole:
Beneath, the distant torrent's rushing sound
Tells where the volum'd cataract doth roll
Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the soul.
Amidst the grove that crowns yon tufted hill,
Which, were it not for many a mountain high
Rising in lofty ranks, and loftier still,
Might well itself be deem'd of dignity,
The convent's white walls glisten fair on high:
Here dwells the caloyer, nor rude is he,
Nor niggard of his cheer; the passer by
Is welcome still; nor heedless will he flee
From hence, if he delight kind Nature's sheen to see.
Here in the sultriest season let him rest,
Fresh is the green beneath those aged trees;
Here winds of gentlest wing will fan his breast,
From heaven itself he may inhale the breeze:
The plain is far beneath--oh! let him seize
Pure pleasure while he can; the scorching ray
Here pierceth not, impregnate with disease:
Then let his length the loitering pilgrim lay,
And gaze, untir'd, the morn, the noon, the eve away.
Dusky and huge, enlarging on the sight,
Nature's volcanic amphitheatre,
Chimaera's alps extend from left to right:
Beneath, a living valley seems to stir;
Flocks play, trees wave, streams flow, the mountain-fir
Nodding above: behold black Acheron!
Once consecrated to the sepulchre.
Pluto! if this be hell I look upon,
Close sham'd Elysium's gates, my shade shall seek for none!
Ne city's towers pollute the lovely view;
Unseen is Yanina, though not remote,
Veil'd by the screen of hills: here men are few,
Scanty the hamlet, rare the lonely cot;
But, peering down each precipice, the goat
Browseth; and, pensive o'er his scattered flock,
The little shepherd in his white capote
Doth lean his boyish form along the rock,
Or in his cave awaits the tempest's short-liv'd shock.
Oh! where, Dodona! is thine aged grove,
Prophetic fount, and oracle divine?
What valley echo'd the response of Jove?
What trace remaineth of the thunderer's shrine?
All, all forgotten--and shall man repine
That his frail bonds to fleeting life are broke?
Cease, fool! the fate of gods may well be thine:
Wouldst thou survive the marble or the oak?
When nations, tongues, and worlds must sink beneath the stroke!
Epirus' bounds recede, and mountains fail;
Tir'd of up-gazing still, the wearied eye
Reposes gladly on as smooth a vale
As ever Spring yclad in grassy dye:
Ev'n on a plain no humble beauties lie,
Where some bold river breaks the long expanse,
And woods along the banks are waving high,
Whose shadows in the glassy waters dance,
Or with the moon-beam sleep in midnight's solemn trance.
The Sun had sunk behind vast Tomerit,
And Laos wide and fierce came roaring by;
The shades of wonted night were gathering yet,
When, down the steep banks winding warily,
Childe Harold saw, like meteors in the sky,
The glittering minarets of Tepalen,
Whose walls o'erlook the stream; and drawing nigh,
He heard the busy hum of warrior-men
Swelling the breeze that sigh'd along the lengthening glen.
He pass'd the sacred Haram's silent tower,
And underneath the wide o'erarching gate
Survey'd the dwelling of this chief of power,
Where all around proclaim'd his high estate.
Amidst no common pomp the despot sate,
While busy preparation shook the court,
Slaves, eunuchs, soldiers, guests, and santons wait;
Within, a palace, and without, a fort;
Here men of every clime appear to make resort.
Richly caparison'd, a ready row
Of armed horse, and many a warlike store
Circled the wide extending court below:
Above, strange groups adorn'd the corridore;
And oft-times through the Area's echoing door
Some high-capp'd Tartar spurr'd his steed away:
The Turk, the Greek, the Albanian, and the Moor,
Here mingled in their many-hued array,
While the deep war-drum's sound announc'd the close of day.
The wild Albanian kirtled to his knee,
With shawl-girt head and ornamented gun,
And gold-embroider'd garments, fair to see;
The crimson-scarfed men of Macedon;
The Delhi with his cap of terror on,
And crooked glaive; the lively, supple Greek;
And swarthy Nubia's mutilated son;
The bearded Turk that rarely deigns to speak,
Master of all around, too potent to be meek,
Are mix'd conspicuous: some recline in groups,
Scanning the motley scene that varies round;
There some grave Moslem to devotion stoops,
And some that smoke, and some that play, are found;
Here the Albanian proudly treads the ground;
Half whispering there the Greek is heard to prate;
Hark! from the mosque the nightly solemn sound,
The Muezzin's call doth shake the minaret,
'There is no god but God!--to prayer--lo! God is great.'
Just at this season Ramazani's fast
Through the long day its penance did maintain:
But when the lingering twilight hour was past,
Revel and feast assum'd the rule again:
Now all was bustle, and the menial train
Prepar'd and spread the plenteous board within;
The vacant gallery now seem'd made in vain,
But from the chambers came the mingling din,
As page and slave anon were passing out and in.
Here woman's voice is never heard: apart,
And scarce permitted, guarded, veil'd, to move,
She yields to one her person and her heart,
Tam'd to her cage, nor feels a wish to rove:
For, not unhappy in her master's love,
And joyful in a mother's gentlest cares,
Blest cares! all other feelings far above!
Herself more sweetly rears the babe she bears,
Who never quits the breast, no meaner passion shares.
In marble-pav'd pavilion, where a spring
Of living water from the centre rose,
Whose bubbling did a genial freshness fling,
And soft voluptuous couches breath'd repose,
ALI reclin'd, a man of war and woes;
Yet in his lineaments ye cannot trace,
While Gentleness her milder radiance throws
Along that aged venerable face,
The deeds that lurk beneath, and stain him with disgrace.
It is not that yon hoary lengthening bear
Ill suits the passions which belong to youth;
Love conquers age--so Hafiz hath averr'd,
So sings the Teian, and he sings in sooth--
But crimes that scorn the tender voice of Ruth,
Beseeming all men ill, but most the man
In years, have marked him with a tyger's tooth;
Blood follows blood, and, through their mortal span,
In bloodier acts conclude those who with blood began.
'Mid many things most new to ear and eye
The pilgrim rested here his weary feet,
And gaz'd around on Moslem luxury,
Till quickly wearied with that spacious seat
Of Wealth and Wantonness, the choice retreat
Of sated Grandeur from the city's noise:
And were it humbler it in sooth were sweet;
But Peace abhorreth artificial joys,
And Pleasure, leagued with Pomp, the zest of both destroys.
Fierce are Albania's children, yet they lack
Not virtues, were those virtues more mature.
Where is the foe that ever saw their back?
Who can so well the toil of war endure?
Their native fastnesses not more secure
Than they in doubtful time of troublous need:
Their wrath how deadly! but their friendship sure,
When Gratitude or Valour bids them bleed,
Unshaken rushing on where'er their chief may lead.
Childe Harold saw them in their chieftain's tower
Thronging to war in splendour and success;
And after view'd them, when, within their power,
Himself awhile the victim of distress;
That saddening hour when bad men hotlier press:
But these did shelter him beneath their roof,
When less barbarians would have cheered him less,
And fellow-countrymen have stood aloof--
In aught that tries the heart how few withstand the proof!
It chanc'd that adverse winds once drove his bark
Full on the coast of Suli's shaggy shore,
When all around was desolate and dark;
To land was perilous, to sojourn more;
Yet for awhile the mariners forbore,
Dubious to trust where treachery might lurk:
At length they ventur'd forth, though doubting sore
That those who loathe alike the Frank and Turk
Might once again renew their ancient butcher-work.
Vain fear! the Suliotes stretch'd the welcome hand,
Led them o'er rocks and past the dangerous swamp,
Kinder than polish'd slaves though not so bland,
And pil'd the hearth, and wrung their garments damp,
And fill'd the bowl, and trimm'd the cheerful lamp,
And spread their fare; though homely, all they had:
Such conduct bears Philanthropy's rare stamp--
To rest the weary and to soothe the sad,
Doth lesson happier men, and shames at least the bad.
It came to pass, that when he did address
Himself to quit at length this mountain-land,
Combin'd marauders half-way barr'd egress,
And wasted far and near with glaive and brand;
And therefore did he take a trusty band
To traverse Acarnania's forest wide,
In war well season'd, and with labours tann'd,
Till he did greet white Achelous' tide,
And from his further bank Aetolia's wolds espied.
Where lone Utraikey forms it circling cove,
And weary waves retires to gleam at rest,
How brown the foilage of the green hill's grove,
Nodding at midnight o'er the calm bay's breast,
As winds come lightly whispering from the west,
Kissing, not ruffling, the blue deep's serene:--
Here Harold was receiv'd a welcome guest;
Nor did he pass unmov'd the gentle scene,
For many a joy could he from Night's soft presence glean.
On the smooth shore the night-fires brightly blaz'd,
The feast was done, the red wine circling fast,
And he that unawares had there ygaz'd
With gaping wonderment had star'd aghast;
For ere night's midmost, stillest hour was past
The native revels of the troop began;
Eack Palikar his sabre from him cast,
And bounding hand in hand, man link'd to man,
Yelling their uncouth dirge, long daunc'd the kirtled clan.
Childe Harold at a little distance stood
And view'd, but not displeas'd, the revelrie,
Nor hated harmless mirth, however rude:
In sooth, it was not vulgar sight to see
Their barbarous, yet their not indecent, glee,
And, as the flames along their faces gleam'd,
Their gestures nimble, dark eyes flashing free,
The long wild locks that to their girdles stream'd,
While thus in concert they this lay hang sang, half scream'd:
Tambourgi! Tambourgi! thy 'larum afar
Gives hope to the valiant, and promise of war:
All the sons of the mountains arise at the note,
Chimariot, Illyrian, and dark Suliote!
Oh! who is more brave than a dark Suliote,
In his snowy camese and his shaggy capote?
To the wolf and the vulture he leaves his wild flock,
And descends to the plain like the stream from the rock.
Shall the sons of Chimari, who never forgive
The fault of a friend, bid an enemy live?
Let those guns so unerring such vengeance forego?
What mark is so fair as the breast of a foe?
Macedonia sends forth her invincible race;
For a time they abandon the cave and the chase:
But those scarfs of blood-red shall be redder, before
The sabre is sheath'd and the battle is o'er.
Then the pirates of Parga that dwell by the waves,
And teach the pale Franks what it is to be slaves,
Shall leave on the beach the long gallery and oar,
And track to his covert the captive on sore.
I ask not the pleasures that riches supply,
My sabre shall win what the feeble must buy;
Shall win the young bride with her long flowing hair,
And many a maid from her mother shall tear.
I love the fair fave of the maid in her youth,
Her caresses shall lull me, her music shall sooth;
Let her bring from the chamber her many-ton'd lyre,
And sing us a song on the fall of her sire.
Remember the moment when Previsa fell,
The shrieks of the conquer'd, the conqueror's yell;
The roofs that we fir'd, and the plunder we shar'd,
The wealthy we slaughter'd, the lovely we spar'd.
I talk not of mercy, I talk not of fear;
He neither must know who would serve the Vizier:
Since the days of our prophet the Crescent ne'er saw
A chief ever glorious like Ali Pashaw.
Dark Muchtar his son to the Danube is sped,
Let the yellow-hair'd Giaours view his horse-tail with dread;
When he Delhis come dashing in blood o'er the banks,
How few shall escape from the Muscovite ranks!
Selictar! unsheath then our chief's scimitar:
Tambourgi! thy 'larum gives promise of war.
Ye mountains, that see us descend to the shore,
Shall view us as victors, or view us no more!
Fair Greece! sad relic of departed worth!
Immortal, though no more! though fallen, great!
Who now shall lead thy scatter'd children forth,
And long accustom'd bondage uncreate?
Not such thy sons who whilome did await,
The hopeless warriors of a willing doom,
In bleak Thermopylae's sepulchral strait--
Oh! who that gallant spirit shall resume,
Lead from Eurotas' banks, and call thee from the tomb?
Spirit of freedom! when on Phyle's brow
Tho sat'st with Thrasybulus and his train,
Couldst thou forebode the dismal hour which now
Dims the green beauties of thine Attic plain?
Not thirty tyrants now enforce the chain,
But every carle can lord it o'er thy land;
Nor rise thy sons, but idly rail in vain,
Trembling beneath the scourge of Turkish hand,
From birth till death enslav'd; in word, in deed unmann'd.
In all save form alone, how chang'd! and who
That marks the fire still sparkling in each eye,
Who but would deem their bosom burn'd anew
With thy unquenched beam, lost Liberty!
And many dream withal the hour is nigh
That gives them back their fathers' heritage:
For foreign arms and aid they fondly sigh,
Nor solely dare encounter hostile rage,
Or tear their name defil'd from Slavery's mournfal page.
Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?
By their right arms the conquest must be wrought?
Will Gaul or Muscovite redress ye? no!
True, they lay your proud despoilers low,
But not for you will Freedom's altars flame.
Shades of the Helots! triumph o'er your foe!
Greece! change thy lords, thy state is still the same;
Thy glorious day is o'er, but not thine years of shame.
The city won for Allah from the Giaour,
The Giaour from Othmna's race again may wrest;
And the Serai's impenetrable tower
Receive the fiery Frank, her former guest;
On Wahab's rebel brood who dared divest
The prophet's tomb of all its pious spoil,
May wind their path of blood along the West;
But ne'er will freedom seek this fated soil,
But slave succeed to slave through years of endless toil.
Yet mark their mirth--ere lenten days begin,
That penance which their holy rites prepare
To shrive from man his weight of mortal sin,
By daily abstinence and nightly prayer;
But ere his sackcloth garb Repentance wear,
Some days of joyaunce are decreed to all,
To take the pleasaunce each his secret share,
In motley robe to dance at masking ball,
And join the mimic train of merry Carnival.
And whose more rife with merriment than thine,
Oh Stamboul! once the empress of their reign?
Though turbans now pollute Sophia's shrine,
And Greece her very altars eyes in vain:
(Alas! her woes will still pervade my strain!)
Gay were her minstrels once, for free her throng,
All felt the common joy they now must feign,
Nor oft I've seen such sight, nor heard such song,
As woo'd the eye, and thrill'd the Bosphorus along.
Loud was the lightsome tumult of the shore,
Oft Music chang'd but never ceas'd her tone,
And timely echo'd back the measur'd oar,
And rippling waters made a pleasant moan:
The Queen of tides on high consenting shone,
And when a transient breeze swept o'er the wave,
'Twas, as if darting from her heavenly throne,
A brighter glance her form reflected gave,
Till sparkling billows seem'd to light the banks they lave.
Glanc'd many a light caique along the foam,
Danc'd on the shore the daughters of the land,
Ne thought had man or maid of rest or home,
While many a languid eye and thrilling hand
Exchang'd the look few bosoms may withstand,
Or gently prest, return'd the pressure still:
Oh Love! young Love! bound in thy rosy band,
Let sage or cynic prattle as he will,
These hours, and only these, redeem Life's years of ill!
But, midst the throng in merry masquerade,
Lurk there no hearts that throb with secret pain,
Even through the closest searment half betrayed?
To such gentle murmurs of the main
Seem to re-echo all they mourn in vain;
To such the gladness of the gamesome crowd
Is source of wayward thought and stern disdain:
How do they loathe the laughter idly loud,
And long to change the robe of revel for the shroud!
This must he feel, the true-born son of Greece,
If Greece one true-born patriot still can boast:
Not such as prate of war, but skulk in peace,
The bondman's peace, who sighs for all he lost,
Yet with smooth smile his tyrant can accost,
And wield the slavish sickle, not the sword:
Ah! Greece! they love thee least who owe thee most;
Their birth, their blood, and taht sublime record
Of hero sires, who shame thy now degenerate horde!
When riseth Lacedemon's hardihood,
When Thebes Epaminondas rears again,
When Athens' children are with hearts endured,
When Grecian mothers shall give birth to men,
Then may'st thou be restored; but not till then.
A thousand years scarce serve to form a state;
An hour may lay it in the dust: and when
Can man its shatter'd splendour renovate,
Recal its virtues back, and vanquish Time and Fate?
And yet how lovely in thine age of woe,
Land of lost gods and godlike men! art thou!
Thy vales of ever-green, thy hills of snow
Proclaim thee Nature's varied favourite now:
Thy fanes, thy temples to thy surface bow,
Commingling slowly with heroic earth,
Broke by the share of every rustic plough:
So perish monuments of mortal birth,
So perish all in turn, save well-recorded Worth;
Save where some solitary column mourns
Avove its prostrate brethren of the cave;
Save where Tritonia's airy shrine adorns
Colonna's cliff, and gleams along the wave;
Save o'er some warrior's half-forgotten grave,
Where the grey stones and unmolested grass
Ages, but not oblivion, feebly brave,
While strangers only not regardless pass,
Lingering like me, perchance, to gaze, and sigh 'Alas!'
Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild;
Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields,
Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smil'd,
And still his honied wealth Hymettus yields,
There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
The freeborn wanderer of thy mountain-air;
Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
Still in his beam Mendeli's marbles glare;
Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair.
Where'er we tread 'tis haunted, holy ground;
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,
But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the Muse's tales seem truly told,
Till the sense aches with gazing to behold
The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon:
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold
Defies the power which crush'd thy temples gone:
Age shakes Athena's tower, but spares gray Marathon.
The sun, the soil, but not the slave, the same;
Unchanged in all except its foreign lord--
Preserves alike its bounds and boundless fame
The Battle-field, where Persia's victim horde
First bowed beneath the brunt of Hella's sword,
As on the morn to distant Glory dear,
When Marathon became a magic word;
Which utter'd, to the hearer's eye appear
The camp, the host, the fight, the conqueror's career,
The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
The fiery Grk, his red pursuing spear;
Mountains above, Earth's, Ocean's plain below;
Death in the front, Destruction in the rear!
Such was the scene--what now remaineth here?
What sacred trophy marks the hallow'd ground,
Recording Freedom's smile and Asia's tear?
The rifled urn, the violated mound,
The dust thy courser's hoof, rude stranger! spurns around.
Yet to the remnants of thy splendour past
Shall pilgrims, pensive, but unwearied, throng;
Long shall the voyager, with th' Ionian blast,
Hail the bright clime of battle and of song;
Long shall thine annals and immortal tongue
Fill with thy fame the youth of many a shore;
Boast of the aged! lesson of the young!
Which sages venerate and bards adore,
As pallas and the Muse unveil their awful lore.
The parted bosom clings to wonted home,
If aught that's kindred cheer the welcome hearth;
He that is lonely hither let him roam,
ANd gaze complacent on congenial earth.
Greece is no lightsome land of social mirth;
But he whom Sadness sootheth may abide,
And scarce regret the region of his birth,
When wandering slow by Delphi's sacred side,
Or gazing o'er the plains where Greek and Persian died.
Let such approach this consecrated land,
And pass iin peace along the magic waste:
But spare its relics--let no busy hand
Deface the scenes, already how defac'd!
Not for such purpose were these altars plac'd:
Revere the remnants nations once rever'd:
So may our country's name be undisgrac'd,
So may'st thou prosper where thy youth was rear'd,
By every honest joy of love and life endear'd!
For thee, who thus in too protracted song
Hast sooth'd thine idlesse with inglorious lays,
Soon shall thy voice be lost amid the throng
Of louder minstrels in these later days:
To such resign the strife for fading bays--
Ill may such contest now the spirit move
Which heeds nor keen reproach nor partial praise;
Since cold each kinder heart that might approve,
And none are left to please when none are left to love.
Thou too art gone, thou lov'd and lovely one!
Whom youth and youth's affection bound to me;
Who did for me what none beside have done,
Nor shrank from one albeit unworthy thee,
What is my being? thou hast ceas'd to be!
Nor staid to welcome here thy wanderer home,
Who mourns o'er hours which we no more shall see--
Would they had never been, or were to come!
Would he had ne'er return'd to find fresh cause to roam!
Oh! ever loving, lovely, and belov'd!
How selfish Sorrow ponders on the past,
And clings to thoughts now better far remov'd!
But Time shall tear thy shadow from me last.
All thou could'st have of mine, stern Death! thou hast;
The parent, friend, and now the more than friend:
Ne'er yet for one thine arrows flew so fast,
And grief with grief continuing still to blend,
Hath snatch'd the little joy that life had yet to lend.
Then must I plunge again into the crowd,
And follow all that peace disdains to seek?
Where Revel calls, and Laughter, vainly loud,
False to the heart, distors the hollow cheek,
To leave the flagging spirit doubly weak;
Still o'er the features, which perforce they cheer,
To feign the pleasure or conceal the pique,
Smiles form the channel of a future tear,
Or raise the writhing lip with ill-dissembled sneer.
What is the worst of woes that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each lov'd one blotted from life's page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
Before the Chastener humbly let me bow:
O'er hearts divided and o'er hopes destroy'd,
Roll on, vain days! full reckless may ye flow,
Since Time hath reft whate'er my soul enjoy'd,
And with the ills of Eld mine earlier years alloy'd.