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Nothing Stays The Same

In this old world of ours,
nothing stays the same.
Two hearts so much in love
could easily break tomorrow
or when the next day comes.
Two lives could be easily shattered
as nothing stays the same.
Hate can easily turn to love
the very same way.
One day you could hate someone,
next day you could love them to bits.
The future is not ours to share
for nothing ever stays the same.
Today you could say you are leaving
and tomorrow you’ll come home again;
as long as this old world keeps turning,
nothing will ever stay the same.

1 November 2009

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 13

Thus did he speak, and they all held their peace throughout the
covered cloister, enthralled by the charm of his story, till presently
Alcinous began to speak.
"Ulysses," said he, "now that you have reached my house I doubt
not you will get home without further misadventure no matter how
much you have suffered in the past. To you others, however, who come
here night after night to drink my choicest wine and listen to my
bard, I would insist as follows. Our guest has already packed up the
clothes, wrought gold, and other valuables which you have brought
for his acceptance; let us now, therefore, present him further, each
one of us, with a large tripod and a cauldron. We will recoup
ourselves by the levy of a general rate; for private individuals
cannot be expected to bear the burden of such a handsome present."
Every one approved of this, and then they went home to bed each in
his own abode. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, they hurried down to the ship and brought their cauldrons
with them. Alcinous went on board and saw everything so securely
stowed under the ship's benches that nothing could break adrift and
injure the rowers. Then they went to the house of Alcinous to get
dinner, and he sacrificed a bull for them in honour of Jove who is the
lord of all. They set the steaks to grill and made an excellent
dinner, after which the inspired bard, Demodocus, who was a
favourite with every one, sang to them; but Ulysses kept on turning
his eyes towards the sun, as though to hasten his setting, for he
was longing to be on his way. As one who has been all day ploughing
a fallow field with a couple of oxen keeps thinking about his supper
and is glad when night comes that he may go and get it, for it is
all his legs can do to carry him, even so did Ulysses rejoice when the
sun went down, and he at once said to the Phaecians, addressing
himself more particularly to King Alcinous:
"Sir, and all of you, farewell. Make your drink-offerings and send
me on my way rejoicing, for you have fulfilled my heart's desire by
giving me an escort, and making me presents, which heaven grant that I
may turn to good account; may I find my admirable wife living in peace
among friends, and may you whom I leave behind me give satisfaction to
your wives and children; may heaven vouchsafe you every good grace,
and may no evil thing come among your people."
Thus did he speak. His hearers all of them approved his saying and
agreed that he should have his escort inasmuch as he had spoken
reasonably. Alcinous therefore said to his servant, "Pontonous, mix
some wine and hand it round to everybody, that we may offer a prayer
to father Jove, and speed our guest upon his way."
Pontonous mixed the wine and handed it to every one in turn; the
others each from his own seat made a drink-offering to the blessed
gods that live in heaven, but Ulysses rose and placed the double cup
in the hands of queen Arete.
"Farewell, queen," said he, "henceforward and for ever, till age and
death, the common lot of mankind, lay their hands upon you. I now take
my leave; be happy in this house with your children, your people,
and with king Alcinous."
As he spoke he crossed the threshold, and Alcinous sent a man to
conduct him to his ship and to the sea shore. Arete also sent some
maid servants with him- one with a clean shirt and cloak, another to
carry his strong-box, and a third with corn and wine. When they got to
the water side the crew took these things and put them on board,
with all the meat and drink; but for Ulysses they spread a rug and a
linen sheet on deck that he might sleep soundly in the stern of the
ship. Then he too went on board and lay down without a word, but the
crew took every man his place and loosed the hawser from the pierced
stone to which it had been bound. Thereon, when they began rowing
out to sea, Ulysses fell into a deep, sweet, and almost deathlike
slumber.
The ship bounded forward on her way as a four in hand chariot
flies over the course when the horses feel the whip. Her prow curveted
as it were the neck of a stallion, and a great wave of dark blue water
seethed in her wake. She held steadily on her course, and even a
falcon, swiftest of all birds, could not have kept pace with her.
Thus, then, she cut her way through the water. carrying one who was as
cunning as the gods, but who was now sleeping peacefully, forgetful of
all that he had suffered both on the field of battle and by the
waves of the weary sea.
When the bright star that heralds the approach of dawn began to
show. the ship drew near to land. Now there is in Ithaca a haven of
the old merman Phorcys, which lies between two points that break the
line of the sea and shut the harbour in. These shelter it from the
storms of wind and sea that rage outside, so that, when once within
it, a ship may lie without being even moored. At the head of this
harbour there is a large olive tree, and at no distance a fine
overarching cavern sacred to the nymphs who are called Naiads. There
are mixing-bowls within it and wine-jars of stone, and the bees hive
there. Moreover, there are great looms of stone on which the nymphs
weave their robes of sea purple- very curious to see- and at all times
there is water within it. It has two entrances, one facing North by
which mortals can go down into the cave, while the other comes from
the South and is more mysterious; mortals cannot possibly get in by
it, it is the way taken by the gods.
Into this harbour, then, they took their ship, for they knew the
place, She had so much way upon her that she ran half her own length
on to the shore; when, however, they had landed, the first thing
they did was to lift Ulysses with his rug and linen sheet out of the
ship, and lay him down upon the sand still fast asleep. Then they took
out the presents which Minerva had persuaded the Phaeacians to give
him when he was setting out on his voyage homewards. They put these
all together by the root of the olive tree, away from the road, for
fear some passer by might come and steal them before Ulysses awoke;
and then they made the best of their way home again.
But Neptune did not forget the threats with which he had already
threatened Ulysses, so he took counsel with Jove. "Father Jove,"
said he, "I shall no longer be held in any sort of respect among you
gods, if mortals like the Phaeacians, who are my own flesh and
blood, show such small regard for me. I said I would Ulysses get
home when he had suffered sufficiently. I did not say that he should
never get home at all, for I knew you had already nodded your head
about it, and promised that he should do so; but now they have brought
him in a ship fast asleep and have landed him in Ithaca after
loading him with more magnificent presents of bronze, gold, and
raiment than he would ever have brought back from Troy, if he had
had his share of the spoil and got home without misadventure."
And Jove answered, "What, O Lord of the Earthquake, are you
talking about? The gods are by no means wanting in respect for you. It
would be monstrous were they to insult one so old and honoured as
you are. As regards mortals, however, if any of them is indulging in
insolence and treating you disrespectfully, it will always rest with
yourself to deal with him as you may think proper, so do just as you
please."
"I should have done so at once," replied Neptune, "if I were not
anxious to avoid anything that might displease you; now, therefore,
I should like to wreck the Phaecian ship as it is returning from its
escort. This will stop them from escorting people in future; and I
should also like to bury their city under a huge mountain."
"My good friend," answered Jove, "I should recommend you at the very
moment when the people from the city are watching the ship on her way,
to turn it into a rock near the land and looking like a ship. This
will astonish everybody, and you can then bury their city under the
mountain."
When earth-encircling Neptune heard this he went to Scheria where
the Phaecians live, and stayed there till the ship, which was making
rapid way, had got close-in. Then he went up to it, turned it into
stone, and drove it down with the flat of his hand so as to root it in
the ground. After this he went away.
The Phaeacians then began talking among themselves, and one would
turn towards his neighbour, saying, "Bless my heart, who is it that
can have rooted the ship in the sea just as she was getting into port?
We could see the whole of her only moment ago."
This was how they talked, but they knew nothing about it; and
Alcinous said, "I remember now the old prophecy of my father. He
said that Neptune would be angry with us for taking every one so
safely over the sea, and would one day wreck a Phaeacian ship as it
was returning from an escort, and bury our city under a high mountain.
This was what my old father used to say, and now it is all coming
true. Now therefore let us all do as I say; in the first place we must
leave off giving people escorts when they come here, and in the next
let us sacrifice twelve picked bulls to Neptune that he may have mercy
upon us, and not bury our city under the high mountain." When the
people heard this they were afraid and got ready the bulls.
Thus did the chiefs and rulers of the Phaecians to king Neptune,
standing round his altar; and at the same time Ulysses woke up once
more upon his own soil. He had been so long away that he did not
know it again; moreover, Jove's daughter Minerva had made it a foggy
day, so that people might not know of his having come, and that she
might tell him everything without either his wife or his fellow
citizens and friends recognizing him until he had taken his revenge
upon the wicked suitors. Everything, therefore, seemed quite different
to him- the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and
the goodly trees, appeared all changed as he started up and looked
upon his native land. So he smote his thighs with the flat of his
hands and cried aloud despairingly.
"Alas," he exclaimed, "among what manner of people am I fallen?
Are they savage and uncivilized or hospitable and humane? Where
shall I put all this treasure, and which way shall I go? I wish I
had stayed over there with the Phaeacians; or I could have gone to
some other great chief who would have been good to me and given me
an escort. As it is I do not know where to put my treasure, and I
cannot leave it here for fear somebody else should get hold of it.
In good truth the chiefs and rulers of the Phaeacians have not been
dealing fairly by me, and have left me in the wrong country; they said
they would take me back to Ithaca and they have not done so: may
Jove the protector of suppliants chastise them, for he watches over
everybody and punishes those who do wrong. Still, I suppose I must
count my goods and see if the crew have gone off with any of them."
He counted his goodly coppers and cauldrons, his gold and all his
clothes, but there was nothing missing; still he kept grieving about
not being in his own country, and wandered up and down by the shore of
the sounding sea bewailing his hard fate. Then Minerva came up to
him disguised as a young shepherd of delicate and princely mien,
with a good cloak folded double about her shoulders; she had sandals
on her comely feet and held a javelin in her hand. Ulysses was glad
when he saw her, and went straight up to her.
"My friend," said he, "you are the first person whom I have met with
in this country; I salute you, therefore, and beg you to be will
disposed towards me. Protect these my goods, and myself too, for I
embrace your knees and pray to you as though you were a god. Tell
me, then, and tell me truly, what land and country is this? Who are
its inhabitants? Am I on an island, or is this the sea board of some
continent?"
Minerva answered, "Stranger, you must be very simple, or must have
come from somewhere a long way off, not to know what country this
is. It is a very celebrated place, and everybody knows it East and
West. It is rugged and not a good driving country, but it is by no
means a bid island for what there is of it. It grows any quantity of
corn and also wine, for it is watered both by rain and dew; it
breeds cattle also and goats; all kinds of timber grow here, and there
are watering places where the water never runs dry; so, sir, the
name of Ithaca is known even as far as Troy, which I understand to
be a long way off from this Achaean country."
Ulysses was glad at finding himself, as Minerva told him, in his own
country, and he began to answer, but he did not speak the truth, and
made up a lying story in the instinctive wiliness of his heart.
"I heard of Ithaca," said he, "when I was in Crete beyond the
seas, and now it seems I have reached it with all these treasures. I
have left as much more behind me for my children, but am flying
because I killed Orsilochus son of Idomeneus, the fleetest runner in
Crete. I killed him because he wanted to rob me of the spoils I had
got from Troy with so much trouble and danger both on the field of
battle and by the waves of the weary sea; he said I had not served his
father loyally at Troy as vassal, but had set myself up as an
independent ruler, so I lay in wait for him and with one of my
followers by the road side, and speared him as he was coming into town
from the country. my It was a very dark night and nobody saw us; it
was not known, therefore, that I had killed him, but as soon as I
had done so I went to a ship and besought the owners, who were
Phoenicians, to take me on board and set me in Pylos or in Elis
where the Epeans rule, giving them as much spoil as satisfied them.
They meant no guile, but the wind drove them off their course, and
we sailed on till we came hither by night. It was all we could do to
get inside the harbour, and none of us said a word about supper though
we wanted it badly, but we all went on shore and lay down just as we
were. I was very tired and fell asleep directly, so they took my goods
out of the ship, and placed them beside me where I was lying upon
the sand. Then they sailed away to Sidonia, and I was left here in
great distress of mind."
Such was his story, but Minerva smiled and caressed him with her
hand. Then she took the form of a woman, fair, stately, and wise,
"He must be indeed a shifty lying fellow," said she, "who could
surpass you in all manner of craft even though you had a god for
your antagonist. Dare-devil that you are, full of guile, unwearying in
deceit, can you not drop your tricks and your instinctive falsehood,
even now that you are in your own country again? We will say no
more, however, about this, for we can both of us deceive upon
occasion- you are the most accomplished counsellor and orator among
all mankind, while I for diplomacy and subtlety have no equal among
the gods. Did you not know Jove's daughter Minerva- me, who have
been ever with you, who kept watch over you in all your troubles,
and who made the Phaeacians take so great a liking to you? And now,
again, I am come here to talk things over with you, and help you to
hide the treasure I made the Phaeacians give you; I want to tell you
about the troubles that await you in your own house; you have got to
face them, but tell no one, neither man nor woman, that you have
come home again. Bear everything, and put up with every man's
insolence, without a word."
And Ulysses answered, "A man, goddess, may know a great deal, but
you are so constantly changing your appearance that when he meets
you it is a hard matter for him to know whether it is you or not. This
much, however, I know exceedingly well; you were very kind to me as
long as we Achaeans were fighting before Troy, but from the day on
which we went on board ship after having sacked the city of Priam, and
heaven dispersed us- from that day, Minerva, I saw no more of you, and
cannot ever remember your coming to my ship to help me in a
difficulty; I had to wander on sick and sorry till the gods
delivered me from evil and I reached the city of the Phaeacians, where
you encouraged me and took me into the town. And now, I beseech you in
your father's name, tell me the truth, for I do not believe I am
really back in Ithaca. I am in some other country and you are
mocking me and deceiving me in all you have been saying. Tell me
then truly, have I really got back to my own country?"
"You are always taking something of that sort into your head,"
replied Minerva, "and that is why I cannot desert you in your
afflictions; you are so plausible, shrewd and shifty. Any one but
yourself on returning from so long a voyage would at once have gone
home to see his wife and children, but you do not seem to care about
asking after them or hearing any news about them till you have
exploited your wife, who remains at home vainly grieving for you,
and having no peace night or day for the tears she sheds on your
behalf. As for my not coming near you, I was never uneasy about you,
for I was certain you would get back safely though you would lose
all your men, and I did not wish to quarrel with my uncle Neptune, who
never forgave you for having blinded his son. I will now, however,
point out to you the lie of the land, and you will then perhaps
believe me. This is the haven of the old merman Phorcys, and here is
the olive tree that grows at the head of it; [near it is the cave
sacred to the Naiads;] here too is the overarching cavern in which you
have offered many an acceptable hecatomb to the nymphs, and this is
the wooded mountain Neritum."
As she spoke the goddess dispersed the mist and the land appeared.
Then Ulysses rejoiced at finding himself again in his own land, and
kissed the bounteous soil; he lifted up his hands and prayed to the
nymphs, saying, "Naiad nymphs, daughters of Jove, I made sure that I
was never again to see you, now therefore I greet you with all
loving salutations, and I will bring you offerings as in the old days,
if Jove's redoubtable daughter will grant me life, and bring my son to
manhood."
"Take heart, and do not trouble yourself about that," rejoined
Minerva, "let us rather set about stowing your things at once in the
cave, where they will be quite safe. Let us see how we can best manage
it all."
Therewith she went down into the cave to look for the safest
hiding places, while Ulysses brought up all the treasure of gold,
bronze, and good clothing which the Phaecians had given him. They
stowed everything carefully away, and Minerva set a stone against
the door of the cave. Then the two sat down by the root of the great
olive, and consulted how to compass the destruction of the wicked
suitors.
"Ulysses," said Minerva, "noble son of Laertes, think how you can
lay hands on these disreputable people who have been lording it in
your house these three years, courting your wife and making wedding
presents to her, while she does nothing but lament your absence,
giving hope and sending your encouraging messages to every one of
them, but meaning the very opposite of all she says'
And Ulysses answered, "In good truth, goddess, it seems I should
have come to much the same bad end in my own house as Agamemnon did,
if you had not given me such timely information. Advise me how I shall
best avenge myself. Stand by my side and put your courage into my
heart as on the day when we loosed Troy's fair diadem from her brow.
Help me now as you did then, and I will fight three hundred men, if
you, goddess, will be with me."
"Trust me for that," said she, "I will not lose sight of you when
once we set about it, and I would imagine that some of those who are
devouring your substance will then bespatter the pavement with their
blood and brains. I will begin by disguising you so that no human
being shall know you; I will cover your body with wrinkles; you
shall lose all your yellow hair; I will clothe you in a garment that
shall fill all who see it with loathing; I will blear your fine eyes
for you, and make you an unseemly object in the sight of the
suitors, of your wife, and of the son whom you left behind you. Then
go at once to the swineherd who is in charge of your pigs; he has been
always well affected towards you, and is devoted to Penelope and
your son; you will find him feeding his pigs near the rock that is
called Raven by the fountain Arethusa, where they are fattening on
beechmast and spring water after their manner. Stay with him and
find out how things are going, while I proceed to Sparta and see
your son, who is with Menelaus at Lacedaemon, where he has gone to try
and find out whether you are still alive."
"But why," said Ulysses, "did you not tell him, for you knew all
about it? Did you want him too to go sailing about amid all kinds of
hardship while others are eating up his estate?"
Minerva answered, "Never mind about him, I sent him that he might be
well spoken of for having gone. He is in no sort of difficulty, but is
staying quite comfortably with Menelaus, and is surrounded with
abundance of every kind. The suitors have put out to sea and are lying
in wait for him, for they mean to kill him before he can get home. I
do not much think they will succeed, but rather that some of those who
are now eating up your estate will first find a grave themselves."
As she spoke Minerva touched him with her wand and covered him
with wrinkles, took away all his yellow hair, and withered the flesh
over his whole body; she bleared his eyes, which were naturally very
fine ones; she changed his clothes and threw an old rag of a wrap
about him, and a tunic, tattered, filthy, and begrimed with smoke; she
also gave him an undressed deer skin as an outer garment, and
furnished him with a staff and a wallet all in holes, with a twisted
thong for him to sling it over his shoulder.
When the pair had thus laid their plans they parted, and the goddess
went straight to Lacedaemon to fetch Telemachus.

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When The Dead Whisper To The Living

When the dead whisper to the living
That they can’t go home again
The living wonder and wait and have no answer
They want to help but they cannot-
The dead whisper and whisper and whisper again
And then cry out at night in the screams of dreams of nightmares everlasting
They ask they demand
But no one ever answers them.
You can’t come home again’ says the cliché
And the dead know the meaning of this on their flesh
If they have any flesh left-
They want to return
They want to touch this place again
But they cannot-
How gone are we all then and will we by when we say goodbye forever
To this dear earth and small home
Which we sometimes love.

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Will He No Come Back Again?

Royal Charlie's now awa,
Safely owre the friendly main;
Mony a heart will break in twa,
Should he ne'er come back again.
Will you no come back again?
Will you no come back again?
Better lo'ed you'll never be,
And will you no come back again?

Mony a traitor 'mang the isles
Brak the band o' nature's law;
Mony a traitor, wi' his wiles,
Sought to wear his life awa.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

The hills he trode were a' his ain,
And bed beneath the birken tree;
The bush that hid him on the plain,
There's none on earth can claim but he.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Whene'er I hear the blackbird sing,
Unto the e'ening sinking down,
Or merl that makes the woods to ring,
To me they hae nae ither soun',
Than, Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Mony a gallant sodger fought,
Mony a gallant chief did fa';
Death itself were dearly bought,
A' for Scotland's king and law.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Sweet the lav'rock's note and lang,
Lilting wildly up the glen;
And aye the o'erword o' the sang
Is "Will he no come back again?"
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

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Will He No Come Back Again?

Royal Charlie's now awa,
Safely owre the friendly main;
Mony a heart will break in twa,
Should he ne'er come back again.
Will you no come back again?
Will you no come back again?
Better lo'ed you'll never be,
And will you no come back again?

Mony a traitor 'mang the isles
Brak the band o' nature's law;
Mony a traitor, wi' his wiles,
Sought to wear his life awa.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

The hills he trode were a' his ain,
And bed beneath the birken tree;
The bush that hid him on the plain,
There's none on earth can claim but he.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Whene'er I hear the blackbird sing,
Unto the e'ening sinking down,
Or merl that makes the woods to ring,
To me they hae nae ither soun',
Than, Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Mony a gallant sodger fought,
Mony a gallant chief did fa';
Death itself were dearly bought,
A' for Scotland's king and law.
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

Sweet the lav'rock's note and lang,
Lilting wildly up the glen;
And aye the o'erword o' the sang
Is "Will he no come back again?"
Will he no come back again?
Will he no come back again?
Better lo'ed he'll never be,
And will he no come back again?

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The Biker chick Rag

So long farewell goodbye
your tears won’t buy me a beer
Someday when your young again I’ll
come home again

So long farewell goodbye

She left on her Harley
a thunder of pipes
was all that I could hear

She looped back around
and gave me a biker check wave
as the front wheel began to rise

a wheelie they call it
a cycle display
of contempt and delight at having her way

Her leathers were fringed
and the bone in her nose
sparkled in the light of the day

She rides with Hell’s Angels
east of LA
and works in a strippers bar

I stop now and again
to sit and watch her act
and leave a buck or two
in the G-string she wears
for her pants

So long farewell goodbye
she says
as I leave to pick up the kids.

Oh how I miss that damn bone in her nose

So long farewell goodbye

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Private Heaven

Ah, what happened to our little girl?
She doesnt sing like she used to do
Ah, why wont she say it to the world?
She doesnt want us anymore. she is gone
In a private heaven
They may try
But nobody can find you
In a private heaven
Close your eyes
Its waiting right behind you
Ah, when did her laughter fly away?
She doesnt smile like she used to do
Ah, where is her happy yesterday?
She doesnt want us anymore. she is gone
In a private heaven
They may try
But nobody can find you
In a private heaven
Close your eyes
Its waiting right behind you
You cant take our love away - no you cant
You cant take our love away - please dont take
You cant take our love away - no you cant now
You cant take our love away - please dont take it
You cant take our love away - no you cant
You cant take our love away - please dont take
You cant take our love away - cant take it away
You cant take our love away - cant take it away
You cant take our love away - you cant take it away
Ah, will you be coming home again?
She doesnt have somewhere else to go
Ah, who will become your special friend?
I will be taking her away. she is gone
In a private heaven
They may try
But nobody can find you
In a private heaven
Close your eyes
Its waiting right behind you

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Nothing Ever Last

The World's great Empires have gone to decay
They rose and they fell and each had their day
And one Super Power rise as another does fall
And the small will grow great and the great become small.

The Pharoahs and the Aztecs and the Incas as well
And the all conquering Romans too had their glorious spell
And the Spaniards and the British of the recent past
Were known to be great Empires but they too did not last.

The Soviets and Germans great power did command
But their demise not that hard to understand
Since great powers they come and great powers they go
Though nothing lasts forever as history does show.

Genghis Khan and Napoleon and Alexander the Great
These all conquering heroes had their use by date
Though in the history of the World their names living on
The Empires they ruled over like them are long gone.

Un-rivalled for supremacy as the World Super Power of today
By far the most powerful Nation is the U S of A
But as history does tell us nothing ever last
And one day they too will be a power of the past.

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Patrick White

There Was Nothing Ever To Forgive You For

There was nothing ever to forgive you for
I'd say to you now if you were still alive.
Pain doesn't maintain an agent,
though as many who have lived
have been named as perpetrators;
it just occurs
like happiness just happens
like a stroke of luck, a touch of grace
in an astronomical lottery of famished chances.
Voices arise in my head to address you
in the immensities of time and sorrow
like spokesmen for my heart
and another part of me
listens from the audience to this play
that's been going on for light years without you.
I suspect I'm still trying to perfect the way I loved you
out of force of habit, knowing how
redundant and absurd that is
long after the play closed
and the plaster cherubs
on the Ionian cornices of the theatre
were buried in the rubble
along with the comic and tragic masks
that shed their petals when the lights went off
and everyone was left face to face with themselves.
You have drifted in and out of my poems for years
like a curtain at an open window
in an abandoned house,
like blue smoke from an autumn fire,
the fragrance of the bath you draw from the stars
and sweeten with the salts of lunar wildflowers
whenever you want to renew your virginity
like the kings' mistress
stepping out of the sea
like some Renaissance Venus
covering her sex up with a serpentine lock of hair.
You're the sparrow on the finger of Catullus' lover
except now you can only make it as far
as my windowsill
though I leave everything open to you
to come and go as you please and must.
No illusory skies. No broken necks.
No more finger-stroking the soft walnut of a bird's head
like a lost locket full of grief,
like a small lamp that can't grant anymore wishes
however you caress it.
Ah, the genie's out mingling with the Milky Way
like all unencompassed spirits of the night,
like dead souls in the bodies of Canada geese
heading southwest
though their echoes are veering northeast
as if their homeless ghosts
had a place and mind of their own,
an airy nothingness
without a local habitation or a name.
In my view of the world as picture-music
in an expanding universe with its foot to the floor
on a pedal of dark energy
the vision's always too big
for any frame or stage or star map
you bring to it to try and express
where things are improbably at now.
We were young together for awhile
and we sought to embrace the world
and everything in it
even if it meant kissing the dead on the forehead
to wake them up gently from their long dream
of flying in formation with Canada geese,
though it never did.
I tried it on you more than once.
I kissed every bead on a rosary of prophetic skulls.
And still to this day no one answers, no one hears.
I tried to scry the future
in the crystal balls of my tears
but all I ever saw was the same old moon,
the same old stars that crossed us off
their birthday guest list
like a calendar of total eclipses
that had already taken place.
And I knew the future was far behind us.
And your early death could only make you more beautiful
as the years wore out their threadbare flying carpets
and those rare bright nocturnal spirits of life
you were meant to meet and fall in love with
like the heart loves its bloodstream
like a waterclock loves the passage of time
when it's full to overbrimming
with water on the moon
grow rarer and further apart
like stars on the skin of our cosmic enlargements.
Just like this open window
that never lets eternity become a barrier to the dead.
I've never closed the curtains on the play.
I've never drawn a veil over
the fountains and the waterfalls
the wetlands and rapids of my mindstream
and said to the lady of the lake
in her garment of mist
this is live water
and that water's dead
as if there were a wave of difference
between the one that carries forth
and the one that carries away.
The cloud and the snow on the mountaintop
both speak the same language,
share the same mother-tongue
as does the fog in the valley
the ice, the rain, the dew,
as if what's false about the living
were true of the dead as well,
everything sublime, everything trivial.
Hydra-headed water shapeshifting
through our hands
like the desert sands of an hourglass
that dump the pyramid
and finally get out of the box.
Lunar landscapes
with transmogrifying mindstreams
that apply themselves like water
to mending gardens on the moon
while death waits like a stranger at the gate
to commend you on the green thumb
that's apparent in your choice of wildflowers.
I can still feel you bend time
like the body of a guitar
when you're around me
trying to tune the spider webs
in the corner of the room I write in
to your cosmic whole note of silence.
And just as you were a muse of mine in life
and I drew your intoxicating waters
deeply from the well
and we walked under the stars awhile
without caring where we were going
so even in death
I can feel you come to the dead branch sometimes
like inspiration to a night bird's heart
when it doesn't really matter
if anyone answers or not
because you flower like longing
in the roots of my solitude
and the moon blossoms
and my poems unfold like leaves.

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The Future Is Not Ours To See

The future is not ours to see
Whatever the future
Bring to us
We should be garateful
For that

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Nothing Ever Fills

The sheets made of needle
That he used to dab off
A faucet of an ocean
And scarred the marred
Face of pallid darkness
Never unruffled to wake
In the noontime rain
Consuming January eight
And beneath the frothing
Waves of the supercilious
Blathering of the air
Quartz tongue scintillated
Ready to be washed ashore
In a malign gambling
That divulges a sleazy scene
Of undraping fabrics,
Caressing flesh,
And licking wounds
With salted tongues
But the taste of verdigris
Excoriated an aposiopesis
Of infelicity
And the January air
Grew thinner,
And the rain
Pummeled harder
With the zephyr
Chanting the veracity
Of mendaciloquence
That nothing
Ever fills.

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Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

Written by dennis deyoung
Lead vocals by dennis deyoung
Whatcha going to do when the sun goes down tonight
Youll hit the same old clubs, rap that same old trash
Thats right
Youve got them real silk shirts and them baggy pants
Dago shoes in the colors that match
But the girls are acting bored
And youre feeling like youre going to lose
Youve got the g.q. blues
You get up every morning and you go to work each day
(you go to work, you go to work, you go to work)
Been doing the same damn job for ten long years this may
(youve got to work, youve got to work, youve got to work)
Youve been working and saving for your jamaican dream
Paradise is waiting across the sea
But when your plane lands montego turns to monsoon
Youve got the island blues
cause, nothing ever goes as planned
Its a hell of a notion
Even pharaohs turn to sand
Like a drop in the ocean
Youre so together and you act so civilized
But every time that things go wrong youre still surprised
Youve done your duty, youve paid a fortune in dues
Still got those mother natures blues
I strut around the stage like a little king tonight
Theyll scream for every word and every note, thats right
But when the show is over and Im all alone
Cant reach my baby on the telephone
And everywhere I look mr. loneliness is in the news
Ive got the big star blues
Boy, nothing ever goes as planned
Its a hell of a notion
Even pharaohs turn to sand
Like a drop in the ocean
Im so together and I act so civilized
But every time that things go wrong
Im still surprised
Ive done my duty and paid a fortune in dues
Still got them mother natures blues

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 9

And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, it is a good thing to hear a
bard with such a divine voice as this man has. There is nothing better
or more delightful than when a whole people make merry together,
with the guests sitting orderly to listen, while the table is loaded
with bread and meats, and the cup-bearer draws wine and fills his
cup for every man. This is indeed as fair a sight as a man can see.
Now, however, since you are inclined to ask the story of my sorrows,
and rekindle my own sad memories in respect of them, I do not know how
to begin, nor yet how to continue and conclude my tale, for the hand
of heaven has been laid heavily upon me.
"Firstly, then, I will tell you my name that you too may know it,
and one day, if I outlive this time of sorrow, may become my there
guests though I live so far away from all of you. I am Ulysses son
of Laertes, reknowned among mankind for all manner of subtlety, so
that my fame ascends to heaven. I live in Ithaca, where there is a
high mountain called Neritum, covered with forests; and not far from
it there is a group of islands very near to one another- Dulichium,
Same, and the wooded island of Zacynthus. It lies squat on the
horizon, all highest up in the sea towards the sunset, while the
others lie away from it towards dawn. It is a rugged island, but it
breeds brave men, and my eyes know none that they better love to
look upon. The goddess Calypso kept me with her in her cave, and
wanted me to marry her, as did also the cunning Aeaean goddess
Circe; but they could neither of them persuade me, for there is
nothing dearer to a man than his own country and his parents, and
however splendid a home he may have in a foreign country, if it be far
from father or mother, he does not care about it. Now, however, I will
tell you of the many hazardous adventures which by Jove's will I met
with on my return from Troy.
"When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismarus, which
is the city of the Cicons. There I sacked the town and put the
people to the sword. We took their wives and also much booty, which we
divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to
complain. I then said that we had better make off at once, but my
men very foolishly would not obey me, so they stayed there drinking
much wine and killing great numbers of sheep and oxen on the sea
shore. Meanwhile the Cicons cried out for help to other Cicons who
lived inland. These were more in number, and stronger, and they were
more skilled in the art of war, for they could fight, either from
chariots or on foot as the occasion served; in the morning, therefore,
they came as thick as leaves and bloom in summer, and the hand of
heaven was against us, so that we were hard pressed. They set the
battle in array near the ships, and the hosts aimed their
bronze-shod spears at one another. So long as the day waxed and it was
still morning, we held our own against them, though they were more
in number than we; but as the sun went down, towards the time when men
loose their oxen, the Cicons got the better of us, and we lost half
a dozen men from every ship we had; so we got away with those that
were left.
"Thence we sailed onward with sorrow in our hearts, but glad to have
escaped death though we had lost our comrades, nor did we leave till
we had thrice invoked each one of the poor fellows who had perished by
the hands of the Cicons. Then Jove raised the North wind against us
till it blew a hurricane, so that land and sky were hidden in thick
clouds, and night sprang forth out of the heavens. We let the ships
run before the gale, but the force of the wind tore our sails to
tatters, so we took them down for fear of shipwreck, and rowed our
hardest towards the land. There we lay two days and two nights
suffering much alike from toil and distress of mind, but on the
morning of the third day we again raised our masts, set sail, and took
our places, letting the wind and steersmen direct our ship. I should
have got home at that time unharmed had not the North wind and the
currents been against me as I was doubling Cape Malea, and set me
off my course hard by the island of Cythera.
"I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the
sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eater,
who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to
take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore
near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company
to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they
had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among
the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the
lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring
about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened
to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the
Lotus-eater without thinking further of their return; nevertheless,
though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made
them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at
once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting
to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with
their oars.
"We sailed hence, always in much distress, till we came to the
land of the lawless and inhuman Cyclopes. Now the Cyclopes neither
plant nor plough, but trust in providence, and live on such wheat,
barley, and grapes as grow wild without any kind of tillage, and their
wild grapes yield them wine as the sun and the rain may grow them.
They have no laws nor assemblies of the people, but live in caves on
the tops of high mountains; each is lord and master in his family, and
they take no account of their neighbours.
"Now off their harbour there lies a wooded and fertile island not
quite close to the land of the Cyclopes, but still not far. It is
overrun with wild goats, that breed there in great numbers and are
never disturbed by foot of man; for sportsmen- who as a rule will
suffer so much hardship in forest or among mountain precipices- do not
go there, nor yet again is it ever ploughed or fed down, but it lies a
wilderness untilled and unsown from year to year, and has no living
thing upon it but only goats. For the Cyclopes have no ships, nor
yet shipwrights who could make ships for them; they cannot therefore
go from city to city, or sail over the sea to one another's country as
people who have ships can do; if they had had these they would have
colonized the island, for it is a very good one, and would yield
everything in due season. There are meadows that in some places come
right down to the sea shore, well watered and full of luscious
grass; grapes would do there excellently; there is level land for
ploughing, and it would always yield heavily at harvest time, for
the soil is deep. There is a good harbour where no cables are
wanted, nor yet anchors, nor need a ship be moored, but all one has to
do is to beach one's vessel and stay there till the wind becomes
fair for putting out to sea again. At the head of the harbour there is
a spring of clear water coming out of a cave, and there are poplars
growing all round it.
"Here we entered, but so dark was the night that some god must
have brought us in, for there was nothing whatever to be seen. A thick
mist hung all round our ships; the moon was hidden behind a mass of
clouds so that no one could have seen the island if he had looked
for it, nor were there any breakers to tell us we were close in
shore before we found ourselves upon the land itself; when, however,
we had beached the ships, we took down the sails, went ashore and
camped upon the beach till daybreak.
"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, we admired
the island and wandered all over it, while the nymphs Jove's daughters
roused the wild goats that we might get some meat for our dinner. On
this we fetched our spears and bows and arrows from the ships, and
dividing ourselves into three bands began to shoot the goats. Heaven
sent us excellent sport; I had twelve ships with me, and each ship got
nine goats, while my own ship had ten; thus through the livelong day
to the going down of the sun we ate and drank our fill,- and we had
plenty of wine left, for each one of us had taken many jars full
when we sacked the city of the Cicons, and this had not yet run out.
While we were feasting we kept turning our eyes towards the land of
the Cyclopes, which was hard by, and saw the smoke of their stubble
fires. We could almost fancy we heard their voices and the bleating of
their sheep and goats, but when the sun went down and it came on dark,
we camped down upon the beach, and next morning I called a council.
"'Stay here, my brave fellows,' said I, 'all the rest of you,
while I go with my ship and exploit these people myself: I want to see
if they are uncivilized savages, or a hospitable and humane race.'
"I went on board, bidding my men to do so also and loose the
hawsers; so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their
oars. When we got to the land, which was not far, there, on the face
of a cliff near the sea, we saw a great cave overhung with laurels. It
was a station for a great many sheep and goats, and outside there
was a large yard, with a high wall round it made of stones built
into the ground and of trees both pine and oak. This was the abode
of a huge monster who was then away from home shepherding his
flocks. He would have nothing to do with other people, but led the
life of an outlaw. He was a horrid creature, not like a human being at
all, but resembling rather some crag that stands out boldly against
the sky on the top of a high mountain.
"I told my men to draw the ship ashore, and stay where they were,
all but the twelve best among them, who were to go along with
myself. I also took a goatskin of sweet black wine which had been
given me by Maron, Apollo son of Euanthes, who was priest of Apollo
the patron god of Ismarus, and lived within the wooded precincts of
the temple. When we were sacking the city we respected him, and spared
his life, as also his wife and child; so he made me some presents of
great value- seven talents of fine gold, and a bowl of silver, with
twelve jars of sweet wine, unblended, and of the most exquisite
flavour. Not a man nor maid in the house knew about it, but only
himself, his wife, and one housekeeper: when he drank it he mixed
twenty parts of water to one of wine, and yet the fragrance from the
mixing-bowl was so exquisite that it was impossible to refrain from
drinking. I filled a large skin with this wine, and took a wallet full
of provisions with me, for my mind misgave me that I might have to
deal with some savage who would be of great strength, and would
respect neither right nor law.
"We soon reached his cave, but he was out shepherding, so we went
inside and took stock of all that we could see. His cheese-racks
were loaded with cheeses, and he had more lambs and kids than his pens
could hold. They were kept in separate flocks; first there were the
hoggets, then the oldest of the younger lambs and lastly the very
young ones all kept apart from one another; as for his dairy, all
the vessels, bowls, and milk pails into which he milked, were swimming
with whey. When they saw all this, my men begged me to let them
first steal some cheeses, and make off with them to the ship; they
would then return, drive down the lambs and kids, put them on board
and sail away with them. It would have been indeed better if we had
done so but I would not listen to them, for I wanted to see the
owner himself, in the hope that he might give me a present. When,
however, we saw him my poor men found him ill to deal with.
"We lit a fire, offered some of the cheeses in sacrifice, ate others
of them, and then sat waiting till the Cyclops should come in with his
sheep. When he came, he brought in with him a huge load of dry
firewood to light the fire for his supper, and this he flung with such
a noise on to the floor of his cave that we hid ourselves for fear
at the far end of the cavern. Meanwhile he drove all the ewes
inside, as well as the she-goats that he was going to milk, leaving
the males, both rams and he-goats, outside in the yards. Then he
rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the cave- so huge that two and
twenty strong four-wheeled waggons would not be enough to draw it from
its place against the doorway. When he had so done he sat down and
milked his ewes and goats, all in due course, and then let each of
them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside
in wicker strainers, but the other half he poured into bowls that he
might drink it for his supper. When he had got through with all his
work, he lit the fire, and then caught sight of us, whereon he said:
"'Strangers, who are you? Where do sail from? Are you traders, or do
you sail the as rovers, with your hands against every man, and every
man's hand against you?'
"We were frightened out of our senses by his loud voice and
monstrous form, but I managed to say, 'We are Achaeans on our way home
from Troy, but by the will of Jove, and stress of weather, we have
been driven far out of our course. We are the people of Agamemnon, son
of Atreus, who has won infinite renown throughout the whole world,
by sacking so great a city and killing so many people. We therefore
humbly pray you to show us some hospitality, and otherwise make us
such presents as visitors may reasonably expect. May your excellency
fear the wrath of heaven, for we are your suppliants, and Jove takes
all respectable travellers under his protection, for he is the avenger
of all suppliants and foreigners in distress.'
"To this he gave me but a pitiless answer, 'Stranger,' said he, 'you
are a fool, or else you know nothing of this country. Talk to me,
indeed, about fearing the gods or shunning their anger? We Cyclopes do
not care about Jove or any of your blessed gods, for we are ever so
much stronger than they. I shall not spare either yourself or your
companions out of any regard for Jove, unless I am in the humour for
doing so. And now tell me where you made your ship fast when you
came on shore. Was it round the point, or is she lying straight off
the land?'
"He said this to draw me out, but I was too cunning to be caught
in that way, so I answered with a lie; 'Neptune,' said I, 'sent my
ship on to the rocks at the far end of your country, and wrecked it.
We were driven on to them from the open sea, but I and those who are
with me escaped the jaws of death.'
"The cruel wretch vouchsafed me not one word of answer, but with a
sudden clutch he gripped up two of my men at once and dashed them down
upon the ground as though they had been puppies. Their brains were
shed upon the ground, and the earth was wet with their blood. Then
he tore them limb from limb and supped upon them. He gobbled them up
like a lion in the wilderness, flesh, bones, marrow, and entrails,
without leaving anything uneaten. As for us, we wept and lifted up our
hands to heaven on seeing such a horrid sight, for we did not know
what else to do; but when the Cyclops had filled his huge paunch,
and had washed down his meal of human flesh with a drink of neat milk,
he stretched himself full length upon the ground among his sheep,
and went to sleep. I was at first inclined to seize my sword, draw it,
and drive it into his vitals, but I reflected that if I did we
should all certainly be lost, for we should never be able to shift the
stone which the monster had put in front of the door. So we stayed
sobbing and sighing where we were till morning came.
"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, he again
lit his fire, milked his goats and ewes, all quite rightly, and then
let each have her own young one; as soon as he had got through with
all his work, he clutched up two more of my men, and began eating them
for his morning's meal. Presently, with the utmost ease, he rolled the
stone away from the door and drove out his sheep, but he at once put
it back again- as easily as though he were merely clapping the lid
on to a quiver full of arrows. As soon as he had done so he shouted,
and cried 'Shoo, shoo,' after his sheep to drive them on to the
mountain; so I was left to scheme some way of taking my revenge and
covering myself with glory.
"In the end I deemed it would be the best plan to do as follows. The
Cyclops had a great club which was lying near one of the sheep pens;
it was of green olive wood, and he had cut it intending to use it
for a staff as soon as it should be dry. It was so huge that we
could only compare it to the mast of a twenty-oared merchant vessel of
large burden, and able to venture out into open sea. I went up to this
club and cut off about six feet of it; I then gave this piece to the
men and told them to fine it evenly off at one end, which they
proceeded to do, and lastly I brought it to a point myself, charring
the end in the fire to make it harder. When I had done this I hid it
under dung, which was lying about all over the cave, and told the
men to cast lots which of them should venture along with myself to
lift it and bore it into the monster's eye while he was asleep. The
lot fell upon the very four whom I should have chosen, and I myself
made five. In the evening the wretch came back from shepherding, and
drove his flocks into the cave- this time driving them all inside, and
not leaving any in the yards; I suppose some fancy must have taken
him, or a god must have prompted him to do so. As soon as he had put
the stone back to its place against the door, he sat down, milked
his ewes and his goats all quite rightly, and then let each have her
own young one; when he had got through with all this work, he
gripped up two more of my men, and made his supper off them. So I went
up to him with an ivy-wood bowl of black wine in my hands:
"'Look here, Cyclops,' said I, you have been eating a great deal
of man's flesh, so take this and drink some wine, that you may see
what kind of liquor we had on board my ship. I was bringing it to
you as a drink-offering, in the hope that you would take compassion
upon me and further me on my way home, whereas all you do is to go
on ramping and raving most intolerably. You ought to be ashamed
yourself; how can you expect people to come see you any more if you
treat them in this way?'
"He then took the cup and drank. He was so delighted with the
taste of the wine that he begged me for another bowl full. 'Be so
kind,' he said, 'as to give me some more, and tell me your name at
once. I want to make you a present that you will be glad to have. We
have wine even in this country, for our soil grows grapes and the
sun ripens them, but this drinks like nectar and ambrosia all in one.'
"I then gave him some more; three times did I fill the bowl for him,
and three times did he drain it without thought or heed; then, when
I saw that the wine had got into his head, I said to him as
plausibly as I could: 'Cyclops, you ask my name and I will tell it
you; give me, therefore, the present you promised me; my name is
Noman; this is what my father and mother and my friends have always
called me.'
"But the cruel wretch said, 'Then I will eat all Noman's comrades
before Noman himself, and will keep Noman for the last. This is the
present that I will make him.'
As he spoke he reeled, and fell sprawling face upwards on the
ground. His great neck hung heavily backwards and a deep sleep took
hold upon him. Presently he turned sick, and threw up both wine and
the gobbets of human flesh on which he had been gorging, for he was
very drunk. Then I thrust the beam of wood far into the embers to heat
it, and encouraged my men lest any of them should turn
faint-hearted. When the wood, green though it was, was about to blaze,
I drew it out of the fire glowing with heat, and my men gathered round
me, for heaven had filled their hearts with courage. We drove the
sharp end of the beam into the monster's eye, and bearing upon it with
all my weight I kept turning it round and round as though I were
boring a hole in a ship's plank with an auger, which two men with a
wheel and strap can keep on turning as long as they choose. Even
thus did we bore the red hot beam into his eye, till the boiling blood
bubbled all over it as we worked it round and round, so that the steam
from the burning eyeball scalded his eyelids and eyebrows, and the
roots of the eye sputtered in the fire. As a blacksmith plunges an axe
or hatchet into cold water to temper it- for it is this that gives
strength to the iron- and it makes a great hiss as he does so, even
thus did the Cyclops' eye hiss round the beam of olive wood, and his
hideous yells made the cave ring again. We ran away in a fright, but
he plucked the beam all besmirched with gore from his eye, and
hurled it from him in a frenzy of rage and pain, shouting as he did so
to the other Cyclopes who lived on the bleak headlands near him; so
they gathered from all quarters round his cave when they heard him
crying, and asked what was the matter with him.
"'What ails you, Polyphemus,' said they, 'that you make such a
noise, breaking the stillness of the night, and preventing us from
being able to sleep? Surely no man is carrying off your sheep?
Surely no man is trying to kill you either by fraud or by force?
"But Polyphemus shouted to them from inside the cave, 'Noman is
killing me by fraud! Noman is killing me by force!'
"'Then,' said they, 'if no man is attacking you, you must be ill;
when Jove makes people ill, there is no help for it, and you had
better pray to your father Neptune.'
"Then they went away, and I laughed inwardly at the success of my
clever stratagem, but the Cyclops, groaning and in an agony of pain,
felt about with his hands till he found the stone and took it from the
door; then he sat in the doorway and stretched his hands in front of
it to catch anyone going out with the sheep, for he thought I might be
foolish enough to attempt this.
"As for myself I kept on puzzling to think how I could best save
my own life and those of my companions; I schemed and schemed, as
one who knows that his life depends upon it, for the danger was very
great. In the end I deemed that this plan would be the best. The
male sheep were well grown, and carried a heavy black fleece, so I
bound them noiselessly in threes together, with some of the withies on
which the wicked monster used to sleep. There was to be a man under
the middle sheep, and the two on either side were to cover him, so
that there were three sheep to each man. As for myself there was a ram
finer than any of the others, so I caught hold of him by the back,
esconced myself in the thick wool under his belly, and flung on
patiently to his fleece, face upwards, keeping a firm hold on it all
the time.
"Thus, then, did we wait in great fear of mind till morning came,
but when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the
male sheep hurried out to feed, while the ewes remained bleating about
the pens waiting to be milked, for their udders were full to bursting;
but their master in spite of all his pain felt the backs of all the
sheep as they stood upright, without being sharp enough to find out
that the men were underneath their bellies. As the ram was going
out, last of all, heavy with its fleece and with the weight of my
crafty self; Polyphemus laid hold of it and said:
"'My good ram, what is it that makes you the last to leave my cave
this morning? You are not wont to let the ewes go before you, but lead
the mob with a run whether to flowery mead or bubbling fountain, and
are the first to come home again at night; but now you lag last of
all. Is it because you know your master has lost his eye, and are
sorry because that wicked Noman and his horrid crew have got him
down in his drink and blinded him? But I will have his life yet. If
you could understand and talk, you would tell me where the wretch is
hiding, and I would dash his brains upon the ground till they flew all
over the cave. I should thus have some satisfaction for the harm a
this no-good Noman has done me.'
"As spoke he drove the ram outside, but when we were a little way
out from the cave and yards, I first got from under the ram's belly,
and then freed my comrades; as for the sheep, which were very fat,
by constantly heading them in the right direction we managed to
drive them down to the ship. The crew rejoiced greatly at seeing those
of us who had escaped death, but wept for the others whom the
Cyclops had killed. However, I made signs to them by nodding and
frowning that they were to hush their crying, and told them to get all
the sheep on board at once and put out to sea; so they went aboard,
took their places, and smote the grey sea with their oars. Then,
when I had got as far out as my voice would reach, I began to jeer
at the Cyclops.
"'Cyclops,' said I, 'you should have taken better measure of your
man before eating up his comrades in your cave. You wretch, eat up
your visitors in your own house? You might have known that your sin
would find you out, and now Jove and the other gods have punished
you.'
"He got more and more furious as he heard me, so he tore the top
from off a high mountain, and flung it just in front of my ship so
that it was within a little of hitting the end of the rudder. The
sea quaked as the rock fell into it, and the wash of the wave it
raised carried us back towards the mainland, and forced us towards the
shore. But I snatched up a long pole and kept the ship off, making
signs to my men by nodding my head, that they must row for their
lives, whereon they laid out with a will. When we had got twice as far
as we were before, I was for jeering at the Cyclops again, but the men
begged and prayed of me to hold my tongue.
"'Do not,' they exclaimed, 'be mad enough to provoke this savage
creature further; he has thrown one rock at us already which drove
us back again to the mainland, and we made sure it had been the
death of us; if he had then heard any further sound of voices he would
have pounded our heads and our ship's timbers into a jelly with the
rugged rocks he would have heaved at us, for he can throw them a
long way.'
"But I would not listen to them, and shouted out to him in my
rage, 'Cyclops, if any one asks you who it was that put your eye out
and spoiled your beauty, say it was the valiant warrior Ulysses, son
of Laertes, who lives in Ithaca.'
"On this he groaned, and cried out, 'Alas, alas, then the old
prophecy about me is coming true. There was a prophet here, at one
time, a man both brave and of great stature, Telemus son of Eurymus,
who was an excellent seer, and did all the prophesying for the
Cyclopes till he grew old; he told me that all this would happen to me
some day, and said I should lose my sight by the hand of Ulysses. I
have been all along expecting some one of imposing presence and
superhuman strength, whereas he turns out to be a little insignificant
weakling, who has managed to blind my eye by taking advantage of me in
my drink; come here, then, Ulysses, that I may make you presents to
show my hospitality, and urge Neptune to help you forward on your
journey- for Neptune and I are father and son. He, if he so will,
shall heal me, which no one else neither god nor man can do.'
"Then I said, 'I wish I could be as sure of killing you outright and
sending you down to the house of Hades, as I am that it will take more
than Neptune to cure that eye of yours.'
"On this he lifted up his hands to the firmament of heaven and
prayed, saying, 'Hear me, great Neptune; if I am indeed your own
true-begotten son, grant that Ulysses may never reach his home
alive; or if he must get back to his friends at last, let him do so
late and in sore plight after losing all his men [let him reach his
home in another man's ship and find trouble in his house.']
"Thus did he pray, and Neptune heard his prayer. Then he picked up a
rock much larger than the first, swung it aloft and hurled it with
prodigious force. It fell just short of the ship, but was within a
little of hitting the end of the rudder. The sea quaked as the rock
fell into it, and the wash of the wave it raised drove us onwards on
our way towards the shore of the island.
"When at last we got to the island where we had left the rest of our
ships, we found our comrades lamenting us, and anxiously awaiting
our return. We ran our vessel upon the sands and got out of her on
to the sea shore; we also landed the Cyclops' sheep, and divided
them equitably amongst us so that none might have reason to
complain. As for the ram, my companions agreed that I should have it
as an extra share; so I sacrificed it on the sea shore, and burned its
thigh bones to Jove, who is the lord of all. But he heeded not my
sacrifice, and only thought how he might destroy my ships and my
comrades.
"Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
feasted our fill on meat and drink, but when the sun went down and
it came on dark, we camped upon the beach. When the child of
morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I bade my men on board and
loose the hawsers. Then they took their places and smote the grey
sea with their oars; so we sailed on with sorrow in our hearts, but
glad to have escaped death though we had lost our comrades.

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Joined At The Hip

Whenever my wife and I go out,
we are always together.
Some say we are joined at the hip,
it has been that way for thirty-nine years
and we hope many more to come.
If you see one of us,
you can guarantee the other is near.
Some might say we don’t trust one another,
others might say that is what loves about.
Whichever way peoples thoughts go
it does not matter to us.
If they are as happy as we are
they have nothing to complain about.
My wife and I do go out on our own
whenever the occasion takes us,
but mostly we go out together
as what one might say
we’re joined at the hip.


8 November 2009

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The Afterlife of Death

Why should mankind not face
the thought of afterlife?

For half the world or so,
there is no great concern:
in time you just come round again
to improve upon your last performance –like
an athlete, daily training round the track

which if it’s so, then, perhaps, how sad
that we are not aware just how we’ve done this time,
compared with how we did last time -
it might be quite a spur!

of course, if heaven’s way beyond
all boundaries of time and space
we can surrender with relief
our picture of our tone-deaf self
learning to play the.. harp..?
or engaging in those activities
(outside time and space?)
which Islam seems to promise…

but if the whole Creation, as it’s said,
is all one single act of love,
then let’s imagine death, or afterlife
a part of that same divine love:
for if, as every religion expresses in its way,
our god is love – then how can death
not be a part of that same love?

so (as those who have nearly died, aver)
there stand to welcome us, all the family
and friends that we have ever known and loved;
but with this difference: that seen
with all the vision of that total love
we understand all our, and their, apparent differences
and see this from that heart of total love..

and if it’s so, that once again
we have to re-enter earth’s burning atmosphere
born into another life that we’ve now earned,
our first cry and tear and heavenly smile
may tell all

And if perhaps this seems all fantasy – then,
perhaps, if all is love,
love’s sleep, love’s dream, and love’s awakening –
and also, this, my fantasy of love in death,
may all be samely, simply, love.

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On The Radio (From The Motion Picture Foxes)

Someone found a letter you wrote me, on the radio
and they told the world just how you felt
it must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat
they never said your name
but I knew just who they meant.
I was so surprised and shocked, and I wonderer, too
if by chance you heard it for yourself
I never told a soul just how I've been feeling about you
but they said it really loud
they said it on the air
On the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
Now, now
don't it kinda strike you sad when you hear our song
things are not the same since we broke up last June
the only thing that I wanna hear is that you love me still
and that you think you'll be coming home real soon
whoa, oh, yeah, yeah
And it made me feel proud when I heard you say
you couldn't find the words to say it yourself
and now in my heart I know I can say what I really feel
'Cause they said it really loud
they said it on the air
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
(Played in shorter version)
If you think that love isn't found on the radio
well tune right in you made find the love you lost
'cause now I'm sitting here with the man I sent away long ago
it sounded really loud
they said it really loud
On the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
(End)
(Played in longer version)
Sending in a letter to tell them that I love you too
if you hear it, maybe you will know
when you hear them read the line about love's return on the radio
you'll think about the two of us and you'll come home
whoa, oh, oh
if you knew just how I'd felt why'd you make me wait?
life goes on and on while you play with my heart
don't hold on any longer 'cause now I know how you really feel
'Cause I heard it really loud
they said it on the air
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
Now,
if you think that love isn't found on the radio
then tune right in you made find the love you lost
'cause now I'm sitting here with the man I sent away long ago
it sounded really loud
they said it really loud
On the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh
on the radio
whoa, oh, oh

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The Truant Dove, From Pilpay

A MOUNTAIN stream, its channel deep
Beneath a rock's rough base had torn;
The cliff, like a vast castle wall, was steep
By fretting rains in many a crevice worn;
But the fern wav'd there, and the mosses crept,
And o'er the summit, where the wind
Peel'd from their stems the silver rind,
Depending birches wept­­
There, tufts of broom a footing used to find,

And heath and straggling grass to grow,
And half-way down from roots enwreathing, broke
The branches of a scathed oak,
And seem'd to guard the cave below,
Where each revolving year,
Their twins, two faithful doves were wont to rear;
Choice never join'd a fonder pair;
To each their simple home was dear,
No discord ever enter'd there;
But there the soft affections dwell'd,
And three returning springs beheld
Secure within their fortress high
The little happy family.
'Toujours perdrix, messieurs, ne valent rien'­
So did a Gallic monarch once harangue,
And evil was the day whereon our bird

This saying heard,
From certain new acquaintance he had found,
Who at their perfect ease,
Amid a field of peas
Boasted to him, that all the country round,
The wheat, and oats, and barley, rye and tares,
Quite to the neighbouring sea, were theirs;
And theirs the oak, and beech-woods, far and near,
For their right noble owner was a peer,
And they themselves, luxuriantly were stored
In a great dove-cote­to amuse my lord !
'Toujours perdrix ne valent rien.' That's strange !
When people once are happy, wherefore change ?
So thought our stock-dove, but communication,
With birds in his new friend's exalted station,
Whose means of information,

And knowledge of all sorts, must be so ample;
Who saw great folks, and follow'd their example,
Made on the dweller of the cave, impression;
And soon, whatever was his best possession,
His sanctuary within the rock's deep breast,
His soft-eyed partner, and her nest,
He thought of with indifference, then with loathing;
So much insipid love was good for nothing
But sometimes tenderness return'd; his dame
So long belov'd, so mild, so free from blame,
How should he tell her, he had learn'd to cavil
At happiness itself, and longed to travel ?
His heart still smote him, so much wrong to do her,
He knew not how to break the matter to her.
But love, tho' blind himself, makes some discerning;
His frequent absence, and his late returning,

With ruffled plumage, and with alter'd eyes,
His careless short replies,
And to their couplets, coldness or neglect
Had made his gentle wife suspect,
All was not right; but she forbore to teaze him,
Which would but give him an excuse to rove:
She therefore tried by every art to please him,
Endur'd his peevish starts with patient love,
And when (like other husbands from a tavern)
Of his new notions full, he sought his cavern
She with dissembled cheerfulness, 'beguiled
'The thing she was,' and gaily coo-ed and smiled.
'Tis not in this most motley sphere uncommon,
For man, (and so of course more feeble woman)
Most strongly to suspect, what they're pursuing
Will lead them to inevitable ruin,

Yet rush with open eyes to their undoing;
Thus felt the dove; but in the cant of fashion
He talk'd of fate, and of predestination,
And in a grave oration,
He to his much affrighted mate related,
How he, yet slumbering in the egg, was fated,
To gather knowledge, to instruct his kind,
By observation elevate his mind,
And give new impulse to Columbian life;
'If it be so,' exclaim'd his hapless wife,
'It is my fate, to pass my days in pain,
'To mourn your love estrang'd, and mourn in vain;
'Here in our once dear hut, to wake and weep,
'When thy unkindness shall have ‘murder'd sleep;’
'And never that dear hut shall I prepare,
'And wait with fondness your arrival there,

'While me, and mine forgetting, you will go
'To some new love.' 'Why, no, I tell you no,­
'What shall I say such foolish fears to cure ?
'I only mean to make a little tour,
'Just­just to see the world around me; then
'With new delight, I shall come home again;
'Such tours are quite the rage­at my return
'I shall have much to tell, and you to learn;
'Of fashions­some becoming, some grotesque
'Of change of empires, and ideas novel;
'Of buildings, Grecian, Gothic, Arabesque,
'And scenery sublime and picturesque;
'And all these things with pleasure we'll discuss­'
'Ah, me ! and what are all these things to us ?'
'So then, you'd have a bird of genius grovel,
'And never see beyond a farmer's hovel ?

'Even the sand-martin, that inferior creature,
'Goes once a year abroad.' 'It is his nature,
'But yours how different once !' and then she sigh'd,
'There was a time, Ah ! would that I had died,
'E'er you so chang'd ! when you'd have perish'd rather
'Than this poor breast should heave a single feather
'With grief and care. And all this cant of fashion
'Would but have rais'd your anger, or compassion,­
'O my dear love ! You sought not then to range,
'But on my changeful neck as fell the light,
'You sweetly said, you wish'd no other change
'Than that soft neck could shew; to berries bright
'Of mountain ash, you fondly could compare
'My scarlet feet and bill; my shape and air,
'Ah ! faithless flatterer, did you not declare
'The soul of grace and beauty center'd there ?

'My eyes you said, were opals, brightly pink,
'Enchas'd in onyx; and you seem'd to think,
'Each charm might then the coldest heart enthrall:
'Those charms were mine. Alas ! I gave you all­
'Your farthest wanderings then were but to fetch
'The pea, the tare, the beechmast, and the vetch,
'For my repast; within my rocky bower,
'With spleenwort shaded, and the blue-bell's flower,
'For prospects then you never wish'd to roam,
'But the best scenery was our happy home;
'And when, beneath my breast, then fair and young,
'Our first dear pair, our earliest nestlings sprung,
'And weakly, indistinctly, tried to coo­
'Were not those moments picturesque to you ?'
'Yes, faith, my dear; and all you say is true.'

'Oh ! hear me then; if thus we have been blest,
'If on these wings it was your joy to rest,
'Love must from habit still new strength be gaining­'
'From habit ? 'tis of that, child, I'm complaining
'This everlasting fondness will not be
'For birds of flesh and blood. We sha'nt agree,
'So why dispute ? now prithee don't torment me;
'I shall not long be gone; let that content ye:
'Pshaw ! what a fuss ! Come, no more sighs and groans,
'Keep up your spirits; mind your little ones;
'My journey won't be far­my honour's pledged­
'I shall be back again before they're fledged;
'Give me a kiss; and now my dear, adieu !'
So light of heart and plumes, away he flew;
And, as above the sheltering rock he springs,
She listen'd to the echo of his wings;

Those well-known sounds, so soothing heretofore,
Which her heart whisper'd she should hear no more.
Then to her cold and widow'd bed she crept,
Clasp'd her half-orphan'd young, and wept !
Her recreant mate, by other views attracted,
A very different part enacted;
He sought the dove-cote, and was greeted there
With all that's tonish, elegant, and rare,
Among the pigeon tribes; and there the rover
Lived quite in clover !
His jolly comrades now, were blades of spirit;
Their nymphs possess'd most fascinating merit;
Nor fail'd our hero of the rock to prove,
He thought not of inviolable love
To his poor spouse at home. He bow'd and sigh'd,
Now to a fantail's, now a cropper's bride;

Then cow'ring low to a majestic powter,
Declared he should not suffer life without her;
And then with upturn'd eyes, in phrase still humbler,
Implor'd the pity of an almond tumbler;
Next, to a beauteous carrier's feet he'd run,
And lived a week, the captive of a nun:
Thus far in measureless content he revels,
And blest the hour when he began his travels.
Yet some things soon occurr'd not quite so pleasant;
He had observ'd that an unfeeling peasant,
It silence mounting on a ladder high,
Seiz'd certain pigeons just as they could fly,
Who never figur'd more, but in a pie;
That was but aukward; then, his lordship's son
Heard from the groom, that 'twould be famous fun
To try on others his unpractis'd gun;

Their fall, the rattling shot, his nerves perplex'd;
He thought perhaps it might be his turn next.
It has been seen ere now, that, much elated,
To be by some great man caress'd and fêted,
A youth of humble birth, and mind industrious,
Foregoes in evil hour his independance;
And, charm'd to wait upon his friend illustrious,
Gives up his time to flattery and attendance.
His patron, smiling at his folly, lets him­
Some newer whim succeeds, and he forgets him.
So fared our bird; his new friend's vacant stare,
Told him he scarce remember'd he was there;
And, when he talk'd of living more securely,
This very dear friend, yawning, answered, 'Surely !
'You are quite right to do what's most expedient,
'So, au revoir !­Good bye ! Your most obedient.'

Allies in prosperous fortune thus he prov'd,
And left them, unregretting, unbelov'd;
Yet much his self-love suffer'd by the shock,
And now, his quiet cabin in the rock,
The faithful partner of his every care,
And all the blessings he abandon'd there,
Rush'd on his sickening heart; he felt it yearn,
But pride and shame prevented his return;
So wandering farther­at the close of day
To the high woods he pensive wing'd his way;
But new distress at every turn he found­
Struck by an hawk, and stunn'd upon the ground,
He once by miracle escaped; then fled
From a wild cat, and hid his trembling head
Beneath a dock; recovering, on the wind
He rose once more, and left his fears behind;

And, as above the clouds he soar'd, the light
Fell on an inland rock; the radiance bright
Shew'd him his long deserted place of rest,
And thitherward he flew; his throbbing breast
Dwelt on his mate, so gentle, and so wrong'd,
And on his memory throng'd
The happiness he once at home had known;
Then to forgive him earnest to engage her,
And for his errors eager to atone,
Onward he went; but ah ! not yet had flown
Fate's sharpest arrow: to decide a wager,
Two sportsmen shot at our deserter; down
The wind swift wheeling, struggling, still he fell,
Close to the margin of the stream that flow'd
Beneath the foot of his regretted cell,
And the fresh grass was spotted with his blood;

To his dear home he turn'd his languid view,
Deplor'd his folly, while he look'd his last,
And sigh'd a long adieu !
Thither to sip the brook, his nestlings, led
By their still pensive mother, came;
He saw; and murmuring forth her dear lov'd name,
Implor'd her pity, and with shortening breath,
Besought her to forgive him ere his death.­
And now, how hard in metre to relate
The tears and tender pity of his mate !
Or with what generous zeal, his faithful moitie
Taught her now feather'd young, with duteous piety,
To aid her, on their mutual wings to bear,
With stork-like care,
Their suffering parent to the rock above;
There, by the best physician, Love,

His wounds were heal'd.­His wanderings at an end,
And sober'd quite, the husband, and the friend,
In proof of reformation and contrition,
Gave to his race this prudent admonition;
Advice, which this, our fabling muse, presumes
May benefit the biped without plumes:
'If of domestic peace you are possess'd,
'Learn to believe yourself supremely bless'd;
'And gratefully enjoying your condition,
'Frisk not about, on whims and fancies strange,
'For ten to one, you for the worse will change:
'And 'tis most wise, to check all vain ambition­
'By such aspiring pride the angels fell;
'So love your wife, and know when you are well.'

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The Clergyman’s First Tale: Love is Fellow-service

A youth and maid upon a summer night
Upon the lawn, while yet the skies were light,
Edmund and Emma, let their names be these,
Among the shrubs within the circling trees,
Joined in a game with boys and girls at play:
For games perhaps too old a little they;
In April she her eighteenth year begun,
And twenty he, and near to twenty-one.
A game it was of running and of noise;
He as a boy, with other girls and boys
(Her sisters and her brothers), took the fun;
And when her turn, she marked not, came to run,
‘Emma,’ he called, then knew that he was wrong,
Knew that her name to him did not belong.
Her look and manner proved his feeling true,
A child no more, her womanhood she knew;
Half was the colour mounted on her face,
Her tardy movement had an adult grace.
Vexed with himself, and shamed, he felt the more
A kind of joy he ne’er had felt before.
Something there was that from this date began;
’Twas beautiful with her to be a man.

Two years elapsed, and he who went and came,
Changing in much, in this appeared the same;
The feeling, if it did not greatly grow,
Endured and was not wholly hid below.
He now, o’ertasked at school, a serious boy,
A sort of after-boyhood to enjoy
Appeared in vigour and in spirit high
And manly grown, but kept the boy’s soft eye:
And full of blood, and strong and lithe of limb,
To him ’twas pleasure now to ride, to swim;
The peaks, the glens, the torrents tempted him.
Restless he seemed, long distances would walk,
And lively was, and vehement in talk.
A wandering life his life had lately been,
Books he had read, the world had little seen.
One former frailty haunted him, a touch
Of something introspective overmuch.
With all his eager motions still there went
A self-correcting and ascetic bent,
That from the obvious good still led astray,
And set him travelling on the longest way;
Seen in these scattered notes their date that claim
When first his feeling conscious sought a name.
‘Beside the wishing gate which so they name,
’Mid northern hills to me this fancy came,
A wish I formed, my wish I thus expressed:
Would I could wish my wishes all to rest,
And know to wish the wish that were the best!
O for some winnowing wind, to the empty air
This chaff of easy sympathies to bear
Far off, and leave me of myself aware!
While thus this over health deludes me still,
So willing that I know not what I will;
O for some friend, or more than friend, austere,
To make me know myself, and make me fear!
O for some touch, too noble to be kind,
To awake to life the mind within the mind!’
‘O charms, seductions and divine delights!
All through the radiant yellow summer nights,
Dreams, hardly dreams, that yield or e’er they’re done,
To the bright fact, my day, my risen sun!
O promise and fulfilment, both in one!
O bliss, already bliss, which nought has shared,
Whose glory no fruition has impaired,
And, emblem of my state, thou coming day,
With all thy hours unspent to pass away!
Why do I wait? What more propose to know?
Where the sweet mandate bids me, let me go;
My conscience in my impulse let me find,
Justification in the moving mind,
Law in the strong desire; or yet behind,
Say, is there aught the spell that has not heard,
A something that refuses to be stirred?’
In other regions has my being heard
Of a strange language the diviner word?
Has some forgotten life the exemplar shown?
Elsewhere such high communion have I known,
As dooms me here, in this, to live alone?
Then love, that shouldest blind me, let me, love,
Nothing behold beyond thee or above;
Ye impulses, that should be strong and wild,
Beguile me, if I am to be beguiled!’
Or are there modes of love, and different kinds,
Proportioned to the sizes of our minds?
There are who say thus, I held there was one,
One love, one deity, one central sun;
As he resistless brings the expanding day,
So love should come on his victorious way.
If light at all, can light indeed be there,
Yet only permeate half the ambient air?
Can the high noon be regnant in the sky,
Yet half the land in light, and half in darkness lie?
Can love, if love, be occupant in part,
Hold, as it were, some chambers in the heart;
Tenant at will of so much of the soul,
Not lord and mighty master of the whole?
There are who say, and say that it is well;
Opinion all, of knowledge none can tell.
‘Montaigne, I know in a realm high above
Places the seat of friendship over love;
’Tis not in love that we should think to find
The lofty fellowship of mind with mind;
Love ’s not a joy where soul and soul unite,
Rather a wondrous animal delight;
And as in spring, for one consummate hour,
The world of vegetation turns to flower,
The birds with liveliest plumage trim their wing,
And all the woodland listens as they sing;
When spring is o’er and summer days are sped,
The songs are silent, and the blossoms dead:
E’en so of man and woman is the bliss.
O, but I will not tamely yield to this!
I think it only shows us in the end,
Montaigne was happy in a noble friend,
Had not the fortune of a noble wife;
He lived, I think, a poor ignoble life,
And wrote of petty pleasures, petty pain;
I do not greatly think about Montaigne.’
‘How charming to be with her! yet indeed,
After a while I find a blank succeed;
After a while she little has to say,
I’m silent too, although I wish to stay;
What would it be all day, day after day?
Ah! but I ask, I do not doubt, too much;
I think of love as if it should be such
As to fulfil and occupy in whole
The nought-else-seeking, nought-essaying soul.
Therefore it is my mind with doubts I urge;
Hence are these fears and shiverings on the verge;
By books, not nature, thus have we been schooled,
By poetry and novels been befooled;
Wiser tradition says, the affections’ claim
Will be supplied, the rest will be the same.
I think too much of love, ’tis true: I know
It is not all, was ne’er intended so;
Yet such a change, so entire, I feel, ’twould be,
So potent, so omnipotent with me;
My former self I never should recall,
Indeed I think it must be all in all.’
‘I thought that Love was winged; without a sound,
His purple pinions bore him o’er the ground,
Wafted without an effort here or there,
He came and we too trod as if in air:
But panting, toiling, clambering up the hill,
Am I to assist him? I, put forth my will
To upbear his lagging footsteps, lame and slow,
And help him on and tell him where to go,
And ease him of his quiver and his bow?’
‘Erotion! I saw it in a book;
Why did I notice it, why did I look?
Yea, is it so, ye powers that see above?
I do not love, I want, I try to love!
This is not love, but lack of love instead!
Merciless thought! I would I had been dead,
Or e’er the phrase had come into my, head.’
She also wrote: and here may find a place,
Of her and of her thoughts some slender trace.
‘He is not vain; if proud, he quells his pride,
And somehow really likes to be defied;
Rejoices if you humble him: indeed
Gives way at once, and leaves you to succeed.’
‘Easy it were with such a mind to play,
And foolish not to do so, some would say;
One almost smiles to look and see the way:
But come what will, I will not play a part,
Indeed I dare not condescend to art.’
Easy ’twere not, perhaps, with him to live;
He looks for more than any one can give:
So dulled at times and disappointed; still
Expecting what depends not of my will:
My inspiration comes not at my call,
Seek me as I am, if seek you do at all.’
‘Like him I do, and think of him I must;
But more I dare not and I cannot trust.
This more he brings say, is it more or less
Than that no fruitage ever came to bless,
The old wild flower of love-in-idleness?’
‘Me when he leaves and others when he sees,
What is my fate who am not there to please?
Me he has left; already may have seen
One, who for me forgotten here has been;
And he, the while, is balancing between.
If the heart spoke, the heart I knew were bound;
What if it utter an uncertain sound?’
So quick to vary, so rejoiced to change,
From this to that his feelings surely range;
His fancies wander, and his thoughts as well;
And if the heart be constant, who can tell?
Far off to fly, to abandon me, and go,
He seems, returning then before I know:
With every accident he seems to move,
Is now below me and is now above,
Now far aside, O, does he really love?’
‘Absence were hard; yet let the trial be;
His nature’s aim and purpose he would free,
And in the world his course of action see.
O should he lose, not learn; pervert his scope;
O should I lose! and yet to win I hope.
I win not now; his way if now I went,
Brief joy I gave, for years of discontent.’
‘Gone, is it true? but oft he went before,
And came again before a month was o’er.
Gone though I could not venture upon art,
It was perhaps a foolish pride in part;
He had such ready fancies in his head,
And really was so easy to be led;
One might have failed; and yet I feel ’twas pride,
And can’t but half repent I never tried.
Gone, is it true? but he again will come,
Wandering he loves, and loves returning home.’
Gone, it was true; nor came so soon again;
Came, after travelling, pleasure half, half pain,
Came, but a half of Europe first o’erran;
Arrived, his father found a ruined man.
Rich they had been, and rich was Emma too.
Heiress of wealth she knew not, Edmund knew.
Farewell to her! In a new home obscure,
Food for his helpless parents to secure,
From early morning to advancing dark,
He toiled and laboured as a merchant’s clerk.
Three years his heavy load he bore, nor quailed,
Then all his health, though scarce his spirit, failed;
Friends interposed, insisted it must be,
Enforced their help, and sent him to the sea.
Wandering about with little here to do,
His old thoughts mingling dimly with his new,
Wandering one morn, he met upon the shore,
Her, whom he quitted five long years before.
Alas! why quitted? Say that charms are nought,
Nor grace, nor beauty worth one serious thought;
Was there no mystic virtue in the sense
That joined your boyish girlish innocence?
Is constancy a thing to throw away,
And loving faithfulness a chance of every day?
Alas! why quitted? is she changed? but now
The weight of intellect is in her brow;
Changed, or but truer seen, one sees in her
Something to wake the soul, the interior sense to stir.
Alone they met, from alien eyes away,
The high shore hid them in a tiny bay.
Alone was he, was she; in sweet surprise
They met, before they knew it, in their eyes.
In his a wondering admiration glowed,
In hers, a world of tenderness o’erflowed;
In a brief moment all was known and seen,
That of slow years the wearying work had been:
Morn’s early odorous breath perchance in sooth,
Awoke the old natural feeling of their youth:
The sea, perchance, and solitude had charms,
They met I know not in each other’s arms.
Why linger now why waste the sands of life?
A few sweet weeks, and they were man and wife.
To his old frailty do not be severe,
His latest theory with patience hear:
‘I sought not, truly would to seek disdain,
A kind, soft pillow for a wearying pain,
Fatigues and cares to lighten, to relieve;
But love is fellow-service, I believe.’
‘No, truly no, it was not to obtain,
Though that alone were happiness, were gain,
A tender breast to fall upon and weep,
A heart, the secrets of my heart to keep;
To share my hopes, and in my griefs to grieve;
Yet love is fellow-service, I believe.’
‘Yet in the eye of life’s all-seeing sun
We shall behold a something we have done,
Shall of the work together we have wrought,
Beyond our aspiration and our thought,
Some not unworthy issue yet receive;
For love is fellow-service, I believe.’

The tale, we said, instructive was, but short;
Could he not give another of the sort?
He feared his second might his first repeat,
And Aristotle teaches, change is sweet;
But come, our younger friend in this dim night
Under his bushel must not hide his light.’
I said I’d had but little time to live,
Experience none or confidence could give.
‘But I can tell to-morrow, if you please,
My last year’s journey towards the Pyrenees.’
To-morrow came, and evening, when it closed,
The penalty of speech on me imposed.

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The Idiot Boy

'Tis eight o'clock,--a clear March night,
The moon is up,--the sky is blue,
The owlet, in the moonlight air,
Shouts from nobody knows where;
He lengthens out his lonely shout,
Halloo! halloo! a long halloo!

--Why bustle thus about your door,
What means this bustle, Betty Foy?
Why are you in this mighty fret?
And why on horseback have you set
Him whom you love, your Idiot Boy?

Scarcely a soul is out of bed;
Good Betty, put him down again;
His lips with joy they burr at you;
But, Betty! what has he to do
With stirrup, saddle, or with rein?

But Betty's bent on her intent;
For her good neighbour, Susan Gale,
Old Susan, she who dwells alone,
Is sick, and makes a piteous moan
As if her very life would fail.

There's not a house within a mile,
No hand to help them in distress;
Old Susan lies a-bed in pain,
And sorely puzzled are the twain,
For what she ails they cannot guess.

And Betty's husband's at the wood,
Where by the week he doth abide,
A woodman in the distant vale;
There's none to help poor Susan Gale;
What must be done? what will betide?

And Betty from the lane has fetched
Her Pony, that is mild and good;
Whether he be in joy or pain,
Feeding at will along the lane,
Or bringing faggots from the wood.

And he is all in travelling trim,--
And, by the moonlight, Betty Foy
Has on the well-girt saddle set
(The like was never heard of yet)
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy.

And he must post without delay
Across the bridge and through the dale,
And by the church, and o'er the down,
To bring a Doctor from the town,
Or she will die, old Susan Gale.

There is no need of boot or spur,
There is no need of whip or wand;
For Johnny has his holly-bough,
And with a 'hurly-burly' now
He shakes the green bough in his hand.

And Betty o'er and o'er has told
The Boy, who is her best delight,
Both what to follow, what to shun,
What do, and what to leave undone,
How turn to left, and how to right.

And Betty's most especial charge,
Was, 'Johnny! Johnny! mind that you
Come home again, nor stop at all,--
Come home again, whate'er befall,
My Johnny, do, I pray you do.'

To this did Johnny answer make,
Both with his head and with his hand,
And proudly shook the bridle too;
And then! his words were not a few,
Which Betty well could understand.

And now that Johnny is just going,
Though Betty's in a mighty flurry,
She gently pats the Pony's side,
On which her Idiot Boy must ride,
And seems no longer in a hurry.

But when the Pony moved his legs,
Oh! then for the poor Idiot Boy!
For joy he cannot hold the bridle,
For joy his head and heels are idle,
He's idle all for very joy.

And while the Pony moves his legs,
In Johnny's left hand you may see
The green bough motionless and dead:
The Moon that shines above his head
Is not more still and mute than he.

His heart it was so full of glee,
That till full fifty yards were gone,
He quite forgot his holly whip,
And all his skill in horsemanship:
Oh! happy, happy, happy John.

And while the Mother, at the door,
Stands fixed, her face with joy o'erflows,
Proud of herself, and proud of him,
She sees him in his travelling trim,
How quietly her Johnny goes.

The silence of her Idiot Boy,
What hopes it sends to Betty's heart!
He's at the guide-post--he turns right;
She watches till he's out of sight,
And Betty will not then depart.

Burr, burr--now Johnny's lips they burr,
As loud as any mill, or near it;
Meek as a lamb the Pony moves,
And Johnny makes the noise he loves, 0
And Betty listens, glad to hear it.

Away she hies to Susan Gale:
Her Messenger's in merry tune;
The owlets hoot, the owlets curr,
And Johnny's lips they burr, burr, burr,
As on he goes beneath the moon.

His steed and he right well agree;
For of this Pony there's a rumour,
That, should he lose his eyes and ears,
And should he live a thousand years,
He never will be out of humour.

But then he is a horse that thinks!
And when he thinks, his pace is slack;
Now, though he knows poor Johnny well,
Yet, for his life, he cannot tell
What he has got upon his back.

So through the moonlight lanes they go,
And far into the moonlight dale,
And by the church, and o'er the down,
To bring a Doctor from the town,
To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And Betty, now at Susan's side,
Is in the middle of her story,
What speedy help her Boy will bring,
With many a most diverting thing,
Of Johnny's wit, and Johnny's glory.

And Betty, still at Susan's side,
By this time is not quite so flurried:
Demure with porringer and plate
She sits, as if in Susan's fate
Her life and soul were buried.

But Betty, poor good woman! she,
You plainly in her face may read it,
Could lend out of that moment's store
Five years of happiness or more
To any that might need it.

But yet I guess that now and then
With Betty all was not so well;
And to the road she turns her ears,
And thence full many a sound she hears,
Which she to Susan will not tell.

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans;
'As sure as there's a moon in heaven,'
Cries Betty, 'he'll be back again;
They'll both be here--'tis almost ten--
Both will be here before eleven.'

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans;
The clock gives warning for eleven;
'Tis on the stroke--'He must be near,'
Quoth Betty, 'and will soon be here,
As sure as there's a moon in heaven.'

The clock is on the stroke of twelve,
And Johnny is not yet in sight:
--The Moon's in heaven, as Betty sees,
But Betty is not quite at ease;
And Susan has a dreadful night.

And Betty, half an hour ago,
On Johnny vile reflections cast:
'A little idle sauntering Thing!'
With other names, an endless string;
But now that time is gone and past.

And Betty's drooping at the heart,
That happy time all past and gone,
'How can it be he is so late?
The Doctor, he has made him wait;
Susan! they'll both be here anon.'

And Susan's growing worse and worse,
And Betty's in a sad 'quandary';
And then there's nobody to say
If she must go, or she must stay!
--She's in a sad 'quandary'.

The clock is on the stroke of one;
But neither Doctor nor his Guide
Appears along the moonlight road;
There's neither horse nor man abroad,
And Betty's still at Susan's side.

And Susan now begins to fear
Of sad mischances not a few,
That Johnny may perhaps be drowned;
Or lost, perhaps, and never found;
Which they must both for ever rue.

She prefaced half a hint of this
With, 'God forbid it should be true!'
At the first word that Susan said
Cried Betty, rising from the bed,
'Susan, I'd gladly stay with you.

'I must be gone, I must away:
Consider, Johnny's but half-wise;
Susan, we must take care of him,
If he is hurt in life or limb'--
'Oh God forbid!' poor Susan cries.

'What can I do?' says Betty, going,
'What can I do to ease your pain?
Good Susan tell me, and I'll stay;
I fear you're in a dreadful way,
But I shall soon be back again.'

'Nay, Betty, go! good Betty, go!
There's nothing that can ease my pain,'
Then off she hies, but with a prayer
That God poor Susan's life would spare, 0
Till she comes back again.

So, through the moonlight lane she goes,
And far into the moonlight dale;
And how she ran, and how she walked,
And all that to herself she talked,
Would surely be a tedious tale.

In high and low, above, below,
In great and small, in round and square,
In tree and tower was Johnny seen,
In bush and brake, in black and green;
'Twas Johnny, Johnny, every where.

And while she crossed the bridge, there came
A thought with which her heart is sore--
Johnny perhaps his horse forsook,
To hunt the moon within the brook,
And never will be heard of more.

Now is she high upon the down,
Alone amid a prospect wide;
There's neither Johnny nor his Horse
Among the fern or in the gorse;
There's neither Doctor nor his Guide.

'O saints! what is become of him?
Perhaps he's climbed into an oak,
Where he will stay till he is dead;
Or, sadly he has been misled,
And joined the wandering gipsy-folk.

'Or him that wicked Pony's carried
To the dark cave, the goblin's hall;
Or in the castle he's pursuing
Among the ghosts his own undoing;
Or playing with the waterfall.'

At poor old Susan then she railed,
While to the town she posts away;
'If Susan had not been so ill,
Alas! I should have had him still,
My Johnny, till my dying day.'

Poor Betty, in this sad distemper,
The Doctor's self could hardly spare:
Unworthy things she talked, and wild;
Even he, of cattle the most mild,
The Pony had his share.

But now she's fairly in the town,
And to the Doctor's door she hies;
'Tis silence all on every side;
The town so long, the town so wide,
Is silent as the skies.

And now she's at the Doctor's door,
She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap;
The Doctor at the casement shows
His glimmering eyes that peep and doze!
And one hand rubs his old night-cap.

'O Doctor! Doctor! where's my Johnny?'
'I'm here, what is't you want with me?'
'O Sir! you know I'm Betty Foy,
And I have lost my poor dear Boy,
You know him--him you often see;

'He's not so wise as some folks be:'
'The devil take his wisdom!' said
The Doctor, looking somewhat grim,
'What, Woman! should I know of him?'
And, grumbling, he went back to bed!

'O woe is me! O woe is me!
Here will I die, here will I die;
I thought to find my lost one here,
But he is neither far nor near,
Oh! what a wretched Mother I!'

She stops, she stands, she looks about;
Which way to turn she cannot tell.
Poor Betty! it would ease her pain
If she had heart to knock again;
--The clock strikes three--a dismal knell!

Then up along the town she hies,
No wonder if her senses fail;
This piteous news so much it shocked her,
She quite forgot to send the Doctor,
To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And now she's high upon the down,
And she can see a mile of road:
'O cruel! I'm almost threescore;
Such night as this was ne'er before,
There's not a single soul abroad.'

She listens, but she cannot hear
The foot of horse, the voice of man;
The streams with softest sound are flowing,
The grass you almost hear it growing,
You hear it now, if e'er you can.

The owlets through the long blue night
Are shouting to each other still:
Fond lovers! yet not quite hob nob,
They lengthen out the tremulous sob,
That echoes far from hill to hill.

Poor Betty now has lost all hope,
Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin,
A green-grown pond she just has past,
And from the brink she hurries fast,
Lest she should drown herself therein.

And now she sits her down and weeps;
Such tears she never shed before;
'Oh dear, dear Pony! my sweet joy!
Oh carry back my Idiot Boy! 0
And we will ne'er o'erload thee more.'

A thought is come into her head:
The Pony he is mild and good,
And we have always used him well;
Perhaps he's gone along the dell,
And carried Johnny to the wood.

Then up she springs as if on wings;
She thinks no more of deadly sin;
If Betty fifty ponds should see,
The last of all her thoughts would be
To drown herself therein.

O Reader! now that I might tell
What Johnny and his Horse are doing
What they've been doing all this time,
Oh could I put it into rhyme,
A most delightful tale pursuing!

Perhaps, and no unlikely thought!
He with his Pony now doth roam
The cliffs and peaks so high that are,
To lay his hands upon a star,
And in his pocket bring it home.

Perhaps he's turned himself about,
His face unto his horse's tail,
And, still and mute, in wonder lost,
All silent as a horseman-ghost,
He travels slowly down the vale.

And now, perhaps, is hunting sheep,
A fierce and dreadful hunter he;
Yon valley, now so trim and green,
In five months' time, should he be seen,
A desert wilderness will be!

Perhaps, with head and heels on fire,
And like the very soul of evil,
He's galloping away, away,
And so will gallop on for aye,
The bane of all that dread the devil!

I to the Muses have been bound
These fourteen years, by strong indentures:
O gentle Muses! let me tell
But half of what to him befell;
He surely met with strange adventures.

O gentle Muses! is this kind?
Why will ye thus my suit repel?
Why of your further aid bereave me?
And can ye thus unfriended leave me
Ye Muses! whom I love so well?

Who's yon, that, near the waterfall,
Which thunders down with headlong force,
Beneath the moon, yet shining fair,
As careless as if nothing were,
Sits upright on a feeding horse?

Unto his horse--there feeding free,
He seems, I think, the rein to give;
Of moon or stars he takes no heed;
Of such we in romances read:
--'Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live.

And that's the very Pony, too!
Where is she, where is Betty Foy?
She hardly can sustain her fears;
The roaring waterfall she hears,
And cannot find her Idiot Boy.

Your Pony's worth his weight in gold:
Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy!
She's coming from among the trees,
And now all full in view she sees
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy.

And Betty sees the Pony too:
Why stand you thus, good Betty Foy?
It is no goblin, 'tis no ghost,
'Tis he whom you so long have lost,
He whom you love, your Idiot Boy.

She looks again--her arms are up--
She screams--she cannot move for joy;
She darts, as with a torrent's force,
She almost has o'erturned the Horse,
And fast she holds her Idiot Boy.

And Johnny burrs, and laughs aloud;
Whether in cunning or in joy
I cannot tell; but while he laughs,
Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs
To hear again her Idiot Boy.

And now she's at the Pony's tail,
And now is at the Pony's head,--
On that side now, and now on this;
And, almost stifled with her bliss,
A few sad tears does Betty shed.

She kisses o'er and o'er again
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy;
She's happy here, is happy there,
She is uneasy every where;
Her limbs are all alive with joy.

She pats the Pony, where or when
She knows not, happy Betty Foy!
The little Pony glad may be,
But he is milder far than she,
You hardly can perceive his joy.

'Oh! Johnny, never mind the Doctor;
You've done your best, and that is all:'
She took the reins, when this was said,
And gently turned the Pony's head 0
From the loud waterfall.

By this the stars were almost gone,
The moon was setting on the hill,
So pale you scarcely looked at her:
The little birds began to stir,
Though yet their tongues were still.

The Pony, Betty, and her Boy,
Wind slowly through the woody dale;
And who is she, betimes abroad,
That hobbles up the steep rough road?
Who is it, but old Susan Gale?

Long time lay Susan lost in thought;
And many dreadful fears beset her,
Both for her Messenger and Nurse;
And, as her mind grew worse and worse,
Her body--it grew better.

She turned, she tossed herself in bed,
On all sides doubts and terrors met her;
Point after point did she discuss;
And, while her mind was fighting thus,
Her body still grew better.

'Alas! what is become of them?
These fears can never be endured;
I'll to the wood.'--The word scarce said,
Did Susan rise up from her bed,
As if by magic cured.

Away she goes up hill and down,
And to the wood at length is come;
She spies her Friends, she shouts a greeting;
Oh me! it is a merry meeting
As ever was in Christendom.

The owls have hardly sung their last,
While our four travellers homeward wend;
The owls have hooted all night long,
And with the owls began my song,
And with the owls must end.

For while they all were travelling home,
Cried Betty, 'Tell us, Johnny, do,
Where all this long night you have been,
What you have heard, what you have seen:
And, Johnny, mind you tell us true.'

Now Johnny all night long had heard
The owls in tuneful concert strive;
No doubt too he the moon had seen;
For in the moonlight he had been
From eight o'clock till five.

And thus, to Betty's question, he
Made answer, like a traveller bold,
(His very words I give to you,)
'The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
And the sun did shine so cold!'
--Thus answered Johnny in his glory,
And that was all his travel's story,

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 23

Euryclea now went upstairs laughing to tell her mistress that her
dear husband had come home. Her aged knees became young again and
her feet were nimble for joy as she went up to her mistress and bent
over her head to speak to her. "Wake up Penelope, my dear child,"
she exclaimed, "and see with your own eyes something that you have
been wanting this long time past. Ulysses has at last indeed come home
again, and has killed the suitors who were giving so much trouble in
his house, eating up his estate and ill-treating his son."
"My good nurse," answered Penelope, "you must be mad. The gods
sometimes send some very sensible people out of their minds, and
make foolish people become sensible. This is what they must have
been doing to you; for you always used to be a reasonable person.
Why should you thus mock me when I have trouble enough already-
talking such nonsense, and waking me up out of a sweet sleep that
had taken possession of my eyes and closed them? I have never slept so
soundly from the day my poor husband went to that city with the
ill-omened name. Go back again into the women's room; if it had been
any one else, who had woke me up to bring me such absurd news I should
have sent her away with a severe scolding. As it is, your age shall
protect you."
"My dear child," answered Euryclea, "I am not mocking you. It is
quite true as I tell you that Ulysses is come home again. He was the
stranger whom they all kept on treating so badly in the cloister.
Telemachus knew all the time that he was come back, but kept his
father's secret that he might have his revenge on all these wicked
people.
Then Penelope sprang up from her couch, threw her arms round
Euryclea, and wept for joy. "But my dear nurse," said she, "explain
this to me; if he has really come home as you say, how did he manage
to overcome the wicked suitors single handed, seeing what a number
of them there always were?"
"I was not there," answered Euryclea, "and do not know; I only heard
them groaning while they were being killed. We sat crouching and
huddled up in a corner of the women's room with the doors closed, till
your son came to fetch me because his father sent him. Then I found
Ulysses standing over the corpses that were lying on the ground all
round him, one on top of the other. You would have enjoyed it if you
could have seen him standing there all bespattered with blood and
filth, and looking just like a lion. But the corpses are now all piled
up in the gatehouse that is in the outer court, and Ulysses has lit
a great fire to purify the house with sulphur. He has sent me to
call you, so come with me that you may both be happy together after
all; for now at last the desire of your heart has been fulfilled; your
husband is come home to find both wife and son alive and well, and
to take his revenge in his own house on the suitors who behaved so
badly to him."
"'My dear nurse," said Penelope, "do not exult too confidently
over all this. You know how delighted every one would be to see
Ulysses come home- more particularly myself, and the son who has
been born to both of us; but what you tell me cannot be really true.
It is some god who is angry with the suitors for their great
wickedness, and has made an end of them; for they respected no man
in the whole world, neither rich nor poor, who came near them, who
came near them, and they have come to a bad end in consequence of
their iniquity. Ulysses is dead far away from the Achaean land; he
will never return home again."
Then nurse Euryclea said, "My child, what are you talking about? but
you were all hard of belief and have made up your mind that your
husband is never coming, although he is in the house and by his own
fire side at this very moment. Besides I can give you another proof;
when I was washing him I perceived the scar which the wild boar gave
him, and I wanted to tell you about it, but in his wisdom he would not
let me, and clapped his hands over my mouth; so come with me and I
will make this bargain with you- if I am deceiving you, you may have
me killed by the most cruel death you can think of."
"My dear nurse," said Penelope, "however wise you may be you can
hardly fathom the counsels of the gods. Nevertheless, we will go in
search of my son, that I may see the corpses of the suitors, and the
man who has killed them."
On this she came down from her upper room, and while doing so she
considered whether she should keep at a distance from her husband
and question him, or whether she should at once go up to him and
embrace him. When, however, she had crossed the stone floor of the
cloister, she sat down opposite Ulysses by the fire, against the
wall at right angles [to that by which she had entered], while Ulysses
sat near one of the bearing-posts, looking upon the ground, and
waiting to see what his wife would say to him when she saw him. For
a long time she sat silent and as one lost in amazement. At one moment
she looked him full in the face, but then again directly, she was
misled by his shabby clothes and failed to recognize him, till
Telemachus began to reproach her and said:
"Mother- but you are so hard that I cannot call you by such a
name- why do you keep away from my father in this way? Why do you
not sit by his side and begin talking to him and asking him questions?
No other woman could bear to keep away from her husband when he had
come back to her after twenty years of absence, and after having
gone through so much; but your heart always was as hard as a stone."
Penelope answered, "My son, I am so lost in astonishment that I
can find no words in which either to ask questions or to answer
them. I cannot even look him straight in the face. Still, if he really
is Ulysses come back to his own home again, we shall get to understand
one another better by and by, for there are tokens with which we two
are alone acquainted, and which are hidden from all others."
Ulysses smiled at this, and said to Telemachus, "Let your mother put
me to any proof she likes; she will make up her mind about it
presently. She rejects me for the moment and believes me to be
somebody else, because I am covered with dirt and have such bad
clothes on; let us, however, consider what we had better do next. When
one man has killed another, even though he was not one who would leave
many friends to take up his quarrel, the man who has killed him must
still say good bye to his friends and fly the country; whereas we have
been killing the stay of a whole town, and all the picked youth of
Ithaca. I would have you consider this matter."
"Look to it yourself, father," answered Telemachus, "for they say
you are the wisest counsellor in the world, and that there is no other
mortal man who can compare with you. We will follow you with right
good will, nor shall you find us fail you in so far as our strength
holds out."
"I will say what I think will be best," answered Ulysses. "First
wash and put your shirts on; tell the maids also to go to their own
room and dress; Phemius shall then strike up a dance tune on his lyre,
so that if people outside hear, or any of the neighbours, or some
one going along the street happens to notice it, they may think
there is a wedding in the house, and no rumours about the death of the
suitors will get about in the town, before we can escape to the
woods upon my own land. Once there, we will settle which of the
courses heaven vouchsafes us shall seem wisest."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. First they
washed and put their shirts on, while the women got ready. Then
Phemius took his lyre and set them all longing for sweet song and
stately dance. The house re-echoed with the sound of men and women
dancing, and the people outside said, "I suppose the queen has been
getting married at last. She ought to be ashamed of herself for not
continuing to protect her husband's property until he comes home."
This was what they said, but they did not know what it was that
had been happening. The upper servant Eurynome washed and anointed
Ulysses in his own house and gave him a shirt and cloak, while Minerva
made him look taller and stronger than before; she also made the
hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like
hyacinth blossoms; she glorified him about the head and shoulders just
as a skilful workman who has studied art of all kinds under Vulcan
or Minerva- and his work is full of beauty- enriches a piece of silver
plate by gilding it. He came from the bath looking like one of the
immortals, and sat down opposite his wife on the seat he had left. "My
dear," said he, "heaven has endowed you with a heart more unyielding
than woman ever yet had. No other woman could bear to keep away from
her husband when he had come back to her after twenty years of
absence, and after having gone through so much. But come, nurse, get a
bed ready for me; I will sleep alone, for this woman has a heart as
hard as iron."
"My dear," answered Penelope, "I have no wish to set myself up,
nor to depreciate you; but I am not struck by your appearance, for I
very well remember what kind of a man you were when you set sail
from Ithaca. Nevertheless, Euryclea, take his bed outside the bed
chamber that he himself built. Bring the bed outside this room, and
put bedding upon it with fleeces, good coverlets, and blankets."
She said this to try him, but Ulysses was very angry and said,
"Wife, I am much displeased at what you have just been saying. Who has
been taking my bed from the place in which I left it? He must have
found it a hard task, no matter how skilled a workman he was, unless
some god came and helped him to shift it. There is no man living,
however strong and in his prime, who could move it from its place, for
it is a marvellous curiosity which I made with my very own hands.
There was a young olive growing within the precincts of the house,
in full vigour, and about as thick as a bearing-post. I built my
room round this with strong walls of stone and a roof to cover them,
and I made the doors strong and well-fitting. Then I cut off the top
boughs of the olive tree and left the stump standing. This I dressed
roughly from the root upwards and then worked with carpenter's tools
well and skilfully, straightening my work by drawing a line on the
wood, and making it into a bed-prop. I then bored a hole down the
middle, and made it the centre-post of my bed, at which I worked
till I had finished it, inlaying it with gold and silver; after this I
stretched a hide of crimson leather from one side of it to the
other. So you see I know all about it, and I desire to learn whether
it is still there, or whether any one has been removing it by
cutting down the olive tree at its roots."
When she heard the sure proofs Ulysses now gave her, she fairly
broke down. She flew weeping to his side, flung her arms about his
neck, and kissed him. "Do not be angry with me Ulysses," she cried,
"you, who are the wisest of mankind. We have suffered, both of us.
Heaven has denied us the happiness of spending our youth, and of
growing old, together; do not then be aggrieved or take it amiss
that I did not embrace you thus as soon as I saw you. I have been
shuddering all the time through fear that someone might come here
and deceive me with a lying story; for there are many very wicked
people going about. Jove's daughter Helen would never have yielded
herself to a man from a foreign country, if she had known that the
sons of Achaeans would come after her and bring her back. Heaven put
it in her heart to do wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin,
which has been the source of all our sorrows. Now, however, that you
have convinced me by showing that you know all about our bed (which no
human being has ever seen but you and I and a single maid servant, the
daughter of Actor, who was given me by my father on my marriage, and
who keeps the doors of our room) hard of belief though I have been I
can mistrust no longer."
Then Ulysses in his turn melted, and wept as he clasped his dear and
faithful wife to his bosom. As the sight of land is welcome to men who
are swimming towards the shore, when Neptune has wrecked their ship
with the fury of his winds and waves- a few alone reach the land,
and these, covered with brine, are thankful when they find
themselves on firm ground and out of danger- even so was her husband
welcome to her as she looked upon him, and she could not tear her
two fair arms from about his neck. Indeed they would have gone on
indulging their sorrow till rosy-fingered morn appeared, had not
Minerva determined otherwise, and held night back in the far west,
while she would not suffer Dawn to leave Oceanus, nor to yoke the
two steeds Lampus and Phaethon that bear her onward to break the day
upon mankind.
At last, however, Ulysses said, "Wife, we have not yet reached the
end of our troubles. I have an unknown amount of toil still to
undergo. It is long and difficult, but I must go through with it,
for thus the shade of Teiresias prophesied concerning me, on the day
when I went down into Hades to ask about my return and that of my
companions. But now let us go to bed, that we may lie down and enjoy
the blessed boon of sleep."
"You shall go to bed as soon as you please," replied Penelope,
"now that the gods have sent you home to your own good house and to
your country. But as heaven has put it in your mind to speak of it,
tell me about the task that lies before you. I shall have to hear
about it later, so it is better that I should be told at once."
"My dear," answered Ulysses, "why should you press me to tell you?
Still, I will not conceal it from you, though you will not like BOOK
it. I do not like it myself, for Teiresias bade me travel far and
wide, carrying an oar, till I came to a country where the people
have never heard of the sea, and do not even mix salt with their food.
They know nothing about ships, nor oars that are as the wings of a
ship. He gave me this certain token which I will not hide from you. He
said that a wayfarer should meet me and ask me whether it was a
winnowing shovel that I had on my shoulder. On this, I was to fix my
oar in the ground and sacrifice a ram, a bull, and a boar to
Neptune; after which I was to go home and offer hecatombs to all the
gods in heaven, one after the other. As for myself, he said that death
should come to me from the sea, and that my life should ebb away
very gently when I was full of years and peace of mind, and my
people should bless me. All this, he said, should surely come to
pass."
And Penelope said, "If the gods are going to vouchsafe you a happier
time in your old age, you may hope then to have some respite from
misfortune."
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Eurynome and the nurse took
torches and made the bed ready with soft coverlets; as soon as they
had laid them, the nurse went back into the house to go to her rest,
leaving the bed chamber woman Eurynome to show Ulysses and Penelope to
bed by torch light. When she had conducted them to their room she went
back, and they then came joyfully to the rites of their own old bed.
Telemachus, Philoetius, and the swineherd now left off dancing, and
made the women leave off also. They then laid themselves down to sleep
in the cloisters.
When Ulysses and Penelope had had their fill of love they fell
talking with one another. She told him how much she had had to bear in
seeing the house filled with a crowd of wicked suitors who had
killed so many sheep and oxen on her account, and had drunk so many
casks of wine. Ulysses in his turn told her what he had suffered,
and how much trouble he had himself given to other people. He told her
everything, and she was so delighted to listen that she never went
to sleep till he had ended his whole story.
He began with his victory over the Cicons, and how he thence reached
the fertile land of the Lotus-eaters. He told her all about the
Cyclops and how he had punished him for having so ruthlessly eaten his
brave comrades; how he then went on to Aeolus, who received him
hospitably and furthered him on his way, but even so he was not to
reach home, for to his great grief a hurricane carried him out to
sea again; how he went on to the Laestrygonian city Telepylos, where
the people destroyed all his ships with their crews, save himself
and his own ship only. Then he told of cunning Circe and her craft,
and how he sailed to the chill house of Hades, to consult the ghost of
the Theban prophet Teiresias, and how he saw his old comrades in arms,
and his mother who bore him and brought him up when he was a child;
how he then heard the wondrous singing of the Sirens, and went on to
the wandering rocks and terrible Charybdis and to Scylla, whom no
man had ever yet passed in safety; how his men then ate the cattle
of the sun-god, and how Jove therefore struck the ship with his
thunderbolts, so that all his men perished together, himself alone
being left alive; how at last he reached the Ogygian island and the
nymph Calypso, who kept him there in a cave, and fed him, and wanted
him to marry her, in which case she intended making him immortal so
that he should never grow old, but she could not persuade him to let
her do so; and how after much suffering he had found his way to the
Phaeacians, who had treated him as though he had been a god, and
sent him back in a ship to his own country after having given him
gold, bronze, and raiment in great abundance. This was the last
thing about which he told her, for here a deep sleep took hold upon
him and eased the burden of his sorrows.
Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. When she deemed that
Ulysses had had both of his wife and of repose, she bade
gold-enthroned Dawn rise out of Oceanus that she might shed light upon
mankind. On this, Ulysses rose from his comfortable bed and said to
Penelope, "Wife, we have both of us had our full share of troubles,
you, here, in lamenting my absence, and I in being prevented from
getting home though I was longing all the time to do so. Now, however,
that we have at last come together, take care of the property that
is in the house. As for the sheep and goats which the wicked suitors
have eaten, I will take many myself by force from other people, and
will compel the Achaeans to make good the rest till they shall have
filled all my yards. I am now going to the wooded lands out in the
country to see my father who has so long been grieved on my account,
and to yourself I will give these instructions, though you have little
need of them. At sunrise it will at once get abroad that I have been
killing the suitors; go upstairs, therefore, and stay there with
your women. See nobody and ask no questions."
As he spoke he girded on his armour. Then he roused Telemachus,
Philoetius, and Eumaeus, and told them all to put on their armour
also. This they did, and armed themselves. When they had done so, they
opened the gates and sallied forth, Ulysses leading the way. It was
now daylight, but Minerva nevertheless concealed them in darkness
and led them quickly out of the town.

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The Brothers

'These Tourists, heaven preserve us! needs must live
A profitable life: some glance along,
Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air,
And they were butterflies to wheel about
Long as the summer lasted: some, as wise,
Perched on the forehead of a jutting crag,
Pencil in hand and book upon the knee,
Will look and scribble, scribble on and look,
Until a man might travel twelve stout miles,
Or reap an acre of his neighbour's corn.
But, for that moping Son of Idleness,
Why can he tarry 'yonder'?--In our churchyard
Is neither epitaph nor monument,
Tombstone nor name--only the turf we tread
And a few natural graves.'
To Jane, his wife,
Thus spake the homely Priest of Ennerdale.
It was a July evening; and he sate
Upon the long stone-seat beneath the eaves
Of his old cottage,--as it chanced, that day,
Employed in winter's work. Upon the stone
His wife sate near him, teasing matted wool,
While, from the twin cards toothed with glittering wire,
He fed the spindle of his youngest child,
Who, in the open air, with due accord
Of busy hands and back-and-forward steps,
Her large round wheel was turning. Towards the field
In which the Parish Chapel stood alone,
Girt round with a bare ring of mossy wall,
While half an hour went by, the Priest had sent
Many a long look of wonder: and at last,
Risen from his seat, beside the snow-white ridge
Of carded wool which the old man had piled
He laid his implements with gentle care,
Each in the other locked; and, down the path
That from his cottage to the church-yard led,
He took his way, impatient to accost
The Stranger, whom he saw still lingering there.
'Twas one well known to him in former days,
A Shepherd-lad; who ere his sixteenth year
Had left that calling, tempted to entrust
His expectations to the fickle winds
And perilous waters; with the mariners
A fellow-mariner;--and so had fared
Through twenty seasons; but he had been reared
Among the mountains, and he in his heart
Was half a shepherd on the stormy seas.
Oft in the piping shrouds had Leonard heard
The tones of waterfalls, and inland sounds
Of caves and trees:--and, when the regular wind
Between the tropics filled the steady sail,
And blew with the same breath through days and weeks,
Lengthening invisibly its weary line
Along the cloudless Main, he, in those hours
Of tiresome indolence, would often hang
Over the vessel's side, and gaze and gaze;
And, while the broad blue wave and sparkling foam
Flashed round him images and hues that wrought
In union with the employment of his heart,
He, thus by feverish passion overcome,
Even with the organs of his bodily eye,
Below him, in the bosom of the deep,
Saw mountains; saw the forms of sheep that grazed
On verdant hills--with dwellings among trees,
And shepherds clad in the same country grey
Which he himself had worn.
And now, at last,
From perils manifold, with some small wealth
Acquired by traffic 'mid the Indian Isles,
To his paternal home he is returned,
With a determined purpose to resume
The life he had lived there; both for the sake
Of many darling pleasures, and the love
Which to an only brother he has borne
In all his hardships, since that happy time
When, whether it blew foul or fair, they two
Were brother-shepherds on their native hills.
--They were the last of all their race: and now,
When Leonard had approached his home, his heart
Failed in him; and, not venturing to enquire
Tidings of one so long and dearly loved,
He to the solitary churchyard turned;
That, as he knew in what particular spot
His family were laid, he thence might learn
If still his Brother lived, or to the file
Another grave was added.--He had found
Another grave,--near which a full half-hour
He had remained; but, as he gazed, there grew
Such a confusion in his memory,
That he began to doubt; and even to hope
That he had seen this heap of turf before,--
That it was not another grave; but one
He had forgotten. He had lost his path,
As up the vale, that afternoon, he walked
Through fields which once had been well known to him:
And oh what joy this recollection now
Sent to his heart! he lifted up his eyes,
And, looking round, imagined that he saw
Strange alteration wrought on every side
Among the woods and fields, and that the rocks,
And everlasting hills themselves were changed. 0
By this the Priest, who down the field had come,
Unseen by Leonard, at the churchyard gate
Stopped short,--and thence, at leisure, limb by limb
Perused him with a gay complacency.
Ay, thought the Vicar, smiling to himself,
'Tis one of those who needs must leave the path
Of the world's business to go wild alone:
His arms have a perpetual holiday;
The happy man will creep about the fields,
Following his fancies by the hour, to bring
Tears down his cheek, or solitary smiles
Into his face, until the setting sun
Write fool upon his forehead.--Planted thus
Beneath a shed that over-arched the gate
Of this rude churchyard, till the stars appeared
The good Man might have communed with himself,
But that the Stranger, who had left the grave,
Approached; he recognised the Priest at once,
And, after greetings interchanged, and given
By Leonard to the Vicar as to one
Unknown to him, this dialogue ensued.
LEONARD. You live, Sir, in these dales, a quiet life:
Your years make up one peaceful family;
And who would grieve and fret, if, welcome come
And welcome gone, they are so like each other,
They cannot be remembered? Scarce a funeral
Comes to this churchyard once in eighteen months;
And yet, some changes must take place among you:
And you, who dwell here, even among these rocks,
Can trace the finger of mortality,
And see, that with our threescore years and ten
We are not all that perish.----I remember,
(For many years ago I passed this road)
There was a foot-way all along the fields
By the brook-side--'tis gone--and that dark cleft!
To me it does not seem to wear the face
Which then it had!
PRIEST. Nay, Sir, for aught I know,
That chasm is much the same--
LEONARD. But, surely, yonder--
PRIEST. Ay, there, indeed, your memory is a friend
That does not play you false.--On that tall pike
(It is the loneliest place of all these hills)
There were two springs which bubbled side by side,
As if they had been made that they might be
Companions for each other: the huge crag
Was rent with lightning--one hath disappeared;
The other, left behind, is flowing still.
For accidents and changes such as these,
We want not store of them;--a waterspout
Will bring down half a mountain; what a feast
For folks that wander up and down like you,
To see an acre's breadth of that wide cliff
One roaring cataract! a sharp May-storm
Will come with loads of January snow,
And in one night send twenty score of sheep
To feed the ravens; or a shepherd dies
By some untoward death among the rocks:
The ice breaks up and sweeps away a bridge;
A wood is felled:--and then for our own homes!
A child is born or christened, a field ploughed,
A daughter sent to service, a web spun,
The old house-clock is decked with a new face;
And hence, so far from wanting facts or dates
To chronicle the time, we all have here
A pair of diaries,--one serving, Sir,
For the whole dale, and one for each fireside--
Yours was a stranger's judgment: for historians,
Commend me to these valleys!
LEONARD. Yet your Churchyard
Seems, if such freedom may be used with you,
To say that you are heedless of the past:
An orphan could not find his mother's grave:
Here's neither head nor foot stone, plate of brass,
Cross-bones nor skull,--type of our earthly state
Nor emblem of our hopes: the dead man's home
Is but a fellow to that pasture-field.
PRIEST. Why, there, Sir, is a thought that's new to me!
The stone-cutters, 'tis true, might beg their bread
If every English churchyard were like ours;
Yet your conclusion wanders from the truth:
We have no need of names and epitaphs;
We talk about the dead by our firesides.
And then, for our immortal part! 'we' want
No symbols, Sir, to tell us that plain tale:
The thought of death sits easy on the man
Who has been born and dies among the mountains.
LEONARD. Your Dalesmen, then, do in each other's thoughts
Possess a kind of second life: no doubt
You, Sir, could help me to the history
Of half these graves?
PRIEST. For eight-score winters past,
With what I've witnessed, and with what I've heard,
Perhaps I might; and, on a winter-evening,
If you were seated at my chimney's nook,
By turning o'er these hillocks one by one,
We two could travel, Sir, through a strange round;
Yet all in the broad highway of the world.
Now there's a grave--your foot is half upon it,--
It looks just like the rest; and yet that man 0
Died broken-hearted.
LEONARD. 'Tis a common case.
We'll take another: who is he that lies
Beneath yon ridge, the last of those three graves?
It touches on that piece of native rock
Left in the church-yard wall.
PRIEST. That's Walter Ewbank.
He had as white a head and fresh a cheek
As ever were produced by youth and age
Engendering in the blood of hale fourscore.
Through five long generations had the heart
Of Walter's forefathers o'erflowed the bounds
Of their inheritance, that single cottage--
You see it yonder! and those few green fields.
They toiled and wrought, and still, from sire to son,
Each struggled, and each yielded as before
A little--yet a little,--and old Walter,
They left to him the family heart, and land
With other burthens than the crop it bore.
Year after year the old man still kept up
A cheerful mind,--and buffeted with bond,
Interest, and mortgages; at last he sank,
And went into his grave before his time.
Poor Walter! whether it was care that spurred him
God only knows, but to the very last
He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale:
His pace was never that of an old man:
I almost see him tripping down the path
With his two grandsons after him:--but you,
Unless our Landlord be your host tonight,
Have far to travel,--and on these rough paths
Even in the longest day of midsummer--
LEONARD. But those two Orphans!
PRIEST. Orphans!--Such they were--
Yet not while Walter lived: for, though their parents
Lay buried side by side as now they lie,
The old man was a father to the boys,
Two fathers in one father: and if tears,
Shed when he talked of them where they were not,
And hauntings from the infirmity of love,
Are aught of what makes up a mother's heart,
This old Man, in the day of his old age,
Was half a mother to them.--If you weep, Sir,
To hear a stranger talking about strangers,
Heaven bless you when you are among your kindred!
Ay--you may turn that way--it is a grave
Which will bear looking at.
LEONARD. These boys--I hope
They loved this good old Man?--
PRIEST. They did--and truly:
But that was what we almost overlooked,
They were such darlings of each other. Yes,
Though from the cradle they had lived with Walter,
The only kinsman near them, and though he
Inclined to both by reason of his age,
With a more fond, familiar, tenderness;
They, notwithstanding, had much love to spare,
And it all went into each other's hearts.
Leonard, the elder by just eighteen months,
Was two years taller: 'twas a joy to see,
To hear, to meet them!--From their house the school
Is distant three short miles, and in the time
Of storm and thaw, when every watercourse
And unbridged stream, such as you may have noticed
Crossing our roads at every hundred steps,
Was swoln into a noisy rivulet,
Would Leonard then, when eider boys remained
At home, go staggering through the slippery fords,
Bearing his brother on his back. I have seen him,
On windy days, in one of those stray brooks,
Ay, more than once I have seen him, midleg deep,
Their two books lying both on a dry stone,
Upon the hither side: and once I said,
As I remember, looking round these rocks
And hills on which we all of us were born,
That God who made the great book of the world
Would bless such piety--
LEONARD. It may be then--
PRIEST. Never did worthier lads break English bread:
The very brightest Sunday Autumn saw
With all its mealy clusters of ripe nuts,
Could never keep those boys away from church,
Or tempt them to an hour of sabbath breach.
Leonard and James! I warrant, every corner
Among these rocks, and every hollow place
That venturous foot could reach, to one or both
Was known as well as to the flowers that grow there.
Like roe-bucks they went bounding o'er the hills;
They played like two young ravens on the crags:
Then they could write, ay and speak too, as well
As many of their betters--and for Leonard!
The very night before he went away,
In my own house I put into his hand
A Bible, and I'd wager house and field
That, if he be alive, he has it yet.
LEONARD. It seems, these Brothers have not lived to be
A comfort to each other--
PRIEST. That they might
Live to such end is what both old and young
In this our valley all of us have wished, 0
And what, for my part, I have often prayed:
But Leonard--
LEONARD. Then James still is left among you!
PRIEST. 'Tis of the elder brother I am speaking:
They had an uncle;--he was at that time
A thriving man, and trafficked on the seas:
And, but for that same uncle, to this hour
Leonard had never handled rope or shroud:
For the boy loved the life which we lead here;
And though of unripe years, a stripling only,
His soul was knit to this his native soil.
But, as I said, old Walter was too weak
To strive with such a torrent; when he died,
The estate and house were sold; and all their sheep,
A pretty flock, and which, for aught I know,
Had clothed the Ewbanks for a thousand years:--
Well--all was gone, and they were destitute,
And Leonard, chiefly for his Brother's sake,
Resolved to try his fortune on the seas.
Twelve years are past since we had tidings from him.
If there were one among us who had heard
That Leonard Ewbank was come home again,
From the Great Gavel, down by Leeza's banks,
And down the Enna, far as Egremont,
The day would be a joyous festival;
And those two bells of ours, which there you see--
Hanging in the open air--but, O good Sir!
This is sad talk--they'll never sound for him--
Living or dead.--When last we heard of him,
He was in slavery among the Moors
Upon the Barbary coast.--'Twas not a little
That would bring down his spirit; and no doubt,
Before it ended in his death, the Youth
Was sadly crossed.--Poor Leonard! when we parted,
He took me by the hand, and said to me,
If e'er he should grow rich, he would return,
To live in peace upon his father's land,
And any his bones among us.
LEONARD. If that day
Should come, 'twould needs be a glad day for him;
He would himself, no doubt, be happy then
As any that should meet him--
PRIEST. Happy! Sir--
LEONARD. You said his kindred all were in their graves,
And that he had one Brother--
PRIEST. That is but
A fellow-tale of sorrow. From his youth
James, though not sickly, yet was delicate;
And Leonard being always by his side
Had done so many offices about him,
That, though he was not of a timid nature,
Yet still the spirit of a mountain-boy
In him was somewhat checked; and, when his Brother
Was gone to sea, and he was left alone,
The little colour that he had was soon
Stolen from his cheek; he drooped, and pined, and pined--
LEONARD. But these are all the graves of full-grown men!
PRIEST. Ay, Sir, that passed away: we took him to us;
He was the child of all the dale--he lived
Three months with one, and six months with another,
And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love:
And many, many happy days were his.
But, whether blithe or sad, 'tis my belief
His absent Brother still was at his heart.
And, when he dwelt beneath our roof, we found
(A practice till this time unknown to him)
That often, rising from his bed at night,
He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping
He sought his brother Leonard.--You are moved!
Forgive me, Sir: before I spoke to you,
I judged you most unkindly.
LEONARD. But this Youth,
How did he die at last?
PRIEST. One sweet May-morning,
(It will be twelve years since when Spring returns)
He had gone forth among the new-dropped lambs,
With two or three companions, whom their course
Of occupation led from height to height
Under a cloudless sun--till he, at length,
Through weariness, or, haply, to indulge
The humour of the moment, lagged behind.
You see yon precipice;--it wears the shape
Of a vast building made of many crags;
And in the midst is one particular rock
That rises like a column from the vale,
Whence by our shepherds it is called, THE PILLAR.
Upon its aery summit crowned with heath,
The loiterer, not unnoticed by his comrades,
Lay stretched at ease; but, passing by the place
On their return, they found that he was gone.
No ill was feared; till one of them by chance
Entering, when evening was far spent, the house
Which at that time was James's home, there learned
That nobody had seen him all that day:
The morning came, and still he was unheard of:
The neighbours were alarmed, and to the brook
Some hastened; some ran to the lake: ere noon
They found him at the foot of that same rock
Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after
I buried him, poor Youth, and there he lies! 0
LEONARD. And that then 'is' his grave!--Before his death
You say that he saw many happy years?
PRIEST. Ay, that he did--
LEONARD. And all went well with him?--
PRIEST. If he had one, the Youth had twenty homes.
LEONARD. And you believe, then, that his mind was easy?--
PRIEST. Yes, long before he died, he found that time
Is a true friend to sorrow; and unless
His thoughts were turned on Leonard's luckless fortune,
He talked about him with a cheerful love.
LEONARD. He could not come to an unhallowed end!
PRIEST. Nay, God forbid!--You recollect I mentioned
A habit which disquietude and grief
Had brought upon him; and we all conjectured
That, as the day was warm, he had lain down
On the soft heath,--and, waiting for his comrades,
He there had fallen asleep; that in his sleep
He to the margin of the precipice
Had walked, and from the summit had fallen headlong:
And so no doubt he perished. When the Youth
Fell, in his hand he must have grasped, we think,
His shepherd's staff; for on that Pillar of rock
It had been caught mid-way; and there for years
It hung;--and mouldered there.
The Priest here ended--
The Stranger would have thanked him, but he felt
A gushing from his heart, that took away
The power of speech. Both left the spot in silence;
And Leonard, when they reached the churchyard gate,
As the Priest lifted up the latch, turned round,--
And, looking at the grave, he said, 'My Brother!'
The Vicar did not hear the words: and now,
He pointed towards his dwelling-place, entreating
That Leonard would partake his homely fare:
The other thanked him with an earnest voice;
But added, that, the evening being calm,
He would pursue his journey. So they parted.
It was not long ere Leonard reached a grove
That overhung the road: he there stopped short,
And, sitting down beneath the trees, reviewed
All that the Priest had said: his early years
Were with him:--his long absence, cherished hopes,
And thoughts which had been his an hour before,
All pressed on him with such a weight, that now,
This vale, where he had been so happy, seemed
A place in which he could not bear to live:
So he relinquished all his purposes.
He travelled back to Egremont: and thence,
That night, he wrote a letter to the Priest,
Reminding him of what had passed between them;
And adding, with a hope to be forgiven,
That it was from the weakness of his heart
He had not dared to tell him who he was.
This done, he went on shipboard, and is now
A Seaman, a grey-headed Mariner.

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