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Casting incantations

Casting incantations directed towards our abodes
The keys hide by the riverside to catch you on your own.
Some say this is reason enough to chase the crossroads home
Yet whilst we know our powers are strong we may never expect our goal.
We may never hone our skills, to our regret.
We may never bring home a kill before requesting game from the house upon the hill.

To understand is to question, to answer shows your ignorance
Don't cast your curse my way whilst sat upon the fence
Come down, Come to town, we'll each show you around they say
Still you put it off for another day, until there you are, caught out in the blue,
Sipping mountain dew with the ghost of a girl you thought you knew but were never sure.
She spoke of prohibitions; she liked to call them principles
Nevertheless a number of rules she dictated to her disciples
With which she claimed they may govern the use of divination,
By which means she claimed they may carry on healing,
Those feeling like they could never go on, feeling they'd never last long enough to rise,
To take their elders by surprise in the revealing wisdoms of a prophetic nature,
Stammering in trance at the sight of the birds mid-dance,
In catching the end of the show only half we'll ever know.

Why is it that no one told me that this is life as the days go by
This is life in which we redefine our meaning, to see clearly,
It's all we ask. Casting incantations so the time it may last.
As we grow within the static our perceptions widen, poised for conception.
Fed pity in a labor to which was born a savior, a savior fed deception
As the temple lie in ruins.

Sinking deeper into appreciation maybe we our bound to seek the keys together.
Perhaps a world apart, adorned our chests in feathers, where are we to start, the end my friend.

To believe in truth, in light as it guides us through shadows.
To will it through, to know right, to see malevolent spites pierced, strung upon the gallows?
Their bodies clustered in a fluster of anguish,
In which they are left for an eternity to languish,
As we strive onwards, the righteous, we who have been disregarded, who have suffered too long.
Is this what we are to expect from justice, a judge with no concept of right or wrong?
To believe in truth, in light as it is blinding
May lead us to accept a truth that does not exist, If just so we can resist in questioning that of which no truths can be known, That of which we have no knowledge to throw upon the flame, no knowledge
even to name what we can never describe, an eternity in leaps and bounds a future prescribed?

To know, to will, to dare, to keep still your tongue as they stare upon unruly masses of hair,
A chaotic ensemble glaring, oozing it's aura in reproduction as Flora frees her pollen for abduction.

Should we be grateful as the living heads of state awake the nightmare?
In which they expect us to share? Bloodbath, Slaughterhouse sensibilities,
Is it this that they expect of us, to don a uniform, to smile, respect and conform?
Whilst still we're chasing the eye of the storm that sulks in the darkness,
Bulking in a recess of fears, drowning in a waterfall of cascading tears.
If only they'd listen to the Rede as it says
'An it harm none, do what thou will'
Find the time to live if you've got so much time to kill
Perhaps the rule of three fold should be upheld above the law,
It would never leave the vultures of vengeance ever wanting for more.

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Patrick White

Crazy, Sunny Day Outside, Blue Sky

Crazy, sunny day outside, blue sky,
and my shadow's got me in a choke-hold
so I can barely breathe. I'm wrestling
with the black angel in the way, my own vacuity,
the absurdity of the burning gate that affronts my emptiness.
I'm in a truce with a room that tolerates me well enough.
Sometimes a hush falls over it like a nuclear winter
or somebody's about to read a poem,
but it's got big windows, and it's safer
living above people than it is on eye-level
and I don't mean that in any kind of way
except everyone's afraid and that's when
they're at their most dangerous. But you can
see them coming from afar off from a second storey.

Most days I've got a fix on what I'm doing.
I follow the star in my eye. Portable north.
I lay my strange gifts of refuse and lucidity
on the temple stairs of a goddess I'm beginning
to lose my faith in, and as far as I can tell they're cherished.
Wonder what it would be like to send a muse packing for once.
Ungenderize inspiration, be the wellspring, instead
of drawing from it with a desert at your back
eyeing you from the crests of the sand dunes.
But how would you get the flavour of sex
into a bottle of water without it
souring into a message for help?

Even the salmon-flaked brick walls
of the chic boutique across the street
that caters to witches and fairies, seem bleak
behind their facade, with a darkness fairies can't people.
Utter black, impenetrable, unregenerative,
and every petal of sunshine, trivially epiphenomenal,
every gust of stars that wheels into a galaxy
like the evolutionary emergence of birds,
neither the cause nor the effect of anything cognizant.
Life just the flimsiest of distractions
on the skin of a bubble walking on thorns.
There's a black hole in my heart
that's lapping blood from the rose.

I'm trying to upgrade my eyes to be able to relate to it.
I'm cloning eclipses out of the stem cells of the night.
I'm grinding lenses out of anthracite, colour cones
without irises or chromatically aberrated rainbows.
I'm transplanting the eyes of all my dead flowers
with black diamonds on the same wavelength
as the X-ray star I can sense shining behind everything
that ever mattered to me, to achieve some kind
of nefarious harmony with the unilluminated doorway
that is neither the exit nor the entrance of being.

Everybody seems mesmerized by the temperance of the day,
all the things they've seen before, they're looking at again,
as if the light could ever be new in yesterday's eyes,
but I'm inside the seeing like a dragonfly in a chrysalis
trying to pass through this black hole
into an entirely new world that isn't
just another sketchy metaphor for this one.
I want to see the roots the blossom's wired to
if at all. Or if it's just one big disconnect
and all understanding is playing unplugged
like a downed powerline with the oracular powers
of a snake-oil salesman selling holy water to the fish.

Disoriented in the starlessness of the blazing afternoon,
I'm waiting like an image of the imageless
for the darkness to adjust to my eyes as if this time
it was up to God to get used to me, and evolve accordingly
and there were no other recourse for getting around me
except creatively. Except to tell the Hox genes
where to put your eyes, where to fit your mouth
in that lifemask that disguises you like a surrealistic scar
grappling with experience with nothing but your innocence
to fall back on for an alibi no one accepts when you lose.

Farewell to all that. Evolution can take its cue
from me for a change, and branch out dendritically
like a flash of lightning rooted in my starmud like a cedar fire
sweeping underground through the valley I just passed through
like the mirage of a waterbird through
a shapeshifting hourglass of stars
that are not fixed, but protean myth givers responsive
to the darkest insights of the human imagination
that doesn't create worlds in the likeness
of a preconceived image but each to their own medium
turns the light around on them like a revelation
of what they conceal like a jewel of water in their eyes.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Rondel. (From The Duke Of Orleans)

Hence away, begone, begone,
Carking care and melancholy!
Think ye thus to govern me
All my life long, as ye have done?
That shall ye not, I promise ye;
Reason shall have the mastery.
So hence away, begone, begone,
Carking care and melancholy!

If ever ye return this way,
With your mournful company,
A curse be on ye, and the day
That brings ye moping back to me!
Hence away, begone, I say!
Carking care and melancholy!

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Chinatown

Got a room about 20 feet wide
Theres a blue light bulb
hanging from the sky
Threw a mattress on the floor where we can hide
Hold my hand to the subway door
I can make us invisible
All the way to Chinatown
Steam is rising from the street below
Neon sign like a carnival
You bring the color to a grey rainbow
My guitar and a bottle of the red
So much pain that I want to forget
On our way to Chinatown
Take you over to my side of town
Show you how the real world gets down
Trouble I thought I could hold you down
All the way to Chinatown
Sheets of rain banging on the window
Turning into a blanket of snow
Getting good of pulling over the wool
Miles away theres another world
I know I am the luckiest girl
Found my heart in Chinatown
Take you over to my side of town
Show you how the real world gets down
Trouble I thought I could hold you down
All the way to Chinatown

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Sparrow

(eric carmen)
Recorded by cyrus erie
Epic 10451 / 1969
Sparrow, say that loves a game
Win or lose, its all the same
If it leaves, it comes again,
I dont understand
Never let her be too sure
That would be so immature
Keep her guessing, thats the way
To show you really love her
Id like to stop these guessing games
If its all the same to you
cause when theyre done
If you are gone
You know youll make me feel so bad now
Sparrow, sparrow, loves a game
I dont understand
Id like to stop these guessing games
If its all the same to you
cause when theyre done
If you are gone
You know youll make me blue
(feel so bad now)
(you know youll make me feel so bad now)
Sparrow, say its time to go
If you care, dont let it show
Hide it so shell never know
Then she cant hurt you
Then she cant hurt you

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Loraine

This is the story of one man’s soul.
The paths are stony and passion is blind,
And feet must bleed ere the light we find.
The cypher is writ on Lifes mighty scroll,
And the key is in each man’s mind.
But who read aright, ye have won release,
Ye have touched the joy in the heart of Peace.

PART I

THERES a bend of the river on Glenbar run
Which the wild duck haunt at the set of sun,
And the song of the waters is softened so
That scarcely its current is heard to flow;
And the blackfish hide by the shady bank
’Neath the sunken logs where the reeds are rank,
And the halcyon’s mail is an azure gleam
O’er the shifting shoals of the silver bream,
And the magpies chatter their idle whim,
And the wagtails flitter along the brim,
And tiny martins with breasts of snow
Keep fluttering restlessly to and fro,
And the weeping willows have framed the scene
With the trailing fall of their curtains green,
And the grass grows lush on the level leas
’Neath the low gnarled boughs of the apple trees,
Where the drowsy cattle dream away
The noon-tide hours of the summer day.
Theres a shady nook by the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer.
So faint are the marks of the bridle track,
From the old slip-rails on the ridge’s back,
That few can follow the lines I know
But I ride with the shadows of long ago!
I am gaunt and gray, I am old and worn,
But my heart goes back to a radiant morn
When someone waited and watched for me
In the friendly shade of that grand old tree.
The winter of Memory brings again
The summer rapture of passionate pain,
And she comes to me with the morning grace
On her sun-gold hair and her lily face,
And her blue eyes soft with the dreamy light
She stole from the stars of the Southern night,
And her slender form like a springtide flower
That sprang from the earth in a magic hour,
With the trembling smile and the tender tone
And the welcome glance—that were mine alone.
And we sit once more as we sat of old
When the future lay in a haze of gold—
In the fairy days when the gods have lent
To our lips the silence of heart’s content.
Ah! those were the days of youth’s perfect spring,
When each wandering wind had a song to sing,
When the touch of care and the shade of woe
Were but empty words we could never know
As we rode ’neath the gum and the box trees high,
And our idle laughter went floating by,
As we rode o’er the leagues of the billowy plain
Where the grass grew green ’neath the summer rain,
And over the hills in the range’s heart
To the fern-decked glen where the waters dart,
And we railed at time and the laggard year
Ere a bride would be mistress of Bendemeer.
Now the old-time feud that was first begun
When the Gordons settled on Glenbar run,
It had passed away, it was buried deep
In the quiet graves where our fathers sleep,
And sweet Mary Gordon was left alone
In the quaint old station of rough-hewn stone,
The maiden whom lovers sought near and far—
The stately lily of old Glenbar.
Our kinsfolk had hated, from year to year,
Since the first Loraine came to Bendemeer
They have passed where none can cavil and strive;
How could she and I keep the feud alive!
I, James Loraine, who were better dead
Than harm one hair of her gentle head!
So we made the bond that would bind, one day,
Glenbar and Bendemeer for aye.

For at last, though it left me with saddened face,
I was master of all in my father’s place.
Of the gray old dwelling, rambling and wide,
With the homestead paddocks on either side,
And the deep verandahs and porches tall
Where the vine climbs high on the trellised wall,
Where the pine and cypress their dark crowns rear
O’er the garden—the glory of Bendemeer—
From whence you can dream o’er the tranquil scene
Of the scattered sheep on the lucerne green,
And the mighty plain in the sunlight spread,
With the brown hawk motionless overhead,
And the stockmen’s cottages clustering still
On the gentle slope of the station hill,
And the woolshed gray on the swelling rise
Where the creek winds blue ’neath the bluer skies.

And here in the days when our hearts were light
We lived life joyously day and night.
For the friend of my soul, who was dear to me
As no friend hath been or again can be,
Was Oliver Douglas. In cloud or shine
My heart was his and his heart was mine,
And we lived like brothers from year to year,
And toiled for the honour of Bendemeer,
And my life moved on thro’ a golden haze
The splendid glamour of fortunate days.
What more to a man can the high God send
Than the fairest maid and the firmest friend!
I have read in some poet how Friendship may
Stand strong as a tower in the darkest day,
When the lips of Love that were quick to vow
Have failed ’neath the frown upon Fortune’s brow.
What a friend was he, without fear or guile,
With his careless ways and his ready smile,
With the voice to cheer, and the eye to praise,
And the heart to toil through the hardest days!
How he won all hearts, were they high or low,
By the easy charm that I envied so!

For they say in jest I am true to race—
The dark Loraines of the haughty face—
Awkward, and shy, and unbending when
I am full of love for my fellow-men.
But I caught at the sunshine he flung about—
The man to whom all my heart went out.
Ah! how oft at dusk ’neath the evening star
Have we reined our horses at old Glenbar,
And sat in the quaint familiar room
Made sweet with the scent of the jasmine bloom,
Where my soul first saw in her dreamy eyes
The lights of the gateways of Paradise!
How we lingered over our hopes and fears
As we planned the course of the coming years
Whilst Oliver chatted with easy flow
To Margaret Bruce with the hair of snow—
The proud old dame of a proud old race
Who lived for the child with her sister’s face.

O the joyous days! O the morning air!
When the blood was young and the world was air!
When from Tara and Westmere and Boradaile,
And from Snowdon Hills and from Lilyvale,
And from Tallaran and the plains of Scar
All sent down their horses to old Glenbar.
From many a station for miles away
Came the happy faces on racing day,
Came the big bush buggies fast rolling in
With the four-in-hands and the merry din.
And if strife was keen in those days of old
’Twas for love of sport, not for lust of gold;
For then each man rode as a man should ride
With his honour at stake and the station’s pride,
When every racehorse was sent to race
And each run had a crack for the steeplechase.
And I see the last timber loom big and bare
As we held the field with a length to spare,
And Douglas crashed past me on Charioteer,
The big gray gelding from Bendemeer.
But I rode the bay with the tiny star
That had carried the Lily of old Glenbar.
And I rode for all that I cared for most
And I collared the gray ere he passed the post.
Ah! how gaily and lightly our pulses beat
As the night went out to the trip of feet!
And though all men sought her with hope and praise
It was I she loved—with my awkward ways—
It was I she loved in the golden days!

The drought came down upon Bendemeer,
And the grass grew yellow, and scant, and sere,
And the lucerne paddocks were eaten brown,
And half the trees on the run cut down,
And we toiled all day ’midst the dying sheep,
The tottering frames that could scarcely creep,
And the dead by scores lay over the plain,
But God seemed deaf—for He sent no rain.
And whilst Hope stood sounding her funeral knells
Who had heart to talk about wedding bells?
And the drought held on for a three-year span,
And I woke one morning a ruined man.
Yet Fate smote harder—a deadlier blow—
For on old Glenbar there was word to go.
For the mortgage hung over Glenbar run,
And their stock were dead and their credit done,
And the bank foreclosed. We were cast aside
From the homes where our fathers had lived and died.

So we said good-bye—ah! the bitter end
At the trysting place on the river bend.
But the ground lay sullen and bare below,
And most of the river had ceased to flow,
And the springs of Hope in our souls were dried,
And in silence we stood there side by side,
And a leaden fear held my brain and heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.
O sweet is the dawn of Love’s perfect spring,
When the white arms clasp and the soft lips cling;
But fierce is the passion that fires the blood
When Love stands baulked in its summer flood!

In her dark-ringed eyes shone the sad unrest
That spoke in the heave of her troubled breast,
And her face was white as the chiselled stone,
And her lips pressed madly against my own,
And her heart beat wildly against my heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.

But these were the words she said to me
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee.”

PART II

’TWAS a long last look and a mute farewell
To the homes where our fathers had loved to dwell,
And our faces turned to the wild north-west,
And we rode away on a roving quest.
But our hearts were young and we cheered the way
With the golden dreams of a coming day,
When Fate should lead ’neath a happier star
Back to Bendemeer and to old Glenbar.
And a vision rose of one bearded and brown,
A wanderer hasting to Melbourne town,
To the faithful eyes now with sorrow dim
That had suffered and waited and watched for him.
For the new home lay midst the city’s roar
And the Station’s calm would be hers no more;
And from Douglas’ lips came the story strange
Of the wondrous wealth in a northern range.
The weeks grew months and the months were spent,
As we overlanded a continent—
A thousand miles over scrub and plain
In the sun’s fierce glare and the tropic rain.
But we laughed at hardships to undergo
As we smoked in the ring of the campfire’s glow
And we pushed ahead till, in tracks grown blind,
The last station fence had been left behind;
And the land of the mighty runs spread wide,
Unfenced and virgin on every side,
Where you move—a ship that has lost the strand—
O’er the grassy ocean of one man’s land,
Where a score of beasts or a mile the less
Are of little count in the wilderness,
But men count their grass and cattle instead
By the hundred miles and the thousand head.
I have seen the plains lying baked and bare
When drought and famine hold revel there,
And the cattle sink where the rotting shoals
Of the fish float dead in the waterholes.

I have seen the plains when the flood brings down
The leagues of its waters, sullen and brown,
When only the tops of the swaying trees
Mark the creek that wound thro’ the level leas,
And all is a sea to the straining eyes
Save some lonely hut on a distant rise.

I have seen the plains in the mad delight
Of the racing flames in their crimson flight,
When the whip of the wind will not stay or spare,
And woe to the rider who lingers there!

But, O! the plains when their beauty burst
On our wondering eyes as we crossed them first!
When the sun shone bright and a soft wind blew,
And the sky was clear with a fairy hue,
And afar, like an isle in a sea of mist,
Rose a mountain-cap, as of amethyst.
And the big-horned cattle, knee-deep in grass,
Wheeled scattered legions to watch us pass,
As we drifted onward from group to group,
And swift as a bolt came the wild hawk’s swoop
When the brown quail whirled ’neath our horses’ feet,
Or the bronzewing1 broke from his ground retreat;
And the lazy bustard on laggard wing
Out of easy gunshot was loitering;
And for miles around us, at daylight’s close,
The little flock pigeons in coveys rose,
And the squadrons flew, with a gathering force,
Till an army darkened the watercourse.

Thus we crossed the plains to their utmost rim,
To the timbered belts round the mountains grim,
Chain upon chain, to the north and west,
Rose the swelling ridge and the purple crest,
And the gorges hid from the light of God
Where the foot of a white man had never trod.

Theres a tiny flat where the grass grows green,
Like a bay it lies two dark hills between.
And a stream comes down through a narrow cleft:
Here the camp was fixed and the horses left.
’Twas the last sweet grass, and no man could ride
O’er the beetling fastness on either side.
Thence into the heart of the hills we bore,
Rich with ironstone masses and copper ore,
And once or twice in the gorges old
We found a trace of the colour of gold.

In a deep ravine, walled by rugged heights,
Through the toiling days and the restless nights
I felt, ’neath the spell of that gloomy place,
That a change had come o’er my comrade’s face;
Felt, rather than saw, as it seemed to me,
That all was not quite as it used to be;
The laughter and jest, and the glance and tone,
Were not of the man that I once had known,
And it seemed to me that he shunned to hear
Of Mary and Glenbar and Bendemeer.
And there rose a sense I could not define,
Like a widening stream ’twixt his soul and mine.
Then the light of the Past like a star shone out,
And I turned in scorn from my evil doubt.

But the passions that rule since the world began
Were working there in the heart of man,
And a breast that had guarded its secret well
Was burning then with the fires of hell.
’Tis the old, old tale of a woman’s face
More strong than the shadow of foul disgrace.
The old mad lust for the mastery
To pluck the flower that is not for thee.
For the dreamy light of a woman’s eyes
It can lead on to hell or to paradise.

Ah! little I dreamt in the days now done
That the eyes I loved were as dear to one
Whose heart had been eaten with jealous pride
Through the years of our brotherhood, side by side!
For once it chanced as I moved alone
That I stumbled and fell on the ironstone—
A stumble that might have been made in blood,
For a bullet hummed where my feet had stood.
And I turned and saw from my vantage place
The look that was written across his face.

“He had fired at a bird but too low by half,”
And he turned it off with an awkward laugh.
For as yet no shadow of what might be
The power ’neath the surface had come to me.
Yet a shadow crossed, and it left behind
A doubt that rankled within my mind;
And for weeks we played at the duel hard
Of an open candour but secret guard;
And the seeds of discord were subtly sown
When the fever seized me and struck me down;
And days there were when the blood coursed free,
To be followed by morrows of misery.

But the fever heightened, and day by day
I could feel the cords of my life give way.
And my strength went out like an ebbing sea,
Yet daily he tended and cared for me.
It may be some touch of the days of old
Made his hand draw back, made his heart cry “Hold.”
But I saw in his eyes, with all anguish dumb,
That he waited and hoped for the end to come.
Then I lost the power to move hand and head,
And at last I lay in a trance as dead,
Awake yet a-dream, for a day and night
Then I woke with a startand the moon shone bright
But the tent and the tools and the guns were gone,
And all save the blanket I lay upon!
Not a sound came down from the mountains lone
Where the shadows huge by the moon were thrown.
In the gloomy gorge not a soul was near,
And I called his name with a bitter fear.
But no answer came to my feeble cry—
And I knew he had left me alone to die.


PART III

They speak the truth and they judge me well,
Who call methe Man who has been in Hell.”
Though the sky be clear and the sun shine bright,
Men have walked on earth through that awful night,
Whose ears have heard and whose eyes have seen
The infernal shades, like the Florentine,
When the veil is rent and we see unroll
The heights and depths of the human soul;
And with whitened locks and with pallid cheek
Have known and felt what we may not speak.
My life had gone out like a brief lights breath
Had no help come into that fight with death,
But the hands of Fate that are swift and strange
Brought a people down from the Western range,
Brought a wild black tribe down the gorges dark
Who had seen the prints of an unknown mark,
And quickly around me were clustering
Dark faces and spears in a bristling ring;
And I lay there still in a helpless shrift
With a silent prayer that the end be swift.
But a man spoke forth with a threatening spear
That I was the God of the mountains drear,
And accursed be he and his kin and wife,
Who should lay a hand on a sacred life!
So they succoured me. And I lay as a king
Who has dusky daughters to fetch and bring,
Boughs to shelter, and water and food,
And berries to temper the burning blood.
And they made me a shade from the tropic sun
Till the fire of the fever its course had run.
And at last new life, after weeks of pain,
Came stealing gently through every vein;
And I moved with the tribe, but I pondered long
Why Douglas had worked me this bitter wrong.
For as yet no word of the truth was told,
And I held that the motive was lust of gold.
We moved for the plain, and we passed between
The walls of the flat where the camp had been.
No sign of a horse in that grassy bay,
And Oliver Douglas was far away
Across the plains where the red sun dips,
A sin on his soul and a lie on his lips.
But, O! the joy when I found and knelt
By a full revolver and cartridge belt
Marked with his name, and a mark of the mind
In whose guilty haste they were left behind,
To be sacred things till the morn should rise
When men pay in full for their treacheries.
These gave me power and a stronger claim.
They called me, “The Lord of the Thunder and Flame.”
But they watched me close with a sleepless care:
Three years in the mountains still found me there.
But I learnt by heart all the gorges old,
And I found the granite and found the gold:
Wealth beyond dreams—to a savage man
As wild as the myalls with whom he ran!
Ah, God! Could ever my lot have been
To have lived and loved in a different scene,
To have seen love shine like a splendid star
In the eyes of the Lily of old Glenbar?

Five years had passed, and another year,
Since we turned our horses from Bendemeer.
And a bushman, wrinkled, and aged, and brown,
Had worked his passage to Melbourne town.
Let it matter not through what evil stress
He had battled out of the wilderness,
For the joy that was thrilling him through and through
With a secret music that no man knew
The last sweet words that she said to me:
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee!”

Why do you tremble, and sob, and stare,
Old Margaret Bruce with the snowy hair,
And chatter of ghosts of the past to me?
I am here to claim what you hold in fee.
Give me back my own! I have done no wrong.
For the eyes I love I have suffered long.
Now the toil is over—the fierce unrest,
And the lily shall lie on the broad leaf’s breast.
And the heart that was faithful, and strong, and true,
Shall learn what the love of a man can do.
For the future calls both to her and me.
Thither Eden lies—and I hold the key.
Cease, woman, cease! I am waiting here
For a bride to be mistress of Bendemeer.
“Let be the past and this formless dread!
I am James Loraine who was long since dead.
Give me welcome now! Shall all things be vain
To the dead man come to his own again?
Have you naught of comfort for such as I?
The past is dead—let its memories die!
I am changed and worn, I am tired and old,
But I bring the secret of countless gold.
But a wish of hers, but a word of thine,
And Bendemeer and Glenbar are mine.
Bid her come to me that her eyes may see!
Bid her come to me! Bid her come to me!

Then Margaret faced me with words of lead:—
“Peace, peace, Loraine!—the poor child is dead.
Married and dead! You are parted far,
Dear friend, from the Lily of old Glenbar.
The Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands,
They have passed long since to the Douglas hands.
She had waited long, she had waited true,
She had knelt in her sorrow and wept for you.
When he came, at last, with a grave, sad face
To tell the tale of your resting place.
His were the hands—they were clasped in ours—
That had soothed and tended your dying hours;
That had dug the grave and had piled the stone
In the dim blue range where you slept alone.
And he spoke your word in his own sad pain,
Not to mourn for youwe should meet again
But whatever the fate of the years might send,
The friend of your soul—let him be her friend. ’
But the starlight died in her eyes that day,
And with roses white on her cheeks she lay,
And the summer faded and came again
Ere her shadow rose from its bed of pain.
But he came and went with an anxious air
As one consecrated to watch and care,
And from oversea came the call of race
To title and wealth and an ancient place,
And when Bendemeer and Glenbar were sold,
They were his for the sake of the days of old.
And he pressed his claim till she came to see
That their lives could be lived to your memory.
She was wedded here. She lies buried far.
The ocean divides her from old Glenbar.”

Married, and dead! Is it all a dream,
To melt away on the morning beam?
Some passing horror of night whose power
Still haunts the brain in its waking hour?
Can these trembling lips and these stony eyes,
And this heart grown numb in its agonies,
Be a man indeed? Do I see and hear?
Or roam a shade through some realm of fear?
And of him?” I cried. “Shall no vengeance find
These soft lying lips and this double mind?
There are human snakes who have lived too long!”
But she said: “Loraine, let God judge the wrong.
For the man you seek—he is oversea
With ten thousand miles ’twixt his face and thee.”

In the fevered night when the gas-lamps flare,
And the human river sweeps here and there,
By terrace and church, and long lines of street,
And by dim-lit parks where the shadows meet,
I am drifting down with the human flood:
The poison of madness is in my blood.
Are there hearts as bitter and dead as mine
Where the faces throng in the moving line—
Numb with the chill of a black despair
That no man guesses or wants to share?
Unto each man once shall the gage be thrown:
He must fight the fight with his soul alone,
When all ways are barred and he stands at bay
Face to face with truth in the naked day.
I have fought the fight with my soul alone.
I have won my laurel—a heart of stone.

O never again when the white stars shine
Shall the eyes I love look their love in mine!
And never again when the soft winds blow
Shall we ride by the river, or whisper low
By the shady nook ’neath the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer!
And no bridal bells for our joy shall ring
When Nature wakes to the voice of Spring.
And no tiny hands with a touch divine
Shall link for ever her soul and mine!
She is dead! My lily! My shy bush flower!
The summer has fled where she bloomed an hour.
Do her sweet eyes shine from some lonely star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar?

Mine is selfish grief, mine is selfish pain;
But her sorrow is seared on my heart and brain.
What she heard, I hear; what she saw, I see;
What she felt is bare as a page to me
Shall such evil thrive? Shall she droop and die
And the man who loved her stand idly by?
Let God right the wrong! Will he give the dead
The sunshine and grace of the summers fled?
Has He solace here for the silent tears
Of the hopeless days, of the wasted years?
Let God right the wrong! He is deaf and blind
To the griefs and passions that shake mankind!
Who has eyes to see, let him use his sight:
Wrong is not righted, but might is right.
Then be might my right and my hate the rod,
And my hand in anger the hand of God
And the power is gold, which no power can bend—
I have learnt the means—I can see the end

To my mountains then: there to toil and wait.
I have lived for love: I can live for hate.
Till the power be mine, till the way be sure,
I can face the future and still endure.
With a wild fire flaming through all my blood
I have called to Evil “Be thou my Good!”
Love has patient been: love was strong and true;
But the heart of hate can be patient too
Can be strong to suffer and calm to wait,
But swift to strike in the hour of Fate—
To strike at the heart that has wrought her dole,
To strike at the man who has killed my soul!

PART IV

THE mountains swarm like a human hive,
The picks are swinging in many a drive,
The axe is ringing on many a tree,
And the blast of a charge thunders sullenly;
And the growing heaps of the dull gray stone
And the tents of men stud the hillside lone,
And the moan of the windlass comes again,
With an eerie sound like a soul in pain.
And across the plains, lying baked and brown,
Where the long teams creep till the sun goes down,
Comes the curse, and the whip like a pistol crack,
As the bullocks strain on the burning track.
Soon the battery’s thunder will rend the sky
From the gorge where he left me alone to die.
They have felt the stir in the cities south,
And the “Comrade Field” is in every mouth,
And northward rushes the wave of greed,
For the whole world knows ofThe Devil’s Lead.”
“Four jewelled walls—there are millions there!”
But one man’s hand is on every share
One who knows the mountains from crest to glen,
A hater of women and feared of men,
Who has heart for nothing save gold and gain.
A power to be reckoned with—James Loraine!
As a miser handles and counts his gold,
So I hoard my hate with a joy untold.
Let the weaklings sink ’neath their dumb despair!
Shall I spare the coward who did not spare
O, the joy of hate! O, the liquid fire!
When the strong soul throbs to one fierce desire!
So I thirst for life as a hound for blood,
And woe to the hunters who cross my mood!
To strike hard and home! Then to watch him die
And to soothe his death with my memory!
This were joy indeed, worth a few years’ breath!
This were joy indeed, though the price were death!
Then what holds my heart, and what stays my hand,
Who can cross at will to the motherland?
’Tis a voice that floats through my dreams at night,
And a white hand ringed with a fairy light,
From the world unseen, that has drawn anear,
A tremulous whisper—“At Bendemeer.”

I had planned the end in the mountains grim,
Where the dream of wealth would be lure to him.
Bound fast to a tree in some gloomy glen
Where no cry can reach to the ears of men,
And shot with the bullet he meant for me
I have dug it out of the hardwood tree.
Then to loose his cords and to let him lie
With his false face turned to the smiling sky,
With his dying grip—in a death of shame—
On the pistol butt that still bears his name!

A fool I have been from my mother’s breast,
A fool who acted and thought for the best,
Made way for others and stood aside
And saw knaves feasted and deified.
With an open heart I have striven to do
To men as ye would they would do to you.”

And what have I gained by the Christian rule?
A smile and a sneer at the trusting fool!
And the generous wish to be fair and just
Has been deemed but weakness and self-distrust.
Now these things are over. My soul is free.
I will deal with men as they deal with me.
For I care not whither my purpose tend,
Let Hell find the means so I gain the end
And no guile too subtle or dark shall prove;
I have done with scruple, and done with love.

The thud of the stampers all night and day
Is loud in the gorge where the campfire lay.
From the big hotel where the lights shine long
Comes the broken snatch of a drinking song.
For the roofs go up as the shafts go down
In the fever and rush of a mining town.

I sit in my office with busy pen,
The saddest and richest of mining men.
I have sat like a spider and spun and spun
Till I hold the mortgage on many a run.
I have land and houses and shares and gold,
My stock increase by the thousandfold.
I am feared and courted with flattering breath
And all that I live for is one man’s death.
I have worked his ruin. I hold his fate.
I have woven a web round the man I hate.
I have crossed his schemes, I have won the fight,
For tools can be willing when gold is bright.
And the deeds of mortgage are in their hands
Over Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands.

As I sleep at last on my bed of care
Comes the white hand floating upon the air,
And a woman’s whisper is in my ear,
The man that you hate is at Bendemeer.”

The last crimson streak in the West was dead,
And the white stars broke through the blue o’erhead,
And the hornèd moon like a sceptre pale
Cast its thin blue ray on the old sliprail,
As I crossed Glenbar by the big tree where
The track goes winding to Bendemeer.

All the plain lay silent and silver-gray
Like a shroud for a bride on her bridal day.
I could feel the menace and the hand of Fate
As I stood once more at the garden gate.
With a passionate heart for a while I stood,
For the past came back like a rushing flood,
Then I moved the latch and I crept within
A thief in the silence who fears his sin.
Like funeral plumes for some giant king
Rise the dark pine-crowns, and their shadows cling
Purple and solemn to path and lawn,
Like the shadow of murder that waits the dawn.
And the morepork’s call from the timbered knoll
Seems the hoot of fiends for a dead man’s soul.

I am creeping slow down the well-known way,
All round me is ruin and slow decay,
By the weed-choked beds and the paths o’ergrown,
And rank grass seeding on lawns unmown,
And a low fence matted with running vine,
In the home of my fathers that once was mine.

The old rambling pile and verandahs wide,
Like an isle half lost in some dim gray tide,
Seems to welcome me, seems to feel and know
That a ghost is here from the Long Ago!
And my fingers close, whilst my blood is flame,
Round the pistol-butt that still bears his name.

Creep, creep to the west where the ground is bare,
For a dim light shines from a window there.
I have toiled for this thro’ the gloomy past.
I have prayed for this—’tis my hour at last!
Hear, God of the Just, whilst I own Thy might
Who hast given this man to my hands this night!
Here I kneel and pray. Be my hand the rod,
Be my hand in anger the hand of God!

Where the fold of the curtain falls, half drawn,
By the windows, wide to the western lawn,
From the shadows vague of the outer gloom
I have slipped—a shadow—within the room.
In the shaded light, on the low white bed,
I can see his face . . . he is lying . . . dead
The hand of Time has not marred its grace,
Though the lines are deep on the well-known face.
And the brow is placid and white and chill
With the peace that comes when the heart is still.

And the lamplight falls on the golden hair
Of a weeping child who is kneeling there.

O human vengeance and human hate!
See, thine altars scattered and desolate!
Poor paltry things of a passing breath,
Ye are silent here in the halls of Death!

Be his soul at rest. Though his sin was deep,
Yet bitter the harvest he lived to reap.
He has suffered long, he has worn the chain
Of a lifes remorse in his heart and brain.
He has known the terror of hidden sin
When the soul stands bare to the judge within.
Be his heart at rest in the peace divine!
Be Thy mercy, Lord, on his soul . . . and mine!

For the child looks up with her mother’s face,
With the sungold hair and the lily’s grace.
From the lashes wet with their pearly dew
Shine the dark-blue depths of the eyes I knew,
The sweet eyes soft with the dreamy light
And the mystic spell of the southern night.

They have left me this—’tis the bond of Fate—
The woman I love and the man I hate!
Through the windows wide blows the gentle breeze,
And the wind-harp sighs in the shadowy trees,
And I see the rise of a splendid star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar!

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Give Your Heart To The Hawks

1 he apples hung until a wind at the equinox,

That heaped the beach with black weed, filled the dry grass

Under the old trees with rosy fruit.

In the morning Fayne Fraser gathered the sound ones into a

basket,

The bruised ones into a pan. One place they lay so thickly
She knelt to reach them.

Her husband's brother passing
Along the broken fence of the stubble-field,
His quick brown eyes took in one moving glance
A little gopher-snake at his feet flowing through the stubble
To gain the fence, and Fayne crouched after apples
With her mop of red hair like a glowing coal
Against the shadow in the garden. The small shapely reptile
Flowed into a thicket of dead thistle-stalks
Around a fence-post, but its tail was not hidden.
The young man drew it all out, and as the coil
Whipped over his wrist, smiled at it; he stepped carefully
Across the sag of the wire. When Fayne looked up
His hand was hidden; she looked over her shoulder
And twitched her sunburnt lips from small white teeth
To answer the spark of malice in his eyes, but turned
To the apples, intent again. Michael looked down
At her white neck, rarely touched by the sun,
But now the cinnabar-colored hair fell off from it;
And her shoulders in the light-blue shirt, and long legs like a boy's
Bare-ankled in blue-jean trousers, the country wear;
He stooped quietly and slipped the small cool snake
Up the blue-denim leg. Fayne screamed and writhed,
Clutching her thigh. 'Michael, you beast.' She stood up
And stroked her leg, with little sharp cries, the slender invader
Fell down her ankle.

Fayne snatched for it and missed;


Michael stood by rejoicing, his rather small

Finely cut features in a dance of delight;

Fayne with one sweep flung at his face

All the bruised and half-spoiled apples in the pan,

A fragrant volley, and while he staggered under it,

The hat fallen from his head, she found one thoroughly

Soft-rotten, brown in the long white grass, and threw

For the crown of his dark head but perfectly missed,

Crying 'Quits. We're even.' They stood and warily smiled at each

other
In the heavy-sweet apple air.

The garden was sunken lower than

the little fields; it had many fragrances
And its own shadow, while the cows lay in the stream-bed, large

sycamore leaves dropped on their flanks; the yellow
Heads of the hills quivered with sun and the straining sea-glare.

Fayne said, 'Where did it go, poor thing?'
Looking for the little serpent. Michael said gravely, 'That's to

remember me by. I wish I could do worse.
I'm going away.' 'What?' 'From here again.'
'Oh, no.' 'I am, though.' 'No, Michael.'
'Freckles,' he answered, 'didn't it ever occur to you
That it's fairly dull here? I'm going up to town again.
I've got to earn money and spend it and hear the motors.'
She said dismally, 'What about me? Who'll there be to talk to?'
'Lance, of course.' 'I love him dearly; he's not fun exactly.
He wouldn't stick a rattlesnake up my leg.'
'Gopher-snake,' he shouted. They stood and laughed at each

other,

And Michael: 'I was over the ridge to Drunken Charlie's,
Fixing up a little party for Saturday.
There'll be a moon in the evening. I leave Monday.'
Fayne said unhappily, 'Help me pick up the apples
I poured on you.'

II

Michael was taking Mary Abbey;
The Dolmans came, and Will Howard with two girls,


And Leo Ramirez with his sister Nell, so that the youth

Of the coast was all there. They met at Erasers'

And crossed the ridge; and were picketing the horses

Where they could ride no farther, on the airy brink

Above the great slides of the thousand-foot cliff.

They were very gay, colorful mites on the edge of the world.

The men divided the pack to carry;
Lance Eraser, being strongest, took most.

Far down below, the

broad ocean burned like a vast cat's eye

Pupilled by the track of sun; but eastward, beyond the white-
grassed hump of the ridge, the day moon stood bleak
And badly shaped, face of stained clay, above the limestone fang

of one of the Ventana mountains
Just its own color. Lance, looking back, saw his wife talking to

Michael, her cinnabar-colored hair
Like a flag of life against the pale east. That moment he saw the

horses plunging against the sky
And heard a noise like a sharp head of water from a narrow pipe;

a girl cried out,
Lance dropped his pack and returned. Will Howard was looking

for stones
But found none, but Lance found a burnt fence-post, relic of an

ancient fire. The snake lay with raised head,
The rattle of its tail making that noise of sharp water running; a

big rattler, but very small
At bay in the circle of the laughing men. Lance struck for its head,

but the snake that moment struck at the rope's end
That Michael was flicking at it, so that Lance's blow failed, the

fence-post broke to bits in his hand,
The snake not harmed; then Michael laughing with pleasure

whipped the creature to death with the doubled rope
And set his heel on the head; Lance damned all rotten wood, his

blond face flushing

Dark through the sunburn. Michael cut off the victim's
Tail with the ten rattles to give to Mary;
The other young men quieted the horses, and caught
One that had dragged away the bush it was tied to.


Lance would not wait, he picked up his pack and went
Alone down the zigzag path; but after a moment
His temper cleared.

Far down, short of the cat's-eye ocean, they

saw like a brown pebble
Drunken Charlie's hut in a gorge of the cliff, a feather of smoke,

and his boat like a split berry
Of bladdery seaweed up the thin strand; and Lance stood waiting

down the wild cliff side, his light-brown hair
Golden with sun, his hat and the pack laid down. The warm wind

up the mountain was wild with fragrance,
Chiefly the scent of the chiya bushes, that wear rosettes of seed
Strung on the stem. The girls squealed as they scrambled down,

when the brittle trap-rock broke underfoot,
Small fragments ran over on the next below. When they came to

the foot of the cliff Michael said, 'Now,' and offered
A bottle hot from his pocket. 'It's time.' Mary Abbey refused

it but the others drank, from mouth to mouth,
Stinging fire from the slobbered bottle-neck.

The sun was low

But had played all day on this southwestward
Cliff over the burning-glass water and the air
Still swirled with heat; the headland of Eraser's Point
Stopped off the trade-wind here. Fayne Fraser a little dizzily
Looked seaward, left of the blazing sun-track, and saw the track

of the northwest gale and the running waves
Like an endless army of horse with banners going by offshore;

her eyes followed them, a ruled line southward
Of violent water, converging toward the bronze headland beyond

headland of the mountain coast; and someone was saying,
'It's hot, we'll swim.' 'Before we eat,' someone said.
The girls twittered together and clustered northward
To a little cove beyond a fair spit of rock;
The men remained on this side.

Fayne undressed beside Mary

Abbey,
And was careful of words, because she'd sucked from the bottle

more than she meant to, and had small experience of drinking.


She said carefully, 'Where did those girls of Will Howard's

come from?' 'Nina told me,' she answered; 'waitresses
Down from the city on their vacation.' 'Honestly are they? I

guessed it.' 'No,' Mary said, 'they're nice girls.'
'That yellow-haired one, she's bad.' 'No,' Mary said. Fayne

said, 'Did you see her face when she looked at Michael
Across that bottle?' 'Oh, no,' Mary answered. '. . . Well. Are

you ready, Mary? Let's go.'

They limped down to the waves, giggling and wincing.
Fayne had tied a broad handkerchief around her hair
To shed the spray; she swam out farther than others,
Mary remained along shore.

The other side of the rock-spit
The men had bathed, and had come up strand again
To dry by the driftwood fire; all except Michael,
Who loved to swim. Lance Fraser stood by the fire, his broad

smooth chest, grooved between the square plates
Of heavy muscle, steamed and was ruddy in the glowing heat. He

narrowed his eyes to look seaward
And saw Michael's left arm, over the speck of his head, lift, reach

and dip,
Swimming side-stroke; two white arms flashing swanlike on either

side of a handkerchief-hooded head
Emerged from the scales of light on the edge of the sun-dazzle.

The swimmers approached each other,
And met this side the long brown stain of the breathing kelp-bed.

Lance frowned,

But only thinking that they were too far out
And making a show of themselves.

On the pleasant water

Michael had called to Fayne, 'I've something for you.
Come here a minute.' She hardly dared, and thought
In the flashing joy of the sea, 'Oh, the water covers us.
What have you got?' 'Gin for girls.
We've got a fire on this side.' They met laughing,
And reached the bottle from hand to hand and floated decorously
Separate again. Fayne looked toward shore, and saw the vast

cliff in the flare of sundown soaring above


Like beaten gold, the imperfect moon-disk gold on its brow; the

tiny distinct white shapes of men
Around their spot of fire in the flat blue sea-shadow. She breathed

hard and said,

'My God, how beautiful. Oh, Michael, stay here at home.'
He answered with a watery yell of pleasure, submerging his

mouth
To roar as the sea-lions do.

Fayne trailed the bottle

And swam ashore. There was nothing to dry herself with;
The chill of the water had touched her blood, she sucked breath

gustily

Through clicking teeth. She sipped from the salted bottle,
And dressed, but shivered still.

She sunned herself by the fire,
Watching with fascinated speculation of pain
The antennae of lobsters like spikes of jointed grass
Above the heating water in a five-gallon tin
Writhe at the sky, lives unable to scream.

Ill
Under the vast calm vaulting glory of the afterglow, low smoky

rose and delicately
Stratified amber, soaring purple; then rose again, luminous and

virginal, floating the moon,
High up a scoured hollow of the cliff
Cormorants were settling to roost on the jags and ledges.
They writhed long Negro snake-throats and shot
Sharp heads at each other, shaking out sooty wings
And angry complaining cries.

Below, on the thread of beach,

The lonely fisherman who was called Drunken Charlie,
Fire glowing on his drugged eyes, wide beard and lank hair,
Turned meat on the grid over the barbecue-pit
And talked to himself all the time. Michael Fraser knelt
By a turned chest that served for table and poured
From a jug into cups, fierce new distillate
From Charlie's cliff -hidden kettle.


Faync Eraser shook half-dried

hair,

The color of the coals at the heart of the fire
But darkening as light decreased, and went to Lance
Who stood alone at the waves' edge, turning his back on the

world, and the wet sand
Raised by his weight on either side of his foot-soles ran water and

glistened in the still light. Fayne said
'Are you cross, dear?' She pushed up his rolled sleeve and clasped

her fingers on the broad trunk of his arm
Above the elbow, 'Dear, are you sad?' 'I? No,' he said, 'What

about?' 'You haven't spoken to anyone
Since we were swimming.' 'Why should I? You were out too

far, though.' 'Oh, I can swim.
And Michael was there to help me if I'd got tired.' 'By God, no,'

Lance said, with a sharp vision in his mind
Of her bright nakedness, the shining whiteness and the red hair.

She understood and said softly, 'Well,
I didn't need help. But he's our brother.' 'Certainly; I didn't

mind him,' he answered. 'But I did hate
To think that rabble of girls could look at you; it isn't decent.'

She said, 'They didn't seem interested.
Come, drink and eat. Those waitress women are passing the paper

plates.' He saw that vision once more,
The form and whiteness, the little gay-colored flower of the

pubic hair, and groaned, as a thick bull
Alone in the field groans to himself, not knowing why the hot

brow and the hooves itch for destruction.
Fayne to cure his unhappiness hasted and returned
Fetching two cups of the fire Michael was pouring.

After they had

eaten, twilight and moonlight came;
The fire burned smaller and brighter; they were twelve around

it; and drinks were poured. The bearded fisherman seemed
Stiffly asleep, with open eyes like a drowned man's
Glazed by the yellow firelight. Tom Dolman and Leo Ramirez
Roughed at each other, and Nina Dolman
Sitting between them cried out; then Michael said,


'Get up and wrestle.' All but the fisherman turned

To watch them circle clumsily on the damp sand

And suddenly lock, into one quadruped body reeling

Against the dark band of ocean and the low sky.

Ramirez had the low hold but Dolman was the heavier man;

They tugged and sobbed; Ramirez was lifted high

And writhed on the other's shoulder by the evening star,

But the strained column staggered and crumbled, the Spaniard

Fell uppermost and was the first to rise up.

Michael asked very gravely, 'Who was the winner?

The winner may challenge Lance.' Ramirez gasping and laughing

Said, 'Drunk; not to that extent.' 'Then gather firewood.

The fire's got low.'

The yellow-haired one of the two girls Will

Howard had brought
Sat in the sand beside Lance Fraser; she leaned on his shoulder

and held a cup to his mouth and said
'Please drink it for me: things are beginning to go 'round in

circles.' He drank; then Fayne on his other side
Grew suddenly cool and quite clear; she leaned across him and

said, 'That hair in the cup! Well, you drank it.
Her bleaches have made it brittle so it keeps falling.' 'Oh,' the

other gasped, 'that's not true.' 'It's pretty,' Fayne said,
'Only the black half inch at the roots. Is your name Lois? What's

your name?' 'Lois.' 'Lean the other way,
Lois.' Then Lance said angrily, 'Be quiet, will you,' and got up
To fetch more firewood.

A timber from one of the four ships
That have broken in half a century off Fraser's Point
Lay near and dry; Ramirez and Howard had brought it,
But the axe was lost in the sand. Lance up-ended it,
An ivory-white pillar under the moon,
Garnished with great iron bolts. He wedged his fingers
Into a crack and suddenly straining tore it in two;
The splitting made a great noise under the cliff,
The sea being quiet. Lance felt himself curiously
Numbed, as if the sharp effort had strained the whiskey
Out of his blood through the sheathes of his nerves;


His body obeyed as ever but felt a distance

Blocked off and alien. He took the halves of the timber

Under each arm and a bolt in his hand,

For two or three had fallen out of the wood,

This one straight, long and heavy. After he had laid

His logs on the fire he saw the fisherman's

Firelight-discolored eyes, and called 'Hey! Charlie.'

Still the man slept. Lance, wavering a little, reached

Over Will Howard's shoulder and took the cup from his hand,

Drank half, poured the other half on Charlie's long hair;

It dribbled into his beard; he coughed and awoke.

Lance said 'D'you ever have rattlesnakes down here?

I snicked at one up the cliff with a rotten stick;

But this'd fix 'em.' He gave him the iron bar;

Charlie posted it carefully up in the sand

Between his feet and answered, 'Mm; but there's Injuns.'

'What?' 'All that was cleared out of the country.

Where did you think they got to? They ain't got ships.

Down here they are.' The dark-haired girl that Will Howard

had brought
Suddenly stood up from the fire, she went toward the sea and

was heard vomiting. Charlie nodded and said,
'There's one o' them now. Most nights I see their fires away

down the beach.' Mary Abbey whispered to Michael,
'Don't take any more. Time to go home.' 'Ah no,' he said,

'dear, we just got here.' Fayne came to Lance
And said, 'Don't drink any more. Time to go home.' He an-
swered briskly, 'Since when are you giving orders?'
'Since you're not fit to.' She knew while the words made in her

throat, 'Now he'll be angry,' a pale rush of anger
Ran to meet his; the memory of all his bad-tempered times, his

heavy earnestness and lack of laughter,
Pierced like a mountain-peak the cloud in her mind, 'Oh, I do

hate you.'

He stared, more astonished than angry, and saw her face
Lean, sharp, bled white, each freckle black as a mole
Against its moon-gleam pallor. 'That's how you feel, ah?'
He turned his back. She thought, 'He'll never forgive me:


Let him not,' and saw the Dolmans, Nina and Tom,

Seeking the way up the cliff, Mary Abbey with them,

Fayne went and said, 'Michael, I've lost my cup,

Aren't there any more cups?' 'I'll hold the jug:

You hold your mouth.' 'Oo, I need water with it.'

'No, you don't.' Half of the sip went strangling

Into her throat, half ran by her little chin

And trickled between her breasts. She looked at the fire,

Then at the moon, both blurred fantastically,

Red burrowed, white wavered high. Michael said, 'My girl's

gone.'
Fayne said, 'Oh, and yours?' He said 'That's no sense. That's

very.'
She laughed and answered, 'They don't.'

The moon suspended

in her great antelope-leap from the head of the cliff
Hung pouring whiteness along the narrow runway of sand and

slide-rock under the continent's foot,
A watery glittering and secret place, walled from the world,

closed by the cliff, ditched by the ocean.
Drunken Charlie dreamed by the dying fire;
Will Howard and Nell Ramirez were one slight point
Far down the white beach. Yellow-haired Lois
Spilled her drink and said, 'Seeing is believing.
Come on, I'll show you.' She smiled at Lance, 'Come, dear.
Sadie's passed out; it's all right wi' Sadie,'
And to Leo Ramirez, 'Come if you like, dark boy.'
He swayed and stammered, 'Responsible; Sister Nell.
Keep an eye on young sister.' 'Ah, go and find her.'
'Not till I see the picture on Sadie's stomach.'
They wandered toward Drunken Charlie's little hollow skiff
And its black shadow, drawn up the moonlight strand.
Lance thought, 'Here's a boat, let's break it,' and thought with

an ache of shame,
'I wouldn't think that, only being drunk.' The center of his

mind made savage war on rebellious out-liers
In breathless darkness behind the sweating forehead; while Leo

Ramirez, seeing the bright fish-scales glued


With blood and slime to the boat-thwarts glitter like a night of
stars, began to sing a stale song: 'We'll always,

Be young and gay. We'll always, feel that way.' Lois said 'Shut
up,' and led them around the boat,

Her friend lay in the moonlight nestled against it. Lois knelt
down and gently drew her by the shoulder;

She groaned in her sleep, resisting. Lois laughed, 'The boys want
to see it, Sadie,' and tugged, and turned her

Onto her back, the stained pale face up to the moonlight; the
teeth in the opened mouth glittered,

And sour breath crossed them, while Lois turned up the blouse,
loosened the band and jerked up the linen shift

To show a three-masted sailing-ship tattooed with black and red
inks on the soft white belly

Below the breasts. 'My God,' Ramirez said, 'there it is.'

Lois answered, 'A fellow dared her,' and looked for Lance,

Who trembled and said, 'Cover her up, damn you.'

Lois blinking drew down the blouse. Ramirez giggled,

'My God, a U. S. flag at the peak,' and reached

Over Lois's shoulder to raise the cloth;

Lance struck and felled him, and stepping across him fallen

Leaned and strode toward the cliff and the red coals

That had been the fire.

Drunken Charlie lay on the sand,

The iron bolt erect by his feet; Lance caught it up

And smashed the jug, and saw the remnant of whiskey

Glitter among the shards to sink into sand.

He ground his teeth; he saw in his mind in the stream of images

A second jug, and began to search for it.

The tide had fallen, the
steep ribbon of beach was but little wider,

But the sea was become so flattened that no waves flashed. Enor-
mous peace of the sea, white quiet of the cliff,

And at their angle and focus a few faint specks of humanity
happy in liquor or released in sleep,

But Lance alone. Then noises like the cries of a woman scream-
ing, bird after bird of sharp-colored sound


Flew on the face of the cliff, tattered wild wings against jagged

rocks. On the cliff head the patient horses
Turned their ears, grooving small wrinkles about the roots of the

cartilage, but did not lift up their heads;
And the sea was not moved, nor the moonlight quivered. Will

Howard was lying beside Nell Ramirez; they'd fallen asleep
Before he had his desire; they sighed and stirred in the sand. He

murmured 'Oh, somebody's got hysterics,'
And wriggled his fingers, which had grown painfully numb

between her plump knees. But Lois, Leo Ramirez
And Drunken Charlie heard the sounds nearer; they went in a

wind of fear to find out their fountain,
And Sadie awoke in the sand and followed heavily,
Falling but once, catching her clothes that slipped,
Whining at the hollow pain in her skull.

Beyond a rock
Stood Lance, high white in the moon-glaze, distorted, taller than

human;
Lois said, 'Dearie?' He babbled, 'Oh Jesus Christ Oh Jesus

Christ Oh Jesus Christ,'

Behind him in a great shadow of her hair darkened
By the rock-shadow Fayne turned her white wedge of face
With three holes in it. She was kneeling, bent S-shape,
And seemed to stare up from the very ground. She said, 'I think
It is finished. Water please. Water please.
He fell down from the cliff.' Then Michael's feet were seen,
And thence the prone extended ridge of his body
Ending indefinitely under Fayne's face.
Lois cried, 'He's hurt.' But they dared not approach
For Lance standing between, high and twisted
Like a dead tree. Lance said, 'I . . .' Fayne cried,
'He fell down from the cliff.' They all stood silent,
Lois's mouth opened and closed on silence

Three times, then asked, 'Is he hurt?' Lance said, 'Oh Christ.
I ...' Fayne cried so that his words were hidden,
And stood up and said, 'He has died. Michael.
He was climbing the cliff and fell, his foot caught on that bush;
He struck his head on that rock, on that edge of rock.


It is all broken in. Oh, we loved him.'

Ramirez said, 'What for did he climb up there?'

'Have we drunk waterY* Fayne said. But Lance began

To shake, like a tall dead mast of redwood that men are felling,

It is half cut through, each dip of the axe the sonorous timber

quivers from the root up to the cloud,
He said 'I caught them . . .' 'He caught him,' Fayne cried,

'when he fell but he could not save him.' 'I killed . . .'

'You are wild with sorrow
He fell head down whether you'd tried to catch him or not.

You are not to blame.' He said, 'It is horrible
To hear the lies from her mouth like bees from a hot hive: I am

the one,' but Fayne running to him
Made an animal moan in her throat in time to hide what he said.

She came to Lance, and her face
Like a held spear, and said, 'Drunkard.
Too drunk to be understood. Keep still until you can talk and be

understood.' He drew backward from her,
Shuddering like a horse from a snake, but when his back was

against the rock he stammered, 'I

Will find my time.' 'Yes,' she answered, 'be quiet now. To-
morrow when you are better they'll understand you.'
'Is he dead?' 'Keep still. Will you shame his end
With drunkard babbling? For he was the dearest,' she said, 'in

the world to all of us. Lovelier than morning light
On the mountain before the morning. There is not one of us

would not have died for him: / would, / would, / would,'
She cried writhing, 'but not lose Lance too. How can I plan to

save him, I've got what I can't bear?
You are all our friends.'
She set her hands in the masses of red-dark hair, dark in the

moonlight, and tearing it, with her white face
To the white moon: 'That eye's blind. Like Juan Arriba's old

mare he used to beat on the face,
Her eyes froze white like that. He was larking on the cliff and

fell.' She seemed to be treading a tragic dance,
She was scuffling sand to cover the bolt of shipwreck that lay in

the shadow of the rock; she wrung her hands


And knelt moaning by Michael's head; she rose with blood on her
hand and fibers of hair, and ran

To the rock under the cliff. 'This rock killed him. He fell on this
edge,' she drew her hand on the edge

And the rock was stained. Then Sadie was heard gasping from
her poor stained face. One or two looked at her. 'O-uh,'

She whispered hoarsely, 'we was having fun!'

Lance moved at
length, like a dead man walking, toward his dead brother,

And stooped as one stoops to gather a sleeping child. Fayne ran
and said, 'No, the man. No, the man.

He has to come.' Lance turned toward her his face like a para-
lyzed man's

Slack with peace, and said softly, 'The man.'

'He'd think wrong has been done. I can't think . . . coroner.

Don't take him up.' 'Home?' he said,

Seeming gently surprised; he gathered the body

Into his arms and walked along the foot of the cliff.

Fayne stayed behind a moment, the others following.

She cast quick looks over the rocks and sand;

One end of the rusty bolt was visible still;

She leaned toward it and fell on her face. She labored up

And went ten steps to the ebb and flung the iron

To the water edge.

Lance walked along the foot of the cliff.

He turned, not where the path went up, and walked

Into the face of the cliff, and stood there walking

Like an ox in a tread-mill, until Ramirez

Showed him the path. Fayne went up behind him.

Half way up

He awoke a moment out of his automatism

To feel failure and pain, his breathing like knives, and the failure

Of his eyes; it was impossible to see the path;

He checked a step and fell forward.

Fayne came up to him

And stood; there was nothing that she could do. They lay

Very peacefully together, Lance's face

On his brother's breast. She looked across them;


Terribly far down the moonlight cliff crouched the dark sea.
Ramirez came up and stood. Fayne said they had not the strength

to carry up either of the fallen, and so
They had to wait. They heard a faint breeze through the dry

bushes; and the crying of sea-lions far down below,
Where eight or ten were lying in a circle by the softly heaving

kelp-bed, as their custom is, and gazed
With great mild eyes at the sky and the night of water. Then

they sing in their manner, lifting up sleek
Dark-shining muzzles to the white moon, making a watery noise

of roaring and a lonely crying
For joy of life and the night.

At length Lance

Began to paw with his feet like a dreaming hound,
And some stones fell. He knelt and stood up
And took his burden and went up.

When they entered the sleep-
ing farmstead,

Fayne led the horse; Lance held his brother and rode behind him,
It would be hard to tell which one was slain
If the moon shone on their faces. The horse stopped and sighed
By the garden-gate; Lance did not move to dismount,
But sat and held up his brother. Fayne came beside,
Reaching to help; Lance whispered 'Ah, ah, thank God.'
'What?' 'He may be saved, Fayne.
He is hot under the arms and I heard him breathe.'
'You heard the horse breathe,' she said. They lifted down
The unmanageable weight.

Oh, ignorant penitents,

For surely the cause is too small for so much anguish.
To be drunk is a folly, to kill may call judgment down,
But these are not enormous evils,
And as for your brother, he has not been hurt.
For all the delights he has lost, pain has been saved him;
And the balance is strangely perfect,
And why are you pale with misery?
Because you have saved him from foolish labors and all the vain

days?


From desires denied, and desires staled with attaining,

And from fear of want, and from all diseases, and from fear of

death?

Or because you have kept him from becoming old,
When the teeth dropp and the eyes dim and the ears grow dull,
And the man is ashamed?

Surely it is nothing worse to be slain in the overflowing
Than to fall in the emptiness;
And though this moon blisters the night,
Darkness has not died, good darkness will come again;
Sometimes a fog will come in from sea,
Sometimes a cloud will crop all the stars.

IV

The moonlight from the west window was a square cloth

Laid on the floor, with one corner on the bed,

Lying over Michael's hand; they had taken him

To his own room. Fayne whispered: 'Now we must tell them.

Your mother may dieher sick heart.

Don't let her die too bitterly. For this one night, dear,

Say nothing worse than 'Michael's gone.' Spare her something

Until she has cried. Four hours' mercy. By morning

That heart of hers will be seasoned.' Fayne strained in the dark

To see his face. He answered in a short while,

'How many mornings I've come in here

And routed him out of bed. He always was a late sleeper.

Sound asleep, Mother.' Fayne caught his arm. 'Can't you hear
me?'

'You,' he said, 'keep your hands off! . . . Until morning

I'll say he fell.'

It was not morning, but the moon was down.

The old mother sat by the bed with her hand on Michael's, regu-
larly her great fat-swollen body

Jerked with a sob, and tears were spurted from her closed eyes.
Old Fraser sat with his fists evenly

Together on his knees, his bony face held erect, the brown eyes in
their hollows red with lamplight.

Fayne heard the noise of a motor starting and left the room.


He was backing out the big truck,

The shed was full of the headlight glare, the ruby tail-light

glowed by the axle. Before she could come
It had crept out; its light swung up the driveway by the stooping

sycamore
And picked from darkness the heavy timbers of the high corrals

and the white beehives remote on the hill;
Fayne ran down the river of light to the gate and closed it, and

stood in the gate for fear he might smash through;
But Lance came wearily to open; stooping, tall,
Black on the light. She said, 'Oh, where?' 'You know.
Tell dad to come to Salinas and get the truck;
There wasn't enough gas in the little one.'
She answered, 'Can the sheriff make us happy again?
Or the judge make Michael alive again?' 'Open the gate.'
'Yes, dear. Listen to me. When Arriba and his boys
Stole cows of ours, did you run to the courthouse?
We take care of ourselves down here. What we have done
Has to be borne. It's in ourselves and there's no escaping,
The state of California can't help you bear it.
That's only a herd of people, the state.
Oh, give your heart to the hawks for a snack o' meat
But not to men.' When she touched him with her hands,
Pleading, he sighed and said, 'If I'd been nearer
My decent mind, it would have been you, not Michael.
Did y' love him? Or was it only because you're female
And were drunk, female and drunk?' 'Oh. Hush. I was begging

him

Not to leave us, as I'm begging you. He promised me, dear.
He said he'd not go away. I kissed him for that; he was our

brother;

And you came behind.' Lance's blackness of his leaning bulk
Vibrated in the light-beam. 'It'd be a pity for me then.
I can't see clear, in the dirty streaming memories . . .
Don't be afraid; your part will be secret.
I'll say I killed him for nothing, a flea-bite quarrel,
Being beastly drunk.' 'He was killed,' she answered, 'for

nothing.'


'It's a great pity for me then.

Open the gate.' She clung to the timber bolt

To hold it home in the slot, and felt his mind

Tearing itself. 'Lance. Lance? Sweetheart:

Believe . . . whatever you need to save you.

I won't give you up. You can't remember what happened;

I tell you he fell from the cliff. But if your dreadful

Dream were true, I know you are strong enough

To give your heart to the hawks without a cry

And bear it in lonely silence to the end of life.

What else do you want? Ah. Confession's a coward

Running to officers, begging help. Not you.'

She heard

The scrape of slow boots on gravel outside the light-stream,
Across the pulses of the idling motor, and suddenly cried,
'He fell from the cliff.' An old man said in the dark,
'They ain't got consideration. Where was you going
This time o' night, after what's happened? Your dad wants you.
Your ma's took bad.' Lance moaned and stood still.
Fayne said, 'He was going to Lobos to telephone
The doct . . . the coroner. Dearest, you ought to go in.
She suffered great pain before, she was near death.
Old Davie will drive up the coast for you
When daylight comes.' 'Oh,' he said stilly, and turned
His face to the fountains of light; it gleamed without meaning
In the stream of radiance like a stake in a stream,
Except that from exhaustion the pupils of the eyes
Failed to contract, so that their secret interiors
Of their chambers returned the light all sanguine.
At length he kneaded them with his fists and said,
'I can't see well. You'll have to help me find the way in.
It's not a trick of yours, uh?'

V

His mother lay on the floor,

For Michael's body lay on the bed. The sun of pain at her heart
had rays like skewers of anguish


Along the left arm and up by the jugular arteries. She dared

not move; her face stood wet-white and still,
With live blue eyes; but the clay-pale lips opened and closed.

Old Eraser had swathed her in hasty blankets.
Fayne entered; Lance behind her stood swaying and stooping

in the door and saw his father
Crouched beside the great cocoon of the blankets; and Michael in

the bed above, and trinkets of Michael's
That hung on the wall, gleam in the lamplight. The violence of

pain was brief; she whispered 'better/* and breathed
With greedy shallow passion; her eyes found Lance.

Daylight

grayed slowly into the room;
The lamp ran dry unnoticed. Lance and his father
Labored and carried the heavy old woman to bed.
Fayne brought them food, but Lance refused it. In the afternoon
He walked outdoors for a time, but nothing farther
Than the cattle-pens. Fayne must have been watching for him,
Because she went and walked by his side, and said,
When they were turned from the house, 'Mary Abbey was here.
It seems she expected to marry Michael, though he never told us.
She cried a lot.' Lance made no sign of hearing her.
Fayne said, looking up sidelong at his cheek and jaw,
Where the flesh hung thin on the bone: 'Her griefs not
Like ours, forever; but sharp at present. If she ever
Imagined that you . . . how could we bear her looks? You are

too strong, dear,

To lay on weaker persons a burden
That you alone ought to bear.' He strode faster
And stopped, muttering, 'He lies up there, like that.
And my mother, like that; and I have done it;
And you talk about Mary Abbey.' Fayne said, 'I have no time
To choose names, for a man is coming to-day
To question us. He's sent for. I have to tell you that you must

choose whether to relieve

Your own weakness , . . conscience I mean ... by easy con-
fession,


Or bear the whole weight unhelped. The first way's easy; you'll

be acquitted; you'll be left humbled and soiled,
But free; for confession is not enough; and you were too lost to

remember anything clearly; and I
Am the one witness. I saw him climb on the cliff and fall. So your

conscience will be well comforted,
And fairly cheap. Only your mother perhaps will die of it; your

father and I will swallow our portion;
And the crowd at Salinas
Will have had a good time watching your face in court. It would

be harder, if youVe a snake in your heart,
To keep it shut there.'

He was silent, and drew sharp breath and

said, 'A red-haired one. Ah.

A white one with a red brush. Did you do it with him
Or not?' 'Leave that,' she said stilly; 'this choice is now?
He groaned and answered, 'My mind's not quick like yours.
. . . I'll not lie to them.' 'Let me show your mind to you;
Be patient a moment still; if I seem cruel,
That's to save, all that's left. Look at yourself:
A man who believes his own sweet brother's blood
Lies on his hands: yet

Too scrupulous to tell a lie, for his mother's life.
Our minds are wonderful.' He meditated, and answered
Heavily, 'The sunlight seems dull but red.
What makes it red?' 'Your eyes are sick of not sleeping;
Or there's a forest-fire in the south.' 'Our minds? Little bottles
That hold all hell. I seem too tired to feel it, though.
I'll think, I'll think.'

'You have no time for thinking. He will come probably
Within this hour.' 'Who? Let him come. I'll tell him
God made them male and female but men have made
So-and-so ... I fall asleep while I talk . . . whiskey eh?
Lighted the sticky fire. It's not possible
I'd ever done it except that I stumbled on you
In the heart of guilt. I know that.' 'Believe it then,'
She answered shrilly, and stood twitching her lips
In the white freckled face, in the reddish light of her hair,


'If that will help.' 'Oh,' he said.

'... I wish you had picked from another tree.'

She answered: 'You are to say that you found him dying.

You heard me cry, and he was down by the rock.

Isn't that the truth exactly, because you remember

No previous thing? You heard me cry out; you came;

Michael was dying or had died. That's all. You carried him home.

. . , I wish he'd come.'

But the man did not come
Until afternoon the next day. Dark weather, for a stagnant ocean

of cloud was hung on the sky,
And what light shone came colored like the taste of metal through

smoke of burning forests far to the south,
That veiled the coast, so that it seemed brown twilight
In the house, in Michael's room. A lamp was lighted,
The death-wound viewed. 'Who saw him fall?' 'I alone.
My husband and others came when I cried.' 'Where is your

husband?'

'With his mother,' she answered faintly. 'She had an attack,
Her heart, angina, and has to lie still. Shall I
Call him, sir?' her voice hardening, her eyes
Growing hard and narrow. 'Pretty soon. Was this young man
In trouble about anything?' 'No.' 'A girl?' 'He was engaged
To Miss Abbey.' 'They had a quarrel, ah?' 'No.'
'Did he seem cheerful?' 'Very.' 'They always do.
Yesterday I had to drive by Elkhorn Slough
Because a very cheerful old man opened his throat
With his nephew T s pen-knife. I was two hours
Finding that place; the farmers around there they couldn't tell

you

Whether Jesus Christ died on the cross
Or at the battle of Bull Run.'

Old Eraser had stood
Nerveless and dreaming over the livid face
Since they uncovered it; abruptly he turned his head
Above his bowed shoulder, saying 'It's enough.
Dog, blaspheme not. Go to your own place.
My son found death in recklessness, I fear in folly;


Write that and leave us alone; go hence and leave us

To mourn and hope.' 'Well, Mr. Fraser. You understand . . .'

'I am very patient,' the old man said, thrusting

His hollowed face toward the other, the closely set

Inflamed brown eyes pushing like the burnt end of a stick

That has been used to stir fire; the man stepped backward.

'Did he say patient! . . . Well, is your husband here?'

Payne's mouth jerked and froze hard, her hands quieted.

'I will call him. Come to the room downstairs.'

She said at the foot of the stair, 'This way, sir. It's dark.

Will you have to go ... to see the cliff, to see

The cliff?' 'Hm, what's that?' 'Where he fell.'

'Can we drive there?' 'No, ride and walk.' 'Look here,'

He said, 'I've come sixty-five miles already.

You're sure it was accidental?' 'Yes.' 'Well.

I always try to save the family feelings

When the case is not clear.' He tried his pen,

Shook it, and wrote. Fayne watched, quiet and cold, thinking that

Lance

Would not have to be questioned; he was saved now;
And saw the man to his car. When he had gone
She thought that now she could laugh or cry if she wanted to,
Now Lance was saved, but her nerves and her mind stood quiet.

She looked at the dusty gate and the dark house-gable
In the stagnant air against the black cloud, and perceived that all

events are exact and were shaped beforehand,
And spaced in a steel frame; when they come up we know them;

there is nothing for excitement.

She went in,

And found Lance in the dark at the head of the stair, bent for-
ward like a great bird. 'Has he gone, Fayne?'
'Did you know he was here?' 'I will live on,' he answered,

'seems to be best. I loved him well; he died instantly,
No anger nor pain. Davis has dug a place by the children's

graves.'

On account of the dull weather
And closing twilight the group on the hilltop was hardly visible

in their vast scene. It was quite evident


That not only Pico Blanco against the north, and the gray Ven-

tanas, but even every dry fold
And gully of the humbler hills was almost by an infinite measure

of more importance

Than the few faint figures on the bare height,
The truck, and three saddled horses,
And some persons.

The old man swayed and shook, standing praying
At the head of a dug slot
Beside the pile of pale earth.
The heavy great brown-furred sky that covered all things made

a red point in the west, lost it and darkened,
And the Point Sur lighthouse made a thin stabbing from the

northwest.

Swaying on his heels and toes the old man prayed:

'Oh Lord our God, when thy churches fell off from thee

To go awhoring after organ music,

Singing-women and lecturers, then my people

Came out from among them; and when thy last church,

Thy little band, thy chosen, was turned at length

To lust for wealth and amusement and worldly vanities,

I cried against them and I came forth from among them.

I promised thee in that day that I and my house

Would remain faithful, thou must never despair;

I said, though all men forget thee thou hast a fort

Here in these hills, one candle burning in the infidel world,

And my house is thy people.

My children died,

And I laid them in this place and begot more children
To be thy servants, and I taught them thy ways, but they fell

away from thee.

They found their pleasure among the ungodly, and I believe
They made themselves drunk with wine, and my dear son is

fallen.
He died on the shore. One half of the curse of Eli has fallen

upon me.'
He covered his face with his knotted hands and stood gasping,


And said, 'I loved him. Here he is, Lord.

Surely thou hast forgiven his sins as I have forgiven them,

And wilt lift him to thy glory on the last day.'

The old man stood silent, lifting his face, and fixed his deep

close-set eyes, like the eyes of an old ape,
Small, dark and melancholy under the bar of the brow, between

the wide cheek-bones, fixed them far off
Across the darkening ridges and ocean upon that single red spot

that waned in the western sky,
And said 'The world darkens and the end is coming.
I cannot beget more children; I am old and empty,
And my wife is old. All men have turned their faces away from

thee;

I alone am thy church. Lord God, I beseech thee not to despair,
But remember thine ancient power, and smite the ungodly on

their mouths
And the faithless churches with utter destruction. For Jesus'

sake, amen.' While he prayed, Fayne watched Lance
With pity and fear; and Mary Abbey, who was there with her

father,

Kept stealing glances at Lance through her wet eyelashes.
She whispered to Fayne: 'Oh, Lance looks dreadfully.
I never knew he loved him so dreadfully.'
Fayne answered, 'Yes, he did'; and looked up at Lance
With pity and fear. 'He looks as if he'd fall sick,'
Mary said. Fayne answered, 'No, he is strong.
He hasn't eaten since Michael died; maybe
He hasn't slept.' Mary said, wiping her eyes,
'His face is so sad and fine, like carved marble.
They say he carried him all the way home, up that cliff.'
The old man ended his prayer, the redwood box
Was lowered with ropes; Lance had the weight at one end,
Old Fraser and Davis at the other. The ropes cut grooves
In the earth edges. While they were shovelling earth,
Mary Abbey, with a sudden abandoned gesture
Of the hand that had the handkerchief in it, ran up to Lance
On the scraped ground. 'Don't grieve so.' She reached and

touched

His hand on the spade-handle. 'It makes me afraid for you.

We all loved him; life has to go on.' He jerked his hand,

And looked down at her face with startled eyes

So pale gray-blue that all the light that remained in the world

Under the low black sky seemed to live in them,

Stammering, 'No. No. He fell from the cliff.' She said, 'I know,

Lance.
We have to bear it. I loved him too.' He gathered his dreaming

nerves
Into the bundle again and said, 'Oh. All right. Please keep out of

the way for the time.

We have this to do.' 'Good-bye,' she answered patiently. 'Fa-
ther's calling me.'

The pit was filled full and mounded;
Fayne came and said, 'What was she saying to you?' 'Nothing.

Who?' 'Mary Abbey.' 'I didn't see her.'
'What, Lance? She came and spoke to you.' 'I'd rather be there

with Michael,' he answered. 'Dear, you must rouse yourself.
Life has to go on.' 'Somebody was saying so, I think.
There's not a hawk in the sky.' She answered from a hoarse

throat, 'After dark? What are you dreaming?
See, Davie's turned on the headlights.' 'I hate them,' he said,

'killers, dirty chicken-thieves.'

The farm-truck headlights
Shone on the mounded earth, and cast its enormously lengthened

shadow and the shadows of a few moving
Persons across the world, with the beam of light, over mound

beyond mound of bare autumn hills, and black
Ocean under the black-roofed evening.

VI

That night he returned

To lie with Fayne in their bed, but like two strangers
Lying in one bed in a crowded inn, who avoid
Touching each other; but the fifth night
She laid her hand on the smooth strength of his breast,
He pretended to be asleep, she moved against him,
Plucking his throat with her lips. He answered, 'After all?

You're right. If we're to live in this life

We'll keep its customs.' He approached her confidently,

And had no power. The little irrational anger

At finding himself ridiculous brought to his mind

That worse rage, never before clearly remembered,

But now to the last moment; or imagined. He drew

His limbs from Payne's without thinking of her, and lay still,
with shut fists,

Sweating, staring up spirals of awful darkness, that spun away up
and wound over his eyes

Around a hollow gray core with flecks in it. 'I am damned un-
justly. I did it in a moment.'

But Fayne knew nothing

Of the shut agony beside her; only she was troubled at heart, and
wondering

Whether he had ceased to love her said tenderly, 'Sleep,

Darling. I didn't mean. I didn't want.

Only I love you.' He felt her instinctive hand

Move downward fondling along the flat of his belly.

He set it aside and spoke, so low that her ears

Lost every word between the hair and the pillow.

'What, dearest?' 'I know it,' he said, 'they're dogs: that was
exactly

Fit to tell dogs. I can be damned

At home as well.' 'Hush, dear.' 'I don't make a good murderer,'

He said, 'I sweat.' She was silent and heard him breathing,

And mourned, 'Oh, cover your mind with quietness to-night.

In the morning you'll face it down again. This will get well with
time.

It was really only a dreadful accident.' 'Very damnable,' he said,

'Very true.' Fayne said, 'We'll live, sweetheart, to feel it

Only a dreadful accident, and the sad death

Of one we loved.' 'That's your smooth skin.

The fires fester on mine. Will you do something

For me?' 'Dearest, with all my heart.' 'An easy kindness:

Shut up your mouth.'

He got up after a time;


When he went out she followed, trembling. He turned on her

Outside the door. 'I'm not going to Salinas,'

He whispered, 'nor bump myself off either.

I'll not starve your hawks of their snatch o' meat.

Now let me alone for Christ's sake.' She stood and saw him

Against the starlit window at the end steal down

The hallway, go past the stairhead, and enter the empty

Room of his brother. He slept there from that night on,

And seemed to regain calm strength.

VII

In the course of a month
Rain seemed at hand, the south wind whetting his knife on the

long mountain and wild clouds flying;
Lance and his father set out to burn the hill to make pasture. They

carried fire in forkfuls of straw
Along the base of the south wall of their valley; the horses they

rode snorted against it, and smoke
Boiled, but the seaward end of the hill would only be burnt in

patches. Inland, at the parched end,
A reach of high grass and sage might have led out the fire to the

forest, and Lance rode up

To watch a flame down the wind to black out the danger.
He carried two barley-sacks and went to the Abbeys' trough
At the hill spring to dip them, to beat down the fire's
Creepings up wind. From that spur of the mountain
He saw the planted pine trees at Abbey's place,
And riding back with the dipped sacks, the vale
Of his own place, the smoke-mist, and Sycamore Creek
Wound like a long serpent down the small fields.
He set his fires and watched them rage with the wind,
Easily stifling their returns, riding herd
On the black line; then from the base of the hill
Red surf, and the dark spray rolled back by the wind,
Of the other fire came up roaring. The lines met
On the fall of the hill like waves at a river's mouth
That spout up and kill each other, and hang white spray
On cold clear wind.

A rabbit with blazing fur broke through the back-fire,

Bounding and falling, it passed by Lance and ran

Straight into the stem of a wild lilac bush,

He saw it was blind from the fire, and watching it struggle away

Up its dark pain, saw Mary Abbey coming down the black hill
against the white sky,

Treading on embers. Lance turned and hardened in the saddle,
and saw the vale below him a long trough of smoke

Spilled northward, then Mary came near and said, 'I wanted to
talk to you. I saw you ride by the water-trough.'

He shuddered and said, 'What? I'll watch the fire.' 'Fayne
doesn't like me so well I think

Since Michael . . . indeed I'm ashamed to be always around your
house.'

'I noticed you there,' he said, carefully regarding

The dark braids of her hair, and the pale brown face

Seen from above. 'I don't know,' she said.

'My father says to go away for a time,

His sister lives on a place in Idaho.

But I wouldn't want to forget. But I told Fayne . . .

So I don't know. We could see that you grieved for him

More deeply than anyone else, and all these great hills are empty.'

He said, 'Is that all?' 'Ah . . . ? Yes,' she answered,

And turned away and looked back. Lance found that the bridle-
leather

Had broken suddenly between his hands, and said 'You won't get
anything from Fayne; she's hard as iron.

Why do you follow us around? What do you think you'll find
out?' She said, 'Your grief is greater perhaps,

For you knew him longer. But you have Fayne and I have no-
body: speak kindly to me. As I remember,

At first it came from seeing you and Fayne so happy in each
other,

I wanted to be like that. I can't talk well, like Fayne,

But I read a great deal.' He stared at her face and began to knot
the bridle, his hands relaxing,

And said, 'I must ride around by the oak-scrub and see that the
fire has checked. I've got to be watchful always.


Will you stay here?' He went and returned and said, 'Come

down to our place whenever you are lonely, Mary.
My mother's quite well again. His death was ... do people talk

much about it?' She looked in wonder at his face,
And he with numbed lips: 'What lies do they . . . can't you

speak out?' 'I never

Talked about it with anyone, since Nina Dolman
Told us that day. Truly there's nothing to be said by anyone
Except, he was bright with life and suddenly nothing, nothing,

nothing, darkness.'

Lance breathed and said sharply, 'I wouldn't bet on it
If I were you. Mary, you are tender and merciful:
Don't come to the house; Fayne is like iron. You'd better
Run home and forget about us. Unless you should hear something
I ought to know.' 'What do you mean?' 'Good-bye.'
She saw his bridle-hand lift, she said 'I've no pride,
I pray you not to leave me yet, Lance.
I loved him greatly, and now that bond hangs cut,
Bleeding on the empty world, it reaches after
You that were near him, Fayne and you. I was always
Without companions, and now I'd give anything
To be in your friendship a little.' 'Anything?' he said.
'You faithful women.

Fayne was five days. Mmhm, I have seen a vision.
My eyes are opened I believe.'

He rode across the burnt hill,
Watching the wind swirl up the ashes and flatten
The spits of smoke. Past the singed oak-scrub he began to wonder,
If there was honey in the little tree, had . . . the dead
Tasted it before he died? 'You'd better be off to Idaho.
... I shy from his name like a scared horse.
By God, I'd better get used to it; I've got to live with it.'
He looked sharply all about the burnt solitude
To be sure of no hearers, and recited aloud:
'I killed Michael. My name is Lance Fraser.
I murdered my brother Michael. I was plastered,
But I caught 'em at it. I killed my brother Michael.
I'm not afraid to sleep in his room or even


Take over his girl if I choose. I am a dog,

But so are all.'

The tall man riding the little bay horse

Along the burnt ridge, talking loudly to nothing but the ash-
drifting wind; a shadow passed his right shoulder;

He turned on it with slitted eyes, and saw through the strained
lashes against the gray wind a ghastly old woman

Pursuing him, bent double with age and fury, her brown cloak
wild on the wind, but when she turned up the wind

It was only a redtail hawk that hunted

On the burnt borders, making her profit in the trouble of field-
mice. Lance groaned in his throat 'Go up you devil.

Ask your high places whether they can save you next time.'

VIII

Leo Ramirez rode down on business
About redwood for fence-posts; he asked in vain
For Lance, and had to deal with old Eraser. When he went out
He saw red hair around the corner of the house
And found Fayne in the garden, and asked for Lance.
'I couldn't tell you. I saw him ride to the south.
He'll be home soon for supper.' Ramirez stood
In troubled silence, looking at the earth, and said
'I wonder ought I to tell him . . .' Payne's body quivered
Ever so slightly, her face grew carefully blank.
'What, Leo?' 'Will Howard, for instance. Mouths that can't
Shut up for the love of God.' 'He drives the coast-stage,'
Fayne answered carefully. Ramirez looked over the creek
At the branded flanks of the south hill, and no rain had come
To streak them with gray relentings. 'He didn't see it,'
He said; 'and those two janes on vacation
Went back to town the next day.' He giggled, remembering
The sailing-ship stippled on the white skin,
And fixed his mind smooth again. Fayne said, 'How dares he
Lie about us?' Ramirez's brown soft eyes
Regarded her with mournful wonder and slid away.
He said, 'You was very quick-thinking.' 'What?' she said, 'You
were there.


And when I cried to him to be careful you looked
And saw him larking on the rock, and you saw him fall,
You could see very plainly in the awful moonlight.
These are things, Leo, that you could swear to.' He nodded,
And slid his red tongue along his dry lips and answered,
'Yes'm.' 'So Howard's a liar,' she said. 'But don't tell Lance;
He'd break him in two. We'll all do very well,
All wicked stories will die, long long before
Our ache of loss.' 'Yes'm.' She walked beside him
To his tethered horse, and charmed him with an impulsive hand-
clasp
After he was in the saddle.

She stood with her face high, the

great sponge of red hair
Lying like a helmet-plume on her shoulders, and thought she was

sure of conquering security but she was tired;
She was not afraid of the enemy world, but Michael would never

be here laughing again. On the hill,
In the hill he lay; it was stranger than that, and sharper. And his

killer
Ought to be hated a little in the much love. The smells in the

wind were of ocean, the reedy creek-mouth,
Cows, and wood-smoke, and chile-con-carne on the kitchen stove;

it was harder to analyze thoughts in the mind.
She looked at the dear house and its gables
Darkening so low against the hill and wide sky and the evening

color commencing; it was Lance's nest
Where he was born, and h

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John Dryden

The Hind And The Panther, A Poem In Three Parts : Part III.

Much malice, mingled with a little wit,
Perhaps may censure this mysterious writ;
Because the muse has peopled Caledon
With panthers, bears, and wolves, and beasts unknown,
As if we were not stocked with monsters of our own.
Let Æsop answer, who has set to view
Such kinds as Greece and Phrygia never knew;
And Mother Hubbard, in her homely dress,
Has sharply blamed a British lioness;
That queen, whose feast the factious rabble keep,
Exposed obscenely naked, and asleep.
Led by those great examples, may not I
The wonted organs of their words supply?
If men transact like brutes, 'tis equal then
For brutes to claim the privilege of men.
Others our Hind of folly will indite,
To entertain a dangerous guest by night.
Let those remember, that she cannot die,
Till rolling time is lost in round eternity;
Nor need she fear the Panther, though untamed,
Because the Lion's peace was now proclaimed;
The wary savage would not give offence,
To forfeit the protection of her prince;
But watched the time her vengeance to complete,
When all her furry sons in frequent senate met;
Meanwhile she quenched her fury at the flood,
And with a lenten salad cooled her blood.
Their commons, though but coarse, were nothing scant,
Nor did their minds an equal banquet want.
For now the Hind, whose noble nature strove
To express her plain simplicity of love,
Did all the honours of her house so well,
No sharp debates disturbed the friendly meal.
She turned the talk, avoiding that extreme,
To common dangers past, a sadly-pleasing theme;
Remembering every storm which tossed the state,
When both were objects of the public hate,
And dropt a tear betwixt for her own children's fate.
Nor failed she then a full review to make
Of what the Panther suffered for her sake;
Her lost esteem, her truth, her loyal care,
Her faith unshaken to an exiled heir,
Her strength to endure, her courage to defy,
Her choice of honourable infamy.
On these, prolixly thankful, she enlarged;
Then with acknowledgments herself she charged;
For friendship, of itself an holy tie,
Is made more sacred by adversity.
Now should they part, malicious tongues would say,
They met like chance companions on the way,
Whom mutual fear of robbers had possessed;
While danger lasted, kindness was professed;
But, that once o'er, the short-lived union ends,
The road divides, and there divide the friends.
The Panther nodded, when her speech was done,
And thanked her coldly in a hollow tone;
But said, her gratitude had gone too far
For common offices of Christian care.
If to the lawful heir she had been true,
She paid but Cæsar what was Cæsar's due.
“I might,” she added, “with like praise describe
Your suffering sons, and so return your bribe:
But incense from my hands is poorly prized;
For gifts are scorned where givers are despised.
I served a turn, and then was cast away;
You, like the gaudy fly, your wings display,
And sip the sweets, and bask in your great patron's day.”
This heard, the matron was not slow to find
What sort of malady had seized her mind;
Disdain, with gnawing envy, fell despite,
And cankered malice, stood in open sight;
Ambition, interest, pride without control,
And jealousy, the jaundice of the soul;
Revenge, the bloody minister of ill,
With all the lean tormentors of the will.
'Twas easy now to guess from whence arose
Her new-made union with her ancient foes;
Her forced civilities, her faint embrace,
Affected kindness, with an altered face;
Yet durst she not too deeply probe the wound,
As hoping still the nobler parts were sound;
But strove with anodynes to assuage the smart,
And mildly thus her medicine did impart.
“Complaints of lovers help to ease their pain;
It shows a rest of kindness to complain;
A friendship loath to quit its former hold,
And conscious merit, may be justly bold;
But much more just your jealousy would show,
If others' good were injury to you:
Witness, ye heavens, how I rejoice to see
Rewarded worth and rising loyalty!
Your warrior offspring, that upheld the crown,
The scarlet honour of your peaceful gown,
Are the most pleasing objects I can find,
Charms to my sight, and cordials to my mind:
When virtue spooms before a prosperous gale,
My heaving wishes help to fill the sail;
And if my prayers for all the brave were heard,
Cæsar should still have such, and such should still reward.
The laboured earth your pains have sowed and tilled,
'Tis just you reap the product of the field:
Yours be the harvest; 'tis the beggar's gain,
To glean the fallings of the loaded wain.
Such scattered ears as are not worth your care,
Your charity, for alms, may safely spare,
For alms are but the vehicles of prayer.
My daily bread is literally implored;
I have no barns nor granaries to hoard.
If Cæsar to his own his hand extends,
Say which of yours his charity offends;
You know, he largely gives to more than are his friends.
Are you defrauded, when he feeds the poor?
Our mite decreases nothing of your store.
I am but few, and by your fare you see
My crying sins are not of luxury.
Some juster motive sure your mind withdraws,
And makes you break our friendship's holy laws;
For barefaced envy is too base a cause.
Show more occasion for your discontent;
Your love, the Wolf, would help you to invent:
Some German quarrel, or, as times go now,
Some French, where force is uppermost, will do.
When at the fountain's head, as merit ought
To claim the place, you take a swilling draught,
How easy 'tis an envious eye to throw,
And tax the sheep for troubling streams below;
Or call her, when no further cause you find,
An enemy professed of all your kind!
But, then, perhaps, the wicked world would think,
The Wolf designed to eat as well as drink.”
This last allusion galled the Panther more,
Because, indeed, it rubbed upon the sore;
Yet seemed she not to wince, though shrewdly pained,
But thus her passive character maintained.
“I never grudged, whate'er my foes report,
Your flaunting fortune in the Lion's court.
You have your day, or you are much belied,
But I am always on the suffering side;
You know my doctrine, and I need not say,
I will not, but I cannot disobey.
On this firm principle I ever stood;
He of my sons who fails to make it good,
By one rebellious act renounces to my blood.”
“Ah,” said the Hind, “how many sons have you,
Who call you mother, whom you never knew!
But most of them, who that relation plead,
Are such ungracious youths as wish you dead.
They gape at rich revenues which you hold,
And fain would nibble at your grandame gold;
Enquire into your years, and laugh to find
Your crazy temper shows you much declined.
Were you not dim and doted, you might see
A pack of cheats that claim a pedigree,
No more of kin to you, than you to me.
Do you not know, that, for a little coin,
Heralds can foist a name into the line?
They ask you blessing but for what you have,
But, once possessed of what with care you save,
The wanton boys would piss upon your grave.
Your sons of latitude, that court your grace,
Though most resembling you in form and face,
Are far the worst of your pretended race;
And, but I blush your honesty to blot,
Pray God you prove them lawfully begot!
For, in some Popish libels I have read,
The Wolf has been too busy in your bed;
At least their hinder parts, the belly-piece,
The paunch, and all that Scorpio claims, are his.
Their malice too a sore suspicion brings,
For, though they dare not bark, they snarl at kings.
Nor blame them for intruding in your line;
Fat bishoprics are still of right divine.
Think you, your new French proselytes are come,
To starve abroad, because they starved at home?
Your benefices twinkled from afar,
They found the new Messiah by the star;
Those Swisses fight on any side for pay,
And 'tis the living that conforms, not they.
Mark with what management their tribes divide;
Some stick to you, and some to t'other side,
That many churches may for many mouths provide.
More vacant pulpits would more converts make;
All would have latitude enough to take:
The rest unbeneficed your sects maintain;
For ordinations, without cures, are vain,
And chamber practice is a silent gain.
Your sons of breadth at home are much like these;
Their soft and yielding metals run with ease;
They melt, and take the figure of the mould,
But harden and preserve it best in gold.”
Your Delphic sword,” the Panther then replied,
Is double-edged, and cuts on either side.
Some sons of mine, who bear upon their shield
Three steeples argent in a sable field,
Have sharply taxed your converts, who, unfed,
Have followed you for miracles of bread;
Such, who themselves of no religion are,
Allured with gain, for any will declare.
Bare lies, with bold assertions, they can face;
But dint of argument is out of place.
The grim logician puts them in a fright;
'Tis easier far to flourish than to fight.
Thus, our eighth Henry's marriage they defame;
They say, the schism of beds began the game,
Divorcing from the Church to wed the dame;
Though largely proved, and by himself professed,
That conscience, conscience would not let him rest,—
I mean, not till possessed of her he loved,
And old, uncharming Catherine was removed.
For sundry years before he did complain,
And told his ghostly confessor his pain.
With the same impudence, without a ground,
They say, that, look the reformation round,
No treatise of humility is found.
But if none were, the gospel does not want;
Our Saviour preached it, and I hope you grant,
The sermon on the mount was Protestant.”
No doubt,” replied the Hind, “as sure as all
The writings of Saint Peter and Saint Paul;
On that decision let it stand, or fall.
Now for my converts, who, you say, unfed,
Have followed me for miracles of bread.
Judge not by hearsay, but observe at least,
If since their change their loaves have been increased.
The Lion buys no converts; if he did,
Beasts would be sold as fast as he could bid.
Tax those of interest, who conform for gain,
Or stay the market of another reign:
Your broad-way sons would never be too nice
To close with Calvin, if he paid their price;
But, raised three steeples higher, would change their note,
And quit the cassock for the canting-coat.
Now, if you damn this censure, as too bold,
Judge by yourselves, and think not others sold.
“Meantime, my sons accused, by fame's report,
Pay small attendance at the Lion's court,
Nor rise with early crowds, nor flatter late;
For silently they beg, who daily wait.
Preferment is bestowed, that comes unsought;
Attendance is a bribe, and then 'tis bought.
How they should speed, their fortune is untried;
For not to ask, is not to be denied.
For what they have, their God and king they bless,
And hope they should not murmur, had they less.
But if reduced subsistence to implore,
In common prudence they would pass your door;
Unpitied Hudibras, your champion friend,
Has shown how far your charities extend.
This lasting verse shall on his tomb be read,
‘He shamed you living, and upbraids you dead.’
With odious atheist names you load your foes;
Your liberal clergy why did I expose?
It never fails in charities like those.
In climes where true religion is professed,
That imputation were no laughing jest;
But imprimatur, with a chaplain's name,
Is here sufficient licence to defame.
What wonder is 't that black detraction thrives?
The homicide of names is less than lives;
And yet the perjured murderer survives.”
This said, she paused a little, and suppressed
The boiling indignation of her breast.
She knew the virtue of her blade, nor would
Pollute her satire with ignoble blood;
Her panting foe she saw before her eye,
And back she drew the shining weapon dry.
So when the generous Lion has in sight
His equal match, he rouses for the fight;
But when his foe lies prostrate on the plain,
He sheathes his paws, uncurls his angry mane,
And, pleased with bloodless honours of the day,
Walks over, and disdains the inglorious prey.
So James, if great with less we may compare,
Arrests his rolling thunder-bolts in air;
And grants ungrateful friends a lengthened space,
To implore the remnants of long-suffering grace.
This breathing-time the matron took; and then
Resumed the thrid of her discourse again.
Be vengeance wholly left to powers divine,
And let heaven judge betwixt your sons and mine:
If joys hereafter must be purchased here
With loss of all that mortals hold so dear,
Then welcome infamy and public shame,
And last, a long farewell to worldly fame!
'Tis said with ease, but, oh, how hardly tried
By haughty souls to human honour tied!
O sharp convulsive pangs of agonising pride!
Down then, thou rebel, never more to rise!
And what thou didst, and dost, so dearly prize,
That fame, that darling fame, make that thy sacrifice.
'Tis nothing thou hast given; then add thy tears
For a long race of unrepenting years:
'Tis nothing yet, yet all thou hast to give:
Then add those may-be years thou hast to live:
Yet nothing still: then poor and naked come,
Thy Father will receive his unthrift home,
And thy blest Saviour's blood discharge the mighty sum.
“Thus,” she pursued, “I discipline a son,
Whose unchecked fury to revenge would run;
He champs the bit, impatient of his loss,
And starts aside, and flounders at the cross.
Instruct him better, gracious God, to know,
As thine is vengeance, so forgiveness too;
That, suffering from ill tongues, he bears no more
Than what his sovereign bears, and what his Saviour bore.
It now remains for you to school your child,
And ask why God's anointed he reviled;
A king and princess dead! did Shimei worse?
The curser's punishment should fright the curse;
Your son was warned, and wisely gave it o'er,
But he, who counselled him, has paid the score;
The heavy malice could no higher tend,
But woe to him on whom the weights descend.
So to permitted ills the demon flies;
His rage is aimed at him who rules the skies:
Constrained to quit his cause, no succour found,
The foe discharges every tire around,
In clouds of smoke abandoning the fight,
But his own thundering peals proclaim his flight.
In Henry's change his charge as ill succeeds;
To that long story little answer needs;
Confront but Henry's words with Henry's deeds.
Were space allowed, with ease it might be proved,
What springs his blessed reformation moved.
The dire effects appeared in open sight,
Which from the cause he calls a distant flight,
And yet no larger leap than from the sun to light.
“Now last your sons a double pæan sound,
A treatise of humility is found.
'Tis found, but better it had ne'er been sought,
Than thus in Protestant procession brought.
The famed original through Spain is known,
Rodriguez' work, my celebrated son,
Which yours, by ill-translating, made his own;
Concealed its author, and usurped the name,
The basest and ignoblest theft of fame.
My altars kindled first that living coal;
Restore, or practise better what you stole;
That virtue could this humble verse inspire,
'Tis all the restitution I require.”
Glad was the Panther that the charge was closed,
And none of all her favourite sons exposed;
For laws of arms permit each injured man,
To make himself a saver where he can.
Perhaps the plundered merchant cannot tell
The names of pirates in whose hands he fell;
But at the den of thieves he justly flies,
And every Algerine is lawful prize;
No private person in the foe's estate
Can plead exemption from the public fate.
Yet Christian laws allow not such redress;
Then let the greater supersede the less.
But let the abettors of the Panther's crime
Learn to make fairer wars another time.
Some characters may sure be found to write
Among her sons; for 'tis no common sight,
A spotted dam, and all her offspring white.
The savage, though she saw her plea controlled,
Yet would not wholly seem to quit her hold,
But offered fairly to compound the strife,
And judge conversion by the convert's life.
“'Tis true,” she said, “I think it somewhat strange,
So few should follow profitable change;
For present joys are more to flesh and blood,
Than a dull prospect of a distant good.
'Twas well alluded by a son of mine,
(I hope to quote him is not to purloin,)
Two magnets, heaven and earth, allure to bliss;
The larger loadstone that, the nearer this:
The weak attraction of the greater fails;
We nod a while, but neighbourhood prevails;
But when the greater proves the nearer too,
I wonder more your converts come so slow.
Methinks in those who firm with me remain,
It shows a nobler principle than gain.”
Your inference would be strong,” the Hind replied,
If yours were in effect the suffering side;
Your clergy's sons their own in peace possess,
Nor are their prospects in reversion less.
My proselytes are struck with awful dread,
Your bloody comet-laws hang blazing o'er their head;
The respite they enjoy but only lent,
The best they have to hope, protracted punishment.
Be judge yourself, if interest may prevail,
Which motives, yours or mine, will turn the scale.
While pride and pomp allure, and plenteous ease,
That is, till man's predominant passions cease,
Admire no longer at my slow increase.
By education most have been misled;
So they believe, because they so were bred.
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And thus the child imposes on the man.
The rest I named before, nor need repeat;
But interest is the most prevailing cheat,
The sly seducer both of age and youth;
They study that, and think they study truth.
When interest fortifies an argument,
Weak reason serves to gain the will's assent;
For souls, already warped, receive an easy bent.
“Add long prescription of established laws,
And pique of honour to maintain a cause,
And shame of change, and fear of future ill,
And zeal, the blind conductor of the will;
And chief, among the still-mistaking crowd,
The fame of teachers obstinate and proud,
And, more than all, the private judge allowed;
Disdain of fathers which the dance began,
And last, uncertain whose the narrower span,
The clown unread, and half-read gentleman.”
To this the Panther, with a scornful smile;—
Yet still you travail with unwearied toil,
And range around the realm without control,
Among my sons for proselytes to prowl;
And here and there you snap some silly soul.
You hinted fears of future change in state;
Pray heaven you did not prophesy your fate!
Perhaps you think your time of triumph near,
But may mistake the season of the year;
The Swallow's fortune gives you cause to fear.”
For charity,” replied the matron, “tell
What sad mischance those pretty birds befell.”
“Nay, no mischance,” the savage dame replied,
But want of wit in their unerring guide,
And eager haste, and gaudy hopes, and giddy pride.
Yet, wishing timely warning may prevail,
Make you the moral, and I'll tell the tale.
The Swallow, privileged above the rest
Of all the birds, as man's familiar guest,
Pursues the sun, in summer brisk and bold,
But wisely shuns the persecuting cold;
Is well to chancels and to chimneys known,
Though 'tis not thought she feeds on smoke alone.
From hence she has been held of heavenly line,
Endued with particles of soul divine.
This merry chorister had long possessed
Her summer-seat, and feathered well her nest;
Till frowning skies began to change their cheer,
And time turned up the wrong side of the year;
The shading trees began the ground to strow
With yellow leaves, and bitter blasts to blow.
Sad auguries of winter thence she drew,
Which by instinct, or prophecy, she knew;
When prudence warned her to remove betimes,
And seek a better heaven, and warmer climes.
Her sons were summoned on a steeple's height,
And, called in common council, vote a flight.
The day was named, the next that should be fair;
All to the general rendezvous repair,
They try their fluttering wings, and trust themselves in air.
But whether upward to the moon they go,
Or dream the winter out in caves below,
Or hawk at flies elsewhere, concerns us not to know.
Southwards you may be sure they bent their flight,
And harboured in a hollow rock at night;
Next morn they rose, and set up every sail;
The wind was fair, but blew a mackrel gale;
The sickly young sat shivering on the shore,
Abhorred salt-water never seen before,
And prayed their tender mothers to delay
The passage, and expect a fairer day.
With these the Martin readily concurred,
A church-begot and church-believing bird;
Of little body, but of lofty mind,
Round bellied, for a dignity designed,
And much a dunce, as Martins are by kind;
Yet often quoted canon-laws, and code,
And fathers which he never understood;
But little learning needs in noble blood.
For, sooth to say, the Swallow brought him in,
Her household chaplain, and her next of kin;
In superstition silly to excess,
And casting schemes by planetary guess;
In fine, short-winged, unfit himself to fly,
His fear foretold foul weather in the sky.
Besides, a Raven from a withered oak,
Left of their lodging, was observed to croak.
That omen liked him not; so his advice
Was present safety, bought at any price;
A seeming pious care, that covered cowardice.
To strengthen this, he told a boding dream,
Of rising waters, and a troubled stream,
Sure signs of anguish, dangers, and distress,
With something more, not lawful to express:
By which he slily seemed to intimate
Some secret revelation of their fate.
For he concluded, once upon a time,
He found a leaf inscribed with sacred rhyme,
Whose antique characters did well denote
The Sibyl's hand of the Cumæan grot;
The mad divineress had plainly writ,
A time should come, but many ages yet,
In which, sinister destinies ordain,
A dame should drown with all her feathered train,
And seas from thence be called the Chelidonian main.
At this, some shook for fear; the more devout
Arose, and blessed themselves from head to foot.
“'Tis true, some stagers of the wiser sort
Made all these idle wonderments their sport;
They said their only danger was delay,
And he, who heard what every fool could say,
Would never fix his thought, but trim his time away.
The passage yet was good; the wind, 'tis true,
Was somewhat high, but that was nothing new,
No more than usual equinoxes blew.
The sun, already from the Scales declined,
Gave little hopes of better days behind,
But change from bad to worse, of weather and of wind.
Nor need they fear the dampness of the sky
Should flag their wings, and hinder them to fly,
'Twas only water thrown on sails too dry.
But, least of all, philosophy presumes
Of truth in dreams, from melancholy fumes;
Perhaps the Martin, housed in holy ground,
Might think of ghosts, that walk their midnight round,
Till grosser atoms, tumbling in the stream
Of fancy, madly met, and clubbed into a dream:
As little weight his vain presages bear,
Of ill effect to such alone who fear;
Most prophecies are of a piece with these,
Each Nostradamus can foretell with ease:
Not naming persons, and confounding times,
One casual truth supports a thousand lying rhymes.
The advice was true; but fear had seized the most,
And all good counsel is on cowards lost.
The question crudely put to shun delay,
'Twas carried by the major part to stay.
“His point thus gained, Sir Martin dated thence
His power, and from a priest became a prince.
He ordered all things with a busy care,
And cells and refectories did prepare,
And large provisions laid of winter fare;
But, now and then, let fall a word or two,
Of hope, that heaven some miracle might show,
And, for their sakes, the sun should backward go;
Against the laws of nature upward climb,
And, mounted on the Ram, renew the prime;
For which two proofs in sacred story lay,
Of Ahaz' dial, and of Joshua's day.
In expectation of such times as these,
A chapel housed them, truly called of ease;
For Martin much devotion did not ask;
They prayed sometimes, and that was all their task.
It happened, as beyond the reach of wit
Blind prophecies may have a lucky hit,
That this accomplished, or at least in part,
Gave great repute to their new Merlin's art.
Some Swifts, the giants of the Swallow kind,
Large limbed, stout hearted, but of stupid mind,
(For Swisses, or for Gibeonites designed,)
These lubbers, peeping through a broken pane,
To suck fresh air, surveyed the neighbouring plain,
And saw, but scarcely could believe their eyes,
New blossoms flourish, and new flowers arise;
As God had been abroad, and, walking there,
Had left his footsteps, and reformed the year.
The sunny hills from far were seen to glow
With glittering beams, and in the meads below
The burnished brooks appeared with liquid gold to flow.
At last they heard the foolish Cuckoo sing,
Whose note proclaimed the holiday of spring.
No longer doubting, all prepare to fly,
And repossess their patrimonial sky.
The priest before them did his wings display;
And that good omens might attend their way,
As luck would have it, 'twas St. Martin's day.
Who but the Swallow now triumphs alone?
The canopy of heaven is all her own;
Her youthful offspring to their haunts repair,
And glide along in glades, and skim in air,
And dip for insects in the purling springs,
And stoop on rivers to refresh their wings.
Their mother thinks a fair provision made,
That every son can live upon his trade,
And, now the careful charge is off their hands,
Look out for husbands, and new nuptial bands.
The youthful widow longs to be supplied;
But first the lover is by lawyers tied,
To settle jointure-chimneys on the bride.
So thick they couple in so short a space,
That Martin's marriage-offerings rise apace.
Their ancient houses, running to decay,
Are furbished up, and cemented with clay:
They teem already; store of eggs are laid,
And brooding mothers call Lucina's aid.
Fame spreads the news, and foreign fowls appear,
In flocks, to greet the new returning year,
To bless the founder, and partake the cheer.
And now 'twas time, so fast their numbers rise,
To plant abroad and people colonies.
The youth drawn forth, as Martin had desired,
(For so their cruel destiny required,)
Were sent far off on an ill-fated day;
The rest would needs conduct them on their way,
And Martin went, because he feared alone to stay.
So long they flew with inconsiderate haste,
That now their afternoon began to waste;
And, what was ominous, that very morn
The sun was entered into Capricorn;
Which, by their bad astronomer's account,
That week the Virgin balance should remount.
An infant moon eclipsed him in his way,
And hid the small remainders of his day.
The crowd, amazed, pursued no certain mark,
But birds met birds, and jostled in the dark.
Few mind the public, in a panic fright,
And fear increased the horror of the night.
Night came, but unattended with repose;
Alone she came, no sleep their eyes to close;
Alone, and black she came; no friendly stars arose.
What should they do, beset with dangers round,
No neighbouring dorp, no lodging to be found,
But bleaky plains, and bare, unhospitable ground?
The latter brood, who just began to fly,
Sick-feathered, and unpractised in the sky,
For succour to their helpless mother call:
She spread her wings; some few beneath them crawl;
She spread them wider yet, but could not cover all.
To augment their woes, the winds began to move,
Debate in air for empty fields above,
Till Boreas got the skies, and poured amain
His rattling hailstones, mixed with snow and rain.
The joyless morning late arose, and found
A dreadful desolation reign around,
Some buried in the snow, some frozen to the ground.
The rest were struggling still with death, and lay
The Crows' and Ravens' rights, an undefended prey:
Excepting Martin's race; for they and he
Had gained the shelter of a hollow tree;
But, soon discovered by a sturdy clown,
He headed all the rabble of a town,
And finished them with bats, or polled them down.
Martin himself was caught alive, and tried
For treasonous crimes, because the laws provide
No Martin there in winter shall abide.
High on an oak, which never leaf shall bear,
He breathed his last, exposed to open air;
And there his corpse unblessed is hanging still,
To show the change of winds with his prophetic bill.”
The patience of the Hind did almost fail,
For well she marked the malice of the tale;
Which ribald art their Church to Luther owes;
In malice it began, by malice grows;
He sowed the serpent's teeth, an iron harvest rose.
But most in Martin's character and fate,
She saw her slandered sons, the Panther's hate,
The people's rage, the persecuting state:
Then said, “I take the advice in friendly part;
You clear your conscience, or at least your heart.
Perhaps you failed in your foreseeing skill,
For Swallows are unlucky birds to kill:
As for my sons, the family is blessed,
Whose every child is equal to the rest;
No Church reformed can boast a blameless line,
Such Martins build in yours, and more than mine;
Or else an old fanatic author lies,
Who summed their scandals up by centuries.
But through your parable I plainly see
The bloody laws, the crowd's barbarity;
The sunshine, that offends the purblind sight,
Had some their wishes, it would soon be night.
Mistake me not; the charge concerns not you;
Your sons are malcontents, but yet are true,
As far as non-resistance makes them so;
But that's a word of neutral sense, you know,
A passive term, which no relief will bring,
But trims betwixt a rebel and a king.”
“Rest well assured,” the Pardalis replied,
My sons would all support the regal side,
Though heaven forbid the cause by battle should be tried.”
The matron answered with a loud Amen,
And thus pursued her argument again:—
If, as you say, and as I hope no less,
Your sons will practise what yourselves profess,
What angry power prevents our present peace?
The Lion, studious of our common good,
Desires (and kings' desires are ill withstood)
To join our nations in a lasting love;
The bars betwixt are easy to remove,
For sanguinary laws were never made above.
If you condemn that prince of tyranny,
Whose mandate forced your Gallic friends to fly,
Make not a worse example of your own,
Or cease to rail at causeless rigour shown,
And let the guiltless person throw the stone.
His blunted sword your suffering brotherhood
Have seldom felt; he stops it short of blood:
But you have ground the persecuting knife,
And set it to a razor-edge on life.
Cursed be the wit, which cruelty refines,
Or to his father's rod the scorpion joins!
Your finger is more gross than the great monarch's loins.
But you, perhaps, remove that bloody note,
And stick it on the first reformers' coat.
Oh let their crime in long oblivion sleep;
'Twas theirs indeed to make, 'tis yours to keep!
Unjust, or just, is all the question now;
'Tis plain, that, not repealing, you allow.
To name the Test would put you in a rage;
You charge not that on any former age,
But smile to think how innocent you stand,
Armed by a weapon put into your hand.
Yet still remember, that you wield a sword,
Forged by your foes against your sovereign lord;
Designed to hew the imperial cedar down,
Defraud succession, and dis-heir the crown.
To abhor the makers, and their laws approve,
Is to hate traitors, and the treason love.
What means it else, which now your children say,
We made it not, nor will we take away?
“Suppose some great oppressor had, by slight
Of law, disseised your brother of his right,
Your common sire surrendering in a fright;
Would you to that unrighteous title stand,
Left by the villain's will to heir the land?
More just was Judas, who his Saviour sold;
The sacrilegious bribe he could not hold,
Nor hang in peace, before he rendered back the gold.
What more could you have done, than now you do,
Had Oates and Bedloe and their plot been true;
Some specious reasons for those wrongs were found;
The dire magicians threw their mists around,
And wise men walked as on enchanted ground.
But now when time has made the imposture plain,
(Late though he followed truth, and limping held her train,)
What new delusion charms your cheated eyes again?
The painted harlot might a while bewitch,
But why the hag uncased, and all obscene with itch?
The first reformers were a modest race;
Our peers possessed in peace their native place,
And when rebellious arms o'erturned the state,
They suffered only in the common fate;
But now the sovereign mounts the regal chair,
And mitred seats are full, yet David's bench is bare.
Your answer is, they were not dispossest;
They need but rub their metal on the Test
To prove their ore;—'twere well if gold alone
Were touched and tried on your discerning stone;
But that unfaithful test unfound will pass
The dross of Atheists, and sectarian brass;
As if the experiment were made to hold
For base production, and reject the gold.
Thus men ungodded may to places rise,
And sects may be preferred without disguise;
No danger to the Church or State from these,
The Papist only has his writ of ease.
No gainful office gives him the pretence
To grind the subject, or defraud the prince.
Wrong conscience, or no conscience, may deserve
To thrive, but ours alone is privileged to starve.
Still thank yourselves, you cry; your noble race
We banish not, but they forsake the place;
Our doors are open:—true, but ere they come,
You toss your censing test, and fume the room;
As if 'twere Toby's rival to expel,
And fright the fiend who could not bear the smell.”
To this the Panther sharply had replied,
But having gained a verdict on her side,
She wisely gave the loser leave to chide;
Well satisfied to have the butt and peace,
And for the plaintiff's cause she cared the less,
Because she sued in forma pauperis;
Yet thought it decent something should be said,
For secret guilt by silence is betrayed;
So neither granted all, nor much denied,
But answered with a yawning kind of pride:
“Methinks such terms of proffered peace you bring,
As once Æneas to the Italian king:
By long possession all the land is mine;
You strangers come with your intruding line,
To share my sceptre, which you call to join.
You plead like him an ancient pedigree,
And claim a peaceful seat by fate's decree.
In ready pomp your sacrificer stands,
To unite the Trojan and the Latin bands;
And, that the league more firmly may be tied,
Demand the fair Lavinia for your bride.
Thus plausibly you veil the intended wrong,
But still you bring your exiled gods along;
And will endeavour, in succeeding space,
Those household puppets on our hearths to place.
Perhaps some barbarous laws have been preferred;
I spake against the Test, but was not heard.
These to rescind, and peerage to restore,
My gracious sovereign would my vote implore;
I owe him much, but owe my conscience more.”
“Conscience is then your plea,” replied the dame,
Which, well-informed, will ever be the same.
But yours is much of the chameleon hue,
To change the dye with every distant view.
When first the Lion sat with awful sway,
Your conscience taught your duty to obey:
He might have had your statutes and your Test;
No conscience but of subjects was professed.
He found your temper, and no farther tried,
But on that broken reed, your Church, relied.
In vain the sects essayed their utmost art,
With offered treasures to espouse their part;
Their treasures were a bribe too mean to move his heart.
But when, by long experience, you had proved,
How far he could forgive, how well he loved;
(A goodness that excelled his godlike race,
And only short of heaven's unbounded grace;
A flood of mercy that o'erflowed our isle,
Calm in the rise, and fruitful as the Nile,)
Forgetting whence your Egypt was supplied,
You thought your sovereign bound to send the tide;
Nor upward looked on that immortal spring,
But vainly deemed, he durst not be a king.
Then Conscience, unrestrained by fear, began
To stretch her limits, and extend the span;
Did his indulgence as her gift dispose,
And made a wise alliance with her foes.
Can Conscience own the associating name,
And raise no blushes to conceal her shame?
For sure she has been thought a bashful dame.
But if the cause by battle should be tried,
You grant she must espouse the regal side;
O Proteus-conscience, never to be tied!
What Phœbus from the Tripod shall disclose,
Which are, in last resort, your friends or foes?
Homer, who learned the language of the sky,
The seeming Gordian knot would soon untie;
Immortal powers the term of Conscience know,
But Interest is her name with men below.”
“Conscience or Interest be't, or both in one,”
(The Panther answered in a surly tone
The first commands me to maintain the crown,
The last forbids to throw my barriers down.
Our penal laws no sons of yours admit,
Our Test excludes your tribe from benefit.
These are my banks your ocean to withstand,
Which, proudly rising, overlooks the land,
And, once let in, with unresisted sway,
Would sweep the pastors and their flocks away.
Think not my judgment leads me to comply
With laws unjust, but hard necessity:
Imperious need, which cannot be withstood,
Makes ill authentic, for a greater good.
Possess your soul with patience, and attend;
A more auspicious planet may ascend;
Good fortune may present some happier time
With means to cancel my unwilling crime;
(Unwilling, witness all ye powers above!)
To mend my errors, and redeem your love:
That little space you safely may allow;
Your all-dispensing power protects you now.”
“Hold,” said the Hind, “'tis needless to explain;
You would postpone me to another reign;
Till when, you are content to be unjust:
Your part is to possess, and mine to trust;
A fair exchange proposed, of future chance
For present profit and inheritance.
Few words will serve to finish our dispute;
Who will not now repeal, would persecute.
To ripen green revenge your hopes attend,
Wishing that happier planet would ascend.
For shame, let Conscience be your plea no more;
To will hereafter, proves she might before;
But she's a bawd to gain, and holds the door.
Your care about your banks infers a fear
Of threatening floods and inundations near;
If so, a just reprise would only be
Of what the land usurped upon the sea;
And all your jealousies but serve to show,
Your ground is, like your neighbour-nation, low.
To intrench in what you grant unrighteous laws,
Is to distrust the justice of your cause;
And argues, that the true religion lies
In those weak adversaries you despise.
Tyrannic force is that which least you fear;
The sound is frightful in a Christian's ear:
Avert it, Heaven! nor let that plague be sent
To us from the dispeopled continent.
But piety commands me to refrain;
Those prayers are needless in this monarch's reign.
Behold how he protects your friends oppressed,
Receives the banished, succours the distressed!
Behold, for you may read an honest open breast.
He stands in daylight, and disdains to hide
An act, to which by honour he is tied,
A generous, laudable, and kingly pride.
Your Test he would repeal, his peers restore;
This when he says he means, he means no more.”
“Well,” said the Panther, “I believe him just,
And yet—”
And yet, 'tis but because you must;
You would be trusted, but you would not trust.”
The Hind thus briefly; and disdained to enlarge
On power of kings, and their superior charge,
As heaven's trustees before the people's choice;
Though sure the Panther did not much rejoice
To hear those echoes given of her once loyal voice.
The matron wooed her kindness to the last,
But could not win; her hour of grace was past.
Whom, thus persisting, when she could not bring
To leave the Wolf, and to believe her king,
She gave her up, and fairly wished her joy
Of her late treaty with her new ally:
Which well she hoped would more successful prove,
Than was the Pigeon's and the Buzzard's love.
The Panther asked, what concord there could be
Betwixt two kinds whose natures disagree?
The dame replied: “'Tis sung in every street,
The common chat of gossips when they meet;
But, since unheard by you, 'tis worth your while
To take a wholesome tale, though told in homely style.
A plain good man, whose name is understood,
(So few deserve the name of plain and good,)
Of three fair lineal lordships stood possessed,
And lived, as reason was, upon the best.
Inured to hardships from his early youth,
Much had he done and suffered for his truth:
At land and sea, in many a doubtful fight,
Was never known a more adventurous knight,
Who oftener drew his sword, and always for the right.
As fortune would, (his fortune came, though late,)
He took possession of his just estate;
Nor racked his tenants with increase of rent,
Nor lived too sparing, nor too largely spent,
But overlooked his hinds; their pay was just,
And ready, for he scorned to go on trust:
Slow to resolve, but in performance quick;
So true, that he was awkward at a trick.
For little souls on little shifts rely,
And coward arts of mean expedients try;
The noble mind will dare do anything but lie.
False friends, his deadliest foes, could find no way,
But shows of honest bluntness, to betray;
That unsuspected plainness he believed;
He looked into himself, and was deceived.
Some lucky planet sure attends his birth,
Or heaven would make a miracle on earth;
For prosperous honesty is seldom seen
To bear so dead a weight, and yet to win.
It looks as fate with nature's law would strive,
To show plain-dealing once an age may thrive;
And, when so tough a frame she could not bend,
Exceeded her commission, to befriend.
This grateful man, as heaven increased his store,
Gave God again, and daily fed his poor.
His house with all convenience was purveyed;
The rest he found, but raised the fabric where he prayed;
And in that sacred place his beauteous wife
Employed her happiest hours of holy life.
“Nor did their alms extend to those alone,
Whom common faith more strictly made their own;
A sort of Doves were housed too near the hall,
Who cross the proverb, and abound with gall.
Though some, 'tis true, are passively inclined,
The greater part degenerate from their kind;
Voracious birds, that hotly bill and breed,
And largely drink, because on salt they feed.
Small gain from them their bounteous owner draws;
Yet, bound by promise, he supports their cause,
As corporations privileged by laws.
That house, which harbour to their kind affords,
Was built long since, God knows, for better birds;
But fluttering there, they nestle near the throne,
And lodge in habitations not their own,
By their high crops and corny gizzards known.
Like Harpies, they could scent a plenteous board,
Then to be sure they never failed their lord:
The rest was form, and bare attendance paid;
They drank, and eat, and grudgingly obeyed.
The more they fed, they ravened still for more;
They drained from Dan, and left Beersheba poor.
All this they had by law, and none repined;
The preference was but due to Levi's kind:
But when some lay-preferment fell by chance,
The gourmands made it their inheritance.
When once possessed, they never quit their claim,
For then 'tis sanctified to heaven's high name;
And hallowed thus, they cannot give consent,
The gift should be profaned by worldly management.
Their flesh was never to the table served,
Though 'tis not thence inferred the birds were starved;
But that their master did not like the food,
As rank, and breeding melancholy blood.
Nor did it with his gracious nature suit,
E'en though they were not doves, to persecute:
Yet he refused, (nor could they take offence,)
Their glutton kind should teach him abstinence.
Nor consecrated grain their wheat he thought,
Which, new from treading, in their bills they brought;
But left his hinds each in his private power,
That those who like the bran might leave the flour.
He for himself, and not for others, chose,
Nor would he be imposed on, nor impose;
But in their faces his devotion paid,
And sacrifice with solemn rites was made,
And sacred incense on his altars laid.
“Besides these jolly birds, whose corpse impure
Repaid their commons with their salt manure,
Another farm he had behind his house,
Not overstocked, but barely for his use;
Wherein his poor domestic poultry fed,
And from his pious hands received their bread.
Our pampered Pigeons, with malignant eyes,
Beheld these inmates, and their nurseries;
Though hard their fare, at evening, and at morn,
(A cruse of water and an ear of corn,)
Yet still they grudged that modicum, and thought
A sheaf in every single grain was brought.
Fain would they filch that little food away,
While unrestrained those happy gluttons prey;
And much they grieved to see so nigh their hall,
The bird that warned St. Peter of his fall;
That he should raise his mitred crest on high,
And clap his wings, and call his family
To sacred rites; and vex the ethereal powers
With midnight matins at uncivil hours;
Nay more, his quiet neighbours should molest,
Just in the sweetness of their morning rest.
Beast of a bird, supinely when he might
Lie snug and sleep, to rise before the light!
What if his dull forefathers used that cry,
Could he not let a bad example die?
The world was fallen into an easier way;
This age knew better than to fast and pray.
Good sense in sacred worship would appear,
So to begin, as they might end the year.
Such feats in former times had wrought the falls
Of crowing chanticleers in cloistered walls.
Expelled for this, and for their lands, they fled;
And sister Partlet, with her hooded head,
Was hooted hence, because she would not pray abed.
The way to win the restiff world to God,
Was to lay by the disciplining rod,
Unnatural fasts, and foreign forms of prayer;
Religion frights us with a mien severe.
'Tis prudence to reform her into ease,
And put her in undress, to make her please;
A lively faith will bear aloft the mind,
And leave the luggage of good works behind.
“Such doctrines in the Pigeon-house were taught;
You need not ask how wondrously they wrought;
But sure the common cry was all for these,
Whose life and precepts both encouraged ease.
Yet fearing those alluring baits might fail,
And holy deeds o'er all their arts prevail,
(For vice, though frontless, and of hardened face,
Is daunted at the sight of awful grace,)
An hideous figure of their foes they drew,
Nor lines, nor looks, nor shades, nor colours true;
And this grotesque design exposed to public view.
One would have thought it an Egyptian piece,
With garden-gods, and barking deities,
More thick than Ptolemy has stuck the skies.
All so perverse a draught, so far unlike,
It was no libel where it meant to strike.
Yet still the daubing pleased, and great and small,
To view the monster, crowded Pigeon-hall.
There Chanticleer was drawn upon his knees,
Adorning shrines, and stocks of sainted trees;
And by him, a misshapen, ugly race,
The curse of God was seen on every face:
No Holland emblem could that malice mend,
But still the worse the look, the fitter for a fiend.
The master of the farm, displeased to find
So much of rancour in so mild a kind,
Enquired into the cause, and came to know,
The passive Church had struck the foremost blow;
With groundless fears, and jealousies possest,
As if this troublesome intruding guest
Would drive the birds of Venus from their nest,
A deed his inborn equity abhorred;
But interest will not trust, though God should plight his word.
A law, the source of many future harms,
Had banished all the poultry from the farms;
With loss of life, if any should be found
To crow or peck on this forbidden ground.
That bloody statute chiefly was designed
For Chanticleer the white, of clergy kind;
But after-malice did not long forget
The lay that wore the robe and coronet.
For them, for their inferiors and allies,
Their foes a deadly Shibboleth devise;
By which unrighteously it was decreed,
That none to trust, or profit, should succeed,
Who would not swallow first a poisonous wicked weed;
Or that, to which old Socrates was cursed,
Or henbane juice to swell them till they burst.
The patron, as in reason, thought it hard
To see this inquisition in his yard,
By which the sovereign was of subjects' use debarred.
All gentle means he tried, which might withdraw
The effects of so unnatural a law;
But still the dove-house obstinately stood
Deaf to their own, and to their neighbours' good;
And which was worse, if any worse could be,
Repented of their boasted loyalty;
Now made the champions of a cruel cause,
And drunk with fumes of popular applause:
For those whom God to ruin has designed,
He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.
“New doubts indeed they daily strove to raise,
Suggested dangers, interposed delays,
And emissary Pigeons had in store,
Such as the Meccan prophet used of yore,
To whisper counsels in their patron's ear,
And veiled their false advice with zealous fear.
The master smiled to see them work in vain,
To wear him out, and make an idle reign:
He saw, but suffered their protractive arts,
And strove by mildness to reduce their hearts;
But they abused that grace to make allies,
And fondly closed with former enemies;
For fools are double fools, endeavouring to be wise.
“After a grave consult what course were best,
One, more mature in folly than the rest,
Stood up, and told them, with his head aside,
That desperate cures must be to desperate ills applied:
And therefore, since their main impending fear
Was from the increasing race of Chanticleer,
Some potent bird of prey they ought to find,
A foe professed to him, and all his kind:
Some haggard Hawk, who had her eyry nigh,
Well pounced to fasten, and well winged to fly;
One they might trust, their common wrongs to wreak.
The Musquet and the Coystrel were too weak,
Too fierce the Falcon; but, above the rest,
The noble Buzzard ever pleased me best:
Of small renown, 'tis true; for, not to lie,
We call him but a Hawk by courtesy.
I know he haunts the Pigeon-house and Farm,
And more, in time of war, has done us harm:
But all his hate on trivial points depends;
Give up our forms, and we shall soon be friends.
For Pigeons' flesh he seems not much to care;
Crammed Chickens are a more delicious fare.
On this high potentate, without delay,
I wish you would confer the sovereign sway;
Petition him to accept the government,
And let a splendid embassy be sent.
This pithy speech prevailed, and all agreed,
Old enmities forgot, the Buzzard should succeed.
Their welcome suit was granted, soon as heard,
His lodgings furnished, and a train prepared,
With B's upon their breast, appointed for his guard.
He came, and, crowned with great solemnity,
‘God save king Buzzard!’ was the general cry.
A portly prince, and goodly to the sight,
He seemed a son of Anak for his height:
Like those whom stature did to crowns prefer,
Black-browed, and bluff, like Homer's Jupiter;
Broad-backed, and brawny-built for love's delight,
A prophet formed to make a female proselyte;
A theologue more by need than genial bent,
By breeding sharp, by nature confident.
Interest in all his actions was discerned;
More learned than honest, more a wit than learned;
Or forced by fear, or by his profit led,
Or both conjoined, his native clime he fled;
But brought the virtues of his heaven along,
A fair behaviour, and a fluent tongue.
And yet with all his arts he could not thrive,
The most unlucky parasite alive;
Loud praises to prepare his paths he sent,
And then himself pursued his compliment;
But by reverse of fortune chased away,
His gifts no longer than their author stay;
He shakes the dust against the ungrateful race,
And leaves the stench of ordures in the place.
Oft has he flattered and blasphemed the same;
For in his rage he spares no sovereign's name:
The hero and the tyrant change their style,
By the same measure that they frown or smile.
When well received by hospitable foes,
The kindness he returns, is to expose;
For courtesies, though undeserved and great,
No gratitude in felon-minds beget;
As tribute to his wit, the churl receives the treat.
His praise of foes is venomously nice;
So touched, it turns a virtue to a vice;
A Greek, and bountiful, forewarns us twice.’
Seven sacraments he wisely does disown,
Because he knows confession stands for one;
Where sins to sacred silence are conveyed,
And not for fear, or love, to be betrayed:
But he, uncalled, his patron to control,
Divulged the secret whispers of his soul;
Stood forth the accusing Satan of his crimes,
And offered to the Moloch of the times.
Prompt to assail, and careless of defence,
Invulnerable in his impudence,
He dares the world; and, eager of a name,
He thrusts about, and jostles into fame.
Frontless, and satire-proof, he scours the streets,
And runs an Indian-muck at all he meets.
So fond of loud report, that, not to miss
Of being known, (his last and utmost bliss,)
He rather would be known for what he is.
“Such was, and is, the Captain of the Test,
Though half his virtues are not here expressed;
The modesty of fame conceals the rest.
The spleenful Pigeons never could create
A prince more proper to revenge their hate;
Indeed, more proper to revenge, than save;
A king, whom in his wrath the Almighty gave:
For all the grace the landlord had allowed,
But made the Buzzard and the Pigeons proud;
Gave time to fix their friends, and to seduce the crowd.
They long their fellow-subjects to enthral,
Their patron's promise into question call,
And vainly think he meant to make them lords of all.
“False fears their leaders failed not to suggest,
As if the Doves were to be dispossest;
Nor sighs, nor groans, nor goggling eyes did want,
For now the Pigeons too had learned to cant.
The house of prayer is stocked with large increase;
Nor doors, nor windows, can contain the press,
For birds of every feather fill the abode;
E'en atheists out of envy own a God,
And, reeking from the stews, adulterers come,
Like Goths and Vandals to demolish Rome.
That conscience, which to all their crimes was mute,
Now calls aloud, and cries to persecute:
No rigour of the laws to be released,
And much the less, because it was their Lord's request;
They thought it great their sovereign to control,
And named their pride, nobility of soul.
“'Tis true, the Pigeons, and their prince elect,
Were short of power, their purpose to effect;
But with their quills did all the hurt they could,
And cuffed the tender Chickens from their food:
And much the Buzzard in their cause did stir,
Though naming not the patron, to infer,
With all respect, he was a gross idolater.
But when the imperial owner did espy,
That thus they turned his grace to villainy,
Not suffering wrath to discompose his mind,
He strove a temper for the extremes to find,
So to be just, as he might still be kind;
Then, all maturely weighed, pronounced a doom
Of sacred strength for every age to come.
By this the Doves their wealth and state possess,
No rights infringed, but licence to oppress:
Such power have they as factious lawyers long
To crowns ascribed, that kings can do no wrong.
But since his own domestic birds have tried
The dire effects of their destructive pride,
He deems that proof a measure to the rest,
Concluding well within his kingly breast,
His fowls of nature too unjustly were opprest.
He therefore makes all birds of every sect
Free of his farm, with promise to respect
Their several kinds alike, and equally protect.
His gracious edict the same franchise yields
To all the wild increase of woods and fields,
And who in rocks aloof, and who in steeples builds:
To Crows the like impartial grace affords,
And Choughs and Daws, and such republic birds;
Secured with ample privilege to feed,
Each has his district, and his bounds decreed;
Combined in common interest with his own,
But not to pass the Pigeons' Rubicon.
“Here ends the reign of this pretended Dove;
All prophecies accomplished from above,
For Shiloh comes the sceptre to remove.
Reduced from her imperial high abode,
Like Dionysius to a private rod,
The passive Church, that with pretended grace
Did her distinctive mark in duty place,
Now touched, reviles her Maker to his face.
What after happened is not hard to guess;
The small beginnings had a large increase,
And arts and wealth succeed the secret spoils of peace.
'Tis said, the Doves repented, though too late,
Become the smiths of their own foolish fate:
Nor did their owner hasten their ill hour,
But, sunk in credit, they decreased in power;
Like snows in warmth that mildly pass away,
Dissolving in the silence of decay.
The Buzzard, not content with equal place,
Invites the feathered Nimrods of his race,
To hide the thinness of their flock from sight,
And all together make a seeming goodly flight:
But each have separate interests of their own;
Two Czars are one too many for a throne.
Nor can the usurper long abstain from food;
Already he has tasted Pigeon's blood,
And may be tempted to his former fare,
When this indulgent lord shall late to heaven repair.
Bare benting times, and moulting months may come,
When, lagging late, they cannot reach their home;
Or rent in schism, (for so their fate decrees,)
Like the tumultuous college of the bees,
They fight their quarrel, by themselves opprest,
The tyrant smiles below, and waits the falling feast.”
Thus did the gentle Hind her fable end,
Nor would the Panther blame it, nor commend;
But, with affected yawnings at the close,
Seemed to require her natural repose;
For now the streaky light began to peep,
And setting stars admonished both to sleep.
The Dame withdrew, and, wishing to her guest
The peace of heaven, betook herself to rest:
Ten thousand angels on her slumbers wait,
With glorious visions of her future state.

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The Aeneid of Virgil: Book 10

THE GATES of heav’n unfold: Jove summons all
The gods to council in the common hall.
Sublimely seated, he surveys from far
The fields, the camp, the fortune of the war,
And all th’ inferior world. From first to last, 5
The sov’reign senate in degrees are plac’d.
Then thus th’ almighty sire began: “Ye gods,
Natives or denizens of blest abodes,
From whence these murmurs, and this change of mind,
This backward fate from what was first design’d? 10
Why this protracted war, when my commands
Pronounc’d a peace, and gave the Latian lands?
What fear or hope on either part divides
Our heav’ns, and arms our powers on diff’rent sides?
A lawful time of war at length will come, 15
(Nor need your haste anticipate the doom),
When Carthage shall contend the world with Rome,
Shall force the rigid rocks and Alpine chains,
And, like a flood, come pouring on the plains.
Then is your time for faction and debate, 20
For partial favor, and permitted hate.
Let now your immature dissension cease;
Sit quiet, and compose your souls to peace.”
Thus Jupiter in few unfolds the charge;
But lovely Venus thus replies at large: 25
“O pow’r immense, eternal energy,
(For to what else protection can we fly?)
Seest thou the proud Rutulians, how they dare
In fields, unpunish’d, and insult my care?
How lofty Turnus vaunts amidst his train, 30
In shining arms, triumphant on the plain?
Ev’n in their lines and trenches they contend,
And scarce their walls the Trojan troops defend:
The town is fill’d with slaughter, and o’erfloats,
With a red deluge, their increasing moats. 35
Æneas, ignorant, and far from thence,
Has left a camp expos’d, without defense.
This endless outrage shall they still sustain?
Shall Troy renew’d be forc’d and fir’d again?
A second siege my banish’d issue fears, 40
And a new Diomede in arms appears.
One more audacious mortal will be found;
And I, thy daughter, wait another wound.
Yet, if with fates averse, without thy leave,
The Latian lands my progeny receive, 45
Bear they the pains of violated law,
And thy protection from their aid withdraw.
But, if the gods their sure success foretell;
If those of heav’n consent with those of hell,
To promise Italy; who dare debate 50
The pow’r of Jove, or fix another fate?
What should I tell of tempests on the main,
Of Æolus usurping Neptune’s reign?
Of Iris sent, with Bacchanalian heat
T’ inspire the matrons, and destroy the fleet? 55
Now Juno to the Stygian sky descends,
Solicits hell for aid, and arms the fiends.
That new example wanted yet above:
An act that well became the wife of Jove!
Alecto, rais’d by her, with rage inflames 60
The peaceful bosoms of the Latian dames.
Imperial sway no more exalts my mind;
(Such hopes I had indeed, while Heav’n was kind
Now let my happier foes possess my place,
Whom Jove prefers before the Trojan race; 65
And conquer they, whom you with conquest grace.
Since you can spare, from all your wide command,
No spot of earth, no hospitable land,
Which may my wand’ring fugitives receive;
(Since haughty Juno will not give you leave 70
Then, father, (if I still may use that name,)
By ruin’d Troy, yet smoking from the flame,
I beg you, let Ascanius, by my care,
Be freed from danger, and dismiss’d the war:
Inglorious let him live, without a crown. 75
The father may be cast on coasts unknown,
Struggling with fate; but let me save the son.
Mine is Cythera, mine the Cyprian tow’rs:
In those recesses, and those sacred bow’rs,
Obscurely let him rest; his right resign 80
To promis’d empire, and his Julian line.
Then Carthage may th’ Ausonian towns destroy,
Nor fear the race of a rejected boy.
What profits it my son to scape the fire,
Arm’d with his gods, and loaded with his sire; 85
To pass the perils of the seas and wind;
Evade the Greeks, and leave the war behind;
To reach th’ Italian shores; if, after all,
Our second Pergamus is doom’d to fall?
Much better had he curb’d his high desires, 90
And hover’d o’er his ill-extinguish’d fires.
To Simois’ banks the fugitives restore,
And give them back to war, and all the woes before.”
Deep indignation swell’d Saturnia’s heart:
And must I own,” she said, “my secret smart— 95
What with more decence were in silence kept,
And, but for this unjust reproach, had slept?
Did god or man your fav’rite son advise,
With war unhop’d the Latians to surprise?
By fate, you boast, and by the gods’ decree, 100
He left his native land for Italy!
Confess the truth; by mad Cassandra, more
Than Heav’n inspir’d, he sought a foreign shore!
Did I persuade to trust his second Troy
To the raw conduct of a beardless boy, 105
With walls unfinish’d, which himself forsakes,
And thro’ the waves a wand’ring voyage takes?
When have I urg’d him meanly to demand
The Tuscan aid, and arm a quiet land?
Did I or Iris give this mad advice, 110
Or made the fool himself the fatal choice?
You think it hard, the Latians should destroy
With swords your Trojans, and with fires your Troy!
Hard and unjust indeed, for men to draw
Their native air, nor take a foreign law! 115
That Turnus is permitted still to live,
To whom his birth a god and goddess give!
But yett is just and lawful for your line
To drive their fields, and force with fraud to join;
Realms, not your own, among your clans divide, 120
And from the bridegroom tear the promis’d bride;
Petition, while you public arms prepare;
Pretend a peace, and yet provoke a war!
T was giv’n to you, your darling son to shroud,
To draw the dastard from the fighting crowd, 125
And, for a man, obtend an empty cloud.
From flaming fleets you turn’d the fire away,
And chang’d the ships to daughters of the sea.
Butt is my crime—the Queen of Heav’n offends,
If she presume to save her suff’ring friends! 130
Your son, not knowing what his foes decree,
You say, is absent: absent let him be.
Yours is Cythera, yours the Cyprian tow’rs,
The soft recesses, and the sacred bow’rs.
Why do you then these needless arms prepare, 135
And thus provoke a people prone to war?
Did I with fire the Trojan town deface,
Or hinder from return your exil’d race?
Was I the cause of mischief, or the man
Whose lawless lust the fatal war began? 140
Think on whose faith th’ adult’rous youth relied;
Who promis’d, who procur’d, the Spartan bride?
When all th’ united states of Greece combin’d,
To purge the world of the perfidious kind,
Then was your time to fear the Trojan fate: 145
Your quarrels and complaints are now too late.”
Thus Juno. Murmurs rise, with mix’d applause,
Just as they favor or dislike the cause.
So winds, when yet unfledg’d in woods they lie,
In whispers first their tender voices try, 150
Then issue on the main with bellowing rage,
And storms to trembling mariners presage.
Then thus to both replied th’ imperial god,
Who shakes heav’n’s axles with his awful nod.
(When he begins, the silent senate stand 155
With rev’rence, list’ning to the dread command:
The clouds dispel; the winds their breath restrain;
And the hush’d waves lie flatted on the main.)
“Celestials, your attentive ears incline!
Since,” said the god, “the Trojans must not join 160
In wish’d alliance with the Latian line;
Since endless jarrings and immortal hate
Tend but to discompose our happy state;
The war henceforward be resign’d to fate:
Each to his proper fortune stand or fall; 165
Equal and unconcern’d I look on all.
Rutulians, Trojans, are the same to me;
And both shall draw the lots their fates decree.
Let these assault, if Fortune be their friend;
And, if she favors those, let those defend: 170
The Fates will find their way.” The Thund’rer said,
And shook the sacred honors of his head,
Attesting Styx, th’ inviolable flood,
And the black regions of his brother god.
Trembled the poles of heav’n, and earth confess’d the nod. 175
This end the sessions had: the senate rise,
And to his palace wait their sov’reign thro’ the skies.
Meantime, intent upon their siege, the foes
Within their walls the Trojan host inclose:
They wound, they kill, they watch at ev’ry gate; 180
Renew the fires, and urge their happy fate.
Th’ Æneans wish in vain their wanted chief,
Hopeless of flight, more hopeless of relief.
Thin on the tow’rs they stand; and ev’n those few
A feeble, fainting, and dejected crew. 185
Yet in the face of danger some there stood:
The two bold brothers of Sarpedon’s blood,
Asius and Acmon; both th’ Assaraci;
Young Haemon, and tho’ young, resolv’d to die.
With these were Clarus and Thymoetes join’d; 190
Tibris and Castor, both of Lycian kind.
From Acmon’s hands a rolling stone there came,
So large, it half deserv’d a mountains name:
Strong-sinew’d was the youth, and big of bone;
His brother Mnestheus could not more have done, 195
Or the great father of th’ intrepid son.
Some firebrands throw, some flights of arrows send;
And some with darts, and some with stones defend.
Amid the press appears the beauteous boy,
The care of Venus, and the hope of Troy. 200
His lovely face unarm’d, his head was bare;
In ringlets o’er his shoulders hung his hair.
His forehead circled with a diadem;
Distinguish’d from the crowd, he shines a gem,
Enchas’d in gold, or polish’d iv’ry set, 205
Amidst the meaner foil of sable jet.
Nor Ismarus was wanting to the war,
Directing pointed arrows from afar,
And death with poison arm’din Lydia born,
Where plenteous harvests the fat fields adorn; 210
Where proud Pactolus floats the fruitful lands,
And leaves a rich manure of golden sands.
There Capys, author of the Capuan name,
And there was Mnestheus too, increas’d in fame,
Since Turnus from the camp he cast with shame. 215
Thus mortal war was wag’d on either side.
Meantime the hero cuts the nightly tide:
For, anxious, from Evander when he went,
He sought the Tyrrhene camp, and Tarchon’s tent;
Expos’d the cause of coming to the chief; 220
His name and country told, and askd relief;
Propos’d the terms; his own small strength declar’d;
What vengeance proud Mezentius had prepar’d:
What Turnus, bold and violent, design’d;
Then shew’d the slipp’ry state of humankind, 225
And fickle fortune; warn’d him to beware,
And to his wholesome counsel added pray’r.
Tarchon, without delay, the treaty signs,
And to the Trojan troops the Tuscan joins.
They soon set sail; nor now the fates withstand; 230
Their forces trusted with a foreign hand.
Æneas leads; upon his stern appear
Two lions carv’d, which rising Ida bear—
Ida, to wand’ring Trojans ever dear.
Under their grateful shade Æneas sate, 235
Revolving war’s events, and various fate.
His left young Pallas kept, fix’d to his side,
And oft of winds enquir’d, and of the tide;
Oft of the stars, and of their wat’ry way;
And what he suffer’d both by land and sea. 240
Now, sacred sisters, open all your spring!
The Tuscan leaders, and their army sing,
Which follow’d great Æneas to the war:
Their arms, their numbers, and their names declare.
A thousand youths brave Massicus obey, 245
Borne in the Tiger thro’ the foaming sea;
From Asium brought, and Cosa, by his care:
For arms, light quivers, bows and shafts, they bear.
Fierce Abas next: his men bright armor wore;
His stern Apollo’s golden statue bore. 250
Six hundred Populonia sent along,
All skill’d in martial exercise, and strong.
Three hundred more for battle Ilva joins,
An isle renown’d for steel, and unexhausted mines.
Asylas on his prow the third appears, 255
Who heav’n interprets, and the wand’ring stars;
From offer’d entrails prodigies expounds,
And peals of thunder, with presaging sounds.
A thousand spears in warlike order stand,
Sent by the Pisans under his command. 260
Fair Astur follows in the wat’ry field,
Proud of his manag’d horse and painted shield.
Gravisca, noisome from the neighb’ring fen,
And his own Cære, sent three hundred men;
With those which Minio’s fields and Pyrgi gave, 265
All bred in arms, unanimous, and brave.
Thou, Muse, the name of Cinyras renew,
And brave Cupavo follow’d but by few;
Whose helm confess’d the lineage of the man,
And bore, with wings display’d, a silver swan. 270
Love was the fault of his fam’d ancestry,
Whose forms and fortunes in his ensigns fly.
For Cycnus lov’d unhappy Phæton,
And sung his loss in poplar groves, alone,
Beneath the sister shades, to soothe his grief. 275
Heav’n heard his song, and hasten’d his relief,
And chang’d to snowy plumes his hoary hair,
And wing’d his flight, to chant aloft in air.
His son Cupavo brush’d the briny flood:
Upon his stern a brawny Centaur stood, 280
Who heav’d a rock, and, threat’ning still to throw,
With lifted hands alarm’d the seas below:
They seem’d to fear the formidable sight,
And roll’d their billows on, to speed his flight.
Ocnus was next, who led his native train 285
Of hardy warriors thro’ the wat’ry plain:
The son of Manto by the Tuscan stream,
From whence the Mantuan town derives the name
An ancient city, but of mix’d descent:
Three sev’ral tribes compose the government; 290
Four towns are under each; but all obey
The Mantuan laws, and own the Tuscan sway.
Hate to Mezentius arm’d five hundred more,
Whom Mincius from his sire Benacus bore:
Mincius, with wreaths of reeds his forehead cover’d o’er. 295
These grave Auletes leads: a hundred sweep
With stretching oars at once the glassy deep.
Him and his martial train the Triton bears;
High on his poop the sea-green god appears:
Frowning he seems his crooked shell to sound, 300
And at the blast the billows dance around.
A hairy man above the waist he shows;
A porpoise tail beneath his belly grows;
And ends a fish: his breast the waves divides,
And froth and foam augment the murm’ring tides. 305
Full thirty ships transport the chosen train
For Troy’s relief, and scour the briny main.
Now was the world forsaken by the sun,
And Phœbe half her nightly race had run.
The careful chief, who never clos’d his eyes, 310
Himself the rudder holds, the sails supplies.
A choir of Nereids meet him on the flood,
Once his own galleys, hewn from Ida’s wood;
But now, as many nymphs, the sea they sweep,
As rode, before, tall vessels on the deep. 315
They know him from afar; and in a ring
Inclose the ship that bore the Trojan king.
Cymodoce, whose voice excell’d the rest,
Above the waves advanc’d her snowy breast;
Her right hand stops the stern; her left divides 320
The curling ocean, and corrects the tides.
She spoke for all the choir, and thus began
With pleasing words to warn th’ unknowing man:
“Sleeps our lov’d lord? O goddess-born, awake!
Spread ev’ry sail, pursue your wat’ry track, 325
And haste your course. Your navy once were we,
From Ida’s height descending to the sea;
Till Turnus, as at anchor fix’d we stood,
Presum’d to violate our holy wood.
Then, loos’d from shore, we fled his fires profane 330
(Unwillingly we broke our master’s chain),
And since have sought you thro’ the Tuscan main.
The mighty Mother chang’d our forms to these,
And gave us life immortal in the seas.
But young Ascanius, in his camp distress’d, 335
By your insulting foes is hardly press’d.
Th’ Arcadian horsemen, and Etrurian host,
Advance in order on the Latian coast:
To cut their way the Daunian chief designs,
Before their troops can reach the Trojan lines. 340
Thou, when the rosy morn restores the light,
First arm thy soldiers for th’ ensuing fight:
Thyself the fated sword of Vulcan wield,
And bear aloft th’ impenetrable shield.
To-morrow’s sun, unless my skill be vain, 345
Shall see huge heaps of foes in battle slain.”
Parting, she spoke; and with immortal force
Push’d on the vessel in her wat’ry course;
For well she knew the way. Impell’d behind,
The ship flew forward, and outstripp’d the wind. 350
The rest make up. Unknowing of the cause,
The chief admires their speed, and happy omens draws.
Then thus he pray’d, and fix’d on heav’n his eyes:
“Hear thou, great Mother of the deities.
With turrets crown’d! (on Ida’s holy hill 355
Fierce tigers, rein’d and curb’d, obey thy will.)
Firm thy own omens; lead us on to fight;
And let thy Phrygians conquer in thy right.”
He said no more. And now renewing day
Had chas’d the shadows of the night away. 360
He charg’d the soldiers, with preventing care,
Their flags to follow, and their arms prepare;
Warn’d of th’ ensuing fight, and bade ’em hope the war.
Now, from his lofty poop, he view’d below
His camp incompass’d, and th’ inclosing foe. 365
His blazing shield, imbrac’d, he held on high;
The camp receive the sign, and with loud shouts reply.
Hope arms their courage: from their tow’rs they throw
Their darts with double force, and drive the foe.
Thus, at the signal giv’n, the cranes arise 370
Before the stormy south, and blacken all the skies.
King Turnus wonder’d at the fight renew’d,
Till, looking back, the Trojan fleet he view’d,
The seas with swelling canvas cover’d o’er,
And the swift ships descending on the shore. 375
The Latians saw from far, with dazzled eyes,
The radiant crest that seem’d in flames to rise,
And dart diffusive fires around the field,
And the keen glitt’ring of the golden shield.
Thus threat’ning comets, when by night they rise, 380
Shoot sanguine streams, and sadden all the skies:
So Sirius, flashing forth sinister lights,
Pale humankind with plagues and with dry famine frights.
Yet Turnus with undaunted mind is bent
To man the shores, and hinder their descent, 385
And thus awakes the courage of his friends:
What you so long have wish’d, kind Fortune sends;
In ardent arms to meet th’ invading foe:
You find, and find him at advantage now.
Yours is the day: you need but only dare; 390
Your swords will make you masters of the war.
Your sires, your sons, your houses, and your lands,
And dearest wifes, are all within your hands.
Be mindful of the race from whence you came,
And emulate in arms your fathers’ fame. 395
Now take the time, while stagg’ring yet they stand
With feet unfirm, and prepossess the strand:
Fortune befriends the bold.” Nor more he said,
But balanc’d whom to leave, and whom to lead;
Then these elects, the landing to prevent; 400
And those he leaves, to keep the city pent.
Meantime the Trojan sends his troops ashore:
Some are by boats expos’d, by bridges more.
With lab’ring oars they bear along the strand,
Where the tide languishes, and leap aland. 405
Tarchon observes the coast with careful eyes,
And, where no ford he finds, no water fries,
Nor billows with unequal murmurs roar,
But smoothly slide along, and swell the shore,
That course he steer’d, and thus he gave command: 410
‘Here ply your oars, and at all hazard land:
Force on the vessel, that her keel may wound
This hated soil, and furrow hostile ground.
Let me securely land—I ask no more;
Then sink my ships, or shatter on the shore.” 415
This fiery speech inflames his fearful friends:
They tug at ev’ry oar, and ev’ry stretcher bends;
They run their ships aground; the vessels knock,
(Thus forc’d ashore,) and tremble with the shock.
Tarchon’s alone was lost, that stranded stood, 420
Stuck on a bank, and beaten by the flood:
She breaks her back; the loosen’d sides give way,
And plunge the Tuscan soldiers in the sea.
Their broken oars and floating planks withstand
Their passage, while they labor to the land, 425
And ebbing tides bear back upon th’ uncertain sand.
Now Turnus leads his troops without delay,
Advancing to the margin of the sea.
The trumpets sound: Æneas first assail’d
The clowns new-rais’d and raw, and soon prevail’d. 430
Great Theron fell, an omen of the fight;
Great Theron, large of limbs, of giant height.
He first in open field defied the prince:
But armor scal’d with gold was no defense
Against the fated sword, which open’d wide 435
His plated shield, and pierc’d his naked side.
Next, Lichas fell, who, not like others born,
Was from his wretched mother ripp’d and torn;
Sacred, O Phœbus, from his birth to thee;
For his beginning life from biting steel was free. 440
Not far from him was Gyas laid along,
Of monstrous bulk; with Cisseus fierce and strong:
Vain bulk and strength! for, when the chief assail’d,
Nor valor nor Herculean arms avail’d,
Nor their fam’d father, wont in war to go 445
With great Alcides, while he toil’d below.
The noisy Pharos next receiv’d his death:
Æneas writh’d his dart, and stopp’d his bawling breath.
Then wretched Cydon had receiv’d his doom,
Who courted Clytius in his beardless bloom, 450
And sought with lust obscene polluted joys:
The Trojan sword had cur’d his love of boys,
Had not his sev’n bold brethren stopp’d the course
Of the fierce champions, with united force.
Sev’n darts were thrown at once; and some rebound 455
From his bright shield, some on his helmet sound:
The rest had reach’d him; but his mother’s care
Prevented those, and turn’d aside in air.
The prince then calld Achates, to supply
The spears that knew the way to victory— 460
Those fatal weapons, which, inur’d to blood,
In Grecian bodies under Ilium stood:
Not one of those my hand shall toss in vain
Against our foes, on this contended plain.”
He said; then seiz’d a mighty spear, and threw; 465
Which, wing’d with fate, thro’ Mæon’s buckler flew,
Pierc’d all the brazen plates, and reach’d his heart:
He stagger’d with intolerable smart.
Alcanor saw; and reach’d, but reach’d in vain,
His helping hand, his brother to sustain. 470
A second spear, which kept the former course,
From the same hand, and sent with equal force,
His right arm pierc’d, and holding on, bereft
His use of both, and pinion’d down his left.
Then Numitor from his dead brother drew 475
Th’ ill-omen’d spear, and at the Trojan threw:
Preventing fate directs the lance awry,
Which, glancing, only mark’d Achates’ thigh.
In pride of youth the Sabine Clausus came,
And, from afar, at Dryops took his aim. 480
The spear flew hissing thro’ the middle space,
And pierc’d his throat, directed at his face;
It stopp’d at once the passage of his wind,
And the free soul to flitting air resign’d:
His forehead was the first that struck the ground; 485
Lifeblood and life rush’d mingled thro’ the wound.
He slew three brothers of the Borean race,
And three, whom Ismarus, their native place,
Had sent to war, but all the sons of Thrace.
Halesus, next, the bold Aurunci leads: 490
The son of Neptune to his aid succeeds,
Conspicuous on his horse. On either hand,
These fight to keep, and those to win, the land.
With mutual blood th’ Ausonian soil is dyed,
While on its borders each their claim decide. 495
As wintry winds, contending in the sky,
With equal force of lungs their titles try:
They rage, they roar; the doubtful rack of heav’n
Stands without motion, and the tide undriv’n:
Each bent to conquer, neither side to yield, 500
They long suspend the fortune of the field.
Both armies thus perform what courage can;
Foot set to foot, and mingled man to man.
But, in another part, th’ Arcadian horse
With ill success ingage the Latin force: 505
For, where th’ impetuous torrent, rushing down,
Huge craggy stones and rooted trees had thrown,
They left their coursers, and, unus’d to fight
On foot, were scatter’d in a shameful flight.
Pallas, who with disdain and grief had view’d 510
His foes pursuing, and his friends pursued,
Usd threat’nings mix’d with pray’rs, his last resource,
With these to move their minds, with those to fire their force.
Which way, companions? whether would you run?
By you yourselves, and mighty battles won, 515
By my great sire, by his establish’d name,
And early promise of my future fame;
By my youth, emulous of equal right
To share his honors—shun ignoble flight!
Trust not your feet: your hands must hew your way 520
Thro’ yon black body, and that thick array:
T is thro’ that forward path that we must come;
There lies our way, and that our passage home.
Nor pow’rs above, nor destinies below
Oppress our arms: with equal strength we go, 525
With mortal hands to meet a mortal foe.
See on what foot we stand: a scanty shore,
The sea behind, our enemies before;
No passage left, unless we swim the main;
Or, forcing these, the Trojan trenches gain.” 530
This said, he strode with eager haste along,
And bore amidst the thickest of the throng.
Lagus, the first he met, with fate to foe,
Had heav’d a stone of mighty weight, to throw:
Stooping, the spear descended on his chine, 535
Just where the bone distinguished either loin:
It stuck so fast, so deeply buried lay,
That scarce the victor forc’d the steel away.
Hisbon came on: but, while he mov’d too slow
To wish’d revenge, the prince prevents his blow; 540
For, warding his at once, at once he press’d,
And plung’d the fatal weapon in his breast.
Then lewd Anchemolus he laid in dust,
Who stain’d his stepdam’s bed with impious lust.
And, after him, the Daucian twins were slain, 545
Laris and Thymbrus, on the Latian plain;
So wondrous like in feature, shape, and size,
As caus’d an error in their parents’ eyes—
Grateful mistake! but soon the sword decides
The nice distinction, and their fate divides: 550
For Thymbrus’ head was lopp’d; and Laris’ hand,
Dismember’d, sought its owner on the strand:
The trembling fingers yet the fauchion strain,
And threaten still th’ intended stroke in vain.
Now, to renew the charge, th’ Arcadians came: 555
Sight of such acts, and sense of honest shame,
And grief, with anger mix’d, their minds inflame.
Then, with a casual blow was Rhoeteus slain,
Who chanc’d, as Pallas threw, to cross the plain:
The flying spear was after Ilus sent; 560
But Rhoeteus happen’d on a death unmeant:
From Teuthras and from Tyres while he fled,
The lance, athwart his body, laid him dead:
Roll’d from his chariot with a mortal wound,
And intercepted fate, he spurn’d the ground. 565
As when, in summer, welcome winds arise,
The watchful shepherd to the forest flies,
And fires the midmost plants; contagion spreads,
And catching flames infect the neighb’ring heads;
Around the forest flies the furious blast, 570
And all the leafy nation sinks at last,
And Vulcan rides in triumph o’er the waste;
The pastor, pleas’d with his dire victory,
Beholds the satiate flames in sheets ascend the sky:
So Pallas’ troops their scatter’d strength unite, 575
And, pouring on their foes, their prince delight.
Halesus came, fierce with desire of blood;
But first collected in his arms he stood:
Advancing then, he plied the spear so well,
Ladon, Demodocus, and Pheres fell. 580
Around his head he toss’d his glitt’ring brand,
And from Strymonius hew’d his better hand,
Held up to guard his throat; then hurl’d a stoneAt Thoas’ ample front, and pierc’d the bone:
It struck beneath the space of either eye;
And blood, and mingled brains, together fly. 585
Deep skill’d in future fates, Halesus’ sire
Did with the youth to lonely groves retire:
But, when the father’s mortal race was run,
Dire destiny laid hold upon the son,
And haul’d him to the war, to find, beneath 590
Th’ Evandrian spear, a memorable death.
Pallas th’ encounter seeks, but, ere he throws,
To Tuscan Tiber thus address’d his vows:
“O sacred stream, direct my flying dart,
And give to pass the proud Halesus’ heart! 595
His arms and spoils thy holy oak shall bear.”
Pleas’d with the bribe, the god receiv’d his pray’r:
For, while his shield protects a friend distress’d,
The dart came driving on, and pierc’d his breast.
But Lausus, no small portion of the war, 600
Permits not panic fear to reign too far,
Caus’d by the death of so renown’d a knight;
But by his own example cheers the fight.
Fierce Abas first he slew; Abas, the stay
Of Trojan hopes, and hind’rance of the day. 605
The Phrygian troops escap’d the Greeks in vain:
They, and their mix’d allies, now load the plain.
To the rude shock of war both armies came;
Their leaders equal, and their strength the same.
The rear so press’d the front, they could not wield 610
Their angry weapons, to dispute the field.
Here Pallas urges on, and Lausus there:
Of equal youth and beauty both appear,
But both by fate forbid to breathe their native air.
Their congress in the field great Jove withstands: 615
Both doom’d to fall, but fall by greater hands.
Meantime Juturna warns the Daunian chief
Of Lausus’ danger, urging swift relief.
With his driv’n chariot he divides the crowd,
And, making to his friends, thus calls aloud: 620
“Let none presume his needless aid to join;
Retire, and clear the field; the fight is mine:
To this right hand is Pallas only due;
O were his father here, my just revenge to view!”
From the forbidden space his men retir’d. 625
Pallas their awe, and his stern words, admir’d;
Survey’d him o’er and o’er with wond’ring sight,
Struck with his haughty mien, and tow’ring height.
Then to the king: “Your empty vaunts forbear;
Success I hope, and fate I cannot fear; 630
Alive or dead, I shall deserve a name;
Jove is impartial, and to both the same.”
He said, and to the void advanc’d his pace:
Pale horror sate on each Arcadian face.
Then Turnus, from his chariot leaping light, 635
Address’d himself on foot to single fight.
And, as a lion—when he spies from far
A bull that seems to meditate the war,
Bending his neck, and spurning back the sand—
Runs roaring downward from his hilly stand: 640
Imagine eager Turnus not more slow,
To rush from high on his unequal foe.
Young Pallas, when he saw the chief advance
Within due distance of his flying lance,
Prepares to charge him first, resolv’d to try 645
If fortune would his want of force supply;
And thus to Heav’n and Hercules address’d:
“Alcides, once on earth Evander’s guest,
His son adjures you by those holy rites,
That hospitable board, those genial nights; 650
Assist my great attempt to gain this prize,
And let proud Turnus view, with dying eyes,
His ravish’d spoils.” ’T was heard, the vain request;
Alcides mourn’d, and stifled sighs within his breast.
Then Jove, to soothe his sorrow, thus began: 655
“Short bounds of life are set to mortal man.
T is virtue’s work alone to stretch the narrow span.
So many sons of gods, in bloody fight,
Around the walls of Troy, have lost the light:
My own Sarpedon fell beneath his foe; 660
Nor I, his mighty sire, could ward the blow.
Ev’n Turnus shortly shall resign his breath,
And stands already on the verge of death.”
This said, the god permits the fatal fight,
But from the Latian fields averts his sight. 665
Now with full force his spear young Pallas threw,
And, having thrown, his shining fauchion drew
The steel just graz’d along the shoulder joint,
And mark’d it slightly with the glancing point,
Fierce Turnus first to nearer distance drew, 670
And pois’d his pointed spear, before he threw:
Then, as the winged weapon whizz’d along,
See now,” said he, “whose arm is better strung.”
The spear kept on the fatal course, unstay’d
By plates of ir’n, which o’er the shield were laid: 675
Thro’ folded brass and tough bull hides it pass’d,
His corslet pierc’d, and reach’d his heart at last.
In vain the youth tugs at the broken wood;
The soul comes issuing with the vital blood:
He falls; his arms upon his body sound; 680
And with his bloody teeth he bites the ground.
Turnus bestrode the corpse: “Arcadians, hear,”
Said he; “my message to your master bear:
Such as the sire deserv’d, the son I send;
It costs him dear to be the Phrygians’ friend. 685
The lifeless body, tell him, I bestow,
Unask’d, to rest his wand’ring ghost below.”
He said, and trampled down with all the force
Of his left foot, and spurn’d the wretched corse;
Then snatch’d the shining belt, with gold inlaid; 690
The belt Eurytion’s artful hands had made,
Where fifty fatal brides, express’d to sight,
All in the compass of one mournful night,
Depriv’d their bridegrooms of returning light.
In an ill hour insulting Turnus tore 695
Those golden spoils, and in a worse he wore.
O mortals, blind in fate, who never know
To bear high fortune, or endure the low!
The time shall come, when Turnus, but in vain,
Shall wish untouch’d the trophies of the slain; 700
Shall wish the fatal belt were far away,
And curse the dire remembrance of the day.
The sad Arcadians, from th’ unhappy field,
Bear back the breathless body on a shield.
O grace and grief of war! at once restor’d, 705
With praises, to thy sire, at once deplor’d!
One day first sent thee to the fighting field,
Beheld whole heaps of foes in battle killd;
One day beheld thee dead, and borne upon thy shield.
This dismal news, not from uncertain fame, 710
But sad spectators, to the hero came:
His friends upon the brink of ruin stand,
Unless reliev’d by his victorious hand.
He whirls his sword around, without delay,
And hews thro’ adverse foes an ample way, 715
To find fierce Turnus, of his conquest proud:
Evander, Pallas, all that friendship ow’d
To large deserts, are present to his eyes;
His plighted hand, and hospitable ties.
Four sons of Sulmo, four whom Ufens bred, 720
He took in fight, and living victims led,
To please the ghost of Pallas, and expire,
In sacrifice, before his fun’ral fire.
At Magus next he threw: he stoop’d below
The flying spear, and shunn’d the promis’d blow; 725
Then, creeping, clasp’d the hero’s knees, and pray’d:
By young Iulus, by thy father’s shade,
O spare my life, and send me back to see
My longing sire, and tender progeny!
A lofty house I have, and wealth untold, 730
In silver ingots, and in bars of gold:
All these, and sums besides, which see no day,
The ransom of this one poor life shall pay.
If I survive, will Troy the less prevail?
A single soul’s too light to turn the scale.” 735
He said. The hero sternly thus replied:
“Thy bars and ingots, and the sums beside,
Leave for thy children’s lot. Thy Turnus broke
All rules of war by one relentless stroke,
When Pallas fell: so deems, nor deems alone 740
My father’s shadow, but my living son.”
Thus having said, of kind remorse bereft,
He seiz’d his helm, and dragg’d him with his left;
Then with his right hand, while his neck he wreath’d,
Up to the hilts his shining fauchion sheath’d. 745
Apollo’s priest, Emonides, was near;
His holy fillets on his front appear;
Glitt’ring in arms, he shone amidst the crowd;
Much of his god, more of his purple, proud.
Him the fierce Trojan follow’d thro’ the field: 750
The holy coward fell; and, forc’d to yield,
The prince stood o’er the priest, and, at one blow,
Sent him an off’ring to the shades below.
His arms Seresthus on his shoulders bears,
Design’d a trophy to the God of Wars. 755
Vulcanian Cæculus renews the fight,
And Umbro, born upon the mountains’ height.
The champion cheers his troops t’ encounter those,
And seeks revenge himself on other foes.
At Anxur’s shield he drove; and, at the blow, 760
Both shield and arm to ground together go.
Anxur had boasted much of magic charms,
And thought he wore impenetrable arms,
So made by mutter’d spells; and, from the spheres,
Had life secur’d, in vain, for length of years. 765
Then Tarquitus the field in triumph trod;
A nymph his mother, and his sire a god.
Exulting in bright arms, he braves the prince:
With his protended lance he makes defense;
Bears back his feeble foe; then, pressing on, 770
Arrests his better hand, and drags him down;
Stands o’er the prostrate wretch, and, as he lay,
Vain tales inventing, and prepar’d to pray,
Mows off his head: the trunk a moment stood,
Then sunk, and roll’d along the sand in blood. 775
The vengeful victor thus upbraids the slain:
Lie there, proud man, unpitied, on the plain;
Lie there, inglorious, and without a tomb,
Far from thy mother and thy native home,
Expos’d to savage beasts, and birds of prey, 780
Or thrown for food to monsters of the sea.”
On Lycas and Antæus next he ran,
Two chiefs of Turnus, and who led his van.
They fled for fear; with these, he chas’d along
Camers the yellow-lock’d, and Numa strong; 785
Both great in arms, and both were fair and young.
Camers was son to Volscens lately slain,
In wealth surpassing all the Latian train,
And in Amycla fix’d his silent easy reign.
And, as Ægæon, when with heav’n he strove, 790
Stood opposite in arms to mighty Jove;
Mov’d all his hundred hands, provok’d the war,
Defied the forky lightning from afar;
At fifty mouths his flaming breath expires,
And flash for flash returns, and fires for fires; 795
In his right hand as many swords he wields,
And takes the thunder on as many shields:
With strength like his, the Trojan hero stood;
And soon the fields with falling corps were strow’d,
When once his fauchion found the taste of blood. 800
With fury scarce to be conceiv’d, he flew
Against Niphæus, whom four coursers drew.
They, when they see the fiery chief advance,
And pushing at their chests his pointed lance,
Wheel’d with so swift a motion, mad with fear, 805
They threw their master headlong from the chair.
They stare, they start, nor stop their course, before
They bear the bounding chariot to the shore.
Now Lucagus and Liger scour the plains,
With two white steeds; but Liger holds the reins, 810
And Lucagus the lofty seat maintains:
Bold brethren both. The former wav’d in air
His flaming sword: Æneas couch’d his spear,
Unus’d to threats, and more unus’d to fear.
Then Liger thus: “Thy confidence is vain 815
To scape from hence, as from the Trojan plain:
Nor these the steeds which Diomede bestrode,
Nor this the chariot where Achilles rode;
Nor Venus’ veil is here, near Neptune’s shield;
Thy fatal hour is come, and this the field.” 820
Thus Liger vainly vaunts: the Trojan peer
Return’d his answer with his flying spear.
As Lucagus, to lash his horses, bends,
Prone to the wheels, and his left foot protends,
Prepar’d for fight; the fatal dart arrives, 825
And thro’ the borders of his buckler drives;
Pass’d thro’ and pierc’d his groin: the deadly wound,
Cast from his chariot, roll’d him on the ground.
Whom thus the chief upbraids with scornful spite:
“Blame not the slowness of your steeds in flight; 830
Vain shadows did not force their swift retreat;
But you yourself forsake your empty seat.”
He said, and seiz’d at once the loosen’d rein;
For Liger lay already on the plain,
By the same shock: then, stretching out his hands, 835
The recreant thus his wretched life demands:
“Now, by thyself, O more than mortal man!
By her and him from whom thy breath began,
Who form’d thee thus divine, I beg thee, spare
This forfeit life, and hear thy suppliant’s pray’r.” 840
Thus much he spoke, and more he would have said;
But the stern hero turn’d aside his head,
And cut him short: “I hear another man;
You talk’d not thus before the fight began.
Now take your turn; and, as a brother should, 845
Attend your brother to the Stygian flood.”
Then thro’ his breast his fatal sword he sent,
And the soul issued at the gaping vent.
As storms the skies, and torrents tear the ground,
Thus rag’d the prince, and scatter’d deaths around. 850
At length Ascanius and the Trojan train
Broke from the camp, so long besieg’d in vain.
Meantime the King of Gods and Mortal Man
Held conference with his queen, and thus began:
My sister goddess, and well-pleasing wife, 855
Still think you Venus’ aid supports the strife—
Sustains her Trojans—or themselves, alone,
With inborn valor force their fortune on?
How fierce in fight, with courage undecay’d!
Judge if such warriors want immortal aid.” 860
To whom the goddess with the charming eyes,
Soft in her tone, submissively replies:
Why, O my sov’reign lord, whose frown I fear,
And cannot, unconcern’d, your anger bear;
Why urge you thus my grief? when, if I still 865
(As once I was) were mistress of your will,
From your almighty pow’r your pleasing wife
Might gain the grace of length’ning Turnus’ life,
Securely snatch him from the fatal fight,
And give him to his aged father’s sight. 870
Now let him perish, since you hold it good,
And glut the Trojans with his pious blood.
Yet from our lineage he derives his name,
And, in the fourth degree, from god Pilumnus came;
Yet he devoutly pays you rites divine, 875
And offers daily incense at your shrine.”
Then shortly thus the sov’reign god replied:
“Since in my pow’r and goodness you confide,
If for a little space, a lengthen’d span,
You beg reprieve for this expiring man, 880
I grant you leave to take your Turnus hence
From instant fate, and can so far dispense.
But, if some secret meaning lies beneath,
To save the short-liv’d youth from destin’d death,
Or if a farther thought you entertain, 885
To change the fates; you feed your hopes in vain.”
To whom the goddess thus, with weeping eyes:
And what if that request, your tongue denies,
Your heart should grant; and not a short reprieve,
But length of certain life, to Turnus give? 890
Now speedy death attends the guiltless youth,
If my presaging soul divines with truth;
Which, O! I wish, might err thro’ causeless fears,
And you (for you have pow’r) prolong his years!”
Thus having said, involv’d in clouds, she flies, 895
And drives a storm before her thro’ the skies.
Swift she descends, alighting on the plain,
Where the fierce foes a dubious fight maintain.
Of air condens’d a specter soon she made;
And, what Æneas was, such seem’d the shade. 900
Adorn’d with Dardan arms, the phantom bore
His head aloft; a plumy crest he wore;
This hand appear’d a shining sword to wield,
And that sustain’d an imitated shield.
With manly mien he stalk’d along the ground, 905
Nor wanted voice belied, nor vaunting sound.
(Thus haunting ghosts appear to waking sight,
Or dreadful visions in our dreams by night.)
The specter seems the Daunian chief to dare,
And flourishes his empty sword in air. 910
At this, advancing, Turnus hurl’d his spear:
The phantom wheel’d, and seem’d to fly for fear.
Deluded Turnus thought the Trojan fled,
And with vain hopes his haughty fancy fed.
“Whether, O coward?” (thus he calls aloud, 915
Nor found he spoke to wind, and chas’d a cloud,)
Why thus forsake your bride! Receive from me
The fated land you sought so long by sea.”
He said, and, brandishing at once his blade,
With eager pace pursued the flying shade. 920
By chance a ship was fasten’d to the shore,
Which from old Clusium King Osinius bore:
The plank was ready laid for safe ascent;
For shelter there the trembling shadow bent,
And skipp’t and skulk’d, and under hatches went. 925
Exulting Turnus, with regardless haste,
Ascends the plank, and to the galley pass’d.
Scarce had he reach’d the prow: Saturnia’s hand
The haulsers cuts, and shoots the ship from land.
With wind in poop, the vessel plows the sea, 930
And measures back with speed her former way.
Meantime Æneas seeks his absent foe,
And sends his slaughter’d troops to shades below.
The guileful phantom now forsook the shroud,
And flew sublime, and vanish’d in a cloud. 935
Too late young Turnus the delusion found,
Far on the sea, still making from the ground.
Then, thankless for a life redeem’d by shame,
With sense of honor stung, and forfeit fame,
Fearful besides of what in fight had pass’d, 940
His hands and haggard eyes to heav’n he cast;
“O Jove!” he cried, “for what offense have I
Deserv’d to bear this endless infamy?
Whence am I forc’d, and whether am I borne?
How, and with what reproach, shall I return? 945
Shall ever I behold the Latian plain,
Or see Laurentum’s lofty tow’rs again?
What will they say of their deserting chief?
The war was mine: I fly from their relief;
I led to slaughter, and in slaughter leave; 950
And ev’n from hence their dying groans receive.
Here, overmatch’d in fight, in heaps they lie;
There, scatter’d o’er the fields, ignobly fly.
Gape wide, O earth, and draw me down alive!
Or, O ye pitying winds, a wretch relieve! 955
On sands or shelves the splitting vessel drive;
Or set me shipwrack’d on some desart shore,
Where no Rutulian eyes may see me more,
Unknown to friends, or foes, or conscious Fame,
Lest she should follow, and my flight proclaim.” 960
Thus Turnus rav’d, and various fates revolv’d:
The choice was doubtful, but the death resolv’d.
And now the sword, and now the sea took place,
That to revenge, and this to purge disgrace.
Sometimes he thought to swim the stormy main, 965
By stretch of arms the distant shore to gain.
Thrice he the sword assay’d, and thrice the flood;
But Juno, mov’d with pity, both withstood.
And thrice repress’d his rage; strong gales supplied,
And push’d the vessel o’er the swelling tide. 970
At length she lands him on his native shores,
And to his father’s longing arms restores.
Meantime, by Jove’s impulse, Mezentius arm’d,
Succeeding Turnus, with his ardor warm’d
His fainting friends, reproach’d their shameful flight, 975
Repell’d the victors, and renew’d the fight.
Against their king the Tuscan troops conspire;
Such is their hate, and such their fierce desire
Of wish’d revenge: on him, and him alone,
All hands employ’d, and all their darts are thrown. 980
He, like a solid rock by seas inclos’d,
To raging winds and roaring waves oppos’d,
From his proud summit looking down, disdains
Their empty menace, and unmov’d remains.
Beneath his feet fell haughty Hebrus dead, 985
Then Latagus, and Palmus as he fled.
At Latagus a weighty stone he flung:
His face was flatted, and his helmet rung.
But Palmus from behind receives his wound;
Hamstring’d he falls, and grovels on the ground: 990
His crest and armor, from his body torn,
Thy shoulders, Lausus, and thy head adorn.
Evas and Mimas, both of Troy, he slew.
Mimas his birth from fair Theano drew,
Born on that fatal night, when, big with fire, 995
The queen produc’d young Paris to his sire:
But Paris in the Phrygian fields was slain,
Unthinking Mimas on the Latian plain.
And, as a savage boar, on mountains bred,
With forest mast and fatt’ning marshes fed, 1000
When once he sees himself in toils inclos’d,
By huntsmen and their eager hounds appos’d
He whets his tusks, and turns, and dares the war;
Th’ invaders dart their jav’lins from afar:
All keep aloof, and safely shout around; 1005
But none presumes to give a nearer wound:
He frets and froths, erects his bristled hide,
And shakes a grove of lances from his side:
Not otherwise the troops, with hate inspir’d,
And just revenge against the tyrant fir’d, 1010
Their darts with clamor at a distance drive,
And only keep the languishd war alive.
From Coritus came Acron to the fight,
Who left his spouse betroth’d, and unconsummate night.
Mezentius sees him thro’ the squadrons ride, 1015
Proud of the purple favors of his bride.
Then, as a hungry lion, who beholds
A gamesome goat, who frisks about the folds,
Or beamy stag, that grazes on the plain—
He runs, he roars, he shakes his rising mane, 1020
He grins, and opens wide his greedy jaws;
The prey lies panting underneath his paws:
He fills his famish’d maw; his mouth runs o’er
With unchew’d morsels, while he churns the gore:
So proud Mezentius rushes on his foes, 1025
And first unhappy Acron overthrows:
Stretch’d at his length, he spurns the swarthy ground;
The lance, besmear’d with blood, lies broken in the wound.
Then with disdain the haughty victor view’d
Orodes flying, nor the wretch pursued, 1030
Nor thought the dastard’s back deserv’d a wound,
But, running, gain’d th’ advantage of the ground:
Then turning short, he met him face to face,
To give his victory the better grace.
Orodes falls, in equal fight oppress’d: 1035
Mezentius fix’d his foot upon his breast,
And rested lance; and thus aloud he cries:
“Lo! here the champion of my rebels lies!”
The fields around with Io Pæan! ring;
And peals of shouts applaud the conqu’ring king. 1040
At this the vanquish’d, with his dying breath,
Thus faintly spoke, and prophesied in death:
“Nor thou, proud man, unpunish’d shalt remain:
Like death attends thee on this fatal plain.”
Then, sourly smiling, thus the king replied: 1045
For what belongs to me, let Jove provide;
But die thou first, whatever chance ensue.”
He said, and from the wound the weapon drew.
A hov’ring mist came swimming o’er his sight,
And seal’d his eyes in everlasting night. 1050
By Cædicus, Alcathous was slain;
Sacrator laid Hydaspes on the plain;
Orses the strong to greater strength must yield;
He, with Parthenius, were by Rapo killd.
Then brave Messapus Ericetes slew, 1055
Who from Lycaon’s blood his lineage drew.
But from his headstrong horse his fate he found,
Who threw his master, as he made a bound:
The chief, alighting, stuck him to the ground;
Then Clonius, hand to hand, on foot assails: 1060
The Trojan sinks, and Neptune’s son prevails.
Agis the Lycian, stepping forth with pride,
To single fight the boldest foe defied;
Whom Tuscan Valerus by force o’ercame,
And not belied his mighty father’s fame. 1065
Salius to death the great Antronius sent:
But the same fate the victor underwent,
Slain by Nealces’ hand, well-skill’d to throw
The flying dart, and draw the far-deceiving bow.
Thus equal deaths are dealt with equal chance; 1070
By turns they quit their ground, by turns advance:
Victors and vanquish’d, in the various field,
Nor wholly overcome, nor wholly yield.
The gods from heav’n survey the fatal strife,
And mourn the miseries of human life. 1075
Above the rest, two goddesses appear
Concern’d for each: here Venus, Juno there.
Amidst the crowd, infernal Ate shakes
Her scourge aloft, and crest of hissing snakes.
Once more the proud Mezentius, with disdain, 1080
Brandish’d his spear, and rush’d into the plain,
Where tow’ring in the midmost rank she stood,
Like tall Orion stalking o’er the flood.
(When with his brawny breast he cuts the waves,
His shoulders scarce the topmost billow laves), 1085
Or like a mountain ash, whose roots are spread,
Deep fix’d in earth; in clouds he hides his head.
The Trojan prince beheld him from afar,
And dauntless undertook the doubtful war.
Collected in his strength, and like a rock, 1090
Pois’d on his base, Mezentius stood the shock.
He stood, and, measuring first with careful eyes
The space his spear could reach, aloud he cries:
My strong right hand, and sword, assist my stroke!
(Those only gods Mezentius will invoke.) 1095
His armor, from the Trojan pirate torn,
By my triumphant Lausus shall be worn.”
He said; and with his utmost force he threw
The massy spear, which, hissing as it flew,
Reach’d the celestial shield, that stopp’d the course; 1100
But, glancing thence, the yet unbroken force
Took a new bent obliquely, and betwixt
The side and bowels fam’d Anthores fix’d.
Anthores had from Argos travel’d far,
Alcides’ friend, and brother of the war; 1105
Till, tir’d with toils, fair Italy he chose,
And in Evander’s palace sought repose.
Now, falling by anothers wound, his eyes
He cast to heav’n, on Argos thinks, and dies.
The pious Trojan then his jav’lin sent; 1110
The shield gave way; thro’ treble plates it went
Of solid brass, of linen trebly roll’d,
And three bull hides which round the buckler fold.
All these it pass’d, resistless in the course,
Transpierc’d his thigh, and spent its dying force. 1115
The gaping wound gush’d out a crimson flood.
The Trojan, glad with sight of hostile blood,
His faunchion drew, to closer fight address’d,
And with new force his fainting foe oppress’d.
His father’s peril Lausus view’d with grief; 1120
He sigh’d, he wept, he ran to his relief.
And here, heroic youth, ’t is here I must
To thy immortal memory be just,
And sing an act so noble and so new,
Posterity will scarce believet is true. 1125
Pain’d with his wound, and useless for the fight,
The father sought to save himself by flight:
Incumber’d, slow he dragg’d the spear along,
Which pierc’d his thigh, and in his buckler hung.
The pious youth, resolv’d on death, below 1130
The lifted sword springs forth to face the foe;
Protects his parent, and prevents the blow.
Shouts of applause ran ringing thro’ the field,
To see the son the vanquish’d father shield.
All, fir’d with gen’rous indignation, strive, 1135
And with a storm of darts to distance drive
The Trojan chief, who, held at bay from far,
On his Vulcanian orb sustain’d the war.
As, when thick hail comes rattling in the wind,
The plowman, passenger, and lab’ring hind 1140
For shelter to the neighb’ring covert fly,
Or hous’d, or safe in hollow caverns lie;
But, that o’erblown, when heav’n above ’em smiles,
Return to travel, and renew their toils:
Æneas thus, o’erwhelmed on ev’ry side, 1145
The storm of darts, undaunted, did abide;
And thus to Lausus loud with friendly threat’ning cried:
Why wilt thou rush to certain death, and rage
In rash attempts, beyond thy tender age,
Betray’d by pious love?” Nor, thus forborne, 1150
The youth desists, but with insulting scorn
Provokes the ling’ring prince, whose patience, tir’d,
Gave place; and all his breast with fury fir’d.
For now the Fates prepar’d their sharpen’d shears;
And lifted high the flaming sword appears, 1155
Which, full descending with a frightful sway,
Thro’ shield and corslet forc’d th’ impetuous way,
And buried deep in his fair bosom lay.
The purple streams thro’ the thin armor strove,
And drench’d th’ imbroider’d coat his mother wove; 1160
And life at length forsook his heaving heart,
Loth from so sweet a mansion to depart.
But when, with blood and paleness all o’erspread,
The pious prince beheld young Lausus dead,
He griev’d; he wept; the sight an image brought 1165
Of his own filial love, a sadly pleasing thought:
Then stretch’d his hand to hold him up, and said:
“Poor hapless youth! what praises can be paid
To love so great, to such transcendent store
Of early worth, and sure presage of more? 1170
Accept whate’er Æneas can afford;
Untouch’d thy arms, untaken be thy sword;
And all that pleas’d thee living, still remain
Inviolate, and sacred to the slain.
Thy body on thy parents I bestow, 1175
To rest thy soul, at least, if shadows know,
Or have a sense of human things below.
There to thy fellow ghosts with glory tell:
“’T was by the great Æneas’ hand I fell.’”
With this, his distant friends he beckons near, 1180
Provokes their duty, and prevents their fear:
Himself assists to lift him from the ground,
With clotted locks, and blood that well’d from out the wound.
Meantime, his father, now no father, stood,
And wash’d his wounds by Tiber’s yellow flood: 1185
Oppress’d with anguish, panting, and o’erspent,
His fainting limbs against an oak he leant.
A bough his brazen helmet did sustain;
His heavier arms lay scatter’d on the plain:
A chosen train of youth around him stand; 1190
His drooping head was rested on his hand:
His grisly beard his pensive bosom sought;
And all on Lausus ran his restless thought.
Careful, concern’d his danger to prevent,
He much enquir’d, and many a message sent 1195
To warn him from the field—alas! in vain!
Behold, his mournful followers bear him slain!
O’er his broad shield still gush’d the yawning wound,
And drew a bloody trail along the ground.
Far off he heard their cries, far off divin’d 1200
The dire event, with a foreboding mind.
With dust he sprinkled first his hoary head;
Then both his lifted hands to heav’n he spread;
Last, the dear corpse embracing, thus he said:
What joys, alas! could this frail being give, 1205
That I have been so covetous to live?
To see my son, and such a son, resign
His life, a ransom for preserving mine!
And am I then preserv’d, and art thou lost?
How much too dear has that redemption cost! 1210
T is now my bitter banishment I feel:
This is a wound too deep for time to heal.
My guilt thy growing virtues did defame;
My blackness blotted thy unblemish’d name.
Chas’d from a throne, abandon’d, and exil’d 1215
For foul misdeeds, were punishments too mild:
I ow’d my people these, and, from their hate,
With less resentment could have borne my fate.
And yet I live, and yet sustain the sight
Of hated men, and of more hated light: 1220
But will not long.” With that he rais’d from ground
His fainting limbs, that stagger’d with his wound;
Yet, with a mind resolv’d, and unappall’d
With pains or perils, for his courser calld;
Well-mouth’d, well-manag’d, whom himself did dress 1225
With daily care, and mounted with success;
His aid in arms, his ornament in peace.
Soothing his courage with a gentle stroke,
The steed seem’d sensible, while thus he spoke:
“O Rhoebus, we have liv’d too long for me— 1230
If life and long were terms that could agree!
This day thou either shalt bring back the head
And bloody trophies of the Trojan dead;
This day thou either shalt revenge my woe,
For murther’d Lausus, on his cruel foe; 1235
Or, if inexorable fate deny
Our conquest, with thy conquer’d master die:
For, after such a lord, I rest secure,
Thou wilt no foreign reins, or Trojan load endure.”
He said; and straight th’ officious courser kneels, 1240
To take his wonted weight. His hands he fills
With pointed jav’lins; on his head he lac’d
His glitt’ring helm, which terribly was grac’d
With waving horsehair, nodding from afar;
Then spurr’d his thund’ring steed amidst the war. 1245
Love, anguish, wrath, and grief, to madness wrought,
Despair, and secret shame, and conscious thought
Of inborn worth, his lab’ring soul oppress’d,
Roll’d in his eyes, and rag’d within his b

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VI. Giuseppe Caponsacchi

Answer you, Sirs? Do I understand aright?
Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell,—
So things disguise themselves,—I cannot see
My own hand held thus broad before my face
And know it again. Answer you? Then that means
Tell over twice what I, the first time, told
Six months ago: 't was here, I do believe,
Fronting you same three in this very room,
I stood and told you: yet now no one laughs,
Who then … nay, dear my lords, but laugh you did,
As good as laugh, what in a judge we style
Laughter—no levity, nothing indecorous, lords!
Only,—I think I apprehend the mood:
There was the blameless shrug, permissible smirk,
The pen's pretence at play with the pursed mouth,
The titter stifled in the hollow palm
Which rubbed the eyebrow and caressed the nose,
When I first told my tale: they meant, you know,
"The sly one, all this we are bound believe!
"Well, he can say no other than what he says.
"We have been young, too,—come, there's greater guilt!
"Let him but decently disembroil himself,
"Scramble from out the scrape nor move the mud,—
"We solid ones may risk a finger-stretch!
And now you sit as grave, stare as aghast
As if I were a phantom: now 't is—"Friend,
"Collect yourself!"—no laughing matter more
"Counsel the Court in this extremity,
"Tell us again!"—tell that, for telling which,
I got the jocular piece of punishment,
Was sent to lounge a little in the place
Whence now of a sudden here you summon me
To take the intelligence from justyour lips!
You, Judge Tommati, who then tittered most,—
That she I helped eight months since to escape
Her husband, was retaken by the same,
Three days ago, if I have seized your sense,—
(I being disallowed to interfere,
Meddle or make in a matter none of mine,
For you and law were guardians quite enough
O' the innocent, without a pert priest's help)—
And that he has butchered her accordingly,
As she foretold and as myself believed,—
And, so foretelling and believing so,
We were punished, both of us, the merry way:
Therefore, tell once again the tale! For what?
Pompilia is only dying while I speak!
Why does the mirth hang fire and miss the smile?
My masters, there's an old book, you should con
For strange adventures, applicable yet,
'T is stuffed with. Do you know that there was once
This thing: a multitude of worthy folk
Took recreation, watched a certain group
Of soldiery intent upon a game,—
How first they wrangled, but soon fell to play,
Threw dice,—the best diversion in the world.
A word in your ear,—they are now casting lots,
Ay, with that gesture quaint and cry uncouth,
For the coat of One murdered an hour ago!
I am a priest,—talk of what I have learned.
Pompilia is bleeding out her life belike,
Gasping away the latest breath of all,
This minute, while I talk—not while you laugh?

Yet, being sobered now, what is it you ask
By way of explanation? There's the fact!
It seems to fill the universe with sight
And sound,—from the four corners of this earth
Tells itself over, to my sense at least.
But you may want it lower set i' the scale,—
Too vast, too close it clangs in the ear, perhaps;
You'd stand back just to comprehend it more.
Well then, let me, the hollow rock, condense
The voice o' the sea and wind, interpret you
The mystery of this murder. God above!
It is too paltry, such a transference
O' the storm's roar to the cranny of the stone!

This deed, you saw begin—why does its end
Surprise you? Why should the event enforce
The lesson, we ourselves learned, she and I,
From the first o' the fact, and taught you, all in vain?
This Guido from whose throat you took my grasp,
Was this man to be favoured, now or feared,
Let do his will, or have his will restrained,
In the relation with Pompilia? Say!
Did any other man need interpose
—Oh, though first comer, though as strange at the work
As fribble must be, coxcomb, fool that's near
To knave as, say, a priest who fears the world
Was he bound brave the peril, save the doomed,
Or go on, sing his snatch and pluck his flower,
Keep the straight path and let the victim die?
I held so; you decided otherwise,
Saw no such peril, therefore no such need
To stop song, loosen flower, and leave path. Law,
Law was aware and watching, would suffice,
Wanted no priest's intrusion, palpably
Pretence, too manifest a subterfuge!
Whereupon I, priest, coxcomb, fribble and fool,
Ensconced me in my corner, thus rebuked,
A kind of culprit, over-zealous hound
Kicked for his pains to kennel; I gave place,
To you, and let the law reign paramount:
I left Pompilia to your watch and ward,
And now you point methere and thus she lies!

Men, for the last time, what do you want with me?
Is it,—you acknowledge, as it were, a use,
A profit in employing me?—at length
I may conceivably help the august law?
I am free to break the blow, next hawk that swoops
On next dove, nor miss much of good repute?
Or what if this your summons, after all,
Be but the form of mere release, no more,
Which turns the key and lets the captive go?
I have paid enough in person at Civita,
Am free,—what more need I concern me with?
Thank you! I am rehabilitated then,
A very reputable priest. But she
The glory of life, the beauty of the world,
The splendour of heaven, … well, Sirs, does no one move?
Do I speak ambiguously? The glory, I say,
And the beauty, I say, and splendour, still say I,
Who, priest and trained to live my whole life long
On beauty and splendour, solely at their source,
God,—have thus recognized my food in her,
You tell me, that's fast dying while we talk,
Pompilia! How does lenity to me,
Remit one death-bed pang to her? Come, smile!
The proper wink at the hot-headed youth
Who lets his soul show, through transparent words,
The mundane love that's sin and scandal too!
You are all struck acquiescent now, it seems:
It seems the oldest, gravest signor here,
Even the redoubtable Tommati, sits
Chop-fallen,—understands how law might take
Service like mine, of brain and heart and hand,
In good part. Better late than never, law
You understand of a sudden, gospel too
Has a claim here, may possibly pronounce
Consistent with my priesthood, worthy Christ,
That I endeavoured to save Pompilia?

Then,
You were wrong, you see: that's well to see, though late:
That's all we may expect of man, this side
The grave: his good is—knowing he is bad:
Thus will it be with us when the books ope
And we stand at the bar on judgment-day.
Well then, I have a mind to speak, see cause
To relume the quenched flax by this dreadful light,
Burn my soul out in showing you the truth.
I heard, last time I stood here to be judged,
What is priest's-duty,—labour to pluck tares
And weed the corn of Molinism; let me
Make you hear, this time, how, in such a case,
Man, be he in the priesthood or at plough,
Mindful of Christ or marching step by step
Withwhat's his style, the other potentate
Who bids have courage and keep honour safe,
Nor let minuter admonition tease?—
How he is bound, better or worse, to act.
Earth will not end through this misjudgment, no!
For you and the others like you sure to come,
Fresh work is sure to follow,—wickedness
That wants withstanding. Many a man of blood,
Many a man of guile will clamour yet,
Bid you redress his grievance,—as he clutched
The prey, forsooth a stranger stepped between,
And there's the good gripe in pure waste! My part
Is done; i' the doing it, I pass away
Out of the world. I want no more with earth.
Let me, in heaven's name, use the very snuff
O' the taper in one last spark shall show truth
For a moment, show Pompilia who was true!
Not for her sake, but yours: if she is dead,
Oh, Sirs, she can be loved by none of you
Most or least priestly! Saints, to do us good,
Must be in heaven, I seem to understand:
We never find them saints before, at least.
Be her first prayer then presently for you
She has done the good to me

What is all this?
There, I was born, have lived, shall die, a fool!
This is a foolish outset:—might with cause
Give colour to the very lie o' the man,
The murderer,—make as if I loved his wife,
In the way he called love. He is the fool there!
Why, had there been in me the touch of taint,
I had picked up so much of knaves'-policy
As hide it, keep one hand pressed on the place
Suspected of a spot would damn us both.
Or no, not her!—not even if any of you
Dares think that I, i' the face of death, her death
That's in my eyes and ears and brain and heart,
Lie,—if he does, let him! I mean to say,
So he stop there, stay thought from smirching her
The snow-white soul that angels fear to take
Untenderly. But, all the same, I know
I too am taintless, and I bare my breast.
You can't think, men as you are, all of you,
But that, to hear thus suddenly such an end
Of such a wonderful white soul, that comes
Of a man and murderer calling the white black,
Must shake me, trouble and disadvantage. Sirs,
Only seventeen!

Why, good and wise you are!
You might at the beginning stop my mouth:
So, none would be to speak for her, that knew.
I talk impertinently, and you bear,
All the same. This it is to have to do
With honest hearts: they easily may err,
But in the main they wish well to the truth.
You are Christians; somehow, no one ever plucked
A rag, even, from the body of the Lord,
To wear and mock with, but, despite himself,
He looked the greater and was the better. Yes,
I shall go on now. Does she need or not
I keep calm? Calm I'll keep as monk that croons
Transcribing battle, earthquake, famine, plague,
From parchment to his cloister's chronicle.
Not one word more from the point now!

I begin.
Yes, I am one of your body and a priest.
Also I am a younger son o' the House
Oldest now, greatest once, in my birth-town
Arezzo, I recognize no equal there
(I want all arguments, all sorts of arms
That seem to serve,—use this for a reason, wait!)
Not therefore thrust into the Church, because
O' the piece of bread one gets there. We were first
Of Fiesole, that rings still with the fame
Of Capo-in-Sacco our progenitor:
When Florence ruined Fiesole, our folk
Migrated to the victor-city, and there
Flourished,—our palace and our tower attest,
In the Old Mercato,—this was years ago,
Four hundred, full,—no, it wants fourteen just.
Our arms are those of Fiesole itself,
The shield quartered with white and red: a branch
Are the Salviati of us, nothing more.
That were good help to the Church? But better still
Not simply for the advantage of my birth
I' the way of the world, was I proposed for priest;
But because there's an illustration, late
I' the day, that's loved and looked to as a saint
Still in Arezzo, he was bishop of,
Sixty years since: he spent to the last doit
His bishop's-revenue among the poor,
And used to tend the needy and the sick,
Barefoot, because of his humility.
He it was,—when the Granduke Ferdinand
Swore he would raze our city, plough the place
And sow it with salt, because we Aretines
Had tied a rope about the neck, to hale
The statue of his father from its base
For hate's sake,—he availed by prayers and tears
To pacify the Duke and save the town.
This was my father's father's brother. You see,
For his sake, how it was I had a right
To the self-same office, bishop in the egg,
So, grew i' the garb and prattled in the school,
Was made expect, from infancy almost,
The proper mood o' the priest; till time ran by
And brought the day when I must read the vows,
Declare the world renounced and undertake
To become priest and leave probation,—leap
Over the ledge into the other life,
Having gone trippingly hitherto up to the height
O'er the wan water. Just a vow to read!

I stopped short awe-struck. "How shall holiest flesh
"Engage to keep such vow inviolate,
"How much less mine? I know myself too weak,
"Unworthy! Choose a worthier stronger man!"
And the very Bishop smiled and stopped my mouth
In its mid-protestation. "Incapable?
"Qualmish of conscience? Thou ingenuous boy!
"Clear up the clouds and cast thy scruples far!
"I satisfy thee there's an easier sense
"Wherein to take such vow than suits the first
"Rough rigid reading. Mark what makes all smooth,
"Nay, has been even a solace to myself!
"The Jews who needs must, in their synagogue,
"Utter sometimes the holy name of God,
"A thing their superstition boggles at,
"Pronounce aloud the ineffable sacrosanct,—
"How does their shrewdness help them? In this wise;
"Another set of sounds they substitute,
"Jumble so consonants and vowels—how
"Should I know?—that there grows from out the old
"Quite a new word that means the very same—
"And o'er the hard place slide they with a smile.
"Giuseppe Maria Caponsacchi mine,
"Nobody wants you in these latter days
"To prop the Church by breaking your back-bone,—
"As the necessary way was once, we know,
"When Diocletian flourished and his like.
"That building of the buttress-work was done
"By martyrs and confessors: let it bide,
"Add not a brick, but, where you see a chink,
"Stick in a sprig of ivy or root a rose
"Shall make amends and beautify the pile!
"We profit as you were the painfullest
"O' the martyrs, and you prove yourself a match
"For the cruelest confessor ever was,
"If you march boldly up and take your stand
"Where their blood soaks, their bones yet strew the soil,
"And cry 'Take notice, I the young and free
"'And well-to-do i' the world, thus leave the world,
"'Cast in my lot thus with no gay young world
"'But the grand old Church: she tempts me of the two!'
"Renounce the world? Nay, keep and give it us!
"Let us have you, and boast of what you bring.
"We want the pick o' the earth to practise with,
"Not its offscouring, halt and deaf and blind
"In soul and body. There's a rubble-stone
"Unfit for the front o' the building, stuff to stow
"In a gap behind and keep us weather-tight;
"There's porphyry for the prominent place. Good lack!
"Saint Paul has had enough and to spare, I trow,
"Of ragged run-away Onesimus:
"He wants the right-hand with the signet-ring
"Of King Agrippa, now, to shake and use.
"I have a heavy scholar cloistered up,
"Close under lock and key, kept at his task
"Of letting Fénelon know the fool he is,
"In a book I promise Christendom next Spring.
"Why, if he covets so much meat, the clown,
"As a lark's wing next Friday, or, any day,
"Diversion beyond catching his own fleas,
"He shall be properly swinged, I promise him.
"But you, who are so quite another paste
"Of a man,—do you obey me? Cultivate
"Assiduous that superior gift you have
"Of making madrigals—(who told me? Ah!)
"Get done a Marinesque Adoniad straight
"With a pulse o' the blood a-pricking, here and there,
"That I may tell the lady 'And he's ours!'"

So I became a priest: those terms changed all,
I was good enough for that, nor cheated so;
I could live thus and still hold head erect.
Now you see why I may have been before
A fribble and coxcomb, yet, as priest, break word
Nowise, to make you disbelieve me now.
I need that you should know my truth. Well, then,
According to prescription did I live,
—Conformed myself, both read the breviary
And wrote the rhymes, was punctual to my place
I' the Pieve, and as diligent at my post
Where beauty and fashion rule. I throve apace,
Sub-deacon, Canon, the authority
For delicate play at tarocs, and arbiter
O' the magnitude of fan-mounts: all the while
Wanting no whit the advantage of a hint
Benignant to the promising pupil,—thus:
"Enough attention to the Countess now,
"The young one; 't is her mother rules the roast,
"We know where, and puts in a word: go pay
"Devoir to-morrow morning after mass!
"Break that rash promise to preach, Passion-week!
"Has it escaped you the Archbishop grunts
"And snuffles when one grieves to tell his Grace
"No soul dares treat the subject of the day
"Since his own masterly handling it (ha, ha!)
"Five years ago,—when somebody could help
"And touch up an odd phrase in time of need,
"(He, he!)—and somebody helps you, my son!
"Therefore, don't prove so indispensable
"At the Pieve, sit more loose i' the seat, nor grow
"A fixture by attendance morn and eve!
"Arezzo's just a haven midway Rome—
"Rome's the eventual harbour,—make for port,
"Crowd sail, crack cordage! And your cargo be
"A polished presence, a genteel manner, wit
"At will, and tact at every pore of you!
"I sent our lump of learning, Brother Clout,
"And Father Slouch, our piece of piety,
"To see Rome and try suit the Cardinal.
"Thither they clump-clumped, beads and book in hand,
"And ever since 't is meat for man and maid
"How both flopped down, prayed blessing on bent pate
"Bald many an inch beyond the tonsure's need,
"Never once dreaming, the two moony dolts,
"There's nothing moves his Eminence so much
"As—far from all this awe at sanctitude—
"Heads that wag, eyes that twinkle, modified mirth
"At the closet-lectures on the Latin tongue
"A lady learns so much by, we know where.
"Why, body o' Bacchus, you should crave his rule
"For pauses in the elegiac couplet, chasms
"Permissible only to Catullus! There!
"Now go to duty: brisk, break Priscian's head
"By reading the day's office—there's no help.
"You've Ovid in your poke to plaster that;
"Amen's at the end of all: then sup with me!"

Well, after three or four years of this life,
In prosecution of my calling, I
Found myself at the theatre one night
With a brother Canon, in a mood and mind
Proper enough for the place, amused or no:
When I saw enter, stand, and seat herself
A lady, young, tall, beautiful, strange and sad.
It was as when, in our cathedral once,
As I got yawningly through matin-song,
I saw facchini bear a burden up,
Base it on the high-altar, break away
A board or two, and leave the thing inside
Lofty and lone: and lo, when next I looked,
There was the Rafael! I was still one stare,
When—"Nay, I'll make her give you back your gaze"—
Said Canon Conti; and at the word he tossed
A paper-twist of comfits to her lap,
And dodged and in a trice was at my back
Nodding from over my shoulder. Then she turned,
Looked our way, smiled the beautiful sad strange smile.
"Is not she fair? 'T is my new cousin," said he:
"The fellow lurking there i' the black o' the box
"Is Guido, the old scapegrace: she's his wife,
"Married three years since: how his Countship sulks!
"He has brought little back from Rome beside,
"After the bragging, bullying. A fair face,
"Andthey do saya pocketful of gold
"When he can worry both her parents dead.
"I don't go much there, for the chamber's cold
"And the coffee pale. I got a turn at first
"Paying my duty: I observed they crouched
"—The two old frightened family spectres—close
"In a corner, each on each like mouse on mouse
"I' the cat's cage: ever since, I stay at home.
"Hallo, there's Guido, the black, mean and small,
"Bends his brows on us—please to bend your own
"On the shapely nether limbs of Light-skirts there
"By way of a diversion! I was a fool
"To fling the sweetmeats. Prudence, for God's love!
"To-morrow I'll make my peace, e'en tell some fib,
"Try if I can't find means to take you there."

That night and next day did the gaze endure,
Burnt to my brain, as sunbeam thro' shut eyes,
And not once changed the beautiful sad strange smile.
At vespers Conti leaned beside my seat
I' the choir,—part said, part sung—"In ex-cel-sis—
"All's to no purpose; I have louted low,
"But he saw you staring—quia sub—don't incline
"To know you nearer: him we would not hold
"For Hercules,—the man would lick your shoe
"If you and certain efficacious friends
"Managed him warily,—but there's the wife:
"Spare her, because he beats her, as it is,
"She's breaking her heart quite fast enough—jam tu—
"So, be you rational and make amends
"With little Light-skirts yonder—in secula
"Secu-lo-o-o-o-rum. Ah, you rogue! Every one knows
"What great dame she makes jealous: one against one,
"Play, and win both!"

Sirs, ere the week was out,
I saw and said to myself "Light-skirts hides teeth
"Would make a dog sick,—the great dame shows spite
"Should drive a cat mad: 't is but poor work this
"Counting one's fingers till the sonnet's crowned.
"I doubt much if Marino really be
"A better bard than Dante after all.
"'T is more amusing to go pace at eve
"I' the Duomo,—watch the day's last gleam outside
"Turn, as into a skirt of God's own robe,
"Those lancet-windows' jewelled miracle,—
"Than go eat the Archbishop's ortolans,
"Digest his jokes. Luckily Lent is near:
"Who cares to look will find me in my stall
"At the Pieve, constant to this faith at least—
"Never to write a canzonet any more."

So, next week, 't was my patron spoke abrupt,
In altered guise. "Young man, can it be true
"That after all your promise of sound fruit,
"You have kept away from Countess young or old
"And gone play truant in church all day long?
"Are you turning Molinist?" I answered quick:
"Sir, what if I turned Christian? It might be.
"The fact is, I am troubled in my mind,
"Beset and pressed hard by some novel thoughts.
"This your Arezzo is a limited world;
"There's a strange Pope,—'t is said, a priest who thinks.
"Rome is the port, you say: to Rome I go.
"I will live alone, one does so in a crowd,
"And look into my heart a little." "Lent
"Ended,"—I told friends—"I shall go to Rome."

One evening I was sitting in a muse
Over the opened "Summa," darkened round
By the mid-March twilight, thinking how my life
Had shaken under me,—broke short indeed
And showed the gap 'twixt what is, what should be,—
And into what abysm the soul may slip,
Leave aspiration here, achievement there,
Lacking omnipotence to connect extremes—
Thinking moreover … oh, thinking, if you like,
How utterly dissociated was I
A priest and celibate, from the sad strange wife
Of Guido,—just as an instance to the point,
Nought more,—how I had a whole store of strengths
Eating into my heart, which craved employ,
And she, perhaps, need of a finger's help,—
And yet there was no way in the wide world
To stretch out mine and so relieve myself,—
How when the page o' the Summa preached its best,
Her smile kept glowing out of it, as to mock
The silence we could break by no one word,—
There came a tap without the chamber-door,
And a whisper; when I bade who tapped speak out.
And, in obedience to my summons, last
In glided a masked muffled mystery,
Laid lightly a letter on the opened book,
Then stood with folded arms and foot demure,
Pointing as if to mark the minutes' flight.

I took the letter, read to the effect
That she, I lately flung the comfits to,
Had a warm heart to give me in exchange,
And gave it,—loved me and confessed it thus,
And bade me render thanks by word of mouth,
Going that night to such a side o' the house
Where the small terrace overhangs a street
Blind and deserted, not the street in front:
Her husband being away, the surly patch,
At his villa of Vittiano.

"And you?"—I asked:
"What may you be?" "Count Guido's kind of maid—
"Most of us have two functions in his house.
"We all hate him, the lady suffers much,
"'T is just we show compassion, furnish help,
"Specially since her choice is fixed so well.
"What answer may I bring to cheer the sweet
"Pompilia?"

Then I took a pen and wrote
"No more of this! That you are fair, I know:
"But other thoughts now occupy my mind.
"I should not thus have played the insensible
"Once on a time. What made you,—may one ask,—
"Marry your hideous husband? 'T was a fault,
"And now you taste the fruit of it. Farewell."

"There!" smiled I as she snatched it and was gone—
"There, let the jealous miscreant,—Guido's self,
"Whose mean soul grins through this transparent trick,—
"Be baulked so far, defrauded of his aim!
"What fund of satisfaction to the knave,
"Had I kicked this his messenger down stairs,
"Trussed to the middle of her impudence,
"And set his heart at ease so! No, indeed!
"There's the reply which he shall turn and twist
"At pleasure, snuff at till his brain grow drunk,
"As the bear does when he finds a scented glove
"That puzzles him,—a hand and yet no hand,
"Of other perfume than his own foul paw!
"Last month, I had doubtless chosen to play the dupe,
"Accepted the mock-invitation, kept
"The sham appointment, cudgel beneath cloak,
"Prepared myself to pull the appointer's self
"Out of the window from his hiding-place
"Behind the gown of this part-messenger
"Part-mistress who would personate the wife.
"Such had seemed once a jest permissible:
"Now I am not i' the mood."

Back next morn brought
The messenger, a second letter in hand.
"You are cruel, Thyrsis, and Myrtilla moans
"Neglected but adores you, makes request
"For mercy: why is it you dare not come?
"Such virtue is scarce natural to your age.
"You must love someone else; I hear you do,
"The Baron's daughter or the Advocate's wife,
"Or both,—all's one, would you make me the third—
"I take the crumbs from table gratefully
"Nor grudge who feasts there. 'Faith, I blush and blaze!
"Yet if I break all bounds, there's reason sure.
"Are you determinedly bent on Rome?
"I am wretched here, a monster tortures me:
"Carry me with you! Come and say you will!
"Concert this very evening! Do not write!
"I am ever at the window of my room
"Over the terrace, at the Ave. Come!"

I questioned—lifting half the woman's mask
To let her smile loose. "So, you gave my line
"To the merry lady?" "She kissed off the wax,
"And put what paper was not kissed away,
"In her bosom to go burn: but merry, no!
"She wept all night when evening brought no friend,
"Alone, the unkind missive at her breast;
"Thus Philomel, the thorn at her breast too,
"Sings" … "Writes this second letter?" "Even so!
"Then she may peep at vespers forth?"—"What risk
"Do we run o' the husband?"—"Ah,—no risk at all!
"He is more stupid even than jealous. Ah—
"That was the reason? Why, the man's away!
"Beside, his bugbear is that friend of yours,
"Fat little Canon Conti. He fears him,
"How should he dream of you? I told you truth:
"He goes to the villa at Vittiano—'t is
"The time when Spring-sap rises in the vine—
"Spends the night there. And then his wife's a child:
"Does he think a child outwits him? A mere child:
"Yet so full grown, a dish for any duke.
"Don't quarrel longer with such cates, but come!"
I wrote "In vain do you solicit me.
"I am a priest: and you are wedded wife,
"Whatever kind of brute your husband prove.
"I have scruples, in short. Yet should you really show
"Sign at the window … but nay, best be good!
"My thoughts are elsewhere," "Take her that!"

"Again
"Let the incarnate meanness, cheat and spy,
"Mean to the marrow of him, make his heart
"His food, anticipate hell's worm once more!
"Let him watch shivering at the window—ay,
"And let this hybrid, this his light-of-love
"And lackey-of-lies,—a sage economy,—
"Paid with embracings for the rank brass coin,—
"Let her report and make him chuckle o'er
"The break-down of my resolution now,
"And lour at disappointment in good time!
"—So tantalize and so enrage by turns,
"Until the two fall each on the other like
"Two famished spiders, as the coveted fly
"That toys long, leaves their net and them at last!"
And so the missives followed thick and fast
For a month, say,—I still came at every turn
On the soft sly adder, endlong 'neath my tread.
I was met i' the street, made sign to in the church,
A slip was found i' the door-sill, scribbled word
'Twixt page and page o' the prayer-book in my place.
A crumpled thing dropped even before my feet,
Pushed through the blind, above the terrace-rail,
As I passed, by day, the very window once.
And ever from corners would be peering up
The messenger, with the self-same demand
"Obdurate still, no flesh but adamant?
"Nothing to cure the wound, assuage the throe
"O' the sweetest lamb that ever loved a bear?"
And ever my one answer in one tone—
"Go your ways, temptress! Let a priest read, pray,
"Unplagued of vain talk, visions not for him!
"In the end, you'll have your will and ruin me!"

One day, a variation: thus I read:
"You have gained little by timidity.
"My husband has found out my love at length,
"Sees cousin Conti was the stalking-horse,
"And you the game he covered, poor fat soul!
"My husband is a formidable foe,
"Will stick at nothing to destroy you. Stand
"Prepared, or better, run till you reach Rome!
"I bade you visit me, when the last place
"My tyrant would have turned suspicious at,
"Or cared to seek you in, waswhy say, where?
"But now all's changed: beside, the season's past
"At the villa,—wants the master's eye no more.
"Anyhow, I beseech you, stay away
"From the window! He might well be posted there."

I wrote—"You raise my courage, or call up
"My curiosity, who am but man.
"Tell him he owns the palace, not the street
"Under—that's his and yours and mine alike.
"If it should please me pad the path this eve,
"Guido will have two troubles, first to get
"Into a rage and then get out again.
"Be cautious, though: at the Ave!"

You of the Court!
When I stood question here and reached this point
O' the narrative,—search notes and see and say
If someone did not interpose with smile
And sneer, "And prithee why so confident
"That the husband must, of all needs, not the wife,
"Fabricate thus,—what if the lady loved?
"What if she wrote the letters?"

Learned Sir,
I told you there's a picture in our church.
Well, if a low-browed verger sidled up
Bringing me, like a blotch, on his prod's point,
A transfixed scorpion, let the reptile writhe,
And then said "See a thing that Rafael made—
"This venom issued from Madonna's mouth!"
I should reply, "Rather, the soul of you
"Has issued from your body, like from like,
"By way of the ordure-corner!"

But no less,
I tired of the same long black teasing lie
Obtruded thus at every turn; the pest
Was far too near the picture, anyhow:
One does Madonna service, making clowns
Remove their dung-heap from the sacristy.
"I will to the window, as he tempts," said I:
"Yes, whom the easy love has failed allure,
"This new bait of adventure tempts,—thinks he.
"Though the imprisoned lady keeps afar,
"There will they lie in ambush, heads alert,
"Kith, kin, and Count mustered to bite my heel.
"No mother nor brother viper of the brood
"Shall scuttle off without the instructive bruise!"

So I went: crossed street and street: "The next street's turn,
"I stand beneath the terrace, see, above,
"The black of the ambush-window. Then, in place
"Of hand's throw of soft prelude over lute,
"And cough that clears way for the ditty last,"—
I began to laugh already—"he will have
"'Out of the hole you hide in, on to the front,
"'Count Guido Franceschini, show yourself!
"'Hear what a man thinks of a thing like you,
"'And after, take this foulness in your face!'"

The words lay living on my lip, I made
The one-turn moreand there at the window stood,
Framed in its black square length, with lamp in hand,
Pompilia; the same great, grave, griefful air
As stands i' the dusk, on altar that I know,
Left alone with one moonbeam in her cell,
Our Lady of all the Sorrows. Ere I knelt—
Assured myself that she was flesh and blood—
She had looked one look and vanished.

I thought—"Just so:
"It was herself, they have set her there to watch—
"Stationed to see some wedding band go by,
"On fair pretence that she must bless the bride,
"Or wait some funeral with friends wind past,
"And crave peace for the corpse that claims its due.
"She never dreams they used her for a snare,
"And now withdraw the bait has served its turn.
"Well done, the husband, who shall fare the worse!"
And on my lip again was—"Out with thee,
"Guido!" When all at once she re-appeared;
But, this time, on the terrace overhead,
So close above me, she could almost touch
My head if she bent down; and she did bend,
While I stood still as stone, all eye, all ear.

She began—"You have sent me letters, Sir:
"I have read none, I can neither read nor write;
"But she you gave them to, a woman here,
"One of the people in whose power I am,
"Partly explained their sense, I think, to me
"Obliged to listen while she inculcates
"That you, a priest, can dare love me, a wife,
"Desire to live or die as I shall bid,
"(She makes me listen if I will or no)
"Because you saw my face a single time.
"It cannot be she says the thing you mean;
"Such wickedness were deadly to us both:
"But good true love would help me now so much
"I tell myself, you may mean good and true.
"You offer me, I seem to understand,
"Because I am in poverty and starve,
"Much money, where one piece would save my life.
"The silver cup upon the altar-cloth
"Is neither yours to give nor mine to take;
"But I might take one bit of bread therefrom,
"Since I am starving, and return the rest,
"Yet do no harm: this is my very case.
"I am in that strait, I may not dare abstain
"From so much of assistance as would bring
"The guilt of theft on neither you nor me;
"But no superfluous particle of aid.
"I think, if you will let me state my case,
"Even had you been so fancy-fevered here,
"Not your sound self, you must grow healthy now—
"Care only to bestow what I can take.
"That it is only you in the wide world,
"Knowing me nor in thought nor word nor deed,
"Who, all unprompted save by your own heart,
"Come proffering assistance now,—were strange
"But that my whole life is so strange: as strange
"It is, my husband whom I have not wronged
"Should hate and harm me. For his own soul's sake,
"Hinder the harm! But there is something more,
"And that the strangest: it has got to be
"Somehow for my sake too, and yet not mine,
"—This is a riddle—for some kind of sake
"Not any clearer to myself than you,
"And yet as certain as that I draw breath,—
"I would fain live, not die—oh no, not die!
"My case is, I was dwelling happily
"At Rome with those dear Comparini, called
"Father and mother to me; when at once
"I found I had become Count Guido's wife:
"Who then, not waiting for a moment, changed
"Into a fury of fire, if once he was
"Merely a man: his face threw fire at mine,
"He laid a hand on me that burned all peace,
"All joy, all hope, and last all fear away,
"Dipping the bough of life, so pleasant once,
"In fire which shrivelled leaf and bud alike,
"Burning not only present life but past,
"Which you might think was safe beyond his reach.
"He reached it, though, since that beloved pair,
"My father once, my mother all those years,
"That loved me so, now say I dreamed a dream
"And bid me wake, henceforth no child of theirs,
"Never in all the time their child at all.
"Do you understand? I cannot: yet so it is.
"Just so I say of you that proffer help:
"I cannot understand what prompts your soul,
"I simply needs must see that it is so,
"Only one strange and wonderful thing more.
"They came here with me, those two dear ones, kept
"All the old love up, till my husband, till
"His people here so tortured them, they fled.
"And now, is it because I grow in flesh
"And spirit one with him their torturer,
"That they, renouncing him, must cast off me?
"If I were graced by God to have a child,
"Could I one day deny God graced me so?
"Then, since my husband hates me, I shall break
"No law that reigns in this fell house of hate,
"By using—letting have effect so much
"Of hate as hides me from that whole of hate
"Would take my life which I want and must have
"Just as I take from your excess of love
"Enough to save my life with, all I need.
"The Archbishop said to murder me were sin:
"My leaving Guido were a kind of death
"With no sin,—more death, he must answer for.
"Hear now what death to him and life to you
"I wish to pay and owe. Take me to Rome!
"You go to Rome, the servant makes me hear.
"Take me as you would take a dog, I think,
"Masterless left for strangers to maltreat:
"Take me home like thatleave me in the house
"Where the father and the mother are; and soon
"They'll come to know and call me by my name,
"Their child once more, since child I am, for all
"They now forget me, which is the worst o' the dream—
"And the way to end dreams is to break them, stand,
"Walk, go: then help me to stand, walk and go!
"The Governor said the strong should help the weak:
"You know how weak the strongest women are.
"How could I find my way there by myself?
"I cannot even call out, make them hear—
"Just as in dreams: I have tried and proved the fact.
"I have told this story and more to good great men,
"The Archbishop and the Governor: they smiled.
"'Stop your mouth, fair one!'—presently they frowned,
"'Get you gone, disengage you from our feet!'
"I went in my despair to an old priest,
"Only a friar, no great man like these two,
"But good, the Augustinian, people name
"Romano,—he confessed me two months since:
"He fears God, why then needs he fear the world?
"And when he questioned how it came about
"That I was found in danger of a sin—
"Despair of any help from providence,—
"'Since, though your husband outrage you,' said he,
"'That is a case too common, the wives die
"'Or live, but do not sin so deep as this'—
"Then I toldwhat I never will tell you
"How, worse than husband's hate, I had to bear
"The love,—soliciting to shame called love,—
"Of his brother,—the young idle priest i' the house
"With only the devil to meet there. 'This is grave—
"'Yes, we must interfere: I counsel,—write
"'To those who used to be your parents once,
"'Of dangers here, bid them convey you hence!'
"'But,' said I, 'when I neither read nor write?'
"Then he took pity and promised 'I will write.'
"If he did so,—why, they are dumb or dead:
"Either they give no credit to the tale,
"Or else, wrapped wholly up in their own joy
"Of such escape, they care not who cries, still
"I' the clutches. Anyhow, no word arrives.
"All such extravagance and dreadfulness
"Seems incident to dreaming, cured one way,—
"Wake me! The letter I received this morn,
"Said—if the woman spoke your very sense—
"'You would die for me:' I can believe it now:
"For now the dream gets to involve yourself.
"First of all, you seemed wicked and not good,
"In writing me those letters: you came in
"Like a thief upon me. I this morning said
"In my extremity, entreat the thief!
"Try if he have in him no honest touch!
"A thief might save me from a murderer.
"'T was a thief said the last kind word to Christ:
"Christ took the kindness and forgave the theft:
"And so did I prepare what I now say.
"But now, that you stand and I see your face,
"Though you have never uttered word yet,—well, I know,
"Here too has been dream-work, delusion too,
"And that at no time, you with the eyes here,
"Ever intended to do wrong by me,
"Nor wrote such letters therefore. It is false,
"And you are true, have been true, will be true.
"To Rome then,—when is it you take me there?
"Each minute lost is mortal. When?—I ask."

I answered "It shall be when it can be.
"I will go hence and do your pleasure, find
"The sure and speedy means of travel, then
"Come back and take you to your friends in Rome.
"There wants a carriage, money and the rest,—
"A day's work by to-morrow at this time.
"How shall I see you and assure escape?"

She replied, "Pass, to-morrow at this hour.
"If I am at the open window, well:
"If I am absent, drop a handkerchief
"And walk by! I shall see from where I watch,
"And know that all is done. Return next eve,
"And next, and so till we can meet and speak!"
"To-morrow at this hour I pass," said I.
She was withdrawn.

Here is another point
I bid you pause at. When I told thus far,
Someone said, subtly, "Here at least was found
"Your confidence in error,—you perceived
"The spirit of the letters, in a sort,
"Had been the lady's, if the body should be
"Supplied by Guido: say, he forged them all!
"Here was the unforged fact—she sent for you,
"Spontaneously elected you to help,
"—What men call, loved you: Guido read her mind,
"Gave it expression to assure the world
"The case was just as he foresaw: he wrote,
"She spoke."

Sirs, that first simile serves still,—
That falsehood of a scorpion hatched, I say,
Nowhere i' the world but in Madonna's mouth.
Go on! Suppose, that falsehood foiled, next eve
Pictured Madonna raised her painted hand,
Fixed the face Rafael bent above the Babe,
On my face as I flung me at her feet:
Such miracle vouchsafed and manifest,
Would that prove the first lying tale was true?
Pompilia spoke, and I at once received,
Accepted my own fact, my miracle
Self-authorized and self-explained,—she chose
To summon me and signify her choice.
Afterward,—oh! I gave a passing glance
To a certain ugly cloud-shape, goblin-shred
Of hell-smoke hurrying past the splendid moon
Out now to tolerate no darkness more,
And saw right through the thing that tried to pass
For truth and solid, not an empty lie:
"So, he not only forged the words for her
"But words for me, made letters he called mine:
"What I sent, he retained, gave these in place,
"All by the mistress-messenger! As I
"Recognized her, at potency of truth,
"So she, by the crystalline soul, knew me,
"Never mistook the signs. Enough of this
"Let the wraith go to nothingness again,
"Here is the orb, have only thought for her!"

"Thought?" nay, Sirs, what shall follow was not thought:
I have thought sometimes, and thought long and hard.
I have stood before, gone round a serious thing,
Tasked my whole mind to touch and clasp it close,
As I stretch forth my arm to touch this bar.
God and man, and what duty I owe both,—
I dare to say I have confronted these
In thought: but no such faculty helped here.
I put forth no thought,—powerless, all that night
I paced the city: it was the first Spring.
By the invasion I lay passive to,
In rushed new things, the old were rapt away;
Alike abolished—the imprisonment
Of the outside air, the inside weight o' the world
That pulled me down. Death meant, to spurn the ground.
Soar to the sky,—die well and you do that.
The very immolation made the bliss;
Death was the heart of life, and all the harm
My folly had crouched to avoid, now proved a veil
Hiding all gain my wisdom strove to grasp:
As if the intense centre of the flame
Should turn a heaven to that devoted fly
Which hitherto, sophist alike and sage,
Saint Thomas with his sober grey goose-quill,
And sinner Plato by Cephisian reed,
Would fain, pretending just the insect's good,
Whisk off, drive back, consign to shade again.
Into another state, under new rule
I knew myself was passing swift and sure;
Whereof the initiatory pang approached,
Felicitous annoy, as bitter-sweet
As when the virgin-band, the victors chaste,
Feel at the end the earthly garments drop,
And rise with something of a rosy shame
Into immortal nakedness: so I
Lay, and let come the proper throe would thrill
Into the ecstasy and outthrob pain.

I' the grey of dawn it was I found myself
Facing the pillared front o' the Pieve—mine,
My church: it seemed to say for the first time
"But am not I the Bride, the mystic love
"O' the Lamb, who took thy plighted troth, my priest,
"To fold thy warm heart on my heart of stone
"And freeze thee nor unfasten any more?
"This is a fleshly woman,—let the free
"Bestow their life-blood, thou art pulseless now!"
See! Day by day I had risen and left this church
At the signal waved me by some foolish fan,
With half a curse and half a pitying smile
For the monk I stumbled over in my haste,
Prostrate and corpse-like at the altar-foot
Intent on his corona: then the church
Was ready with her quip, if word conduced,
To quicken my pace nor stop for prating—"There!
"Be thankful you are no such ninny, go
"Rather to teach a black-eyed novice cards
"Than gabble Latin and protrude that nose
"Smoothed to a sheep's through no brains and much faith!"
That sort of incentive! Now the church changed tone—
Now, when I found out first that life and death
Are means to an end, that passion uses both,
Indisputably mistress of the man
Whose form of worship is self-sacrifice:
Now, from the stone lungs sighed the scrannel voice
"Leave that live passion, come be dead with me!"
As if, i' the fabled garden, I had gone
On great adventure, plucked in ignorance
Hedge-fruit, and feasted to satiety,
Laughing at such high fame for hips and haws,
And scorned the achievement: then come all at once
O' the prize o' the place, the thing of perfect gold,
The apple's self: and, scarce my eye on that,
Was 'ware as well o' the seven-fold dragon's watch.

Sirs, I obeyed. Obedience was too strange,—
This new thing that had been struck into me
By the look o' the lady,—to dare disobey
The first authoritative word. 'T was God's.
I had been lifted to the level of her,
Could take such sounds into my sense. I said
"We two are cognisant o' the Master now;
"She it is bids me bow the head: how true,
"I am a priest! I see the function here;
"I thought the other way self-sacrifice:
"This is the true, seals up the perfect sum.
"I pay it, sit down, silently obey."

So, I went home. Dawn broke, noon broadened, I—
I sat stone-still, let time run over me.
The sun slanted into my room, had reached
The west. I opened book,—Aquinas blazed
With one black name only on the white page.
I looked up, saw the sunset: vespers rang:
"She counts the minutes till I keep my word
"And come say all is ready. I am a priest.
"Duty to God is duty to her: I think
"God, who created her, will save her too
"Some new way, by one miracle the more,
"Without me. Then, prayer may avail perhaps."
I went to my own place i' the Pieve, read
The office: I was back at home again
Sitting i' the dark. "Could she but knowbut know
"That, were there good in this distinct from God's,
"Really good as it reached her, though procured
"By a sin of mine,—I should sin: God forgives.
"She knows it is no fear withholds me: fear?
"Of what? Suspense here is the terrible thing.
"If she should, as she counts the minutes, come
"On the fantastic notion that I fear
"The world now, fear the Archbishop, fear perhaps
"Count Guido, he who, having forged the lies,
"May wait the work, attend the effect,—I fear
"The sword of Guido! Let God see to that
"Hating lies, let not her believe a lie!"

Again the morning found me. "I will work,
"Tie down my foolish thoughts. Thank God so far!
"I have saved her from a scandal, stopped the tongues
"Had broken else into a cackle and hiss
"Around the noble name. Duty is still
"Wisdom: I have been wise." So the day wore.

At evening—"But, achieving victory,
"I must not blink the priest's peculiar part,
"Nor shrink to counsel, comfort: priest and friend
"How do we discontinue to be friends?
"I will go minister, advise her seek
"Help at the source,—above all, not despair:
"There may be other happier help at hand.
"I hope it,—wherefore then neglect to say?"

There she stood—leaned there, for the second time,
Over the terrace, looked at me, then spoke:
"Why is it you have suffered me to stay
"Breaking my heart two days more than was need?
"Why delay help, your own heart yearns to give?
"You are again here, in the self-same mind,
"I see here, steadfast in the face of you,—
"You grudge to do no one thing that I ask.
"Why then is nothing done? You know my need.
"Still, through God's pity on me, there is time
"And one day more: shall I be saved or no?"
I answered—"Lady, waste no thought, no word
"Even to forgive me! Care for what I care—
"Only! Now follow me as I were fate!
"Leave this house in the dark to-morrow night,
"Just before daybreak:—there's new moon this eve—
"It sets, and then begins the solid black.
"Descend, proceed to the Torrione, step
"Over the low dilapidated wall,
"Take San Clemente, there's no other gate
"Unguarded at the hour: some paces thence
"An inn stands; cross to it; I shall be there."

She answered, "If I can but find the way.
"But I shall find it. Go now!"

I did go,
Took rapidly the route myself prescribed,
Stopped at Torrione, climbed the ruined place,
Proved that the gate was practicable, reached
The inn, no eye, despite the dark, could miss,
Knocked there and entered, made the host secure:
"With Caponsacchi it is ask and have;
"I know my betters. Are you bound for Rome?
"I get swift horse and trusty man," said he.

Then I retraced my steps, was found once more
In my own house for the last time: there lay
The broad pale opened Summa. "Shut his book,
"There's other showing! 'T was a Thomas too
"Obtained,—more favoured than his namesake here,—
"A gift, tied faith fast, foiled the tug of doubt,—
"Our Lady's girdle; down he saw it drop
"As she ascended into heaven, they say:
"He kept that safe and bade all doubt adieu.
"I too have seen a lady and hold a grace."

I know not how the night passed: morning broke;
Presently came my servant. "Sir, this eve—
"Do you forget?" I started. "How forget?
"What is it you know?" "With due submission, Sir,
"This being last Monday in the month but one
"And a vigil, since to-morrow is Saint George,
"And feast day, and moreover day for copes,
"And Canon Conti now away a month,
"And Canon Crispi sour because, forsooth,
"You let him sulk in stall and bear the brunt
"Of the octave … Well, Sir, 't is important!"

"True!
"Hearken, I have to start for Rome this night.
"No word, lest Crispi overboil and burst!
"Provide me with a laic dress! Throw dust
"I' the Canon's eye, stop his tongue's scandal so!
"See there's a sword in case of accident."
I knew the knave, the knave knew me.

And thus
Through each familiar hindrance of the day
Did I make steadily for its hour and end,—
Felt time's old barrier-growth of right and fit
Give way through all its twines, and let me go.
Use and wont recognized the excepted man,
Let speed the special service,—and I sped
Till, at the dead between midnight and morn,
There was I at the goal, before the gate,
With a tune in the ears, low leading up to loud,
A light in the eyes, faint that would soon be flare,
Ever some spiritual witness new and new
In faster frequence, crowding solitude
To watch the way o' the warfare,—till, at last,
When the ecstatic minute must bring birth,
Began a whiteness in the distance, waxed
Whiter and whiter, near grew and more near,
Till it was she: there did Pompilia come:
The white I saw shine through her was her soul's,
Certainly, for the body was one black,
Black from head down to foot. She did not speak,
Glided into the carriage,—so a cloud
Gathers the moon up. "By San Spirito,
"To Rome, as if the road burned underneath!
"Reach Rome, then hold my head in pledge, I pay
"The run and the risk to heart's content!" Just that
I said,—then, in another tick of time,
Sprang, was beside her, she and I alone.

So it began, our flight thro' dusk to clear,
Through day and night and day again to night
Once more, and to last dreadful dawn of all.
Sirs, how should I lie quiet in my grave
Unless you suffer me wring, drop by drop,
My brain dry, make a riddance of the drench
Of minutes with a memory in each,
Recorded motion, breath or look of hers,
Which poured forth would present you one pure glass,
Mirror you plain,—as God's sea, glassed in gold,
His saints,—the perfect soul Pompilia? Men,
You must know that a man gets drunk with truth
Stagnant inside him! Oh, they've killed her, Sirs!
Can I be calm?

Calmly! Each incident
Proves, I maintain, that action of the flight
For the true thing it was. The first faint scratch
O' the stone will test its nature, teach its worth
To idiots who name Parian—coprolite.
After all, I shall give no glare—at best
Only display you certain scattered lights
Lamping the rush and roll of the abyss:
Nothing but here and there a fire-point pricks
Wavelet from wavelet: well!

For the first hour
We both were silent in the night, I know:
Sometimes I did not see nor understand.
Blackness engulphed me,—partial stupor, say
Then I would break way, breathe through the surprise,
And be aware again, and see who sat
In the dark vest with the white face and hands.
I said to myself—"I have caught it, I conceive
"The mind o' the mystery: 't is the way they wake
"And wait, two martyrs somewhere in a tomb
"Each by each as their blessing was to die;
"Some signal they are promised and expect,—
"When to arise before the trumpet scares:
"So, through the whole course of the world they wait
"The last day, but so fearless and so safe!
"No otherwise, in safety and not fear,
"I lie, because she lies too by my side."
You know this is not love, Sirs,—it is faith,
The feeling that there's God, he reigns and rules
Out of this low world: that is all; no harm!
At times she drew a soft sigh—music seemed
Always to hover just above her lips,
Not settle,—break a silence music too.

In the determined morning, I first found
Her head erect, her face turned full to me,
Her soul intent on mine through two wide eyes.
I answered them. "You are saved hitherto.
"We have passed Perugia,—gone round by the wood,
"Not through, I seem to think,—and opposite
"I know Assisi; this is holy ground."
Then she resumed. "How long since we both left
"Arezzo?" "Years—and certain hours beside."

It was at … ah, but I forget the names!
'T is a mere post-house and a hovel or two;
I left the carriage and got bread and wine
And brought it her. "Does it detain to eat?"
"They stay perforce, change horses,—therefore eat!
"We lose no minute: we arrive, be sure!"
This was—I know not wherethere's a great hill
Close over, and the stream has lost its bridge,
One fords it. She began—"I have heard say
"Of some sick body that my mother knew,
"'T was no good sign when in a limb diseased
"All the pain suddenly departs,—as if
"The guardian angel discontinued pain
"Because the hope of cure was gone at last:
"The limb will not again exert itself,
"It needs be pained no longer: so with me,
"—My soul whence all the pain is past at once:
"All pain must be to work some good in the end.
"True, this I feel now, this may be that good,
"Pain was because of,—otherwise, I fear!"

She said,—a long while later in the day,
When I had let the silence be,—abrupt—
"Have you a mother?" "She died, I was born."
"A sister then?" "No sister." "Who was it
"What woman were you used to serve this way,
"Be kind to, till I called you and you came?"
I did not like that word. Soon afterward—
"Tell me, are men unhappy, in some kind
"Of mere unhappiness at being men,
"As women suffer, being womanish?
"Have you, now, some unhappiness, I mean,
"Born of what may be man's strength overmuch,
"To match the undue susceptibility,
"The sense at every pore when hate is close?
"It hurts us if a baby hides its face
"Or child strikes at us punily, calls names
"Or makes a mouth,—much more if stranger men
"Laugh or frown,—just as that were much to bear!
"Yet rocks split,—and the blow-ball does no more,
"Quivers to feathery nothing at a touch;
"And strength may have its drawback weakness scapes."
Once she asked "What is it that made you smile,
"At the great gate with the eagles and the snakes,
"Where the company entered, 't is a long time since?"
"—Forgive—I think you would not understand:
"Ah, but you ask me,—therefore, it was this.
"That was a certain bishop's villa-gate,
"I knew it by the eagles,—and at once
"Remembered this same bishop was just he
"People of old were wont to bid me please
"If I would catch preferment: so, I smiled
"Because an impulse came to me, a whim—
"What if I prayed the prelate leave to speak,
"Began upon him in his presence-hall
"—'What, still at work so grey and obsolete?
"'Still rocheted and mitred more or less?
"'Don't you feel all that out of fashion now?
"'I find out when the day of things is done!'"

At eve we heard the angelus: she turned—
"I told you I can neither read nor write.
"My life stopped with the play-time; I will learn,
"If I begin to live again: but you
"Who are a priest—wherefore do you not read
"The service at this hour? Read Gabriel's song,
"The lesson, and then read the little prayer
"To Raphael, proper for us travellers!"
I did not like that, neither, but I read.

When we stopped at Foligno it was dark.
The people of the post came out with lights:
The driver said, "This time to-morrow, may
"Saints only help, relays continue good,
"Nor robbers hinder, we arrive at Rome."
I urged, "Why tax your strength a second night?
"Trust me, alight here and take brief repose!
"We are out of harm's reach, past pursuit: go sleep
"If but an hour! I keep watch, guard the while
"Here in the doorway." But her whole face changed,
The misery grew again about her mouth,
The eyes burned up from faintness, like the fawn's
Tired to death in the thicket, when she feels
The probing spear o' the huntsman. "Oh, no stay!"
She cried, in the fawn's cry, "On to Rome, on, on
"Unless 't is you who fear,—which cannot be!"

We did go on all night; but at its close
She was troubled, restless, moaned low, talked at whiles
To herself, her brow on quiver with the dream:
Once, wide awake, she menaced, at arms' length
Waved away something—"Never again with you!
"My soul is mine, my body is my soul's:
"You and I are divided ever more
"In soul and body: get you gone!" Then I—
"Why, in my whole life I have never prayed!
"Oh, if the God, that only can, would help!
"Am I his priest with power to cast out fiends?
"Let God arise and all his enemies
"Be scattered!" By morn, there was peace, no sigh
Out of the deep sleep.

When she woke at last,
I answered the first look—"Scarce twelve hours more,
"Then, Rome! There probably was no pursuit,
"There cannot now be peril: bear up brave!
"Just some twelve hours to press through to the prize:
"Then, no more of the terrible journey!" "Then,
"No more o' the journey: if it might but last!
"Always, my life-long, thus to journey still!
"It is the interruption that I dread,—
"With no dread, ever to be here and thus!
"Never to see a face nor hear a voice!
"Yours is no voice; you speak when you are dumb;
"Nor face, I see it in the dark. I want
"No face nor voice that change and grow unkind."
That I liked, that was the best thing she said.

In the broad day, I dared entreat, "Descend!"
I told a woman, at the garden-gate
By the post-house, white and pleasant in the sun,
"It is my sister,—talk with her apart!
"She is married and unhappy, you perceive;
"I take her home because her head is hurt;
"Comfort her as you women understand!"
So, there I left them by the garden-wall,
Paced the road, then bade put the horses to,
Came back, and there she sat: close to her knee,
A black-eyed child still held the bowl of milk,
Wondered to see how little she could drink,
And in her arms the woman's infant lay.
She smiled at me "How much good this has done!
"This is a whole night's rest and how much more!
"I can proceed now, though I wish to stay.
"How do you call that tree with the thick top
"That holds in all its leafy green and gold
"The sun now like an immense egg of fire?"
(It was a million-leaved mimosa.) "Take
"The babe away from me and let me go!"
And in the carriage "Still a day, my friend!
"And perhaps half a night, the woman fears.
"I pray it finish since it cannot last
"There may be more misfortune at the close,
"And where will you be? God suffice me then!"
And presently—for there was a roadside-shrine—
"When I was taken first to my own church
"Lorenzo in Lucina, being a girl,
"And bid confess my faults, I interposed
"'But teach me what fault to confess and know!'
"So, the priest said—'You should bethink yourself:
"'Each human being needs must have done wrong!'
"Now, be you candid and no priest but friend
"Were I surprised and killed here on the spot,
"A runaway from husband and his home,
"Do you account it were in sin I died?
"My husband used to seem to harm me, not
"Not on pretence he punished sin of mine,
"Nor for sin's sake and lust of cruelty,
"But as I heard him bid a farming-man
"At the villa take a lamb once to the wood
"And there ill-treat it, meaning that the wolf
"Should hear its cries, and so come, quick be caught,
"Enticed to the trap: he practised thus with me
"That so, whatever were his gain thereby,
"Others than I might become prey and spoil.
"Had it been only between our two selves,—
"His pleasure and my pain,—why, pleasure him
"By dying, nor such need to make a coil!
"But this was worth an effort, that my pain
"Should not become a snare, prove pain threefold
"To other people—strangers—or unborn—
"How should I know? I sought release from that
"I think, or else from,—dare I say, some cause
"Such as is put into a tree, which turns
"Away from the north wind with what nest it holds,—
"The woman said that trees so turn: now, friend,
"Tell me, because I cannot trust myself!
"You are a man: what have I done amiss?"
You must conceive my answer,—I forget—
Taken up wholly with the thought, perhaps,
This time she might have said,—might, did not say
"You are a priest." She said, "my friend."

Day wore,
We passed the places, somehow the calm went,
Again the restless eyes began to rove
In new fear of the foe mine could not see.
She wandered in her mind,—addressed me once
"Gaetano!"—that is not my name: whose name?
I grew alarmed, my head seemed turning too.
I quickened pace with promise now, now threat:
Bade drive and drive, nor any stopping more.
"Too deep i' the thick of the struggle, struggle through!
"Then drench her in repose though death's self pour
"The plenitude of quiet,—help us, God,
"Whom the winds carry!"

Suddenly I saw
The old tower, and the little white-walled clump
Of buildings and the cypress-tree or two,—
"Already Castelnuovo—Rome!" I cried,
"As good as Rome,—Rome is the next stage, think!
"This is where travellers' hearts are wont to beat.
"Say you are saved, sweet lady!" Up she woke.
The sky was fierce with colour from the sun
Setting. She screamed out "No, I must not die!
"Take me no farther, I should die: stay here!
"I have more life to save than mine!"

She swooned.
We seemed safe: what was it foreboded so?
Out of the coach into the inn I bore
The motionless and breathless pure and pale
Pompilia,—bore her through a pitying group
And laid her on a couch, still calm and cured
By deep sleep of all woes at once. The host
Was urgent "Let her stay an hour or two!
"Leave her to us, all will be right by morn!"
Oh, my foreboding! But I could not choose.

I paced the passage, kept watch all night long.
I listened,—not one movement, not one sigh.
"Fear not: she sleeps so sound!" they said: but I
Feared, all the same, kept fearing more and more,
Found myself throb with fear from head to foot,
Filled with a sense of such impending woe,
That, at first pause of night, pretence of gray,
I made my mind up it was morn.—"Reach Rome,
"Lest hell reach her! A dozen miles to make,
"Another long breath, and we emerge!" I stood
I' the court-yard, roused the sleepy grooms. "Have out
"Carriage and horse, give haste, take gold!" said I.
While they made ready in the doubtful morn,—
'T was the last minute,—needs must I ascend
And break her sleep; I turned to go.

And there
Faced me Count Guido, there posed the mean man
As master,—took the field, encamped his rights,
Challenged the world: there leered new triumph, there
Scowled the old malice in the visage bad
And black o' the scamp. Soon triumph suppled the tongue
A little, malice glued to his dry throat,
And he part howled, part hissed … oh, how he kept
Well out o' the way, at arm's length and to spare!—
"My salutation to your priestship! What?
"Matutinal, busy with book so soon
"Of an April day that's damp as tears that now
"Deluge Arezzo at its darling's flight?—
"'T is unfair, wrongs feminity at large,
"To let a single dame monopolize
"A heart the whole sex claims, should share alike:
"Therefore I overtake you, Canon! Come!
"The lady,—could you leave her side so soon?
"You have not yet experienced at her hands
"My treatment, you lay down undrugged, I see!
"Hence this alertness—hence no death-in-life
"Like what held arms fast when she stole from mine.
"To be sure, you took the solace and repose
"That first night at Foligno!—news abound
"O' the road by this time,—men regaled me much,
"As past them I came halting after you,
"Vulcan pursuing Mars, as poets sing,—
"Still at the last here pant I, but arrive,
"Vulcan—and not without my Cyclops too,
"The Commissary and the unpoisoned arm
"O' the Civil Force, should Mars turn mutineer.
"Enough of fooling: capture the culprits, friend!
"Here is the lover in the smart disguise
"With the sword,—he is a priest, so mine lies still.
"There upstairs hides my wife the runaway,
"His leman: the two plotted, poisoned first,
"Plundered me after, and eloped thus far
"Where now you find them. Do your duty quick!
"Arrest and hold him! That's done: now catch her!"
During this speech of that man,—well, I stood
Away, as he managed,—still, I stood as near
The throat of him,—with these two hands, my own,—
As now I stand near yours, Sir,—one quick spring,
One great good satisfying gripe, and lo!
There had he lain abolished with his lie,
Creation purged o' the miscreate, man redeemed,
A spittle wiped off from the face of God!
I, in some measure, seek a poor excuse
For what I left undone, in just this fact
That my first feeling at the speech I quote
Wasnot of what a blasphemy was dared,
Not what a bag of venomed purulence
Was split and noisome,—but how splendidly
Mirthful, how ludicrous a lie was launched!
Would Molière's self wish more than hear such man
Call, claim such woman for his own, his wife
Even though, in due amazement at the boast,
He had stammered, she moreover was divine?
She to be his,—were hardly less absurd
Than that he took her name into his mouth,
Licked, and then let it go again, the beast,
Signed with his slaver. Oh, she poisoned him,
Plundered him, and the rest! Well, what I wished
Was, that he would but go on, say once more
So to the world, and get his meed of men,
The fist's reply to the filth. And while I mused,
The minute, oh the misery, was gone!
On either idle hand of me there stood
Really an officer, nor laughed i' the least:
Nay, rendered justice to his reason, laid
Logic to heart, as 't were submitted them
"Twice two makes four."

"And now, catch her!" he cried.
That sobered me. "Let myself lead the way
"Ere you arrest me, who am somebody,
"Being, as you hear, a priest and privileged,—
"To the lady's chamber! I presume you—men
"Expert, instructed how to find out truth,
"Familiar with the guise of guilt. Detect
"Guilt on her face when it meets mine, then judge
"Between us and the mad dog howling there!"
Up we all went together, in they broke
O' the chamber late my chapel. There she lay,
Composed as when I laid her, that last eve,
O' the couch, still breathless, motionless, sleep's self,
Wax-white, seraphic, saturate with the sun
O' the morning that now flooded from the front
And filled the window with a light like blood.
"Behold the poisoner, the adulteress,
"—And feigning sleep too! Seize, bind!" Guido hissed.

She started up, stood erect, face to face
With the husband: back he fell, was buttressed there
By the window all a flame with morning-red,
He the black figure, the opprobrious blur
Against all peace and joy and light and life.
"Away from between me and hell!" she cried:
"Hell for me, no embracing any more!
"I am God's, I love God, God—whose knees I clasp,
"Whose utterly most just award I take,
"But bear no more love-making devils: hence!"
I may have made an effort to reach her side
From where I stood i' the door-way,—anyhow
I found the arms, I wanted, pinioned fast,
Was powerless in the clutch to left and right
O' the rabble pouring in, rascality
Enlisted, rampant on the side of hearth
Home and the husband,—pay in prospect too!
They heaped themselves upon me. "Ha!—and him
"Also you outrage? Him, too, my sole friend,
"Guardian and saviour? That I baulk you of,
"Since—see how God can help at last and worst!"
She sprang at the sword that hung beside him, seized,
Drew, brandished it, the sunrise burned for joy
O' the blade, "Die," cried she, "devil, in God's name!"
Ah, but they all closed round her, twelve to one
The unmanly men, no woman-mother made,
Spawned somehow! Dead-white and disarmed she lay
No matter for the sword, her word sufficed
To spike the coward through and through: he shook,
Could only spit between the teeth—"You see?
"You hear? Bear witness, then! Write down . . but no
"Carry these criminals to the prison-house,
"For first thing! I begin my search meanwhile
"After the stolen effects, gold, jewels, plate,
"Money and clothes, they robbed me of and fled,
"With no few amorous pieces, verse and prose,
"I have much reason to expect to find."

When I saw thatno more than the first mad speech,
Made out the speaker mad and a laughing-stock,
So neither did this next device explode
One listener's indignation,—that a scribe
Did sit down, set himself to write indeed,
While sundry knaves began to peer and pry
In corner and hole,—that Guido, wiping brow
And getting him a countenance, was fast
Losing his fear, beginning to strut free
O' the stage of his exploit, snuff here, sniff there,—
Then I took truth in, guessed sufficiently
The service for the moment. "What I say,
"Slight at your peril! We are aliens here,
"My adversary and I, called noble both;
"I am the nobler, and a name men know.
"I could refer our cause to our own Court
"In our own country, but prefer appeal
"To the nearer jurisdiction. Being a priest,
"Though in a secular garb,—for reasons good
"I shall adduce in due time to my peers,—
"I demand that the Church I serve, decide
"Between us, right the slandered lady there.
"A Tuscan noble, I might claim the Duke:
"A priest, I rather choose the Church,—bid Rome
"Cover the wronged with her inviolate shield."

There was no refusing this: they bore me off,
They bore her off, to separate cells o' the same
Ignoble prison, and, separate, thence to Rome.
Pompilia's face, then and thus, looked on me
The last time in this life: not one sight since,
Never another sight to be! And yet
I thought I had saved her. I appealed to Rome:
It seems I simply sent her to her death.
You tell me she is dying now, or dead;
I cannot bring myself to quite believe
This is a place you torture people in:
What if this your intelligence were just
A subtlety, an honest wile to work
On a man at unawares? 'T were worthy you.
No, Sirs, I cannot have the lady dead!
That erect form, flashing brow, fulgurant eye,
That voice immortal (oh, that voice of hers!)
That vision in the blood-red day-break—that
Leap to life of the pale electric sword
Angels go armed with,—that was not the last
O' the lady! Come, I see through it, you find
Know the manoeuvre! Also herself said
I had saved her: do you dare say she spoke false?
Let me see for myself if it be so!
Though she were dying, a Priest might be of use,
The more when he's a friend too,—she called me
Far beyond "friend." Come, let me see her—indeed
It is my duty, being a priest: I hope
I stand confessed, established, proved a priest?
My punishment had motive that, a priest
I, in a laic garb, a mundane mode,
Did what were harmlessly done otherwise.
I never touched her with my finger-tip
Except to carry her to the couch, that eve,
Against my heart, beneath my head, bowed low,
As we priests carry the paten: that is why
To get leave and go see her of your grace—
I have told you this whole story over again.
Do I deserve grace? For I might lock lips,
Laugh at your jurisdiction: what have you
To do with me in the matter? I suppose
You hardly think I donned a bravo's dress
To have a hand in the new crime; on the old,
Judgment's delivered, penalty imposed,
I was chained fast at Civita hand and foot—
She had only you to trust to, you and Rome,
Rome and the Church, and no pert meddling priest
Two days ago, when Guido, with the right,
Hacked her to pieces. One might well be wroth;
I have been patient, done my best to help:
I come from Civita and punishment
As friend of the Court—and for pure friendship's sake
Have told my tale to the end,—nay, not the end
For, wait—I'll endnot leave you that excuse!

When we were parted,—shall I go on there?
I was presently brought to Rome—yes, here I stood
Opposite yonder very crucifix—
And there sat you and you, Sirs, quite the same.
I heard charge, and bore question, and told tale
Noted down in the book there,—turn and see
If, by one jot or tittle, I vary now!
I' the colour the tale takes, there's change perhaps;
'T is natural, since the sky is different,
Eclipse in the air now; still, the outline stays.
I showed you how it came to be my part
To save the lady. Then your clerk produced
Papers, a pack of stupid and impure
Banalities called letters about love—
Love, indeed,—I could teach who styled them so,
Better, I think, though priest and loveless both!
"—How was it that a wife, young, innocent,
"And stranger to your person, wrote this page?"—
"—She wrote it when the Holy Father wrote
"The bestiality that posts thro' Rome,
"Put in his mouth by Pasquin." "Nor perhaps
"Did you return these answers, verse and prose,
"Signed, sealed and sent the lady? There's your hand!"
"—This precious piece of verse, I really judge,
"Is meant to copy my own character,
"A clumsy mimic; and this other prose,
"Not so much even; both rank forgery:
"Verse, quotha? Bembo's verse! When Saint John wrote
"The tract 'De Tribus,' I wrote this to match."
"—How came it, then, the documents were found
"At the inn on your departure?"—"I opine,
"Because there were no documents to find
"In my presence,—you must hide before you find.
"Who forged them hardly practised in my view;
"Who found them waited till I turned my back."
"—And what of the clandestine visits paid,
"Nocturnal passage in and out the house
"With its lord absent? 'T is alleged you climbed …"
"—Flew on a broomstick to the man i' the moon!
"Who witnessed or will testify this trash?"
"—The trusty servant, Margherita's self,
"Even she who brought you letters, you confess,
"And, you confess, took letters in reply:
"Forget not we have knowledge of the facts!"
"—Sirs, who have knowledge of the facts, defray
"The expenditure of wit I waste in vain,
"Trying to find out just one fact of all!
"She who brought letters from who could not write,
"And took back letters to who could not read,—
"Who was that messenger, of your charity?"
"—Well, so far favours you the circumstance
"That this same messenger … how shall we say? …
"Sub imputatione meretricis
"Laborat,—which makes accusation null:
"We waive this woman's: nought makes void the next.
"Borsi, called Venerino, he who drove,
"O' the first night when you fled away, at length
"Deposes to your kissings in the coach,
"—Frequent, frenetic …" "When deposed he so?"
"After some weeks of sharp imprisonment …"
"—Granted by friend the Governor, I engage—"
"—For his participation in your flight!
"At length his obduracy melting made
"The avowal mentioned . ." "Was dismissed forthwith
"To liberty, poor knave, for recompense.
"Sirs, give what credit to the lie you can!
"For me, no word in my defence I speak,
"And God shall argue for the lady!"

So
Did I stand question, and make answer, still
With the same result of smiling disbelief,
Polite impossibility of faith
In such affected virtue in a priest;
But a showing fair play, an indulgence, even,
To one no worse than others after all
Who had not brought disgrace to the order, played
Discreetly, ruffled gown nor ripped the cloth
In a bungling game at romps: I have told you, Sirs—
If I pretended simply to be pure
Honest and Christian in the case,—absurd!
As well go boast myself above the needs
O' the human nature, careless how meat smells,
Wine tastes,—a saint above the smack! But once
Abate my crest, own flaws i' the flesh, agree
To go with the herd, be hog no more nor less,
Why, hogs in common herd have common rights:
I must not be unduly borne upon,
Who just romanced a little, sowed wild oats,
But 'scaped without a scandal, flagrant fault.
My name helped to a mirthful circumstance:
"Joseph" would do well to amend his plea:
Undoubtedly—some toying with the wife,
But as for ruffian violence and rape,
Potiphar pressed too much on the other side!
The intrigue, the elopement, the disguise,—well charged!
The letters and verse looked hardly like the truth.
Your apprehension wasof guilt enough
To be compatible with innocence,
So, punished best a little and not too much.
Had I struck Guido Franceschini's face,
You had counselled me withdraw for my own sake,
Baulk him of bravo-hiring. Friends came round,
Congratulated, "Nobody mistakes!
"The pettiness o' the forfeiture defines
"The peccadillo: Guido gets his share:
"His wife is free of husband and hook-nose,
"The mouldy viands and the mother-in-law.
"To Civita with you and amuse the time,
"Travesty us 'De Raptu Helenoe!'
"A funny figure must the husband cut
"When the wife makes him skip,—too ticklish, eh?
"Do it in Latin, not the Vulgar, then!
"Scazons—we'll copy and send his Eminence.
"Mind—one iambus in the final foot!
"He'll rectity it, be your friend for life!"
Oh, Sirs, depend on me for much new light
Thrown on the justice and religion here
By this proceeding, much fresh food for thought!

And I was just set down to study these
In relegation, two short days ago,
Admiring how you read the rules, when, clap,
A thunder comes into my solitude—
I am caught up in a whirlwind and cast here,
Told of a sudden, in this room where so late
You dealt out law adroitly, that those scales,
I meekly bowed to, took my allotment from,
Guido has snatched at, broken in your hands,
Metes to himself the murder of his wife,
Full measure, pressed down, running over now!
Can I assist to an explanation?—Yes,
I rise in your esteem, sagacious Sirs,
Stand up a renderer of reasons, not
The officious priest would personate Saint George
For a mock Princess in undragoned days.
What, the blood startles you? What, after all
The priest who needs must carry sword on thigh
May find imperative use for it? Then, there was
A Princess, was a dragon belching flame,
And should have been a Saint George also? Then,
There might be worse schemes than to break the bonds
At Arezzo, lead her by the little hand,
Till she reached Rome, and let her try to live?
But you were law and gospel,—would one please
Stand back, allow your faculty elbow-room?
You blind guides who must needs lead eyes that see!
Fools, alike ignorant of man and God!
What was there here should have perplexed your wit
For a wink of the owl-eyes of you? How miss, then,
What's now forced on you by this flare of fact—
As if Saint Peter failed to recognize
Nero as no apostle, John or James,
Till someone burned a martyr, made a torch
O' the blood and fat to show his features by!
Could you fail read this cartulary aright
On head and front of Franceschini there,
Large-lettered like hell's masterpiece of print,—
That he, from the beginning pricked at heart
By some lust, letch of hate against his wife,
Plotted to plague her into overt sin
And shame, would slay Pompilia body and soul,
And save his mean self—miserably caught
I' the quagmire of his own tricks, cheats and lies?
That himself wrote those papers,—from himself
To himself,—which, i' the name of me and her,
His mistress-messenger gave her and me,
Touching us with such pustules of the soul
That she and I might take the taint, be shown
To the world and shuddered over, speckled so?
That the agent put her sense into my words,
Made substitution of the thing she hoped,
For the thing she had and held, its opposite,
While the husband in the background bit his lips
At each fresh failure of his precious plot?
That when at the last we did rush each on each,
By no chance but because God willed it so
The spark of truth was struck from out our souls—
Made all of me, descried in the first glance,
Seem fair and honest and permissible love
O' the good and true—as the first glance told me
There was no duty patent in the world
Like daring try be good and true myself,
Leaving the shows of things to the Lord of Show
And Prince o' the Power of the Air. Our very flight,
Even to its most ambiguous circumstance,
Irrefragably proved how futile, false …
Why, men—men and not boys—boys and not babes—
Babes and not beasts—beasts and not stocks and stones!—
Had the liar's lie been true one pin-point speck,
Were I the accepted suitor, free o' the place,
Disposer of the time, to come at a call
And go at a wink as who should say me nay,—
What need of flight, what were the gain therefrom
But just damnation, failure or success?
Damnation pure and simple to her the wife
And me the priest—who bartered private bliss
For public reprobation, the safe shade
For the sunshine which men see to pelt me by:
What other advantage,—we who led the days
And nights alone i' the house,—was flight to find?
In our whole journey did we stop an hour,
Diverge a foot from straight road till we reached
Or would have reached—but for that fate of ours—
The father and mother, in the eye of Rome,
The eye of yourselves we made aware of us
At the first fall of misfortune? And indeed
You did so far give sanction to our flight,
Confirm its purpose, as lend helping hand,
Deliver up Pompilia not to him
She fled, but those the flight was ventured for.
Why then could you, who stopped short, not go on
One poor step more, and justify the means,
Having allowed the end?—not see and say
"Here's the exceptional conduct that should claim
"To be exceptionally judged on rules
"Which, understood, make no exception here"—
Why play instead into the devil's hands
By dealing so ambiguously as gave
Guido the power to intervene like me,
Prove one exception more? I saved his wife
Against law: against law he slays her now:
Deal with him!

I have done with being judged.
I stand here guiltless in thought, word and deed,
To the point that I apprise you,—in contempt
For all misapprehending ignorance
O' the human heart, much more the mind of Christ,—
That I assuredly did bow, was blessed
By the revelation of Pompilia. There!
Such is the final fact I fling you, Sirs,
To mouth and mumble and misinterpret: there!
"The priest's in love," have it the vulgar way!
Unpriest me, rend the rags o' the vestment, do
Degrade deep, disenfranchise all you dare
Remove me from the midst, no longer priest
And fit companion for the like of you
Your gay Abati with the well-turned leg
And rose i' the hat-rim, Canons, cross at neck
And silk mask in the pocket of the gown,
Brisk Bishops with the world's musk still unbrushed
From the rochet; I'll no more of these good things:
There's a crack somewhere, something that's unsound
I' the rattle!

For Pompilia—be advised,
Build churches, go pray! You will find me there,
I know, if you come,—and you will come, I know.
Why, there's a Judge weeping! Did not I say
You were good and true at bottom? You see the truth
I am glad I helped you: she helped me just so.

But for Count Guido,—you must counsel there!
I bow my head, bend to the very dust,
Break myself up in shame of faultiness.
I had him one whole moment, as I said—
As I remember, as will never out
O' the thoughts of me,—I had him in arm's reach
There,—as you stand, Sir, now you cease to sit,—
I could have killed him ere he killed his wife,
And did not: he went off alive and well
And then effected this last feat—through me!
Menot through you—dsimiss that fear! 'T was you
Hindered me staying here to save her,—not
From leaving you and going back to him
And doing service in Arezzo. Come,
Instruct me in procedure! I conceive—
In all due self-abasement might I speak—
How you will deal with Guido: oh, not death!
Death, if it let her life be: otherwise
Not death,—your lights will teach you clearer! I
Certainly have an instinct of my own
I' the matter: bear with me and weigh its worth!
Let us go away—leave Guido all alone
Back on the world again that knows him now!
I think he will be found (indulge so far!)
Not to die so much as slide out of life,
Pushed by the general horror and common hate
Low, lower,—left o' the very ledge of things,
I seem to see him catch convulsively
One by one at all honest forms of life,
At reason, order, decency and use
To cramp him and get foothold by at least;
And still they disengage them from his clutch.
"What, you are he, then, had Pompilia once
"And so forwent her? Take not up with us!"
And thus I see him slowly and surely edged
Off all the table-land whence life upsprings
Aspiring to be immortality,
As the snake, hatched on hill-top by mischance,
Despite his wriggling, slips, slides, slidders down
Hill-side, lies low and prostrate on the smooth
Level of the outer place, lapsed in the vale:
So I lose Guido in the loneliness,
Silence and dusk, till at the doleful end,
At the horizontal line, creation's verge,
From what just is to absolute nothingness—
Whom is it, straining onward still, he meets?
What other man deep further in the fate,
Who, turning at the prize of a footfall
To flatter him and promise fellowship,
Discovers in the act a frightful face—
Judas, made monstrous by much solitude!
The two are at one now! Let them love their love
That bites and claws like hate, or hate their hate
That mops and mows and makes as it were love!
There, let them each tear each in devil's-fun,
Or fondle this the other while malice aches—
Both teach, both learn detestability!
Kiss him the kiss, Iscariot! Pay that back,
That smatch o' the slaver blistering on your lip,
By the better trick, the insult he spared Christ—
Lure him the lure o' the letters, Aretine!
Lick him o'er slimy-smooth with jelly-filth
O' the verse-and-prose pollution in love's guise!
The cockatrice is with the basilisk!
There let them grapple, denizens o' the dark,
Foes or friends, but indissolubly bound,
In their one spot out of the ken of God
Or care of man, for ever and ever more!

Why, Sirs, what's this? Why, this is sorry and strange!
Futility, divagation: this from me
Bound to be rational, justify an act
Of sober man!—whereas, being moved so much,
I give you cause to doubt the lady's mind:
A pretty sarcasm for the world! I fear
You do her wit injustice,—all through me!
Like my fate all through,—ineffective help!
A poor rash advocate I prove myself.
You might be angry with good cause: but sure
At the advocate,—only at the undue zeal
That spoils the force of his own plea, I think?
My part was just to tell you how things stand,
State facts and not be flustered at their fume.
But then 't is a priest speaks: as for love,—no!
If you let buzz a vulgar fly like that
About your brains, as if I loved, forsooth,
Indeed, Sirs, you do wrong! We had no thought
Of such infatuation, she and I:
There are many points that prove it: do be just!
I told you,—at one little roadside-place
I spent a good half-hour, paced to and fro
The garden; just to leave her free awhile,
I plucked a handful of Spring herb and bloom:
I might have sat beside her on the bench
Where the children were: I wish the thing had been,
Indeed: the event could not be worse, you know:
One more half-hour of her saved! She's dead now, Sirs!
While I was running on at such a rate,
Friends should have plucked me by the sleeve: I went
Too much o' the trivial outside of her face
And the purity that shone there—plain to me,
Not to you, what more natural? Nor am I
Infatuated,—oh, I saw, be sure!
Her brow had not the right line, leaned too much,
Painters would say; they like the straight-up Greek:
This seemed bent somewhat with an invisible crown
Of martyr and saint, not such as art approves.
And how the dark orbs dwelt deep underneath,
Looked out of such a sad sweet heaven on me!
The lips, compressed a little, came forward too,
Careful for a whole world of sin and pain.
That was the face, her husband makes his plea,
He sought just to disfigure,—no offence
Beyond that! Sirs, let us be rational!
He needs must vindicate his honour,—ay,
Yet shirks, the coward, in a clown's disguise,
Away from the scene, endeavours to escape.
Now, had he done so, slain and left no trace
O' the slayer,—what were vindicated, pray?
You had found his wife disfigured or a corpse,
For what and by whom? It is too palpable!
Then, here's another point involving law:
I use this argument to show you meant
No calumny against us by that title
O' the sentence,—liars try to twist it so:
What penalty it bore, I had to pay
Till further proof should follow of innocence—
Probationis ob defectum,—proof?
How could you get proof without trying us?
You went through the preliminary form,
Stopped there, contrived this sentence to amuse
The adversary. If the title ran
For more than fault imputed and not proved,
That was a simple penman's error, else
A slip i' the phrase,—as when we say of you
"Charged with injustice"—which may either be
Or not be,—'t is a name that sticks meanwhile.
Another relevant matter: fool that I am!
Not what I wish true, yet a point friends urge:
It is not true,—yet, since friends think it helps,—
She only tried me when some others failed—
Began with Conti, whom I told you of,
And Guillichini, Guido's kinsfolk both,
And when abandoned by them, not before,
Turned to me. That's conclusive why she turned.
Much good they got by the happy cowardice!
Conti is dead, poisoned a month ago:
Does that much strike you as a sin? Not much,
After the present murder,—one mark more
On the Moor's skin,—what is black by blacker still?
Conti had come here and told truth. And so
With Guillichini; he's condemned of course
To the galleys, as a friend in this affair,
Tried and condemned for no one thing i' the world,
A fortnight since by who but the Governor?—
The just judge, who refused Pompilia help
At first blush, being her husband's friend, you know.
There are two tales to suit the separate courts,
Arezzo and Rome: he tells you here, we fled
Alone, unhelped,—lays stress on the main fault,
The spiritual sin, Rome looks to: but elsewhere
He likes best we should break in, steal, bear off,
Be fit to brand and pillory and flog—
That's the charge goes to the heart of the Governor:
If these unpriest me, you and I may yet
Converse, Vincenzo Marzi-Medici!
Oh, Sirs, there are worse men than you, I say!
More easily duped, I mean; this stupid lie,
Its liar never dared propound in Rome,
He gets Arezzo to receive,—nay more,
Gets Florence and the Duke to authorize!
This is their Rota's sentence, their Granduke
Signs and seals! Rome for me henceforward—Rome,
Where better men are,—most of all, that man
The Augustinian of the Hospital,
Who writes the letter,—he confessed, he says,
Many a dying person, never one
So sweet and true and pure and beautiful.
A good man! Will you make him Pope one day?
Not that he is not good too, this we have
But old,—else he would have his word to speak,
His truth to teach the world: I thirst for truth,
But shall not drink it till I reach the source.

Sirs, I am quiet again. You see, we are
So very pitiable, she and I,
Who had conceivably been otherwise.
Forget distemperature and idle heat!
Apart from truth's sake, what's to move so much?
Pompilia will be presently with God;
I am, on earth, as good as out of it,
A relegated priest; when exile ends,
I mean to do my duty and live long.
She and I are mere strangers now: but priests
Should study passion; how else cure mankind,
Who come for help in passionate extremes?
I do but play with an imagined life
Of who, unfettered by a vow, unblessed
By the higher call,—since you will have it so,—
Leads it companioned by the woman there.
To live, and see her learn, and learn by her,
Out of the low obscure and petty world
Or only see one purpose and one will
Evolve themselves i' the world, change wrong to right:
To have to do with nothing but the true,
The good, the eternal—and these, not alone
In the main current of the general life,
But small experiences of every day,
Concerns of the particular hearth and home:
To learn not only by a comet's rush
But a rose's birth,—not by the grandeur, God—
But the comfort, Christ. All this, how far away!
Mere delectation, meet for a minute's dream!—
Just as a drudging student trims his lamp,
Opens his Plutarch, puts him in the place
Of Roman, Grecian; draws the patched gown close,
Dreams, "Thus should I fight, save or rule the world!"—
Then smilingly, contentedly, awakes
To the old solitary nothingness.
So I, from such communion, pass content …

O great, just, good God! Miserable me!

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VII. Pompilia

I am just seventeen years and five months old,
And, if I lived one day more, three full weeks;
'T is writ so in the church's register,
Lorenzo in Lucina, all my names
At length, so many names for one poor child,
—Francesca Camilla Vittoria Angela
Pompilia Comparini,—laughable!
Also 't is writ that I was married there
Four years ago: and they will add, I hope,
When they insert my death, a word or two,—
Omitting all about the mode of death,—
This, in its place, this which one cares to know,
That I had been a mother of a son
Exactly two weeks. It will be through grace
O' the Curate, not through any claim I have;
Because the boy was born at, so baptized
Close to, the Villa, in the proper church:
A pretty church, I say no word against,
Yet stranger-like,—while this Lorenzo seems
My own particular place, I always say.
I used to wonder, when I stood scarce high
As the bed here, what the marble lion meant,
With half his body rushing from the wall,
Eating the figure of a prostrate man—
(To the right, it is, of entry by the door)
An ominous sign to one baptized like me,
Married, and to be buried there, I hope.
And they should add, to have my life complete,
He is a boy and Gaetan by name
Gaetano, for a reason,—if the friar
Don Celestine will ask this grace for me
Of Curate Ottoboni: he it was
Baptized me: he remembers my whole life
As I do his grey hair.

All these few things
I know are true,—will you remember them?
Because time flies. The surgeon cared for me,
To count my wounds,—twenty-two dagger-wounds,
Five deadly, but I do not suffer much
Or too much pain,—and am to die to-night.

Oh how good God is that my babe was born,
—Better than born, baptized and hid away
Before this happened, safe from being hurt!
That had been sin God could not well forgive:
He was too young to smile and save himself.
When they took two days after he was born,
My babe away from me to be baptized
And hidden awhile, for fear his foe should find,—
The country-woman, used to nursing babes,
Said "Why take on so? where is the great loss?
"These next three weeks he will but sleep and feed,
"Only begin to smile at the month's end;
"He would not know you, if you kept him here,
"Sooner than that; so, spend three merry weeks
"Snug in the Villa, getting strong and stout,
"And then I bring him back to be your own,
"And both of you may steal towe know where!"
The month—there wants of it two weeks this day!
Still, I half fancied when I heard the knock
At the Villa in the dusk, it might prove she
Come to say "Since he smiles before the time,
"Why should I cheat you out of one good hour?
"Back I have brought him; speak to him and judge!"
Now I shall never see him; what is worse,
When he grows up and gets to be my age,
He will seem hardly more than a great boy;
And if he asks "What was my mother like?"
People may answer "Like girls of seventeen"—
And how can he but think of this and that,
Lucias, Marias, Sofias, who titter or blush
When he regards them as such boys may do?
Therefore I wish someone will please to say
I looked already old though I was young;
Do I notsay, if you are by to speak …
Look nearer twenty? No more like, at least,
Girls who look arch or redden when boys laugh,
Than the poor Virgin that I used to know
At our street-corner in a lonely niche,—
The babe, that sat upon her knees, broke off,—
Thin white glazed clay, you pitied her the more:
She, not the gay ones, always got my rose.

How happy those are who know how to write!
Such could write what their son should read in time,
Had they a whole day to live out like me.
Also my name is not a common name,
"Pompilia," and may help to keep apart
A little the thing I am from what girls are.
But then how far away, how hard to find
Will anything about me have become,
Even if the boy bethink himself and ask!
No father that he ever knew at all,
Nor ever had—no, never had, I say!
That is the truth,—nor any mother left,
Out of the little two weeks that she lived,
Fit for such memory as might assist:
As good to as no family, no name,
Not even poor old Pietro's name, nor hers,
Poor kind unwise Violante, since it seems
They must not be my parents any more.
That is why something put it in my head
To call the boy "Gaetano"—no old name
For sorrow's sake; I looked up to the sky
And took a new saint to begin anew.
One who has only been made saint—how long?
Twenty-five years: so, carefuller, perhaps,
To guard a namesake than those old saints grow,
Tired out by this time,—see my own five saints!

On second thoughts, I hope he will regard
The history of me as what someone dreamed,
And get to disbelieve it at the last:
Since to myself it dwindles fast to that,
Sheer dreaming and impossibility,—
Just in four days too! All the seventeen years,
Not once did a suspicion visit me
How very different a lot is mine
From any other woman's in the world.
The reason must be, 't was by step and step
It got to grow so terrible and strange.
These strange woes stole on tiptoe, as it were,
Into my neighbourhood and privacy,
Sat down where I sat, laid them where I lay;
And I was found familiarised with fear,
When friends broke in, held up a torch and cried
"Why, you Pompilia in the cavern thus,
"How comes that arm of yours about a wolf?
"And the soft length,—lies in and out your feet
"And laps you round the knee,—a snake it is!"
And so on.

Well, and they are right enough,
By the torch they hold up now: for first, observe,
I never had a father,—no, nor yet
A mother: my own boy can say at least
"I had a mother whom I kept two weeks!"
Not I, who little used to doubt … I doubt
Good Pietro, kind Violante, gave me birth?
They loved me always as I love my babe
(—Nearly so, that is—quite so could not be—)
Did for me all I meant to do for him,
Till one surprising day, three years ago,
They both declared, at Rome, before some judge
In some Court where the people flocked to hear,
That really I had never been their child,
Was a mere castaway, the careless crime
Of an unknown man, the crime and care too much
Of a woman known too well,—little to these,
Therefore, of whom I was the flesh and blood:
What then to Pietro and Violante, both
No more my relatives than you or you?
Nothing to them! You know what they declared.

So with my husband,—just such a surprise,
Such a mistake, in that relationship!
Everyone says that husbands love their wives,
Guard them and guide them, give them happiness;
'T is duty, law, pleasure, religion: well,
You see how much of this comes true in mine!
People indeed would fain have somehow proved
He was no husband: but he did not hear,
Or would not wait, and so has killed us all.
Then there isonly let me name one more!
There is the friend,—men will not ask about,
But tell untruths of, and give nicknames to,
And think my lover, most surprise of all!
Do only hear, it is the priest they mean,
Giuseppe Caponsacchi: a priest—love,
And love me! Well, yet people think he did.
I am married, he has taken priestly vows,
They know that, and yet go on, say, the same,
"Yes, how he loves you!" "That was love"—they say,
When anything is answered that they ask:
Or else "No wonder you love him"—they say.
Then they shake heads, pity much, scarcely blame—
As if we neither of us lacked excuse,
And anyhow are punished to the full,
And downright love atones for everything!
Nay, I heard read out in the public Court
Before the judge, in presence of my friends,
Letters't was said the priest had sent to me,
And other letters sent him by myself,
We being lovers!

Listen what this is like!
When I was a mere child, my mother … that's
Violante, you must let me call her so
Nor waste time, trying to unlearn the word …
She brought a neighbour's child of my own age
To play with me of rainy afternoons;
And, since there hung a tapestry on the wall,
We two agreed to find each other out
Among the figures. "Tisbe, that is you,
"With half-moon on your hair-knot, spear in hand,
"Flying, but no wings, only the great scarf
"Blown to a bluish rainbow at your back:
"Call off your hound and leave the stag alone!"
"—And there are you, Pompilia, such green leaves
"Flourishing out of your five finger-ends,
"And all the rest of you so brown and rough:
"Why is it you are turned a sort of tree?"
You know the figures never were ourselves
Though we nicknamed them so. Thus, all my life,—
As well what was, as what, like this, was not,—
Looks old, fantastic and impossible:
I touch a fairy thing that fades and fades.
Even to my babe! I thought, when he was born,
Something began for once that would not end,
Nor change into a laugh at me, but stay
For evermore, eternally quite mine.
Well, so he is,—but yet they bore him off,
The third day, lest my husband should lay traps
And catch him, and by means of him catch me.
Since they have saved him so, it was well done:
Yet thence comes such confusion of what was
With what will be,—that late seems long ago,
And, what years should bring round, already come,
Till even he withdraws into a dream
As the rest do: I fancy him grown great,
Strong, stern, a tall young man who tutors me,
Frowns with the others "Poor imprudent child!
"Why did you venture out of the safe street?
"Why go so far from help to that lone house?
"Why open at the whisper and the knock?"
Six days ago when it was New Year's-day,
We bent above the fire and talked of him,
What he should do when he was grown and great.
Violante, Pietro, each had given the arm
I leant on, to walk by, from couch to chair
And fireside,—laughed, as I lay safe at last,
"Pompilia's march from bed to board is made,
"Pompilia back again and with a babe,
"Shall one day lend his arm and help her walk!"
Then we all wished each other more New Years.
Pietro began to scheme—"Our cause is gained;
"The law is stronger than a wicked man:
"Let him henceforth go his way, leave us ours!
"We will avoid the city, tempt no more
"The greedy ones by feasting and parade,—
"Live at the other villa, we know where,
"Still farther off, and we can watch the babe
"Grow fast in the good air; and wood is cheap
"And wine sincere outside the city gate.
"I still have two or three old friends will grope
"Their way along the mere half-mile of road,
"With staff and lantern on a moonless night
"When one needs talk: they'll find me, never fear,
"And I'll find them a flask of the old sort yet!"
Violante said "You chatter like a crow:
"Pompilia tires o' the tattle, and shall to bed:
"Do not too much the first day,—somewhat more
"To-morrow, and, the next, begin the cape
"And hood and coat! I have spun wool enough."
Oh what a happy friendly eve was that!

And, next day, about noon, out Pietro went—
He was so happy and would talk so much,
Until Violante pushed and laughed him forth
Sight-seeing in the cold,—"So much to see
"I' the churches! Swathe your throat three times!" she cried,
"And, above all, beware the slippery ways,
"And bring us all the news by supper-time!"
He came back late, laid by cloak, staff and hat,
Powdered so thick with snow it made us laugh,
Rolled a great log upon the ash o' the hearth,
And bade Violante treat us to a flask,
Because he had obeyed her faithfully,
Gone sight-see through the seven, and found no church
To his mind like San Giovanni—"There's the fold,
"And all the sheep together, big as cats!
"And such a shepherd, half the size of life,
"Starts up and hears the angel"—when, at the door,
A tap: we started up: you know the rest.

Pietro at least had done no harm, I know;
Nor even Violante, so much harm as makes
Such revenge lawful. Certainly she erred—
Did wrong, how shall I dare say otherwise?—
In telling that first falsehood, buying me
From my poor faulty mother at a price,
To pass off upon Pietro as his child.
If one should take my babe, give him a name,
Say he was not Gaetano and my own,
But that some other woman made his mouth
And hands and feet,—how very false were that!
No good could come of that; and all harm did.
Yet if a stranger were to represent
"Needs must you either give your babe to me
"And let me call him mine for evermore,
"Or let your husband get him"—ah, my God,
That were a trial I refuse to face!
Well, just so here: it proved wrong but seemed right
To poor Violante—for there lay, she said,
My poor real dying mother in her rags,
Who put me from her with the life and all,
Poverty, pain, shame and disease at once,
To die the easier by what price I fetched—
Also (I hope) because I should be spared
Sorrow and sin,—why may not that have helped?
My father,—he was no one, any one,—
The worse, the likelier,—call him—he who came,
Was wicked for his pleasure, went his way,
And left no trace to track by; there remained
Nothing but me, the unnecessary life,
To catch up or let fall,—and yet a thing
She could make happy, be made happy with,
This poor Violante,—who would frown thereat?

Well, God, you see! God plants us where we grow.
It is not that because a bud is born
At a wild briar's end, full i' the wild beast's way,
We ought to pluck and put it out of reach
On the oak-tree top,—say "There the bud belongs!"
She thought, moreover, real lies were lies told
For harm's sake; whereas this had good at heart,
Good for my mother, good for me, and good
For Pietro who was meant to love a babe,
And needed one to make his life of use,
Receive his house and land when he should die.
Wrong, wrong and always wrong! how plainly wrong:
For see, this fault kept pricking, as faults do,
All the same at her heart: this falsehood hatched,
She could not let it go nor keep it fast.
She told me so,—the first time I was found
Locked in her arms once more after the pain,
When the nuns let me leave them and go home,
And both of us cried all the cares away,—
This it was set her on to make amends,
This brought about the marriage—simply this!
Do let me speak for her you blame so much!
When Paul, my husband's brother, found me out,
Heard there was wealth for who should marry me,
So, came and made a speech to ask my hand
For Guido,—she, instead of piercing straight
Through the pretence to the ignoble truth,
Fancied she saw God's very finger point,
Designate just the time for planting me
(The wild-briar slip she plucked to love and wear)
In soil where I could strike real root, and grow,
And get to be the thing I called myself:
For, wife and husband are one flesh, God says,
And I, whose parents seemed such and were none,
Should in a husband have a husband now,
Find nothing, this time, but was what it seemed,
All truth and no confusion any more.
I know she meant all good to me, all pain
To herself,—since how could it be aught but pain,
To give me up, so, from her very breast,
The wilding flower-tree-branch that, all those years,
She had got used to feel for and find fixed?
She meant well: has it been so ill i' the main?
That is but fair to ask: one cannot judge
Of what has been the ill or well of life,
The day that one is dying,—sorrows change
Into not altogether sorrow-like;
I do see strangeness but scarce misery,
Now it is over, and no danger more.
My child is safe; there seems not so much pain.
It comes, most like, that I am just absolved,
Purged of the past, the foul in me, washed fair,—
One cannot both have and not have, you know,—
Being right now, I am happy and colour things.
Yes, everybody that leaves life sees all
Softened and bettered: so with other sights:
To me at least was never evening yet
But seemed far beautifuller than its day,
For past is past.

There was a fancy came,
When somewhere, in the journey with my friend,
We stepped into a hovel to get food;
And there began a yelp here, a bark there,—
Misunderstanding creatures that were wroth
And vexed themselves and us till we retired.
The hovel is life: no matter what dogs bit
Or cats scratched in the hovel I break from,
All outside is lone field, moon and such peace—
Flowing in, filling up as with a sea
Whereon comes Someone, walks fast on the white,
Jesus Christ's self, Don Celestine declares,
To meet me and calm all things back again.

Beside, up to my marriage, thirteen years
Were, each day, happy as the day was long:
This may have made the change too terrible.
I know that when Violante told me first
The cavalier—she meant to bring next morn,
Whom I must also let take, kiss my hand—
Would be at San Lorenzo the same eve
And marry me,—which over, we should go
Home both of us without him as before,
And, till she bade speak, I must hold my tongue,
Such being the correct way with girl-brides,
From whom one word would make a father blush,—
I know, I say, that when she told me this,
—Well, I no more saw sense in what she said
Than a lamb does in people clipping wool;
Only lay down and let myself be clipped.
And when next day the cavalier who came—
(Tisbe had told me that the slim young man
With wings at head, and wings at feet, and sword
Threatening a monster, in our tapestry,
Would eat a girl else,—was a cavalier)
When he proved Guido Franceschini,—old
And nothing like so tall as I myself
Hook-nosed and yellow in a bush of beard,
Much like a thing I saw on a boy's wrist,
He called an owl and used for catching birds,—
And when he took my hand and made a smile
Why, the uncomfortableness of it all
Seemed hardly more important in the case
Than,—when one gives you, say, a coin to spend,—
Its newness or its oldness; if the piece
Weigh properly and buy you what you wish,
No matter whether you get grime or glare!
Men take the coin, return you grapes and figs.
Here, marriage was the coin, a dirty piece
Would purchase me the praise of those I loved:
About what else should I concern myself?

So, hardly knowing what a husband meant,
I supposed this or any man would serve,
No whit the worse for being so uncouth:
For I was ill once and a doctor came
With a great ugly hat, no plume thereto,
Black jerkin and black buckles and black sword,
And white sharp beard over the ruff in front,
And oh so lean, so sour-faced and austere!—
Who felt my pulse, made me put out my tongue,
Then oped a phial, dripped a drop or two
Of a black bitter something,—I was cured!
What mattered the fierce beard or the grim face?
It was the physic beautified the man,
Master Malpichi,—never met his match
In Rome, they said,—so ugly all the same!

However, I was hurried through a storm,
Next dark eve of December's deadest day
How it rained!—through our street and the Lion's-mouth
And the bit of Corso,—cloaked round, covered close,
I was like something strange or contraband,—
Into blank San Lorenzo, up the aisle,
My mother keeping hold of me so tight,
I fancied we were come to see a corpse
Before the altar which she pulled me toward.
There we found waiting an unpleasant priest
Who proved the brother, not our parish friend,
But one with mischief-making mouth and eye,
Paul, whom I know since to my cost. And then
I heard the heavy church-door lock out help
Behind us: for the customary warmth,
Two tapers shivered on the altar. "Quick—
"Lose no time!" cried the priest. And straightway down
Fromwhat's behind the altar where he hid—
Hawk-nose and yellowness and bush and all,
Stepped Guido, caught my hand, and there was I
O' the chancel, and the priest had opened book,
Read here and there, made me say that and this,
And after, told me I was now a wife,
Honoured indeed, since Christ thus weds the Church,
And therefore turned he water into wine,
To show I should obey my spouse like Christ.
Then the two slipped aside and talked apart,
And I, silent and scared, got down again
And joined my mother who was weeping now.
Nobody seemed to mind us any more,
And both of us on tiptoe found our way
To the door which was unlocked by this, and wide.
When we were in the street, the rain had stopped,
All things looked better. At out own house-door,
Violante whispered "No one syllable
"To Pietro! Girl-brides never breathe a word!"
"—Well treated to a wetting, draggle-tails!"
Laughed Pietro as he opened—"Very near
"You made me brave the gutter's roaring sea
"To carry off from roost old dove and young,
"Trussed up in church, the cote, by me, the kite!
"What do these priests mean, praying folk to death
"On stormy afternoons, with Christmas close
"To wash our sins off nor require the rain?"
Violante gave my hand a timely squeeze,
Madonna saved me from immodest speech,
I kissed him and was quiet, being a bride.
When I saw nothing more, the next three weeks,
Of Guido—"Nor the Church sees Christ" thought I:
"Nothing is changed however, wine is wine
"And water only water in our house.
"Nor did I see that ugly doctor since
"That cure of the illness: just as I was cured,
"I am married,—neither scarecrow will return."

Three weeks, I chuckled—"How would Giulia stare,
"And Tecla smile and Tisbe laugh outright,
"Were it not impudent for brides to talk!"—
Until one morning, as I sat and sang
At the broidery-frame alone i' the chamber,—loud
Voices, two, three together, sobbings too,
And my name, "Guido," "Paolo," flung like stones
From each to the other! In I ran to see.
There stood the very Guido and the priest
With sly face,—formal but nowise afraid,—
While Pietro seemed all red and angry, scarce
Able to stutter out his wrath in words;
And this it was that made my mother sob,
As he reproached her—"You have murdered us,
"Me and yourself and this our child beside!"
Then Guido interposed "Murdered or not,
"Be it enough your child is now my wife!
"I claim and come to take her." Paul put in,
"Consider—kinsman, dare I term you so?—
"What is the good of your sagacity
"Except to counsel in a strait like this?
"I guarantee the parties man and wife
"Whether you like or loathe it, bless or ban.
"May spilt milk be put back within the bowl—
"The done thing, undone? You, it is, we look
"For counsel to, you fitliest will advise!
"Since milk, though spilt and spoilt, does marble good,
"Better we down on knees and scrub the floor,
"Than sigh, 'the waste would make a syllabub!'
"Help us so turn disaster to account,
"So predispose the groom, he needs shall grace
"The bride with favour from the very first,
"Not begin marriage an embittered man!"
He smiled,—the game so wholly in his hands!
While fast and faster sobbed Violante—"Ay,
"All of us murdered, past averting now!
"O my sin, O my secret!" and such like.

Then I began to half surmise the truth;
Something had happened, low, mean, underhand,
False, and my mother was to blame, and I
To pity, whom all spoke of, none addressed:
I was the chattel that had caused a crime.
I stood mute,—those who tangled must untie
The embroilment. Pietro cried "Withdraw, my child!
"She is not helpful to the sacrifice
"At this stage,—do you want the victim by
"While you discuss the value of her blood?
"For her sake, I consent to hear you talk:
"Go, child, and pray God help the innocent!

I did go and was praying God, when came
Violante, with eyes swollen and red enough,
But movement on her mouth for make-believe
Matters were somehow getting right again.
She bade me sit down by her side and hear.
"You are too young and cannot understand,
"Nor did your father understand at first.
"I wished to benefit all three of us,
"And when he failed to take my meaning,—why,
"I tried to have my way at unaware—
"Obtained him the advantage he refused.
"As if I put before him wholesome food
"Instead of broken victual,—he finds change
"I' the viands, never cares to reason why,
"But falls to blaming me, would fling the plate
"From window, scandalize the neighbourhood,
"Even while he smacks his lips,—men's way, my child!
"But either you have prayed him unperverse
"Or I have talked him back into his wits:
"And Paolo was a help in time of need,—
"Guido, not muchmy child, the way of men!
"A priest is more a woman than a man,
"And Paul did wonders to persuade. In short,
"Yes, he was wrong, your father sees and says;
"My scheme was worth attempting: and bears fruit,
"Gives you a husband and a noble name,
"A palace and no end of pleasant things.
"What do you care about a handsome youth?
"They are so volatile, and tease their wives!
"This is the kind of man to keep the house.
"We lose no daughter,—gain a son, that's all:
"For 't is arranged we never separate,
"Nor miss, in our grey time of life, the tints
"Of you that colour eve to match with morn.
"In good or ill, we share and share alike,
"And cast our lots into a common lap,
"And all three die together as we lived!
"Only, at Arezzo,—that's a Tuscan town,
"Not so large as this noisy Rome, no doubt,
"But older far and finer much, say folk,—
"In a great palace where you will be queen,
"Know the Archbishop and the Governor,
"And we see homage done you ere we die.
"Therefore, be good and pardon!"—"Pardon what?
"You know things, I am very ignorant:
"All is right if you only will not cry!"

And so an end! Because a blank begins
From when, at the word, she kissed me hard and hot,
And took me back to where my father leaned
Opposite Guido—who stood eyeing him,
As eyes the butcher the cast panting ox
That feels his fate is come, nor struggles more,—
While Paul looked archly on, pricked brow at whiles
With the pen-point as to punish triumph there,—
And said "Count Guido, take your lawful wife
"Until death part you!"

All since is one blank,
Over and ended; a terrific dream.
It is the good of dreams—so soon they go!
Wake in a horror of heart-beats, you may
Cry "The dread thing will never from my thoughts!"
Still, a few daylight doses of plain life,
Cock-crow and sparrow-chirp, or bleat and bell
Of goats that trot by, tinkling, to be milked;
And when you rub your eyes awake and wide,
Where is the harm o' the horror? Gone! So here.
I know I wake,—but from what? Blank, I say!
This is the note of evil: for good lasts.
Even when Don Celestine bade "Search and find!
"For your soul's sake, remember what is past,
"The better to forgive it,"—all in vain!
What was fast getting indistinct before,
Vanished outright. By special grace perhaps,
Between that first calm and this last, four years
Vanish,—one quarter of my life, you know.
I am held up, amid the nothingness,
By one or two truths only—thence I hang,
And there I live,—the rest is death or dream,
All but those points of my support. I think
Of what I saw at Rome once in the Square
O' the Spaniards, opposite the Spanish House:
There was a foreigner had trained a goat,
A shuddering white woman of a beast,
To climb up, stand straight on a pile of sticks
Put close, which gave the creature room enough:
When she was settled there he, one by one,
Took away all the sticks, left just the four
Whereon the little hoofs did really rest,
There she kept firm, all underneath was air.
So, what I hold by, are my prayer to God,
My hope, that came in answer to the prayer,
Some hand would interpose and save me—hand
Which proved to be my friend's hand: and,—blest bliss,—
That fancy which began so faint at first,
That thrill of dawn's suffusion through my dark,
Which I perceive was promise of my child,
The light his unborn face sent long before,—
God's way of breaking the good news to flesh.
That is all left now of those four bad years.
Don Celestine urged "But remember more!
"Other men's faults may help me find your own.
"I need the cruelty exposed, explained,
"Or how can I advise you to forgive?"
He thought I could not properly forgive
Unless I ceased forgetting,—which is true:
For, bringing back reluctantly to mind
My husband's treatment of me,—by a light
That's later than my life-time, I review
And comprehend much and imagine more,
And have but little to forgive at last.
For now,—be fair and say,—is it not true
He was ill-used and cheated of his hope
To get enriched by marriage? Marriage gave
Me and no money, broke the compact so:
He had a right to ask me on those terms,
As Pietro and Violante to declare
They would not give me: so the bargain stood:
They broke it, and he felt himself aggrieved,
Became unkind with me to punish them.
They said 't was he began deception first,
Nor, in one point whereto he pledged himself,
Kept promise: what of that, suppose it were?
Echoes die off, scarcely reverberate
For ever,—why should ill keep echoing ill,
And never let our ears have done with noise?
Then my poor parents took the violent way
To thwart him,—he must needs retaliate,—wrong,
Wrong, and all wrong,—better say, all blind!
As I myself was, that is sure, who else
Had understood the mystery: for his wife
Was bound in some sort to help somehow there.
It seems as if I might have interposed,
Blunted the edge of their resentment so,
Since he vexed me because they first vexed him;
"I will entreat them to desist, submit,
"Give him the money and be poor in peace,—
"Certainly not go tell the world: perhaps
"He will grow quiet with his gains."

Yes, say
Something to this effect and you do well!
But then you have to see first: I was blind.
That is the fruit of all such wormy ways,
The indirect, the unapproved of God:
You cannot find their author's end and aim,
Not even to substitute your good for bad,
Your straight for the irregular; you stand
Stupefied, profitless, as cow or sheep
That miss a man's mind, anger him just twice
By trial at repairing the first fault.
Thus, when he blamed me, "You are a coquette,
"A lure-owl posturing to attract birds,
"You look love-lures at theatre and church,
"In walk, at window!"—that, I knew, was false:
But why he charged me falsely, whither sought
To drive me by such charge,—how could I know?
So, unaware, I only made things worse.
I tried to soothe him by abjuring walk,
Window, church, theatre, for good and all,
As if he had been in earnest: that, you know,
Was nothing like the object of his charge.
Yes, when I got my maid to supplicate
The priest, whose name she read when she would read
Those feigned false letters I was forced to hear
Though I could read no word of,—he should cease
Writing,—nay, if he minded prayer of mine,
Cease from so much as even pass the street
Whereon our house looked,—in my ignorance
I was just thwarting Guido's true intent;
Which was, to bring about a wicked change
Of sport to earnest, tempt a thoughtless man
To write indeed, and pass the house, and more,
Till both of us were taken in a crime.
He ought not to have wished me thus act lies,
Simulate folly: but,—wrong or right, the wish,—
I failed to apprehend its drift. How plain
It follows,—if I fell into such fault,
He also may have overreached the mark,
Made mistake, by perversity of brain,
I' the whole sad strange plot, the grotesque intrigue
To make me and my friend unself ourselves,
Be other man and woman than we were!
Think it out, you who have the time! for me,—
I cannot say less; more I will not say.
Leave it to God to cover and undo!
Only, my dulness should not prove too much!
Not prove that in a certain other point
Wherein my husband blamed me,—and you blame,
If I interpret smiles and shakes of head,—
I was dull too. Oh, if I dared but speak!
Must I speak? I am blamed that I forwent
A way to make my husband's favour come.
That is true: I was firm, withstood, refused …
—Women as you are, how can I find the words?

I felt there was just one thing Guido claimed
I had no right to give nor he to take;
We being in estrangement, soul from soul:
Till, when I sought help, the Archbishop smiled,
Inquiring into privacies of life,
—Said I was blameable—(he stands for God)
Nowise entitled to exemption there.
Then I obeyed,—as surely had obeyed
Were the injunction "Since your husband bids,
"Swallow the burning coal he proffers you!"
But I did wrong, and he gave wrong advice
Though he were thrice Archbishop,—that, I know!—
Now I have got to die and see things clear.
Remember I was barely twelve years old—
A child at marriage: I was let alone
For weeks, I told you, lived my child-life still
Even at Arezzo, when I woke and found
First … but I need not think of that again—
Over and ended! Try and take the sense
Of what I signify, if it must be so.
After the first, my husband, for hate's sake,
Said one eve, when the simpler cruelty
Seemed somewhat dull at edge and fit to bear,
"We have been man and wife six months almost:
"How long is this your comedy to last?
"Go this night to my chamber, not your own!"
At which word, I did rush—most true the charge—
And gain the Archbishop's house—he stands for God—
And fall upon my knees and clasp his feet,
Praying him hinder what my estranged soul
Refused to bear, though patient of the rest:
"Place me within a convent," I implored—
"Let me henceforward lead the virgin life
"You praise in Her you bid me imitate!"
What did he answer? "Folly of ignorance!
"Know, daughter, circumstances make or mar
"Virginity,—'t is virtue or 't is vice.
"That which was glory in the Mother of God
"Had been, for instance, damnable in Eve
"Created to be mother of mankind.
"Had Eve, in answer to her Maker's speech
"'Be fruitful, multiply, replenish earth'—
"Pouted 'But I choose rather to remain
"'Single'—why, she had spared herself forthwith
"Further probation by the apple and snake,
"Been pushed straight out of Paradise! For see
"If motherhood be qualified impure,
"I catch you making God command Eve sin!
"—A blasphemy so like these Molinists',
"I must suspect you dip into their books."
Then he pursued "'T was in your covenant!"

No! There my husband never used deceit.
He never did by speech nor act imply
"Because of our souls' yearning that we meet
"And mix in soul through flesh, which yours and mine
"Wear and impress, and make their visible selves,
"—All which means, for the love of you and me,
"Let us become one flesh, being one soul!"
He only stipulated for the wealth;
Honest so far. But when he spoke as plain—
Dreadfully honest also—"Since our souls
"Stand each from each, a whole world's width between,
"Give me the fleshly vesture I can reach
"And rend and leave just fit for hell to burn!"—
Why, in God's name, for Guido's soul's own sake
Imperilled by polluting mine,—I say,
I did resist; would I had overcome!

My heart died out at the Archbishop's smile;
It seemed so stale and worn a way o' the world,
As though 't were nature frowning—"Here is Spring,
"The sun shines as he shone at Adam's fall,
"The earth requires that warmth reach everywhere:
"What, must your patch of snow be saved forsooth
"Because you rather fancy snow than flowers?"
Something in this style he began with me.
Last he said, savagely for a good man,
"This explains why you call your husband harsh,
"Harsh to you, harsh to whom you love. God's Bread!
"The poor Count has to manage a mere child
"Whose parents leave untaught the simplest things
"Their duty was and privilege to teach,—
"Good wives' instruction, gossips' lore: they laugh
"And leave the Count the task,—or leave it me!"
Then I resolved to tell a frightful thing.
"I am not ignorant,—know what I say,
"Declaring this is sought for hate, not love.
"Sir, you may hear things like almighty God.
"I tell you that my housemate, yes—the priest
"My husband's brother, Canon Girolamo—
"Has taught me what depraved and misnamed love
"Means, and what outward signs denote the sin,
"For he solicits me and says he loves,
"The idle young priest with nought else to do.
"My husband sees this, knows this, and lets be.
"Is it your counsel I bear this beside?"
"—More scandal, and against a priest this time!
"What, 't is the Canon now?"—less snappishly—
"Rise up, my child, for such a child you are,
"The rod were too advanced a punishment!
"Let's try the honeyed cake. A parable!
"'Without a parable spake He not to them.'
"There was a ripe round long black toothsome fruit,
"Even a flower-fig, the prime boast of May:
"And, to the tree, said … either the spirit o' the fig,
"Or, if we bring in men, the gardener,
"Archbishop of the orchard—had I time
"To try o' the two which fits in best: indeed
"It might be the Creator's self, but then
"The tree should bear an apple, I suppose,—
"Well, anyhow, one with authority said
"'Ripe fig, burst skin, regale the fig-pecker—
"'The bird whereof thou art a perquisite!'
"'Nay,' with a flounce, replied the restif fig,
"'I much prefer to keep my pulp myself:
"'He may go breakfastless and dinnerless,
"'Supperless of one crimson seed, for me!'
"So, back she flopped into her bunch of leaves.
"He flew off, left her,—did the natural lord,—
"And lo, three hundred thousand bees and wasps
"Found her out, feasted on her to the shuck:
"Such gain the fig's that gave its bird no bite!
"The moral,—fools elude their proper lot,
"Tempt other fools, get ruined all alike.
"Therefore go home, embrace your husband quick!
"Which if his Canon brother chance to see,
"He will the sooner back to book again."

So, home I did go; so, the worst befell:
So, I had proof the Archbishop was just man,
And hardly that, and certainly no more.
For, miserable consequence to me,
My husband's hatred waxed nor waned at all,
His brother's boldness grew effrontery soon,
And my last stay and comfort in myself
Was forced from me: henceforth I looked to God
Only, nor cared my desecrated soul
Should have fair walls, gay windows for the world.
God's glimmer, that came through the ruin-top,
Was witness why all lights were quenched inside:
Henceforth I asked God counsel, not mankind.

So, when I made the effort, freed myself,
They said—"No care to save appearance here!
"How cynic,—when, how wanton, were enough!"
—Adding, it all came of my mother's life
My own real mother, whom I never knew,
Who did wrong (if she needs must have done wrong)
Through being all her life, not my four years,
At mercy of the hateful: every beast
O' the field was wont to break that fountain-fence,
Trample the silver into mud so murk
Heaven could not find itself reflected there.
Now they cry "Out on her, who, plashy pool,
"Bequeathed turbidity and bitterness
"To the daughter-stream where Guido dipt and drank!"
Well, since she had to bear this brand—let me!
The rather do I understand her now,
From my experience of what hate calls love,—
Much love might be in what their love called hate.
If she sold … what they call, sold … me her child—
I shall believe she hoped in her poor heart
That I at least might try be good and pure,
Begin to live untempted, not go doomed
And done with ere once found in fault, as she.
Oh and, my mother, it all came to this?
Why should I trust those that speak ill of you,
When I mistrust who speaks even well of them?
Why, since all bound to do me good, did harm,
May not you, seeming as you harmed me most,
Have meant to do most good—and feed your child
From bramble-bush, whom not one orchard-tree
But drew bough back from, nor let one fruit fall?
This it was for you sacrificed your babe?
Gained just this, giving your heart's hope away
As I might give mine, loving it as you,
Ifbut that never could be asked of me!

There, enough! I have my support again,
Again the knowledge that my babe was, is,
Will be mine only. Him, by death, I give
Outright to God, without a further care,—
But not to any parent in the world,—
So to be safe: why is it we repine?
What guardianship were safer could we choose?
All human plans and projects come to nought:
My life, and what I know of other lives,
Prove that: no plan nor project! God shall care!

And now you are not tired? How patient then
All of you,—Oh yes, patient this long while
Listening, and understanding, I am sure!
Four days ago, when I was sound and well
And like to live, no one would understand.
People were kind, but smiled "And what of him,
"Your friend, whose tonsure the rich dark-brown hides?
"There, there!—your lover, do we dream he was?
"A priest toonever were such naughtiness!
"Still, he thinks many a long think, never fear,
"After the shy pale lady,—lay so light
"For a moment in his arms, the lucky one!"
And so on: wherefore should I blame you much?
So we are made, such difference in minds,
Such difference too in eyes that see the minds!
That man, you misinterpret and misprise—
The glory of his nature, I had thought,
Shot itself out in white light, blazed the truth
Through every atom of his act with me:
Yet where I point you, through the crystal shrine,
Purity in quintessence, one dew-drop,
You all descry a spider in the midst.
One says "The head of it is plain to see,"
And one, "They are the feet by which I judge,"
All say, "Those films were spun by nothing else."

Then, I must lay my babe away with God,
Nor think of him again, for gratitude.
Yes, my last breath shall wholly spend itself
In one attempt more to disperse the stain,
The mist from other breath fond mouths have made,
About a lustrous and pellucid soul:
So that, when I am gone but sorrow stays,
And people need assurance in their doubt
If God yet have a servant, man a friend,
The weak a saviour and the vile a foe,—
Let him be present, by the name invoked,
Giuseppe-Maria Caponsacchi!

There,
Strength comes already with the utterance!
I will remember once more for his sake
The sorrow: for he lives and is belied.
Could he be here, how he would speak for me!
I had been miserable three drear years
In that dread palace and lay passive now,
When I first learned there could be such a man.
Thus it fell: I was at a public play,
In the last days of Carnival last March,
Brought there I knew not why, but now know well.
My husband put me where I sat, in front;
Then crouched down, breathed cold through me from behind,
Stationed i' the shadow,—none in front could see,—
I, it was, faced the stranger-throng beneath,
The crowd with upturned faces, eyes one stare,
Voices one buzz. I looked but to the stage,
Whereon two lovers sang and interchanged
"True life is only love, love only bliss:
"I love thee—thee I love!" then they embraced.
I looked thence to the ceiling and the walls,—
Over the crowd, those voices and those eyes,—
My thoughts went through the roof and out, to Rome
On wings of music, waft of measured words,—
Set me down there, a happy child again
Sure that to-morrow would be festa-day,
Hearing my parents praise past festas more,
And seeing they were old if I was young,
Yet wondering why they still would end discourse
With "We must soon go, you abide your time,
"And,—might we haply see the proper friend
"Throw his arm over you and make you safe!"

Sudden I saw him; into my lap there fell
A foolish twist of comfits, broke my dream
And brought me from the air and laid me low,
As ruined as the soaring bee that's reached
(So Pietro told me at the Villa once)
By the dust-handful. There the comfits lay:
I looked to see who flung them, and I faced
This Caponsacchi, looking up in turn.
Ere I could reason out why, I felt sure,
Whoever flung them, his was not the hand,—
Up rose the round face and good-natured grin
Of one who, in effect, had played the prank,
From covert close beside the earnest face,—
Fat waggish Conti, friend of all the world.
He was my husband's cousin, privileged
To throw the thing: the other, silent, grave,
Solemn almost, saw me, as I saw him.

There is a psalm Don Celestine recites,
"Had I a dove's wings, how I fain would flee!"
The psalm runs not "I hope, I pray for wings,"—
Not "If wings fall from heaven, I fix them fast,"—
Simply "How good it were to fly and rest,
"Have hope now, and one day expect content!
"How well to do what I shall never do!"
So I said "Had there been a man like that,
"To lift me with his strength out of all strife
"Into the calm, how I could fly and rest!
"I have a keeper in the garden here
"Whose sole employment is to strike me low
"If ever I, for solace, seek the sun.
"Life means with me successful feigning death,
"Lying stone-like, eluding notice so,
"Forgoing here the turf and there the sky.
"Suppose that man had been instead of this!"

Presently Conti laughed into my ear,
—Had tripped up to the raised place where I sat
"Cousin, I flung them brutishly and hard!
"Because you must be hurt, to look austere
"As Caponsacchi yonder, my tall friend
"A-gazing now. Ah, Guido, you so close?
"Keep on your knees, do! Beg her to forgive!
"My cornet battered like a cannon-ball.
"Good-bye, I'm gone!"—nor waited the reply.

That night at supper, out my husband broke,
"Why was that throwing, that buffoonery?
"Do you think I am your dupe? What man would dare
"Throw comfits in a stranger lady's lap?
"'T was knowledge of you bred such insolence
"In Caponsacchi; he dared shoot the bolt,
"Using that Conti for his stalking-horse.
"How could you see him this once and no more,
"When he is always haunting hereabout
"At the street-corner or the palace-side,
"Publishing my shame and your impudence?
"You are a wanton,—I a dupe, you think?
"O Christ, what hinders that I kill her quick?"
Whereat he drew his sword and feigned a thrust.

All this, now,—being not so strange to me,
Used to such misconception day by day
And broken-in to bear,—I bore, this time,
More quietly than woman should perhaps;
Repeated the mere truth and held my tongue.

Then he said, "Since you play the ignorant,
"I shall instruct you. This amour,—commenced
"Or finished or midway in act, all's one,—
"'T is the town-talk; so my revenge shall be.
"Does he presume because he is a priest?
"I warn him that the sword I wear shall pink
"His lily-scented cassock through and through,
"Next time I catch him underneath your eaves!"
But he had threatened with the sword so oft
And, after all, not kept his promise. All
I said was "Let God save the innocent!
"Moreover death is far from a bad fate.
"I shall go pray for you and me, not him;
"And then I look to sleep, come death or, worse,
"Life." So, I slept.

There may have elapsed a week,
When Margherita,—called my waiting-maid,
Whom it is said my husband found too fair—
Who stood and heard the charge and the reply,
Who never once would let the matter rest
From that night forward, but rang changes still
On this the thrust and that the shame, and how
Good cause for jealousy cures jealous fools,
And what a paragon was this same priest
She talked about until I stopped my ears,—
She said, "A week is gone; you comb your hair,
"Then go mope in a corner, cheek on palm,
"Till night comes round again,—so, waste a week
"As if your husband menaced you in sport.
"Have not I some acquaintance with his tricks?
"Oh no, he did not stab the serving-man
"Who made and sang the rhymes about me once!
"For why? They sent him to the wars next day.
"Nor poisoned he the foreigner, my friend
"Who wagered on the whiteness of my breast,—
"The swarth skins of our city in dispute:
"For, though he paid me proper compliment,
"The Count well knew he was besotted with
"Somebody else, a skin as black as ink,
"(As all the town knew save my foreigner)
"He found and wedded presently,—'Why need
"'Better revenge?'—the Count asked. But what's here?
"A priest that does not fight, and cannot wed,
"Yet must be dealt with! If the Count took fire
"For the poor pastime of a minute,—me
"What were the conflagration for yourself,
"Countess and lady-wife and all the rest?
"The priest will perish; you will grieve too late:
"So shall the city-ladies' handsomest
"Frankest and liberalest gentleman
"Die for you, to appease a scurvy dog
"Hanging's too good for. Is there no escape?
"Were it not simple Christian charity
"To warn the priest be on his guard,—save him
"Assured death, save yourself from causing it?
"I meet him in the street. Give me a glove,
"A ring to show for token! Mum's the word!"

I answered "If you were, as styled, my maid,
"I would command you: as you are, you say,
"My husband's intimate,—assist his wife
"Who can do nothing but entreat 'Be still!'
"Even if you speak truth and a crime is planned,
"Leave help to God as I am forced to do!
"There is no other help, or we should craze,
"Seeing such evil with no human cure.
"Reflect that God, who makes the storm desist,
"Can make an angry violent heart subside.
"Why should we venture teach Him governance?
"Never address me on this subject more!"

Next night she said "But I went, all the same,
"—Ay, saw your Caponsacchi in his house,
"And come back stuffed with news I must outpour.
"I told him 'Sir, my mistress is a stone:
"'Why should you harm her for no good you get?
"'For you do harm her—prowl about our place
"'With the Count never distant half the street,
"'Lurking at every corner, would you look!
"T is certain she has witched you with a spell.
"'Are there not other beauties at your beck?
"'We all know, Donna This and Monna That
"'Die for a glance of yours, yet here you gaze!
"'Go make them grateful, leave the stone its cold!'
"And he—oh, he turned first white and then red,
"And then—'To her behest I bow myself,
"'Whom I love with my body and my soul:
"'Only a word i' the bowing! See, I write
"'One little word, no harm to see or hear!
"'Then, fear no further!' This is what he wrote.
"I know you cannot read,—therefore, let me!
"'My idol!'" …

But I took it from her hand
And tore it into shreds. "Why, join the rest
"Who harm me? Have I ever done you wrong?
"People have told me 't is you wrong myself:
"Let it suffice I either feel no wrong
"Or else forgive it,—yet you turn my foe!
"The others hunt me and you throw a noose!"

She muttered "Have your wilful way!" I slept.

Whereupon … no, I leave my husband out
It is not to do him more hurt, I speak.
Let it suffice, when misery was most,
One day, I swooned and got a respite so.
She stooped as I was slowly coming to,
This Margherita, ever on my trace,
And whispered—"Caponsacchi!"

If I drowned,
But woke afloat i' the wave with upturned eyes,
And found their first sight was a star! I turned—
For the first time, I let her have her will,
Heard passively,—"The imposthume at such head,
"One touch, one lancet-puncture would relieve,—
"And still no glance the good physician's way
"Who rids you of the torment in a trice!
"Still he writes letters you refuse to hear.
"He may prevent your husband, kill himself,
"So desperate and all fordone is he!
"Just hear the pretty verse he made to-day!
"A sonnet from Mirtillo. 'Peerless fair …'
"All poetry is difficult to read,
"—The sense of it is, anyhow, he seeks
"Leave to contrive you an escape from hell,
"And for that purpose asks an interview.
"I can write, I can grant it in your name,
"Or, what is better, lead you to his house.
"Your husband dashes you against the stones;
"This man would place each fragment in a shrine:
"You hate him, love your husband!"

I returned
"It is not true I love my husband,—no,
"Nor hate this man. I listen while you speak,
"—Assured that what you say is false, the same:
"Much as when once, to me a little child,
"A rough gaunt man in rags, with eyes on fire,
"A crowd of boys and idlers at his heels,
"Rushed as I crossed the Square, and held my head
"In his two hands, 'Here's she will let me speak!
"'You little girl, whose eyes do good to mine,
"'I am the Pope, am Sextus, now the Sixth;
"'And that Twelfth Innocent, proclaimed to-day,
"'Is Lucifer disguised in human flesh!
"'The angels, met in conclave, crowned me!'—thus
"He gibbered and I listened; but I knew
"All was delusion, ere folk interposed
"'Unfasten him, the maniac!' Thus I know
"All your report of Caponsacchi false,
"Folly or dreaming; I have seen so much
"By that adventure at the spectacle,
"The face I fronted that one first, last time:
"He would belie it by such words and thoughts.
"Therefore while you profess to show him me,
"I ever see his own face. Get you gone!"

"—That will I, nor once open mouth again,—
"No, by Saint Joseph and the Holy Ghost!
"On your head be the damage, so adieu!"
And so more days, more deeds I must forget,
Till … what a strange thing now is to declare!
Since I say anything, say all if true!
And how my life seems lengthened as to serve!
It may be idle or inopportune,
But, true?—why, what was all I said but truth,
Even when I found that such as are untrue
Could only take the truth in through a lie?
Now—I am speaking truth to the Truth's self:
God will lend credit to my words this time.

It had got half through April. I arose
One vivid daybreak,—who had gone to bed
In the old way my wont those last three years,
Careless until, the cup drained, I should die.
The last sound in my ear, the over-night,
Had been a something let drop on the sly
In prattle by Margherita, "Soon enough
"Gaieties end, now Easter's past: a week,
"And the Archbishop gets him back to Rome,—
"Everyone leaves the town for Rome, this Spring,—
"Even Caponsacchi, out of heart and hope,
"Resigns himself and follows with the flock."
I heard this drop and drop like rain outside
Fast-falling through the darkness while she spoke:
So had I heard with like indifference,
"And Michael's pair of wings will arrive first
"At Rome, to introduce the company,
"And bear him from our picture where he fights
"Satan,—expect to have that dragon loose
"And never a defender!"—my sole thought
Being still, as night came, "Done, another day!
"How good to sleep and so get nearer death!"—
When, what, first thing at daybreak, pierced the sleep
With a summons to me? Up I sprang alive,
Light in me, light without me, everywhere
Change! A broad yellow sunbeam was let fall
From heaven to earth,—a sudden drawbridge lay,
Along which marched a myriad merry motes,
Mocking the flies that crossed them and recrossed
In rival dance, companions new-born too.
On the house-eaves, a dripping shag of weed
Shook diamonds on each dull grey lattice-square,
As first one, then another bird leapt by,
And light was off, and lo was back again,
Always with one voice,—where are two such joys?—
The blessed building-sparrow! I stepped forth,
Stood on the terrace,—o'er the roofs, such sky!
My heart sang, "I too am to go away,
"I too have something I must care about,
"Carry away with me to Rome, to Rome!
"The bird brings hither sticks and hairs and wool,
"And nowhere else i' the world; what fly breaks rank,
"Falls out of the procession that befits,
"From window here to window there, with all
"The world to choose,—so well he knows his course?
"I have my purpose and my motive too,
"My march to Rome, like any bird or fly!
"Had I been dead! How right to be alive!
"Last night I almost prayed for leave to die,
"Wished Guido all his pleasure with the sword
"Or the poison,—poison, sword, was but a trick,
"Harmless, may God forgive him the poor jest!
"My life is charmed, will last till I reach Rome!
"Yesterday, but for the sin,—ah, nameless be
"The deed I could have dared against myself!
"Now—see if I will touch an unripe fruit,
"And risk the health I want to have and use!
"Not to live, now, would be the wickedness,—
"For life means to make haste and go to Rome
"And leave Arezzo, leave all woes at once!"

Now, understand here, by no means mistake!
Long ago had I tried to leave that house
When it seemed such procedure would stop sin;
And still failed more the more I tried—at first
The Archbishop, as I told you,—next, our lord
The Governor,—indeed I found my way,
I went to the great palace where he rules,
Though I knew well 't was he who,—when I gave
A jewel or two, themselves had given me,
Back to my parents,—since they wanted bread,
They who had never let me want a nosegay,—he
Spoke of the jail for felons, if they kept
What was first theirs, then mine, so doubly theirs,
Though all the while my husband's most of all!
I knew well who had spoke the word wrought this:
Yet, being in extremity, I fled
To the Governor, as I say,—scarce opened lip
When—the cold cruel snicker close behind—
Guido was on my trace, already there,
Exchanging nod and wink for shrug and smile,
And I—pushed back to him and, for my pains
Paid withbut why remember what is past?
I sought out a poor friar the people call
The Roman, and confessed my sin which came
Of their sin,—that fact could not be repressed,—
The frightfulness of my despair in God:
And, feeling, through the grate, his horror shake,
Implored him, "Write for me who cannot write,
"Apprise my parents, make them rescue me!
"You bid me be courageous and trust God:
"Do you in turn dare somewhat, trust and write
"'Dear friends, who used to be my parents once,
"'And now declare you have no part in me,
"'This is some riddle I want wit to solve,
"'Since you must love me with no difference.
"'Even suppose you altered,—there's your hate,
"'To ask for: hate of you two dearest ones
"'I shall find liker love than love found here,
"'If husbands love their wives. Take me away
"'And hate me as you do the gnats and fleas,
"'Even the scorpions! How I shall rejoice!'
"Write that and save me!" And he promised—wrote
Or did not write; things never changed at all:
He was not like the Augustinian here!
Last, in a desperation I appealed
To friends, whoever wished me better days,
To Guillichini, that's of kin,—"What, I—
"Travel to Rome with you? A flying gout
"Bids me deny my heart and mind my leg!"
Then I tried Conti, used to brave—laugh back
The louring thunder when his cousin scowled
At me protected by his presence: "You
"Who well know what you cannot save me from,—
"Carry me off! What frightens you, a priest?"
He shook his head, looked grave—"Above my strength!
"Guido has claws that scratch, shows feline teeth;
"A formidabler foe than I dare fret:
"Give me a dog to deal with, twice the size!
"Of course I am a priest and Canon too,
"But . . by the bye . . though both, not quite so bold
"As he, my fellow-Canon, brother-priest,
"The personage in such ill odour here
"Because of the reports—pure birth o' the brain!
"Our Caponsacchi, he's your true Saint George
"To slay the monster, set the Princess free,
"And have the whole High-Altar to himself:
'I always think so when I see that piece
"I' the Pieve, that's his church and mine, you know:
"Though you drop eyes at mention of his name!"

That name had got to take a half-grotesque
Half-ominous, wholly enigmatic sense,
Like any by-word, broken bit of song
Born with a meaning, changed by mouth and mouth
That mix it in a sneer or smile, as chance
Bids, till it now means nought but ugliness
And perhaps shame.

All this intends to say,
That, over-night, the notion of escape
Had seemed distemper, dreaming; and the name,—
Not the man, but the name of him, thus made
Into a mockery and disgrace,—why, she
Who uttered it persistently, had laughed,
"I name his name, and there you start and wince
"As criminal from the red tongs' touch!"—yet now,
Now, as I stood letting morn bathe me bright,
Choosing which butterfly should bear my news,—
The white, the brown one, or that tinier blue,—
The Margherita, I detested so,
In she came—"The fine day, the good Spring time!
"What, up and out at window? That is best.
"No thought of Caponsacchi?—who stood there
"All night on one leg, like the sentry crane,
"Under the pelting of your water-spout—
"Looked last look at your lattice ere he leave
"Our city, bury his dead hope at Rome.
"Ay, go to looking-glass and make you fine,
"While he may die ere touch one least loose hair
"You drag at with the comb in such a rage!"

I turned—"Tell Caponsacchi he may come!"

"Tell him to come? Ah, but, for charity,
"A truce to fooling! Come? What,—come this eve?
"Peter and Paul! But I see through the trick!
"Yes, come, and take a flower-pot on his head,
"Flung from your terrace! No joke, sincere truth?"

How plainly I perceived hell flash and fade
O' the face of her,—the doubt that first paled joy,
Then, final reassurance I indeed
Was caught now, never to be free again!
What did I care?—who felt myself of force
To play with silk, and spurn the horsehair-springe.

"Butdo you know that I have bade him come,
"And in your own name? I presumed so much,
"Knowing the thing you needed in your heart.
"But somehow—what had I to show in proof?
"He would not come: half-promised, that was all,
"And wrote the letters you refused to read.
"What is the message that shall move him now?"

"After the Ave Maria, at first dark,
"I will be standing on the terrace, say!"

"I would I had a good long lock of hair
"Should prove I was not lying! Never mind!"

Off she went—"May he not refuse, that's all
"Fearing a trick!"

I answered, "He will come."
And, all day, I sent prayer like incense up
To God the strong, God the beneficent,
God ever mindful in all strife and strait,
Who, for our own good, makes the need extreme,
Till at the last He puts forth might and saves.
An old rhyme came into my head and rang
Of how a virgin, for the faith of God,
Hid herself, from the Paynims that pursued,
In a cave's heart; until a thunderstone,
Wrapped in a flame, revealed the couch and prey
And they laughed—"Thanks to lightning, ours at last!"
And she cried "Wrath of God, assert His love!
"Servant of God, thou fire, befriend His child!"
And lo, the fire she grasped at, fixed its flash,
Lay in her hand a calm cold dreadful sword
She brandished till pursuers strewed the ground,
So did the souls within them die away,
As o'er the prostrate bodies, sworded, safe,
She walked forth to the solitudes and Christ:
So should I grasp the lightning and be saved!

And still, as the day wore, the trouble grew
Whereby I guessed there would be born a star,
Until at an intense throe of the dusk,
I started up, was pushed, I dare to say,
Out on the terrace, leaned and looked at last
Where the deliverer waited me: the same
Silent and solemn face, I first descried
At the spectacle, confronted mine once more.

So was that minute twice vouchsafed me, so
The manhood, wasted then, was still at watch
To save me yet a second time: no change
Here, though all else changed in the changing world!

I spoke on the instant, as my duty bade,
In some such sense as this, whatever the phrase.

"Friend, foolish words were borne from you to me;
"Your soul behind them is the pure strong wind,
"Not dust and feathers which its breath may bear:
"These to the witless seem the wind itself,
"Since proving thus the first of it they feel.
"If by mischance you blew offence my way,
"The straws are dropt, the wind desists no whit,
"And how such strays were caught up in the street
"And took a motion from you, why inquire?
"I speak to the strong soul, no weak disguise.
"If it be truth,—why should I doubt it truth?—
"You serve God specially, as priests are bound,
"And care about me, stranger as I am,
"So far as wish my good,—that miracle
"I take to intimate He wills you serve
"By saving me,—what else can He direct?
"Here is the service. Since a long while now,
"I am in course of being put to death:
"While death concerned nothing but me, I bowed
"The head and bade, in heart, my husband strike.
"Now I imperil something more, it seems,
"Something that's truelier me than this myself,
"Something I trust in God and you to save.
"You go to Rome, they tell me: take me there,
"Put me back with my people!"

He replied—
The first word I heard ever from his lips,
All himself in it,—an eternity
Of speech, to match the immeasurable depth
O' the soul that then broke silence—"I am yours."

So did the star rise, soon to lead my step,
Lead on, nor pause before it should stand still
Above the House o' the Babe,—my babe to be,
That knew me first and thus made me know him,
That had his right of life and claim on mine,
And would not let me die till he was born,
But pricked me at the heart to save us both,
Saying "Have you the will? Leave God the way!"
And the way was Caponsacchi—"mine," thank God!
He was mine, he is mine, he will be mine.

No pause i' the leading and the light! I know,
Next night there was a cloud came, and not he:
But I prayed through the darkness till it broke
And let him shine. The second night, he came.

"The plan is rash; the project desperate:
"In such a flight needs must I risk your life,
"Give food for falsehood, folly or mistake,
"Ground for your husband's rancour and revenge"—
So he began again, with the same face.
I felt that, the same loyalty—one star
Turning now red that was so white before
One service apprehended newly: just
A word of mine and there the white was back!

"No, friend, for you will take me! 'T is yourself
"Risk all, not I,—who let you, for I trust
"In the compensating great God: enough!
"I know you: when is it that you will come?"

"To-morrow at the day's dawn." Then I heard
What I should do: how to prepare for flight
And where to fly.

That night my husband bade
"—You, whom I loathe, beware you break my sleep
"This whole night! Couch beside me like the corpse
"I would you were!" The rest you know, I think—
How I found Caponsacchi and escaped.

And this man, men call sinner? Jesus Christ!
Of whom men said, with mouths Thyself mad'st once,
"He hath a devil"—say he was Thy saint,
My Caponsacchi! Shield and show—unshroud
In Thine own time the glory of the soul
If aught obscure,—if ink-spot, from vile pens
Scribbling a charge against him—(I was glad
Then, for the first time, that I could not write)—
Flirted his way, have flecked the blaze!

For me,
'T is otherwise: let men take, sift my thoughts
—Thoughts I throw like the flax for sun to bleach!
I did pray, do pray, in the prayer shall die,
"Oh, to have Caponsacchi for my guide!"
Ever the face upturned to mine, the hand
Holding my hand across the world,—a sense
That reads, as only such can read, the mark
God sets on woman, signifying so
She should—shall peradventure—be divine;
Yet 'ware, the while, how weakness mars the print
And makes confusion, leaves the thing men see,
Not this man sees,—who from his soul, re-writes
The obliterated charter,—love and strength
Mending what's marred. "So kneels a votarist,
"Weeds some poor waste traditionary plot
"Where shrine once was, where temple yet may be,
"Purging the place but worshipping the while,
"By faith and not by sight, sight clearest so,—
"Such way the saints work,"—says Don Celestine.
But I, not privileged to see a saint
Of old when such walked earth with crown and palm,
If I call "saint" what saints call something else—
The saints must bear with me, impute the fault
To a soul i' the bud, so starved by ignorance,
Stinted of warmth, it will not blow this year
Nor recognize the orb which Spring-flowers know.
But if meanwhile some insect with a heart
Worth floods of lazy music, spendthrift joy—
Some fire-fly renounced Spring for my dwarfed cup,
Crept close to me, brought lustre for the dark,
Comfort against the cold,—what though excess
Of comfort should miscall the creature—sun?
What did the sun to hinder while harsh hands
Petal by petal, crude and colourless,
Tore me? This one heart gave me all the Spring!
Is all told? There's the journey: and where's time
To tell you how that heart burst out in shine?
Yet certain points do press on me too hard.
Each place must have a name, though I forget:
How strange it wasthere where the plain begins
And the small river mitigates its flow—
When eve was fading fast, and my soul sank,
And he divined what surge of bitterness,
In overtaking me, would float me back
Whence I was carried by the striding day
So,—"This grey place was famous once," said he—
And he began that legend of the place
As if in answer to the unspoken fear,
And told me all about a brave man dead,
Which lifted me and let my soul go on!
How did he know too,—at that town's approach
By the rock-side,—that in coming near the signs
Of life, the house-roofs and the church and tower,
I saw the old boundary and wall o' the world
Rise plain as ever round me, hard and cold,
As if the broken circlet joined again,
Tightened itself about me with no break,—
As if the town would turn Arezzo's self,—
The husband there,—the friends my enemies,
All ranged against me, not an avenue
To try, but would be blocked and drive me back
On him,—this other, … oh the heart in that!
Did not he find, bring, put into my arms
A new-born babe?—and I saw faces beam
Of the young mother proud to teach me joy,
And gossips round expecting my surprise
At the sudden hole through earth that lets in heaven.
I could believe himself by his strong will
Had woven around me what I thought the world
We went along in, every circumstance,
Towns, flowers and faces, all things helped so well!
For, through the journey, was it natural
Such comfort should arise from first to last?
As I look back, all is one milky way;
Still bettered more, the more remembered, so
Do new stars bud while I but search for old,
And fill all gaps i' the glory, and grow him—
Him I now see make the shine everywhere.
Even at the last when the bewildered flesh,
The cloud of weariness about my soul
Clogging too heavily, sucked down all sense,—
Still its last voice was, "He will watch and care;
"Let the strength go, I am content: he stays!"
I doubt not he did stay and care for all
From that sick minute when the head swam round,
And the eyes looked their last and died on him,
As in his arms he caught me, and, you say,
Carried me in, that tragical red eve,
And laid me where I next returned to life
In the other red of morning, two red plates
That crushed together, crushed the time between,
And are since then a solid fire to me,—
When in, my dreadful husband and the world
Broke,—and I saw him, master, by hell's right,
And saw my angel helplessly held back
By guards that helped the malice—the lamb prone,
The serpent towering and triumphant—then
Came all the strength back in a sudden swell,
I did for once see right, do right, give tongue
The adequate protest: for a worm must turn
If it would have its wrong observed by God.
I did spring up, attempt to thrust aside
That ice-block 'twixt the sun and me, lay low
The neutralizer of all good and truth.
If I sinned so,—never obey voice more
O' the Just and Terrible, who bids us—"Bear!"
Not—"Stand by, bear to see my angels bear!"
I am clear it was on impulse to serve God
Not save myself,—no—nor my child unborn!
Had I else waited patiently till now?—
Who saw my old kind parents, silly-sooth
And too much trustful, for their worst of faults,
Cheated, brow-beaten, stripped and starved, cast out
Into the kennel: I remonstrated,
Then sank to silence, for,—their woes at end,
Themselves gone,—only I was left to plague.
If only I was threatened and belied,
What matter? I could bear it and did bear;
It was a comfort, still one lot for all:
They were not persecuted for my sake
And I, estranged, the single happy one.
But when at last, all by myself I stood
Obeying the clear voice which bade me rise,
Not for my own sake but my babe unborn,
And take the angel's hand was sent to help—
And found the old adversary athwart the path—
Not my hand simply struck from the angel's, but
The very angel's self made foul i' the face
By the fiend who struck there,—that I would not bear,
That only I resisted! So, my first
And last resistance was invincible.
Prayers move God; threats, and nothing else, move men!
I must have prayed a man as he were God
When I implored the Governor to right
My parents' wrongs: the answer was a smile.
The Archbishop,—did I clasp his feet enough,
Hide my face hotly on them, while I told
More than I dared make my own mother know?
The profit was—compassion and a jest.
This time, the foolish prayers were done with, right
Used might, and solemnized the sport at once.
All was against the combat: vantage, mine?
The runaway avowed, the accomplice-wife,
In company with the plan-contriving priest?
Yet, shame thus rank and patent, I struck, bare,
At foe from head to foot in magic mail,
And off it withered, cobweb-armoury
Against the lightning! 'T was truth singed the lies
And saved me, not the vain sword nor weak speech!

You see, I will not have the service fail!
I say, the angel saved me: I am safe!
Others may want and wish, I wish nor want
One point o' the circle plainer, where I stand
Traced round about with white to front the world.
What of the calumny I came across,
What o' the way to the end?—the end crowns all.
The judges judged aright i' the main, gave me
The uttermost of my heart's desire, a truce
From torture and Arezzo, balm for hurt,
With the quiet nuns,—God recompense the good!
Who said and sang away the ugly past.
And, when my final fortune was revealed,
What safety while, amid my parents' arms,
My babe was given me! Yes, he saved my babe:
It would not have peeped forth, the bird-like thing,
Through that Arezzo noise and trouble: back
Had it returned nor ever let me see!
But the sweet peace cured all, and let me live
And give my bird the life among the leaves
God meant him! Weeks and months of quietude,
I could lie in such peace and learn so much
Begin the task, I see how needful now,
Of understanding somewhat of my past,—
Know life a little, I should leave so soon.
Therefore, because this man restored my soul,
All has been right; I have gained my gain, enjoyed
As well as suffered,—nay, got foretaste too
Of better life beginning where this ends—
All through the breathing-while allowed me thus,
Which let good premonitions reach my soul
Unthwarted, and benignant influence flow
And interpenetrate and change my heart,
Uncrossed by what was wicked,—nay, unkind.
For, as the weakness of my time drew nigh,
Nobody did me one disservice more,
Spoke coldly or looked strangely, broke the love
I lay in the arms of, till my boy was born,
Born all in love, with nought to spoil the bliss
A whole long fortnight: in a life like mine
A fortnight filled with bliss is long and much.
All women are not mothers of a boy,
Though they live twice the length of my whole life,
And, as they fancy, happily all the same.
There I lay, then, all my great fortnight long,
As if it would continue, broaden out
Happily more and more, and lead to heaven:
Christmas before me,—was not that a chance?
I never realized God's birth before
How He grew likest God in being born.
This time I felt like Mary, had my babe
Lying a little on my breast like hers.
So all went on till, just four days ago—
The night and the tap.

Oh it shall be success
To the whole of our poor family! My friends
… Nay, father and mother,—give me back my word!
They have been rudely stripped of life, disgraced
Like children who must needs go clothed too fine,
Carry the garb of Carnival in Lent.
If they too much affected frippery,
They have been punished and submit themselves,
Say no word: all is over, they see God
Who will not be extreme to mark their fault
Or He had granted respite: they are safe.
For that most woeful man my husband once,
Who, needing respite, still draws vital breath,
I—pardon him? So far as lies in me,
I give him for his good the life he takes,
Praying the world will therefore acquiesce.
Let him make God amends,—none, none to me
Who thank him rather that, whereas strange fate
Mockingly styled him husband and me wife,
Himself this way at least pronounced divorce,
Blotted the marriage-bond: this blood of mine
Flies forth exultingly at any door,
Washes the parchment white, and thanks the blow.
We shall not meet in this world nor the next,
But where will God be absent? In His face
Is light, but in His shadow healing too:
Let Guido touch the shadow and be healed!
And as my presence was importunate,—
My earthly good, temptation and a snare,—
Nothing about me but drew somehow down
His hate upon me,—somewhat so excused
Therefore, since hate was thus the truth of him,—
May my evanishment for evermore
Help further to relieve the heart that cast
Such object of its natural loathing forth!
So he was made; he nowise made himself:
I could not love him, but his mother did.
His soul has never lain beside my soul
But for the unresisting body.—thanks!
He burned that garment spotted by the flesh.
Whatever he touched is rightly ruined: plague
It caught, and disinfection it had craved
Still but for Guido; I am saved through him
So as by fire; to him—thanks and farewell!

Even for my babe, my boy, there's safety thence—
From the sudden death of me, I mean: we poor
Weak souls, how we endeavour to be strong!
I was already using up my life,—
This portion, now, should do him such a good,
This other go to keep off such an ill!
The great life; see, a breath and it is gone!
So is detached, so left all by itself
The little life, the fact which means so much.
Shall not God stoop the kindlier to His work,
His marvel of creation, foot would crush,
Now that the hand He trusted to receive
And hold it, lets the treasure fall perforce?
The better; He shall have in orphanage
His own way all the clearlier: if my babe
Outlived the hour—and he has lived two weeks—
It is through God who knows I am not by.
Who is it makes the soft gold hair turn black,
And sets the tongue, might lie so long at rest,
Trying to talk? Let us leave God alone!
Why should I doubt He will explain in time
What I feel now, but fail to find the words?
My babe nor was, nor is, nor yet shall be
Count Guido Franceschini's child at all
Only his mother's, born of love not hate!
So shall I have my rights in after-time.
It seems absurd, impossible to-day;
So seems so much else, not explained but known!

Ah! Friends, I thank and bless you every one!
No more now: I withdraw from earth and man
To my own soul, compose myself for God.

Well, and there is more! Yes, my end of breath
Shall bear away my soul in being true!
He is still here, not outside with the world,
Here, here, I have him in his rightful place!
'T is now, when I am most upon the move,
I feel for what I verily find—again
The face, again the eyes, again, through all,
The heart and its immeasurable love
Of my one friend, my only, all my own,
Who put his breast between the spears and me.
Ever with Caponsacchi! Otherwise
Here alone would be failure, loss to me
How much more loss to him, with life debarred
From giving life, love locked from love's display,
The day-star stopped its task that makes night morn!
O lover of my life, O soldier-saint,
No work begun shall ever pause for death!
Love will be helpful to me more and more
I' the coming course, the new path I must tread—
My weak hand in thy strong hand, strong for that!
Tell him that if I seem without him now,
That's the world's insight! Oh, he understands!
He is at Civita—do I once doubt
The world again is holding us apart?
He had been here, displayed in my behalf
The broad brow that reverberates the truth,
And flashed the word God gave him, back to man!
I know where the free soul is flown! My fate
Will have been hard for even him to bear:
Let it confirm him in the trust of God,
Showing how holily he dared the deed!
And, for the rest,—say, from the deed, no touch
Of harm came, but all good, all happiness,
Not one faint fleck of failure! Why explain?
What I see, oh, he sees and how much more!
Tell him,—I know not wherefore the true word
Should fade and fall unuttered at the last
It was the name of him I sprang to meet
When came the knock, the summons and the end.
"My great heart, my strong hand are back again!"
I would have sprung to these, beckoning across
Murder and hell gigantic and distinct
O' the threshold, posted to exclude me heaven:
He is ordained to call and I to come!
Do not the dead wear flowers when dressed for God?
Say,—I am all in flowers from head to foot!
Say,—not one flower of all he said and did,
Might seem to flit unnoticed, fade unknown,
But dropped a seed, has grown a balsam-tree
Whereof the blossoming perfumes the place
At this supreme of moments! He is a priest;
He cannot marry therefore, which is right:
I think he would not marry if he could.
Marriage on earth seems such a counterfeit,
Mere imitation of the inimitable:
In heaven we have the real and true and sure.
'T is there they neither marry nor are given
In marriage but are as the angels: right,
Oh how right that is, how like Jesus Christ
To say that! Marriage-making for the earth,
With gold so much,—birth, power, repute so much,
Or beauty, youth so much, in lack of these!
Be as the angels rather, who, apart,
Know themselves into one, are found at length
Married, but marry never, no, nor give
In marriage; they are man and wife at once
When the true time is: here we have to wait
Not so long neither! Could we by a wish
Have what we will and get the future now,
Would we wish aught done undone in the past?
So, let him wait God's instant men call years;
Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul,
Do out the duty! Through such souls alone
God stooping shows sufficient of His light
For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise.

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Fra Lippo Lippi

I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave!
You need not clap your torches to my face.
Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk!
What, 'tis past midnight, and you go the rounds,
And here you catch me at an alley's end
Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar?
The Carmine's my cloister: hunt it up,
Do—harry out, if you must show your zeal,
Whatever rat, there, haps on his wrong hole,
And nip each softling of a wee white mouse,
Weke, weke, that's crept to keep him company!
Aha, you know your betters! Then, you'll take
Your hand away that's fiddling on my throat,
And please to know me likewise. Who am I?
Why, one, sir, who is lodging with a friend
Three streets off—he's a certain...how d'ye call?
Master—a...Cosimo of the Medici,
I' the house that caps the corner. Boh! you were best!
Remember and tell me, the day you're hanged,
How you affected such a gullet's gripe!
But you, sir, it concerns you that your knaves
Pick up a manner nor discredit you:
Zooks, are we pilchards, that they sweep the streets
And count fair prize what comes into this net?
He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!
Just such a face! Why, sir, you make amends.
Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hangdogs go
Drink out this quarter-florin to the health
Of the munificent House that harbors me
(And many more beside, lads! more beside!)
And all's come square again. I'd like his face—
His, elbowing on his comrade in the door
With the pike and lantern—for the slave that holds
John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair
With one hand ("Look you, now," as who should say)
And his weapon in the other, yet unwiped!
It's not your chance to have a bit of chalk,
A wood-coal or the like? or you should see!
Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me so.
What, brother Lippo's doings, up and down,
You know them and they take you? like enough!
I saw the proper twinkle in your eye
'Tell you, I liked your looks at very first.
Let's sit and set things straight now, hip to haunch.
Here's spring come, and the nights one makes up bands
To roam the town and sing out carnival,
And I've been three weeks shut within my mew,
A-painting for the great man, saints and saints
And saints again. I could not paint all night—
Ouf! I leaned out of window for fresh air.
There came a hurry of feet and little feet,
A sweep of lute-strings, laughs, and whifts of song—
Flower o' the broom,
Take away love, and our earth is a tomb!
Flower o' the quince,
I let Lisa go, and what good in life since?
Flower o' the thyme—and so on. Round they went.
Scarce had they turned the corner when a titter
Like the skipping of rabbits by moonlight—three slim shapes,
And a face that looked up…zooks, sir, flesh and blood,
That's all I'm made of! Into shreds it went,
Curtain and counterpane and coverlet,
All the bed-furniture—a dozen knots,
There was a ladder! Down I let myself,
Hands and feet, scrambling somehow, and so dropped,
And after them. I came up with the fun
Hard by Saint Laurence, hail fellow, well met—
Flower o' the rose,
If I've been merry, what matter who knows!
And so as I was stealing back again
To get to bed and have a bit of sleep
Ere I rise up tomorrow and go work
On Jerome knocking at his poor old breast
With his great round stone to subdue the flesh,
You snape me of the sudden. Ah, I see!
Though your eye twinkles still, you shake your head—
Mine's shaves—a monk, you saythe sting's in that!
If Master Cosimo announced himself,
Mum's the word naturally; but a monk!
Come, what am I a beast for? tell us, now!
I was a baby when my mother died
And father died and left me in the street.
I starved there, God knows how, a year or two
On fig skins, melon parings, rinds and shucks,
Refuse and rubbish. One fine frosty day,
My stomach being empty as your hat,
The wind doubled me up and down I went.
Old Aunt Lapaccia trussed me with one hand
(Its fellow was a stinger as I knew),
And so along the wall, over the bridge,
By the straight cut to the convent. Six words there,
While I stood munching my first bread that month:
"So, boy, you're minded," quoth the good fat father
Wiping his own mouth, 'twas refection time
"To quit this very miserable world?
Will you renounce"…"the mouthful of bread?" thought I;
By no means! Brief, they made a monk of me;
I did renounce the world, its pride and greed,
Palace, farm, villa, shop, and banking house,
Trash, such as these poor devils of Medici
Have given their hearts toall at eight years old.
Well, sir, I found in time, you may be sure,
'Twas not for nothing—the good bellyful,
The warm serge and the rope that goes all round,
And day-long blessed idleness beside!
"Let's see what the urchin's fit for"—that came next.
Not overmuch their way, I must confess.
Such a to-do! They tried me with their books:
Lord, they'd have taught me Latin in pure waste!
Flower o' the clove,
All the Latin I construe is "amo," I love!
But, mind you, when a boy starves in the streets
Eight years together, as my fortune was,
Watching folk's faces to know who will fling
The bit of half-stripped grape bunch he desires,
And who will curse or kick him for his pains—
Which gentleman processional and fine,
Holding a candle to the Sacrament,
Will wink and let him lift a plate and catch
The droppings of the wax to sell again,
Or holla for the Eight and have him whipped—
How say I?—nay, which dog bites, which lets drop
His bone from the heap of offal in the street—
Why, soul and sense of him grow sharp alike,
He learns the look of things, and none the less
For admonition from the hunger-pinch.
I had a store of such remarks, be sure,
Which, after I found leisure, turned to use.
I drew men's faces on my copy-books,
Scrawled them within the antiphonary's marge,
Joined legs and arms to the long music-notes,
Found eyes and nose and chin for A's and B's,
And made a string of pictures of the world
Betwixt the ins and outs of verb and noun,
On the wall, the bench, the door. The monks looked black.
"Nay," quoth the Prior, "turn him out d'ye say?
In no wise. Lose a crow and catch a lark.
What if at least we get our man of parts,
We Carmelites, like those Camaldolese
And Preaching Friars, to do our church up fine
And put the front on it that ought to be!"
And hereupon he bade me daub away.
Thank you! my head being crammed, the walls a blank,
Never was such prompt disemburdening.
First, every sort of monk, the black and white,
I drew them, fat and lean: then, folk at church,
From good old gossips waiting to confess
Their cribs of barrel-droppings, candle-ends,—
To the breathless fellow at the altar-foot,
Fresh from his murder, safe and sitting there
With the little children round him in a row
Of admiration, half for his beard and half
For that white anger of his victim's son
Shaking a fist at him with one fierce arm,
Signing himself with the other because of Christ
(Whose sad face on the cross sees only this
After the passion of a thousand years)
Till some poor girl, her apron o'er her head,
(Which the intense eyes looked through) came at eve
On tiptoe, said a word, dropped in a loaf,
Her pair of earrings and a bunch of flowers
(The brute took growling), prayed, and so was gone.
I painted all, then cried "’Tis ask and have;
Choose, for more's ready!"—laid the ladder flat,
And showed my covered bit of cloister-wall.
The monks closed in a circle and praised loud
Till checked, taught what to see and not to see,
Being simple bodies,—"That's the very man!
Look at the boy who stoops to pat the dog!
That woman's like the Prior's niece who comes
To care about his asthma: it's the life!"
But there my triumph's straw-fire flared and funked;
Their betters took their turn to see and say:
The Prior and the learned pulled a face
And stopped all that In no time. "How? what's here?
Quite from the mark of painting, bless us all!
Faces, arms, legs and bodies like the true
As much as pea and pea! it's devil's-game!
Your business is not to catch men with show,
With homage to the perishable clay,
But lift them over it, ignore it all,
Make them forget there's such a thing as flesh.
Your business is to paint the souls of men—
Man's soul, and it's a fire, smoke…no, it's not
It's vapor done up like a new-born babe—
(In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth)
It's…well, what matters talking, it's the soul!
Give us no more of body than shows soul!
Here's Giotto, with his Saint a-praising God,
That sets us praising,—why not stop with him?
Why put all thoughts of praise out of our head
With wonder at lines, colors, and what not?
Paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms!
Rub all out, try at it a second time.
Oh, that white smallish female with the breasts,
She's just my niece…Herodias, I would say,—
Who went and danced and got men's heads cut off!
Have it all out!" Now, is this sense, I ask?
A fine way to paint soul, by painting body
So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go further
And can't fare worse! Thus, yellow does for white
When what you put for yellow's simply black
And any sort of meaning looks intense
When all beside itself means and looks naught.
Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn,
Left foot and right foot, go a double step,
Make his flesh liker and his soul more like,
Both in their order? Take the prettiest face,
The Prior's niece…patron-saint—is it so pretty
You can't discover if it means hope, fear,
Sorrow or joy? won't beauty go with these?
Suppose I've made her eyes all right and blue,
Can't I take breath and try to add life's flash,
And then add soul and heighten them three-fold?
Or say there's beauty with no soul at all
(I never saw itput the case the same—)
If you get simple beauty and naught else,
You get about the best thing God invents:
That's somewhat: and you'll find the soul you have missed,
Within yourself, when you return him thanks.
"Rub all out!" Well, well, there's my life, in short,
And so the thing has gone on ever since.
I'm grown a man no doubt, I've broken bounds:
You should not take a fellow eight years old
And make him swear to never kiss the girls.
I'm my own master, paint now as I please—
Having a friend, you see, in the Corner-house!
Lord, it's fast holding by the rings in front—
Those great rings serve more purposes than just
To plant a flag in, or tie up a horse! 230
And yet the old schooling sticks, the old grave eyes
Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work,
The heads shake still—"It's art's decline, my son!
You're not of the true painters, great and old;
Brother Angelico's the man, you'll fine;
Brother Lorenzo stands his single peer:
Fag on at flesh, you'll never make the third!"
Flower o' the pine,
You keep your mistr…manners, and I'll stick to mine!
I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must know!
Don't you think they're the likeliest to know,
They with their Latin? So, I swallow my rage,
Clench my teeth, suck my lips in tight, and paint
To please them—sometimes do and sometimes don't;
For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come
A turn, some warm eve finds me at my saints—
A laugh, a cry, the business of the world
(Flower o' the peach,
Death for us all, and his own life for each!)
And my whole soul revolves, the cup runs over,
The world and life's too big to pass for a dream,
And I do these wild things in sheer despite,
And play the fooleries you catch me at,
In pure rage! The old mill-horse, out at grass
After hard years, throws up his stiff heels so,
Although the miller does not preach to him
The only good of grass is to make chaff.
What would men have? Do they like grass or no
May they or mayn't they? all I want's the thing
Settled forever one way. As it is,
You tell too many lies and hurt yourself:
You don't like what you only like too much,
You do like what, if given you at your word,
You find abundantly detestable.
For me, I think I speak as I was taught;
I always see the garden and God there
A-making man's wife: and, my less learned,
The value and significance of flesh,
I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards.

You understand me: I'm a beast, I know.
But see, now—why, I see as certainly
As that the morning-star's about to shine,
What will hap some day. We've a youngster here
Comes to our convent, studies what I do,
Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop:
His name is Guidi—he'll not mind the monks—
They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk—
He picks my practice up—he'll paint apace,
I hope so—though I never live so long,
I know what's sure to follow. You be judge!
You speak no Latin more than I, belike;
However, you're my man, you've seen the world
The beaty and the wonder and the power,
The shapes of things, their colors, lights and shades,
Changes, surprises—and God made it all!
For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no,
For this fair town's face, yonder river's line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What's it all about?
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at? oh, this last of course!—you say.
But why not do as well as say,—paint it these
Just as they are, careless what comes of it?
God's works—paint any one, and count it crime
To let a truth slip. Don't object, "His works
Are here already; nature is complete:
Suppose you reproduce her—(which you can't)
There's no advantage! You must beat her, then."
For, don't you mark? we're made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better, painted—better to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now,
Your cullion's hanging face? A bit of chalk,
And trust me but you should, though! How much more,
If I drew higher things with the same truth!
That were to take the Prior's pulpit-place,
Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh,
It makes me mad to see what men shall do
And we in our graves! This world's no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.
"Ay, but you don't so instigate to prayer!"
Strikes in the Prior: "when your meaning's plain
It does not say to folk—remember matins,
Or, mind you fast next Friday!" Why, for this
What need of art at all? A skull and bones,
Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what's best,
A bell to chime the hour with, does as well.
I painted a Saint Laurence six months since
At Prato, splashed the fresco in fine style:
"How looks my painting, now the scaffold's down?"
I ask a brother: "Hugely," he returns—
"Already not one phiz of your three slaves
Who turn the Deacon off his toasted side,
But's scratched and prodded to our heart's content,
The pious people have so eased their own
With coming to say prayers there in a rage:
We get on fast to see the bricks beneath.
Expect another job this time next year,
For pity and religion grow i' the crowd—
Your painting serves its purpose!" Hang the fools!

That isyou'll not mistake an idle word
Spoke in a huff by a poor monk, God wot,
Tasting the air this spicy night which turns
The unaccustomed head like Chianti wine!
Oh, the church knows! don't misreport me, now!
It's natural a poor monk out of bounds
Should have his apt word to excuse himself:
And hearken how I plot to make amends.
I have bethought me: I shall paint a piece
There's for you! Give me six months, then go, see
Something in Sant' Ambrogio's! Bless the nuns!
They want a cast o' my office. I shall paint
God in the midst, Madonna and her babe,
Ringed by a bowery flowery angel-brood,
Lilies and vestments and white faces, sweet
As puff on puff of grated orris-root
When ladies crowd to Church at midsummer.
And when i' the front, of course a saint or two—
Saint John, because he saves the Florentines,
Saint Ambrose, who puts down in black and white
The convent's friends and gives them a long day,
And Job, I must have him there past mistake,
The man of Uz (and Us without the z,
Painters who need his patience). Well, all these
Secured at their devotion, up shall come
Out of a corner when you least expect,
As one by a dark stair into a great light,
Music and talking, who but Lippo! I!—
Mazed, motionless and moonstruck—I'm the man!
Back I shrink—what is this I see and hear?
I, caught up with my monk's-things by mistake,
My old serge gown and rope that goes all round,
I, in this presence, this pure company!
Where's a hole, where's a corner for escape?
Then steps a sweet angelic slip of a thing
Forward, puts out a soft palm—"Not so fast!"
—Addresses the celestial presence, "nay—
He made you and devised you, after all,
Though he's none of you! Could Saint John there draw—
His camel-hair make up a painting-brush?
We come to brother Lippo for all that,
Iste perfecit opus!" So, all smile
I shuffle sideways with my blushing face
Under the cover of a hundred wings
Thrown like a spread of kirtles when you're gay
And play hot cockles, all the doors being shut,
Till, wholly unexpected, in there pops
The hothead husband! Thus I scuttle off
To home safe bench behind, not letting go
The palm of her, the little lily thing
That spoke the good word for me in the nick,
Like the Prior's niece…Saint Lucy, I would say.
And so all's saved for me, and for the church
A pretty picture gained. Go, six months hence!
Your hand, sir, and good-bye: no lights, no lights!
The street's hushed, and I know my own way back,
Don't fear me! There's the gray beginning. Zooks!

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Oscar Wilde

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I

Version I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.


He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.


I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.


I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
'That fellows got to swing.'


Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one's throat, before
The hangman with his gardener's gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.

II.

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer's collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men were we:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.

III

In Debtors' Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman's hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher's doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers' Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother's soul?


With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fool's Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil's Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we-the fool, the fraud, the knave-
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another's terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savior of Remorse.

The cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and loud they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

'Oho!' they cried, 'The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.'
No things of air these antics were
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God's dreadful dawn was red.

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows' need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man's grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man's heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From a leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who live more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

IV.

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far to wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But their were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each go his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
An Horror stalked before each man,
And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.


For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace-this wretched man-
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A requiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life's appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

V.

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in goal
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know-and wise it were
If each could know the same-
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one's heart by night.

With midnight always in one's heart,
And twilight in one's cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul's strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ's snow-white seal.


VI.

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

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Tale XIII

JESSE AND COLIN.

A Vicar died and left his Daughter poor -
It hurt her not, she was not rich before:
Her humble share of worldly goods she sold,
Paid every debt, and then her fortune told;
And found, with youth and beauty, hope and health,
Two hundred guineas was her worldly wealth;
It then remain'd to choose her path in life,
And first, said Jesse, 'Shall I be a wife? -
Colin is mild and civil, kind and just,
I know his love, his temper I can trust;
But small his farm, it asks perpetual care,
And we must toil as well as trouble share:
True, he was taught in all the gentle arts
That raise the soul and soften human hearts;
And boasts a parent, who deserves to shine
In higher class, and I could wish her mine;
Nor wants he will his station to improve,
A just ambition waked by faithful love;
Still is he poor--and here my Father's Friend
Deigns for his Daughter, as her own, to send:
A worthy lady, who it seems has known
A world of griefs and troubles of her own:
I was an infant when she came a guest
Beneath my father's humble roof to rest;
Her kindred all unfeeling, vast her woes,
Such her complaint, and there she found repose;
Enrich'd by fortune, now she nobly lives,
And nobly, from the bless'd abundance, gives;
The grief, the want, of human life she knows,
And comfort there and here relief bestows:
But are they not dependants?--Foolish pride!
Am I not honour'd by such friend and guide?
Have I a home' (here Jesse dropp'd a tear),
'Or friend beside?'--A faithful friend was near.
Now Colin came, at length resolved to lay
His heart before her, and to urge her stay:
True, his own plough the gentle Colin drove,
An humble farmer with aspiring love;
Who, urged by passion, never dared till now,
Thus urged by fears, his trembling hopes avow:
Her father's glebe he managed; every year
The grateful Vicar held the youth more dear;
He saw indeed the prize in Colin's view,
And wish'd his Jesse with a man so true:
Timid as true, he urged with anxious air
His tender hope, and made the trembling prayer,
When Jesse saw, nor could with coldness see,
Such fond respect, such tried sincerity;
Grateful for favours to her father dealt,
She more than grateful for his passion felt;
Nor could she frown on one so good and kind,
Yet fear'd to smile, and was unfix'd in mind;
But prudence placed the Female Friend in view -
What might not one so rich and grateful do?
So lately, too, the good old Vicar died,
His faithful daughter must not cast aside
The signs of filial grief, and be a ready bride.
Thus, led by prudence, to the Lady's seat
The Village-Beauty purposed to retreat;
But, as in hard-fought fields the victor knows
What to the vanquish'd he in honour owes,
So, in this conquest over powerful love,
Prudence resolved a generous foe to prove,
And Jesse felt a mingled fear and pain
In her dismission of a faithful swain,
Gave her kind thanks, and when she saw his woe,
Kindly betray'd that she was loth to go;
'But would she promise, if abroad she met
A frowning world, she would remember yet
Where dwelt a friend?'--'That could she not forget

.'
And thus they parted; but each faithful heart
Felt the compulsion, and refused to part.
Now, by the morning mail the timid Maid
Was to that kind and wealthy Dame conveyed;
Whose invitation, when her father died,
Jesse as comfort to her heart applied;
She knew the days her generous Friend had seen -
As wife and widow, evil days had been;
She married early, and for half her life
Was an insulted and forsaken wife;
Widow'd and poor, her angry father gave,
Mix'd with reproach, the pittance of a slave;
Forgetful brothers pass'd her, but she knew
Her humbler friends, and to their home withdrew:
The good old Vicar to her sire applied
For help, and help'd her when her sire denied.
When in few years Death stalk'd through bower and

hall,
Sires, sons, and sons of sons, were buried all,
She then abounded, and had wealth to spare
For softening grief she once was doom'd to share;
Thus train'd in misery's school, and taught to

feel,
She would rejoice an orphan's woes to heal: -
So Jesse thought, who look'd within her breast,
And thence conceived how bounteous minds are

bless'd.
From her vast mansion look'd the Lady down
On humbler buildings of a busy town;
Thence came her friends of either sex, and all
With whom she lived on terms reciprocal:
They pass'd the hours with their accustom'd ease,
As guests inclined, but not compelled, to please;
But there were others in the mansion found,
For office chosen, and by duties bound;
Three female rivals, each of power possess'd,
Th' attendant Maid, poor Friend, and kindred Guest.
To these came Jesse, as a seaman thrown
By the rude storm upon a coast unknown:
The view was flattering, civil seem'd the race,
But all unknown the dangers of the place.
Few hours had pass'd, when, from attendants

freed
The Lady utter'd, 'This is kind indeed;
Believe me, love! that I for one like you
Have daily pray'd, a friend discreet and true;
Oh! wonder not that I on you depend,
You are mine own hereditary friend:
Hearken, my Jesse, never can I trust
Beings ungrateful, selfish, and unjust;
But you are present, and my load of care
Your love will serve to lighten and to share:
Come near me, Jesse--let not those below
Of my reliance on your friendship know;
Look as they look, be in their freedoms free -
But all they say do you convey to me.'
Here Jesse's thoughts to Colin's cottage flew,
And with such speed she scarce their absence knew.
'Jane loves her mistress, and should she depart,
I lose her service, and she breaks her heart;
My ways and wishes, looks and thoughts, she knows,
And duteous care by close attention shows:
But is she faithful? in temptation strong,
Will she not wrong me? ah! I fear the wrong;
Your father loved me; now, in time of need,
Watch for my good, and to his place succeed.
'Blood doesn't bind--that Girl, who every day
Eats of my bread, would wish my life away;
I am her dear relation, and she thinks
To make her fortune, an ambitious minx!
She only courts me for the prospect's sake,
Because she knows I have a Will to make;
Yes, love! my Will delay'd, I know not how -
But you are here, and I will make it now.
'That idle creature, keep her in your view,
See what she does, what she desires to do;
On her young mind may artful villains prey,
And to my plate and jewels find a way:
A pleasant humour has the girl; her smile,
And cheerful manner, tedious hours beguile:
But well observe her, ever near her be,
Close in your thoughts, in your professions free.
'Again, my Jesse, hear what I advise,
And watch a woman ever in disguise;
Issop, that widow, serious, subtle, sly -
But what of this?--I must have company:
She markets for me, and although she makes
Profit, no doubt, of all she undertakes,
Yet she is one I can to all produce,
And all her talents are in daily use:
Deprived of her, I may another find
As sly and selfish, with a weaker mind:
But never trust her, she is full of art,
And worms herself into the closest heart;
Seem then, I pray you, careless in her sight,
Nor let her know, my love, how we unite.
'Do, my good Jesse, cast a view around,
And let no wrong within my house be found;
That Girl associates with--I know not who
Are her companions, nor what ill they do;
'Tis then the Widow plans, 'tis then she tries
Her various arts and schemes for fresh supplies;
'Tis then, if ever, Jane her duty quits,
And, whom I know not, favours and admits:
Oh! watch their movements all; for me 'tis hard,
Indeed is vain, but you may keep a guard;
And I, when none your watchful glance deceive,
May make my Will, and think what I shall leave.'
Jesse, with fear, disgust, alarm, surprise,
Heard of these duties for her ears and eyes;
Heard by what service she must gain her bread,
And went with scorn and sorrow to her bed.
Jane was a servant fitted for her place,
Experienced, cunning, fraudful, selfish, base;
Skill'd in those mean humiliating arts
That make their way to proud and selfish hearts:
By instinct taught, she felt an awe, a fear,
For Jesse's upright, simple character;
Whom with gross flattery she awhile assail'd,
And then beheld with hatred when it fail'd;
Yet, trying still upon her mind for hold,
She all the secrets of the mansion told;
And, to invite an equal trust, she drew
Of every mind a bold and rapid view;
But on the widow'd Friend with deep disdain,
And rancorous envy, dwelt the treacherous Jane:
In vain such arts;--without deceit or pride,
With a just taste and feeling for her guide,
From all contagion Jesse kept apart,
Free in her manners, guarded in her heart.
Jesse one morn was thoughtful, and her sigh
The Widow heard as she was passing by;
And--'Well!' she said, 'is that some distant swain,
Or aught with us, that gives your bosom pain?
Come, we are fellow-sufferers, slaves in thrall,
And tasks and griefs are common to us all;
Think not my frankness strange: they love to paint
Their state with freedom, who endure restraint;
And there is something in that speaking eye
And sober mien that prove I may rely:
You came a stranger; to my words attend,
Accept my offer, and you find a friend;
It is a labyrinth in which you stray,
Come, hold my clue, and I will lead the way.
'Good Heav'n! that one so jealous, envious,

base,
Should be the mistress of so sweet a place;
She, who so long herself was low and poor,
Now broods suspicious on her useless store;
She loves to see us abject, loves to deal
Her insult round, and then pretends to feel:
Prepare to cast all dignity aside,
For know, your talents will be quickly tried;
Nor think, from favours past a friend to gain, -
'Tis but by duties we our posts maintain:
I read her novels, gossip through the town,
And daily go, for idle stories down;
I cheapen all she buys, and bear the curse
Of honest tradesmen for my niggard purse;
And, when for her this meanness I display,
She cries, 'I heed not what I throw away;'
Of secret bargains I endure the shame,
And stake my credit for our fish and game;
Oft has she smiled to hear 'her generous soul
Would gladly give, but stoops to my control:'
Nay! I have heard her, when she chanced to come
Where I contended for a petty sum,
Affirm 'twas painful to behold such care,
'But Issop's nature is to pinch and spare:'
Thus all the meanness of the house is mine,
And my reward--to scorn her, and to dine.
'See next that giddy thing, with neither pride
To keep her safe, nor principle to guide:
Poor, idle, simple flirt! as sure as fate
Her maiden-fame will have an early date:
Of her beware; for all who live below
Have faults they wish not all the world to know,
And she is fond of listening, full of doubt,
And stoops to guilt to find an error out.
'And now once more observe the artful Maid,
A lying, prying, jilting, thievish jade;
I think, my love, you would not condescend
To call a low, illiterate girl your friend:
But in our troubles we are apt, you know,
To lean on all who some compassion show;
And she has flexile features, acting eyes,
And seems with every look to sympathise;
No mirror can a mortal's grief express
With more precision, or can feel it less;
That proud, mean spirit, she by fawning courts
By vulgar flattery, and by vile reports;
And by that proof she every instant gives
To one so mean, that yet a meaner lives.
'Come, I have drawn the curtain, and you see
Your fellow-actors, all our company;
Should you incline to throw reserve aside,
And in my judgment and my love confide,
I could some prospects open to your view,
That ask attention--and, till then, adieu.'
'Farewell!' said Jesse, hastening to her room,
Where all she saw within, without, was gloom:
Confused, perplex'd, she pass'd a dreary hour,
Before her reason could exert its power;
To her all seem'd mysterious, all allied
To avarice, meanness, folly, craft, and pride;
Wearied with thought, she breathed the garden's

air,
Then came the laughing Lass, and join'd her thore.
'My sweetest friend has dwelt with us a week,
And does she love us? be sincere and speak;
My Aunt you cannot--Lord! how I should hate
To be like her, all misery and state;
Proud, and yet envious, she disgusted sees
All who are happy, and who look at ease.
Let friendship bind us, I will quickly show
Some favourites near us you'll be bless'd to know;
My aunt forbids it--but, can she expect,
To soothe her spleen, we shall ourselves neglect?
Jane and the Widow were to watch and stay
My free-born feet; I watch'd as well as they:
Lo! what is this?--this simple key explores
The dark recess that holds the Spinster's stores:
And, led by her ill star, I chanced to see
Where Issop keeps her stock of ratafie;
Used in the hours of anger and alarm,
It makes her civil, and it keeps her warm:
Thus bless'd with secrets both would choose to

hide,
Their fears now grant me what their scorn denied.
'My freedom thus by their assent secured,
Bad as it is, the place may be endured;
And bad it is, but her estates, you know,
And her beloved hoards, she must bestow;
So we can slily our amusements take,
And friends of demons, if they help us, make.'
'Strange creatures these,' thought Jesse, half

inclined
To smile at one malicious and yet kind;
Frank and yet cunning, with a heart to love
And malice prompt--the serpent and the dove;
Here could she dwell? or could she yet depart?
Could she be artful? could she bear with art? -
This splendid mansion gave the cottage grace,
She thought a dungeon was a happier place;
And Colin pleading, when he pleaded best,
Wrought not such sudden change in Jesse's breast.
The wondering maiden, who had only read
Of such vile beings, saw them now with dread;
Safe in themselves--for nature has design'd
The creature's poison harmless to the kind;
But all beside who in the haunts are found
Must dread the poison, and must feel the wound.
Days full of care, slow weary weeks pass'd on,
Eager to go, still Jesse was not gone;
Her time in trifling, or in tears, she spent,
She never gave, she never felt, content:
The Lady wonder'd that her humble guest
Strove not to please, would neither lie nor jest;
She sought no news, no scandal would convey,
But walk'd for health, and was at church to pray:
All this displeased, and soon the Widow cried,
'Let me be frank--I am not satisfied;
You know my wishes, I your judgment trust;
You can be useful, Jesse, and you must:
Let me be plainer, child--I want an ear,
When I am deaf, instead of mine to hear;
When mine is sleeping let your eye awake;
When I observe not, observation take:
Alas! I rest not on my pillow laid,
Then threat'ning whispers make my soul afraid;
The tread of strangers to my ear ascends,
Fed at my cost, the minions of my friends;
While you, without a care, a wish to please,
Eat the vile bread of idleness and ease.'
Th' indignant Girl, astonish'd, answer'd--'Nay!
This instant, madam, let me haste away:
Thus speaks my father's, thus an orphan's friend?
This instant, lady, let your bounty end.'
The Lady frown'd indignant--'What!' she cried,
'A vicar's daughter with a princess' pride
And pauper's lot! but pitying I forgive;
How, simple Jesse, do you think to live?
Have I not power to help you, foolish maid?
To my concerns be your attention paid;
With cheerful mind th' allotted duties take,
And recollect I have a Will to make.'
Jesse, who felt as liberal natures feel,
When thus the baser their designs reveal,
Replied--'Those duties were to her unfit,
Nor would her spirit to her tasks submit.'
In silent scorn the Lady sat awhile,
And then replied with stern contemptuous smile -
'Think you, fair madam, that you came to share
Fortunes like mine without a thought or care?
A guest, indeed! from every trouble free,
Dress'd by my help, with not a care for me;
When I a visit to your father made,
I for the poor assistance largely paid;
To his domestics I their tasks assign'd,
I fix'd the portion for his hungry hind;
And had your father (simple man!) obey'd
My good advice, and watch'd as well as pray'd,
He might have left you something with his prayers,
And lent some colour for these lofty airs. -
'In tears, my love! Oh, then my soften'd heart
Cannot resist--we never more will part;
I need your friendship--I will be your friend,
And, thus determined, to my Will attend.'
Jesse went forth, but with determined soul
To fly such love, to break from such control:
'I hear enough,' the trembling damsel cried;
Flight be my care, and Providence my guide:
Ere yet a prisoner, I escape will make;
Will, thus display'd, th' insidious arts forsake,
And, as the rattle sounds, will fly the fatal

snake.'
Jesse her thanks upon the morrow paid,
Prepared to go, determined though afraid.
'Ungrateful creature!' said the Lady, 'this
Could I imagine?--are you frantic, miss?
What! leave your friend, your prospects--is it

true?'
This Jesse answer'd by a mild 'Adieu?'
The Dame replied 'Then houseless may you rove,
The starving victim to a guilty love;
Branded with shame, in sickness doom'd to nurse
An ill-form'd cub, your scandal and your curse;
Spurn'd by its scoundrel father, and ill fed
By surly rustics with the parish-bread! -
Relent you not?--speak--yet I can forgive;
Still live with me.'--'With you,' said Jesse, '

live?
No! I would first endure what you describe,
Rather than breathe with your detested tribe;
Who long have feign'd, till now their very hearts
Are firmly fix'd in their accursed parts;
Who all profess esteem, and feel disdain,
And all, with justice, of deceit complain;
Whom I could pity, but that, while I stay,
My terror drives all kinder thoughts away;
Grateful for this, that, when I think of you,
I little fear what poverty can do.'
The angry matron her attendant Jane
Summon'd in haste to soothe the fierce disdain: -
'A vile detested wretch!' the Lady cried,
'Yet shall she be by many an effort tried,
And, clogg'd with debt and fear, against her will

abide;
And, once secured, she never shall depart
Till I have proved the firmness of her heart:
Then when she dares not, would not, cannot go
I'll make her feel what 'tis to use me so.'
The pensive Colin in his garden stray'd,
But felt not then the beauties it display'd;
There many a pleasant object met his view,
A rising wood of oaks behind it grew;
A stream ran by it, and the village-green
And public road were from the garden seen;
Save where the pine and larch the bound'ry made,
And on the rose-beds threw a softening shade.
The Mother sat beside the garden-door,
Dress'd as in times ere she and hers were poor;
The broad-laced cap was known in ancient days,
When madam's dress compell'd the village praise;
And still she look'd as in the times of old,
Ere his last farm the erring husband sold;
While yet the mansion stood in decent state,
And paupers waited at the well-known gate.
'Alas, my son!' the Mother cried, 'and why
That silent grief and oft-repeated sigh?
True we are poor, but thou hast never felt
Pangs to thy father for his error dealt;
Pangs from strong hopes of visionary gain,
For ever raised, and ever found in vain.
He rose unhappy from his fruitless schemes,
As guilty wretches from their blissful dreams;
But thou wert then, my son, a playful child,
Wondering at grief, gay, innocent, and wild;
Listening at times to thy poor mother's sighs
With curious looks and innocent surprise;
Thy father dying, thou my virtuous boy,
My comfort always, waked my soul to joy;
With the poor remnant of our fortune left,
Thou hast our station of its gloom bereft:
Thy lively temper, and thy cheerful air,
Have cast a smile on sadness and despair;
Thy active hand has dealt to this poor space
The bliss of plenty and the charm of grace;
And all around us wonder when they find
Such taste and strength, such skill and power

combined;
There is no mother, Colin, no not one,
But envies me so kind, so good a son;
By thee supported on this failing side,
Weakness itself awakes a parent's pride:
I bless the stroke that was my grief before,
And feel such joy that 'tis disease no more;
Shielded by thee, my want becomes my wealth,
And, soothed by Colin, sickness smiles at health;
The old men love thee, they repeat thy praise,
And say, like thee were youth in earlier days;
While every village-maiden cries, 'How gay,
How smart, how brave, how good is Colin Grey!'
'Yet art thou sad; alas! my son, I know
Thy heart is wounded, and the cure is slow;
Fain would I think that Jesse still may come
To share the comforts of our rustic home:
She surely loved thee; I have seen the maid,
When thou hast kindly brought the Vicar aid -
When thou hast eased his bosom of its pain,
Oh! I have seen her--she will come again.'
The Matron ceased; and Colin stood the while
Silent, but striving for a grateful smile;
He then replied--'Ah! sure, had Jesse stay'd,
And shared the comforts of our sylvan shade,
The tenderest duty and the fondest love
Would not have fail'd that generous heart to move;
A grateful pity would have ruled her breast,
And my distresses would have made me bless'd.
'But she is gone, and ever has in view
Grandeur and taste,--and what will then ensue?
Surprise and then delight in scenes so fair and

new;
For many a day, perhaps for many a week,
Home will have charms, and to her bosom speak;
But thoughtless ease, and affluence, and pride,
Seen day by day, will draw the heart aside:
And she at length, though gentle and sincere,
Will think no more of our enjoyments here.'
Sighing he spake--but hark! he hears th'

approach
Of rattling wheels! and, lo! the evening coach;
Once more the movement of the horses' feet
Makes the fond heart with strong emotion beat:
Faint were his hopes, but ever had the sight
Drawn him to gaze beside his gate at night;
And when with rapid wheels it hurried by,
He grieved his parent with a hopeless sigh;
And could the blessing have been bought--what sum
Had he not offer'd to have Jesse come!
She came--he saw her bending from the door,
Her face, her smile, and he beheld no more;
Lost in his joy--the mother lent her aid
T'assist and to detain the willing Maid;
Who thought her late, her present home to make,
Sure of a welcome for the Vicar's sake:
But the good parent was so pleased, so kind,
So pressing Colin, she so much inclined,
That night advanced; and then, so long detain'd,
No wishes to depart she felt, or feign'd;
Yet long in doubt she stood, and then perforce

remain'd.
Here was a lover fond, a friend sincere;
Here was content and joy, for she was here:
In the mild evening, in the scene around,
The Maid, now free, peculiar beauties found;
Blended with village-tones, the evening gale
Gave the sweet night-bird's warblings to the vale:
The Youth, embolden'd, yet abash'd, now told
His fondest wish, nor found the maiden cold;
The Mother smiling whisper'd, 'Let him go
And seek the licence!' Jesse answer'd 'No:'
But Colin went.--I know not if they live
With all the comforts wealth and plenty give;
But with pure joy to envious souls denied,
To suppliant meanness and suspicious pride;
And village-maids of happy couples say,
'They live like Jesse Bourn and Colin Grey.'

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John Dryden

The Wife Of Bath Her Tale

In days of old, when Arthur filled the throne,
Whose acts and fame to foreign lands were blown,
The king of elves, and little fairy queen,
Gambolled on heaths, and danced on every green;
And where the jolly troop had led the round,
The grass unbidden rose, and marked the ground.
Nor darkling did they dance, the silver light
Of Phœbe served to guide their steps aright,
And, with their tripping pleased, prolong the night.
Her beams they followed, where at full she played,
Nor longer than she shed her horns they staid,
From thence with airy flight to foreign lands conveyed.
Above the rest our Britain held they dear,
More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here,
And made more spacious rings, and revelled half the year.
I speak of ancient times; for now the swain
Returning late may pass the woods in vain,
And never hope to see the nightly train;
In vain the dairy now with mints is dressed,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast.
She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain,
No silver penny to reward her pain;1
For priests with prayers, and other godly gear,
Have made the merry goblins disappear;
And where they played their merry pranks before,
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor;
And friars that through the wealthy regions run,
Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun,
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls,
And exorcise the beds, and cross the walls:
This makes the fairy quires forsake the place,
When once ‘tis hallowed with the rites of grace:
But in the walks, where wicked elves have been,
The learning of the parish now is seen;
The midnight parson, posting o’er the green,
With gown tucked up, to wakes; for Sunday next,
With humming ale encouraging his text;
Nor wants the holy leer to country-girl betwixt.
From fiends and imps he sets the village free,
There haunts not any incubus but he.
The maids and women need no danger fear
To walk by night, and sanctity so near;
For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
He bids his beads both even-song and morn.
It so befel in this king Arthur’s reign,
A lusty knight was pricking o’er the plain;
A bachelor he was, and of the courtly train.
It happened as he rode, a damsel gay
In russet robes to market took her way;
Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
So straight she walked, and on her pasterns high:
If seeing her behind he liked her pace,
Now turning short, he better likes her face.
He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire,
By force accomplished his obscene desire.
This done, away he rode, not unespied,
For swarming at his back, the country cried:
And once in view they never lost the sight,
But seized, and pinioned brought to court the knight.
Then courts of kings were held in high renown,
Ere made the common brothels of the town;
There, virgins honourable vows received,
But chaste as maids in monasteries lived:
The king himself, to nuptial ties a slave,
No bad example to his poets gave;
And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Had not, to please the prince, debauched the stage.2
Now what should Arthur do? He loved the knight,
But sovereign monarchs are the source of right:
Moved by the damsel’s tears and common cry,
He doomed the brutal ravisher to die.
But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
And prayed so hard for mercy from the prince,
That to his queen the king the offender gave,
And left it in her power to kill or save.
This gracious act the ladies all approve,
Who thought it much a man should die for love;
And with their mistress joined in close debate,
(Covering their kindness with dissembled hate,)
If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
At last agreed, they call him by consent
Before the queen and female parliament;
And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Did thus the judgment of the house declare.
‘Sir knight, though I have asked thy life, yet still
Thy destiny depends upon my will:
Nor hast thou other surety, than the grace
Not due to thee from our offended race.
But as our kind is of a softer mould,
And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
I grant thee life; reserving still the power
To take the forfeit when I see my hour;
Unless thy answer to my next demand
Shall set thee free from our avenging hand.
The question, whose solution I require,
Is, What the sex of women most desire?
In this dispute thy judges are at strife;
Beware; for on thy wit depends thy life.
Yet (lest, surprised, unknowing what to say,
Thou damn thyself) we give thee farther day;
A year is thine to wander at thy will;
And learn from others, if thou want’st the skill.
But, not to hold our proffer turned to scorn,
Good sureties will we have for thy return,
That at the time prefixed thou shalt obey,
And at thy pledge’s peril keep thy day.’
Woe was the knight at this severe command,
But well he knew ’twas bootless to withstand.
The terms accepted, as the fair ordain,
He put in bail for his return again;
And promised answer at the day assigned,
The best, with Heaven’s assistance, he could find.
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
With heavy heart, and full of discontent,
Misdoubting much, and fearful of the event.
’Twas hard the truth of such a point to find,
As was not yet agreed among the kind.
Thus on he went; still anxious more and more,
Asked all he met, and knocked at every door;
Inquired of men; but made his chief request
To learn from women what they loved the best.
They answered each according to her mind,
To please herself, not all the female kind.
One was for wealth, another was for place;
Crones, old and ugly, wished a better face;
The widow’s wish was oftentimes to wed;
The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed;
Some said the sex were pleased with handsome lies,
And some gross flattery loved without disguise.
Truth is,’ says one, ‘he seldom fails to win
Who flatters well; for thats our darling sin.
But long attendance, and a duteous mind,
Will work even with the wisest of the kind.’
One thought the sex’s prime felicity
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free;
Their pleasures, hours, and actions all their own,
And uncontrolled to give account to none.
Some wish a husband-fool; but such are curst,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst:
All women would be counted chaste and wise,
Nor should our spouses see but with our eyes;
For fools will prate; and though they want the wit
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit;
Though better for their ease to hold their tongue,
For woman-kind was never in the wrong.
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life;
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife.
And some men say, that great delight have we
To be for truth extolled, and secresy:
And constant in one purpose still to dwell,
And not our husband’s counsels to reveal.
But thats a fable: for our sex is frail,
Inventing rather than not tell a tale.
Like leaky sieves no secrets we can hold;
Witness the famous tale that Ovid told.
Midas, the king, as in his book appears,
By Phœbus was endowed with ass’s ears,
Which under his long locks he well concealed,
(As monarch’s vices must not be revealed)
For fear the people have them in the wind,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind;
Nor apt to think from Heaven their title springs,
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings.
This Midas knew; and durst communicate
To none but to his wife his ears of state;
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit,
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit.
To this sagacious confessor he went,
And told her what a gift the gods had sent;
But told it under matrimonial seal,
With strict injunction never to reveal.
The secret heard, she plighted him her troth,
(And sacred sure is every woman’s oath,)
The royal malady should rest unknown,
Both for her husband’s honour and her own:
But ne’ertheless she pined with discontent;
The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
The thing she knew she was obliged to hide;
By interest and by oath the wife was tied,
But if she told it not, the woman died.
Loath to betray a husband and a prince,
But she must burst, or blab, and no pretence
Of honour tied her tongue from self-defence.
A marshy ground commodiously was near,
Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear,
Lest if a word she spoke of any thing,
That word might be the secret of the king.
Thus full of counsel to the fen she went,
Griped all the way, and longing for a vent;
Arrived, by pure necessity compelled,
On her majestic marrow bones she kneeled;
Then to the water’s brink she laid her head,
And as a bittour bumps within a reed,3
To thee alone, O lake,’ she said, ‘I tell,
(And, as thy queen, command thee to conceal,)
Beneath his locks, the king my husband wears
A goodly royal pair of ass’s ears:
Now I have eased my bosom of the pain,
Till the next longing fit return again.’
Thus through a woman was the secret known;
Tell us, and in effect you tell the town.
But to my tale. The knight with heavy cheer,
Wandering in vain, had now consumed the year;
One day was only left to solve the doubt,
Yet knew no more than when he first set out.
But home he must, and as the award had been,
Yield up his body captive to the queen.
In this despairing state he happed to ride,
As fortune led him, by a forest side;
Lonely the vale, and full of horror stood,
Brown with the shade of a religious wood;
When full before him at the noon of night,
(The moon was up, and shot a gleamy light,)
He saw a quire of ladies in a round
That featly footing seemed to skim the ground;
Thus dancing hand in hand, so light they were,
He knew not where they trod, on earth or air.
At speed he drove, and came a sudden guest,
In hope where many women were, at least
Some one by chance might answer his request.
But faster than his horse the ladies flew,
And in a trice were vanished out of view.
One only hag remained: but fouler far
Than grandame apes in Indian forests are:
Against a withered oak she leaned her weight,
Propped on her trusty staff, not half upright,
And dropped an awkward courtesy to the knight.
Then said, ‘What makes you, sir, so late abroad
Without a guide, and this no beaten road?
Or want you aught that here you hope to find,
Or travel for some trouble in your mind?
The last I guess; and if I read aright,
Those of our sex are bound to serve a knight.
Perhaps good counsel may your grief assuage,
Then tell your pain, for wisdom is in age.’
To this the knight: ‘Good mother, would you know
The secret cause and spring of all my woe?
My life must with to-morrow’s light expire,
Unless I tell what women most desire.
Now could you help me at this hard essay,
Or for your inborn goodness, or for pay,
Yours is my life, redeemed by your advice,
Ask what you please, and I will pay the price:
The proudest kerchief of the court shall rest
Well satisfied of what they love the best.’
‘Plight me thy faith,’ quoth she, ‘that what I ask,
Thy danger over, and performed thy task,
That thou shalt give for hire of thy demand;
Here take thy oath, and seal it on my hand;
I warrant thee, on peril of my life,
Thy words shall please both widow, maid, and wife.’
More words there needed not to move the knight,
To take her offer, and his truth to plight.
With that she spread a mantle on the ground,
And, first inquiring whither he was bound,
Bade him not fear, though long and rough the way,
At court he should arrive ere break of day:
His horse should find the way without a guide.
She said: with fury they began to ride,
He on the midst, the beldam at his side.
The horse, what devil drove I cannot tell,
But only this, they sped their journey well;
And all the way the crone informed the knight,
How he should answer the demand aright.
To court they came; the news was quickly spread
Of his returning to redeem his head.
The female senate was assembled soon,
With all the mob of women of the town:
The queen sat lord chief justice of the hall,
And bade the crier cite the criminal.
The knight appeared; and silence they proclaim:
Then first the culprit answered to his name;
And, after forms of law, was last required
To name the thing that women most desired.
The offender, taught his lesson by the way,
And by his counsel ordered what to say,
Thus bold began:—‘My lady liege,’ said he,
What all your sex desire is—SOVEREIGNTY.
The wife affects her husband to command;
All must be hers, both money, house, and land:
The maids are mistresses even in their name,
And of their servants full dominion claim.
This, at the peril of my head, I say,
A blunt plain truth, the sex aspires to sway,
You to rule all, while we, like slaves, obey.’
There was not one, or widow, maid, or wife,
But said the knight had well deserved his life.
Even fair Geneura, with a blush, confessed
The man had found what women love the best.
Up starts the beldam, who was there unseen,
And, reverence made, accosted thus the queen:—
My liege,’ said she, ‘before the court arise,
May I, poor wretch, find favour in your eyes,
To grant my just request: ’twas I who taught
The knight this answer, and inspired his thought.
None but a woman could a man direct
To tell us women what we most affect.
But first I swore him on his knightly troth,
(And here demand performance of his oath,)
To grant the boon that next I should desire;
He gave his faith, and I expect my hire:
My promise is fulfilled: I saved his life,
And claim his debt, to take me for his wife.’
The knight was asked, nor could his oath deny,
But hoped they would not force him to comply.
The women, who would rather wrest the laws,
Than let a sister-plaintiff lose the cause,
(As judges on the bench more gracious are,
And more attent to brothers of the bar,)
Cried, one and all, the suppliant should have right,
And to the grandame hag adjudged the knight.
In vain he sighed, and oft with tears desired
Some reasonable suit might be required.
But still the crone was constant to her note;
The more he spoke, the more she stretched her throat.
In vain he proffered all his goods, to save
His body destined to that living grave.
The liquorish hag rejects the pelf with scorn,
And nothing but the man would serve her turn.
Not all the wealth of eastern kings,’ said she,
Have power to part my plighted love and me;
And, old and ugly as I am, and poor,
Yet never will I break the faith I swore;
For mine thou art by promise, during life,
And I thy loving and obedient wife.’
My love! nay, rather my damnation thou,’
Said he: ‘nor am I bound to keep my vow;
The fiend, thy sire, hath sent thee from below,
Else how couldst thou my secret sorrows know?
Avaunt, old witch! for I renounce thy bed:
The queen may take the forfeit of my head,
Ere any of my race so foul a crone shall wed.’
Both heard, the judge pronounced against the knight;
So was he married in his own despite:
And all day after hid him as an owl,
Not able to sustain a sight so foul.
Perhaps the reader thinks I do him wrong,
To pass the marriage feast, and nuptial song:
Mirth there was none, the man was à-la-mort,
And little courage had to make his court.
To bed they went, the bridegroom and the bride:
Was never such an ill-paired couple tied:
Restless he tossed, and tumbled to and fro,
And rolled, and wriggled further off for woe.
The good old wife lay smiling by his side,
And caught him in her quivering arms, and cried,
‘When you my ravished predecessor saw,
You were not then become this man of straw;
Had you been such you might have ’scaped the law.
Is this the custom of King Arthur’s court?
Are all round-table knights of such a sort?
Remember I am she who saved your life,
Your loving, lawful, and complying wife:
Not thus you swore in your unhappy hour,
Nor I for this return employed my power.
In time of need I was your faithful friend;
Nor did I since, nor ever will offend.
Believe me, my loved lord, ’tis much unkind;
What fury has possessed your altered mind?
Thus on my wedding night,—without pretence,—
Come, turn this wayor tell me my offence.
If not your wife, let reasons rule persuade,
Name but my fault, amends shall soon be made.’
‘Amends! nay, thats impossible,’ said he,
What change of age, or ugliness, can be?
Or could Medea’s magic mend thy face,
Thou art descended from so mean a race,
That never knight was matched with such disgrace.
What wonder, madam, if I move my side,
When, if I turn, I turn to such a bride?’
And is this all that troubles you so sore?
And what the devil couldst thou wish me more?’
‘Ah, Benedicite!’ replied the crone:
‘Then cause of just complaining have you none.
The remedy to this were soon applied,
Would you be like the bridegroom to the bride:
But, for you say a long descended race,
And wealth, and dignity, and power, and place,
Make gentlemen, and that your high degree
Is much disparaged to be matched with me;
Know this, my lord, nobility of blood
Is but a glittering and fallacious good:
The nobleman is he whose noble mind
Is filled with inborn worth, unborrowed from his kind.
The King of Heaven was in a manger laid,
And took his earth but from an humble Maid:
Then what can birth, or mortal men, bestow,
Since floods no higher than their fountains flow?
We, who for name and empty honour strive,
Our true nobility from him derive.
Your ancestors, who puff your mind with pride,
And vast estates to mighty titles tied,
Did not your honour, but their own, advance;
For virtue comes not by inheritance.
If you tralineate from your father’s mind,
What are you else but of a bastard kind?
Do as your great progenitors have done,
And by their virtues prove yourself their son.
No father can infuse or wit, or grace;
A mother comes across, and mars the race.
A grandsire or a grandame taints the blood;
And seldom three descents continue good.
Were virtue by descent, a noble name
Could never villanize his father’s fame:
But, as the first, the last of all the line,
Would, like the sun, even in descending shine.
Take fire, and bear it to the darkest house
Betwixt king Arthur’s court and Caucasus;
If you depart, the flame shall still remain,
And the bright blaze enlighten all the plain;
Nor, till the fuel perish, can decay,
By nature formed on things combustible to prey.
Such is not man, who, mixing better seed
With worse, begets a base degenerate breed:
The bad corrupts the good, and leaves behind
No trace of all the great begetter’s mind.
The father sinks within his son, we see,
And often rises in the third degree;
If better luck a better mother give,
Chance gave us being, and by chance we live.
Such as our atoms were, even such are we,
Or call it chance, or strong necessity:
Thus loaded with dead weight, the will is free.
And thus it needs must be: for seed conjoined
Lets into natures work the imperfect kind;
But fire, the enlivener of the general frame,
Is one, its operation still the same.
Its principle is in itself: while ours
Works, as confederates war, with mingled powers;
Or man or woman, which soever fails;
And oft the vigour of the worse prevails.
æther with sulphur blended alters hue,
And casts a dusky gleam of Sodom blue.
Thus, in a brute, their ancient honour ends,
And the fair mermaid in a fish descends:
The line is gone; no longer duke or earl;
But, by himself degraded, turns a churl.
Nobility of blood is but renown
Of thy great fathers by their virtue known,
And a long trail of light, to thee descending down.
If in thy smoke it ends, their glories shine;
But infamy and villanage are thine.
Then what I said before is plainly showed,
The true nobility proceeds from God:
Nor left us by inheritance, but given
By bounty of our stars, and grace of Heaven.
Thus from a captive Servius Tullius rose,
Whom for his virtues the first Romans chose:
Fabricius from their walls repelled the foe,
Whose noble hands had exercised the plough.
From hence, my lord, and love, I thus conclude,
That though my homely ancestors were rude,
Mean as I am, yet I may have the grace
To make you father of a generous race:
And noble then am I, when I begin,
In virtue clothed, to cast the rags of sin.
If poverty be my upbraided crime,
And you believe in Heaven, there was a time
When He, the great controller of our fate,
Deigned to be man, and lived in low estate;
Which He who had the world at his dispose,
If poverty were vice, would never choose.
Philosophers have said, and poets sing,
That a glad poverty’s an honest thing.
Content is wealth, the riches of the mind,
And happy he who can that treasure find;
But the base miser starves amidst his store,
Broods on his gold, and griping still at more,
Sits sadly pining, and believes he’s poor.
The ragged beggar, though he want relief,
Has nought to lose, and sings before the thief.
Want is a bitter and a hateful good,
Because its virtues are not understood.
Yet many things, impossible to thought,
Have been by need to full perfection brought:
The daring of the soul proceeds from thence,
Sharpness of wit, and active diligence;
Prudence at once and fortitude it gives,
And if in patience taken, mends our lives;
For even that indigence that brings me low,
Makes me myself and Him above to know;
A good which none would challenge, few would choose;
A fair possession, which mankind refuse.
If we from wealth to poverty descend,
Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend.
If I am old and ugly, well for you,
No lewd adulterer will my love pursue;
Nor jealousy, the bane of married life,
Shall haunt you for a withered homely wife;
For age and ugliness, as all agree,
Are the best guards of female chastity.
Yet since I see your mind is worldly bent,
I’ll do my best to further your content.
And therefore of two gifts in my dispose,—
Think ere you speak, —I grant you leave to choose:
Would you I should be still deformed and old,
Nauseous to touch, and loathsome to behold;
On this condition to remain for life
A careful, tender, and obedient wife,
In all I can contribute to your ease,
And not in deed, or word, or thought displease:
Or would you rather have me young and fair,
And take the chance that happens to your share?
Temptations are in beauty, and in youth,
And how can you depend upon my truth?
Now weigh the danger with the doubtful bliss,
And thank yourself, if aught should fall amiss.’
Sore sighed the knight, who this long sermon heard;
At length considering all, his heart he cheered,
And thus replied: —‘My lady, and my wife,
To your wise conduct I resign my life:
Choose you for me, for well you understand
The future good and ill, on either hand:
But if an humble husband may request,
Provide and order all things for the best;
Yours be the care to profit and to please:
And let your subject servant take his ease.’
‘Then thus in peace,’ quoth she, ‘concludes the strife,
Since I am turned the husband, you the wife:
The matrimonial victory is mine,
Which, having fairly gained, I will resign;
Forgive if I have said or done amiss,
And seal the bargain with a friendly kiss:
I promised you but one content to share,
But now I will become both good and fair.
No nuptial quarrel shall disturb your ease;
The business of my life shall be to please;
And for my beauty, that, as time shall try,
But draw the curtain first, and cast your eye.’
He looked, and saw a creature heavenly fair,
In bloom of youth, and of a charming air.
With joy he turned, and seized her ivory arm;
And, like Pygmalion, found the statue warm.
Small arguments there needed to prevail,
A storm of kisses poured as thick as hail.
Thus long in mutual bliss they lay embraced,
And their first love continued to the last:
One sunshine was their life, no cloud between,
Nor ever was a kinder couple seen.
And so may all our lives like theirs be led;
Heaven send the maids young husbands fresh in bed:
May widows wed as often as they can,
And ever for the better change their man.
And some devouring plague pursue their lives,
Who will not well be governed by their wives.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 15

But Minerva went to the fair city of Lacedaemon to tell Ulysses' son
that he was to return at once. She found him and Pisistratus
sleeping in the forecourt of Menelaus's house; Pisistratus was fast
asleep, but Telemachus could get no rest all night for thinking of his
unhappy father, so Minerva went close up to him and said:
"Telemachus, you should not remain so far away from home any longer,
nor leave your property with such dangerous people in your house; they
will eat up everything you have among them, and you will have been
on a fool's errand. Ask Menelaus to send you home at once if you
wish to find your excellent mother still there when you get back.
Her father and brothers are already urging her to marry Eurymachus,
who has given her more than any of the others, and has been greatly
increasing his wedding presents. I hope nothing valuable may have been
taken from the house in spite of you, but you know what women are-
they always want to do the best they can for the man who marries them,
and never give another thought to the children of their first husband,
nor to their father either when he is dead and done with. Go home,
therefore, and put everything in charge of the most respectable
woman servant that you have, until it shall please heaven to send
you a wife of your own. Let me tell you also of another matter which
you had better attend to. The chief men among the suitors are lying in
wait for you in the Strait between Ithaca and Samos, and they mean
to kill you before you can reach home. I do not much think they will
succeed; it is more likely that some of those who are now eating up
your property will find a grave themselves. Sail night and day, and
keep your ship well away from the islands; the god who watches over
you and protects you will send you a fair wind. As soon as you get
to Ithaca send your ship and men on to the town, but yourself go
straight to the swineherd who has charge your pigs; he is well
disposed towards you, stay with him, therefore, for the night, and
then send him to Penelope to tell her that you have got back safe from
Pylos."
Then she went back to Olympus; but Telemachus stirred Pisistratus
with his heel to rouse him, and said, "Wake up Pisistratus, and yoke
the horses to the chariot, for we must set off home."
But Pisistratus said, "No matter what hurry we are in we cannot
drive in the dark. It will be morning soon; wait till Menelaus has
brought his presents and put them in the chariot for us; and let him
say good-bye to us in the usual way. So long as he lives a guest
should never forget a host who has shown him kindness."
As he spoke day began to break, and Menelaus, who had already risen,
leaving Helen in bed, came towards them. When Telemachus saw him he
put on his shirt as fast as he could, threw a great cloak over his
shoulders, and went out to meet him. "Menelaus," said he, "let me go
back now to my own country, for I want to get home."
And Menelaus answered, "Telemachus, if you insist on going I will
not detain you. not like to see a host either too fond of his guest or
too rude to him. Moderation is best in all things, and not letting a
man go when he wants to do so is as bad as telling him to go if he
would like to stay. One should treat a guest well as long as he is
in the house and speed him when he wants to leave it. Wait, then, till
I can get your beautiful presents into your chariot, and till you have
yourself seen them. I will tell the women to prepare a sufficient
dinner for you of what there may be in the house; it will be at once
more proper and cheaper for you to get your dinner before setting
out on such a long journey. If, moreover, you have a fancy for
making a tour in Hellas or in the Peloponnese, I will yoke my
horses, and will conduct you myself through all our principal
cities. No one will send us away empty handed; every one will give
us something- a bronze tripod, a couple of mules, or a gold cup."
"Menelaus," replied Telemachus, "I want to go home at once, for when
I came away I left my property without protection, and fear that while
looking for my father I shall come to ruin myself, or find that
something valuable has been stolen during my absence."
When Menelaus heard this he immediately told his wife and servants
to prepare a sufficient dinner from what there might be in the
house. At this moment Eteoneus joined him, for he lived close by and
had just got up; so Menelaus told him to light the fire and cook
some meat, which he at once did. Then Menelaus went down into his
fragrant store room, not alone, but Helen went too, with
Megapenthes. When he reached the place where the treasures of his
house were kept, he selected a double cup, and told his son
Megapenthes to bring also a silver mixing-bowl. Meanwhile Helen went
to the chest where she kept the lovely dresses which she had made with
her own hands, and took out one that was largest and most
beautifully enriched with embroidery; it glittered like a star, and
lay at the very bottom of the chest. Then they all came back through
the house again till they got to Telemachus, and Menelaus said,
"Telemachus, may Jove, the mighty husband of Juno, bring you safely
home according to your desire. I will now present you with the
finest and most precious piece of plate in all my house. It is a
mixing-bowl of pure silver, except the rim, which is inlaid with gold,
and it is the work of Vulcan. Phaedimus king of the Sidonians made
me a present of it in the course of a visit that I paid him while I
was on my return home. I should like to give it to you."
With these words he placed the double cup in the hands of
Telemachus, while Megapenthes brought the beautiful mixing-bowl and
set it before him. Hard by stood lovely Helen with the robe ready in
her hand.
"I too, my son," said she, "have something for you as a keepsake
from the hand of Helen; it is for your bride to wear upon her
wedding day. Till then, get your dear mother to keep it for you;
thus may you go back rejoicing to your own country and to your home."
So saying she gave the robe over to him and he received it gladly.
Then Pisistratus put the presents into the chariot, and admired them
all as he did so. Presently Menelaus took Telemachus and Pisistratus
into the house, and they both of them sat down to table. A maid
servant brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer, and poured it
into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean
table beside them; an upper servant brought them bread and offered
them many good things of what there was in the house. Eteoneus
carved the meat and gave them each their portions, while Megapenthes
poured out the wine. Then they laid their hands upon the good things
that were before them, but as soon as they had had had enough to eat
and drink Telemachus and Pisistratus yoked the horses, and took
their places in the chariot. They drove out through the inner
gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court, and
Menelaus came after them with a golden goblet of wine in his right
hand that they might make a drink-offering before they set out. He
stood in front of the horses and pledged them, saying, "Farewell to
both of you; see that you tell Nestor how I have treated you, for he
was as kind to me as any father could be while we Achaeans were
fighting before Troy."
"We will be sure, sir," answered Telemachus, "to tell him everything
as soon as we see him. I wish I were as certain of finding Ulysses
returned when I get back to Ithaca, that I might tell him of the
very great kindness you have shown me and of the many beautiful
presents I am taking with me."
As he was thus speaking a bird flew on his right hand- an eagle with
a great white goose in its talons which it had carried off from the
farm yard- and all the men and women were running after it and
shouting. It came quite close up to them and flew away on their
right hands in front of the horses. When they saw it they were glad,
and their hearts took comfort within them, whereon Pisistratus said,
"Tell me, Menelaus, has heaven sent this omen for us or for you?"
Menelaus was thinking what would be the most proper answer for him
to make, but Helen was too quick for him and said, "I will read this
matter as heaven has put it in my heart, and as I doubt not that it
will come to pass. The eagle came from the mountain where it was
bred and has its nest, and in like manner Ulysses, after having
travelled far and suffered much, will return to take his revenge- if
indeed he is not back already and hatching mischief for the suitors."
"May Jove so grant it," replied Telemachus; "if it should prove to
be so, I will make vows to you as though you were a god, even when I
am at home."
As he spoke he lashed his horses and they started off at full
speed through the town towards the open country. They swayed the
yoke upon their necks and travelled the whole day long till the sun
set and darkness was over all the land. Then they reached Pherae,
where Diocles lived who was son of Ortilochus, the son of Alpheus.
There they passed the night and were treated hospitably. When the
child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, they again yoked their
horses and their places in the chariot. They drove out through the
inner gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court. Then
Pisistratus lashed his horses on and they flew forward nothing
loath; ere long they came to Pylos, and then Telemachus said:
"Pisistratus, I hope you will promise to do what I am going to ask
you. You know our fathers were old friends before us; moreover, we are
both of an age, and this journey has brought us together still more
closely; do not, therefore, take me past my ship, but leave me
there, for if I go to your father's house he will try to keep me in
the warmth of his good will towards me, and I must go home at once."
Pisistratus thought how he should do as he was asked, and in the end
he deemed it best to turn his horses towards the ship, and put
Menelaus's beautiful presents of gold and raiment in the stern of
the vessel. Then he said, "Go on board at once and tell your men to do
so also before I can reach home to tell my father. I know how
obstinate he is, and am sure he will not let you go; he will come down
here to fetch you, and he will not go back without you. But he will be
very angry."
With this he drove his goodly steeds back to the city of the Pylians
and soon reached his home, but Telemachus called the men together
and gave his orders. "Now, my men," said he, "get everything in
order on board the ship, and let us set out home."
Thus did he speak, and they went on board even as he had said. But
as Telemachus was thus busied, praying also and sacrificing to Minerva
in the ship's stern, there came to him a man from a distant country, a
seer, who was flying from Argos because he had killed a man. He was
descended from Melampus, who used to live in Pylos, the land of sheep;
he was rich and owned a great house, but he was driven into exile by
the great and powerful king Neleus. Neleus seized his goods and held
them for a whole year, during which he was a close prisoner in the
house of king Phylacus, and in much distress of mind both on account
of the daughter of Neleus and because he was haunted by a great sorrow
that dread Erinyes had laid upon him. In the end, however, he
escaped with his life, drove the cattle from Phylace to Pylos, avenged
the wrong that had been done him, and gave the daughter of Neleus to
his brother. Then he left the country and went to Argos, where it
was ordained that he should reign over much people. There he
married, established himself, and had two famous sons Antiphates and
Mantius. Antiphates became father of Oicleus, and Oicleus of
Amphiaraus, who was dearly loved both by Jove and by Apollo, but he
did not live to old age, for he was killed in Thebes by reason of a
woman's gifts. His sons were Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. Mantius, the
other son of Melampus, was father to Polypheides and Cleitus.
Aurora, throned in gold, carried off Cleitus for his beauty's sake,
that he might dwell among the immortals, but Apollo made Polypheides
the greatest seer in the whole world now that Amphiaraus was dead.
He quarrelled with his father and went to live in Hyperesia, where
he remained and prophesied for all men.
His son, Theoclymenus, it was who now came up to Telemachus as he
was making drink-offerings and praying in his ship. "Friend'" said he,
"now that I find you sacrificing in this place, I beseech you by
your sacrifices themselves, and by the god to whom you make them, I
pray you also by your own head and by those of your followers, tell me
the truth and nothing but the truth. Who and whence are you? Tell me
also of your town and parents."
Telemachus said, "I will answer you quite truly. I am from Ithaca,
and my father is 'Ulysses, as surely as that he ever lived. But he has
come to some miserable end. Therefore I have taken this ship and got
my crew together to see if I can hear any news of him, for he has been
away a long time."
"I too," answered Theoclymenus, am an exile, for I have killed a man
of my own race. He has many brothers and kinsmen in Argos, and they
have great power among the Argives. I am flying to escape death at
their hands, and am thus doomed to be a wanderer on the face of the
earth. I am your suppliant; take me, therefore, on board your ship
that they may not kill me, for I know they are in pursuit."
"I will not refuse you," replied Telemachus, "if you wish to join
us. Come, therefore, and in Ithaca we will treat you hospitably
according to what we have."
On this he received Theoclymenus' spear and laid it down on the deck
of the ship. He went on board and sat in the stern, bidding
Theoclymenus sit beside him; then the men let go the hawsers.
Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes, and they made all
haste to do so. They set the mast in its socket in the cross plank,
raised it and made it fast with the forestays, and they hoisted
their white sails with sheets of twisted ox hide. Minerva sent them
a fair wind that blew fresh and strong to take the ship on her
course as fast as possible. Thus then they passed by Crouni and
Chalcis.
Presently the sun set and darkness was over all the land. The vessel
made a quick pass sage to Pheae and thence on to Elis, where the
Epeans rule. Telemachus then headed her for the flying islands,
wondering within himself whether he should escape death or should be
taken prisoner.
Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd were eating their supper in
the hut, and the men supped with them. As soon as they had had to
eat and drink, Ulysses began trying to prove the swineherd and see
whether he would continue to treat him kindly, and ask him to stay
on at the station or pack him off to the city; so he said:
"Eumaeus, and all of you, to-morrow I want to go away and begin
begging about the town, so as to be no more trouble to you or to
your men. Give me your advice therefore, and let me have a good
guide to go with me and show me the way. I will go the round of the
city begging as I needs must, to see if any one will give me a drink
and a piece of bread. I should like also to go to the house of Ulysses
and bring news of her husband to queen Penelope. I could then go about
among the suitors and see if out of all their abundance they will give
me a dinner. I should soon make them an excellent servant in all sorts
of ways. Listen and believe when I tell you that by the blessing of
Mercury who gives grace and good name to the works of all men, there
is no one living who would make a more handy servant than I should- to
put fresh wood on the fire, chop fuel, carve, cook, pour out wine, and
do all those services that poor men have to do for their betters."
The swineherd was very much disturbed when he heard this. "Heaven
help me," he exclaimed, "what ever can have put such a notion as
that into your head? If you go near the suitors you will be undone
to a certainty, for their pride and insolence reach the very
heavens. They would never think of taking a man like you for a
servant. Their servants are all young men, well dressed, wearing
good cloaks and shirts, with well looking faces and their hair
always tidy, the tables are kept quite clean and are loaded with
bread, meat, and wine. Stay where you are, then; you are not in
anybody's way; I do not mind your being here, no more do any of the
others, and when Telemachus comes home he will give you a shirt and
cloak and will send you wherever you want to go."
Ulysses answered, "I hope you may be as dear to the gods as you
are to me, for having saved me from going about and getting into
trouble; there is nothing worse than being always ways on the tramp;
still, when men have once got low down in the world they will go
through a great deal on behalf of their miserable bellies. Since
however you press me to stay here and await the return of
Telemachus, tell about Ulysses' mother, and his father whom he left on
the threshold of old age when he set out for Troy. Are they still
living or are they already dead and in the house of Hades?"
"I will tell you all about them," replied Eumaeus, "Laertes is still
living and prays heaven to let him depart peacefully his own house,
for he is terribly distressed about the absence of his son, and also
about the death of his wife, which grieved him greatly and aged him
more than anything else did. She came to an unhappy end through sorrow
for her son: may no friend or neighbour who has dealt kindly by me
come to such an end as she did. As long as she was still living,
though she was always grieving, I used to like seeing her and asking
her how she did, for she brought me up along with her daughter
Ctimene, the youngest of her children; we were boy and girl
together, and she made little difference between us. When, however, we
both grew up, they sent Ctimene to Same and received a splendid
dowry for her. As for me, my mistress gave me a good shirt and cloak
with a pair of sandals for my feet, and sent me off into the
country, but she was just as fond of me as ever. This is all over now.
Still it has pleased heaven to prosper my work in the situation
which I now hold. I have enough to eat and drink, and can find
something for any respectable stranger who comes here; but there is no
getting a kind word or deed out of my mistress, for the house has
fallen into the hands of wicked people. Servants want sometimes to see
their mistress and have a talk with her; they like to have something
to eat and drink at the house, and something too to take back with
them into the country. This is what will keep servants in a good
humour."
Ulysses answered, "Then you must have been a very little fellow,
Eumaeus, when you were taken so far away from your home and parents.
Tell me, and tell me true, was the city in which your father and
mother lived sacked and pillaged, or did some enemies carry you off
when you were alone tending sheep or cattle, ship you off here, and
sell you for whatever your master gave them?"
"Stranger," replied Eumaeus, "as regards your question: sit still,
make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The
nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for
sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed
till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too little; if any one of
the others wishes to go to bed let him leave us and do so; he can then
take my master's pigs out when he has done breakfast in the morning.
We two will sit here eating and drinking in the hut, and telling one
another stories about our misfortunes; for when a man has suffered
much, and been buffeted about in the world, he takes pleasure in
recalling the memory of sorrows that have long gone by. As regards
your question, then, my tale is as follows:
"You may have heard of an island called Syra that lies over above
Ortygia, where the land begins to turn round and look in another
direction. It is not very thickly peopled, but the soil is good,
with much pasture fit for cattle and sheep, and it abounds with wine
and wheat. Dearth never comes there, nor are the people plagued by any
sickness, but when they grow old Apollo comes with Diana and kills
them with his painless shafts. It contains two communities, and the
whole country is divided between these two. My father Ctesius son of
Ormenus, a man comparable to the gods, reigned over both.
"Now to this place there came some cunning traders from Phoenicia
(for the Phoenicians are great mariners) in a ship which they had
freighted with gewgaws of all kinds. There happened to be a Phoenician
woman in my father's house, very tall and comely, and an excellent
servant; these scoundrels got hold of her one day when she was washing
near their ship, seduced her, and cajoled her in ways that no woman
can resist, no matter how good she may be by nature. The man who had
seduced her asked her who she was and where she came from, and on
this she told him her father's name. 'I come from Sidon,' said she,
'and am daughter to Arybas, a man rolling in wealth. One day as I
was coming into the town from the country some Taphian pirates
seized me and took me here over the sea, where they sold me to the man
who owns this house, and he gave them their price for me.'
"The man who had seduced her then said, 'Would you like to come
along with us to see the house of your parents and your parents
themselves? They are both alive and are said to be well off.'
"'I will do so gladly,' answered she, 'if you men will first swear
me a solemn oath that you will do me no harm by the way.'
"They all swore as she told them, and when they had completed
their oath the woman said, 'Hush; and if any of your men meets me in
the street or at the well, do not let him speak to me, for fear some
one should go and tell my master, in which case he would suspect
something. He would put me in prison, and would have all of you
murdered; keep your own counsel therefore; buy your merchandise as
fast as you can, and send me word when you have done loading. I will
bring as much gold as I can lay my hands on, and there is something
else also that I can do towards paying my fare. I am nurse to the
son of the good man of the house, a funny little fellow just able to
run about. I will carry him off in your ship, and you will get a great
deal of money for him if you take him and sell him in foreign parts.'
"On this she went back to the house. The Phoenicians stayed a
whole year till they had loaded their ship with much precious
merchandise, and then, when they had got freight enough, they sent
to tell the woman. Their messenger, a very cunning fellow, came to
my father's house bringing a necklace of gold with amber beads
strung among it; and while my mother and the servants had it in
their hands admiring it and bargaining about it, he made a sign
quietly to the woman and then went back to the ship, whereon she
took me by the hand and led me out of the house. In the fore part of
the house she saw the tables set with the cups of guests who had
been feasting with my father, as being in attendance on him; these
were now all gone to a meeting of the public assembly, so she snatched
up three cups and carried them off in the bosom of her dress, while
I followed her, for I knew no better. The sun was now set, and
darkness was over all the land, so we hurried on as fast as we could
till we reached the harbour, where the Phoenician ship was lying. When
they had got on board they sailed their ways over the sea, taking us
with them, and Jove sent then a fair wind; six days did we sail both
night and day, but on the seventh day Diana struck the woman and she
fell heavily down into the ship's hold as though she were a sea gull
alighting on the water; so they threw her overboard to the seals and
fishes, and I was left all sorrowful and alone. Presently the winds
and waves took the ship to Ithaca, where Laertes gave sundry of his
chattels for me, and thus it was that ever I came to set eyes upon
this country."
Ulysses answered, "Eumaeus, I have heard the story of your
misfortunes with the most lively interest and pity, but Jove has given
you good as well as evil, for in spite of everything you have a good
master, who sees that you always have enough to eat and drink; and you
lead a good life, whereas I am still going about begging my way from
city to city."
Thus did they converse, and they had only a very little time left
for sleep, for it was soon daybreak. In the meantime Telemachus and
his crew were nearing land, so they loosed the sails, took down the
mast, and rowed the ship into the harbour. They cast out their mooring
stones and made fast the hawsers; they then got out upon the sea
shore, mixed their wine, and got dinner ready. As soon as they had had
enough to eat and drink Telemachus said, "Take the ship on to the
town, but leave me here, for I want to look after the herdsmen on
one of my farms. In the evening, when I have seen all I want, I will
come down to the city, and to-morrow morning in return for your
trouble I will give you all a good dinner with meat and wine."
Then Theoclymenus said, 'And what, my dear young friend, is to
become of me? To whose house, among all your chief men, am I to
repair? or shall I go straight to your own house and to your mother?"
"At any other time," replied Telemachus, "I should have bidden you
go to my own house, for you would find no want of hospitality; at
the present moment, however, you would not be comfortable there, for I
shall be away, and my mother will not see you; she does not often show
herself even to the suitors, but sits at her loom weaving in an
upper chamber, out of their way; but I can tell you a man whose
house you can go to- I mean Eurymachus the son of Polybus, who is held
in the highest estimation by every one in Ithaca. He is much the
best man and the most persistent wooer, of all those who are paying
court to my mother and trying to take Ulysses' place. Jove, however,
in heaven alone knows whether or no they will come to a bad end before
the marriage takes place."
As he was speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand- a hawk,
Apollo's messenger. It held a dove in its talons, and the feathers, as
it tore them off, fell to the ground midway between Telemachus and the
ship. On this Theoclymenus called him apart and caught him by the
hand. "Telemachus," said he, "that bird did not fly on your right hand
without having been sent there by some god. As soon as I saw it I knew
it was an omen; it means that you will remain powerful and that
there will be no house in Ithaca more royal than your own."
"I wish it may prove so," answered Telemachus. "If it does, I will
show you so much good will and give you so many presents that all
who meet you will congratulate you."
Then he said to his friend Piraeus, "Piraeus, son of Clytius, you
have throughout shown yourself the most willing to serve me of all
those who have accompanied me to Pylos; I wish you would take this
stranger to your own house and entertain him hospitably till I can
come for him."
And Piraeus answered, "Telemachus, you may stay away as long as
you please, but I will look after him for you, and he shall find no
lack of hospitality."
As he spoke he went on board, and bade the others do so also and
loose the hawsers, so they took their places in the ship. But
Telemachus bound on his sandals, and took a long and doughty spear
with a head of sharpened bronze from the deck of the ship. Then they
loosed the hawsers, thrust the ship off from land, and made on towards
the city as they had been told to do, while Telemachus strode on as
fast as he could, till he reached the homestead where his countless
herds of swine were feeding, and where dwelt the excellent
swineherd, who was so devoted a servant to his master.

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William Makepeace Thackeray

The Legend Of St. Sophia Of Kioff

I.

[The Poet describes the city and spelling of Kiow, Kioff, or Kiova.]

A thousand years ago, or more,
A city filled with burghers stout,
And girt with ramparts round about,
Stood on the rocky Dnieper shore.
In armor bright, by day and night,
The sentries they paced to and fro.
Well guarded and walled was this town, and called
By different names, I'd have you to know;
For if you looks in the g'ography books,
In those dictionaries the name it varies,
And they write it off Kieff or Kioff, Kiova or Kiow.


II.

[Its buildings, public works, and ordinances, religious and civil.]

Thus guarded without by wall and redoubt,
Kiova within was a place of renown,
With more advantages than in those dark ages
Were commonly known to belong to a town.
There were places and squares, and each year four fairs,
And regular aldermen and regular lord-mayors;
And streets, and alleys, and a bishop's palace;
And a church with clocks for the orthodox—
With clocks and with spires, as religion desires;
And beadles to whip the bad little boys
Over their poor little corduroys,
In service-time, when they DIDN'T make a noise;
And a chapter and dean, and a cathedral-green
With ancient trees, underneath whose shades
Wandered nice young nursery-maids.

[The poet shows how a certain priest dwelt at Kioff, a godly
clergyman, and one that preached rare good sermons.]

Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-ding-a-ring-ding,
The bells they made a merry merry ring,
From the tall tall steeple; and all the people
(Except the Jews) came and filled the pews—
Poles, Russians and Germans,
To hear the sermons
Which HYACINTH preached godly to those Germans and Poles,
For the safety of their souls.


III.

[How this priest was short and fat of body;]

A worthy priest he was and a stout—
You've seldom looked on such a one;
For, though he fasted thrice in a week,
Yet nevertheless his skin was sleek;
His waist it spanned two yards about
And he weighed a score of stone.


IV.

[And like unto the author of 'Plymley's Letters.']

A worthy priest for fasting and prayer
And mortification most deserving;
And as for preaching beyond compare,
He'd exert his powers for three or four hours,
With greater pith than Sydney Smith
Or the Reverend Edward Irving.


V.

[Of what convent he was prior, and when the convent was built.]

He was the prior of Saint Sophia
(A Cockney rhyme, but no better I know)—
Of St. Sophia, that Church in Kiow,
Built by missionaries I can't tell when;
Who by their discussions converted the Russians,
And made them Christian men.


VI.

[Of Saint Sophia of Kioff; and how her statue miraculously
travelled thither.]

Sainted Sophia (so the legend vows)
With special favor did regard this house;
And to uphold her converts' new devotion
Her statue (needing but her legs for HER ship)
Walks of itself across the German Ocean;
And of a sudden perches
In this the best of churches,
Whither all Kiovites come and pay it grateful worship.


VII.

[And how Kioff should have been a happy city; but that]

Thus with her patron-saints and pious preachers
Recorded here in catalogue precise,
A goodly city, worthy magistrates,
You would have thought in all the Russian states
The citizens the happiest of all creatures,—
The town itself a perfect Paradise.


VIII.

[Certain wicked Cossacks did besiege it,]

No, alas! this well-built city
Was in a perpetual fidget;
For the Tartars, without pity,
Did remorselessly besiege it.

Tartars fierce, with sword and sabres,
Huns and Turks, and such as these,
Envied much their peaceful neighbors
By the blue Borysthenes.

[Murdering the citizens,]

Down they came, these ruthless Russians,
From their steppes, and woods, and fens,
For to levy contributions
On the peaceful citizens.

Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn,
Down they came to peaceful Kioff,
Killed the burghers when they caught 'em,
If their lives they would not buy off.

[Until they agreed to pay a tribute yearly.]

Till the city, quite confounded
By the ravages they made,
Humbly with their chief compounded,
And a yearly tribute paid.

[How they paid the tribute, and suddenly refused it,]

Which (because their courage lax was)
They discharged while they were able:
Tolerated thus the tax was,
Till it grew intolerable,

[To the wonder of the Cossack envoy.]

And the Calmuc envoy sent,
As before to take their dues all,
Got, to his astonishment,
A unanimous refusal!

[Of a mighty gallant speech]

'Men of Kioff!' thus courageous
Did the stout lord-mayor harangue them,
'Wherefore pay these sneaking wages
To the hectoring Russians? hang them!

[That the lord-mayor made,]

'Hark! I hear the awful cry of
Our forefathers in their graves;
''Fight, ye citizens of Kioff!
Kioff was not made for slaves.'

[Exhorting the burghers to pay no longer.]

'All too long have ye betrayed her;
Rouse, ye men and aldermen,
Send the insolent invader—
Send him starving back again.'


IX.

[Of their thanks and heroic resolves.]

He spoke and he sat down; the people of the town,
Who were fired with a brave emulation,
Now rose with one accord, and voted thanks unto the lord-
Mayor for his oration:

[They dismiss the envoy, and set about drilling.]

The envoy they dismissed, never placing in his fist
So much as a single shilling;
And all with courage fired, as his lordship he desired,
At once set about their drilling.

[Of the City guard: viz. Militia, dragoons, and bombardiers, and
their commanders.]

Then every city ward established a guard,
Diurnal and nocturnal:
Militia volunteers, light dragoons, and bombardiers,
With an alderman for colonel.

[Of the majors and captains.]

There was muster and roll-calls, and repairing city walls,
And filling up of fosses:
And the captains and the majors, gallant and courageous,
A-riding about on their hosses.

[The fortifications and artillery.]

To be guarded at all hours they built themselves watch-towers,
With every tower a man on;
And surely and secure, each from out his embrasure,
Looked down the iron cannon!

[Of the conduct of the actors and the clergy.]

A battle-song was writ for the theatre, where it
Was sung with vast energy
And rapturous applause; and besides, the public cause,
Was supported by the clergy.

The pretty ladies'-maids were pinning of cockades,
And tying on of sashes;
And dropping gentle tears, while their lovers bluster'd fierce,
About gunshot and gashes;

[Of the ladies;]

The ladies took the hint, and all day were scraping lint,
As became their softer genders;
And got bandages and beds for the limbs and for the heads
Of the city's brave defenders.

[And, finally, of the taylors.]

The men, both young and old, felt resolute and bold,
And panted hot for glory;
Even the tailors 'gan to brag, and embroidered on their flag,
'AUT WINCERE AUT MORI.'


X.

[Of the Cossack chief,—his stratagem;]

Seeing the city's resolute condition,
The Cossack chief, too cunning to despise it,
Said to himself, 'Not having ammunition
Wherewith to batter the place in proper form,
Some of these nights I'll carry it by storm,
And sudden escalade it or surprise it.

[And the burghers' sillie victorie.]

'Let's see, however, if the cits stand firmish.'
He rode up to the city gates; for answers,
Out rushed an eager troop of the town elite,
And straightway did begin a gallant skirmish:
The Cossack hereupon did sound retreat,
Leaving the victory with the city lancers.

[What prisoners they took,]

They took two prisoners and as many horses,
And the whole town grew quickly so elate
With this small victory of their virgin forces,
That they did deem their privates and commanders
So many Caesars, Pompeys, Alexanders,
Napoleons, or Fredericks the Great.

[And how conceited they were.]

And puffing with inordinate conceit
They utterly despised these Cossack thieves;
And thought the ruffians easier to beat
Than porters carpets think, or ushers boys.
Meanwhile, a sly spectator of their joys,
The Cossack captain giggled in his sleeves.

[Of the Cossack chief,—his orders;]

'Whene'er you meet yon stupid city hogs.'
(He bade his troops precise this order keep),
'Don't stand a moment—run away, you dogs!'
'Twas done; and when they met the town battalions,
The Cossacks, as if frightened at their valiance,
Turned tail, and bolted like so many sheep.

[And how he feigned a retreat.]

They fled, obedient to their captain's order:
And now this bloodless siege a month had lasted,
When, viewing the country round, the city warder
(Who, like a faithful weathercock, did perch
Upon the steeple of St. Sophy's church),
Sudden his trumpet took, and a mighty blast he blasted.

[The warder proclayms the Cossacks' retreat, and the citie greatly
rejoyces.]

His voice it might be heard through all the streets
(He was a warder wondrous strong in lung),
Victory, victory! the foe retreats!'
'The foe retreats!' each cries to each he meets;
'The foe retreats!' each in his turn repeats.
Gods! how the guns did roar, and how the joy-bells rung!

Arming in haste his gallant city lancers,
The mayor, to learn if true the news might be,
A league or two out issued with his prancers.
The Cossacks (something had given their courage a damper)
Hastened their flight, and 'gan like mad to scamper:
Blessed be all the saints, Kiova town was free!


XI.

Now, puffed with pride, the mayor grew vain,
Fought all his battles o'er again;
And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
'Tis true he might amuse himself thus,
And not be very murderous;
For as of those who to death were done
The number was exactly NONE,
His lordship, in his soul's elation,
Did take a bloodless recreation—

[The manner of the citie's rejoycings,]

Going home again, he did ordain
A very splendid cold collation
For the magistrates and the corporation;
Likewise a grand illumination,
For the amusement of the nation.
That night the theatres were free,
The conduits they ran Malvolsie;
Each house that night did beam with light
And sound with mirth and jollity;

[And its impiety.]

But shame, O shame! not a soul in the town,
Now the city was safe and the Cossacks flown,
Ever thought of the bountiful saint by whose care
The town had been rid of these terrible Turks—
Said even a prayer to that patroness fair,
For these her wondrous works!

[How the priest, Hyacinth, waited at church, and nobody came
thither.]

Lord Hyacinth waited, the meekest of priors—
He waited at church with the rest of his friars;
He went there at noon and he waited till ten,
Expecting in vain the lord-mayor and his men.
He waited and waited from mid-day to dark;
But in vain—you might search through the whole of the church,
Not a layman, alas! to the city's disgrace,
From mid-day to dark showed his nose in the place.
The pew-woman, organist, beadle, and clerk,
Kept away from their work, and were dancing like mad
Away in the streets with the other mad people,
Not thinking to pray, but to guzzle and tipple
Wherever the drink might be had.


XII.

[How he went forth to bid them to prayer.]

Amidst this din and revelry throughout the city roaring,
The silver moon rose silently, and high in heaven soaring;
Prior Hyacinth was fervently upon his knees adoring:
'Towards my precious patroness this conduct sure unfair is;
I cannot think, I must confess, what keeps the dignitaries
And our good mayor away, unless some business them contraries.'
He puts his long white mantle on and forth the prior sallies—
(His pious thoughts were bent upon good deeds and not on malice):
Heavens! how the banquet lights they shone about the mayor's palace!

[How the grooms and lackeys jeered him.]

About the hall the scullions ran with meats both and fresh and
potted;
The pages came with cup and can, all for the guests allotted;
Ah, how they jeered that good fat man as up the stairs he trotted!

He entered in the ante-rooms where sat the mayor's court in;
He found a pack of drunken grooms a-dicing and a-sporting;
The horrid wine and 'bacco fumes, they set the prior a-snorting!
The prior thought he'd speak about their sins before he went hence,
And lustily began to shout of sin and of repentance;
The rogues, they kicked the prior out before he'd done a sentence!

And having got no portion small of buffeting and tussling,
At last he reached the banquet-hall, where sat the mayor a-
guzzling,
And by his side his lady tall dressed out in white sprig muslin.

[And the mayor, mayoress, and aldermen, being tipsie refused to go
church.]

Around the table in a ring the guests were drinking heavy;
They'd drunk the church, and drunk the king, and the army and the
navy;
In fact they'd toasted everything. The prior said, 'God save ye!'

The mayor cried, 'Bring a silver cup—there's one upon the beaufet;
And, Prior, have the venison up—it's capital rechauffe.
And so, Sir Priest, you've come to sup? And pray you, how's Saint
Sophy?'
The prior's face quite red was grown, with horror and with anger;
He flung the proffered goblet downit made a hideous clangor;
And 'gan a-preaching with a frown—he was a fierce haranguer.

He tried the mayor and aldermen—they all set up a-jeering:
He tried the common-councilmen—they too began a-sneering;
He turned towards the may'ress then, and hoped to get a hearing.
He knelt and seized her dinner-dress, made of the muslin snowy,
'To church, to church, my sweet mistress!' he cried; 'the way I'll
show ye.'
Alas, the lady-mayoress fell back as drunk as Chloe!


XIII.

[How the prior went back alone.]

Out from this dissolute and drunken court
Went the good prior, his eyes with weeping dim:
He tried the people of a meaner sort—
They too, alas, were bent upon their sport,
And not a single soul would follow him!
But all were swigging schnaps and guzzling beer.

He found the cits, their daughters, sons, and spouses,
Spending the live-long night in fierce carouses:
Alas, unthinking of the danger near!
One or two sentinels the ramparts guarded,
The rest were sharing in the general feast:
'God wot, our tipsy town is poorly warded;
Sweet Saint Sophia help us!' cried the priest.

Alone he entered the cathedral gate,
Careful he locked the mighty oaken door;
Within his company of monks did wait,
A dozen poor old pious men—no more.
Oh, but it grieved the gentle prior sore,
To think of those lost souls, given up to drink and fate!

[And shut himself into Saint Sophia's chapel with his brethren.]

The mighty outer gate well barred and fast,
The poor old friars stirred their poor old bones,
And pattering swiftly on the damp cold stones,
They through the solitary chancel passed.
The chancel walls looked black and dim and vast,
And rendered, ghost-like, melancholy tones.

Onward the fathers sped, till coming nigh a
Small iron gate, the which they entered quick at,
They locked and double-locked the inner wicket
And stood within the chapel of Sophia.
Vain were it to describe this sainted place,
Vain to describe that celebrated trophy,
The venerable statue of Saint Sophy,
Which formed its chiefest ornament and grace.

Here the good prior, his personal griefs and sorrows
In his extreme devotion quickly merging,
At once began to pray with voice sonorous;
The other friars joined in pious chorus,
And passed the night in singing, praying, scourging,
In honor of Sophia, that sweet virgin.


XIV.

[The episode of Sneezoff and Katinka.]

Leaving thus the pious priest in
Humble penitence and prayer,
And the greedy cits a-feasting,
Let us to the walls repair.

Walking by the sentry-boxes,
Underneath the silver moon,
Lo! the sentry boldly cocks his—
Boldly cocks his musketoon.

Sneezoff was his designation,
Fair-haired boy, for ever pitied;
For to take his cruel station,
He but now Katinka quitted.

Poor in purse were both, but rich in
Tender love's delicious plenties;
She a damsel of the kitchen,
He a haberdasher's 'prentice.

'Tinka, maiden tender-hearted,
Was dissolved in tearful fits,
On that fatal night she parted
From her darling, fair-haired Fritz.

Warm her soldier lad she wrapt in
Comforter and muffettee;
Called him 'general' and 'captain,'
Though a simple private he.

'On your bosom wear this plaster,
'Twill defend you from the cold;
In your pipe smoke this canaster,
Smuggled 'tis, my love, and old.

'All the night, my love, I'll miss you.'
Thus she spoke; and from the door
Fair-haired Sneezoff made his issue,
To return, alas, no more.

He it is who calmly walks his
Walk beneath the silver moon;
He it is who boldly cocks his
Detonating musketoon.

He the bland canaster puffing,
As upon his round he paces,
Sudden sees a ragamuffin
Clambering swiftly up the glacis.

'Who goes there?' exclaims the sentry;
'When the sun has once gone down
No one ever makes an entry
Into this here fortified town!'

[How the sentrie Sneezoff was surprised and slayn.]

Shouted thus the watchful Sneezoff;
But, ere any one replied,
Wretched youth! he fired his piece off
Started, staggered, groaned, and died!


XV.

[How the Cossacks rushed in suddenly and took the citie.]

Ah, full well might the sentinel cry, 'Who goes there!'
But echo was frightened too much to declare.
Who goes there? who goes there? Can any one swear
To the number of sands sur les bords de la mer,
Or the whiskers of D'Orsay Count down to a hair?
As well might you tell of the sands the amount,
Or number each hair in each curl of the Count,
As ever proclaim the number and name
Of the hundreds and thousands that up the wall came!

[Of the Cossack troops,]

Down, down the knaves poured with fire and with sword:
There were thieves from the Danube and rogues from the Don;
There were Turks and Wallacks, and shouting Cossacks;
Of all nations and regions, and tongues and religions—
Jew, Christian, Idolater, Frank, Mussulman:
Ah, horrible sight was Kioff that night!

[And of their manner of burning, murdering, and ravishing.]

The gates were all taken—no chance e'en of flight;
And with torch and with axe the bloody Cossacks
Went hither and thither a-hunting in packs:
They slashed and they slew both Christian and Jew—
Women and children, they slaughtered them too.
Some, saving their throats, plunged into the moats,
Or the river—but oh, they had burned all the boats!

. . . . .

[How they burned the whole citie down, save the church,]

But here let us pause—for I can't pursue further
This scene of rack, ravishment, ruin, and murther.
Too well did the cunning old Cossack succeed!
His plan of attack was successful indeed!
The night was his ownthe town it was gone;
'Twas a heap still a-burning of timber and stone.

[Whereof the bells began to ring.]

One building alone had escaped from the fires,
Saint Sophy's fair church, with its steeples and spires,
Calm, stately, and white,
It stood in the light;
And as if 'twould defy all the conqueror's power,—
As if nought had occurred,
Might clearly be heard
The chimes ringing soberly every half-hour!


XVI.

The city was defunct—silence succeeded
Unto its last fierce agonizing yell;
And then it was the conqueror first heeded
The sound of these calm bells.

[How the Cossack chief bade them burn the church too.]

Furious towards his aides-de-camp he turns,
And (speaking as if Byron's works he knew)
'Villains!' he fiercely cries, 'the city burns,
Why not the temple too?
Burn me yon church, and murder all within!'

[How they stormed it, and of Hyacinth, his anger thereat.]

The Cossacks thundered at the outer door;
And Father Hyacinth, who, heard the din,
(And thought himself and brethren in distress,
Deserted by their lady patroness)
Did to her statue turn, and thus his woes outpour.


XVII.

[His prayer to the Saint Sophia.]

'And is it thus, O falsest of the saints,
Thou hearest our complaints?
Tell me, did ever my attachment falter
To serve thy altar?
Was not thy name, ere ever I did sleep,
The last upon my lip?
Was not thy name the very first that broke
From me when I awoke?
Have I not tried with fasting, flogging, penance,
And mortified countenance
For to find favor, Sophy, in thy sight?
And lo! this night,
Forgetful of my prayers, and thine own promise,
Thou turnest from us;
Lettest the heathen enter in our city,
And, without pity,
Murder out burghers, seize upon their spouses,
Burn down their houses!
Is such a breach of faith to be endured?
See what a lurid
Light from the insolent invader's torches
Shines on your porches!
E'en now, with thundering battering-ram and hammer
And hideous clamor;
With axemen, swordsmen, pikemen, billmen, bowmen,
The conquering foemen,
O Sophy! beat your gate about your ears,
Alas! and here's
A humble company of pious men,
Like muttons in a pen,
Whose souls shall quickly from their bodies be thrusted,
Because in you they trusted.
Do you not know the Calmuc chiefs desires—
KILL ALL THE FRIARS!
And you, of all the saints most false and fickle,
Leave us in this abominable pickle.'

[The statue suddenlie speaks;]

'RASH HYACINTHUS!'
(Here, to the astonishment of all her backers,
Saint Sophy, opening wide her wooden jaws,
Like to a pair of German walnut-crackers,
Began), 'I did not think you had been thus,—
O monk of little faith! Is it because
A rascal scum of filthy Cossack heathen
Besiege our town, that you distrust in ME, then?
Think'st thou that I, who in a former day
Did walk across the Sea of Marmora
(Not mentioning, for shortness, other seas),—
That I, who skimmed the broad Borysthenes,
Without so much as wetting of my toes,
Am frightened at a set of men like THOSE?
I have a mind to leave you to your fate:
Such cowardice as this my scorn inspires.'

[But is interrupted by the breaking in of the Cossacks.]

Saint Sophy was here
Cut short in her words,—
For at this very moment in tumbled the gate,
And with a wild cheer,
And a clashing of swords,
Swift through the church porches,
With a waving of torches,
And a shriek and a yell
Like the devils of hell,
With pike and with axe
In rushed the Cossacks,—
In rushed the Cossacks, crying,
'MURDER THE FRIARS!'

[Of Hyacinth, his outrageous address;]

Ah! what a thrill felt Hyacinth,
When he heard that villanous shout Calmuc!
Now, thought he, my trial beginneth;
Saints, O give me courage and pluck!
'Courage, boys, 'tis useless to funk!'
Thus unto the friars he began:
'Never let it be said that a monk
Is not likewise a gentleman.
Though the patron saint of the church,
Spite of all that we've done and we've pray'd,
Leaves us wickedly here in the lurch,
Hang it, gentlemen, who's afraid!'

[And preparation for dying.]

As thus the gallant Hyacinthus spoke,
He, with an air as easy and as free as
If the quick-coming murder were a joke,
Folded his robes around his sides, and took
Place under sainted Sophy's legs of oak,
Like Caesar at the statue of Pompeius.
The monks no leisure had about to look
(Each being absorbed in his particular case),
Else had they seen with what celestial race
A wooden smile stole o'er the saint's mahogany face.

[Saint Sophia, her speech.]

'Well done, well done, Hyacinthus, my son!'
Thus spoke the sainted statue.
'Though you doubted me in the hour of need,
And spoke of me very rude indeed,
You deserve good luck for showing such pluck,
And I won't be angry at you.'

[She gets on the prior's shoulder straddle-back,]

The monks by-standing, one and all,
Of this wondrous scene beholders,
To this kind promise listened content,
And couldn't contain their astonishment,
When Saint Sophia moved and went
Down from her wooden pedestal,
And twisted her legs, sure as eggs is eggs,
Round Hyacinthus's shoulders!

[And bids him run.]

'Ho! forwards,' cried Sophy, 'there's no time for waiting,
The Cossacks are breaking the very last gate in:
See the glare of their torches shines red through the grating;
We've still the back door, and two minutes or more.
Now boys, now or never, we must make for the river,
For we only are safe on the opposite shore.
Run swiftly to-day, lads, if ever you ran,—
Put out your best leg, Hyacinthus, my man;
And I'll lay five to two that you carry us through,
Only scamper as fast as you can.'


XVIII.

[He runneth,]

Away went the priest through the little back door,
And light on his shoulders the image he bore:
The honest old priest was not punished the least,
Though the image was eight feet, and he measured four.
Away went the prior, and the monks at his tail
Went snorting, and puffing, and panting full sail;
And just as the last at the back door had passed,
In furious hunt behold at the front
The Tartars so fierce, with their terrible cheers;
With axes, and halberts, and muskets, and spears,
With torches a-flaming the chapel now came in.
They tore up the mass-book, they stamped on the psalter,
They pulled the gold crucifix down from the altar;
The vestments they burned with their blasphemous fires,
And many cried, 'Curse on them! where are the friars?'
When loaded with plunder, yet seeking for more,
One chanced to fling open the little back door,
Spied out the friars' white robes and long shadows
In the moon, scampering over the meadows,
And stopped the Cossacks in the midst of their arsons,
By crying out lustily, 'THERE GO THE PARSONS!'

[And the Tartars after him.]

With a whoop and a yell, and a scream and a shout,
At once the whole murderous body turned out;
And swift as the hawk pounces down on the pigeon,
Pursued the poor short-winded men of religion.

[How the friars sweated.]

When the sound of that cheering came to the monks' hearing,
O heaven! how the poor fellows panted and blew!
At fighting not cunning, unaccustomed to running,
When the Tartars came up, what the deuce should they do?
'They'll make us all martyrs, those bloodthirsty Tartars!'
Quoth fat Father Peter to fat Father Hugh.
The shouts they came clearer, the foe they drew nearer;
Oh, how the bolts whistled, and how the lights shone!
'I cannot get further, this running is murther;
Come carry me, some one!' cried big Father John.
And even the statue grew frightened, 'Od rat you!'
It cried, 'Mr. Prior, I wish you'd get on!'
On tugged the good friar, but nigher and nigher
Appeared the fierce Russians, with sword and with fire.
On tugged the good prior at Saint Sophy's desire,—
A scramble through bramble, through mud, and through mire,
The swift arrows' whizziness causing a dizziness,
Nigh done his business, fit to expire.

[And the pursuers fixed arrows into their tayles.]

Father Hyacinth tugged, and the monks they tugged after:
The foemen pursued with a horrible laughter,
And hurl'd their long spears round the poor brethren's ears,
So true, that next day in the coats of each priest,
Though never a wound was given, there were found
A dozen arrows at least.

[How at the last gasp,]

Now the chase seemed at its worst,
Prior and monks were fit to burst;
Scarce you knew the which was first,
Or pursuers or pursued;
When the statue, by heaven's grace,
Suddenly did change the face
Of this interesting race,
As a saint, sure, only could.

For as the jockey who at Epsom rides,
When that his steed is spent and punished sore,
Diggeth his heels into the courser's sides,
And thereby makes him run one or two furlongs more;
Even thus, betwixt the eighth rib and the ninth,
The saint rebuked the prior, that weary creeper;
Fresh strength into his limbs her kicks imparted,
One bound he made, as gay as when he started.

[The friars won, and jumped into Borysthenes fluvius.]

Yes, with his brethren clinging at his cloak,
The statue on his shoulders—fit to choke—
One most tremendous bound made Hyacinth,
And soused friars, statue, and all, slap-dash into the Dnieper!


XIX.

[And how the Russians saw]

And when the Russians, in a fiery rank,
Panting and fierce, drew up along the shore;
(For here the vain pursuing they forbore,
Nor cared they to surpass the river's bank,)
Then, looking from the rocks and rushes dank,
A sight they witnessed never seen before,
And which, with its accompaniments glorious,
Is writ i' the golden book, or liber aureus.

[The statue get off Hyacinth his back, and sit down with the friars
on Hyacinth his cloak.]

Plump in the Dnieper flounced the friar and friends—
They dangling round his neck, he fit to choke.
When suddenly his most miraculous cloak
Over the billowy waves itself extends,
Down from his shoulders quietly descends
The venerable Sophy's statue of oak;
Which, sitting down upon the cloak so ample,
Bids all the brethren follow its example!

[How in this manner of boat they sayled away.]

Each at her bidding sat, and sat at ease;
The statue 'gan a gracious conversation,
And (waving to the foe a salutation)
Sail'd with her wondering happy proteges
Gayly adown the wide Borysthenes,
Until they came unto some friendly nation.
And when the heathen had at length grown shy of
Their conquest, she one day came back again to Kioff.


XX.

[Finis, or the end.]

THINK NOT, O READER, THAT WE'RE LAUGHING AT YOU;
YOU MAY GO TO KIOFF NOW, AND SEE THE STATUTE!

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Homer

The Iliad: Book 10

Now the other princes of the Achaeans slept soundly the whole
night through, but Agamemnon son of Atreus was troubled, so that he
could get no rest. As when fair Juno's lord flashes his lightning in
token of great rain or hail or snow when the snow-flakes whiten the
ground, or again as a sign that he will open the wide jaws of hungry
war, even so did Agamemnon heave many a heavy sigh, for his soul
trembled within him. When he looked upon the plain of Troy he
marvelled at the many watchfires burning in front of Ilius, and at the
sound of pipes and flutes and of the hum of men, but when presently he
turned towards the ships and hosts of the Achaeans, he tore his hair
by handfuls before Jove on high, and groaned aloud for the very
disquietness of his soul. In the end he deemed it best to go at once
to Nestor son of Neleus, and see if between them they could find any
way of the Achaeans from destruction. He therefore rose, put on his
shirt, bound his sandals about his comely feet, flung the skin of a
huge tawny lion over his shoulders- a skin that reached his feet-
and took his spear in his hand.
Neither could Menelaus sleep, for he, too, boded ill for the Argives
who for his sake had sailed from far over the seas to fight the
Trojans. He covered his broad back with the skin of a spotted panther,
put a casque of bronze upon his head, and took his spear in his brawny
hand. Then he went to rouse his brother, who was by far the most
powerful of the Achaeans, and was honoured by the people as though
he were a god. He found him by the stern of his ship already putting
his goodly array about his shoulders, and right glad was he that his
brother had come.
Menelaus spoke first. "Why," said he, "my dear brother, are you thus
arming? Are you going to send any of our comrades to exploit the
Trojans? I greatly fear that no one will do you this service, and
spy upon the enemy alone in the dead of night. It will be a deed of
great daring."
And King Agamemnon answered, "Menelaus, we both of us need shrewd
counsel to save the Argives and our ships, for Jove has changed his
mind, and inclines towards Hector's sacrifices rather than ours. I
never saw nor heard tell of any man as having wrought such ruin in one
day as Hector has now wrought against the sons of the Achaeans- and
that too of his own unaided self, for he is son neither to god nor
goddess. The Argives will rue it long and deeply. Run, therefore, with
all speed by the line of the ships, and call Ajax and Idomeneus.
Meanwhile I will go to Nestor, and bid him rise and go about among the
companies of our sentinels to give them their instructions; they
will listen to him sooner than to any man, for his own son, and
Meriones brother in arms to Idomeneus, are captains over them. It
was to them more particularly that we gave this charge."
Menelaus replied, "How do I take your meaning? Am I to stay with
them and wait your coming, or shall I return here as soon as I have
given your orders?" "Wait," answered King Agamemnon, "for there are so
many paths about the camp that we might miss one another. Call every
man on your way, and bid him be stirring; name him by his lineage
and by his father's name, give each all titular observance, and
stand not too much upon your own dignity; we must take our full
share of toil, for at our birth Jove laid this heavy burden upon us."
With these instructions he sent his brother on his way, and went
on to Nestor shepherd of his people. He found him sleeping in his tent
hard by his own ship; his goodly armour lay beside him- his shield,
his two spears and his helmet; beside him also lay the gleaming girdle
with which the old man girded himself when he armed to lead his people
into battle- for his age stayed him not. He raised himself on his
elbow and looked up at Agamemnon. "Who is it," said he, "that goes
thus about the host and the ships alone and in the dead of night, when
men are sleeping? Are you looking for one of your mules or for some
comrade? Do not stand there and say nothing, but speak. What is your
business?"
And Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, son of Neleus, honour to the
Achaean name, it is I, Agamemnon son of Atreus, on whom Jove has
laid labour and sorrow so long as there is breath in my body and my
limbs carry me. I am thus abroad because sleep sits not upon my
eyelids, but my heart is big with war and with the jeopardy of the
Achaeans. I am in great fear for the Danaans. I am at sea, and without
sure counsel; my heart beats as though it would leap out of my body,
and my limbs fail me. If then you can do anything- for you too
cannot sleep- let us go the round of the watch, and see whether they
are drowsy with toil and sleeping to the neglect of their duty. The
enemy is encamped hard and we know not but he may attack us by night."
Nestor replied, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
Jove will not do all for Hector that Hector thinks he will; he will
have troubles yet in plenty if Achilles will lay aside his anger. I
will go with you, and we will rouse others, either the son of
Tydeus, or Ulysses, or fleet Ajax and the valiant son of Phyleus. Some
one had also better go and call Ajax and King Idomeneus, for their
ships are not near at hand but the farthest of all. I cannot however
refrain from blaming Menelaus, much as I love him and respect him- and
I will say so plainly, even at the risk of offending you- for sleeping
and leaving all this trouble to yourself. He ought to be going about
imploring aid from all the princes of the Achaeans, for we are in
extreme danger."
And Agamemnon answered, "Sir, you may sometimes blame him justly,
for he is often remiss and unwilling to exert himself- not indeed from
sloth, nor yet heedlessness, but because he looks to me and expects me
to take the lead. On this occasion, however, he was awake before I
was, and came to me of his own accord. I have already sent him to call
the very men whom you have named. And now let us be going. We shall
find them with the watch outside the gates, for it was there I said
that we would meet them."
"In that case," answered Nestor, "the Argives will not blame him nor
disobey his orders when he urges them to fight or gives them
instructions."
With this he put on his shirt, and bound his sandals about his
comely feet. He buckled on his purple coat, of two thicknesses, large,
and of a rough shaggy texture, grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod
spear, and wended his way along the line of the Achaean ships. First
he called loudly to Ulysses peer of gods in counsel and woke him,
for he was soon roused by the sound of the battle-cry. He came outside
his tent and said, "Why do you go thus alone about the host, and along
the line of the ships in the stillness of the night? What is it that
you find so urgent?" And Nestor knight of Gerene answered, "Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, take it not amiss, for the Achaeans are in great
straits. Come with me and let us wake some other, who may advise
well with us whether we shall fight or fly."
On this Ulysses went at once into his tent, put his shield about his
shoulders and came out with them. First they went to Diomed son of
Tydeus, and found him outside his tent clad in his armour with his
comrades sleeping round him and using their shields as pillows; as for
their spears, they stood upright on the spikes of their butts that
were driven into the ground, and the burnished bronze flashed afar
like the lightning of father Jove. The hero was sleeping upon the skin
of an ox, with a piece of fine carpet under his head; Nestor went up
to him and stirred him with his heel to rouse him, upbraiding him
and urging him to bestir himself. "Wake up," he exclaimed, "son of
Tydeus. How can you sleep on in this way? Can you not see that the
Trojans are encamped on the brow of the plain hard by our ships,
with but a little space between us and them?"
On these words Diomed leaped up instantly and said, "Old man, your
heart is of iron; you rest not one moment from your labours. Are there
no younger men among the Achaeans who could go about to rouse the
princes? There is no tiring you."
And Nestor knight of Gerene made answer, "My son, all that you
have said is true. I have good sons, and also much people who might
call the chieftains, but the Achaeans are in the gravest danger;
life and death are balanced as it were on the edge of a razor. Go
then, for you are younger than I, and of your courtesy rouse Ajax
and the fleet son of Phyleus."
Diomed threw the skin of a great tawny lion about his shoulders- a
skin that reached his feet- and grasped his spear. When he had
roused the heroes, he brought them back with him; they then went the
round of those who were on guard, and found the captains not
sleeping at their posts but wakeful and sitting with their arms
about them. As sheep dogs that watch their flocks when they are
yarded, and hear a wild beast coming through the mountain forest
towards them- forthwith there is a hue and cry of dogs and men, and
slumber is broken- even so was sleep chased from the eyes of the
Achaeans as they kept the watches of the wicked night, for they turned
constantly towards the plain whenever they heard any stir among the
Trojans. The old man was glad bade them be of good cheer. "Watch on,
my children," said he, "and let not sleep get hold upon you, lest
our enemies triumph over us."
With this he passed the trench, and with him the other chiefs of the
Achaeans who had been called to the council. Meriones and the brave
son of Nestor went also, for the princes bade them. When they were
beyond the trench that was dug round the wall they held their
meeting on the open ground where there was a space clear of corpses,
for it was here that when night fell Hector had turned back from his
onslaught on the Argives. They sat down, therefore, and held debate
with one another.
Nestor spoke first. "My friends," said he, "is there any man bold
enough to venture the Trojans, and cut off some straggler, or us
news of what the enemy mean to do whether they will stay here by the
ships away from the city, or whether, now that they have worsted the
Achaeans, they will retire within their walls. If he could learn all
this and come back safely here, his fame would be high as heaven in
the mouths of all men, and he would be rewarded richly; for the chiefs
from all our ships would each of them give him a black ewe with her
lamb- which is a present of surpassing value- and he would be asked as
a guest to all feasts and clan-gatherings."
They all held their peace, but Diomed of the loud war-cry spoke
saying, "Nestor, gladly will I visit the host of the Trojans over
against us, but if another will go with me I shall do so in greater
confidence and comfort. When two men are together, one of them may see
some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man
is alone he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker."
On this several offered to go with Diomed. The two Ajaxes,
servants of Mars, Meriones, and the son of Nestor all wanted to go, so
did Menelaus son of Atreus; Ulysses also wished to go among the host
of the Trojans, for he was ever full of daring, and thereon
Agamemnon king of men spoke thus: "Diomed," said he, "son of Tydeus,
man after my own heart, choose your comrade for yourself- take the
best man of those that have offered, for many would now go with you.
Do not through delicacy reject the better man, and take the worst
out of respect for his lineage, because he is of more royal blood."
He said this because he feared for Menelaus. Diomed answered, "If
you bid me take the man of my own choice, how in that case can I
fail to think of Ulysses, than whom there is no man more eager to face
all kinds of danger- and Pallas Minerva loves him well? If he were
to go with me we should pass safely through fire itself, for he is
quick to see and understand."
"Son of Tydeus," replied Ulysses, "say neither good nor ill about
me, for you are among Argives who know me well. Let us be going, for
the night wanes and dawn is at hand. The stars have gone forward,
two-thirds of the night are already spent, and the third is alone left
us."
They then put on their armour. Brave Thrasymedes provided the son of
Tydeus with a sword and a shield (for he had left his own at his ship)
and on his head he set a helmet of bull's hide without either peak
or crest; it is called a skull-cap and is a common headgear.
Meriones found a bow and quiver for Ulysses, and on his head he set
a leathern helmet that was lined with a strong plaiting of leathern
thongs, while on the outside it was thickly studded with boar's teeth,
well and skilfully set into it; next the head there was an inner
lining of felt. This helmet had been stolen by Autolycus out of
Eleon when he broke into the house of Amyntor son of Ormenus. He
gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Scandea, and Amphidamas
gave it as a guest-gift to Molus, who gave it to his son Meriones; and
now it was set upon the head of Ulysses.
When the pair had armed, they set out, and left the other chieftains
behind them. Pallas Minerva sent them a heron by the wayside upon
their right hands; they could not see it for the darkness, but they
heard its cry. Ulysses was glad when he heard it and prayed to
Minerva: "Hear me," he cried, "daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, you who
spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships;
befriend me in this mine hour, and grant that we may return to the
ships covered with glory after having achieved some mighty exploit
that shall bring sorrow to the Trojans."
Then Diomed of the loud war-cry also prayed: "Hear me too," said he,
"daughter of Jove, unweariable; be with me even as you were with my
noble father Tydeus when he went to Thebes as envoy sent by the
Achaeans. He left the Achaeans by the banks of the river Aesopus,
and went to the city bearing a message of peace to the Cadmeians; on
his return thence, with your help, goddess, he did great deeds of
daring, for you were his ready helper. Even so guide me and guard me
now, and in return I will offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer
of a year old, unbroken, and never yet brought by man under the
yoke. I will gild her horns and will offer her up to you in
sacrifice."
Thus they prayed, and Pallas Minerva heard their prayer. When they
had done praying to the daughter of great Jove, they went their way
like two lions prowling by night amid the armour and blood-stained
bodies of them that had fallen.
Neither again did Hector let the Trojans sleep; for he too called
the princes and councillors of the Trojans that he might set his
counsel before them. "Is there one," said he, "who for a great
reward will do me the service of which I will tell you? He shall be
well paid if he will. I will give him a chariot and a couple of
horses, the fleetest that can be found at the ships of the Achaeans,
if he will dare this thing; and he will win infinite honour to boot;
he must go to the ships and find out whether they are still guarded as
heretofore, or whether now that we have beaten them the Achaeans
design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are neglecting to keep
their watches."
They all held their peace; but there was among the Trojans a certain
man named Dolon, son of Eumedes, the famous herald- a man rich in gold
and bronze. He was ill-favoured, but a good runner, and was an only
son among five sisters. He it was that now addressed the Trojans.
"I, Hector," said he, "Will to the ships and will exploit them. But
first hold up your sceptre and swear that you will give me the
chariot, bedight with bronze, and the horses that now carry the
noble son of Peleus. I will make you a good scout, and will not fail
you. I will go through the host from one end to the other till I
come to the ship of Agamemnon, where I take it the princes of the
Achaeans are now consulting whether they shall fight or fly."
When he had done speaking Hector held up his sceptre, and swore
him his oath saying, "May Jove the thundering husband of Juno bear
witness that no other Trojan but yourself shall mount those steeds,
and that you shall have your will with them for ever."
The oath he swore was bootless, but it made Dolon more keen on
going. He hung his bow over his shoulder, and as an overall he wore
the skin of a grey wolf, while on his head he set a cap of ferret
skin. Then he took a pointed javelin, and left the camp for the ships,
but he was not to return with any news for Hector. When he had left
the horses and the troops behind him, he made all speed on his way,
but Ulysses perceived his coming and said to Diomed, "Diomed, here
is some one from the camp; I am not sure whether he is a spy, or
whether it is some thief who would plunder the bodies of the dead; let
him get a little past us, we can then spring upon him and take him.
If, however, he is too quick for us, go after him with your spear
and hem him in towards the ships away from the Trojan camp, to prevent
his getting back to the town."
With this they turned out of their way and lay down among the
corpses. Dolon suspected nothing and soon passed them, but when he had
got about as far as the distance by which a mule-plowed furrow exceeds
one that has been ploughed by oxen (for mules can plow fallow land
quicker than oxen) they ran after him, and when he heard their
footsteps he stood still, for he made sure they were friends from
the Trojan camp come by Hector's orders to bid him return; when,
however, they were only a spear's cast, or less away form him, he
saw that they were enemies as fast as his legs could take him. The
others gave chase at once, and as a couple of well-trained hounds
press forward after a doe or hare that runs screaming in front of
them, even so did the son of Tydeus and Ulysses pursue Dolon and cut
him off from his own people. But when he had fled so far towards the
ships that he would soon have fallen in with the outposts, Minerva
infused fresh strength into the son of Tydeus for fear some other of
the Achaeans might have the glory of being first to hit him, and he
might himself be only second; he therefore sprang forward with his
spear and said, "Stand, or I shall throw my spear, and in that case
I shall soon make an end of you."
He threw as he spoke, but missed his aim on purpose. The dart flew
over the man's right shoulder, and then stuck in the ground. He
stood stock still, trembling and in great fear; his teeth chattered,
and he turned pale with fear. The two came breathless up to him and
seized his hands, whereon he began to weep and said, "Take me alive; I
will ransom myself; we have great store of gold, bronze, and wrought
iron, and from this my father will satisfy you with a very large
ransom, should he hear of my being alive at the ships of the
Achaeans."
"Fear not," replied Ulysses, "let no thought of death be in your
mind; but tell me, and tell me true, why are you thus going about
alone in the dead of night away from your camp and towards the
ships, while other men are sleeping? Is it to plunder the bodies of
the slain, or did Hector send you to spy out what was going on at
the ships? Or did you come here of your own mere notion?"
Dolon answered, his limbs trembling beneath him: "Hector, with his
vain flattering promises, lured me from my better judgement. He said
he would give me the horses of the noble son of Peleus and his
bronze-bedizened chariot; he bade me go through the darkness of the
flying night, get close to the enemy, and find out whether the ships
are still guarded as heretofore, or whether, now that we have beaten
them, the Achaeans design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are
neglecting to keep their watches."
Ulysses smiled at him and answered, "You had indeed set your heart
upon a great reward, but the horses of the descendant of Aeacus are
hardly to be kept in hand or driven by any other mortal man than
Achilles himself, whose mother was an immortal. But tell me, and
tell me true, where did you leave Hector when you started? Where
lies his armour and his horses? How, too, are the watches and
sleeping-ground of the Trojans ordered? What are their plans? Will
they stay here by the ships and away from the city, or now that they
have worsted the Achaeans, will they retire within their walls?"
And Dolon answered, "I will tell you truly all. Hector and the other
councillors are now holding conference by the monument of great
Ilus, away from the general tumult; as for the guards about which
you ask me, there is no chosen watch to keep guard over the host.
The Trojans have their watchfires, for they are bound to have them;
they, therefore, are awake and keep each other to their duty as
sentinels; but the allies who have come from other places are asleep
and leave it to the Trojans to keep guard, for their wives and
children are not here."
Ulysses then said, "Now tell me; are they sleeping among the
Trojan troops, or do they lie apart? Explain this that I may
understand it."
"I will tell you truly all," replied Dolon. "To the seaward lie
the Carians, the Paeonian bowmen, the Leleges, the Cauconians, and the
noble Pelasgi. The Lysians and proud Mysians, with the Phrygians and
Meonians, have their place on the side towards Thymbra; but why ask
about an this? If you want to find your way into the host of the
Trojans, there are the Thracians, who have lately come here and lie
apart from the others at the far end of the camp; and they have Rhesus
son of Eioneus for their king. His horses are the finest and strongest
that I have ever seen, they are whiter than snow and fleeter than
any wind that blows. His chariot is bedight with silver and gold,
and he has brought his marvellous golden armour, of the rarest
workmanship- too splendid for any mortal man to carry, and meet only
for the gods. Now, therefore, take me to the ships or bind me securely
here, until you come back and have proved my words whether they be
false or true."
Diomed looked sternly at him and answered, "Think not, Dolon, for
all the good information you have given us, that you shall escape
now you are in our hands, for if we ransom you or let you go, you will
come some second time to the ships of the Achaeans either as a spy
or as an open enemy, but if I kill you and an end of you, you will
give no more trouble."
On this Dolon would have caught him by the beard to beseech him
further, but Diomed struck him in the middle of his neck with his
sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the
dust while he was yet speaking. They took the ferret-skin cap from his
head, and also the wolf-skin, the bow, and his long spear. Ulysses
hung them up aloft in honour of Minerva the goddess of plunder, and
prayed saying, "Accept these, goddess, for we give them to you in
preference to all the gods in Olympus: therefore speed us still
further towards the horses and sleeping-ground of the Thracians."
With these words he took the spoils and set them upon a tamarisk
tree, and they marked the place by pulling up reeds and gathering
boughs of tamarisk that they might not miss it as they came back
through the' flying hours of darkness. The two then went onwards
amid the fallen armour and the blood, and came presently to the
company of Thracian soldiers, who were sleeping, tired out with
their day's toil; their goodly armour was lying on the ground beside
them all orderly in three rows, and each man had his yoke of horses
beside him. Rhesus was sleeping in the middle, and hard by him his
horses were made fast to the topmost rim of his chariot. Ulysses
from some way off saw him and said, "This, Diomed, is the man, and
these are the horses about which Dolon whom we killed told us. Do your
very utmost; dally not about your armour, but loose the horses at
once- or else kill the men yourself, while I see to the horses."
Thereon Minerva put courage into the heart of Diomed, and he smote
them right and left. They made a hideous groaning as they were being
hacked about, and the earth was red with their blood. As a lion
springs furiously upon a flock of sheep or goats when he finds without
their shepherd, so did the son of Tydeus set upon the Thracian
soldiers till he had killed twelve. As he killed them Ulysses came and
drew them aside by their feet one by one, that the horses might go
forward freely without being frightened as they passed over the dead
bodies, for they were not yet used to them. When the son of Tydeus
came to the king, he killed him too (which made thirteen), as he was
breathing hard, for by the counsel of Minerva an evil dream, the
seed of Oeneus, hovered that night over his head. Meanwhile Ulysses
untied the horses, made them fast one to another and drove them off,
striking them with his bow, for he had forgotten to take the whip from
the chariot. Then he whistled as a sign to Diomed.
But Diomed stayed where he was, thinking what other daring deed he
might accomplish. He was doubting whether to take the chariot in which
the king's armour was lying, and draw it out by the pole, or to lift
the armour out and carry it off; or whether again, he should not
kill some more Thracians. While he was thus hesitating Minerva came up
to him and said, "Get back, Diomed, to the ships or you may be
driven thither, should some other god rouse the Trojans."
Diomed knew that it was the goddess, and at once sprang upon the
horses. Ulysses beat them with his bow and they flew onward to the
ships of the Achaeans.
But Apollo kept no blind look-out when he saw Minerva with the son
of Tydeus. He was angry with her, and coming to the host of the
Trojans he roused Hippocoon, a counsellor of the Thracians and a noble
kinsman of Rhesus. He started up out of his sleep and saw that the
horses were no longer in their place, and that the men were gasping in
their death-agony; on this he groaned aloud, and called upon his
friend by name. Then the whole Trojan camp was in an uproar as the
people kept hurrying together, and they marvelled at the deeds of
the heroes who had now got away towards the ships.
When they reached the place where they had killed Hector's scout,
Ulysses stayed his horses, and the son of Tydeus, leaping to the
ground, placed the blood-stained spoils in the hands of Ulysses and
remounted: then he lashed the horses onwards, and they flew forward
nothing loth towards the ships as though of their own free will.
Nestor was first to hear the tramp of their feet. "My friends," said
he, "princes and counsellors of the Argives, shall I guess right or
wrong?- but I must say what I think: there is a sound in my ears as of
the tramp of horses. I hope it may Diomed and Ulysses driving in
horses from the Trojans, but I much fear that the bravest of the
Argives may have come to some harm at their hands."
He had hardly done speaking when the two men came in and dismounted,
whereon the others shook hands right gladly with them and
congratulated them. Nestor knight of Gerene was first to question
them. "Tell me," said he, "renowned Ulysses, how did you two come by
these horses? Did you steal in among the Trojan forces, or did some
god meet you and give them to you? They are like sunbeams. I am well
conversant with the Trojans, for old warrior though I am I never
hold back by the ships, but I never yet saw or heard of such horses as
these are. Surely some god must have met you and given them to you,
for you are both of dear to Jove, and to Jove's daughter Minerva."
And Ulysses answered, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean
name, heaven, if it so will, can give us even better horses than
these, for the gods are far mightier than we are. These horses,
however, about which you ask me, are freshly come from Thrace.
Diomed killed their king with the twelve bravest of his companions.
Hard by the ships we took a thirteenth man- a scout whom Hector and
the other Trojans had sent as a spy upon our ships."
He laughed as he spoke and drove the horses over the ditch, while
the other Achaeans followed him gladly. When they reached the strongly
built quarters of the son of Tydeus, they tied the horses with
thongs of leather to the manger, where the steeds of Diomed stood
eating their sweet corn, but Ulysses hung the blood-stained spoils
of Dolon at the stern of his ship, that they might prepare a sacred
offering to Minerva. As for themselves, they went into the sea and
washed the sweat from their bodies, and from their necks and thighs.
When the sea-water had taken all the sweat from off them, and had
refreshed them, they went into the baths and washed themselves.
After they had so done and had anointed themselves with oil, they
sat down to table, and drawing from a full mixing-bowl, made a
drink-offering of wine to Minerva.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 10

Thence we went on to the Aeoli island where lives Aeolus son of
Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods. It is an island that floats (as
it were) upon the sea, iron bound with a wall that girds it. Now,
Aeolus has six daughters and six lusty sons, so he made the sons marry
the daughters, and they all live with their dear father and mother,
feasting and enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long
the atmosphere of the house is loaded with the savour of roasting
meats till it groans again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on
their well-made bedsteads, each with his own wife between the
blankets. These were the people among whom we had now come.
"Aeolus entertained me for a whole month asking me questions all the
time about Troy, the Argive fleet, and the return of the Achaeans. I
told him exactly how everything had happened, and when I said I must
go, and asked him to further me on my way, he made no sort of
difficulty, but set about doing so at once. Moreover, he flayed me a
prime ox-hide to hold the ways of the roaring winds, which he shut
up in the hide as in a sack- for Jove had made him captain over the
winds, and he could stir or still each one of them according to his
own pleasure. He put the sack in the ship and bound the mouth so
tightly with a silver thread that not even a breath of a side-wind
could blow from any quarter. The West wind which was fair for us did
he alone let blow as it chose; but it all came to nothing, for we were
lost through our own folly.
"Nine days and nine nights did we sail, and on the tenth day our
native land showed on the horizon. We got so close in that we could
see the stubble fires burning, and I, being then dead beat, fell
into a light sleep, for I had never let the rudder out of my own
hands, that we might get home the faster. On this the men fell to
talking among themselves, and said I was bringing back gold and silver
in the sack that Aeolus had given me. 'Bless my heart,' would one turn
to his neighbour, saying, 'how this man gets honoured and makes
friends to whatever city or country he may go. See what fine prizes he
is taking home from Troy, while we, who have travelled just as far
as he has, come back with hands as empty as we set out with- and now
Aeolus has given him ever so much more. Quick- let us see what it
all is, and how much gold and silver there is in the sack he gave
him.'
"Thus they talked and evil counsels prevailed. They loosed the sack,
whereupon the wind flew howling forth and raised a storm that
carried us weeping out to sea and away from our own country. Then I
awoke, and knew not whether to throw myself into the sea or to live on
and make the best of it; but I bore it, covered myself up, and lay
down in the ship, while the men lamented bitterly as the fierce
winds bore our fleet back to the Aeolian island.
"When we reached it we went ashore to take in water, and dined
hard by the ships. Immediately after dinner I took a herald and one of
my men and went straight to the house of Aeolus, where I found him
feasting with his wife and family; so we sat down as suppliants on the
threshold. They were astounded when they saw us and said, 'Ulysses,
what brings you here? What god has been ill-treating you? We took
great pains to further you on your way home to Ithaca, or wherever
it was that you wanted to go to.'
"Thus did they speak, but I answered sorrowfully, 'My men have
undone me; they, and cruel sleep, have ruined me. My friends, mend
me this mischief, for you can if you will.'
"I spoke as movingly as I could, but they said nothing, till their
father answered, 'Vilest of mankind, get you gone at once out of the
island; him whom heaven hates will I in no wise help. Be off, for
you come here as one abhorred of heaven. "And with these words he sent
me sorrowing from his door.
"Thence we sailed sadly on till the men were worn out with long
and fruitless rowing, for there was no longer any wind to help them.
Six days, night and day did we toil, and on the seventh day we reached
the rocky stronghold of Lamus- Telepylus, the city of the
Laestrygonians, where the shepherd who is driving in his sheep and
goats [to be milked] salutes him who is driving out his flock [to
feed] and this last answers the salute. In that country a man who
could do without sleep might earn double wages, one as a herdsman of
cattle, and another as a shepherd, for they work much the same by
night as they do by day.
"When we reached the harbour we found it land-locked under steep
cliffs, with a narrow entrance between two headlands. My captains took
all their ships inside, and made them fast close to one another, for
there was never so much as a breath of wind inside, but it was
always dead calm. I kept my own ship outside, and moored it to a
rock at the very end of the point; then I climbed a high rock to
reconnoitre, but could see no sign neither of man nor cattle, only
some smoke rising from the ground. So I sent two of my company with an
attendant to find out what sort of people the inhabitants were.
"The men when they got on shore followed a level road by which the
people draw their firewood from the mountains into the town, till
presently they met a young woman who had come outside to fetch
water, and who was daughter to a Laestrygonian named Antiphates. She
was going to the fountain Artacia from which the people bring in their
water, and when my men had come close up to her, they asked her who
the king of that country might be, and over what kind of people he
ruled; so she directed them to her father's house, but when they got
there they found his wife to be a giantess as huge as a mountain,
and they were horrified at the sight of her.
"She at once called her husband Antiphates from the place of
assembly, and forthwith he set about killing my men. He snatched up
one of them, and began to make his dinner off him then and there,
whereon the other two ran back to the ships as fast as ever they
could. But Antiphates raised a hue and cry after them, and thousands
of sturdy Laestrygonians sprang up from every quarter- ogres, not men.
They threw vast rocks at us from the cliffs as though they had been
mere stones, and I heard the horrid sound of the ships crunching up
against one another, and the death cries of my men, as the
Laestrygonians speared them like fishes and took them home to eat
them. While they were thus killing my men within the harbour I drew my
sword, cut the cable of my own ship, and told my men to row with alf
their might if they too would not fare like the rest; so they laid out
for their lives, and we were thankful enough when we got into open
water out of reach of the rocks they hurled at us. As for the others
there was not one of them left.
"Thence we sailed sadly on, glad to have escaped death, though we
had lost our comrades, and came to the Aeaean island, where Circe
lives a great and cunning goddess who is own sister to the magician
Aeetes- for they are both children of the sun by Perse, who is
daughter to Oceanus. We brought our ship into a safe harbour without a
word, for some god guided us thither, and having landed we there for
two days and two nights, worn out in body and mind. When the morning
of the third day came I took my spear and my sword, and went away from
the ship to reconnoitre, and see if I could discover signs of human
handiwork, or hear the sound of voices. Climbing to the top of a
high look-out I espied the smoke of Circe's house rising upwards
amid a dense forest of trees, and when I saw this I doubted whether,
having seen the smoke, I would not go on at once and find out more,
but in the end I deemed it best to go back to the ship, give the men
their dinners, and send some of them instead of going myself.
"When I had nearly got back to the ship some god took pity upon my
solitude, and sent a fine antlered stag right into the middle of my
path. He was coming down his pasture in the forest to drink of the
river, for the heat of the sun drove him, and as he passed I struck
him in the middle of the back; the bronze point of the spear went
clean through him, and he lay groaning in the dust until the life went
out of him. Then I set my foot upon him, drew my spear from the wound,
and laid it down; I also gathered rough grass and rushes and twisted
them into a fathom or so of good stout rope, with which I bound the
four feet of the noble creature together; having so done I hung him
round my neck and walked back to the ship leaning upon my spear, for
the stag was much too big for me to be able to carry him on my
shoulder, steadying him with one hand. As I threw him down in front of
the ship, I called the men and spoke cheeringly man by man to each
of them. 'Look here my friends,' said I, 'we are not going to die so
much before our time after all, and at any rate we will not starve
so long as we have got something to eat and drink on board.' On this
they uncovered their heads upon the sea shore and admired the stag,
for he was indeed a splendid fellow. Then, when they had feasted their
eyes upon him sufficiently, they washed their hands and began to
cook him for dinner.
"Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
stayed there eating and drinking our fill, but when the sun went
down and it came on dark, we camped upon the sea shore. When the child
of morning, fingered Dawn, appeared, I called a council and said,
'My friends, we are in very great difficulties; listen therefore to
me. We have no idea where the sun either sets or rises, so that we
do not even know East from West. I see no way out of it; nevertheless,
we must try and find one. We are certainly on an island, for I went as
high as I could this morning, and saw the sea reaching all round it to
the horizon; it lies low, but towards the middle I saw smoke rising
from out of a thick forest of trees.'
"Their hearts sank as they heard me, for they remembered how they
had been treated by the Laestrygonian Antiphates, and by the savage
ogre Polyphemus. They wept bitterly in their dismay, but there was
nothing to be got by crying, so I divided them into two companies
and set a captain over each; I gave one company to Eurylochus, while I
took command of the other myself. Then we cast lots in a helmet, and
the lot fell upon Eurylochus; so he set out with his twenty-two men,
and they wept, as also did we who were left behind.
"When they reached Circe's house they found it built of cut
stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the
forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round
it- poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments
and drugged into subjection. They did not attack my men, but wagged
their great tails, fawned upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly
against them. As hounds crowd round their master when they see him
coming from dinner- for they know he will bring them something- even
so did these wolves and lions with their great claws fawn upon my men,
but the men were terribly frightened at seeing such strange creatures.
Presently they reached the gates of the goddess's house, and as they
stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully
as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of
such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. On this
Polites, whom I valued and trusted more than any other of my men,
said, 'There is some one inside working at a loom and singing most
beautifully; the whole place resounds with it, let us call her and see
whether she is woman or goddess.'
"They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade
them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except
Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and stayed outside. When she had
got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed
them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian but she drugged
it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when
they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand,
and shut them up in her pigsties. They were like pigs-head, hair,
and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the
same as before, and they remembered everything.
"Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some
acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back
to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with
dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do
so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at
last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had
happened to the others.
"'We went,' said he, as you told us, through the forest, and in
the middle of it there was a fine house built with cut stones in a
place that could be seen from far. There we found a woman, or else she
was a goddess, working at her loom and singing sweetly; so the men
shouted to her and called her, whereon she at once came down, opened
the door, and invited us in. The others did not suspect any mischief
so they followed her into the house, but I stayed where I was, for I
thought there might be some treachery. From that moment I saw them
no more, for not one of them ever came out, though I sat a long time
watching for them.'
"Then I took my sword of bronze and slung it over my shoulders; I
also took my bow, and told Eurylochus to come back with me and show me
the way. But he laid hold of me with both his hands and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Sir, do not force me to go with you, but let me
stay here, for I know you will not bring one of them back with you,
nor even return alive yourself; let us rather see if we cannot
escape at any rate with the few that are left us, for we may still
save our lives.'
"'Stay where you are, then, 'answered I, 'eating and drinking at the
ship, but I must go, for I am most urgently bound to do so.'
"With this I left the ship and went up inland. When I got through
the charmed grove, and was near the great house of the enchantress
Circe, I met Mercury with his golden wand, disguised as a young man in
the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down just coming upon his
face. He came up to me and took my hand within his own, saying, 'My
poor unhappy man, whither are you going over this mountain top,
alone and without knowing the way? Your men are shut up in Circe's
pigsties, like so many wild boars in their lairs. You surely do not
fancy that you can set them free? I can tell you that you will never
get back and will have to stay there with the rest of them. But
never mind, I will protect you and get you out of your difficulty.
Take this herb, which is one of great virtue, and keep it about you
when you go to Circe's house, it will be a talisman to you against
every kind of mischief.
"'And I will tell you of all the wicked witchcraft that Circe will
try to practise upon you. She will mix a mess for you to drink, and
she will drug the meal with which she makes it, but she will not be
able to charm you, for the virtue of the herb that I shall give you
will prevent her spells from working. I will tell you all about it.
When Circe strikes you with her wand, draw your sword and spring
upon her as though you were goings to kill her. She will then be
frightened and will desire you to go to bed with her; on this you must
not point blank refuse her, for you want her to set your companions
free, and to take good care also of yourself, but you make her swear
solemnly by all the blessed that she will plot no further mischief
against you, or else when she has got you naked she will unman you and
make you fit for nothing.'
"As he spoke he pulled the herb out of the ground an showed me
what it was like. The root was black, while the flower was as white as
milk; the gods call it Moly, and mortal men cannot uproot it, but
the gods can do whatever they like.
"Then Mercury went back to high Olympus passing over the wooded
island; but I fared onward to the house of Circe, and my heart was
clouded with care as I walked along. When I got to the gates I stood
there and called the goddess, and as soon as she heard me she came
down, opened the door, and asked me to come in; so I followed her-
much troubled in my mind. She set me on a richly decorated seat inlaid
with silver, there was a footstool also under my feet, and she mixed a
mess in a golden goblet for me to drink; but she drugged it, for she
meant me mischief. When she had given it me, and I had drunk it
without its charming me, she struck she, struck me with her wand.
'There now,' she cried, 'be off to the pigsty, and make your lair with
the rest of them.'
"But I rushed at her with my sword drawn as though I would kill her,
whereon she fell with a loud scream, clasped my knees, and spoke
piteously, saying, 'Who and whence are you? from what place and people
have you come? How can it be that my drugs have no power to charm you?
Never yet was any man able to stand so much as a taste of the herb I
gave you; you must be spell-proof; surely you can be none other than
the bold hero Ulysses, who Mercury always said would come here some
day with his ship while on his way home form Troy; so be it then;
sheathe your sword and let us go to bed, that we may make friends
and learn to trust each other.'
"And I answered, 'Circe, how can you expect me to be friendly with
you when you have just been turning all my men into pigs? And now that
you have got me here myself, you mean me mischief when you ask me to
go to bed with you, and will unman me and make me fit for nothing. I
shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will
first take your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me.'
"So she swore at once as I had told her, and when she had
completed her oath then I went to bed with her.
"Meanwhile her four servants, who are her housemaids, set about
their work. They are the children of the groves and fountains, and
of the holy waters that run down into the sea. One of them spread a
fair purple cloth over a seat, and laid a carpet underneath it.
Another brought tables of silver up to the seats, and set them with
baskets of gold. A third mixed some sweet wine with water in a
silver bowl and put golden cups upon the tables, while the fourth
she brought in water and set it to boil in a large cauldron over a
good fire which she had lighted. When the water in the cauldron was
boiling, she poured cold into it till it was just as I liked it, and
then she set me in a bath and began washing me from the cauldron about
the head and shoulders, to take the tire and stiffness out of my
limbs. As soon as she had done washing me and anointing me with oil,
she arrayed me in a good cloak and shirt and led me to a richly
decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also under my
feet. A maid servant then brought me water in a beautiful golden
ewer and poured it into a silver basin for me to wash my hands, and
she drew a clean table beside me; an upper servant brought me bread
and offered me many things of what there was in the house, and then
Circe bade me eat, but I would not, and sat without heeding what was
before me, still moody and suspicious.
"When Circe saw me sitting there without eating, and in great grief,
she came to me and said, 'Ulysses, why do you sit like that as
though you were dumb, gnawing at your own heart, and refusing both
meat and drink? Is it that you are still suspicious? You ought not
to be, for I have already sworn solemnly that I will not hurt you.'
"And I said, 'Circe, no man with any sense of what is right can
think of either eating or drinking in your house until you have set
his friends free and let him see them. If you want me to eat and
drink, you must free my men and bring them to me that I may see them
with my own eyes.'
"When I had said this she went straight through the court with her
wand in her hand and opened the pigsty doors. My men came out like
so many prime hogs and stood looking at her, but she went about
among them and anointed each with a second drug, whereon the
bristles that the bad drug had given them fell off, and they became
men again, younger than they were before, and much taller and better
looking. They knew me at once, seized me each of them by the hand, and
wept for joy till the whole house was filled with the sound of their
hullabalooing, and Circe herself was so sorry for them that she came
up to me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, go back at once
to the sea where you have left your ship, and first draw it on to
the land. Then, hide all your ship's gear and property in some cave,
and come back here with your men.'
"I agreed to this, so I went back to the sea shore, and found the
men at the ship weeping and wailing most piteously. When they saw me
the silly blubbering fellows began frisking round me as calves break
out and gambol round their mothers, when they see them coming home
to be milked after they have been feeding all day, and the homestead
resounds with their lowing. They seemed as glad to see me as though
they had got back to their own rugged Ithaca, where they had been born
and bred. 'Sir,' said the affectionate creatures, 'we are as glad to
see you back as though we had got safe home to Ithaca; but tell us all
about the fate of our comrades.'
"I spoke comfortingly to them and said, 'We must draw our ship on to
the land, and hide the ship's gear with all our property in some cave;
then come with me all of you as fast as you can to Circe's house,
where you will find your comrades eating and drinking in the midst
of great abundance.'
"On this the men would have come with me at once, but Eurylochus
tried to hold them back and said, 'Alas, poor wretches that we are,
what will become of us? Rush not on your ruin by going to the house of
Circe, who will turn us all into pigs or wolves or lions, and we shall
have to keep guard over her house. Remember how the Cyclops treated us
when our comrades went inside his cave, and Ulysses with them. It
was all through his sheer folly that those men lost their lives.'
"When I heard him I was in two minds whether or no to draw the
keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh and cut his head off in
spite of his being a near relation of my own; but the men interceded
for him and said, 'Sir, if it may so be, let this fellow stay here and
mind the ship, but take the rest of us with you to Circe's house.'
"On this we all went inland, and Eurylochus was not left behind
after all, but came on too, for he was frightened by the severe
reprimand that I had given him.
"Meanwhile Circe had been seeing that the men who had been left
behind were washed and anointed with olive oil; she had also given
them woollen cloaks and shirts, and when we came we found them all
comfortably at dinner in her house. As soon as the men saw each
other face to face and knew one another, they wept for joy and cried
aloud till the whole palace rang again. Thereon Circe came up to me
and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, tell your men to leave off
crying; I know how much you have all of you suffered at sea, and how
ill you have fared among cruel savages on the mainland, but that is
over now, so stay here, and eat and drink till you are once more as
strong and hearty as you were when you left Ithaca; for at present you
are weakened both in body and mind; you keep all the time thinking
of the hardships- you have suffered during your travels, so that you
have no more cheerfulness left in you.'
"Thus did she speak and we assented. We stayed with Circe for a
whole twelvemonth feasting upon an untold quantity both of meat and
wine. But when the year had passed in the waning of moons and the long
days had come round, my men called me apart and said, 'Sir, it is time
you began to think about going home, if so be you are to be spared
to see your house and native country at all.'
"Thus did they speak and I assented. Thereon through the livelong
day to the going down of the sun we feasted our fill on meat and wine,
but when the sun went down and it came on dark the men laid themselves
down to sleep in the covered cloisters. I, however, after I had got
into bed with Circe, besought her by her knees, and the goddess
listened to what I had got to say. 'Circe,' said I, 'please to keep
the promise you made me about furthering me on my homeward voyage. I
want to get back and so do my men, they are always pestering me with
their complaints as soon as ever your back is turned.'
"And the goddess answered, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, you shall
none of you stay here any longer if you do not want to, but there is
another journey which you have got to take before you can sail
homewards. You must go to the house of Hades and of dread Proserpine
to consult the ghost of the blind Theban prophet Teiresias whose
reason is still unshaken. To him alone has Proserpine left his
understanding even in death, but the other ghosts flit about
aimlessly.'
"I was dismayed when I heard this. I sat up in bed and wept, and
would gladly have lived no longer to see the light of the sun, but
presently when I was tired of weeping and tossing myself about, I
said, 'And who shall guide me upon this voyage- for the house of Hades
is a port that no ship can reach.'
"'You will want no guide,' she answered; 'raise you mast, set your
white sails, sit quite still, and the North Wind will blow you there
of itself. When your ship has traversed the waters of Oceanus, you
will reach the fertile shore of Proserpine's country with its groves
of tall poplars and willows that shed their fruit untimely; here beach
your ship upon the shore of Oceanus, and go straight on to the dark
abode of Hades. You will find it near the place where the rivers
Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus (which is a branch of the river Styx)
flow into Acheron, and you will see a rock near it, just where the two
roaring rivers run into one another.
"'When you have reached this spot, as I now tell you, dig a trench a
cubit or so in length, breadth, and depth, and pour into it as a
drink-offering to all the dead, first, honey mixed with milk, then
wine, and in the third place water-sprinkling white barley meal over
the whole. Moreover you must offer many prayers to the poor feeble
ghosts, and promise them that when you get back to Ithaca you will
sacrifice a barren heifer to them, the best you have, and will load
the pyre with good things. More particularly you must promise that
Teiresias shall have a black sheep all to himself, the finest in all
your flocks.
"'When you shall have thus besought the ghosts with your prayers,
offer them a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads towards
Erebus; but yourself turn away from them as though you would make
towards the river. On this, many dead men's ghosts will come to you,
and you must tell your men to skin the two sheep that you have just
killed, and offer them as a burnt sacrifice with prayers to Hades
and to Proserpine. Then draw your sword and sit there, so as to
prevent any other poor ghost from coming near the split blood before
Teiresias shall have answered your questions. The seer will
presently come to you, and will tell you about your voyage- what
stages you are to make, and how you are to sail the see so as to reach
your home.'
"It was day-break by the time she had done speaking, so she
dressed me in my shirt and cloak. As for herself she threw a beautiful
light gossamer fabric over her shoulders, fastening it with a golden
girdle round her waist, and she covered her head with a mantle. Then I
went about among the men everywhere all over the house, and spoke
kindly to each of them man by man: 'You must not lie sleeping here any
longer,' said I to them, 'we must be going, for Circe has told me
all about it.' And this they did as I bade them.
"Even so, however, I did not get them away without misadventure.
We had with us a certain youth named Elpenor, not very remarkable
for sense or courage, who had got drunk and was lying on the house-top
away from the rest of the men, to sleep off his liquor in the cool.
When he heard the noise of the men bustling about, he jumped up on a
sudden and forgot all about coming down by the main staircase, so he
tumbled right off the roof and broke his neck, and his soul went
down to the house of Hades.
"When I had got the men together I said to them, 'You think you
are about to start home again, but Circe has explained to me that
instead of this, we have got to go to the house of Hades and
Proserpine to consult the ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias.'
"The men were broken-hearted as they heard me, and threw
themselves on the ground groaning and tearing their hair, but they did
not mend matters by crying. When we reached the sea shore, weeping and
lamenting our fate, Circe brought the ram and the ewe, and we made
them fast hard by the ship. She passed through the midst of us without
our knowing it, for who can see the comings and goings of a god, if
the god does not wish to be seen?

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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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Mazeppa

'Twas after dread Pultowa's day,
When fortune left the royal Swede--
Around a slaughtered army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed.
The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men,
Had passed to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow’s walls were safe again--
Until a day more dark and drear,
And a more memorable year,
Should give to slaughter and to shame
A mightier host and haughtier name;
A greater wreck, a deeper fall,
A shock to one--a thunderbolt to all.

II.
Such was the hazard Of the die;
The wounded Charles was taught to fly
By day and night through field and flood,
Stained with his own and subjects' blood;
For thousands fell that flight to aid:
And not a voice was heard to upbraid
Ambition in his humbled hour,
When truth had nought to dread from power,
His horse was slain, and Gieta gave
His own--and died the Russians’ slave.
This too sinks after many a league
Of well sustained, but vain fatigue;
And in the depth of forests darkling,
The watch-fires in the distance sparkling--
The beacons of surrounding foes--
A king must lay his limbs at length.
Are these the laurels and repose
For which the nations strain their strength?
They laid him by a savage tree,
In outworn natures agony;
His wounds were stiff, his limbs were stark,
The heavy hour was chill and dark;
The fever in his blood forbade
A transient slumber's fitful aid:
And thus it was; but yet through all,
Kinglike the monarch bore his fall,
And made, in this extreme of ill,
His pangs the vassals of his will:
All silent and subdued were they,
As owe the nations round him lay.

III.
A band of chiefs!--alas! how few,
Since but the fleeting of a day
Had thinned it; but this wreck was true
And chivalrous: upon the clay
Each sate him down, all sad and mute,
Beside his monarch and his steed;
For danger levels man and brute,
And all are fellows in their need.
Among the rest, Mazeppa made
His pillow in an old oak's shade--
Himself as rough, and scarce less old,
The Ukraine's hetman, calm and bold:
But first, outspent with this long course,
The Cossack prince rubbed down his horse,
And made for him a leafy bed,
And smoothed his fetlocks and his mane,
And slacked his girth, and stripped his rein,
And joyed to see how well he fed;
For until now he had the dread
His wearied courser might refuse
To browse beneath the midnight dews:
But he was hardy as his lord,
And little cared for bed and board;
But spirited and docile too,
Whate'er was to be done, would do.
Shaggy and swift, and strong of limb,
All Tartar-like he carried him;
Obeyed his voice, and came to call,
And knew him in the midst of all.
Though thousands were around,--and night,
Without a star, pursued her flight,--
That steed from sunset until dawn
His chief would follow like a fawn.

IV.
This done, Mazeppa spread his cloak,
And laid his lance beneath his oak,
Felt if his arms in order good
The long day's march had well withstood--
If still the powder filled the pan,
And flints unloosened kept their lock--
His sabre's hilt and scabbard felt,
And whether they had chafed his belt;
And next the venerable man,
From out his haversack and can,
Prepared and spread his slender stock
And to the monarch and his men
The whole or portion offered then
With far less of inquietude
Than courtiers at a banquet would.
And Charles of this his slender share
With smiles partook a moment there,
To force of cheer a greater show,
And seem above both wounds and woe;-
And then he said -'Of all our band,
Though firm of heart and strong of hand,
In skirmish, march, or forage, none
Can less have said or more have done
Than thee, Mazeppa! On the earth
So fit a pair had never birth,
Since Alexander's days till now,
As thy Bucephalus and thou:
All Scythia's fame to thine should yield
For pricking on o'er flood and field.'
Mazeppa answered--'Ill betide
The school wherein I learned to ride!
Quoth Charles--'Old Hetman, wherefore so,
Since thou hast learned the art so well?
Mazeppa said--'Twere long to tell;
And we have many a league to go,
With every now and then a blow,
And ten to one at least the foe,
Before our steeds may graze at ease,
Beyond the swift Borysthenes:
And, sire, your limbs have need of rest,
And I will be the sentinel
Of this your troop.'--'But I request,'
Said Sweden's monarch, 'thou wilt tell
This tale of thine, and I may reap,
Perchance, from this the boon of sleep;
For at this moment from my eyes
The hope of present slumber flies.'
'Well, sire, with such a hope, I'll track
My seventy years of memory back:
I think 'twas in my twentieth spring,--
Ay, 'twas,--when Casimir was king--
John Casimir,--I was his page
Six summers, in my earlier age:
A learned monarch, faith! was he,
And most unlike your majesty:
He made no wars, and did not gain
New realms to lose them back again;
And (save debates in Warsaw's diet)
He reigned in most unseemly quiet;
Not that he had no cares to vex,
He loved the muses and the sex;
And sometimes these so froward are,
They made him wish himself at war;
But soon his wrath being o'er, he took
Another mistress--or new book;
And then he gave prodigious fetes--
All Warsaw gathered round his gates
To gaze upon his splendid court,
And dames, and chiefs, of princely port.
He was the Polish Solomon,
So sung his poets, all but one,
Who, being unpensioned, made a satire,
And boasted that he could not flatterI
It was a court of jousts and mimes,
Where every courtier tried at rhymes;
Even I for once produced some verses,
And signed my odes 'Despairing Thyrsis.'
There was a certain Palatine,
A Count of far and high descent,
Rich as a salt or silver mine;
And he was proud, ye may divine,
As if from heaven he had been sent:
He had such wealth in blood and ore
As few could match beneath the throne;
And he would gaze upon his store,
And o'er his pedigree would pore,
Until by some confusion led,
Which almost looked like want of head,
He thought their merits were his own.
His wife was not of his opinion;
His junior she by thirty years;
Grew daily tired of his dominion;
And, after wishes, hopes, and fears,
To virtue a few farewell tears,
A restless dream or two, some glances
At Warsaw's youth, some songs, and dances,
Awaited but the usual chances,
Those happy accidents which render
The coldest dames so very tender,
To deck her Count with titles given,
'Tis said, as passports into heaven;
But, strange to say, they rarely boast
Of these, who have deserved them most.

V.
'I was a goodly stripling then;
At seventy years I so may say,
That there were few, or boys or men,
Who, in my dawning time of day,
Of vassal or of knight's degree,
Could vie in vanities with me;
For I had strength, youth, gaiety,
A port, not like to this ye see,
But smooth, as all is rugged now;
For time, and care, and war, have ploughed
My very soul from out my brow;
And thus I should be disavowed
By all my kind and kin, could they
Compare my day and yesterday;
This change was wrought, too, long ere age
Had ta'en my features for his page:
With years, ye know, have not declined
My strength, my courage, or my mind,
Or at this hour I should not be
Telling old tales beneath a tree,
With starless skies my canopy.
But let me on: Theresa's form--
Methinks it glides before me now,
Between me and yon chestnut's bough,
The memory is so quick and warm;
And yet I find no words to tell
The shape of her I loved so well:
She had the Asiatic eye,
Such as our, Turkish neighbourhood,
Hath mingled with our Polish blood,
Dark as above us is the sky;
But through it stole a tender light,
Like the first moonrise of midnight;
Large, dark, and swimming in the stream,
Which seemed to melt to its own beam;
All love, half langour, and half fire,
Like saints that at the stake expire,
And lift their raptured looks on high,
As though it were a joy to die.
A brow like a midsummer lake,
Transparent with the sun therein,
When waves no murmur dare to make,
And heaven beholds her face within.
A cheek and lip--but why proceed?
I loved her then--I love her still;
And such as I am, love indeed
In fierce extremes--in good and ill.
But still we love even in our rage,
And haunted to our very age
With the vain shadow of the past,
As is Mazeppa to the last

VI.
'We met--we gazed--I saw, and sighed,
She did not speak, and yet replied;
There are ten thousand tones and signs
We hear and see, but none defines -
Involuntary sparks of thought,
Which strike from out the heart o’erwrought,
And form a strange intelligence,
Alike mysterious and intense,
Which link the burning chain that binds,
Without their will, young hearts and minds
Conveying, as the electric wire,
We know not how, the absorbing fire.
I saw, and sighed--in silence wept,
And still reluctant distance kept,
Until I was made known to her,
And we might then and there confer
Without suspicion--then, even then,
I longed, and was resolved to speak;
But on my lips they died again,
The accents tremulous and weak,
Until one hour.--There is a game,
A frivolous and foolish play,
Wherewith we while away the day;
It is--I have forgot the name--
And we to this, it seems, were set,
By some strange chance, which I forget:
I reck'd not if I won or lost,
It was enough for me to be
So near to hear, and oh! to see
The being whom I loved the most.--
I watched her as a sentinel,
(May ours this dark night watch as well!)
Until I saw, and thus it was,
That she was pensive, nor perceived
Her occupation, nor was grieved
Nor glad to lose or gain; but still
Played on for hours, as if her win
Yet bound her to the place, though not
That hers might be the winning lot.
Then through my brain the thought did pass
Even as a flash of lightning there,
That there was something in her air
Which would not doom me to despair;
And on the thought my words broke forth,
All incoherent as they were--
Their eloquence was little worth,
But yet she listened--'tis enough--
Who listens once will listen twice;
Her heart, be sure, is not of ice,
And one refusal no rebuff.

VII.
I loved, and was beloved again--
They tell me, Sire, you never knew
Those gentle frailties; if 'tis true,
I shorten all my joy or pain;
To you 'twould seem absurd as vain
But all men are not born to reign,
Or o'er their passions, or as you
Thus o'er themselves and nations too.
I am--or rather was--a prince,
A chief of thousands, and could lead
Them on where each would foremost bleed;
But could not o'er myself evince
The like control--but to resume:
I loved, and was beloved again;
In sooth, it is a happy doom,
But yet where happiest ends in pain.--
We met in secret, and the hour
Which led me to that lady's bower
Was fiery expectation's dower.
My days and nights were nothing--all
Except that hour which doth recall
In the long lapse from youth to age
No other like itself--I'd give
The Ukraine back again to live
It o'er once more--and be a page,
The happy page, who was the lord
Of one soft heart, and his own sword,
And had no other gem nor wealth
Save nature's gift of youth and health.
We met in secret--doubly sweet,
Some say, they find it so to meet;
I know not that--I would have given
My life but to have called her mine
In the full view of earth and heaven;
For I did oft and long repine
That we could only meet by stealth.

VIII.
'For lovers there are many eyes,
And such there were on us; the devil
On such occasions should be civil--
The devil!--I'm loth to do him wrong,
It might be some untoward saint,
Who would not be at rest too long,
But to his pious bile gave vent--
But one fair night, some lurking spies
Surprised and seized us both.
The Count was something more than wroth--
I was unarmed; but if in steel,
All cap from head to heel,
What 'gainst their numbers could I do?
'Twas near his castle, far away
From city or from succour near,
And almost on the break of day;
I did not think to see another,
My moments seemed reduced to few;
And with one prayer to Mary Mother,
And, it may be, a saint or two,
As I resigned me to my fate,
They led me to the castle gate:
Tleresa's doom I never knew,
Our lot was henceforth separate.
An angry man, ye may opine,
Was he, the proud Count Palatine;
And he had reason good to be,
But he was most enraged lest such
An accident should chance to touch
Upon his future pedigree;
Nor less amazed, that such a blot
His noble 'scutcheon should have got,
While he was highest of his line
Because unto himself he seemed
The first of men, nor less he deemed
In others' eyes, and most in mine.
'Sdeath! with a page--perchance a king
Had reconciled him to the thing;
But with a stripling of a page--
I felt--but cannot paint his rage.

IX.
''Bring forth the horse!'--the horse was brought;
In truth, he was a noble steed,
A Tartar of the Ukraine breed,
Who looked as though the speed of thought
Were in his limbs; but he was wild,
Wild as the wild deer, and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled--
'Twas but a day he had been caught;
And snorting, with erected mane,
And struggling fiercely, but in vain,
In the full foam of wrath and dread
To me the desert-born was led:
They bound me on, that menial throng,
Upon his back with many a thong;
They loosed him with a sudden lash--
Away!--away!--and on we dash!--
Torrents less rapid and less rash.

X.
'Away!--away!--my breath was gone--
I saw not where he hurried on:
'Twas scarcely yet the break of day,
And on he foamed--away!--away!--
The last of human sounds which rose,
As I was darted from my foes,
Was the wild shout of savage laughter,
Which on the wind came roaring after
A moment from that rabble rout:
With sudden wrath I wrenched my head,
And snapped the cord, which to the mane
Had bound my neck in lieu of rein,
And, writhing half my form about,
Howled back my curse; but 'midst the tread,
The thunder of my courser's speed,
Perchance they did not hear nor heed:
It vexes me--for I would fain
Have paid their insult back again.
I paid it well in after days:
There is not of that castle gate.
Its drawbridge and portcullis' weight,
Stone, bar, moat, bridge, or barrier left;
Nor of its fields a blade of grass,
Save what grows on a ridge of wall,
Where stood the hearth-stone of the hall;
And many a time ye there might pass,
Nor dream that e'er the fortress was.
I saw its turrets in a blaze,
Their crackling battlements all cleft,
And the hot lead pour down like rain
From off the scorched and blackening roof,
Whose thickness was not vengeance-proof.
They little thought that day of pain,
When launched, as on the lightning's flash,
They bade me to destruction dash,
That one day I should come again,
With twice five thousand horse, to thank
The Count for his uncourteous ride.
They played me then a bitter prank,
'When, with the wild horse for my guide,
The bound me to his foaming flank:
At length I played them one as frank--
For time at last sets all things even--
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
Which could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient search and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong.

XI.
'Away, away, my steed and I,
Upon the pinions of the wind.
All human dwellings left behind,
We sped like meteors through the sky,
When with its crackling sound the night
Is chequered with the northern light:
Town--village--none were on our track,
But a wild plain of far extent,
And bounded by a forest black;
And, save the scarce seen battlement
On distant heights of some strong hold,
Against the Tartars built of old,
No trace of man. The year before
A Turkish army had marched o'er;
And where the Spahi's hoof hath trod,
The verdure flies the bloody sod:--
The sky was dull, and dim, and grey,
And a low breeze crept moaning by--
I could have answered with a sigh--
But fast we fled, away, away--
And I could neither sigh nor pray--
And my cold sweat-drops fell like rain
Upon the courser's bristling mane;
But, snorting still with rage and fear,
He flew upon his far career:
At times I almost thought, indeed,
He must have slackened in his speed;
But no--my bound and slender frame
Was nothing to his angry might,
And merely like a spur became:
Each motion which I made to free
My swoln limbs from their agony
Increased his fury and affright:
I tried my voice,--'twas faint and low,
But yet he swerved as from a blow;
And, starting to each accent, sprang
As from a sudden trumpet's clang:
Meantime my cords were wet with gore,
Which, oozing through my limbs, ran o'er;
And in my tongue the thirst became
A something fierier far than flame.

XII.
'We neared the wild wood--'twas so wide,
I saw no bounds on either side;
'Twas studded with old sturdy trees,
That bent not to the roughest breeze
Which howls down from Siberia's waste,
And strips the forest in its haste,--
But these were few and far between,
Set thick with shrubs more young and green,
Luxuriant with their annual leaves,
Ere strown by those autumnal eves
That nip the forest's foliage dead,
Discoloured with a lifeless red,
Which stands thereon like stiffened gore
Upon the slain when battle's o'er,
And some long winter's night hath shed
Its frost o'er every tombless head,
So cold and stark, the raven's beak
May peck unpierced each frozen cheek:
'Twas a wild waste of underwood,
And here and there a chestnut stood,
The strong oak, and the hardy pine;
But far apart--and well it were,
Or else a different lot were mine--
The boughs gave way, and did not tear
My limbs; and I found strength to bear
My wounds, already scarred with cold--
My bonds forbade to loose my hold.
We rustled through the leaves like wind,
Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind;
By night I heard them on the track,
Their troop came hard upon our back,
With their long gallop, which can tire
The hound's deep hate, and hunter's fire:
Where'er we flew they followed on,
Nor left us with the morning sun;
Behind I saw them, scarce a rood,
At day-break winding through the wood,
And through the night had heard their feet
Their stealing, rustling step repeat.
Oh! how I wished for spear or sword,
At least to die amidst the horde,
And perish--if it must be so--
At bay, destroying many a foe
When first my courser's race begun,
I wished the goal already won;
But now I doubted strength and speed:
Vain doubt! his swift and savage breed
Had nerved him like the mountain-roe--
Nor faster falls the blinding snow
Which whelms the peasant near the door
Whose threshold he shall cross no more,
Bewildered with the dazzling blast,
Than through the forest-paths--he passed--
Untired, untamed, and worse than wild;
All furious as a favoured child
Balked of its wish; or fiercer still
A woman piqued--who has her will.

XIII.
'The wood was passed; 'twas more than noon,
But chill the air, although in June;
Or it might be my veins ran cold--
Prolonged endurance tames the bold;
And I was then not what I seem,
But headlong as a wintry stream,
And wore my feelings out before
I well could count their causes o'er:
And what with fury, fear, and wrath,
The tortures which beset my path,
Cold, hunger, sorrow, shame, distress,
Thus bound in nature's nakedness;
Sprung from a race whose rising blood
When stirred beyond its calmer mood,
And trodden hard upon, is like
The rattle-snake's, in act to strike--
What marvel if this worn-out trunk
Beneath its woes a moment sunk?
The earth gave way, the skies rolled round,
I seemed to sink upon the ground;
But erred, for I was fastly bound.
My heart turned sick, my brain grew sore,
And throbbed awhile, then beat no more:
The skies spun like a mighty wheel;
I saw the trees like drunkards reel,
And a slight flash sprang o'er my eyes,
Which saw no farther. He who dies
Can die no more than then I died;
O’ertortured by that ghastly ride.
I felt the blackness come and go,
And strove to wake; but could not make
My senses climb up from below:
I felt as on a plank at sea,
When all the waves that dash o'er thee,
At the same time upheave and whelm,
And hurl thee towards a desert realm.
My undulating life was as
The fancied lights that flitting pass
Our shut eyes in deep midnight, when
Fever begins upon the brain;
But soon it passed, with little pain,
But a confusion worse than such:
I own that I should deem it much,
Dying, to feel the same again;
And yet I do suppose we must
Feel far more ere we turn to dust:
No matter; I have bared my brow
Full in Death's face--before--and now.

XIV.
'My thoughts came back; where was I? Cold,
And numb, and giddy: pulse by pulse
Life reassumed its lingering hold,
And throb by throb--till grown a pang;
Which for a moment would convulse,
My blood reflowed, though thick and chill;
My ear with uncouth noises rang,
My heart began once more to thrill;
My sight returned, though dim; alas!
And thickened, as it were, with glass.
Methought the dash of waves was nigh.,
There was a gleam too of the sky
Studded with stars;--it is no dream;
The wild horse swims the wilder stream!
The bright broad river's gushing tide
Sweeps, winding onward, far and wide,
And we are half-way, struggling o'er
To yon unknown and silent shore.
The waters broke my hollow trance,
And with a temporary strength
My stiffened limbs were rebaptized.
My courser's broad breast proudly braves,
And dashes off the ascending waves,
And onward we advance
We reach the slippery shore at length,
A haven I but little prized,
For all behind was dark and drear
And all before was night and fear.
How many hours of night or day
In those suspended pangs I lay,
I could not tell; I scarcely knew
If this were human breath I drew.

XV.
'With glossy skin, and dripping mane,
And reeling limbs, and reeking flank,
The wild steed's sinewy nerves still strain
Up the repelling bank.
We gain the top. a boundless plain
Spreads through the shadow of the night,
And onward, onward, onward, seems,
Like precipices in our dreams,
To stretch beyond the sight;
And here and there a speck of white,
Or scattered spot of dusky green,
In masses broke into the light,
As rose the moon upon my right:
But nought distinctly seen
In the dim waste would indicate
The omen of a cottage gate;
No twinkling taper from afar
Stood like a hospitable star;'
Not even an ignis-fatuus rose
To make him merry with my woes:
That very cheat had cheered me then!
Although detected, welcome still,
Reminding me, through every ill,
Of the abodes of men.

XVI.
'Onward we went--but slack and slow
His savage force at length o'erspent,
The drooping courser, faint and low,
All feebly foaming went.
A sickly infant had had power
To guide him forward in that hour!
But, useless all to me,
His new-born tameness nought availed--
My limbs were bound; my force had failed,
Perchance, had they been free.
With feeble effort still I tried
To rend the bonds so starkly tied,
But still it was in vain;
My limbs were only wrung the more,
And soon the idle strife gave o'er,
Which but prolonged their pain:
The dizzy race seemed almost done,
Although no goal was nearly won.
Some streaks announced the coming sun--
How slow, alas! he came!
Methought that mist of dawning grey
Would never dapple into day;
How heavily it rolled away--
Before the eastern flame
Rose crimson, and deposed the stars,
And called the radiance from their cars,
And filled the earth, from his deep throne,
With lonely lustre, all his own.

XVII.
'Up rose the sun; the mists were curled
Back from the solitary world
Which lay around--behind--before;
What booted it to traverse o'er
Plain, forest, river? Man nor brute,
Nor dint of hoof, nor print of foot,
Lay in the wild luxuriant soil;
No sign of travel--none of toll;
The very air was mute:
And not an insect's shrill small horn,
Nor matin bird's new voice was borne
From herb nor thicket. Many a werst,
Panting as if his heart would burst,
The weary brute still staggered on;
And still we were--or seemed--alone:
At length, while reeling on our way,
Methought I heard a courser neigh,
From out yon tuft of blackening firs.
Is it the wind those branches stirs?
No, no! from out the forest prance
A trampling troop; I see them come I
In one vast squadron they advance!
I strove to cry--my lips were dumb.
The steeds rush on in plunging pride;
But where are they the reins to guide?
A thousand horse--and none to ride!
With flowing tail, and flying mane,
Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,
Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
And feet that iron never shod,
And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
Like waves that follow o'er the sea,
Came thickly thundering on,
As if our faint approach to meet;
The sight re-nerved my courser's feet,
A moment staggering, feebly fleet,
A moment, with a faint low neigh,
He answered, and then fell!
With gasps and glazing eyes he lay,
And reeking limbs immoveable,
His first and last career is done!
On came the troop--they saw him stoop,
They saw me strangely bound along
His back with many a bloody thong.
They stop--they start--they snuff the air,
Gallop a moment here and there,
Approach, retire, wheel round and round,
Then plunging back with sudden bound,
Headed by one black mighty steed,
Who seemed the patriarch of his breed,
Without a single speck or hair
Of white upon his shaggy hide;
They snort--they foam--neigh--swerve aside,
And backward to the forest fly,
By instinct, from a human eye.
They left me there to my despair,
Linked to the dead and stiffening wretch,
Whose lifeless limbs beneath me stretch,
Relieved from that unwonted weight,
From whence I could not extricate
Nor him nor me--and there we lay
The dying on the dead!
I little deemed another day
Would see my houseless, helpless head.
And there from morn till twilight bound,
I felt the heavy hours toll round,
With just enough of life to see
My last of suns go down on me,
In hopeless certainty of mind,
That makes us feel at length resigned
To that which our foreboding years
Presents the worst and last of fears
Inevitable--even a boon,
Nor more unkind for coming soon,
Yet shunned and dreaded with such care,
As if it only were a snare
That prudence might escape:
At times both wished for and implored,
At times sought with self-pointed sword,
Yet still a dark and hideous close
To even intolerable woes,
And welcome in no shape.
And, strange to say, the sons of pleasure,
They who have revelled beyond measure
In beauty, wassail, wine, and treasure,
Die calm, or calmer, oft than he
Whose heritage was misery.
For he who hath in turn run through
All that was beautiful and new,
Hath nought to hope, and nought to leave;
And, save the future, (which is viewed
Not quite as men are base or good,
But as their nerves may be endued,)
With nought perhaps to grieve:
The wretch still hopes his woes must end,
And death, whom he should deem his friend,
Appears, to his distempered eyes,
Arrived to rob him of his prize,
The tree of his new Paradise.
Tomorrow would have given him all,
Repaid his pangs, repaired his fall;
Tomorrow would have been the first
Of days no more deplored or curst,
But bright, and long, and beckoning years,
Seen dazzling through the mist of tears,
Guerdon of many a painful hour;
Tomorrow would have given him power
To rule, to shine, to smite, to save--
And must it dawn upon his grave?

XVIII.
'The sun was sinking--still I lay
Chained to the chill and stiffening steed,
I thought to mingle there our clay;
And my dim eyes of death had need,
No hope arose of being freed.
I cast my last looks up the sky,
And there between me and the sun
I saw the expecting raven fly,
Who scarce would wait till both should die,
Ere his repast begun;
He flew, and perched, then flew once more,
And each time nearer than before;
I saw his wing through twilight flit,
And once so near me he alit
I could have smote, but lacked the strength;
But the slight motion of my hand,
And feeble scratching of the sand,
The exerted throat's faint struggling noise,
Which scarcely could be called a voice,
Together scared him off at length.
I know no more--my latest dream
Is something of a lovely star
Which fixed my dull eyes from afar,
And went and came with wandering beam,
And of the cold, dull, swimming, dense,
Sensation of recurring sense,
And then subsiding back to death,
And then again a little breath,
A little thrill, a short suspense,
An icy sickness curdling o'er
My heart, and sparks that crossed my brain
A gasp, a throb, a start of pain,
A sigh, and nothing more.

XIX.
'I woke--where was I?--Do I see
A human face look down on me?
And doth a roof above me close?
Do these limbs on a couch repose?
Is this a chamber where I lie
And is it mortal yon bright eye,
That watches me with gentle glance?
I closed my own again once more,
As doubtful that the former trance
Could not as yet be o'er.
A slender girl, long-haired, and tall,
Sate watching by the cottage wall.
The sparkle of her eye I caught
Even with my first return of thought;
For ever and anon she threw
A prying, pitying glance on me
With her black eyes so wild and free:
I gazed, and gazed, until I knew
No vision it could be,--
But that I lived, and was released
From adding to the vulture's feast:
And when the Cossack maid beheld
My heavy eyes at length unsealed,
She smiled--and I essayed to speak,
But failed--and she approached, and made
With lip and finger signs that said,
I must not strive as yet to break
The silence, till my strength should be
Enough to leave my accents free;
And then her hand on mine she laid,
And smoothed the pillow for my head,
And stole along on tiptoe tread,
And gently oped the door, and spake
In whispers--ne'er was voice so sweet!
Even music followed her light feet.
But those she called were not awake,
And she went forth; but, ere she passed,
Another look on me she cast,
Another sign she made, to say,
That I had nought to fear, that all
Were near, at my command or call,
And she would not delay
Her due return:--while she was gone,
Methought I felt too much alone.
'She came with mother and with sire--
What need of more?--I will not tire
With long recital of the rest,
Since I became the Cossack's guest.
They found me senseless on the plain.
They bore me to the nearest hut,
They brought me into life again
Me--one day o'er their realm to reign!
Thus the vain fool who strove to glut
His rage, refining on my pain,
Sent me forth to the wilderness,
Bound, naked, bleeding, and alone,
To pass the desert to a throne,--
What mortal his own doom may guess?
Let none despond, let none despair!
Tomorrow the Borysthenes
May see our coursers graze at ease
Upon his Turkish bank,--and never
Had I such welcome for a river
As I shall yield when safely there.
Comrades good night!'--The Hetman threw
His length beneath the oak-tree shade,
With leafy couch already made,
A bed nor comfortless nor new
To him, who took his rest whene'er
The hour arrived, no matter where:
His eyes the hastening slumbers steep.
And if ye marvel Charles forgot
To thank his tale, he wondered not,--
The king had been an hour asleep.

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