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The Debt

Marie Antoinette
Wan countenance set
With gunge
Sits mute at toilette
And dabs with a wet
Sea sponge
Now settle the debt
False charge, dark as jet
Expunge.

Cart avidly met
The creditors fret
And lunge
Then recompense whet
Slant iron is let
To plunge!
Wan countenance set
Marie Antoinette.

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Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni

Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran BLANC,
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form!
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it,
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity!
O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee,
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
I worshipped the Invisible alone.

Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my Thought,
Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy:
Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing--there
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!

Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn.

Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
O struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise!
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?

And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jaggéd rocks,
For ever shattered and the same for ever?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam?
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest?

Ye Ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain--
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
Who made your glorious as the Gates of Heaven
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?--
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!

Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost!
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest!
Yet eagles, play-mates of the mountain-storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds!
Ye signs and wonders of the element!
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!

Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast--
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
To rise before me--Rise, O ever rise,
Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth!
Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.

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Enoch Arden

Long lines of cliff breaking have left a chasm;
And in the chasm are foam and yellow sands;
Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf
In cluster; then a moulder'd church; and higher
A long street climbs to one tall-tower'd mill;
And high in heaven behind it a gray down
With Danish barrows; and a hazelwood,
By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes
Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.

Here on this beach a hundred years ago,
Three children of three houses, Annie Lee,
The prettiest little damsel in the port,
And Philip Ray the miller's only son,
And Enoch Arden, a rough sailor's lad
Made orphan by a winter shipwreck, play'd
Among the waste and lumber of the shore,
Hard coils of cordage, swarthy fishing-nets,
Anchors of rusty fluke, and boats updrawn,
And built their castles of dissolving sand
To watch them overflow'd, or following up
And flying the white breaker, daily left
The little footprint daily wash'd away.

A narrow cave ran in beneath the cliff:
In this the children play'd at keeping house.
Enoch was host one day, Philip the next,
While Annie still was mistress; but at times
Enoch would hold possession for a week:
`This is my house and this my little wife.'
`Mine too' said Philip `turn and turn about:'
When, if they quarrell'd, Enoch stronger-made
Was master: then would Philip, his blue eyes
All flooded with the helpless wrath of tears,
Shriek out `I hate you, Enoch,' and at this
The little wife would weep for company,
And pray them not to quarrel for her sake,
And say she would be little wife to both.

But when the dawn of rosy childhood past,
And the new warmth of life's ascending sun
Was felt by either, either fixt his heart
On that one girl; and Enoch spoke his love,
But Philip loved in silence; and the girl
Seem'd kinder unto Philip than to him;
But she loved Enoch; tho' she knew it not,
And would if ask'd deny it. Enoch set
A purpose evermore before his eyes,
To hoard all savings to the uttermost,
To purchase his own boat, and make a home
For Annie: and so prosper'd that at last
A luckier or a bolder fisherman,
A carefuller in peril, did not breathe
For leagues along that breaker-beaten coast
Than Enoch. Likewise had he served a year
On board a merchantman, and made himself
Full sailor; and he thrice had pluck'd a life
From the dread sweep of the down-streaming seas:
And all me look'd upon him favorably:
And ere he touch'd his one-and-twentieth May
He purchased his own boat, and made a home
For Annie, neat and nestlike, halfway up
The narrow street that clamber'd toward the mill.

Then, on a golden autumn eventide,
The younger people making holiday,
With bag and sack and basket, great and small,
Went nutting to the hazels. Philip stay'd
(His father lying sick and needing him)
An hour behind; but as he climb'd the hill,
Just where the prone edge of the wood began
To feather toward the hollow, saw the pair,
Enoch and Annie, sitting hand-in-hand,
His large gray eyes and weather-beaten face
All-kindled by a still and sacred fire,
That burn'd as on an altar. Philip look'd,
And in their eyes and faces read his doom;
Then, as their faces drew together, groan'd,
And slipt aside, and like a wounded life
Crept down into the hollows of the wood;
There, while the rest were loud in merrymaking,
Had his dark hour unseen, and rose and past
Bearing a lifelong hunger in his heart.

So these were wed, and merrily rang the bells,
And merrily ran the years, seven happy years,
Seven happy years of health and competence,
And mutual love and honorable toil;
With children; first a daughter. In him woke,
With his first babe's first cry, the noble wish
To save all earnings to the uttermost,
And give his child a better bringing-up
Than his had been, or hers; a wish renew'd,
When two years after came a boy to be
The rosy idol of her solitudes,
While Enoch was abroad on wrathful seas,
Or often journeying landward; for in truth
Enoch's white horse, and Enoch's ocean-spoil
In ocean-smelling osier, and his face,
Rough-redden'd with a thousand winter gales,
Not only to the market-cross were known,
But in the leafy lanes behind the down,
Far as the portal-warding lion-whelp,
And peacock-yewtree of the lonely Hall,
Whose Friday fare was Enoch's ministering.

Then came a change, as all things human change.
Ten miles to northward of the narrow port
Open'd a larger haven: thither used
Enoch at times to go by land or sea;
And once when there, and clambering on a mast
In harbor, by mischance he slipt and fell:
A limb was broken when they lifted him;
And while he lay recovering there, his wife
Bore him another son, a sickly one:
Another hand crept too across his trade
Taking her bread and theirs: and on him fell,
Altho' a grave and staid God-fearing man,
Yet lying thus inactive, doubt and gloom.
He seem'd, as in a nightmare of the night,
To see his children leading evermore
Low miserable lives of hand-to-mouth,
And her, he loved, a beggar: then he pray'd
`Save them from this, whatever comes to me.'
And while he pray'd, the master of that ship
Enoch had served in, hearing his mischance,
Came, for he knew the man and valued him,
Reporting of his vessel China-bound,
And wanting yet a boatswain. Would he go?
There yet were many weeks before she sail'd,
Sail'd from this port. Would Enoch have the place?
And Enoch all at once assented to it,
Rejoicing at that answer to his prayer.

So now that the shadow of mischance appear'd
No graver than as when some little cloud
Cuts off the fiery highway of the sun,
And isles a light in the offing: yet the wife--
When he was gone--the children--what to do?
Then Enoch lay long-pondering on his plans;
To sell the boat--and yet he loved her well--
How many a rough sea had he weather'd in her!
He knew her, as a horseman knows his horse--
And yet to sell her--then with what she brought
Buy goods and stores--set Annie forth in trade
With all that seamen needed or their wives--
So might she keep the house while he was gone.
Should he not trade himself out yonder? go
This voyage more than once? yea twice or thrice--
As oft as needed--last, returning rich,
Become the master of a larger craft,
With fuller profits lead an easier life,
Have all his pretty young ones educated,
And pass his days in peace among his own.

Thus Enoch in his heart determined all:
Then moving homeward came on Annie pale,
Nursing the sickly babe, her latest-born.
Forward she started with a happy cry,
And laid the feeble infant in his arms;
Whom Enoch took, and handled all his limbs,
Appraised his weight and fondled fatherlike,
But had no heart to break his purposes
To Annie, till the morrow, when he spoke.

Then first since Enoch's golden ring had girt
Her finger, Annie fought against his will:
Yet not with brawling opposition she,
But manifold entreaties, many a tear,
Many a sad kiss by day and night renew'd
(Sure that all evil would come out of it)
Besought him, supplicating, if he cared
For here or his dear children, not to go.
He not for his own self caring but her,
Her and her children, let her plead in vain;
So grieving held his will, and bore it thro'.

For Enoch parted with his old sea-friend,
Bought Annie goods and stores, and set his hand
To fit their little streetward sitting-room
With shelf and corner for the goods and stores.
So all day long till Enoch's last at home,
Shaking their pretty cabin, hammer and axe,
Auger and saw, while Annie seem'd to hear
Her own death-scaffold raising, shrill'd and rang,
Till this was ended, and his careful hand,--
The space was narrow,--having order'd all
Almost as neat and close as Nature packs
Her blossom or her seedling, paused; and he,
Who needs would work for Annie to the last,
Ascending tired, heavily slept till morn.

And Enoch faced this morning of farewell
Brightly and boldly. All his Annie's fears,
Save, as his Annie's, were a laughter to him.
Yet Enoch as a brave God-fearing man
Bow'd himself down, and in that mystery
Where God-in-man is one with man-in-God,
Pray'd for a blessing on his wife and babes
Whatever came to him: and then he said
`Annie, this voyage by the grace of God
Will bring fair weather yet to all of us.
Keep a clean hearth and a clear fire for me,
For I'll be back, my girl, before you know it.'
Then lightly rocking baby's cradle `and he,
This pretty, puny, weakly little one,--
Nay--for I love him all the better for it--
God bless him, he shall sit upon my knees
And I will tell him tales of foreign parts,
And make him merry, when I come home again.
Come Annie, come, cheer up before I go.'

Him running on thus hopefully she heard,
And almost hoped herself; but when he turn'd
The current of his talk to graver things
In sailor fashion roughly sermonizing
On providence and trust in Heaven, she heard,
Heard and not heard him; as the village girl,
Who sets her pitcher underneath the spring,
Musing on him that used to fill it for her,
Hears and not hears, and lets it overflow.

At length she spoke `O Enoch, you are wise;
And yet for all your wisdom well know I
That I shall look upon your face no more.'

`Well then,' said Enoch, `I shall look on yours.
Annie, the ship I sail in passes here
(He named the day) get you a seaman's glass,
Spy out my face, and laugh at all your fears.'

But when the last of those last moments came,
`Annie my girl, cheer up, be comforted,
Look to the babes, and till I come again,
Keep everything shipshape, for I must go.
And fear no more for me; or if you fear
Cast all your cares on God; that anchor holds.
Is He not yonder in those uttermost
Parts of the morning? if I flee to these
Can I go from Him? and the sea is His,
The sea is His: He made it.'

Enoch rose,
Cast his strong arms about his drooping wife,
And kiss'd his wonder-stricken little ones;
But for the third, sickly one, who slept
After a night of feverous wakefulness,
When Annie would have raised him Enoch said
`Wake him not; let him sleep; how should this child
Remember this?' and kiss'ed him in his cot.
But Annie from her baby's forehead clipt
A tiny curl, and gave it: this he kept
Thro' all his future; but now hastily caught
His bundle, waved his hand, and went his way.

She when the day, that Enoch mention'd, came,
Borrow'd a glass, but all in vain: perhaps
She could not fix the glass to suit her eye;
Perhaps her eye was dim, hand tremulous;
She saw him not: and while he stood on deck
Waving, the moment and the vessel past.

Ev'n to the last dip of the vanishing sail
She watch'd it, and departed weeping for him;
Then, tho' she mourn'd his absence as his grave,
Set her sad will no less to chime with his,
But throve not in her trade, not being bred
To barter, nor compensating the want
By shrewdness, neither capable of lies,
Nor asking overmuch and taking less,
And still foreboding `what would Enoch say?'
For more than once, in days of difficulty
And pressure, had she sold her wares for less
Than what she gave in buying what she sold:
She fail'd and sadden'd knowing it; and thus,
Expectant of that news that never came,
Gain'd for here own a scanty sustenance,
And lived a life of silent melancholy.

Now the third child was sickly-born and grew
Yet sicklier, tho' the mother cared for it
With all a mother's care: nevertheless,
Whether her business often call'd her from it,
Or thro' the want of what it needed most,
Or means to pay the voice who best could tell
What most it needed--howsoe'er it was,
After a lingering,--ere she was aware,--
Like the caged bird escaping suddenly,
The little innocent soul flitted away.

In that same week when Annie buried it,
Philip's true heart, which hunger'd for her peace
(Since Enoch left he had not look'd upon her),
Smote him, as having kept aloof so long.
`Surely' said Philip `I may see her now,
May be some little comfort;' therefore went,
Past thro' the solitary room in front,
Paused for a moment at an inner door,
Then struck it thrice, and, no one opening,
Enter'd; but Annie, seated with her grief,
Fresh from the burial of her little one,
Cared not to look on any human face,
But turn'd her own toward the wall and wept.
Then Philip standing up said falteringly
`Annie, I came to ask a favor of you.'

He spoke; the passion in her moan'd reply
`Favor from one so sad and so forlorn
As I am!' half abash'd him; yet unask'd,
His bashfulness and tenderness at war,
He set himself beside her, saying to her:

`I came to speak to you of what he wish'd,
Enoch, your husband: I have ever said
You chose the best among us--a strong man:
For where he fixt his heart he set his hand
To do the thing he will'd, and bore it thro'.
And wherefore did he go this weary way,
And leave you lonely? not to see the world--
For pleasure?--nay, but for the wherewithal
To give his babes a better bringing-up
Than his had been, or yours: that was his wish.
And if he come again, vext will he be
To find the precious morning hours were lost.
And it would vex him even in his grave,
If he could know his babes were running wild
Like colts about the waste. So Annie, now--
Have we not known each other all our lives?
I do beseech you by the love you bear
Him and his children not to say me nay--
For, if you will, when Enoch comes again
Why then he shall repay me--if you will,
Annie--for I am rich and well-to-do.
Now let me put the boy and girl to school:
This is the favor that I came to ask.'

Then Annie with her brows against the wall
Answer'd `I cannot look you in the face;
I seem so foolish and so broken down.
When you came in my sorrow broke me down;
And now I think your kindness breaks me down;
But Enoch lives; that is borne in on me:
He will repay you: money can be repaid;
Not kindness such as yours.'

And Philip ask'd
`Then you will let me, Annie?'

There she turn'd,
She rose, and fixt her swimming eyes upon him,
And dwelt a moment on his kindly face,
Then calling down a blessing on his head
Caught at his hand and wrung it passionately,
And past into the little garth beyond.
So lifted up in spirit he moved away.

Then Philip put the boy and girl to school,
And bought them needful books, and everyway,
Like one who does his duty by his own,
Made himself theirs; and tho' for Annie's sake,
Fearing the lazy gossip of the port,
He oft denied his heart his dearest wish,
And seldom crost her threshold, yet he sent
Gifts by the children, garden-herbs and fruit,
The late and early roses from his wall,
Or conies from the down, and now and then,
With some pretext of fineness in the meal
To save the offence of charitable, flour
From his tall mill that whistled on the waste.

But Philip did not fathom Annie's mind:
Scarce could the woman when he came upon her,
Out of full heart and boundless gratitude
Light on a broken word to thank him with.
But Philip was her children's all-in-all;
From distant corners of the street they ran
To greet his hearty welcome heartily;
Lords of his house and of his mill were they;
Worried his passive ear with petty wrongs
Or pleasures, hung upon him, play'd with him
And call'd him Father Philip. Philip gain'd
As Enoch lost; for Enoch seem'd to them
Uncertain as a vision or a dream,
Faint as a figure seen in early dawn
Down at the far end of an avenue,
Going we know not where: and so ten years,
Since Enoch left his hearth and native land,
Fled forward, and no news of Enoch came.

It chanced one evening Annie's children long'd
To go with others, nutting to the wood,
And Annie would go with them; then they begg'd
For Father Philip (as they call'd him) too:
Him, like the working bee in blossom-dust,
Blanch'd with his mill, they found; and saying to him
`Come with us Father Philip' he denied;
But when the children pluck'd at him to go,
He laugh'd, and yielding readily to their wish,
For was not Annie with them? and they went.

But after scaling half the weary down,
Just where the prone edge of the wood began
To feather toward the hollow, all her force
Fail'd her; and sighing `let me rest' she said.
So Philip rested with her well-content;
While all the younger ones with jubilant cries
Broke from their elders, and tumultuously
Down thro' the whitening hazels made a plunge
To the bottom, and dispersed, and beat or broke
The lithe reluctant boughs to tear away
Their tawny clusters, crying to each other
And calling, here and there, about the wood.

But Philip sitting at her side forgot
Her presence, and remember'd one dark hour
Here in this wood, when like a wounded life
He crept into the shadow: at last he said
Lifting his honest forehead `Listen, Annie,
How merry they are down yonder in the wood.'
`Tired, Annie?' for she did not speak a word.
`Tired?' but her face had fall'n upon her hands;
At which, as with a kind anger in him,
`The ship was lost' he said `the ship was lost!
No more of that! why should you kill yourself
And make them orphans quite?' And Annie said
`I thought not of it: but--I known not why--
Their voices make me feel so solitary.'

Then Philip coming somewhat closer spoke.
`Annie, there is a thing upon my mind,
And it has been upon my mind so long,
That tho' I know not when it first came there,
I know that it will out at last. O Annie,
It is beyond all hope, against all chance,
That he who left you ten long years ago
Should still be living; well then--let me speak:
I grieve to see you poor and wanting help:
I cannot help you as I wish to do
Unless--they say that women are so quick--
Perhaps you know what I would have you know--
I wish you for my wife. I fain would prove
A father to your children: I do think
They love me as a father: I am sure
That I love them as if they were mine own;
And I believe, if you were fast my wife,
That after all these sad uncertain years,
We might be still as happy as God grants
To any of His creatures. Think upon it:
For I am well-to-do--no kin, no care,
No burthen, save my care for you and yours:
And we have known each other all our lives,
And I have loved you longer than you know.'

Then answer'd Annie; tenderly she spoke:
`You have been as God's good angel in our house.
God bless you for it, God reward you for it,
Philip, with something happier than myself.
Can one live twice? can you be ever loved
As Enoch was? what is it that you ask?'
`I am content' he answer'd `to be loved
A little after Enoch.' `O' she cried
Scared as it were `dear Philip, wait a while:
If Enoch comes--but Enoch will not come--
Yet wait a year, a year is not so long:
Surely I shall be wiser in a year:
O wait a little!' Philip sadly said
`Annie, as I have waited all my life
I well may wait a little.' `Nay' she cried
`I am bound: you have my promise--in a year:
Will you not bide your year as I bide mine?'
And Philip answer'd `I will bide my year.'

Here both were mute, till Philip glancing up
Beheld the dead flame of the fallen day
Pass from the Danish barrow overhead;
Then fearing night and chill for Annie rose,
And sent his voice beneath him thro' the wood.
Up came the children laden with their spoil;
Then all descended to the port, and there
At Annie's door he paused and gave his hand,
Saying gently `Annie, when I spoke to you,
That was your hour of weakness. I was wrong.
I am always bound to you, but you are free.'
Then Annie weeping answer'd `I am bound.'

She spoke; and in one moment as it were,
While yet she went about her household ways,
Ev'n as she dwelt upon his latest words,
That he had loved her longer than she knew,
That autumn into autumn flash'd again,
And there he stood once more before her face,
Claiming her promise. `Is it a year?' she ask'd.
`Yes, if the nuts' he said `be ripe again:
Come out and see.' But she--she put him off--
So much to look to--such a change--a month--
Give her a month--she knew that she was bound--
A month--no more. Then Philip with his eyes
Full of that lifelong hunger, and his voice
Shaking a little like a drunkard's hand,
`Take your own time, Annie, take your own time.'
And Annie could have wept for pity of him;
And yet she held him on delayingly
With many a scarce-believable excuse,
Trying his truth and his long-sufferance,
Till half-another year had slipt away.

By this the lazy gossips of the port,
Abhorrent of a calculation crost,
Began to chafe as at a personal wrong.
Some thought that Philip did but trifle with her;
Some that she but held off to draw him on;
And others laugh'd at her and Philip too,
As simple folks that knew not their own minds;
And one, in whom all evil fancies clung
Like serpent eggs together, laughingly
Would hint a worse in either. Her own son
Was silent, tho' he often look'd his wish;
But evermore the daughter prest upon her
To wed the man so dear to all of them
And lift the household out of poverty;
And Philip's rosy face contracting grew
Careworn and wan; and all these things fell on her
Sharp as reproach.

At last one night it chanced
That Annie could not sleep, but earnestly
Pray'd for a sign `my Enoch is he gone?'
Then compass'd round by the blind wall of night
Brook'd not the expectant terror of her heart,
Started from bed, and struck herself a light,
Then desperately seized the holy Book,
Suddenly set it wide to find a sign,
Suddenly put her finger on the text,
`Under a palmtree.' That was nothing to her:
No meaning there: she closed the book and slept:
When lo! her Enoch sitting on a height,
Under a palmtree, over him the Sun:
`He is gone' she thought `he is happy, he is singing
Hosanna in the highest: yonder shines
The Sun of Righteousness, and these be palms
Whereof the happy people strowing cried
"Hosanna in the highest!"' Here she woke,
Resolved, sent for him and said wildly to him
`There is no reason why we should not wed.'
`Then for God's sake,' he answer'd, `both our sakes,
So you will wed me, let it be at once.'

So these were wed and merrily rang the bells,
Merrily rang the bells and they were wed.
But never merrily beat Annie's heart.
A footstep seem'd to fall beside her path,
She knew not whence; a whisper in her ear,
She knew not what; nor loved she to be left
Alone at home, nor ventured out alone.
What ail'd her then, that ere she enter'd, often
Her hand dwelt lingeringly on the latch,
Fearing to enter: Philip thought he knew:
Such doubts and fears were common to her state,
Being with child: but when her child was born,
Then her new child was as herself renew'd,
Then the new mother came about her heart,
Then her good Philip was her all-in-all,
And that mysterious instinct wholly died.

And where was Enoch? prosperously sail'd
The ship `Good Fortune,' tho' at setting forth
The Biscay, roughly ridging eastward, shook
And almost overwhelm'd her, yet unvext
She slipt across the summer of the world,
Then after a long tumble about the Cape
And frequent interchange of foul and fair,
She passing thro' the summer world again,
The breath of heaven came continually
And sent her sweetly by the golden isles,
Till silent in her oriental haven.

There Enoch traded for himself, and bought
Quaint monsters for the market of those times,
A gilded dragon, also, for the babes.

Less lucky her home-voyage: at first indeed
Thro' many a fair sea-circle, day by day,
Scarce-rocking, her full-busted figure-head
Stared o'er the ripple feathering from her bows:
Then follow'd calms, and then winds variable,
Then baffling, a long course of them; and last
Storm, such as drove her under moonless heavens
Till hard upon the cry of `breakers' came
The crash of ruin, and the loss of all
But Enoch and two others. Half the night,
Buoy'd upon floating tackle and broken spars,
These drifted, stranding on an isle at morn
Rich, but loneliest in a lonely sea.

No want was there of human sustenance,
Soft fruitage, mighty nuts, and nourishing roots;
Nor save for pity was it hard to take
The helpless life so wild that it was tame.
There in a seaward-gazing mountain-gorge
They built, and thatch'd with leaves of palm, a hut,
Half hut, half native cavern. So the three,
Set in this Eden of all plenteousness,
Dwelt with eternal summer, ill-content.

For one, the youngest, hardly more than boy,
Hurt in that night of sudden ruin and wreck,
Lay lingering out a three-years' death-in-life.
They could not leave him. After he was gone,
The two remaining found a fallen stem;
And Enoch's comrade, careless of himself,
Fire-hollowing this in Indian fashion, fell
Sun-stricken, and that other lived alone.
In those two deaths he read God's warning `wait.'

The mountain wooded to the peak, the lawns
And winding glades high up like ways to Heaven,
The slender coco's drooping crown of plumes,
The lightning flash of insect and of bird,
The lustre of the long convolvuluses
That coil'd around the stately stems, and ran
Ev'n to the limit of the land, the glows
And glories of the broad belt of the world,
All these he saw; but what he fain had seen
He could not see, the kindly human face,
Nor ever hear a kindly voice, but heard
The myriad shriek of wheeling ocean-fowl,
The league-long roller thundering on the reef,
The moving whisper of huge trees that branch'd
And blossom'd in the zenith, or the sweep
Of some precipitous rivulet to the wave,
As down the shore he ranged, or all day long
Sat often in the seaward-gazing gorge,
A shipwreck'd sailor, waiting for a sail:
No sail from day to day, but every day
The sunrise broken into scarlet shafts
Among the palms and ferns and precipices;
The blaze upon the waters to the east;
The blaze upon his island overhead;
The blaze upon the waters to the west;
Then the great stars that globed themselves in Heaven,
The hollower-bellowing ocean, and again
The scarlet shafts of sunrise--but no sail.

There often as he watch'd or seem'd to watch,
So still, the golden lizard on him paused,
A phantom made of many phantoms moved
Before him haunting him, or he himself
Moved haunting people, things and places, known
Far in a darker isle beyond the line;
The babes, their babble, Annie, the small house,
The climbing street, the mill, the leafy lanes,
The peacock-yewtree and the lonely Hall,
The horse he drove, the boat he sold, the chill
November dawns and dewy-glooming downs,
The gentle shower, the smell of dying leaves,
And the low moan of leaden-color'd seas.

Once likewise, in the ringing of his ears,
Tho' faintly, merrily--far and far away--
He heard the pealing of his parish bells;
Then, tho' he knew not wherefore, started up
Shuddering, and when the beauteous hateful isle
Return'd upon him, had not his poor heart
Spoken with That, which being everywhere
Lets none, who speaks with Him, seem all alone,
Surely the man had died of solitude.

Thus over Enoch's early-silvering head
The sunny and rainy seasons came and went
Year after year. His hopes to see his own,
And pace the sacred old familiar fields,
Not yet had perish'd, when his lonely doom
Came suddenly to an end. Another ship
(She wanted water) blown by baffling winds,
Like the Good Fortune, from her destined course,
Stay'd by this isle, not knowing where she lay:
For since the mate had seen at early dawn
Across a break on the mist-wreathen isle
The silent water slipping from the hills,
They sent a crew that landing burst away
In search of stream or fount, and fill'd the shores
With clamor. Downward from his mountain gorge
Stept the long-hair'd long-bearded solitary,
Brown, looking hardly human, strangely clad,
Muttering and mumbling, idiotlike it seem'd,
With inarticulate rage, and making signs
They knew not what: and yet he led the way
To where the rivulets of sweet water ran;
And ever as he mingled with the crew,
And heard them talking, his long-bounden tongue
Was loosen'd, till he made them understand;
Whom, when their casks were fill'd they took aboard:
And there the tale he utter'd brokenly,
Scarce credited at first but more and more,
Amazed and melted all who listen'd to it:
And clothes they gave him and free passage home;
But oft he work'd among the rest and shook
His isolation from him. None of these
Came from his county, or could answer him,
If question'd, aught of what he cared to know.
And dull the voyage was with long delays,
The vessel scarce sea-worthy; but evermore
His fancy fled before the lazy wind
Returning, till beneath a clouded moon
He like a lover down thro' all his blood
Drew in the dewy meadowy morning-breath
Of England, blown across her ghostly wall:
And that same morning officers and men
Levied a kindly tax upon themselves,
Pitying the lonely man, and gave him it:
Then moving up the coast they landed him,
Ev'n in that harbor whence he sail'd before.

There Enoch spoke no word to anyone,
But homeward--home--what home? had he a home?
His home, he walk'd. Bright was that afternoon,
Sunny but chill; till drawn thro' either chasm,
Where either haven open'd on the deeps,
Roll'd a sea-haze and whelm'd the world in gray;
Cut off the length of highway on before,
And left but narrow breadth to left and right
Of wither'd holt or tilth or pasturage.
On the nigh-naked tree the Robin piped
Disconsolate, and thro' the dripping haze
The dead weight of the dead leaf bore it down.
Thicker the drizzle grew, deeper the gloom;
Last, as it seem'd, a great mist-blotted light
Flared on him, and he came upon the place.

Then down the long street having slowly stolen,
His heart foreshadowing all calamity,
His eyes upon the stones, he reach'd the home
Where Annie lived and loved him, and his babes
In those far-off seven happy years were born;
But finding neither light nor murmur there
(A bill of sale gleam'd thro' the drizzle) crept
Still downward thinking `dead or dead to me!'

Down to the pool and narrow wharf he went,
Seeking a tavern which of old he knew,
A front of timber-crost antiquity,
So propt, worm-eaten, ruinously old,
He thought it must have gone; but he was gone
Who kept it; and his widow, Miriam Lane,
With daily-dwindling profits held the house;
A haunt of brawling seamen once, but now
Stiller, with yet a bed for wandering men.
There Enoch rested silently many days.

But Miriam Lane was good and garrulous,
Nor let him be, but often breaking in,
Told him, with other annals of the port,
Not knowing--Enoch was so brown, so bow'd,
So broken--all the story of his house.
His baby's death, her growing poverty,
How Philip put her little ones to school,
And kept them in it, his long wooing her,
Her slow consent, and marriage, and the birth
Of Philip's child: and o'er his countenance
No shadow past, nor motion: anyone,
Regarding, well had deem'd he felt the tale
Less than the teller: only when she closed
`Enoch, poor man, was cast away and lost'
He, shaking his gray head pathetically,
Repeated muttering `cast away and lost;'
Again in deeper inward whispers `lost!'

But Enoch yearn'd to see her face again;
`If I might look on her sweet face gain
And know that she is happy.' So the thought
Haunted and harass'd him, and drove him forth,
At evening when the dull November day
Was growing duller twilight, to the hill.
There he sat down gazing on all below;
There did a thousand memories roll upon him,
Unspeakable for sadness. By and by
The ruddy square of comfortable light,
Far-blazing from the rear of Philip's house,
Allured him, as the beacon-blaze allures
The bird of passage, till he madly strikes
Against it, and beats out his weary life.

For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street,
The latest house to landward; but behind,
With one small gate that open'd on the waste,
Flourish'd a little garden square and wall'd:
And in it throve an ancient evergreen,
A yewtree, and all round it ran a walk
Of shingle, and a walk divided it:
But Enoch shunn'd the middle walk and stole
Up by the wall, behind the yew; and thence
That which he better might have shunn'd, if griefs
Like his have worse or better, Enoch saw.

For cups and silver on the burnish'd board
Sparkled and shone; so genial was the hearth:
And on the right hand of the hearth he saw
Philip, the slighted suitor of old times,
Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees;
And o'er her second father stoopt a girl,
A later but a loftier Annie Lee,
Fair-hair'd and tall, and from her lifted hand
Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring
To tempt the babe, who rear'd his creasy arms,
Caught at and ever miss'd it, and they laugh'd:
And on the left hand of the hearth he saw
The mother glancing often toward her babe,
But turning now and then to speak with him,
Her son, who stood beside her tall and strong,
And saying that which pleased him, for he smiled.

Now when the dead man come to life beheld
His wife his wife no more, and saw the babe
Hers, yet not his, upon the father's knee,
And all the warmth, the peace, the happiness,
And his own children tall and beautiful,
And him, that other, reigning in his place,
Lord of his rights and of his children's love,--
Then he, tho' Miriam Lane had told him all,
Because things seen are mightier than things heard,
Stagger'd and shook, holding the branch, and fear'd
To send abroad a shrill and terrible cry,
Which in one moment, like the blast of doom,
Would shatter all the happiness of the hearth.

He therefore turning softly like a thief,
Lest the harsh shingle should grate underfoot,
And feeling all along the garden-wall,
Lest he should swoon and tumble and be found,
Crept to the gate, and open'd it, and closed,
As lightly as a sick man's chamber-door,
Behind him, and came out upon the waste.

And there he would have knelt, but that his knees
Were feeble, so that falling prone he dug
His fingers into the wet earth, and pray'd.

`Too hard to bear! why did they take me hence?
O God Almighty, blessed Saviour, Thou
That didst uphold me on my lonely isle,
Uphold me, Father, in my loneliness
A little longer! aid me, give me strength
Not to tell her, never to let her know.
Help me no to break in upon her peace.
My children too! must I not speak to these?
They know me not. I should betray myself.
Never: not father's kiss for me--the girl
So like her mother, and the boy, my son.'

There speech and thought and nature fail'd a little,
And he lay tranced; but when he rose and paced
Back toward his solitary home again,
All down the long and narrow street he went
Beating it in upon his weary brain,
As tho' it were the burthen of a song,
`Not to tell her, never to let her know.'

He was not all unhappy. His resolve
Upbore him, and firm faith, and evermore
Prayer from a living source within the will,
And beating up thro' all the bitter world,
Like fountains of sweet water in the sea,
Kept him a living soul. `This miller's wife'
He said to Miriam `that you told me of,
Has she no fear that her first husband lives?'
`Ay ay, poor soul' said Miriam, `fear enow!
If you could tell her you had seen him dead,
Why, that would be her comfort;' and he thought
`After the Lord has call'd me she shall know,
I wait His time' and Enoch set himself,
Scorning an alms, to work whereby to live.
Almost to all things could he turn his hand.
Cooper he was and carpenter, and wrought
To make the boatmen fishing-nets, or help'd
At lading and unlading the tall barks,
That brought the stinted commerce of those days;
Thus earn'd a scanty living for himself:
Yet since he did but labor for himself,
Work without hope, there was not life in it
Whereby the man could live; and as the year
Roll'd itself round again to meet the day
When Enoch had return'd, a languor came
Upon him, gentle sickness, gradually
Weakening the man, till he could do no more,
But kept the house, his chair, and last his bed.
And Enoch bore his weakness cheerfully.
For sure no gladlier does the stranded wreck
See thro' the gray skirts of a lifting squall
The boat that bears the hope of life approach
To save the life despair'd of, than he saw
Death dawning on him, and the close of all.

For thro' that dawning gleam'd a kindlier hope
On Enoch thinking `after I am gone,
Then may she learn I loved her to the last.'
He call'd aloud for Miriam Lane and said
`Woman, I have a secret--only swear,
Before I tell you--swear upon the book
Not to reveal it, till you see me dead.'
`Dead' clamor'd the good woman `hear him talk!
I warrant, man, that we shall bring you round.'
`Swear' add Enoch sternly `on the book.'
And on the book, half-frighted, Miriam swore.
Then Enoch rolling his gray eyes upon her,
`Did you know Enoch Arden of this town?'
`Know him?' she said `I knew him far away.
Ay, ay, I mind him coming down the street;
Held his head high, and cared for no man, he.'
Slowly and sadly Enoch answer'd her;
`His head is low, and no man cares for him.
I think I have not three days more to live;
I am the man.' At which the woman gave
A half-incredulous, half-hysterical cry.
`You Arden, you! nay,--sure he was a foot
Higher than you be.' Enoch said again
`My God has bow'd me down to what I am;
My grief and solitude have broken me;
Nevertheless, know that I am he
Who married--but that name has twice been changed--
I married her who married Philip Ray.
Sit, listen.' Then he told her of his voyage,
His wreck, his lonely life, his coming back,
His gazing in on Annie, his resolve,
And how he kept it. As the woman heard,
Fast flow'd the current of her easy tears,
While in her heart she yearn'd incessantly
To rush abroad all round the little haven,
Proclaiming Enoch Arden and his woes;
But awed and promise-bounded she forbore,
Saying only `See your bairns before you go!
Eh, let me fetch 'em, Arden,' and arose
Eager to bring them down, for Enoch hung
A moment on her words, but then replied.

`Woman, disturb me not now at the last,
But let me hold my purpose till I die.
Sit down again; mark me and understand,
While I have power to speak. I charge you now,
When you shall see her, tell her that I died
Blessing her, praying for her, loving her;
Save for the bar between us, loving her
As when she laid her head beside my own.
And tell my daughter Annie, whom I saw
So like her mother, that my latest breath
Was spent in blessing her and praying for her.
And tell my son that I died blessing him.
And say to Philip that I blest him too;
He never meant us any thing but good.
But if my children care to see me dead,
Who hardly saw me living, let them come,
I am their father; but she must not come,
For my dead face would vex her after-life.
And now there is but one of all my blood,
Who will embrace me in the world-to-be:
This hair is his: she cut it off and gave it,
And I have borne it with me all these years,
And thought to bear it with me to my grave;
But now my mind is changed, for I shall see him,
My babe in bliss: wherefore when I am gone,
Take, give her this, for it may comfort her:
It will moreover be a token to her,
That I am he.'

He ceased; and Miriam Lane
Made such a voluble answer promising all,
That once again he roll'd his eyes upon her
Repeating all he wish'd, and once again
She promised.

Then the third night after this,
While Enoch slumber'd motionless and pale,
And Miriam watch'd and dozed at intervals,
There came so loud a calling of the sea,
That all the houses in the haven rang.
He woke, he rose, he spread his arms abroad
Crying with a loud voice `a sail! a sail!
I am saved'; and so fell back and spoke no more.

So past the strong heroic soul away.
And when they buried him the little port
Had seldom seen a costlier funeral.

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John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 02

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth or Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by merit raised
To that bad eminence; and, from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with Heaven; and, by success untaught,
His proud imaginations thus displayed:--
"Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!--
For, since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen,
I give not Heaven for lost: from this descent
Celestial Virtues rising will appear
More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
And trust themselves to fear no second fate!--
Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven,
Did first create your leader--next, free choice
With what besides in council or in fight
Hath been achieved of merit--yet this loss,
Thus far at least recovered, hath much more
Established in a safe, unenvied throne,
Yielded with full consent. The happier state
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of endless pain? Where there is, then, no good
For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
From faction: for none sure will claim in Hell
Precedence; none whose portion is so small
Of present pain that with ambitious mind
Will covet more! With this advantage, then,
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in Heaven, we now return
To claim our just inheritance of old,
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could have assured us; and by what best way,
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate. Who can advise may speak."
He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,
Stood up--the strongest and the fiercest Spirit
That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair.
His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemed
Equal in strength, and rather than be less
Cared not to be at all; with that care lost
Went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse,
He recked not, and these words thereafter spake:--
"My sentence is for open war. Of wiles,
More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
Contrive who need, or when they need; not now.
For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest--
Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait
The signal to ascend--sit lingering here,
Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of his ryranny who reigns
By our delay? No! let us rather choose,
Armed with Hell-flames and fury, all at once
O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the Torturer; when, to meet the noise
Of his almighty engine, he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and, for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his Angels, and his throne itself
Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult, and steep to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe!
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our porper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat; descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the Deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy, then;
Th' event is feared! Should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction, if there be in Hell
Fear to be worse destroyed! What can be worse
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned
In this abhorred deep to utter woe!
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorably, and the torturing hour,
Calls us to penance? More destroyed than thus,
We should be quite abolished, and expire.
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential--happier far
Than miserable to have eternal being!--
Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb his Heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."
He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge, and battle dangerous
To less than gods. On th' other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane.
A fairer person lost not Heaven; he seemed
For dignity composed, and high exploit.
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropped manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low--
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began:--
"I should be much for open war, O Peers,
As not behind in hate, if what was urged
Main reason to persuade immediate war
Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success;
When he who most excels in fact of arms,
In what he counsels and in what excels
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? The towers of Heaven are filled
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable: oft on the bodering Deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
Scout far and wide into the realm of Night,
Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all Hell should rise
With blackest insurrection to confound
Heaven's purest light, yet our great Enemy,
All incorruptible, would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and th' ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
Th' Almighty Victor to spend all his rage;
And that must end us; that must be our cure--
To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallowed up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated Night,
Devoid of sense and motion? And who knows,
Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
Can give it, or will ever? How he can
Is doubtful; that he never will is sure.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger whom his anger saves
To punish endless? 'Wherefore cease we, then?'
Say they who counsel war; 'we are decreed,
Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;
Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
What can we suffer worse?' Is this, then, worst--
Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?
What when we fled amain, pursued and struck
With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The Deep to shelter us? This Hell then seemed
A refuge from those wounds. Or when we lay
Chained on the burning lake? That sure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,
Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage,
And plunge us in the flames; or from above
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us? What if all
Her stores were opened, and this firmament
Of Hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads; while we perhaps,
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,
Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey
Or racking whirlwinds, or for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapt in chains,
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
Ages of hopeless end? This would be worse.
War, therefore, open or concealed, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view? He from Heaven's height
All these our motions vain sees and derides,
Not more almighty to resist our might
Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
Shall we, then, live thus vile--the race of Heaven
Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here
Chains and these torments? Better these than worse,
By my advice; since fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The Victor's will. To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal; nor the law unjust
That so ordains. This was at first resolved,
If we were wise, against so great a foe
Contending, and so doubtful what might fall.
I laugh when those who at the spear are bold
And venturous, if that fail them, shrink, and fear
What yet they know must follow--to endure
Exile, or igominy, or bonds, or pain,
The sentence of their Conqueror. This is now
Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
Our Supreme Foe in time may much remit
His anger, and perhaps, thus far removed,
Not mind us not offending, satisfied
With what is punished; whence these raging fires
Will slacken, if his breath stir not their flames.
Our purer essence then will overcome
Their noxious vapour; or, inured, not feel;
Or, changed at length, and to the place conformed
In temper and in nature, will receive
Familiar the fierce heat; and, void of pain,
This horror will grow mild, this darkness light;
Besides what hope the never-ending flight
Of future days may bring, what chance, what change
Worth waiting--since our present lot appears
For happy though but ill, for ill not worst,
If we procure not to ourselves more woe."
Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,
Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth,
Not peace; and after him thus Mammon spake:--
"Either to disenthrone the King of Heaven
We war, if war be best, or to regain
Our own right lost. Him to unthrone we then
May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yield
To fickle Chance, and Chaos judge the strife.
The former, vain to hope, argues as vain
The latter; for what place can be for us
Within Heaven's bound, unless Heaven's Lord supreme
We overpower? Suppose he should relent
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hyms, and to his Godhead sing
Forced hallelujahs, while he lordly sits
Our envied sovereign, and his altar breathes
Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
Our servile offerings? This must be our task
In Heaven, this our delight. How wearisome
Eternity so spent in worship paid
To whom we hate! Let us not then pursue,
By force impossible, by leave obtained
Unacceptable, though in Heaven, our state
Of splendid vassalage; but rather seek
Our own good from ourselves, and from our own
Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,
Free and to none accountable, preferring
Hard liberty before the easy yoke
Of servile pomp. Our greatness will appear
Then most conspicuous when great things of small,
Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse,
We can create, and in what place soe'er
Thrive under evil, and work ease out of pain
Through labour and endurance. This deep world
Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling Sire
Choose to reside, his glory unobscured,
And with the majesty of darkness round
Covers his throne, from whence deep thunders roar.
Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell!
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;
Nor want we skill or art from whence to raise
Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more?
Our torments also may, in length of time,
Become our elements, these piercing fires
As soft as now severe, our temper changed
Into their temper; which must needs remove
The sensible of pain. All things invite
To peaceful counsels, and the settled state
Of order, how in safety best we may
Compose our present evils, with regard
Of what we are and where, dismissing quite
All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise."
He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled
Th' assembly as when hollow rocks retain
The sound of blustering winds, which all night long
Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull
Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance
Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay
After the tempest. Such applause was heard
As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased,
Advising peace: for such another field
They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear
Of thunder and the sword of Michael
Wrought still within them; and no less desire
To found this nether empire, which might rise,
By policy and long process of time,
In emulation opposite to Heaven.
Which when Beelzebub perceived--than whom,
Satan except, none higher sat--with grave
Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed
A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven
Deliberation sat, and public care;
And princely counsel in his face yet shone,
Majestic, though in ruin. Sage he stood
With Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear
The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look
Drew audience and attention still as night
Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake:--
"Thrones and Imperial Powers, Offspring of Heaven,
Ethereal Virtues! or these titles now
Must we renounce, and, changing style, be called
Princes of Hell? for so the popular vote
Inclines--here to continue, and build up here
A growing empire; doubtless! while we dream,
And know not that the King of Heaven hath doomed
This place our dungeon, not our safe retreat
Beyond his potent arm, to live exempt
From Heaven's high jurisdiction, in new league
Banded against his throne, but to remain
In strictest bondage, though thus far removed,
Under th' inevitable curb, reserved
His captive multitude. For he, to be sure,
In height or depth, still first and last will reign
Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part
By our revolt, but over Hell extend
His empire, and with iron sceptre rule
Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war?
War hath determined us and foiled with loss
Irreparable; terms of peace yet none
Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given
To us enslaved, but custody severe,
And stripes and arbitrary punishment
Inflicted? and what peace can we return,
But, to our power, hostility and hate,
Untamed reluctance, and revenge, though slow,
Yet ever plotting how the Conqueror least
May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice
In doing what we most in suffering feel?
Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need
With dangerous expedition to invade
Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,
Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find
Some easier enterprise? There is a place
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven
Err not)--another World, the happy seat
Of some new race, called Man, about this time
To be created like to us, though less
In power and excellence, but favoured more
Of him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounced among the Gods, and by an oath
That shook Heaven's whole circumference confirmed.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould
Or substance, how endued, and what their power
And where their weakness: how attempted best,
By force of subtlety. Though Heaven be shut,
And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure
In his own strength, this place may lie exposed,
The utmost border of his kingdom, left
To their defence who hold it: here, perhaps,
Some advantageous act may be achieved
By sudden onset--either with Hell-fire
To waste his whole creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive, as we were driven,
The puny habitants; or, if not drive,
Seduce them to our party, that their God
May prove their foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works. This would surpass
Common revenge, and interrupt his joy
In our confusion, and our joy upraise
In his disturbance; when his darling sons,
Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse
Their frail original, and faded bliss--
Faded so soon! Advise if this be worth
Attempting, or to sit in darkness here
Hatching vain empires." Thus beelzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel--first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence,
But from the author of all ill, could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator? But their spite still serves
His glory to augment. The bold design
Pleased highly those infernal States, and joy
Sparkled in all their eyes: with full assent
They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews:--
"Well have ye judged, well ended long debate,
Synod of Gods, and, like to what ye are,
Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep
Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate,
Nearer our ancient seat--perhaps in view
Of those bright confines, whence, with neighbouring arms,
And opportune excursion, we may chance
Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone
Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light,
Secure, and at the brightening orient beam
Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air,
To heal the scar of these corrosive fires,
Shall breathe her balm. But, first, whom shall we send
In search of this new World? whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Isle? What strength, what art, can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe,
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection: and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send
The weight of all, and our last hope, relies."
This said, he sat; and expectation held
His look suspense, awaiting who appeared
To second, or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt. But all sat mute,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonished. None among the choice and prime
Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found
So hardy as to proffer or accept,
Alone, the dreadful voyage; till, at last,
Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:--
"O Progeny of Heaven! Empyreal Thrones!
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismayed. Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.
Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,
Barred over us, prohibit all egress.
These passed, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next,
Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
If thence he scape, into whatever world,
Or unknown region, what remains him less
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O Peers,
And this imperial sovereignty, adorned
With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed
And judged of public moment in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more as he above the rest
High honoured sits? Go, therefore, mighty Powers,
Terror of Heaven, though fallen; intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render Hell
More tolerable; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch
Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad
Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all. This enterprise
None shall partake with me." Thus saying, rose
The Monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent lest, from his resolution raised,
Others among the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refused, what erst they feared,
And, so refused, might in opinion stand
His rivals, winning cheap the high repute
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not more th' adventure than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose.
Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone, and as a God
Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven.
Nor failed they to express how much they praised
That for the general safety he despised
His own: for neither do the Spirits damned
Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition varnished o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless Chief:
As, when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element
Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow or shower,
If chance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet,
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! Devil with devil damned
Firm concord holds; men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace, and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait!
The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth
In order came the grand infernal Peers:
Midst came their mighty Paramount, and seemed
Alone th' antagonist of Heaven, nor less
Than Hell's dread Emperor, with pomp supreme,
And god-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed
With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpet's regal sound the great result:
Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,
By herald's voice explained; the hollow Abyss
Heard far adn wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great Chief return.
Part on the plain, or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing or in swift race contend,
As at th' Olympian games or Pythian fields;
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form:
As when, to warn proud cities, war appears
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battle in the clouds; before each van
Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their spears,
Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms
From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhoean rage, more fell,
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air
In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar:--
As when Alcides, from Oechalia crowned
With conquest, felt th' envenomed robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
Into th' Euboic sea. Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
By doom of battle, and complain that Fate
Free Virtue should enthrall to Force or Chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet
(For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense)
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate--
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame:
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!--
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams--
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets--
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed Furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damned
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
Immovable, infixed, and frozen round
Periods of time,--thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But Fate withstands, and, to oppose th' attempt,
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery alp,
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death--
A universe of death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good;
Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Obominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.
Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man,
Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of Hell
Explores his solitary flight: sometimes
He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood,
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed
Far off the flying Fiend. At last appear
Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock,
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable Shape.
The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
Voluminous and vast--a serpent armed
With mortal sting. About her middle round
A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled
Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other Shape--
If shape it might be called that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,
For each seemed either--black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast
With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.
Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admired--
Admired, not feared (God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he nor shunned),
And with disdainful look thus first began:--
"Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave asked of thee.
Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heaven."
To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied:--
"Art thou that traitor Angel? art thou he,
Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,
Conjured against the Highest--for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven
Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."
So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape,
So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold,
More dreadful and deform. On th' other side,
Incensed with indignation, Satan stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In th' arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head
Levelled his deadly aim; their fatal hands
No second stroke intend; and such a frown
Each cast at th' other as when two black clouds,
With heaven's artillery fraught, came rattling on
Over the Caspian,--then stand front to front
Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow
To join their dark encounter in mid-air.
So frowned the mighty combatants that Hell
Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood;
For never but once more was wither like
To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds
Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung,
Had not the snaky Sorceress, that sat
Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key,
Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between.
"O father, what intends thy hand," she cried,
"Against thy only son? What fury, O son,
Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart
Against thy father's head? And know'st for whom?
For him who sits above, and laughs the while
At thee, ordained his drudge to execute
Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids--
His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both!"
She spake, and at her words the hellish Pest
Forbore: then these to her Satan returned:--
"So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange
Thou interposest, that my sudden hand,
Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds
What it intends, till first I know of thee
What thing thou art, thus double-formed, and why,
In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st
Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son.
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable than him and thee."
T' whom thus the Portress of Hell-gate replied:--
"Hast thou forgot me, then; and do I seem
Now in thine eye so foul?--once deemed so fair
In Heaven, when at th' assembly, and in sight
Of all the Seraphim with thee combined
In bold conspiracy against Heaven's King,
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surprised thee, dim thine eyes and dizzy swum
In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide,
Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,
Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed,
Out of thy head I sprung. Amazement seized
All th' host of Heaven; back they recoiled afraid
At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign
Portentous held me; but, familiar grown,
I pleased, and with attractive graces won
The most averse--thee chiefly, who, full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing,
Becam'st enamoured; and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret that my womb conceived
A growing burden. Meanwhile war arose,
And fields were fought in Heaven: wherein remained
(For what could else?) to our Almighty Foe
Clear victory; to our part loss and rout
Through all the Empyrean. Down they fell,
Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down
Into this Deep; and in the general fall
I also: at which time this powerful key
Into my hands was given, with charge to keep
These gates for ever shut, which none can pass
Without my opening. Pensive here I sat
Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb,
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown,
Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,
Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transformed: but he my inbred enemy
Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart,
Made to destroy. I fled, and cried out Death!
Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed
From all her caves, and back resounded Death!
I fled; but he pursued (though more, it seems,
Inflamed with lust than rage), and, swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed,
And, in embraces forcible and foul
Engendering with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as thou saw'st--hourly conceived
And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me; for, when they list, into the womb
That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw
My bowels, their repast; then, bursting forth
Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
Before mine eyes in opposition sits
Grim Death, my son and foe, who set them on,
And me, his parent, would full soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involved, and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be: so Fate pronounced.
But thou, O father, I forewarn thee, shun
His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Through tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint,
Save he who reigns above, none can resist."
She finished; and the subtle Fiend his lore
Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth:--
"Dear daughter--since thou claim'st me for thy sire,
And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge
Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys
Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change
Befallen us unforeseen, unthought-of--know,
I come no enemy, but to set free
From out this dark and dismal house of pain
Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host
Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed,
Fell with us from on high. From them I go
This uncouth errand sole, and one for all
Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread
Th' unfounded Deep, and through the void immense
To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold
Should be--and, by concurring signs, ere now
Created vast and round--a place of bliss
In the purlieus of Heaven; and therein placed
A race of upstart creatures, to supply
Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed,
Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude,
Might hap to move new broils. Be this, or aught
Than this more secret, now designed, I haste
To know; and, this once known, shall soon return,
And bring ye to the place where thou and Death
Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen
Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed
With odours. There ye shall be fed and filled
Immeasurably; all things shall be your prey."
He ceased; for both seemed highly pleased, and Death
Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear
His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw
Destined to that good hour. No less rejoiced
His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire:--
"The key of this infernal Pit, by due
And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King,
I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
These adamantine gates; against all force
Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might.
But what owe I to his commands above,
Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
To sit in hateful office here confined,
Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born--
Here in perpetual agony and pain,
With terrors and with clamours compassed round
Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou
My being gav'st me; whom should I obey
But thee? whom follow? Thou wilt bring me soon
To that new world of light and bliss, among
The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign
At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
Thy daughter and thy darling, without end."
Thus saying, from her side the fatal key,
Sad instrument of all our woe, she took;
And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train,
Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew,
Which, but herself, not all the Stygian Powers
Could once have moved; then in the key-hole turns
Th' intricate wards, and every bolt and bar
Of massy iron or solid rock with ease
Unfastens. On a sudden open fly,
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut
Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a bannered host,
Under spread ensigns marching, mibht pass through
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array;
So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoary Deep--a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce,
Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms: they around the flag
Of each his faction, in their several clans,
Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere
He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns: next him, high arbiter,
Chance governs all. Into this wild Abyss,
The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds--
Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small) than when Bellona storms
With all her battering engines, bent to rase
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of Heaven were falling, and these elements
In mutiny had from her axle torn
The steadfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans
He spread for flight, and, in the surging smoke
Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity. All unawares,
Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb-down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance,
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft. That fury stayed--
Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land--nigh foundered, on he fares,
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
Had from his wakeful custody purloined
The guarded gold; so eagerly the Fiend
O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.
At length a universal hubbub wild
Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence. Thither he plies
Undaunted, to meet there whatever Power
Or Spirit of the nethermost Abyss
Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies
Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful Deep! With him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance,
And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
T' whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:--"Ye Powers
And Spirtis of this nethermost Abyss,
Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm; but, by constraint
Wandering this darksome desert, as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light,
Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek,
What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds
Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place,
From your dominion won, th' Ethereal King
Possesses lately, thither to arrive
I travel this profound. Direct my course:
Directed, no mean recompense it brings
To your behoof, if I that region lost,
All usurpation thence expelled, reduce
To her original darkness and your sway
(Which is my present journey), and once more
Erect the standard there of ancient Night.
Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge!"
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
With faltering speech and visage incomposed,
Answered: "I know thee, stranger, who thou art-- ***
That mighty leading Angel, who of late
Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown.
I saw and heard; for such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted Deep,
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates
Poured out by millions her victorious bands,
Pursuing. I upon my frontiers here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve
That little which is left so to defend,
Encroached on still through our intestine broils
Weakening the sceptre of old Night: first, Hell,
Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath;
Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world
Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain
To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell!
If that way be your walk, you have not far;
So much the nearer danger. Go, and speed;
Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain."
He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply,
But, glad that now his sea should find a shore,
With fresh alacrity and force renewed
Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire,
Into the wild expanse, and through the shock
Of fighting elements, on all sides round
Environed, wins his way; harder beset
And more endangered than when Argo passed
Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks,
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steered.
So he with difficulty and labour hard
Moved on, with difficulty and labour he;
But, he once passed, soon after, when Man fell,
Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain,
Following his track (such was the will of Heaven)
Paved after him a broad and beaten way
Over the dark Abyss, whose boiling gulf
Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length,
From Hell continued, reaching th' utmost orb
Of this frail World; by which the Spirits perverse
With easy intercourse pass to and fro
To tempt or punish mortals, except whom
God and good Angels guard by special grace.
But now at last the sacred influence
Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven
Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn. Here Nature first begins
Her farthest verge, and Chaos to retire,
As from her outmost works, a broken foe,
With tumult less and with less hostile din;
That Satan with less toil, and now with ease,
Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light,
And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds
Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn;
Or in the emptier waste, resembling air,
Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold
Far off th' empyreal Heaven, extended wide
In circuit, undetermined square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorned
Of living sapphire, once his native seat;
And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain,
This pendent World, in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.
Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies.

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My Book Of LIfe With Marie..Seventeen Years!

As I Turn back the pages of time with my ageing shaking hands,
Every leaf I read is a beautiful story of a magical sparkling wonderland
Laughter tears joys and the secrets we shared, a story to be untold
The best read, so perfect with many a moments, unforgettable unfold
The lovely days I recall brings many a tears of joy I just couldn’t hide
Smiling away the deepest darkest hours making it, a so joyous ride
The pleasant laughter, a gentle breeze, tenderly touching my weary heart.
An inner strength abundance of love, devotion, a miraculous work of art
A heart so dear, hands so gentle, a voice so musical, easing my hurting ears
Peace contentment the book of joy called ‘Marie and I, The Seventeen Years! ! !
with tnx to my adorable Marie..the best wherever you go in your life's journey..May you have a story book of memories filled with love and dignity...lv happy years to floow strating from this day..22nd sept 2011

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Enigma of the Knight

I dreamt that I was dreaming
And in my dream beheld
A knight in fading armour
His name from me withheld.
Relentlessly the tolling
Did saturate the air,
And filled the empty graveyard...
The one with no-one there.

His sword within his scabbard
Still sharp and virgin clean,
I wondered if to battle
This knight had ever been?
No blood upon the countenance
Beneath the iron hood;
No answer to my question,
The mystery still stood.

Of toil and sad confusion
And hatred and disgrace
He told me, then I looked again
And thought I knew his face;
I felt I recognised the voice
That whispered soft as mute:
'A song will be our epitaph,
Sung sweetly on the lute.'

The vision turned and made to leave,
I asked him not to go,
He drew a little closer saying:
'Do you wish to know?
The timer drawn of molten glass
Is running out of sand;
This dream within another
You will never understand.'

His life was nearly finished
And so, I thought, my dream,
I turned away and over
To try my sleep redeem;
Then dreamt that I had woken
Still puzzled by the knight,
Then woke again to find that
I, like he, had lost the fight.

(Written April/May 1996)

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Mute silence

What can be taken as granted?
What can be dreamt of and wanted?
Why there can be no meeting ground?
A satisfactory answer has to be found

We are not made of fleshes and bones alone
The old philosophy remains there but actually gone
How some of the feeling can barely remain unexpressed?
When sentiments are not at all understood and faced

I watched her move freely like bird
With all that she had and silently heard
I was listening to the noise from river flow
How silently it flowed with zigzag way to go!

I wanted her to come close and speak
But could do nothing as if felt weak
She had all the glamour to influence
I waited eagerly for the golden chance

I thought of dead silence
Where even pin dropp can be heard at once
Words murmured can be caught up with lips movement
Eyes can do the rest with inviting moment

Let nothing is spoken
Only gesture can be known as token
What must be understood from silent move?
Nothing except love has to prove

I may not feel like to look at her
Yet her presence can be felt near
Fragrance that air pulls along the gentle blow
The happiness and joy can reflect and show

I would wish black nights to enter
The stars and moon can sit at the center
Only silver rays can spread its influence
Rest all can be followed with mute silence

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Goodbye Marie

I woke up this mornin'
All cotton mouthed from drinkin'
Wonderin' how I'd make it through the day-ay
Wild eyed and crazy
All burned out from thinkin'
Wonderin' how the hell I's gonna say
Goodbye Marie, oh goodbye Marie-ie
Out the window there's a lonesome highway callin' me
It was fun Marie, but I got to ru-un Marie
If I can not keep your love
At least I'll have your memory
Goodbye Marie
Wakin' up beside you
On a Tijuana mornin'
With that ocean breeze to keep us cool
Three weeks of lovin'
Twenty-one nights of heaven
I stayed just long enough to be your fool
Oh goodbye Marie, oh goodbye Marie-ie
Out the window there's a lonesome highway callin' me
It was fun Marie, but I got to ru-un Marie
If I can not keep your love
At least I'll have your memory
Goodbye Marie
Por favor, pour me
One more tequila
I need all the courage I can fi-ind
This time tomorrow
I'll be back in Houston
Thinkin' about the girl I left behi-ind
So goodbye Marie, oh good Marie-ie
Out the window there's a lonesome highway callin' me
It was fun Marie and I got to ru-un Marie
If I can not keep your love
At least I'll have your memory
Goodbye Marie
Goodbye Marie, oh good Marie
Out the window there's a lonesome highway callin' me
It was fun Marie, but I got to ru-un Marie
If I can not keep your love
At least I'll have your memory
Goodbye Marie [fade]

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This is my silence with the taste of ‘never’

A single plunge from the tip of the tongue
Into the clouds anxiety sponges
Burdened with water and wells too mute
Of elements void of translation

A single flame from the tip of the fingers
That once touched the hard locked heart
Within the heights all skies to burn
In elements void of translation

A single stone cast into a cradle
Rocks an embryo crying for a womb
Like a childless lap still eager to fly
In elements void of translation

A single breath signed by an ocean wind
That namelessly carves the gates of open cages
Wrestling with the forbidden language
In elements void of translation

This is my silence with the taste of ‘never’
I give it solely unto you

Ovo je moja tišina sa ukusom 'nikad'

Jedno poniranje sa vrha jezika
U oblake sundere tjeskobe
Pod teretom vode i bunara suviše nijemih
Pod elementima lišenim prevoda

Jedan plamen sa vrhova prstiju
Što jednom je dotakao teško zakljucano srce
U visini da spali sva neba
U elementima lišenim prevoda

Jedan kamen bacen u kolijevku
Ljulja embrion što place za utrobom
Kao krilo bez djeteta što ipak žudi za letom
U elemntima lišenim prevoda

Jedan dah potpisanim okeanskim vjetrom
Što bezimeno urezuje kapije otvorenih kaveza
Rvajuci se sa zabranjenim jezikom
U elemntima lišenim prevoda

Ovo je moja tišina sa ukusom 'nikad'
Dajem je samo tebi

©Miroslava Odalovic

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Edith Wharton

Moonrise Over Tyringham

Now the high holocaust of hours is done,
And all the west empurpled with their death,
How swift oblivion drinks the fallen sun,
How little while the dusk remembereth!

Though some there were, proud hours that marched in mail,
And took the morning on auspicious crest,
Crying to fortune “Back, for I prevail!”—
Yet now they lie disfeatured with the rest;

And some that stole so soft on destiny
Methought they had surprised her to a smile;
But these fled frozen when she turned to see,
And moaned and muttered through my heart awhile.

But now the day is emptied of them all,
And night absorbs their life-blood at a draught;
And so my life lies, as the gods let fall
An empty cup from which their lips have quaffed.

Yet see—night is not . . . by translucent ways,
Up the grey void of autumn afternoon
Steals a mild crescent, charioted in haze,
And all the air is merciful as June.

The lake is a forgotten streak of day
That trembles through the hemlocks’ darkling bars,
And still, my heart, still some divine delay
Upon the threshold holds the earliest stars.

O pale equivocal hour, whose suppliant feet
Haunt the mute reaches of the sleeping wind,
Art thou a watcher stealing to entreat
Prayer and sepulture for thy fallen kind?

Poor plaintive waif of a predestined race,
Their ruin gapes for thee. Why linger here?
Go hence in silence. Veil thine orphaned face,
Lest I should look on it and call it dear.

For if I love thee thou wilt sooner die;
Some sudden ruin will plunge upon thy head,
Midnight will fall from the revengeful sky
And hurl thee down among thy shuddering dead.

Avert thine eyes. Lapse softly from my sight,
Call not my name, nor heed if thine I crave,
So shalt thou sink through mitigated night
And bathe thee in the all-effacing wave.

But upward still thy perilous footsteps fare
Along a high-hung heaven drenched in light,
Dilating on a tide of crystal air
That floods the dark hills to their utmost height.

Strange hour, is this thy waning face that leans
Out of mid-heaven and makes my soul its glass?
What victory is imaged there? What means
Thy tarrying smile? Oh, veil thy lips and pass.

Nay . . . pause and let me name thee! For I see,
O with what flooding ecstasy of light,
Strange hour that wilt not loose thy hold on me,
Thou’rt not day’s latest, but the first of night!

And after thee the gold-foot stars come thick,
From hand to hand they toss the flying fire,
Till all the zenith with their dance is quick
About the wheeling music of the Lyre.

Dread hour that lead’st the immemorial round,
With lifted torch revealing one by one
The thronging splendours that the day held bound,
And how each blue abyss enshrines its sun—

Be thou the image of a thought that fares
Forth from itself, and flings its ray ahead,
Leaping the barriers of ephemeral cares,
To where our lives are but the ages’ tread,

And let this year be, not the last of youth,
But first—like thee!—of some new train of hours,
If more remote from hope, yet nearer truth,
And kin to the unpetitionable powers.

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The Anointing

The moon had risen.—Light was o'er the world
With all the freshness of the early day.
The feathery clouds that floated in the east,
Wore a faint tinge of crimson, and the voice
Of forest music; and a scented breath,
Of dewy flowers, came onward through the air.
The men of Bethlehem were gather'd round
The altar of their God; and the deep tones
Of Samuel's voice arose in solemn prayer;
The smoke curl'd upwards from the sacrifice,
In cloudy volumes first, then thin and slow,
Until the last faint wreath had disappear'd.
The prophet rose, and standing in the midst,
Stretch'd out his hands and bless'd them—and then spake—
“Thou, Jesse, son of Obed, of the tribe
Of lion Judah—hearken to my voice:
“Thus saith the Lord: ‘From Saul's anointed brow,
And from his hand, and those of all his sons,
The kingly sceptre and the crown shall pass,
As though he was not chosen of the Lord.'
So cause thy sons to pass before mine eyes,
That I may consecrate whom God hath chosen
To gift with Judah's kingly diadem.”
Then came Eliab forth, the first, and stood
Before the Prophet. His proud head was bow'd,
And his cross'd hands were folded on his breast,
In mute unwonted reverence; yet even thus,
His haughty brow above the mightiest tower'd,
As he were born to be a conqueror.
There was a speaking beauty in his face,
And the bright glorious eye that flash'd beneath
His clustering curls of sable seem'd to tell
Of a high spirit that could plan bold deeds,
Which that strong arm would joy to execute.
The Prophet gazed, and said within his heart,
“Surely, the Lord's anointed is before him!”
But in the still small voice Jehovah spake
Unto the Prophet's ear.—“Regard not thou
The beauty of his countenance, nor yet
His stature, nor the majesty thereof;
For him have I rejected. The Most High
Sees not as mortal; but the secret heart
Is open all before him, and its sins,
And its infirmities, he knoweth all.”
Then came Eliab's brethren, one by one,
And Samuel look'd upon them, but he knew
The chosen from the people was not there.
Then David came, e'en from his fleecy charge,
Himself as innocent, and knelt him down
Before the Prophet. He, that young fair boy,
His mother's treasured one, who had but left
Her fond maternal side, to lay him down
On the flower-studded bank, and watch the wave
Glide on in laughing ripples at his feet,
While his white lambs were sporting on the grass.
Why should the Prophet look on him, as though
He might be chosen to be Israel's king?
He was most beautiful! His timid eye,
With boyish wonder mix'd with holy awe,
Through its bright veil of golden curls look'd up
With a long gaze to Samuel's quiet face;
And feelings wrought intensely, had spread out
A warmer flush upon his downy cheek.
The prophet look'd upon the kneeling boy,
So young—so fair—those parted lips e'en now
Scarcely refraining from their wonted smiles—
The dimple sporting on his rosy cheek,
The snowy brow half shaded by his hair,
And those dark eyes, so bright, so beautiful,—
And a strange thrilling gush came o'er his heart
Even to starting tears. Could this be he,
For whom the Lord would break the power of Saul?
He felt that it was so—and lifting up
His horn of sacred oil, anointed him,
To be the servant of the Holy One.

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Walt Whitman

The Dresser

AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to children,
Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens that love me;
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these
chances,
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally
brave;)
Now be witness again--paint the mightiest armies of earth;
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous, what deepest
remains?


O maidens and young men I love, and that love me, 10
What you ask of my days, those the strangest and sudden your talking
recalls;
Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover'd with sweat and
dust;
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the
rush of successful charge;
Enter the captur'd works.... yet lo! like a swift-running river, they
fade;
Pass and are gone, they fade--I dwell not on soldiers' perils or
soldiers' joys;
(Both I remember well--many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was
content.)

But in silence, in dreams' projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the
sand,
In nature's reverie sad, with hinged knees returning, I enter the
doors--(while for you up there, 20
Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of strong heart.)


Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground;
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd hospital;
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;
To each and all, one after another, I draw near--not one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray--he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied and fill'd
again. 30

I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each--the pangs are sharp, yet unavoidable;
One turns to me his appealing eyes--(poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that
would save you.)


On, on I go!--(open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not the bandage
away;)
The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through and through, I
examine;
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life
struggles hard;
(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death! 40
In mercy come quickly.)

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and
blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv'd neck, and side-
falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, (he dares not look on the
bloody stump,
And has not yet look'd on it.)

I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;
But a day or two more--for see, the frame all wasted already, and
sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet wound, 50
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so
offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding the tray and
pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out;
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand--(yet deep in my breast a
fire, a burning flame.)


Thus in silence, in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night--some are so young;
Some suffer so much--I recall the experience sweet and sad; 60
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have cross'd and
rested,
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

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Walt Whitman

The Wound Dresser

1


AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to children,
Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens that love me;
(Arous'd and angry, I'd thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
but soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd and I resign'd myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass’d heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave
Now be witness again—paint the mightiest armies of earth;
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous, what deepest remains?

2

O maidens and young men I love, and that love me,
What you ask of my days, those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls;
Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover’d with sweat and dust;
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful charge;
Enter the captur’d works.... yet lo! like a swift-running river, they fade;
Pass and are gone, they fade—I dwell not on soldiers’ perils or soldiers’ joys;
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.)

But in silence, in dreams’ projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
With hinged knees returning, I enter the doors—(while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of strong heart.)

3

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground;
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital;
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;
To each and all, one after another, I draw near—not one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray—he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied and fill’d again.

I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoidable;
One turns to me his appealing eyes—(poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.)

On, on I go!—(open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush’d head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not the bandage away
The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through and through, I examine;
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard;
(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv’d neck, and side-falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look’d on it.

I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;
But a day or two more—for see, the frame all wasted already, and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding the tray and pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out;
The fractur’d thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand, (yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame.)

4


Thus in silence, in dreams’ projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so young;
Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet and sad;
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

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Marie Claire

Down in the valley, beside the Seine
Where it's cold and damp in the autumn rain,
A couple once opened a restaurant,
And called it the Café d'Aubijon.

The chef was Henri Apollinaire,
His wife, the beautiful Marie Claire,
And Henri worshipped his wife, complete
From her hair right down to her darling feet.

Marie had more of a roving eye
For the guests and the diners, passing by,
While Henri slaved over plates of veal,
Marie saw hearts she would like to steal.

She flirted, fluttered and teased with eyes
That promised much to the less than wise,
She often removed her wedding ring
And leant so close, she was whispering.

She'd show each guest to his tiny room
In the long drawn lull of the afternoon,
Then disappear for an hour or so
While Henri dealt with the guests below.

Then down amongst the crème brûlé,
The Guinea Fowl and the consommé,
The Chef sat brooding about his life,
Breaking his heart for his faithless wife.

So many guests had come and gone
From Caen, Toulouse, from Avignon,
From Brest, Limoux, from Vaux Sur Mer,
He wondered what he was doing there.

But every time that he saw his wife
His heart said: 'She's the love of my life! '
He never would think to challenge her there,
Her loss would shackle him in despair!

A change came suddenly over her
When a guest called André Carpentier
Took up her offer of room and board
And sneered at Henri's estouffade.

Too thin, too thick, the wine was sour,
He sniped, was muttering by the hour,
For nothing was well enough done, by half,
And Marie Claire had begun to laugh.

For every sneer, she laughed aloud,
To Henri's shame, a miserable cloud,
That stank as rotten as pourriture
Hung over his head and his future, too.

She taunted and teased with André there,
She wore perfume, let down her hair
She shortened each skirt in the cedar robe
While down in the kitchen, Henri moaned.

Then she went visiting André's room
Each day, for part of the afternoon,
The business dying, it slowly failed
The door was boarded, the shutters nailed.

He still served up their dinner and tea,
But cooking for not just two, but three,
Still André quibbled, but shamelessly
Sat with his hand on Marie's knee.

After a week of total despair,
She went for a walk, did Marie Claire,
André asked if she'd ever come back,
But Henri's eyes were ringed, and black.

He told André that he'd better go,
But Andre scowled, insisted: 'No! '
'I'm paid up here for a month and a day,
'Til Marie returns, I think I'll stay! '

Henri cooked for them both that week,
His touch was light, and the food unique,
Cuisse de mouton, parmentier
He served to the hungry Carpentier.

Wine so red with a strange bouquet,
Served with lashings of pink pâté,
Jambonneau and some crêpes suzette
And snacks, and biscuits and plain rillettes.

Henri said that he couldn't eat,
He told André: 'I admit defeat!
You've taken the love of Marie Claire,
You should be together, it's only fair! '

On Friday night as the meal began,
André lost the use of his hands,
Then a numbness rose in his feet,
He opened his mouth and he tried to speak.

'Love is a horror, ' said Henri, then,
'It lifts, then drags you back down again.
But you, my friend, have the problem solved
You can have your love and your cake - Resolved! '

'You've eaten and drunk your fill of her,
Marie, thin sliced and as cordon bleu
Each tender morsel you passed on through
Has made just one from the two of you.

But now the tables are turned, you see,
For she is starving, my poor Marie,
She's always happy to try fresh meat;
So glad that you offered! - all she can eat!

He left the room to his guest awhile
And then returned with a winning smile
Pushed on a chair with castors there,
While tied to the frame, was Marie Claire.

Au naturel, not a stitch in sight,
André looked up, and he blanched in fright,
Marie had the looks of a cripple who begs,
She'd lost both arms, and where were her legs?

Now still they sit, those lovers two,
Who stare as they eat each other's stew,
For André's legs are a thing of the past,
With other bits that he seems to have lost.

For Henri fed her the ris de homme,
While André chews on the sliced mouton,
He can't complain, for she's eaten his tongue
And she can't flirt, for her eyes have gone.

2 August 2008

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First Love

Ah, well can I the day recall, when first
The conflict fierce of love I felt, and said:
If _this_ be love, how hard it is to bear!

With eyes still fixed intent upon the ground,
I saw but _her_, whose artless innocence,
Triumphant took possession of this heart.

Ah, Love, how badly hast thou governed me!
Why should affection so sincere and pure,
Bring with it such desire, such suffering?

Why not serene, and full, and free from guile
But sorrow-laden, and lamenting sore,
Should joy so great into my heart descend?

O tell me, tender heart, that sufferest so,
Why with that thought such anguish should be blent,
Compared with which, all other thoughts were naught?

That thought, that ever present in the day,
That in the night more vivid still appeared,
When all things round in sweet sleep seemed to rest:

Thou, restless, both with joy and misery
Didst with thy constant throbbings weary so
My breast, as panting in my bed I lay.

And when worn out with grief and weariness,
In sleep my eyes I closed, ah, no relief
It gave, so broken and so feverish!

How brightly from the depths of darkness, then,
The lovely image rose, and my closed eyes,
Beneath their lids, their gaze upon it fed!

O what delicious impulses, diffused,
My weary frame with sweet emotion filled!
What myriad thoughts, unstable and confused,

Were floating in my mind! As through the leaves
Of some old grove, the west wind, wandering,
A long, mysterious murmur leaves behind.

And as I, silent, to their influence yield,
What saidst thou, heart, when she departed, who
Had caused thee all thy throbs, and suffering?

No sooner had I felt within, the heat
Of love's first flame, than with it flew away
The gentle breeze, that fanned it into life.

Sleepless I lay, until the dawn of day;
The steeds, that were to leave me desolate,
Their hoofs were beating at my father's gate.

And I, in mute suspense, poor timid fool,
With eye that vainly would the darkness pierce,
And eager ear intent, lay, listening,

That voice to hear, if, for the last time, I
Might catch the accents from those lovely lips;
The voice alone; all else forever lost!

How many vulgar tones my doubtful ear
Would smite, with deep disgust inspiring me,
With doubt tormented, holding hard my breath!

And when, at last, that voice into my heart
Descended, passing sweet, and when the sound
Of horses and of wheels had died away;

In utter desolation, then, my head
I in my pillow buried, closed my eyes,
And pressed my hand against my heart, and sighed.

Then, listlessly, my trembling knees across
The silent chamber dragging, I exclaimed,
'Nothing on earth can interest me more!'

The bitter recollection cherishing
Within my breast, to every voice my heart,
To every face, insensible remained.

Long I remained in hopeless sorrow drowned;
As when the heavens far and wide their showers
Incessant pour upon the fields around.

Nor had I, Love, thy cruel power known,
A boy of eighteen summers flown, until
That day, when I thy bitter lesson learned;

When I each pleasure held in scorn, nor cared
The shining stars to see, or meadows green,
Or felt the charm of holy morning light;

The love of glory, too, no longer found
An echo in my irresponsive breast,
That, once, the love of beauty with it shared.

My favorite studies I neglected quite;
And those things vain appeared, compared with which,
I used to think all other pleasures vain.

Ah! how could I have changed so utterly?
How could one passion all the rest destroy?
Indeed, what helpless mortals are we all!

My heart my only comfort was, and with
That heart, in conference perpetual,
A constant watch upon my grief to keep.

My eye still sought the ground, or in itself
Absorbed, shrank from encountering the glance
Of lovely or unlovely countenance;

The stainless image fearing to disturb,
So faithfully reflected in my breast;
As winds disturb the mirror of the lake.

And that regret, that I could not enjoy
Such happiness, which weighs upon the mind,
And turns to poison pleasure that has passed,

Did still its thorn within my bosom lodge,
As I the past recalled; but shame, indeed,
Left not its cruel sting within this heart.

To heaven, to you, ye gentle souls, I swear,
No base desire intruded on my thought;
But with a pure and sacred flame I burned.

That flame still lives, and that affection pure;
Still in my thought that lovely image breathes,
From which, save heavenly, I no other joy,

Have ever known; my only comfort, now!

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The Death Of Marie Toro

We're taking Marie Toro to her home in Père-La-Chaise;
We're taking Marie Toro to her last resting-place.
Behold! her hearse is hung with wreaths till everything is hid
Except the blossoms heaping high upon her coffin lid.
A week ago she roamed the street, a draggle and a slut,
A by-word of the Boulevard and everybody's butt;
A week ago she haunted us, we heard her whining cry,
We brushed aside the broken blooms she pestered us to buy;
A week ago she had not where to rest her weary head . . .
But now, oh, follow, follow on, for Marie Toro's dead.

Oh Marie, she was once a queen -- ah yes, a queen of queens.
High-throned above the Carnival she held her splendid sway.
For four-and-twenty crashing hours she knew what glory means,
The cheers of half a million throats, the délire of a day.
Yet she was only one of us, a little sewing-girl,
Though far the loveliest and best of all our laughing band;
Then Fortune beckoned; off she danced, amid the dizzy whirl,
And we who once might kiss her cheek were proud to kiss her hand.
For swiftly as a star she soared; she had her every wish;
We saw her roped with pearls of price, with princes at her call;
And yet, and yet I think her dreams were of the old Boul' Mich',

And yet I'm sure within her heart she loved us best of all.
For one night in the Purple Pig, upon the rue Saint-Jacques,
We laughed and quaffed . . . a limousine came swishing to the door;
Then Raymond Jolicoeur cried out: "It's Queen Marie come back,
In satin clad to make us glad, and witch our hearts once more."
But no, her face was strangely sad, and at the evening's end:
"Dear lads," she said; "I love you all, and when I'm far away,
Remember, oh, remember, little Marie is your friend,
And though the world may lie between, I'm coming back some day."
And so she went, and many a boy who's fought his way to Fame,
Can look back on the struggle of his garret days and bless
The loyal heart, the tender hand, the Providence that came
To him and all in hour of need, in sickness and distress.
Time passed away. She won their hearts in London, Moscow, Rome;
They worshiped her in Argentine, adored her in Brazil;
We smoked our pipes and wondered when she might be coming home,
And then we learned the luck had turned, the things were going ill.
Her health had failed, her beauty paled, her lovers fled away;
And some one saw her in Peru, a common drab at last.
So years went by, and faces changed; our beards were sadly gray,
And Marie Toro's name became an echo of the past.

You know that old and withered man, that derelict of art,
Who for a paltry franc will make a crayon sketch of you?
In slouching hat and shabby cloak he looks and is the part,
A sodden old Bohemian, without a single sou.
A boon companion of the days of Rimbaud and Verlaine,
He broods and broods, and chews the cud of bitter souvenirs;
Beneath his mop of grizzled hair his cheeks are gouged with pain,
The saffron sockets of his eyes are hollowed out with tears.
Well, one night in the D'Harcourt's din I saw him in his place,
When suddenly the door was swung, a woman halted there;
A woman cowering like a dog, with white and haggard face,
A broken creature, bent of spine, a daughter of Despair.
She looked and looked, as to her breast she held some withered bloom;
"Too late! Too late! . . . they all are dead and gone," I heard her say.
And once again her weary eyes went round and round the room;
"Not one of all I used to know . . ." she turned to go away . . .
But quick I saw the old man start: "Ah no!" he cried, "not all.
Oh Marie Toro, queen of queens, don't you remember Paul?"

"Oh Marie, Marie Toro, in my garret next the sky,
Where many a day and night I've crouched with not a crust to eat,
A picture hangs upon the wall a fortune couldn't buy,
A portrait of a girl whose face is pure and angel-sweet."
Sadly the woman looked at him: "Alas! it's true," she said;
"That little maid, I knew her once. It's long ago -- she's dead."
He went to her; he laid his hand upon her wasted arm:
"Oh, Marie Toro, come with me, though poor and sick am I.
For old times' sake I cannot bear to see you come to harm;
Ah! there are memories, God knows, that never, never die. . . ."
"Too late!" she sighed; "I've lived my life of splendor and of shame;
I've been adored by men of power, I've touched the highest height;
I've squandered gold like heaps of dirt -- oh, I have played the game;
I've had my place within the sun . . . and now I face the night.
Look! look! you see I'm lost to hope; I live no matter how . . .
To drink and drink and so forget . . . that's all I care for now."

And so she went her heedless way, and all our help was vain.
She trailed along with tattered shawl and mud-corroded skirt;
She gnawed a crust and slept beneath the bridges of the Seine,
A garbage thing, a composite of alcohol and dirt.
The students learned her story and the cafes knew her well,
The Pascal and the Panthéon, the Sufflot and Vachette;
She shuffled round the tables with the flowers she tried to sell,
A living mask of misery that no one will forget.

And then last week I missed her, and they found her in the street
One morning early, huddled down, for it was freezing cold;
But when they raised her ragged shawl her face was still and sweet;
Some bits of broken bloom were clutched within her icy hold.
That's all. . . . Ah yes, they say that saw: her blue, wide-open eyes
Were beautiful with joy again, with radiant surprise. . . .

A week ago she begged for bread; we've bought for her a stone,
And a peaceful place in Père-La-Chaise where she'll be well alone.
She cost a king his crown, they say; oh, wouldn't she be proud
If she could see the wreaths to-day, the coaches and the crowd!
So follow, follow, follow on with slow and sober tread,
For Marie Toro, gutter waif and queen of queens, is dead.

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The Lady of Shalott (1832)

PART I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
The yellow-leaved waterlily
The green-sheathed daffodilly
Tremble in the water chilly
Round about Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
The sunbeam showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

Underneath the bearded barley,
The reaper, reaping late and early,
Hears her ever chanting cheerly,
Like an angel, singing clearly,
O'er the stream of Camelot.
Piling the sheaves in furrows airy,
Beneath the moon, the reaper weary
Listening whispers, ' 'Tis the fairy,
Lady of Shalott.'

The little isle is all inrail'd
With a rose-fence, and overtrail'd
With roses: by the marge unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken sail'd,
Skimming down to Camelot.
A pearl garland winds her head:
She leaneth on a velvet bed,
Full royally apparelled,
The Lady of Shalott.
PART II

No time hath she to sport and play:
A charmed web she weaves alway.
A curse is on her, if she stay
Her weaving, either night or day,
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be;
Therefore she weaveth steadily,
Therefore no other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

She lives with little joy or fear.
Over the water, running near,
The sheepbell tinkles in her ear.
Before her hangs a mirror clear,
Reflecting tower'd Camelot.
And as the mazy web she whirls,
She sees the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot:
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, came from Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead
Came two young lovers lately wed;
`I am half sick of shadows,' said
The Lady of Shalott.PART III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flam'd upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down from Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his arm our rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down from Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over green Shalott.


His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
'Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:'
Sang Sir Lancelot.


She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro' the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott.PART IV


In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Outside the isle a shallow boat
Beneath a willow lay afloat,
Below the carven stern she wrote,
The Lady of Shalott.


A cloudwhite crown of pearl she dight,
All raimented in snowy white
That loosely flew (her zone in sight
Clasp'd with one blinding diamond bright)
Her wide eyes fix'd on Camelot,
Though the squally east-wind keenly
Blew, with folded arms serenely
By the water stood the queenly
Lady of Shalott.


With a steady stony glance--
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Beholding all his own mischance,
Mute, with a glassy countenance--
She look'd down to Camelot.
It was the closing of the day:
She loos'd the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.


As when to sailors while they roam,
By creeks and outfalls far from home,
Rising and dropping with the foam,
From dying swans wild warblings come,
Blown shoreward; so to Camelot
Still as the boathead wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her chanting her deathsong,
The Lady of Shalott.


A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her eyes were darken'd wholly,
And her smooth face sharpen'd slowly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot:
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.


Under tower and balcony,
By garden wall and gallery,
A pale, pale corpse she floated by,
Deadcold, between the houses high,
Dead into tower'd Camelot.
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
To the planked wharfage came:
Below the stern they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.


They cross'd themselves, their stars they blest,
Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
There lay a parchment on her breast,
That puzzled more than all the rest,
The wellfed wits at Camelot.
'The web was woven curiously,
The charm is broken utterly,
Draw near and fear not,--this is I,
The Lady of Shalott.'

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Patrick White

The Serpent

The serpent sits enthroned
at the top of its own stairwell,
helically reposing in its own empyrean
like an August hawk
coiling up its own thermals;
its fangs, a stargate
to an unknown afterlife, emancipation,
and the jewel of its head,
the first stone thrown,
a small planet without
the eyelid of a sky,
a nugget of mystic uranium,
looped in a turban of orbits,
a sacred arrowhead
that flys from itself like a bow
drawn back long before the wind
knew its first feather.
Lethal healer,
the sword that kills is the sword that saves.

This morning,
the drubbing of the rain on a tin roof,
the hiss of traffic
flaring like matches down the sleek asphalt,
if I were to say
I want the emotional life of space,
I don't know if I'd mean it,
but I'm so weary
of being this slow crisis of a bird
mesmerized by the swaying eyes
of the black lightning
that has caught me in the net
it weaves of my own nerves,
I want to douse my heart
in the next providential tide of tears
like a torch I put out in the night
to see better in the dark.

I asked for wings
and my spine was adorned with fire.
I asked for water
and I'm a fish on the wind.
and now this desert I hoped to remain,
a craze of sand,
has grown teeth
and is overgrazing the starfields like pyramids.

I don't think
I will ever recover
from the wound I received
like the hidden twin of the moon,
trying to love the world, myself, women, people.
Every word was a road, a pulse, an eye,
a dropp of blood
I could ride to the end of and beyond
into the implacable subtlety
of my own empty, ageless temples
where even the silence isn't ghost enough
to conjure a medium
to jar the table as a sign,
and death is buried in its own vacuity
like an embryo in a mask without eyes.

I was bound by my own boundlessness,
my nerves, wicks in the abyss
that enhanced the darkness
by cleaving me like a tree
vision after vision,
another world
with every blink of the eye
that wiped the mirror clean of me like an ax
until I understood
that even the most enlightened watersheds of wisdom
are just a smear of perception
on the least dropp of that splendor
I went looking for like a cloud
saturated with the ancient seas of the moon
that was covered by my own looking.

I lay at the bottom
of my oceanic odyssey,
trying not to sink,
but I wanted to give something back
for what I felt I had received;
not an ethic or a metaphysic,
but a spontaneous action of the blood
that remembers it was once a rose.
I wanted to return spring like a water-key to the moon;
I wanted to harvest the shadows
of my own non-existence
and break bread
with the famine of ghosts
that came like royalty to beg food from their servant,
blind doors standing on the thresholds of awareness
asking me to address myself
to the terrible openness
of their unanswerable need.

I have eaten my own ashes
in the furnace of every star
I have ever looked upon.
I have drowned in the wells
of the faceless, fathomless mirrors,
and every woman I have ever drunk from
was a grail with an enigmatic black pearl in it
lustrous as the moon in eclipse.

O promises of bliss
that tuned the webs of the spiders
like a guitarist with perfect pitch
to the frequency of my spinal cord
that I might entangle a star
in the silk of my conceiving;
that I might seize a firefly
in the fangs of my thought
and taste the honey of the lantern
that lit my dark corner
in the era of the moment.

O sweetest of lies to ripen with longing
like the eyes of a child in the darkness
far from home.
I was trying to find a road
that fit my walking like shoes on a mountain;
I was trying to walk on water with mystic crutches;
I was looking for an arrow
dipped in the blood of a serpent with wings,
set aflame by a demonic star
and feathered by spiritual fire
to restring me like a bow
severed like the branch of a sacred grove
by the oracular blade of the moon.

I was too deeply sheathed in the truth
to appreciate the arcane sagacity of my lies.
I stood like a shadow in the burning doorway of my own fire
and looked deeply into the night
to answer my own knocking
like the echo of a stranger in the darkness,
walking away from someone who didn't know
how to greet himself.

I was a tree crucified on a man,
a vandal in the shrine of the moment,
bleeding like stained-glass,
a rosary of vertebrae and skulls
reconstructed in the future museum of now
I played myself into like a funeral plan.

Now everywhere the wind is a pilgrim,
I leave my heart like a shrine
I will never return to.
And the sadness, and the solitude
and the vastness of my insignificance
is the shadow of a bird on a cloud.
The only way to perfect my defeat
was to sit at the feet of my most cherished delusion
like a rootless flower watching over a coffin,
then rise like the wind
from the rubbish of the shedding,
the loneliest pillar and sole cornerstone of the sky.

Now my apish profundities
no longer crack fleas of light like stars
I picked out of God's burning beard
with the forceps of the moon.
Now I am infested with constellations.
I no longer turn the pages of the waterlilies
like the holy books of an inspired swamp.
I no longer seep down to the river
to drink from the moon
like a serpent at the water's edge
and watch the panicked angels jumping
from the reflection of an uncrossed bridge
that collapsed like a covenant with hell.
I no longer shred my heart
like a secret document
in an abandoned embassy of swans
looking for asylum further south,
tormented by the unattainability
of a woman's beauty,
looking for sanctuary
in the ashes of a black sail
that flared like a poppy with passion
at every gust of desire
that silvered the trembling grass
with sidereal aspirations.

Why bother to laminate your lovers, your legends?
Let them go like autumn leaves and smoke,
the last breath you took
before you were interred
like a scream in the larynx of a deaf-mute,
a foreign currency you couldn't spend at home.
Naked is the only way to dress for the rain,
but it doesn't matter which
from the wardrobe of all your many lies
you wear to the fire that waits for you
like a fledgling waits for its plumage.

And this is a long river
and this is a long day and a night
and maybe only the silence is listening
to what the stars are preaching
from the pulpits of the flowers,
and this that says me now
is just the promo for the intensive care ward
of a new religion
the founders are always the first to betray;
but when I truly let go
it was my falling
that taught me to patch my shoes with the sky.

And have you come this far,
passed through this many gates
for wisdom, compassion, freedom,
wandered aimlessly until you could not tell
the stars from the sand,
the journey from the arrival,
suffered worse than all the things you cannot say
until you forgot what you were looking for
in the first place, until
you despised what you craved the most?

I don't remember how long I slept
before my dreaming woke me up
and I realized
no fool could defame my solitude
and that life
was only the story of a scar
looking for the knife that inflicted it
like a shadow
in the forsaken valleys
of the mountains of the moon.

Looking for a pearl of light
I had to plunge into a darkness
deeper than anything
my eyes had ever given birth to before.
I had to swallow the key before I could open the door.

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Book VI - Part 04 - The Plague Athens

'Twas such a manner of disease, 'twas such
Mortal miasma in Cecropian lands
Whilom reduced the plains to dead men's bones,
Unpeopled the highways, drained of citizens
The Athenian town. For coming from afar,
Rising in lands of Aegypt, traversing
Reaches of air and floating fields of foam,
At last on all Pandion's folk it swooped;
Whereat by troops unto disease and death
Were they o'er-given. At first, they'd bear about
A skull on fire with heat, and eyeballs twain
Red with suffusion of blank glare. Their throats,
Black on the inside, sweated oozy blood;
And the walled pathway of the voice of man
Was clogged with ulcers; and the very tongue,
The mind's interpreter, would trickle gore,
Weakened by torments, tardy, rough to touch.
Next when that Influence of bane had chocked,
Down through the throat, the breast, and streamed had
E'en into sullen heart of those sick folk,
Then, verily, all the fences of man's life
Began to topple. From the mouth the breath
Would roll a noisome stink, as stink to heaven
Rotting cadavers flung unburied out.
And, lo, thereafter, all the body's strength
And every power of mind would languish, now
In very doorway of destruction.
And anxious anguish and ululation (mixed
With many a groan) companioned alway
The intolerable torments. Night and day,
Recurrent spasms of vomiting would rack
Alway their thews and members, breaking down
With sheer exhaustion men already spent.
And yet on no one's body couldst thou mark
The skin with o'er-much heat to burn aglow,
But rather the body unto touch of hands
Would offer a warmish feeling, and thereby
Show red all over, with ulcers, so to say,
Inbranded, like the "sacred fires" o'erspread
Along the members. The inward parts of men,
In truth, would blaze unto the very bones;
A flame, like flame in furnaces, would blaze
Within the stomach. Nor couldst aught apply
Unto their members light enough and thin
For shift of aid- but coolness and a breeze
Ever and ever. Some would plunge those limbs
On fire with bane into the icy streams,
Hurling the body naked into the waves;
Many would headlong fling them deeply down
The water-pits, tumbling with eager mouth
Already agape. The insatiable thirst
That whelmed their parched bodies, lo, would make
A goodly shower seem like to scanty drops.
Respite of torment was there none. Their frames
Forspent lay prone. With silent lips of fear
Would Medicine mumble low, the while she saw
So many a time men roll their eyeballs round,
Staring wide-open, unvisited of sleep,
The heralds of old death. And in those months
Was given many another sign of death:
The intellect of mind by sorrow and dread
Deranged, the sad brow, the countenance
Fierce and delirious, the tormented ears
Beset with ringings, the breath quick and short
Or huge and intermittent, soaking sweat
A-glisten on neck, the spittle in fine gouts
Tainted with colour of crocus and so salt,
The cough scarce wheezing through the rattling throat.
Aye, and the sinews in the fingered hands
Were sure to contract, and sure the jointed frame
To shiver, and up from feet the cold to mount
Inch after inch: and toward the supreme hour
At last the pinched nostrils, nose's tip
A very point, eyes sunken, temples hollow,
Skin cold and hard, the shuddering grimace,
The pulled and puffy flesh above the brows!-
O not long after would their frames lie prone
In rigid death. And by about the eighth
Resplendent light of sun, or at the most
On the ninth flaming of his flambeau, they
Would render up the life. If any then
Had 'scaped the doom of that destruction, yet
Him there awaited in the after days
A wasting and a death from ulcers vile
And black discharges of the belly, or else
Through the clogged nostrils would there ooze along
Much fouled blood, oft with an aching head:
Hither would stream a man's whole strength and flesh.
And whoso had survived that virulent flow
Of the vile blood, yet into thews of him
And into his joints and very genitals
Would pass the old disease. And some there were,
Dreading the doorways of destruction
So much, lived on, deprived by the knife
Of the male member; not a few, though lopped
Of hands and feet, would yet persist in life,
And some there were who lost their eyeballs: O
So fierce a fear of death had fallen on them!
And some, besides, were by oblivion
Of all things seized, that even themselves they knew
No longer. And though corpse on corpse lay piled
Unburied on ground, the race of birds and beasts
Would or spring back, scurrying to escape
The virulent stench, or, if they'd tasted there,
Would languish in approaching death. But yet
Hardly at all during those many suns
Appeared a fowl, nor from the woods went forth
The sullen generations of wild beasts-
They languished with disease and died and died.
In chief, the faithful dogs, in all the streets
Outstretched, would yield their breath distressfully
For so that Influence of bane would twist
Life from their members. Nor was found one sure
And universal principle of cure:
For what to one had given the power to take
The vital winds of air into his mouth,
And to gaze upward at the vaults of sky,
The same to others was their death and doom.
In those affairs, O awfullest of all,
O pitiable most was this, was this:
Whoso once saw himself in that disease
Entangled, ay, as damned unto death,
Would lie in wanhope, with a sullen heart,
Would, in fore-vision of his funeral,
Give up the ghost, O then and there. For, lo,
At no time did they cease one from another
To catch contagion of the greedy plague,-
As though but woolly flocks and horned herds;
And this in chief would heap the dead on dead:
For who forbore to look to their own sick,
O these (too eager of life, of death afeard)
Would then, soon after, slaughtering Neglect
Visit with vengeance of evil death and base-
Themselves deserted and forlorn of help.
But who had stayed at hand would perish there
By that contagion and the toil which then
A sense of honour and the pleading voice
Of weary watchers, mixed with voice of wail
Of dying folk, forced them to undergo.
This kind of death each nobler soul would meet.
The funerals, uncompanioned, forsaken,
Like rivals contended to be hurried through.
. . . . . .
And men contending to ensepulchre
Pile upon pile the throng of their own dead:
And weary with woe and weeping wandered home;
And then the most would take to bed from grief.
Nor could be found not one, whom nor disease
Nor death, nor woe had not in those dread times
Attacked.
By now the shepherds and neatherds all,
Yea, even the sturdy guiders of curved ploughs,
Began to sicken, and their bodies would lie
Huddled within back-corners of their huts,
Delivered by squalor and disease to death.
O often and often couldst thou then have seen
On lifeless children lifeless parents prone,
Or offspring on their fathers', mothers' corpse
Yielding the life. And into the city poured
O not in least part from the countryside
That tribulation, which the peasantry
Sick, sick, brought thither, thronging from every quarter,
Plague-stricken mob. All places would they crowd,
All buildings too; whereby the more would death
Up-pile a-heap the folk so crammed in town.
Ah, many a body thirst had dragged and rolled
Along the highways there was lying strewn
Besides Silenus-headed water-fountains,-
The life-breath choked from that too dear desire
Of pleasant waters. Ah, everywhere along
The open places of the populace,
And along the highways, O thou mightest see
Of many a half-dead body the sagged limbs,
Rough with squalor, wrapped around with rags,
Perish from very nastiness, with naught
But skin upon the bones, well-nigh already
Buried- in ulcers vile and obscene filth.
All holy temples, too, of deities
Had Death becrammed with the carcasses;
And stood each fane of the Celestial Ones
Laden with stark cadavers everywhere-
Places which warders of the shrines had crowded
With many a guest. For now no longer men
Did mightily esteem the old Divine,
The worship of the gods: the woe at hand
Did over-master. Nor in the city then
Remained those rites of sepulture, with which
That pious folk had evermore been wont
To buried be. For it was wildered all
In wild alarms, and each and every one
With sullen sorrow would bury his own dead,
As present shift allowed. And sudden stress
And poverty to many an awful act
Impelled; and with a monstrous screaming they
Would, on the frames of alien funeral pyres,
Place their own kin, and thrust the torch beneath
Oft brawling with much bloodshed round about
Rather than quit dead bodies loved in life.

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The Wanderer’s Return

An old heart's mourning is a hideous thing,
And weeds upon an aged weeper cling
Like night upon a grave. The city there,
Gaunt as a woman who has once been fair,
Lay black with winter, and the silent rain
Fell thro' the heavens darkly, like a stain
Upon her face. The dusky houses rose,
Unlovely shapes laid naked on the ooze,
Grimed with long sooty tears. The night fell down,
And gathered all the highways in its frown.
This was my home. I saw men pass and pass
Nor stop to look into a neighbour's face.
I dared not look in their's because my eyes
Were faint and travel--jarred and would not rise
From the dull earth, and hunger made them dim,
The hunger of a seven years' angry dream
Of love and peace and home unsatisfied.
And now my heart thus grievously denied
Rose, like a caged bird in the nesting time
Who beats against the bars that prison him,
In all its greenness of youth's wounds and pain
And would not cease till these should bleed again.

For I had gone a hunter through the world,
And set my tent in every land, and hurled
My spears at life because my joys were dead;
And many a fair field of the Earth was red
Where I had passed, and many a wind might tell
Of stricken souls that to my arrows fell.
I would not stop to listen to their cries
But went my way and thought that I was wise.

A wanderer's life, whether his lone chase be man
Or only those poor outlaws under ban
The creatures of the field his hand destroys
Through rage of wantonness or need of noise,
Is the fierce solace of its anger given
To a hurt soul which dares not turn to Heaven.
With me it was a vengeance of love lost,
A refuge proved for passions tempest--tossed,
An unguent for despairs that could not kill.
I wandered in the desert and the hill
Seeking dry places, and behold my grief
Fled with my footprints and I found relief.
And it had happened to me, as befalls
Men bred in cities who have left their walls
For gain or pleasure, that the wilderness
Grew lastly wearisome. I loved it less.

And once a desperate chase had led me on
To an unknown land when daylight was near done,
And I sat weary by my slaughtered prey
And watched the cranes which northward fled away
Rank upon rank into the depths of air,
And still the horizon lifeless vast and bare
Stretched wide around, and like a vault of dread
The arch of heaven hemmed me overhead,
And the great eye of the dead beast was set
Upon my own. I felt my cheek was wet.
Oh surely then, for all man's heart be hard,
Though he have taken Nature by the beard
And lived alone as to the manner born,
And though his limbs be strung with toil, and worn
To all Earth's dangers, yet at such a time
His coward soul will overmaster him,
Saying ``Beware, thou child of Earth, even now
Look at the world how wide it is and thou
How small! And thou hast dared to be alone.''
And lo, the last long flight of cranes was gone,
And darkness with its folding pity crept
Over the plain. I hid my face and wept,
Till sleep fell on me. But, when dawn was come,
I turned my steps to what had been my home.

The palace gardens! I had fled aside
From the gaunt streets in easement of my pride
After the lamps were lit, for to my brain
The tumult and the passers--by were pain:
The gardens where in those far summer times
A boy I came to watch the pantomimes
Among a laughing crowd of white--capped bonnes
And red--cheeked children and loud country clowns,
Or where, along the wall in graver sense
And screened from winds in their petite Provence,
With the first chestnut blossoms old men sat
And cheered their melancholy souls with chat,
Thawing like frozen apples in the sun!
The old men and the children all were gone.
The leaves, their canopy, lay torn and dead
And crushed in spongy heaps beneath my tread.
The fountains recreant to their laughter lay
Murk pools of silence shrouded from the day,
As though no doves had ever at their brink
Stooped in full June to plume themselves and drink.
Only the trees stood, witness of the past.
Sad trees, I greeted them. I held them fast
Like a friend's hands. They were as changed and bare
As my own life, but calm in the despair
Of their long winter's martyrdom, and I
A very child in my philosophy!
Till I remembered that no Spring would come
To mock the winter of my own long doom
With any merriment. And ``Trees'' I cried,
``Your hearts within are all too greenly dyed
To match with mine.'' I let their branches go
And sat upon a bench to feed my woe
With memories long hidden out of mind,
But which trooped back that night and rode the wind.

These wooden benches, what sad ghosts of pleasures
Had used them nightly crouching o'er their treasures,
My own long murdered joys, since there we sat
Blind in our love and insolent to Fate!
Each one a witness proved of our lost vows,
Our prayers, our protests, all our souls' carouse;
Each one inscribed through the unheeding years
With letters of a name I wrote in tears.
'Twas here I saw her first, a pure sweet woman
Fair as a goddess but with smile all human,
Her children at her knees who went and came
At each new wayward impulse of their game,
And she reproving with her quiet eyes
Veiling the mirth they could not all disguise.
The echo of her voice with its mute thrill
Lived in these glades and stirred my pulses still,
Though I had lived to hear it in what tone
Of passionate grief and souls' disunion.
She stood, a broken lily, by that tree,
Sunlight and shade for ever changingly
Chequering the robe she wore of virgin white,
When first I touched the goal of my delight
Her woman's hand and hid it in my hands.
Here shone the glory of her countenance
Nobler for tears when weakness for a space
Held full dominion in that heaven her face
And she confessed herself of grief divine
And love grown young, a vintage of new wine,
And I was crowned her king. O silent trees,
You heard it and you know how to the lees
We drained the cup of life and found it good,
Gathering love's manna for our daily food,
In scorn of the vain rest. You heard and knew
What the world only guessed where all was true.
And have you dreamed on in your quiet grove
While seven years were built against our love!

'Twas on this bench I sat that day of June
Thinking of death a whole sweet afternoon,
Till I was sick of sorrow and my tongue
Weary of its long silence (I was young
And the birds sang so loud); and when the night
Came as it now came, and the lamps grew bright
In the long street, lit like a diamond chain,
I rose and said: ``I will not bear the pain.
What is my pride worth that for it this smart
Should harrow up the green things of my heart
For twelve importunate hours in such a sort?
And pleasure is so sweet and life so short.''
And as a martyr, who long time has lain
Frozen in a dungeon, sees amid his pain,
When he has fasted on for many days,
Bright visions of hot feasts and hearths ablaze
With welcome, and who sells his gloomy creed,
And is overcome of pleasure, so my need
Conquered my pride; and I arose and went
Striding, with smiles at my new found intent,
Down these same gravel alleys to the gate
And so beyond, like one inebriate,
Thinking the while of the brave baths and food
Set for the renegade, until I stood
Once more before her door I had forsworn.
I did not stop to question thoughts forlorn,
But knocked as I had knocked a thousand times.
St. Roch's was ringing its last evening chimes,
And I still thought about the martyr's dream.
I saw the light within the threshold gleam
Which opened to me, and the voice I knew
Said in all sweetness, as the door swung to,
``Come. We are just in time. How fortunate
You too like me have happened to be late.''
I swear I said no word of the sad plans
I had plotted on this bench of ignorance.
There have been kings called happy, but not one
As I that night. Ah God! to be alone,
Alone, and never more to hear her voice
Calling me back, blest martyr, to my joys!

I sat there grieving in the cold and rain
Until my heart had half forgot its pain,
And when I rose I scarce could guide my feet,
They were so numb, to the unlovely street.
And yet need was my steps should bear me on
To some mad corner of that Babylon;
And I must feed the gnawings of my soul
With broken meat. ``The seven years may roll,''
I said, ``and men may change and she be dead,
Yet the house stands, God knows how tenanted.''

I leaned my head against the colonnade
Which skirts the square. I think I had not prayed
Through all those years, but now I said a prayer,
And hope in spite of reason seemed to wear
Green buds upon its branches. Who shall know
If 'twas a vision sent me in my woe
To prove the power of prayer? But, when I turned
And looked across the square, the candles burned
In the old upper windows, and, before,
A shadow crossed the curtain, and the door
Opened towards me, and a voice there cried
``Come. You are just in time.'' I put out wide
My arms into the darkness, and I fell.

When I awoke, 'twas as one passed from Hell
Who fears and feels no longer. I was tired.
I scarcely cared to know when I inquired
After the house. The girl who held the glass
To my lips (a flower--girl it seemed she was)
Told me that house and square alike were gone
Swept by new boulevards to oblivion.
Why should I grieve? The new was worth the old.
I listened to the story as 'twas told,
And lingered with her all the evening there
Because she pitied me and she was fair,
And held me with her hand upon the latch.
``Seven years,'' I said, ``it is a long night's watch
For any soul alone upon life's way,
And mine is weary at the break of day.''

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Epigrams

'Tis human fortune's happiest height to be
A spirit melodious, lucid, poised, and whole;
Second in order of felicity
I hold it, to have walk'd with such a soul.

* * * * *

The statue--Buonarroti said--doth wait,
Thrall'd in the block, for me to emancipate.
The poem--saith the poet--wanders free
Till I betray it to captivity.

* * * * *

To keep in sight Perfection, and adore
The vision, is the artist's best delight;
His bitterest pang, that he can ne'er do more
Than keep her long'd-for loveliness in sight.

* * * * *

If Nature be a phantasm, as thou say'st,
A splendid fiction and prodigious dream,
To reach the real and true I'll make no haste,
More than content with worlds that only seem.

* * * * *

The Poet gathers fruit from every tree,
Yea, grapes from thorns and figs from thistles he.
Pluck'd by his hand, the basest weed that grows
Towers to a lily, reddens to a rose.

* * * * *

Brook, from whose bridge the wandering idler peers
To watch thy small fish dart or cool floor shine,
I would that bridge whose arches all are years
Spann'd not a less transparent wave than thine!

* * * * *

To Art we go as to a well, athirst,
And see our shadow 'gainst its mimic skies,
But in its depth must plunge and be immersed
To clasp the naiad Truth where low she lies.

* * * * *

In youth the artist voweth lover's vows
To Art, in manhood maketh her his spouse.
Well if her charms yet hold for him such joy
As when he craved some boon and she was coy!

* * * * *

Immured in sense, with fivefold bonds confined,
Rest we content if whispers from the stars
In waftings of the incalculable wind
Come blown at midnight through our prison-bars.

* * * * *

Love, like a bird, hath perch'd upon a spray
For thee and me to hearken what he sings.
Contented, he forgets to fly away;
But hush!... remind not Eros of his wings.

* * * * *

Think not thy wisdom can illume away
The ancient tanglement of night and day.
Enough, to acknowledge both, and both revere:
They see not clearliest who see all things clear.

* * * * *

In mid whirl of the dance of Time ye start,
Start at the cold touch of Eternity,
And cast your cloaks about you, and depart:
The minstrels pause not in their minstrelsy.

* * * * *

The beasts in field are glad, and have not wit
To know why leapt their hearts when springtime shone.
Man looks at his own bliss, considers it,
Weighs it with curious fingers; and 'tis gone.

* * * * *

Momentous to himself as I to me
Hath each man been that ever woman bore;
Once, in a lightning-flash of sympathy,
I _felt_ this truth, an instant, and no more.

* * * * *

The gods man makes he breaks; proclaims them each
Immortal, and himself outlives them all:
But whom he set not up he cannot reach
To shake His cloud-dark sun-bright pedestal.

* * * * *

The children romp within the graveyard's pale;
The lark sings o'er a madhouse, or a gaol;--
Such nice antitheses of perfect poise
Chance in her curious rhetoric employs.

* * * * *

Our lithe thoughts gambol close to God's abyss,
Children whose home is by the precipice.
Fear not thy little ones shall o'er it fall:
Solid, though viewless, is the girdling wall.

* * * * *

Lives there whom pain hath evermore pass'd by
And Sorrow shunn'd with an averted eye?
Him do thou pity, him above the rest,
Him of all hapless mortals most unbless'd.

* * * * *

Say what thou wilt, the young are happy never.
Give me bless'd Age, beyond the fire and fever,--
Past the delight that shatters, hope that stings,
And eager flutt'ring of life's ignorant wings.

* * * * *

Onward the chariot of the Untarrying moves;
Nor day divulges him nor night conceals;
Thou hear'st the echo of unreturning hooves
And thunder of irrevocable wheels.

* * * * *

A deft musician does the breeze become
Whenever an Æolian harp it finds:
Hornpipe and hurdygurdy both are dumb
Unto the most musicianly of winds.

* * * * *

I follow Beauty; of her train am I:
Beauty whose voice is earth and sea and air;
Who serveth, and her hands for all things ply;
Who reigneth, and her throne is everywhere.

* * * * *

Toiling and yearning, 'tis man's doom to see
No perfect creature fashion'd of his hands.
Insulted by a flower's immaculacy,
And mock'd at by the flawless stars he stands.

* * * * *

For metaphors of man we search the skies,
And find our allegory in all the air.
We gaze on Nature with Narcissus-eyes,
Enamour'd of our shadow everywhere.

* * * * *

One music maketh its occult abode
In all things scatter'd from great Beauty's hand;
And evermore the deepest words of God
Are yet the easiest to understand.

* * * * *

Enough of mournful melodies, my lute!
Be henceforth joyous, or be henceforth mute.
Song's breath is wasted when it does but fan
The smouldering infelicity of man.

* * * * *

I pluck'd this flower, O brighter flower, for thee,
There where the river dies into the sea.
To kiss it the wild west wind hath made free:
Kiss it thyself and give it back to me.

* * * * *

To be as this old elm full loth were I,
That shakes in the autumn storm its palsied head.
Hewn by the weird last woodman let me lie
Ere the path rustle with my foliage shed.

* * * * *

Ah, vain, thrice vain in the end, thy hate and rage,
And the shrill tempest of thy clamorous page.
True poets but transcendent lovers be,
And one great love-confession poesy.

* * * * *

His rhymes the poet flings at all men's feet,
And whoso will may trample on his rhymes.
Should Time let die a song that's true and sweet,
The singer's loss were more than match'd by Time's.

* * * * *

On Longfellow's Death

No puissant singer he, whose silence grieves
To-day the great West's tender heart and strong;
No singer vast of voice: yet one who leaves
His native air the sweeter for his song.

* * * * *

Byron The Voluptuary

Too avid of earth's bliss, he was of those
Whom Delight flies because they give her chase.
Only the odour of her wild hair blows
Back in their faces hungering for her face.

* * * * *

Antony At Actium

He holds a dubious balance:--yet _that_ scale,
Whose freight the world is, surely shall prevail?
No; Cleopatra droppeth into _this_
One counterpoising orient sultry kiss.

* * * * *

Art

The thousand painful steps at last are trod,
At last the temple's difficult door we win;
But perfect on his pedestal, the god
Freezes us hopeless when we enter in.

* * * * *

Keats

He dwelt with the bright gods of elder time,
On earth and in their cloudy haunts above.
He loved them: and in recompense sublime,
The gods, alas! gave him their fatal love.

* * * * *

After Reading 'Tamburlaine The Great'

Your Marlowe's page I close, my Shakspere's ope.
How welcome--after gong and cymbal's din--
The continuity, the long slow slope
And vast curves of the gradual violin!

* * * * *

Shelley And Harriet Westbrook

A star look'd down from heaven and loved a flower
Grown in earth's garden--loved it for an hour:

Let eyes that trace his orbit in the spheres
Refuse not, to a ruin'd rosebud, tears.

* * * * *

The Play Of 'King Lear'

Here Love the slain with Love the slayer lies;
Deep drown'd are both in the same sunless pool.
Up from its depths that mirror thundering skies
Bubbles the wan mirth of the mirthless Fool.

* * * *

To A Poet

Time, the extortioner, from richest beauty
Takes heavy toll and wrings rapacious duty.
Austere of feature if thou carve thy rhyme,
Perchance 'twill pay the lesser tax to Time.

* * * * *

The Year's Minstrelsy

Spring, the low prelude of a lordlier song:
Summer, a music without hint of death:
Autumn, a cadence lingeringly long:
Winter, a pause;--the Minstrel-Year takes breath.

* * * * *

The Ruined Abbey

Flower fondled, clasp'd in ivy's close caress,
It seems allied with Nature, yet apart:--
Of wood's and wave's insensate loveliness
The glad, sad, tranquil, passionate, human heart.

* * * * *

Michelangelo's 'Moses'

The captain's might, and mystery of the seer--
Remoteness of Jehovah's colloquist,
Nearness of man's heaven-advocate--are here:
Alone Mount Nebo's harsh foreshadow is miss'd.

* * * * *

The Alps

Adieu, white brows of Europe! sovereign brows,
That wear the sunset for a golden tiar.
With me in memory shall your phantoms house
For ever, whiter than yourselves, and higher.

* * * * *

The Cathedral Spire

It soars like hearts of hapless men who dare
To sue for gifts the gods refuse to allot;
Who climb for ever toward they know not where,
Baffled for ever by they know not what.

* * * * *

An Epitaph

His friends he loved. His fellest earthly foes--
Cats--I believe he did but feign to hate.
My hand will miss the insinuated nose,
Mine eyes the tail that wagg'd contempt at Fate.

* * * * *

The Metropolitan Underground Railway

Here were a goodly place wherein to die;--
Grown latterly to sudden change averse,
All violent contrasts fain avoid would I
On passing from this world into a worse.

* * * * *

To A Seabird

Fain would I have thee barter fates with me,--
Lone loiterer where the shells like jewels be,
Hung on the fringe and frayed hem of the sea.
But no,--'twere cruel, wild-wing'd Bliss! to thee.

* * * * *

On Dürer's _Melencolia_

What holds her fixed far eyes nor lets them range?
Not the strange sea, strange earth, or heav'n more strange;
But her own phantom dwarfing these great three,
More strange than all, more old than heav'n, earth, sea.

* * * * *

Tantalus

He wooes for ever, with foil'd lips of drouth,
The wave that wearies not to mock his mouth.
'Tis Lethe's; they alone that tide have quaff'd
Who never thirsted for the oblivious draught.

* * * * *

A Maiden's Epitaph

She dwelt among us till the flowers, 'tis said,
Grew jealous of her: with precipitate feet,
As loth to wrong them unawares, she fled.
Earth is less fragrant now, and heaven more sweet.

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