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No Beer, No Work

The shades of night was fallin’ slow
As through New York a guy did go
And nail on ev’ry barroom door
A card that this here motter bore:
'No beer, no work.'

His brow was sad, his mouth was dry;
It was the first day of July,
And where, all parched and scorched it hung,
These words was stenciled on his tongue:
'No beer, no work.'

'Oh, stay,' the maiden said, 'and sup
This malted milk from this here cup.'
A shudder passed through that there guy,
But with a moan he made reply:
'No beer, no work.'

At break of day, as through the town
The milkman put milk bottles down,
Onto one stoop a sort of snore
Was heard, and then was heard no more—
'No beer, no work.'

The poor old guy plumb dead was found
And planted in the buryin’ ground,
Still graspin’ in his hand of ice
Them placards with this sad device:
'No beer, no work.'

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These Sweet Souvenirs

I had long remembered those sweet memories
The day we settled to Virginia hangs in my mind like
The new season of fall with colorful leaves
And October's cool Fall.
Over the porch scorched by October sunshine,
We sit and watch the window
Him forty years gone, my sister sat on
The couch with lot of toys, frost of black in
Her hair and morns the cries that echo her sleep
For years it stood by my parent's brown
Front door, and during their last, uncertain year
My mouth dry, heart beating, hands shaking, I wake up from deep sleep
And reach for green watch tell me
It is 12 pm mid-night and in the dim bulk light I notice
The bed that also hold my parent's radio, lamp,
An indentation on the top closet from a cigarette
He placed there and forgot
In the fogginess of evening and drink
Now, thirty years later, my dad was not longer in the earth
My mom is in the grave.
What we need, alone and in the dark.

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Rose Mary

Of her two fights with the Beryl-stone
Lost the first, but the second won.

PART I

“MARY mine that art Mary's Rose
Come in to me from the garden-close.
The sun sinks fast with the rising dew,
And we marked not how the faint moon grew;
But the hidden stars are calling you.
“Tall Rose Mary, come to my side,
And read the stars if you'd be a bride.
In hours whose need was not your own,
While you were a young maid yet ungrown
You've read the stars in the Beryl-stone.
“Daughter, once more I bid you read;
But now let it be for your own need:
Because to-morrow, at break of day,
To Holy Cross he rides on his way,
Your knight Sir James of Heronhaye.
“Ere he wed you, flower of mine,
For a heavy shrift he seeks the shrine.
Now hark to my words and do not fear;
Ill news next I have for your ear;
But be you strong, and our help is here.
On his road, as the rumour's rife,
An ambush waits to take his life.
He needs will go, and will go alone;
Where the peril lurks may not be known;
But in this glass all things are shown.”
Pale Rose Mary sank to the floor:—
The night will come if the day is o'er!”
“Nay, heaven takes counsel, star with star,
And help shall reach your heart from afar:
A bride you'll be, as a maid you are.”
The lady unbound her jewelled zone
And drew from her robe the Beryl-stone.
Shaped it was to a shadowy sphere,—
World of our world, the sun's compeer,
That bears and buries the toiling year.
With shuddering light 'twas stirred and strewn
Like the cloud-nest of the wading moon:
Freaked it was as the bubble's ball,
Rainbow-hued through a misty pall
Like the middle light of the waterfall.
Shadows dwelt in its teeming girth
Of the known and unknown things of earth;
The cloud above and the wave around,—
The central fire at the sphere's heart bound,
Like doomsday prisoned underground.
A thousand years it lay in the sea
With a treasure wrecked from Thessaly;
Deep it lay 'mid the coiled sea-wrack,
But the ocean-spirits found the track:
A soul was lost to win it back.
The lady upheld the wondrous thing:—
“Ill fare”(she said) “with a fiend's-faring:
But Moslem blood poured forth like wine
Can hallow Hell, 'neath the Sacred Sign;
And my lord brought this from Palestine.
“Spirits who fear the Blessed Rood
Drove forth the accursed multitude
That heathen worship housed herein,—
Never again such home to win,
Save only by a Christian's sin.
All last night at an altar fair
I burnt strange fires and strove with prayer;
Till the flame paled to the red sunrise,
All rites I then did solemnize;
And the spell lacks nothing but your eyes.”
Low spake maiden Rose Mary:—
“O mother mine, if I should not see!”
“Nay, daughter, cover your face no more,
But bend love's heart to the hidden lore,
And you shall see now as heretofore.”
Paler yet were the pale cheeks grown
As the grey eyes sought the Beryl-stone:
Then over her mother's lap leaned she,
And stretched her thrilled throat passionately,
And sighed from her soul, and said, “I see.”
Even as she spoke, they two were 'ware
Of music-notes that fell through the air;
A chiming shower of strange device,
Drop echoing drop, once, twice, and thrice,
As rain may fall in Paradise.
An instant come, in an instant gone,
No time there was to think thereon.
The mother held the sphere on her knee:—
“Lean this way and speak low to me,
And take no note but of what you see.”
“I see a man with a besom grey
That sweeps the flying dust away.”
“Ay, that comes first in the mystic sphere;
But now that the way is swept and clear,
Heed well what next you look on there.”
“Stretched aloft and adown I see
Two roads that part in waste-country:
The glen lies deep and the ridge stands tall;
What's great below is above seen small,
And the hill-side is the valley-wall.”
“Stream-bank, daughter, or moor and moss,
Both roads will take to Holy Cross.
The hills are a weary waste to wage;
But what of the valley-road's presage?
That way must tend his pilgrimage.”
As 'twere the turning leaves of a book,
The road runs past me as I look;
Or it is even as though mine eye
Should watch calm waters filled with sky
While lights and clouds and wings went by.”
In every covert seek a spear;
They'll scarce lie close till he draws near.”
The stream has spread to a river now;
The stiff blue sedge is deep in the slough,
But the banks are bare of shrub or bough.’
“Is there any roof that near at hand
Might shelter yield to a hidden band?”
On the further bank I see but one,
And a herdsman now in the sinking sun
Unyokes his team at the threshold-stone.”
“Keep heedful watch by the water's edge,—
Some boat might lurk 'neath the shadowed sedge.”
One slid but now 'twixt the winding shores,
But a peasant woman bent to the oars
And only a young child steered its course.
“Mother, something flashed to my sight!—
Nay, it is but the lapwing's flight.—
What glints there like a lance that flees?—
Nay, the flags are stirred in the breeze,
And the water's bright through the dart-rushes.
“Ah! vainly I search from side to side:—
Woe's me! and where do the foemen hide?
Woe's me! and perchance I pass them by,
And under the new dawn's blood-red sky
Even where I gaze the dead shall lie.”
Said the mother: “For dear love's sake,
Speak more low, lest the spell should break.”
Said the daughter: “By love's control,
My eyes, my words, are strained to the goal;
But oh! the voice that cries in my soul!”
“Hush, sweet, hush! be calm and behold.”
“I see two floodgates broken and old:
The grasses wave o'er the ruined weir,
But the bridge still leads to the breakwater;
And—mother, mother, O mother dear!”
The damsel clung to her mother's knee,
And dared not let the shriek go free;
Low she crouched by the lady's chair,
And shrank blindfold in her fallen hair,
And whispering said, “The spears are there!”
The lady stooped aghast from her place,
And cleared the locks from her daughter's face.
More's to see, and she swoons, alas!
Look, look again, ere the moment pass!
One shadow comes but once to the glass.
“See you there what you saw but now?”
“I see eight men 'neath the willow bough.
All over the weir a wild growth's spread:
Ah me! it will hide a living head
As well as the water hides the dead.
“They lie by the broken water-gate
As men who have a while to wait.
The chief's high lance has a blazoned scroll,—
He seems some lord of tithe and toll
With seven squires to his bannerole.
The little pennon quakes in the air,
I cannot trace the blazon there:—
Ah! now I can see the field of blue,
The spurs and the merlins two and two;—
It is the Warden of Holycleugh!”
“God be thanked for the thing we know!
You have named your good knight's mortal foe.
Last Shrovetide in the tourney-game
He sought his life by treasonous shame;
And this way now doth he seek the same.
“So, fair lord, such a thing you are!
But we too watch till the morning star.
Well, June is kind and the moon is clear:
Saint Judas send you a merry cheer
For the night you lie in Warisweir!
“Now, sweet daughter, but one more sight,
And you may lie soft and sleep to-night.
We know in the vale what perils be:
Now look once more in the glass, and see
If over the hills the road lies free.”
Rose Mary pressed to her mother's cheek,
And almost smiled but did not speak;
Then turned again to the saving spell,
With eyes to search and with lips to tell
The heart of things invisible.
“Again the shape with the besom grey
Comes back to sweep the clouds away.
Again I stand where the roads divide;
But now all's near on the steep hillside,
And a thread far down is the rivertide.”
“Ay, child, your road is o'er moor and moss,
Past Holycleugh to Holy Cross.
Our hunters lurk in the valley's wake,
As they knew which way the chase would take:
Yet search the hills for your true love's sake.”
“Swift and swifter the waste runs by,
And nought I see but the heath and the sky;
No brake is there that could hide a spear,
And the gaps to a horseman's sight lie clear;
Still past it goes, and there's nought to fear.”
“Fear no trap that you cannot see,—
They'd not lurk yet too warily.
Below by the weir they lie in sight,
And take no heed how they pass the night
Till close they crouch with the morning light.”
The road shifts ever and brings in view
Now first the heights of Holycleugh:
Dark they stand o'er the vale below,
And hide that heaven which yet shall show
The thing their master's heart doth know.
Where the road looks to the castle steep,
There are seven hill-clefts wide and deep:
Six mine eyes can search as they list,
But the seventh hollow is brimmed with mist:
If aught were there, it might not be wist.”
“Small hope, my girl, for a helm to hide
In mists that cling to a wild moorside:
Soon they melt with the wind and sun,
And scarce would wait such deeds to be done
God send their snares be the worst to shun.”
Still the road winds ever anew
As it hastens on towards Holycleugh;
And ever the great walls loom more near,
Till the castle-shadow, steep and sheer,
Drifts like a cloud, and the sky is clear.”
“Enough, my daughter,” the mother said,
And took to her breast the bending head;
“Rest, poor head, with my heart below,
While love still lulls you as long ago:
For all is learnt that we need to know.
“Long the miles and many the hours
From the castle-height to the abbey-towers;
But here the journey has no more dread;
Too thick with life is the whole road spread
For murder's trembling foot to tread.”
She gazed on the Beryl-stone full fain
Ere she wrapped it close in her robe again:
The flickering shades were dusk and dun
And the lights throbbed faint in unison
Like a high heart when a race is run.
As the globe slid to its silken gloom,
Once more a music rained through the room;
Low it splashed like a sweet star-spray,
And sobbed like tears at the heart of May,
And died as laughter dies away.
The lady held her breath for a space,
And then she looked in her daughter's face:
But wan Rose Mary had never heard;
Deep asleep like a sheltered bird
She lay with the long spell minister'd.
“Ah! and yet I must leave you, dear,
For what you have seen your knight must hear.
Within four days, by the help of God,
He comes back safe to his heart's abode:
Be sure he shall shun the valley-road.”
Rose Mary sank with a broken moan,
And lay in the chair and slept alone,
Weary, lifeless, heavy as lead:
Long it was ere she raised her head
And rose up all discomforted.
She searched her brain for a vanished thing,
And clasped her brows, remembering;
Then knelt and lifted her eyes in awe,
And sighed with a long sigh sweet to draw:—
“Thank God, thank God, thank God I saw!”
The lady had left her as she lay,
To seek the Knight of Heronhaye.
But first she clomb by a secret stair,
And knelt at a carven altar fair,
And laid the precious Beryl there.
Its girth was graved with a mystic rune
In a tongue long dead 'neath sun and moon:
A priest of the Holy Sepulchre
Read that writing and did not err;
And her lord had told its sense to her.
She breathed the words in an undertone:—
“None sees here but the pure alone.”
And oh!” she said, “what rose may be
In Mary's bower more pure to see
Than my own sweet maiden Rose Mary?”


BERYL-SONG

We whose home is the Beryl,
Fire-spirits of dread desire,
Who entered in
By a secret sin,
'Gainst whom all powers that strive with ours are sterile,—
We cry, Woe to thee, mother!
What hast thou taught her, the girl thy daughter,
That she and none other
Should this dark morrow to her deadly sorrow imperil?
What were her eyes
But the fiend's own spies,
O mother,
And shall We not fee her, our proper prophet and seër?
Go to her, mother,
Even thou, yea thou and none other,
Thou, from the Beryl:
Her fee must thou take her,
Her fee that We send, and make her,
Even in this hour, her sin's unsheltered avower.
Whose steed did neigh,
Riderless, bridleless,
At her gate before it was day?
Lo! where doth hover
The soul of her lover?
She sealed his doom, she, she was the sworn approver,—
Whose eyes were so wondrous wise,
Yet blind, ah! blind to his peril!
For stole not We in
Through a love-linked sin,
'Gainst whom all powers at war with ours are sterile,—
Fire-spirits of dread desire,
We whose home is the Beryl?


PART II

“PALE Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a rose that Mary weeps upon?”
“Mother, let it fall from the tree,
And never walk where the strewn leaves be
Till winds have passed and the path is free.”
Sad Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a cankered flower beneath the sun?”
“Mother, let it wait for the night;
Be sure its shame shall be out of sight
Ere the moon pale or the east grow light.”
“Lost Rose Mary, what shall be done
With a heart that is but a broken one?”
“Mother, let it lie where it must;
The blood was drained with the bitter thrust,
And dust is all that sinks in the dust.”
Poor Rose Mary, what shall I do,—
I, your mother, that lovèd you?”
“O my mother, and is love gone?
Then seek you another love anon:
Who cares what shame shall lean upon?”
Low drooped trembling Rose Mary,
Then up as though in a dream stood she.
“Come, my heart, it is time to go;
This is the hour that has whispered low
When thy pulse quailed in the nights we know.
“Yet O my heart, thy shame has a mate
Who will not leave thee desolate.
Shame for shame, yea and sin for sin:
Yet peace at length may our poor souls win
If love for love be found therein.
“O thou who seek'st our shrift to-day,”
She cried, “O James of Heronhaye—
Thy sin and mine was for love alone;
And oh! in the sight of God 'tis known
How the heart has since made heavy moan.
“Three days yet!” she said to her heart;
But then he comes, and we will not part.
God, God be thanked that I still could see!
Oh! he shall come back assuredly,
But where, alas! must he seek for me?
“O my heart, what road shall we roam
Till my wedding-music fetch me home?
For love's shut from us and bides afar,
And scorn leans over the bitter bar
And knows us now for the thing we are.”
Tall she stood with a cheek flushed high
And a gaze to burn the heart-strings by.
'Twas the lightning-flash o'er sky and plain
Ere labouring thunders heave the chain
From the floodgates of the drowning rain.
The mother looked on the daughter still
As on a hurt thing that's yet to kill.
Then wildly at length the pent tears came;
The love swelled high with the swollen shame,
And their hearts' tempest burst on them.
Closely locked, they clung without speech,
And the mirrored souls shook each to each,
As the cloud-moon and the water-moon
Shake face to face when the dim stars swoon
In stormy bowers of the night's mid-noon.
They swayed together, shuddering sore,
Till the mother's heart could bear no more.
'Twas death to feel her own breast shake
Even to the very throb and ache
Of the burdened heart she still must break.
All her sobs ceased suddenly,
And she sat straight up but scarce could see.
“O daughter, where should my speech begin?
Your heart held fast its secret sin:
How think you, child, that I read therein?”
“Ah me! but I thought not how it came
When your words showed that you knew my shame:
And now that you call me still your own,
I half forget you have ever known.
Did you read my heart in the Beryl-stone?”
The lady answered her mournfully:—
The Beryl-stone has no voice for me:
But when you charged its power to show
The truth which none but the pure may know,
Did naught speak once of a coming woe?”
Her hand was close to her daughter's heart,
And it felt the life-blood's sudden start:
A quick deep breath did the damsel draw,
Like the struck fawn in the oakenshaw:
“O mother,” she cried, “but still I saw!”
“O child, my child, why held you apart
From my great love your hidden heart?
Said I not that all sin must chase
From the spell's sphere the spirits of grace,
And yield their rule to the evil race?
“Ah! would to God I had clearly told
How strong those powers, accurst of old:
Their heart is the ruined house of lies;
O girl, they can seal the sinful eyes,
Or show the truth by contraries!”
The daughter sat as cold as a stone,
And spoke no word but gazed alone,
Nor moved, though her mother strove a space
To clasp her round in a close embrace,
Because she dared not see her face.
Oh!” at last did the mother cry,
“Be sure, as he loved you, so will I!
Ah! still and dumb is the bride, I trow;
But cold and stark as the winter snow
Is the bridegroom's heart, laid dead below!
“Daughter, daughter, remember you
That cloud in the hills by Holycleugh?
'Twas a Hell-screen hiding truth away:
There, not i' the vale, the ambush lay,
And thence was the dead borne home to-day.”
Deep the flood and heavy the shock
When sea meets sea in the riven rock:
But calm is the pulse that shakes the sea
To the prisoned tide of doom set free
In the breaking heart of Rose Mary.
Once she sprang as the heifer springs
With the wolf's teeth at its red heart-strings.
First 'twas fire in her breast and brain,
And then scarce hers but the whole world's pain,
As she gave one shriek and sank again.
In the hair dark-waved the face lay white
As the moon lies in the lap of night;
And as night through which no moon may dart
Lies on a pool in the woods apart,
So lay the swoon on the weary heart.
The lady felt for the bosom's stir,
And wildly kissed and called on her;
Then turned away with a quick footfall,
And slid the secret door in the wall,
And clomb the strait stair's interval.
There above in the altar-cell
A little fountain rose and fell:
She set a flask to the water's flow,
And, backward hurrying, sprinkled now
The still cold breast and the pallid brow.
Scarce cheek that warmed or breath on the air,
Yet something told that life was there.
“Ah! not with the heart the body dies!”
The lady moaned in a bitter wise;
Then wrung her hands and hid her eyes.
“Alas! and how may I meet again
In the same poor eyes the selfsame pain?
What help can I seek, such grief to guide?
Ah! one alone might avail,” she cried—
The priest who prays at the dead man's side.”
The lady arose, and sped down all
The winding stairs to the castle-hall.
Long-known valley and wood and stream,
As the loopholes passed, naught else did seem
Than the torn threads of a broken dream.
The hall was full of the castle-folk;
The women wept, but the men scarce spoke.
As the lady crossed the rush-strewn floor,
The throng fell backward, murmuring sore,
And pressed outside round the open door.
A stranger shadow hung on the hall
Than the dark pomp of a funeral.
'Mid common sights that were there alway,
As 'twere a chance of the passing day,
On the ingle-bench the dead man lay.
A priest who passed by Holycleugh
The tidings brought when the day was new.
He guided them who had fetched the dead;
And since that hour, unwearièd,
He knelt in prayer at the low bier's head.
Word had gone to his own domain
That in evil wise the knight was slain:
Soon the spears must gather apace
And the hunt be hard on the hunters' trace;
But all things yet lay still for a space.
As the lady's hurried step drew near,
The kneeling priest looked up to her.
“Father, death is a grievous thing;
But oh! the woe has a sharper sting
That craves by me your ministering.
“Alas for the child that should have wed
This noble knight here lying dead!
Dead in hope, with all blessed boon
Of love thus rent from her heart ere noon,
I left her laid in a heavy swoon.
“O haste to the open bower-chamber
That's topmost as you mount the stair:
Seek her, father, ere yet she wake;
Your words, not mine, be the first to slake
This poor heart's fire, for Christ's sweet sake!
“God speed!” she said as the priest passed through,
And I ere long will be with you.”
Then low on the hearth her knees sank prone;
She signed all folk from the threshold-stone,
And gazed in the dead man's face alone.
The fight for life found record yet
In the clenched lips and the teeth hard-set;
The wrath from the bent brow was not gone,
And stark in the eyes the hate still shone
Of that they last had looked upon.
The blazoned coat was rent on his breast
Where the golden field was goodliest;
But the shivered sword, close-gripped, could tell
That the blood shed round him where he fell
Was not all his in the distant dell.
The lady recked of the corpse no whit,
But saw the soul and spoke to it:
A light there was in her steadfast eyes,—
The fire of mortal tears and sighs
That pity and love immortalize.
“By thy death have I learnt to-day
Thy deed, O James of Heronhaye!
Great wrong thou hast done to me and mine;
And haply God hath wrought for a sign
By our blind deed this doom of thine.
“Thy shrift, alas! thou wast not to win;
But may death shrive thy soul herein!
Full well do I know thy love should be
Even yet—had life but stayed with thee—
Our honour's strong security.”
She stooped, and said with a sob's low stir,—
“Peace be thine,—but what peace for her?”
But ere to the brow her lips were press'd,
She marked, half-hid in the riven vest,
A packet close to the dead man's breast.
'Neath surcoat pierced and broken mail
It lay on the blood-stained bosom pale.
The clot hung round it, dull and dense,
And a faintness seized her mortal sense
As she reached her hand and drew it thence.
'Twas steeped in the heart's flood welling high
From the heart it there had rested by:
'Twas glued to a broidered fragment gay,—
A shred by spear-thrust rent away
From the heron-wings of Heronhaye.
She gazed on the thing with piteous eyne:—
“Alas, poor child, some pledge of thine!
Ah me! in this troth the hearts were twain,
And one hath ebbed to this crimson stain,
And when shall the other throb again?”
She opened the packet heedfully;
The blood was stiff, and it scarce might be.
She found but a folded paper there,
And round it, twined with tenderest care,
A long bright tress of golden hair.
Even as she looked, she saw again
That dark-haired face in its swoon of pain:
It seemed a snake with a golden sheath
Crept near, as a slow flame flickereth,
And stung her daughter's heart to death.
She loosed the tress, but her hand did shake
As though indeed she had touched a snake;
And next she undid the paper's fold,
But that too trembled in her hold,
And the sense scarce grasped the tale it told.
“My heart's sweet lord,” ('twas thus she read,)
At length our love is garlanded.
At Holy Cross, within eight days' space,
I seek my shrift; and the time and place
Shall fit thee too for thy soul's good grace.
From Holycleugh on the seventh day
My brother rides, and bides away:
And long or e'er he is back, mine own,
Afar where the face of fear's unknown
We shall be safe with our love alone.
“Ere yet at the shrine my knees I bow,
I shear one tress for our holy vow.
As round these words these threads I wind,
So, eight days hence, shall our loves be twined,
Says my lord's poor lady, JOCELIND.”
She read it twice, with a brain in thrall,
And then its echo told her all.
O'er brows low-fall'n her hands she drew:—
“O God!” she said, as her hands fell too,—
The Warden's sister of Holycleugh!”
She rose upright with a long low moan,
And stared in the dead man's face new-known.
Had it lived indeed? She scarce could tell:
'Twas a cloud where fiends had come to dwell,—
A mask that hung on the gate of Hell.
She lifted the lock of gleaming hair
And smote the lips and left it there.
Here's gold that Hell shall take for thy toll!
Full well hath thy treason found its goal,
O thou dead body and damnèd soul!”
She turned, sore dazed, for a voice was near,
And she knew that some one called to her.
On many a column fair and tall
A high court ran round the castle-hall;
And thence it was that the priest did call.
“I sought your child where you bade me go,
And in rooms around and rooms below;
But where, alas! may the maiden be?
Fear nought,—we shall find her speedily,—
But come, come hither, and seek with me.”
She reached the stair like a lifelorn thing,
But hastened upward murmuring,
“Yea, Death's is a face that's fell to see;
But bitterer pang Life hoards for thee,
Thou broken heart of Rose Mary!”


BERYL-SONG

We whose throne is the Beryl,
Dire-gifted spirits of fire,
Who for a twin
Leash Sorrow to Sin,
Who on no flower refrain to lour with peril,—
We cry,—O desolate daughter!
Thou and thy mother share newer shame with each other
Than last night's slaughter.
Awake and tremble, for our curses assemble!
What more, that thou know'st not yet,—
That life nor death shall forget?
No help from Heaven,—thy woes heart-riven are sterile!
O once a maiden,
With yet worse sorrow can any morrow be laden?
It waits for thee,
It looms, it must be,
O lost among women,—
It comes and thou canst not flee.
Amen to the omen,
Says the voice of the Beryl.
Thou sleep'st? Awake,—
What dar'st thou yet for his sake,
Who each for other did God's own Future imperil?
Dost dare to live
`Mid the pangs each hour must give?
Nay, rather die,—
With him thy lover 'neath Hell's cloud-cover to fly,—
Hopeless, yet not apart,
Cling heart to heart,
And beat through the nether storm-eddying winds together?
Shall this be so?
There thou shalt meet him, but mayst thou greet him? ah no !
He loves, but thee he hoped nevermore to see,—
He sighed as he died,
But with never a thought for thee.
Alone!
Alone, for ever alone,—
Whose eyes were such wondrous spies for the fate foreshown!
Lo! have not We leashed the twin
Of endless Sorrow to Sin,—
Who on no flower refrain to lour with peril,—
Dire-gifted spirits of fire,
We whose throne is the Beryl?


PART III

A SWOON that breaks is the whelming wave
When help comes late but still can save.
With all blind throes is the instant rife,—
Hurtling clangour and clouds at strife,—
The breath of death, but the kiss of life.
The night lay deep on Rose Mary's heart,
For her swoon was death's kind counterpart:
The dawn broke dim on Rose Mary's soul,—
No hill-crown's heavenly aureole,
But a wild gleam on a shaken shoal.
Her senses gasped in the sudden air,
And she looked around, but none was there.
She felt the slackening frost distil
Through her blood the last ooze dull and chill:
Her lids were dry and her lips were still.
Her tears had flooded her heart again;
As after a long day's bitter rain,
At dusk when the wet flower-cups shrink,
The drops run in from the beaded brink,
And all the close-shut petals drink.
Again her sighs on her heart were rolled;
As the wind that long has swept the wold,—
Whose moan was made with the moaning sea,—
Beats out its breath in the last torn tree,
And sinks at length in lethargy.
She knew she had waded bosom-deep
Along death's bank in the sedge of sleep:
All else was lost to her clouded mind;
Nor, looking back, could she see defin'd
O'er the dim dumb waste what lay behind.
Slowly fades the sun from the wall
Till day lies dead on the sun-dial:
And now in Rose Mary's lifted eye
'Twas shadow alone that made reply
To the set face of the soul's dark sky.
Yet still through her soul there wandered past
Dread phantoms borne on a wailing blast,—
Death and sorrow and sin and shame;
And, murmured still, to her lips there came
Her mother's and her lover's name.
How to ask, and what thing to know?
She might not stay and she dared not go.
From fires unseen these smoke-clouds curled;
But where did the hidden curse lie furled?
And how to seek through the weary world?
With toiling breath she rose from the floor
And dragged her steps to an open door:
'Twas the secret panel standing wide,
As the lady's hand had let it bide
In hastening back to her daughter's side.
She passed, but reeled with a dizzy brain
And smote the door which closed again.
She stood within by the darkling stair,
But her feet might mount more freely there,—
'Twas the open light most blinded her.
Within her mind no wonder grew
At the secret path she never knew:
All ways alike were strange to her now,—
One field bare-ridged from the spirit's plough,
One thicket black with the cypress-bough.
Once she thought that she heard her name;
And she paused, but knew not whence it came.
Down the shadowed stair a faint ray fell
That guided the weary footsteps well
Till it led her up to the altar-cell.
No change there was on Rose Mary's face
As she leaned in the portal's narrow space:
Still she stood by the pillar's stem,
Hand and bosom and garment's hem,
As the soul stands by at the requiem.
The altar-cell was a dome low-lit,
And a veil hung in the midst of it:
At the pole-points of its circling girth
Four symbols stood of the world's first birth,—
Air and water and fire and earth.
To the north, a fountain glittered free;
To the south, there glowed a red fruit-tree;
To the east, a lamp flamed high and fair;
To the west, a crystal casket rare
Held fast a cloud of the fields of air.
The painted walls were a mystic show
Of time's ebb-tide and overflow;
His hoards long-locked and conquering key,
His service-fires that in heaven be,
And earth-wheels whirled perpetually.
Rose Mary gazed from the open door
As on idle things she cared not for,—
The fleeting shapes of an empty tale;
Then stepped with a heedless visage pale,
And lifted aside the altar-veil.
The altar stood from its curved recess
In a coiling serpent's life-likeness:
Even such a serpent evermore
Lies deep asleep at the world's dark core
Till the last Voice shake the sea and shore.
From the altar-cloth a book rose spread
And tapers burned at the altar-head;
And there in the altar-midst alone,
'Twixt wings of a sculptured beast unknown,
Rose Mary saw the Beryl-stone.
Firm it sat 'twixt the hollowed wings,
As an orb sits in the hand of kings:
And lo! for that Foe whose curse far-flown
Had bound her life with a burning zone,
Rose Mary knew the Beryl-stone.
Dread is the meteor's blazing sphere
When the poles throb to its blind career;
But not with a light more grim and ghast
Thereby is the future doom forecast,
Than now this sight brought back the past.
The hours and minutes seemed to whirr
In a clanging swarm that deafened her;
They stung her heart to a writhing flame,
And marshalled past in its glare they came,—
Death and sorrow and sin and shame.
Round the Beryl's sphere she saw them pass
And mock her eyes from the fated glass:
One by one in a fiery train
The dead hours seemed to wax and wane,
And burned till all was known again.
From the drained heart's fount there rose no cry,
There sprang no tears, for the source was dry.
Held in the hand of some heavy law,
Her eyes she might not once withdraw,
Nor shrink away from the thing she saw.
Even as she gazed, through all her blood
The flame was quenched in a coming flood:
Out of the depth of the hollow gloom
On her soul's bare sands she felt it boom,—
The measured tide of a sea of doom.
Three steps she took through the altar-gate,
And her neck reared and her arms grew straight:
The sinews clenched like a serpent's throe,
And the face was white in the dark hair's flow,
As her hate beheld what lay below.
Dumb she stood in her malisons,—
A silver statue tressed with bronze:
As the fabled head by Perseus mown,
It seemed in sooth that her gaze alone
Had turned the carven shapes to stone.
O'er the altar-sides on either hand
There hung a dinted helm and brand:
By strength thereof, 'neath the Sacred Sign,
That bitter gift o'er the salt sea-brine
Her father brought from Palestine.
Rose Mary moved with a stern accord
And reached her hand to her father's sword;
Nor did she stir her gaze one whit
From the thing whereon her brows were knit;
But gazing still, she spoke to it.
“O ye, three times accurst,” she said,
“By whom this stone is tenanted!
Lo! here ye came by a strong sin's might;
Yet a sinner's hand that's weak to smite
Shall send you hence ere the day be night.
This hour a clear voice bade me know
My hand shall work your overthrow:
Another thing in mine ear it spake,—
With the broken spell my life shall break.
I thank Thee, God, for the dear death's sake!
And he Thy heavenly minister
Who swayed erewhile this spell-bound sphere,—
My parting soul let him haste to greet,
And none but he be guide for my feet
To where Thy rest is made complete.”
Then deep she breathed, with a tender moan:—
“My love, my lord, my only one!
Even as I held the cursed clue,
When thee, through me, these foul ones slew,—
By mine own deed shall they slay me too!
“Even while they speed to Hell, my love,
Two hearts shall meet in Heaven above.
Our shrift thou sought'st, but might'st not bring:
And oh! for me 'tis a blessed thing
To work hereby our ransoming.
One were our hearts in joy and pain,
And our souls e'en now grow one again.
And O my love, if our souls are three,
O thine and mine shall the third soul be,—
One threefold love eternally.”
Her eyes were soft as she spoke apart,
And the lips smiled to the broken heart:
But the glance was dark and the forehead scored
With the bitter frown of hate restored,
As her two hands swung the heavy sword.
Three steps back from her Foe she trod:—
“Love, for thy sake! In Thy Name, O God!”
In the fair white hands small strength was shown;
Yet the blade flashed high and the edge fell prone,
And she cleft the heart of the Beryl-stone.
What living flesh in the thunder-cloud
Hath sat and felt heaven cry aloud?
Or known how the levin's pulse may beat?
Or wrapped the hour when the whirlwinds meet
About its breast for a winding-sheet?
Who hath crouched at the world's deep heart
While the earthquake rends its loins apart?
Or walked far under the seething main
While overhead the heavens ordain
The tempest-towers of the hurricane?
Who hath seen or what ear hath heard
The secret things unregister'd
Of the place where all is past and done,
And tears and laughter sound as one
In Hell's unhallowed unison?
Nay, is it writ how the fiends despair
In earth and water and fire and air?
Even so no mortal tongue may tell
How to the clang of the sword that fell
The echoes shook the altar-cell.
When all was still on the air again
The Beryl-stone lay cleft in twain;
The veil was rent from the riven dome;
And every wind that's winged to roam
Might have the ruined place for home.
The fountain no more glittered free;
The fruit hung dead on the leafless tree;
The flame of the lamp had ceased to flare;
And the crystal casket shattered there
Was emptied now of its cloud of air.
And lo! on the ground Rose Mary lay,
With a cold brow like the snows ere May,
With a cold breast like the earth till Spring,
With such a smile as the June days bring
When the year grows warm with harvesting.
The death she had won might leave no trace
On the soft sweet form and gentle face:
In a gracious sleep she seemed to lie;
And over her head her hand on high
Held fast the sword she triumphed by.
'Twas then a clear voice said in the room:—
“Behold the end of the heavy doom.
O come,—for thy bitter love's sake blest;
By a sweet path now thou journeyest,
And I will lead thee to thy rest.
“Me thy sin by Heaven's sore ban
Did chase erewhile from the talisman:
But to my heart, as a conquered home,
In glory of strength thy footsteps come
Who hast thus cast forth my foes therefrom.
“Already thy heart remembereth
No more his name thou sought'st in death:
For under all deeps, all heights above,—
So wide the gulf in the midst thereof,—
Are Hell of Treason and Heaven of Love.
“Thee, true soul, shall thy truth prefer
To blessed Mary's rose-bower:
Warmed and lit is thy place afar
With guerdon-fires of the sweet Love-star
Where hearts of steadfast lovers are:—
“Though naught for the poor corpse lying here
Remain to-day but the cold white bier,
But burial-chaunt and bended knee,
But sighs and tears that heaviest be,
But rent rose-flower and rosemary.”


BERYL-SONG

We, cast forth from the Beryl,
Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
Whose pangs begin
With God's grace to sin,
For whose spent powers the immortal hours are sterile,—
Woe! must We behold this mother
Find grace in her dead child's face, and doubt of none other
But that perfect pardon, alas! hath assured her guerdon?
Woe! must We behold this daughter,
Made clean from the soil of sin wherewith We had fraught her,
Shake off a man's blood like water?
Write up her story
On the Gate of Heaven's glory,
Whom there We behold so fair in shining apparel,
And beneath her the ruin
Of our own undoing!
Alas, the Beryl!
We had for a foeman
But one weak woman;
In one day's strife,
Her hope fell dead from her life;
And yet no iron,
Her soul to environ,
Could this manslayer, this false soothsayer imperil!
Lo, where she bows
In the Holy House!
Who now shall dissever her soul from its joy for ever
While every ditty
Of love and plentiful pity
Fills the White City,
And the floor of Heaven to her feet for ever is given?
Hark, a voice cries “Flee!”
Woe! woe! what shelter have We,
Whose pangs begin
With God's grace to sin,
For whose spent powers the immortal hours are sterile,
Gyre-circling spirits of fire,
We, cast forth from the Beryl?

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II. Half-Rome

What, you, Sir, come too? (Just the man I'd meet.)
Be ruled by me and have a care o' the crowd:
This way, while fresh folk go and get their gaze:
I'll tell you like a book and save your shins.
Fie, what a roaring day we've had! Whose fault?
Lorenzo in Lucina,—here's a church
To hold a crowd at need, accommodate
All comers from the Corso! If this crush
Make not its priests ashamed of what they show
For temple-room, don't prick them to draw purse
And down with bricks and mortar, eke us out
The beggarly transept with its bit of apse
Into a decent space for Christian ease,
Why, to-day's lucky pearl is cast to swine.
Listen and estimate the luck they've had!
(The right man, and I hold him.)

Sir, do you see,
They laid both bodies in the church, this morn
The first thing, on the chancel two steps up,
Behind the little marble balustrade;
Disposed them, Pietro the old murdered fool
To the right of the altar, and his wretched wife
On the other side. In trying to count stabs,
People supposed Violante showed the most,
Till somebody explained us that mistake;
His wounds had been dealt out indifferent where,
But she took all her stabbings in the face,
Since punished thus solely for honour's sake,
Honoris causâ, that's the proper term.
A delicacy there is, our gallants hold,
When you avenge your honour and only then,
That you disfigure the subject, fray the face,
Not just take life and end, in clownish guise.
It was Violante gave the first offence,
Got therefore the conspicuous punishment:
While Pietro, who helped merely, his mere death
Answered the purpose, so his face went free.
We fancied even, free as you please, that face
Showed itself still intolerably wronged;
Was wrinkled over with resentment yet,
Nor calm at all, as murdered faces use,
Once the worst ended: an indignant air
O' the head there was—'t is said the body turned
Round and away, rolled from Violante's side
Where they had laid it loving-husband-like.
If so, if corpses can be sensitive,
Why did not he roll right down altar-step,
Roll on through nave, roll fairly out of church,
Deprive Lorenzo of the spectacle,
Pay back thus the succession of affronts
Whereto this church had served as theatre?
For see: at that same altar where he lies,
To that same inch of step, was brought the babe
For blessing after baptism, and there styled
Pompilia, and a string of names beside,
By his bad wife, some seventeen years ago,
Who purchased her simply to palm on him,
Flatter his dotage and defraud the heirs.
Wait awhile! Also to this very step
Did this Violante, twelve years afterward,
Bring, the mock-mother, that child-cheat full-grown,
Pompilia, in pursuance of her plot,
And there brave God and man a second time
By linking a new victim to the lie.
There, having made a match unknown to him,
She, still unknown to Pietro, tied the knot
Which nothing cuts except this kind of knife;
Yes, made her daughter, as the girl was held,
Marry a man, and honest man beside,
And man of birth to boot,—clandestinely
Because of this, because of that, because
O' the devil's will to work his worst for once,—
Confident she could top her part at need
And, when her husband must be told in turn,
Ply the wife's trade, play off the sex's trick
And, alternating worry with quiet qualms,
Bravado with submissiveness, prettily fool
Her Pietro into patience: so it proved.
Ay, 't is four years since man and wife they grew,
This Guido Franceschini and this same
Pompilia, foolishly thought, falsely declared
A Comparini and the couple's child:
Just at this altar where, beneath the piece
Of Master Guido Reni, Christ on cross,
Second to nought observable in Rome,
That couple lie now, murdered yestereve.
Even the blind can see a providence here.

From dawn till now that it is growing dusk,
A multitude has flocked and filled the church,
Coming and going, coming back again,
Till to count crazed one. Rome was at the show.
People climbed up the columns, fought for spikes
O' the chapel-rail to perch themselves upon,
Jumped over and so broke the wooden work
Painted like porphyry to deceive the eye;
Serve the priests right! The organ-loft was crammed,
Women were fainting, no few fights ensued,
In short, it was a show repaid your pains:
For, though their room was scant undoubtedly,
Yet they did manage matters, to be just,
A little at this Lorenzo. Body o' me!
I saw a body exposed once … never mind!
Enough that here the bodies had their due.
No stinginess in wax, a row all round,
And one big taper at each head and foot.

So, people pushed their way, and took their turn,
Saw, threw their eyes up, crossed themselves, gave place
To pressure from behind, since all the world
Knew the old pair, could talk the tragedy
Over from first to last: Pompilia too,
Those who had known her—what 't was worth to them!
Guido's acquaintance was in less request;
The Count had lounged somewhat too long in Rome,
Made himself cheap; with him were hand and glove
Barbers and blear-eyed, as the ancient sings.
Also he is alive and like to be:
Had he considerately died,—aha!
I jostled Luca Cini on his staff,
Mute in the midst, the whole man one amaze,
Staring amain and crossing brow and breast.
"How now?" asked I. "'T is seventy years," quoth he,
"Since I first saw, holding my father's hand,
"Bodies set forth: a many have I seen,
"Yet all was poor to this I live and see.
"Here the world's wickedness seals up the sum:
"What with Molinos' doctrine and this deed,
"Antichrist surely comes and doomsday's near.
"May I depart in peace, I have seen my see."
"Depart then," I advised, "nor block the road
"For youngsters still behindhand with such sights!"
"Why no," rejoins the venerable sire,
"I know it's horrid, hideous past belief,
"Burdensome far beyond what eye can bear;
"But they do promise, when Pompilia dies
"I' the course o' the day,—and she can't outlive night,—
"They'll bring her body also to expose
"Beside the parents, one, two, three a-breast;
"That were indeed a sight, which might I see,
"I trust I should not last to see the like!"
Whereat I bade the senior spare his shanks,
Since doctors give her till to-night to live,
And tell us how the butchery happened. "Ah,
"But you can't know!" sighs he, "I'll not despair:
"Beside I'm useful at explaining things—
"As, how the dagger laid there at the feet,
"Caused the peculiar cuts; I mind its make,
"Triangular i' the blade, a Genoese,
"Armed with those little hook-teeth on the edge
"To open in the flesh nor shut again:
"I like to teach a novice: I shall stay!"
And stay he did, and stay be sure he will.

A personage came by the private door
At noon to have his look: I name no names:
Well then, His Eminence the Cardinal,
Whose servitor in honourable sort
Guido was once, the same who made the match,
(Will you have the truth?) whereof we see effect.
No sooner whisper ran he was arrived
Than up pops Curate Carlo, a brisk lad,
Who never lets a good occasion slip,
And volunteers improving the event.
We looked he'd give the history's self some help,
Treat us to how the wife's confession went
(This morning she confessed her crime, we know)
And, may-be, throw in something of the Priest—
If he's not ordered back, punished anew,
The gallant, Caponsacchi, Lucifer
I' the garden where Pompilia, Eve-like, lured
Her Adam Guido to his fault and fall.
Think you we got a sprig of speech akin
To this from Carlo, with the Cardinal there?
Too wary he was, too widely awake, I trow.
He did the murder in a dozen words;
Then said that all such outrages crop forth
I' the course of nature when Molinos' tares
Are sown for wheat, flourish and choke the Church:
So slid on to the abominable sect
And the philosophic sin—we've heard all that,
And the Cardinal too, (who book-made on the same)
But, for the murder, left it where he found.
Oh but he's quick, the Curate, minds his game!
And, after all, we have the main o' the fact:
Case could not well be simpler,—mapped, as it were,
We follow the murder's maze from source to sea,
By the red line, past mistake: one sees indeed
Not only how all was and must have been,
But cannot other than be to the end of time.
Turn out here by the Ruspoli! Do you hold
Guido was so prodigiously to blame?
A certain cousin of yours has told you so?
Exactly! Here's a friend shall set you right,
Let him but have the handsel of your ear.

These wretched Comparini were once gay
And galliard, of the modest middle class:
Born in this quarter seventy years ago
And married young, they lived the accustomed life,
Citizens as they were of good repute:
And, childless, naturally took their ease
With only their two selves to care about
And use the wealth for: wealthy is the word,
Since Pietro was possessed of house and land—
And specially one house, when good days smiled,
In Via Vittoria, the aspectable street
Where he lived mainly; but another house
Of less pretension did he buy betimes,
The villa, meant for jaunts and jollity,
I' the Pauline district, to be private there
Just what puts murder in an enemy's head.
Moreover,—here's the worm i' the core, the germ
O' the rottenness and ruin which arrived,—
He owned some usufruct, had moneys' use
Lifelong, but to determine with his life
In heirs' default: so, Pietro craved an heir,
(The story always old and always new)
Shut his fool's-eyes fast on the visible good
And wealth for certain, opened them owl-wide
On fortune's sole piece of forgetfulness,
The child that should have been and would not be.

Hence, seventeen years ago, conceive his glee
When first Violante, 'twixt a smile and blush,
With touch of agitation proper too,
Announced that, spite of her unpromising age,
The miracle would in time be manifest,
An heir's birth was to happen: and it did.
Somehow or other,—how, all in good time!
By a trick, a sleight of hand you are to hear,—
A child was born, Pompilia, for his joy,
Plaything at once and prop, a fairy-gift,
A saints' grace or, say, grant of the good God,—
A fiddle-pin's end! What imbeciles are we!
Look now: if some one could have prophesied,
"For love of you, for liking to your wife,
"I undertake to crush a snake I spy
"Settling itself i' the soft of both your breasts.
"Give me yon babe to strangle painlessly!
"She'll soar to the safe: you'll have your crying out,
"Then sleep, then wake, then sleep, then end your days
"In peace and plenty, mixed with mild regret,
"Thirty years hence when Christmas takes old folk"—
How had old Pietro sprung up, crossed himself,
And kicked the conjuror! Whereas you and I,
Being wise with after-wit, had clapped our hands;
Nay, added, in the old fool's interest,
"Strangle the black-eyed babe, so far so good,
"But on condition you relieve the man
"O' the wife and throttle him Violante too—
"She is the mischief!"

We had hit the mark.
She, whose trick brought the babe into the world,
She it was, when the babe was grown a girl,
Judged a new trick should reinforce the old,
Send vigour to the lie now somewhat spent
By twelve years' service; lest Eve's rule decline
Over this Adam of hers, whose cabbage-plot
Throve dubiously since turned fools' paradise,
Spite of a nightingale on every stump.
Pietro's estate was dwindling day by day,
While he, rapt far above such mundane care,
Crawled all-fours with his baby pick-a-back,
Sat at serene cats'-cradle with his child,
Or took the measured tallness, top to toe,
Of what was grown a great girl twelve years old:
Till sudden at the door a tap discreet,
A visitor's premonitory cough,
And poverty had reached him in her rounds.

This came when he was past the working-time,
Had learned to dandle and forgot to dig,
And who must but Violante cast about,
Contrive and task that head of hers again?
She who had caught one fish, could make that catch
A bigger still, in angler's policy:
So, with an angler's mercy for the bait,
Her minnow was set wriggling on its barb
And tossed to mid-stream; which means, this grown girl
With the great eyes and bounty of black hair
And first crisp youth that tempts a jaded taste,
Was whisked i' the way of a certain man, who snapped.

Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine
Was head of an old noble house enough,
Not over-rich, you can't have everything,
But such a man as riches rub against,
Readily stick to,—one with a right to them
Born in the blood: 't was in his very brow
Always to knit itself against the world,
Beforehand so, when that world stinted due
Service and suit: the world ducks and defers.
As such folks do, he had come up to Rome
To better his fortune, and, since many years,
Was friend and follower of a cardinal;
Waiting the rather thus on providence
That a shrewd younger poorer brother yet,
The Abate Paolo, a regular priest,
Had long since tried his powers and found he swam
With the deftest on the Galilean pool:
But then he was a web-foot, free o' the wave,
And no ambiguous dab-chick hatched to strut,
Humbled by any fond attempt to swim
When fiercer fowl usurped his dunghill top—
A whole priest, Paolo, no mere piece of one
Like Guido tacked thus to the Church's tail!
Guido moreover, as the head o' the house,
Claiming the main prize, not the lesser luck,
The centre lily, no mere chickweed fringe.

He waited and learned waiting, thirty years;
Got promise, missed performance—what would you have?
No petty post rewards a nobleman
For spending youth in splendid lackey-work,
And there's concurrence for each rarer prize;
When that falls, rougher hand and readier foot
Push aside Guido spite of his black looks.
The end was, Guido, when the warning showed,
The first white hair i' the glass, gave up the game,
Determined on returning to his town,
Making the best of bad incurable,
Patching the old palace up and lingering there
The customary life out with his kin,
Where honour helps to spice the scanty bread.

Just as he trimmed his lamp and girt his loins
To go his journey and be wise at home,
In the right mood of disappointed worth,
Who but Violante sudden spied her prey
(Where was I with that angler-simile?)
And threw her bait, Pompilia, where he sulked—
A gleam i' the gloom!

What if he gained thus much,
Wrung out this sweet drop from the bitter Past,
Bore off this rose-bud from the prickly brake
To justify such torn clothes and scratched hands,
And, after all, brought something back from Rome?
Would not a wife serve at Arezzo well
To light the dark house, lend a look of youth
To the mother's face grown meagre, left alone
And famished with the emptiness of hope,
Old Donna Beatrice? Wife you want
Would you play family-representative,
Carry you elder-brotherly, high and right
O'er what may prove the natural petulance
Of the third brother, younger, greedier still,
Girolamo, also a fledgeling priest,
Beginning life in turn with callow beak
Agape for luck, no luck had stopped and stilled.
Such were the pinks and greys about the bait
Persuaded Guido gulp down hook and all.
What constituted him so choice a catch,
You question? Past his prime and poor beside!
Ask that of any she who knows the trade.
Why first, here was a nobleman with friends,
A palace one might run to and be safe
When presently the threatened fate should fall,
A big-browed master to block door-way up,
Parley with people bent on pushing by
And praying the mild Pietro quick clear scores:
Is birth a privilege and power or no?
Also,—but judge of the result desired,
By the price paid and manner of the sale.
The Count was made woo, win and wed at once:
Asked, and was haled for answer, lest the heat
Should cool, to San Lorenzo, one blind eve,
And had Pompilia put into his arms
O' the sly there, by a hasty candle-blink,
With sanction of some priest-confederate
Properly paid to make short work and sure.

So did old Pietro's daughter change her style
For Guido Franceschini's lady-wife
Ere Guido knew it well; and why this haste
And scramble and indecent secrecy?
"Lest Pietro, all the while in ignorance,
"Should get to learn, gainsay and break the match:
"His peevishness had promptly put aside
"Such honour and refused the proffered boon,
"Pleased to become authoritative once.
"She remedied the wilful man's mistake—"
Did our discreet Violante. Rather say,
Thus did she, lest the object of her game,
Guido the gulled one, give him but a chance,
A moment's respite, time for thinking twice,
Might count the cost before he sold himself,
And try the clink of coin they paid him with.

But coin paid, bargain struck and business done,
Once the clandestine marriage over thus,
All parties made perforce the best o' the fact;
Pietro could play vast indignation off,
Be ignorant and astounded, dupe, poor soul,
Please you, of daughter, wife and son-in-law,
While Guido found himself in flagrant fault,
Must e'en do suit and service, soothe, subdue
A father not unreasonably chafed,
Bring him to terms by paying son's devoir.
Pleasant initiation!

The end, this:
Guido's broad back was saddled to bear all
Pietro, Violante, and Pompilia too,—
Three lots cast confidently in one lap,
Three dead-weights with one arm to lift the three
Out of their limbo up to life again.
The Roman household was to strike fresh root
In a new soil, graced with a novel name,
Gilt with an alien glory, Aretine
Henceforth and never Roman any more,
By treaty and engagement; thus it ran:
Pompilia's dowry for Pompilia's self
As a thing of course,—she paid her own expense;
No loss nor gain there: but the couple, you see,
They, for their part, turned over first of all
Their fortune in its rags and rottenness
To Guido, fusion and confusion, he
And his with them and theirs,—whatever rag
With coin residuary fell on floor
When Brother Paolo's energetic shake
Should do the relics justice: since 't was thought,
Once vulnerable Pietro out of reach,
That, left at Rome as representative,
The Abate, backed by a potent patron here,
And otherwise with purple flushing him,
Might play a good game with the creditor,
Make up a moiety which, great or small,
Should go to the common stock—if anything,
Guido's, so far repayment of the cost
About to be,—and if, as looked more like,
Nothing,—why, all the nobler cost were his
Who guaranteed, for better or for worse,
To Pietro and Violante, house and home,
Kith and kin, with the pick of company
And life o' the fat o' the land while life should last.
How say you to the bargain at first blush?
Why did a middle-aged not-silly man
Show himself thus besotted all at once?
Quoth Solomon, one black eye does it all.

They went to Arezzo,—Pietro and his spouse,
With just the dusk o' the day of life to spend,
Eager to use the twilight, taste a treat,
Enjoy for once with neither stay nor stint
The luxury of lord-and-lady-ship,
And realize the stuff and nonsense long
A-simmer in their noddles; vent the fume
Born there and bred, the citizen's conceit
How fares nobility while crossing earth,
What rampart or invisible body-guard
Keeps off the taint of common life from such.
They had not fed for nothing on the tales
Of grandees who give banquets worthy Jove,
Spending gold as if Plutus paid a whim,
Served with obeisances as when … what God?
I'm at the end of my tether; 't is enough
You understand what they came primed to see:
While Guido who should minister the sight,
Stay all this qualmish greediness of soul
With apples and with flagons—for his part,
Was set on life diverse as pole from pole:
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye,—what else
Was he just now awake from, sick and sage,
After the very debauch they would begin?—
Suppose such stuff and nonsense really were.
That bubble, they were bent on blowing big,
He had blown already till he burst his cheeks,
And hence found soapsuds bitter to the tongue.
He hoped now to walk softly all his days
In soberness of spirit, if haply so,
Pinching and paring he might furnish forth
A frugal board, bare sustenance, no more,
Till times, that could not well grow worse, should mend.

Thus minded then, two parties mean to meet
And make each other happy. The first week,
And fancy strikes fact and explodes in full.
"This," shrieked the Comparini, "this the Count,
"The palace, the signorial privilege,
"The pomp and pageantry were promised us?
"For this have we exchanged our liberty,
"Our competence, our darling of a child?
"To house as spectres in a sepulchre
"Under this black stone-heap, the street's disgrace,
"Grimmest as that is of the gruesome town,
"And here pick garbage on a pewter plate
"Or cough at verjuice dripped from earthenware?
"Oh Via Vittoria, oh the other place
"I' the Pauline, did we give you up for this?
"Where's the foregone housekeeping good and gay,
"The neighbourliness, the companionship,
"The treat and feast when holidays came round,
"The daily feast that seemed no treat at all,
"Called common by the uncommon fools we were!
"Even the sun that used to shine at Rome,
"Where is it? Robbed and starved and frozen too,
"We will have justice, justice if there be!"
Did not they shout, did not the town resound!
Guido's old lady-mother Beatrice,
Who since her husband, Count Tommaso's death,
Had held sole sway i' the house,—the doited crone
Slow to acknowledge, curtsey and abdicate,—
Was recognized of true novercal type,
Dragon and devil. His brother Girolamo
Came next in order: priest was he? The worse!
No way of winning him to leave his mumps
And help the laugh against old ancestry
And formal habits long since out of date,
Letting his youth be patterned on the mode
Approved of where Violante laid down law.
Or did he brighten up by way of change,
Dispose himself for affability?
The malapert, too complaisant by half
To the alarmed young novice of a bride!
Let him go buzz, betake himself elsewhere
Nor singe his fly-wings in the candle-flame!

Four months' probation of this purgatory,
Dog-snap and cat-claw, curse and counterblast,
The devil's self were sick of his own din;
And Pietro, after trumpeting huge wrongs
At church and market-place, pillar and post,
Square's corner, street's end, now the palace-step
And now the wine-house bench—while, on her side,
Violante up and down was voluble
In whatsoever pair of ears would perk
From goody, gossip, cater-cousin and sib,
Curious to peep at the inside of things
And catch in the act pretentious poverty
At its wits' end to keep appearance up,
Make both ends meet,—nothing the vulgar loves
Like what this couple pitched them right and left.
Then, their worst done that way, both struck tent, marched:
—Renounced their share o' the bargain, flung what dues
Guido was bound to pay, in Guido's face,
Left their hearts'-darling, treasure of the twain
And so forth, the poor inexperienced bride,
To her own devices, bade Arezzo rot,
Cursed life signorial, and sought Rome once more.

I see the comment ready on your lip,
"The better fortune, Guido's—free at least
"By this defection of the foolish pair,
"He could begin make profit in some sort
"Of the young bride and the new quietness,
"Lead his own life now, henceforth breathe unplagued."
Could he? You know the sex like Guido's self.
Learn the Violante-nature!

Once in Rome,
By way of helping Guido lead such life,
Her first act to inaugurate return
Was, she got pricked in conscience: Jubilee
Gave her the hint. Our Pope, as kind as just,
Attained his eighty years, announced a boon
Should make us bless the fact, held Jubilee—
Short shrift, prompt pardon for the light offence
And no rough dealing with the regular crime
So this occasion were not suffered slip—
Otherwise, sins commuted as before,
Without the least abatement in the price.
Now, who had thought it? All this while, it seems,
Our sage Violante had a sin of a sort
She must compound for now or not at all.
Now be the ready riddance! She confessed
Pompilia was a fable not a fact:
She never bore a child in her whole life.
Had this child been a changeling, that were grace
In some degree, exchange is hardly theft,
You take your stand on truth ere leap your lie:
Here was all lie, no touch of truth at all,
All the lie hers—not even Pietro guessed
He was as childless still as twelve years since.
The babe had been a find i' the filth-heap, Sir,
Catch from the kennel! There was found at Rome,
Down in the deepest of our social dregs,
A woman who professed the wanton's trade
Under the requisite thin coverture,
Communis meretrix and washer-wife:
The creature thus conditioned found by chance
Motherhood like a jewel in the muck,
And straightway either trafficked with her prize
Or listened to the tempter and let be,—
Made pact abolishing her place and part
In womankind, beast-fellowship indeed.
She sold this babe eight months before its birth
To our Violante, Pietro's honest spouse,
Well-famed and widely-instanced as that crown
To the husband, virtue in a woman's shape.
She it was, bought, paid for, passed off the thing
As very flesh and blood and child of her
Despite the flagrant fifty years,—and why?
Partly to please old Pietro, fill his cup
With wine at the late hour when lees are left,
And send him from life's feast rejoicingly,—
Partly to cheat the rightful heirs, agape,
Each uncle's cousin's brother's son of him,
For that same principal of the usufruct
It vext him he must die and leave behind.

Such was the sin had come to be confessed.
Which of the tales, the first or last, was true?
Did she so sin once, or, confessing now,
Sin for the first time? Either way you will.
One sees a reason for the cheat: one sees
A reason for a cheat in owning cheat
Where no cheat had been. What of the revenge?
What prompted the contrition all at once,
Made the avowal easy, the shame slight?
Why, prove they but Pompilia not their child,
No child, no dowry! this, supposed their child,
Had claimed what this, shown alien to their blood,
Claimed nowise: Guido's claim was through his wife,
Null then and void with hers. The biter bit,
Do you see! For such repayment of the past,
One might conceive the penitential pair
Ready to bring their case before the courts,
Publish their infamy to all the world
And, arm in arm, go chuckling thence content.

Is this your view? 'T was Guido's anyhow
And colourable: he came forward then,
Protested in his very bride's behalf
Against this lie and all it led to, least
Of all the loss o' the dowry; no! From her
And him alike he would expunge the blot,
Erase the brand of such a bestial birth,
Participate in no hideous heritage
Gathered from the gutter to be garnered up
And glorified in a palace. Peter and Paul!
But that who likes may look upon the pair
Exposed in yonder church, and show his skill
By saying which is eye and which is mouth
Thro' those stabs thick and threefold,—but for that
A strong word on the liars and their lie
Might crave expression and obtain it, Sir!
—Though prematurely, since there's more to come,
More that will shake your confidence in things
Your cousin tells you,—may I be so bold?

This makes the first act of the farce,—anon
The sombre element comes stealing in
Till all is black or blood-red in the piece.
Guido, thus made a laughing-stock abroad,
A proverb for the market-place at home,
Left alone with Pompilia now, this graft
So reputable on his ancient stock,
This plague-seed set to fester his sound flesh,
What does the Count? Revenge him on his wife?
Unfasten at all risks to rid himself
The noisome lazar-badge, fall foul of fate,
And, careless whether the poor rag was ware
O' the part it played, or helped unwittingly,
Bid it go burn and leave his frayed flesh free?
Plainly, did Guido open both doors wide,
Spurn thence the cur-cast creature and clear scores
As man might, tempted in extreme like this?
No, birth and breeding, and compassion too
Saved her such scandal. She was young, he thought,
Not privy to the treason, punished most
I' the proclamation of it; why make her
A party to the crime she suffered by?
Then the black eyes were now her very own,
Not any more Violante's: let her live,
Lose in a new air, under a new sun,
The taint of the imputed parentage
Truly or falsely, take no more the touch
Of Pietro and his partner anyhow!
All might go well yet.

So she thought, herself,
It seems, since what was her first act and deed
When news came how these kindly ones at Rome
Had stripped her naked to amuse the world
With spots here, spots there and spots everywhere?
—For I should tell you that they noised abroad
Not merely the main scandal of her birth,
But slanders written, printed, published wide,
Pamphlets which set forth all the pleasantry
Of how the promised glory was a dream,
The power a bubble, and the wealth—why, dust.
There was a picture, painted to the life,
Of those rare doings, that superlative
Initiation in magnificence
Conferred on a poor Roman family
By favour of Arezzo and her first
And famousest, the Franceschini there.
You had the Countship holding head aloft
Bravely although bespattered, shifts and straits
In keeping out o' the way o' the wheels o' the world,
The comic of those home-contrivances
When the old lady-mother's with was taxed
To find six clamorous mouths in food more real
Than fruit plucked off the cobwebbed family-tree,
Or acorns shed from its gilt mouldered frame—
Cold glories served up with stale fame for sauce.
What, I ask,—when the drunkenness of hate
Hiccuped return for hospitality,
Befouled the table they had feasted on,
Or say,—God knows I'll not prejudge the case,—
Grievances thus distorted, magnified,
Coloured by quarrel into calumny,—
What side did our Pompilia first espouse?
Her first deliberate measure was—she wrote,
Pricked by some loyal impulse, straight to Rome
And her husband's brother the Abate there,
Who, having managed to effect the match,
Might take men's censure for its ill success.
She made a clean breast also in her turn,
And qualified the couple properly,
Since whose departure, hell, she said, was heaven,
And the house, late distracted by their peals,
Quiet as Carmel where the lilies live.
Herself had oftentimes complained: but why?
All her complaints had been their prompting, tales
Trumped up, devices to this very end.
Their game had been to thwart her husband's love
And cross his will, malign his words and ways,
To reach this issue, furnish this pretence
For impudent withdrawal from their bond,—
Theft, indeed murder, since they meant no less
Whose last injunction to her simple self
Had been—what parents'-precept do you think?
That she should follow after with all speed,
Fly from her husband's house clandestinely,
Join them at Rome again, but first of all
Pick up a fresh companion in her flight,
So putting youth and beauty to fit use,—
Some gay dare-devil cloak-and-rapier spark
Capable of adventure,—helped by whom
She, some fine eve when lutes were in the air,
Having put poison in the posset-cup,
Laid hands on money, jewels and the like,
And, to conceal the thing with more effect,
By way of parting benediction too,
Fired the house,—one would finish famously
I' the tumult, slip out, scurry off and away
And turn up merrily at home once more.
Fact this, and not a dream o' the devil, Sir!
And more than this, a fact none dare dispute,
Word for word, such a letter did she write,
And such the Abate read, nor simply read
But gave all Rome to ruminate upon,
In answer to such charges as, I say,
The couple sought to be beforehand with.

The cause thus carried to the courts at Rome,
Guido away, the Abate had no choice
But stand forth, take his absent brother's part,
Defend the honour of himself beside.
He made what head he might against the pair,
Maintained Pompilia's birth legitimate
And all her rights intact—hers, Guido's now:
And so far by his policy turned their flank,
(The enemy being beforehand in the place)
That,—though the courts allowed the cheat for fact,
Suffered Violante to parade her shame,
Publish her infamy to heart's content,
And let the tale o' the feigned birth pass for proved,—
Yet they stopped there, refused to intervene
And dispossess the innocents, befooled
By gifts o' the guilty, at guilt's new caprice.
They would not take away the dowry now
Wrongfully given at first, nor bar at all
Succession to the aforesaid usufruct,
Established on a fraud, nor play the game
Of Pietro's child and now not Pietro's child
As it might suit the gamester's purpose. Thus
Was justice ever ridiculed in Rome:
Such be the double verdicts favoured here
Which send away both parties to a suit
Nor puffed up nor cast down,—for each a crumb
Of right, for neither of them the whole loaf.
Whence, on the Comparini's part, appeal—
Counter-appeal on Guido's,—that's the game:
And so the matter stands, even to this hour,
Bandied as balls are in a tennis-court,
And so might stand, unless some heart broke first,
Till doomsday.

Leave it thus, and now revert
To the old Arezzo whence we moved to Rome.
We've had enough o' the parents, false or true,
Now for a touch o' the daughter's quality.
The start's fair henceforth, every obstacle
Out of the young wife's footpath, she's alone,
Left to walk warily now: how does she walk?
Why, once a dwelling's threshold marked and crossed
In rubric by the enemy on his rounds
As eligible, as fit place of prey,
Baffle him henceforth, keep him out who can!
Stop up the door at the first hint of hoof,
Presently at the window taps a horn,
And Satan's by your fireside, never fear!
Pompilia, left alone now, found herself;
Found herself young too, sprightly, fair enough,
Matched with a husband old beyond his age
(Though that was something like four times her own)
Because of cares past, present and to come:
Found too the house dull and its inmates dead,
So, looked outside for light and life.

And love
Did in a trice turn up with life and light,—
The man with the aureole, sympathy made flesh,
The all-consoling Caponsacchi, Sir!
A priest—what else should the consoler be?
With goodly shoulderblade and proper leg,
A portly make and a symmetric shape,
And curls that clustered to the tonsure quite.
This was a bishop in the bud, and now
A canon full-blown so far: priest, and priest
Nowise exorbitantly overworked,
The courtly Christian, not so much Saint Paul
As a saint of Cæsar's household: there posed he
Sending his god-glance after his shot shaft,
Apollos turned Apollo, while the snake
Pompilia writhed transfixed through all her spires.
He, not a visitor at Guido's house,
Scarce an acquaintance, but in prime request
With the magnates of Arezzo, was seen here,
Heard there, felt everywhere in Guido's path
If Guido's wife's path be her husband's too.
Now he threw comfits at the theatre
Into her lap,—what harm in Carnival?
Now he pressed close till his foot touched her gown,
His hand brushed hers,—how help on promenade?
And, ever on weighty business, found his steps
Incline to a certain haunt of doubtful fame
Which fronted Guido's palace by mere chance;
While—how do accidents sometimes combine!—
Pompilia chose to cloister up her charms
Just in a chamber that o'erlooked the street,
Sat there to pray, or peep thence at mankind.

This passage of arms and wits amused the town.
At last the husband lifted eyebrow,—bent
On day-book and the study how to wring
Half the due vintage from the worn-out vines
At the villa, tease a quarter the old rent
From the farmstead, tenants swore would tumble soon,—
Pricked up his ear a-singing day and night
With "ruin, ruin;"—and so surprised at last—
Why, what else but a titter? Up he jumps.
Back to mind come those scratchings at the grange,
Prints of the paw about the outhouse; rife
In his head at once again are word and wink,
Mum here and budget there, the smell o' the fox,
The must o' the gallant. "Friends, there's falseness here!"

The proper help of friends in such a strait
Is waggery, the world over. Laugh him free
O' the regular jealous-fit that's incident
To all old husbands that wed brisk young wives,
And he'll go duly docile all his days.
"Somebody courts your wife, Count? Where and when?
"How and why? Mere horn-madness: have a care!
"Your lady loves her own room, sticks to it,
"Locks herself in for hours, you say yourself.
"And—what, it's Caponsacchi means you harm?
"The Canon? We caress him, he's the world's,
"A man of such acceptance—never dream,
"Though he were fifty times the fox you fear,
"He'd risk his brush for your particular chick,
"When the wide town's his hen-roost! Fie o' the fool!"
So they dispensed their comfort of a kind.
Guido at last cried "Something is in the air,
"Under the earth, some plot against my peace.
"The trouble of eclipse hangs overheard;
"How it should come of that officious orb
"Your Canon in my system, you must say:
"I say—that from the pressure of this spring
"Began the chime and interchange of bells,
"Ever one whisper, and one whisper more,
"And just one whisper for the silvery last,
"Till all at once a-row the bronze-throats burst
"Into a larum both significant
"And sinister: stop it I must and will.
"Let Caponsacchi take his hand away
"From the wire!—disport himself in other paths
"Than lead precisely to my palace-gate,—
"Look where he likes except one window's way
"Where, cheek on hand, and elbow set on sill,
"Happens to lean and say her litanies
"Every day and all day long, just my wife—
"Or wife and Caponsacchi may fare the worse!"

Admire the man's simplicity, "I'll do this,
"I'll not have that, I'll punish and prevent!"—
'T is easy saying. But to a fray, you see,
Two parties go. The badger shows his teeth:
The fox nor lies down sheep-like nor dares fight.
Oh, the wife knew the appropriate warfare well,
The way to put suspicion to the blush!
At first hint of remonstrance, up and out
I' the face of the world, you found her: she could speak,
State her case,—Franceschini was a name,
Guido had his full share of foes and friends—
Why should not she call these to arbitrate?
She bade the Governor do governance,
Cried out on the Archbishop,—why, there now,
Take him for sample! Three successive times,
Had he to reconduct her by main-force
From where she took her station opposite
His shut door,—on the public steps thereto,
Wringing her hands, when he came out to see,
And shrieking all her wrongs forth at his foot,—
Back to the husband and the house she fled:
Judge if that husband warmed him in the face
Of friends or frowned on foes as heretofore!
Judge if he missed the natural grin of folk,
Or lacked the customary compliment
Of cap and bells, the luckless husband's fit!

So it went on and on till—who was right?
One merry April morning, Guido woke
After the cuckoo, so late, near noonday,
With an inordinate yawning of the jaws,
Ears plugged, eyes gummed together, palate, tongue
And teeth one mud-paste made of poppy-milk;
And found his wife flown, his scritoire the worse
For a rummage,—jewelry that was, was not,
Some money there had made itself wings too,—
The door lay wide and yet the servants slept
Sound as the dead, or dosed which does as well.
In short, Pompilia, she who, candid soul,
Had not so much as spoken all her life
To the Canon, nay, so much as peeped at him
Between her fingers while she prayed in church,—
This lamb-like innocent of fifteen years
(Such she was grown to by this time of day)
Had simply put an opiate in the drink
Of the whole household overnight, and then
Got up and gone about her work secure,
Laid hand on this waif and the other stray,
Spoiled the Philistine and marched out of doors
In company of the Canon who, Lord's love,
What with his daily duty at the church,
Nightly devoir where ladies congregate,
Had something else to mind, assure yourself,
Beside Pompilia, paragon though she be,
Or notice if her nose were sharp or blunt!
Well, anyhow, albeit impossible,
Both of them were together jollily
Jaunting it Rome-ward, half-way there by this,
While Guido was left go and get undrugged,
Gather his wits up, groaningly give thanks
When neighbours crowded round him to condole.
"Ah," quoth a gossip, "well I mind me now,
"The Count did always say he thought he felt
"He feared as if this very chance might fall!
"And when a man of fifty finds his corns
"Ache and his joints throb, and foresees a storm,
"Though neighbours laugh and say the sky is clear,
"Let us henceforth believe him weatherwise!"
Then was the story told, I'll cut you short:
All neighbours knew: no mystery in the world.
The lovers left at nightfall—over night
Had Caponsacchi come to carry off
Pompilia,—not alone, a friend of his,
One Guillichini, the more conversant
With Guido's housekeeping that he was just
A cousin of Guido's and might play a prank—
(Have not you too a cousin that's a wag?)
—Lord and a Canon also,—what would you have?
Such are the red-clothed milk-swollen poppy-heads
That stand and stiffen 'mid the wheat o' the Church!—
This worthy came to aid, abet his best.
And so the house was ransacked, booty bagged,
The lady led downstairs and out of doors
Guided and guarded till, the city passed,
A carriage lay convenient at the gate.
Good-bye to the friendly Canon; the loving one
Could peradventure do the rest himself.
In jumps Pompilia, after her the priest,
"Whip, driver! Money makes the mare to go,
"And we've a bagful. Take the Roman road!"
So said the neighbours. This was eight hours since.

Guido heard all, swore the befitting oaths,
Shook off the relics of his poison-drench,
Got horse, was fairly started in pursuit
With never a friend to follow, found the track
Fast enough, 't was the straight Perugia way,
Trod soon upon their very heels, too late
By a minute only at Camoscia, reached
Chiusi, Foligno, ever the fugitives
Just ahead, just out as he galloped in,
Getting the good news ever fresh and fresh,
Till, lo, at the last stage of all, last post
Before Rome,—as we say, in sight of Rome
And safety (there's impunity at Rome
For priests, you know) at—what's the little place?—
What some call Castelnuovo, some just call
The Osteria, because o' the post-house inn,
There, at the journey's all but end, it seems,
Triumph deceived them and undid them both,
Secure they might foretaste felicity
Nor fear surprisal: so, they were surprised.
There did they halt at early evening, there
Did Guido overtake them: 't was day-break;
He came in time enough, not time too much,
Since in the courtyard stood the Canon's self
Urging the drowsy stable-grooms to haste
Harness the horses, have the journey end,
The trifling four-hours'-running, so reach Rome.
And the other runaway, the wife? Upstairs,
Still on the couch where she had spent the night,
One couch in one room, and one room for both.
So gained they six hours, so were lost thereby.

Sir, what's the sequel? Lover and beloved
Fall on their knees? No impudence serves here?
They beat their breasts and beg for easy death,
Confess this, that and the other?—anyhow
Confess there wanted not some likelihood
To the supposition so preposterous,
That, O Pompilia, thy sequestered eyes
Had noticed, straying o'er the prayerbook's edge,
More of the Canon than that black his coat,
Buckled his shoes were, broad his hat of brim:
And that, O Canon, thy religious care
Had breathed too soft a benedicite
To banish trouble from a lady's breast
So lonely and so lovely, nor so lean!
This you expect? Indeed, then, much you err.
Not to such ordinary end as this
Had Caponsacchi flung the cassock far,
Doffed the priest, donned the perfect cavalier.
The die was cast: over shoes over boots:
And just as she, I presently shall show,
Pompilia, soon looked Helen to the life,
Recumbent upstairs in her pink and white,
So, in the inn-yard, bold as 't were Troy-town,
There strutted Paris in correct costume,
Cloak, cap and feather, no appointment missed,
Even to a wicked-looking sword at side,
He seemed to find and feel familiar at.
Nor wanted words as ready and as big
As the part he played, the bold abashless one.
"I interposed to save your wife from death,
"Yourself from shame, the true and only shame:
"Ask your own conscience else!—or, failing that,
"What I have done I answer, anywhere,
"Here, if you will; you see I have a sword:
"Or, since I have a tonsure as you taunt,
"At Rome, by all means,—priests to try a priest.
"Only, speak where your wife's voice can reply!"
And then he fingered at the sword again.
So, Guido called, in aid and witness both,
The Public Force. The Commissary came,
Officers also; they secured the priest;
Then, for his more confusion, mounted up
With him, a guard on either side, the stair
To the bed-room where still slept or feigned a sleep
His paramour and Guido's wife: in burst
The company and bade her wake and rise.

Her defence? This. She woke, saw, sprang upright
I' the midst and stood as terrible as truth,
Sprang to her husband's side, caught at the sword
That hung there useless,—since they held each hand
O' the lover, had disarmed him properly,—
And in a moment out flew the bright thing
Full in the face of Guido: but for help
O' the guards who held her back and pinioned her
With pains enough, she had finished you my tale
With a flourish of red all round it, pinked her man
Prettily; but she fought them one to six.
They stopped that,—but her tongue continued free:
She spat forth such invective at her spouse,
O'erfrothed him with such foam of murderer,
Thief, pandar—that the popular tide soon turned,
The favour of the very sbirri, straight
Ebbed from the husband, set toward his wife,
People cried "Hands off, pay a priest respect!"
And "persecuting fiend" and "martyred saint"
Began to lead a measure from lip to lip.

But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things,
And the question "Prithee, friend, how comes my purse
"I' the poke of you?"—admits of no reply.
Here was a priest found out in masquerade,
A wife caught playing truant if no more;
While the Count, mortified in mien enough,
And, nose to face, an added palm in length,
Was plain writ "husband" every piece of him:
Capture once made, release could hardly be.
Beside, the prisoners both made appeal,
"Take us to Rome!"

Taken to Rome they were;
The husband trooping after, piteously,
Tail between legs, no talk of triumph now—
No honour set firm on its feet once more
On two dead bodies of the guilty,—nay,
No dubious salve to honour's broken pate
From chance that, after all, the hurt might seem
A skin-deep matter, scratch that leaves no scar:
For Guido's first search,—ferreting, poor soul,
Here, there and everywhere in the vile place
Abandoned to him when their backs were turned,
Found,—furnishing a last and best regale,—
All the love-letters bandied 'twixt the pair
Since the first timid trembling into life
O' the love-star till its stand at fiery full.
Mad prose, mad verse, fears, hopes, triumph, despair,
Avowal, disclaimer, plans, dates, names,—was nought
Wanting to prove, if proof consoles at all,
That this had been but the fifth act o' the piece
Whereof the due proemium, months ago
These playwrights had put forth, and ever since
Matured the middle, added 'neath his nose.
He might go cross himself: the case was clear.

Therefore to Rome with the clear case; there plead
Each party its best, and leave law do each right,
Let law shine forth and show, as God in heaven,
Vice prostrate, virtue pedestalled at last,
The triumph of truth! What else shall glad our gaze
When once authority has knit the brow
And set the brain behind it to decide
Between the wolf and sheep turned litigants?
"This is indeed a business!" law shook head:
"A husband charges hard things on a wife,
"The wife as hard o' the husband: whose fault here?
"A wife that flies her husband's house, does wrong:
"The male friend's interference looks amiss,
"Lends a suspicion: but suppose the wife,
"On the other hand, be jeopardized at home—
"Nay, that she simply hold, ill-groundedly,
"An apprehension she is jeopardized,—
"And further, if the friend partake the fear,
"And, in a commendable charity
"Which trusteth all, trust her that she mistrusts,—
"What do they but obey law—natural law?
"Pretence may this be and a cloak for sin,
"And circumstances that concur i' the close
"Hint as much, loudly—yet scarce loud enough
"To drown the answer 'strange may yet be true:'
"Innocence often looks like guiltiness.
"The accused declare that in thought, word and deed,
"Innocent were they both from first to last
"As male-babe haply laid by female-babe
"At church on edge of the baptismal font
"Together for a minute, perfect-pure.
"Difficult to believe, yet possible,
"As witness Joseph, the friend's patron-saint.
"The night at the inn—there charity nigh chokes
"Ere swallow what they both asseverate;
"Though down the gullet faith may feel it go,
"When mindful of what flight fatigued the flesh
"Out of its faculty and fleshliness,
"Subdued it to the soul, as saints assure:
"So long a flight necessitates a fall
"On the first bed, though in a lion's den,
"And the first pillow, though the lion's back:
"Difficult to believe, yet possible.
"Last come the letters' bundled beastliness—
"Authority repugns give glance to—nay,
"Turns head, and almost lets her whip-lash fall;
"Yet here a voice cries 'Respite!' from the clouds—
"the accused, both in a tale, protest, disclaim,
"Abominate the horror: 'Not my hand'
"Asserts the friend—'Nor mine' chimes in the wife,
"'Seeing I have no hand, nor write at all.'
"Illiterate—for she goes on to ask,
"What if the friend did pen now verse now prose,
"Commend it to her notice now and then?
"'T was pearls to swine: she read no more than wrote,
"And kept no more than read, for as they fell
"She ever brushed the burr-like things away,
"Or, better, burned them, quenched the fire in smoke.
"As for this fardel, filth and foolishness,
"She sees it now the first time: burn it too!
"While for his part the friend vows ignorance
"Alike of what bears his name and bears here:
"'T is forgery, a felon's masterpiece,
"And, as 't is said the fox still finds the stench,
"Home-manufacture and the husband's work.
"Though he confesses, the ingenuous friend,
"That certain missives, letters of a sort,
"Flighty and feeble, which assigned themselves
"To the wife, no less have fallen, far too oft,
"In his path: wherefrom he understood just this
"That were they verily the lady's own.
"Why, she who penned them, since he never saw
"Save for one minute the mere face of her,
"Since never had there been the interchange
"Of word with word between them all their life,
"Why, she must be the fondest of the frail,
"And fit, she for the 'apage' he flung,
"Her letters for the flame they went to feed!
"But, now he sees her face and hears her speech,
"Much he repents him if, in fancy-freak
"For a moment the minutest measurable,
"He coupled her with the first flimsy word
"O' the self-spun fabric some mean spider-soul
"Furnished forth: stop his films and stamp on him!
"Never was such a tangled knottiness,
"But thus authority cuts the Gordian through,
"And mark how her decision suits the need!
"Here's troublesomeness, scandal on both sides,
"Plenty of fault to find, no absolute crime:
"Let each side own its fault and make amends!
"What does a priest in cavalier's attire
"Consorting publicly with vagrant wives
"In quarters close as the confessional,
"Though innocent of harm? 'T is harm enough:
"Let him pay it,—say, be relegate a good
"Three years, to spend in some place not too far
"Nor yet too near, midway 'twixt near and far,
"Rome and Arezzo,—Civita we choose,
"Where he may lounge away time, live at large,
"Find out the proper function of a priest,
"Nowise an exile,—that were punishment,—
"But one our love thus keeps out of harm's way
"Not more from the husband's anger than, mayhap
"His own … say, indiscretion, waywardness,
"And wanderings when Easter eves grow warm.
"For the wife,—well, our best step to take with her,
"On her own showing, were to shift her root
"From the old cold shade and unhappy soil
"Into a generous ground that fronts the south
"Where, since her callow soul, a-shiver late,
"Craved simply warmth and called mere passers-by
"To the rescue, she should have her fill of shine.
"Do house and husband hinder and not help?
"Why then, forget both and stay here at peace,
"Come into our community, enroll
"Herself along with those good Convertites,
"Those sinners saved, those Magdalens re-made,
"Accept their ministration, well bestow
"Her body and patiently possess her soul,
"Until we see what better can be done.
"Last for the husband: if his tale prove true,
"Well is he rid of two domestic plagues—
"Both wife that ailed, do whatsoever he would,
"And friend of hers that undertook the cure.
"See, what a double load we lift from breast!
"Off he may go, return, resume old life,
"Laugh at the priest here and Pompilia there
"In limbo each and punished for their pains,
"And grateful tell the inquiring neighbourhood—
"In Rome, no wrong but has its remedy."
The case was closed. Now, am I fair or no
In what I utter? Do I state the facts,
Having forechosen a side? I promised you!

The Canon Caponsacchi, then, was sent
To change his garb, re-trim his tonsure, tie
The clerkly silk round, every plait correct,
Make the impressive entry on his place
Of relegation, thrill his Civita,
As Ovid, a like sufferer in the cause,
Planted a primrose-patch by Pontus: where,—
What with much culture of the sonnet-stave
And converse with the aborigines,
Soft savagery of eyes unused to roll
And hearts that all awry went pit-a-pat
And wanted setting right in charity,—
What were a couple of years to while away?
Pompilia, as enjoined, betook herself
To the aforesaid Convertites, soft sisterhood
In Via Lungara, where the light ones live,
Spin, pray, then sing like linnets o'er the flax.
"Anywhere, anyhow, out of my husband's house
"Is heaven," cried she,—was therefore suited so.
But for Count Guido Franceschini, he-
The injured man thus righted—found no heaven
I' the house when he returned there, I engage,
Was welcomed by the city turned upside down
In a chorus of inquiry. "What, back—you?
"And no wife? Left her with the Penitents?
"Ah, being young and pretty, 't were a shame
"To have her whipped in public: leave the job
"To the priests who understand! Such priests as yours—
"(Pontifex Maximus whipped Vestals once)
"Our madcap Caponsacchi: think of him!
"So, he fired up, showed fight and skill of fence?
"Ay, you drew also, but you did not fight!
"The wiser, 't is a word and a blow with him,
"True Caponsacchi, of old Head-i'-the-Sack
"That fought at Fiesole ere Florence was:
"He had done enough, to firk you were too much.
"And did the little lady menace you,
"Make at your breast with your own harmless sword?
"The spitfire! Well, thank God you're safe and sound,
"Have kept the sixth commandment whether or no
"The lady broke the seventh: I only wish
"I were as saint-like, could contain me so.
"I, the poor sinner, fear I should have left
"Sir Priest no nose-tip to turn up at me!"
You, Sir, who listen but interpose no word,
Ask yourself, had you borne a baiting thus?
Was it enough to make a wise man mad?
Oh, but I'll have your verdict at the end!

Well, not enough, it seems: such mere hurt falls,
Frets awhile, aches long, then grows less and less,
And so gets done with. Such was not the scheme
O' the pleasant Comparini: on Guido's wound
Ever in due succession, drop by drop,
Came slow distilment from the alembic here
Set on to simmer by Canidian hate,
Corrosives keeping the man's misery raw.
First fire-drop,—when he thought to make the best
O' the bad, to wring from out the sentence passed,
Poor, pitiful, absurd although it were,
Yet what might eke him out result enough
And make it worth while to have had the right
And not the wrong i' the matter judged at Rome.
Inadequate her punishment, no less
Punished in some slight sort his wife had been;
Then, punished for adultery, what else?
On such admitted crime he thought to seize,
And institute procedure in the courts
Which cut corruption of this kind from man,
Cast loose a wife proved loose and castaway:
He claimed in due form a divorce at least.

This claim was met now by a counterclaim:
Pompilia sought divorce from bed and board
Of Guido, whose outrageous cruelty,
Whose mother's malice and whose brother's hate
Were just the white o' the charge, such dreadful depths
Blackened its centre,—hints of worse than hate,
Love from that brother, by that Guido's guile,
That mother's prompting. Such reply was made,
So was the engine loaded, wound up, sprung
On Guido, who received bolt full in breast;
But no less bore up, giddily perhaps.
He had the Abate Paolo still in Rome,
Brother and friend and fighter on his side:
They rallied in a measure, met the foe
Manlike, joined battle in the public courts,
As if to shame supine law from her sloth:
And waiting her award, let beat the while
Arezzo's banter, Rome's buffoonery,
On this ear and on that ear, deaf alike,
Safe from worse outrage. Let a scorpion nip,
And never mind till he contorts his tail!
But there was sting i' the creature; thus it struck.
Guido had thought in his simplicity—
That lying declaration of remorse,
That story of the child which was no child
And motherhood no motherhood at all,
That even this sin might have its sort of good
Inasmuch as no question more could be,—
Call it false, call the story true,—no claim
Of further parentage pretended now:
The parents had abjured all right, at least,
I' the woman owned his wife: to plead right still
Were to declare the abjuration false:
He was relieved from any fear henceforth
Their hands might touch, their breath defile again
Pompilia with his name upon her yet.
Well, no: the next news was, Pompilia's health
Demanded change after full three long weeks
Spent in devotion with the Sisterhood,—
Which rendered sojourn,—so the court opined,—
Too irksome, since the convent's walls were high
And windows narrow, now was air enough
Nor light enough, but all looked prison-like,
The last thing which had come in the court's head.
Propose a new expedient therefore,—this!
She had demanded—had obtained indeed,
By intervention of her pitying friends
Or perhaps lovers—(beauty in distress,
Beauty whose tale is the town-talk beside,
Never lacks friendship's arm about her neck)—
Obtained remission of the penalty,
Permitted transfer to some private place
Where better air, more light, new food might soothe—
Incarcerated (call it, all the same)
At some sure friend's house she must keep inside,
Be found in at requirement fast enough,—
Domus pro carcere, in Roman style.
You keep the house i' the main, as most men do
And all good women: but free otherwise,
Should friends arrive, to lodge them and what not?
And such a domum, such a dwelling-place,
Having all Rome to choose from, where chose she?
What house obtained Pompilia's preference?
Why, just the Comparini's—just, do you mark,
Theirs who renounced all part and lot in her
So long as Guido could be robbed thereby,
And only fell back on relationship
And found their daughter safe and sound again
When that might surelier stab him: yes, the pair
Who, as I told you, first had baited hook
With this poor gilded fly Pompilia-thing,
Then caught the fish, pulled Guido to the shore
And gutted him,—not found a further use
For the bait, would trail the gauze wings yet again
I' the way of what new swimmer passed their stand.
They took Pompilia to their hiding-place—
Not in the heart of Rome as formerly,
Under observance, subject to control—
But out o' the way,—or in the way, who knows?
That blind mute villa lurking by the gate
At Via Paulina, not so hard to miss
By the honest eye, easy enough to find
In twilight by marauders: where perchance
Some muffled Caponsacchi might repair,
Employ odd moments when he too tried change,
Found that a friend's abode was pleasanter
Than relegation, penance and the rest.

Come, here's the last drop does its worst to wound
Here's Guido poisoned to the bone, you say
Your boasted still's full strain and strength: not so!
One master-squeeze from screw shall bring to birth
The hoard i' the heart o' the toad, hell's quintessence.
He learned the true convenience of the change,
And why a convent lacks the cheerful hearts
And helpful hands which female straits require,
When, in the blind mute villa by the gate,
Pompilia—what? sang, danced, saw company?
—Gave birth, Sir, to a child, his son and heir,
Or Guido's heir and Caponsacchi's son.
I want your word now: what do you say to this?
What would say little Arezzo and great Rome,
And what did God say and the devil say
One at each ear o' the man, the husband, now
The father? Why, the overburdened mind
Broke down, what was a brain became a blaze.
In fury of the moment—(that first news
Fell on the Count among his vines, it seems,
Doing his farm-work,)—why, he summoned steward,
Called in the first four hard hands and stout hearts
From field and furrow, poured forth his appeal,
Not to Rome's law and gospel any more,
But this clown with a mother or a wife,
That clodpole with a sister or a son:
And, whereas law and gospel held their peace,
What wonder if the sticks and stones cried out?

All five soon somehow found themselves at Rome,
At the villa door: there was the warmth and light—
The sense of life so just an inch inside—
Some angel must have whispered "One more chance!"


Knocked at the door,—"Who is it knocks?" cried one.
"I will make," surely Guido's angel urged,
"One final essay, last experiment,
"Speak the word, name the name from out all names
"Which, if,—as doubtless strong illusions are,
"And strange disguisings whereby truth seems false,
"And, since I am but man, I dare not do
"God's work until assured I see with God,—
"If I should bring my lips to breathe that name
"And they be innocent,—nay, by one mere touch
"Of innocence redeemed from utter guilt,-
"That name will bar the door and bid fate pass.
"I will not say 'It is a messenger,
"'A neighbour, even a belated man,
"'Much less your husband's friend, your husband's self:'
"At such appeal the door is bound to ope.
"But I will say"—here's rhetoric and to spare!
Why, Sir, the stumbling-block is cursed and kicked,
Block though it be; the name that brought offence
Will bring offence: the burnt child dreads the fire
Although that fire feed on some taper-wick
Which never left the altar nor singed a fly:
And had a harmless man tripped you by chance,
How would you wait him, stand or step aside,
When next you heard he rolled your way? Enough.


"Giuseppe Caponsacchi!" Guido cried;
And open flew the door: enough again.
Vengeance, you know, burst, like a mountain-wave
That holds a monster in it, over the house,
And wiped its filthy four walls free at last
With a wash of hell-fire,—father, mother, wife,
Killed them all, bathed his name clean in their blood,
And, reeking so, was caught, his friends and he,
Haled hither and imprisoned yesternight
O' the day all this was.

Now, Sir, tale is told,
Of how the old couple come to lie in state
Though hacked to pieces,—never, the expert say,
So thorough a study of stabbing—while the wife
(Viper-like, very difficult to slay)
Writhes still through every ring of her, poor wretch,
At the Hospital hard by—survives, we'll hope,
To somewhat purify her putrid soul
By full confession, make so much amends
While time lasts; since at day's end die she must.

For Caponsacchi,—why, they'll have him here,
As hero of the adventure, who so fit
To figure in the coming Carnival?
'T will make the fortune of whate'er saloon
Hears him recount, with helpful cheek, and eye
Hotly indignant now, now dewy-dimmed,
The incidents of flight, pursuit, surprise,
Capture, with hints of kisses all between—
While Guido, wholly unromantic spouse,
No longer fit to laugh at since the blood
Gave the broad farce an all too brutal air,
Why, he and those four luckless friends of his
May tumble in the straw this bitter day
Laid by the heels i' the New Prison, I hear,
To bide their trial, since trial, and for the life,
Follows if but for form's sake: yes, indeed!

But with a certain issue: no dispute,
"Try him," bids law: formalities oblige:
But as to the issue,—look me in the face!—
If the law thinks to find them guilty, Sir,
Master or men—touch one hair of the five,
Then I say in the name of all that's left
Of honour in Rome, civility i' the world
Whereof Rome boasts herself the central source,—
There's an end to all hope of justice more.
Astræa's gone indeed, let hope go too!
Who is it dares impugn the natural law,
Deny God's word "the faithless wife shall die"?
What, are we blind? How can we fail to learn
This crowd of miseries make the man a mark,
Accumulate on one devoted head
For our example?—yours and mine who read
Its lesson thus—"Henceforward let none dare
"Stand, like a natural in the public way,
"Letting the very urchins twitch his beard
"And tweak his nose, to earn a nickname so,
"Be styled male-Grissel or else modern Job!"
Had Guido, in the twinkling of an eye,
Summed up the reckoning, promptly paid himself,
That morning when he came up with the pair
At the wayside inn,—exacted his just debt
By aid of what first mattock, pitchfork, axe
Came to hand in the helpful stable-yard,
And with that axe, if providence so pleased,
Cloven each head, by some Rolando-stroke,
In one clean cut from crown to clavicle,
—Slain the priest-gallant, the wife-paramour,
Sticking, for all defence, in each skull's cleft
The rhyme and reason of the stroke thus dealt,
To-wit, those letters and last evidence
Of shame, each package in its proper place,—
Bidding, who pitied, undistend the skulls,—
I say, the world had praised the man. But no!
That were too plain, too straight; too simply just!
He hesitates, calls law forsooth to help.
And law, distasteful to who calls in law
When honour is beforehand and would serve,
What wonder if law hesitate in turn,
Plead her disuse to calls o' the kind, reply
(Smiling a little) "'T is yourself assess
"The worth of what's lost, sum of damage done.
"What you touched with so light a finger-tip,
"You whose concern it was to grasp the thing,
"Why must law gird herself and grapple with?
"Law, alien to the actor whose warm blood
"Asks heat from law whose veins run lukewarm milk,—
"What you dealt lightly with, shall law make out
"Heinous forsooth?"

Sir, what's the good of law
In a case o'the kind? None, as she all but says.
Call in law when a neighbour breaks your fence,
Cribs from your field, tampers with rent or lease,
Touches the purse or pocket,—but wooes your wife?
No: take the old way trod when men were men!
Guido preferred the new path,—for his pains,
Stuck in a quagmire, floundered worse and worse
Until he managed somehow scramble back
Into the safe sure rutted road once more,
Revenged his own wrong like a gentleman.
Once back 'mid the familiar prints, no doubt
He made too rash amends for his first fault,
Vaulted too loftily over what barred him late,
And lit i' the mire again,—the common chance,
The natural over-energy: the deed
Maladroit yields three deaths instead of one,
And one life left: for where's the Canon's corpse?
All which is the worse for Guido, but, be frank—
The better for you and me and all the world,
Husbands of wives, especially in Rome.
The thing is put right, in the old place,—ay,
The rod hangs on its nail behind the door,
Fresh from the brine: a matter I commend
To the notice, during Carnival that's near,
Of a certain what's-his-name and jackanapes
Somewhat too civil of eves with lute and song
About a house here, where I keep a wife.
(You, being his cousin, may go tell him so.)

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Golden Legend: II. A Farm In The Odenwald

A garden; morning;_ PRINCE HENRY _seated, with a
book_. ELSIE, _at a distance, gathering flowers._

_Prince Henry (reading)._ One morning, all alone,
Out of his convent of gray stone,
Into the forest older, darker, grayer,
His lips moving as if in prayer,
His head sunken upon his breast
As in a dream of rest,
Walked the Monk Felix. All about
The broad, sweet sunshine lay without,
Filling the summer air;
And within the woodlands as he trod,
The twilight was like the Truce of God
With worldly woe and care;
Under him lay the golden moss;
And above him the boughs of hemlock-tree
Waved, and made the sign of the cross,
And whispered their Benedicites;
And from the ground
Rose an odor sweet and fragrant
Of the wild flowers and the vagrant
Vines that wandered,
Seeking the sunshine, round and round.
These he heeded not, but pondered
On the volume in his hand,
A volume of Saint Augustine;
Wherein he read of the unseen
Splendors of God's great town
In the unknown land,
And, with his eyes cast down
In humility, he said:
'I believe, O God,
What herein I have read,
But alas! I do not understand!'

And lo! he heard
The sudden singing of a bird,
A snow-white bird, that from a cloud
Dropped down,
And among the branches brown
Sat singing
So sweet, and clear, and loud,
It seemed a thousand harp strings ringing.
And the Monk Felix closed his book,
And long, long,
With rapturous look,
He listened to the song,
And hardly breathed or stirred,
Until he saw, as in a vision,
The land Elysian,
And in the heavenly city heard
Angelic feet
Fall on the golden flagging of the street.
And he would fain
Have caught the wondrous bird,
But strove in vain;
For it flew away, away,
Far over hill and dell,
And instead of its sweet singing
He heard the convent bell
Suddenly in the silence ringing
For the service of noonday.
And he retraced
His pathway homeward sadly and in haste.

In the convent there was a change!
He looked for each well known face,
But the faces were new and strange;
New figures sat in the oaken stalls,
New voices chaunted in the choir,
Yet the place was the same place,
The same dusky walls
Of cold, gray stone,
The same cloisters and belfry and spire.

A stranger and alone
Among that brotherhood
The Monk Felix stood
'Forty years,' said a Friar.
'Have I been Prior
Of this convent in the wood,
But for that space
Never have I beheld thy face!'

The heart of the Monk Felix fell:
And he answered with submissive tone,
'This morning, after the hour of Prime,
I left my cell,
And wandered forth alone,
Listening all the time
To the melodious singing
Of a beautiful white bird,
Until I heard
The bells of the convent ringing
Noon from their noisy towers,
It was as if I dreamed;
For what to me had seemed
Moments only, had been hours!'

'Years!' said a voice close by.
It was an aged monk who spoke,
From a bench of oak
Fastened against the wall;--
He was the oldest monk of all.
For a whole century
Had he been there,
Serving God in prayer,
The meekest and humblest of his creatures.
He remembered well the features
Of Felix, and he said,
Speaking distinct and slow:
'One hundred years ago,
When I was a novice in this place,
There was here a monk, full of God's grace,
Who bore the name
Of Felix, and this man must be the same.'

And straightway
They brought forth to the light of day
A volume old and brown,
A huge tome, bound
With brass and wild-boar's hide,
Therein were written down
The names of all who had died
In the convent, since it was edified.
And there they found,
Just as the old monk said,
That on a certain day and date,
One hundred years before,
Had gone forth from the convent gate
The Monk Felix, and never more
Had entered that sacred door.
He had been counted among the dead!
And they knew, at last,
That, such had been the power
Of that celestial and immortal song,
A hundred years had passed,
And had not seemed so long
As a single hour!

(ELSIE _comes in with flowers._)

_Elsie._ Here are flowers for you,
But they are not all for you.
Some of them are for the Virgin
And for Saint Cecilia.

_Prince Henry._ As thou standest there,
Thou seemest to me like the angel
That brought the immortal roses
To Saint Cecilia's bridal chamber.

_Elsie._ But these will fade.

_Prince Henry._ Themselves will fade,
But not their memory,
And memory has the power
To re-create them from the dust.
They remind me, too,
Of martyred Dorothea,
Who from celestial gardens sent
Flowers as her witnesses
To him who scoffed and doubted.

_Elsie._ Do you know the story
Of Christ and the Sultan's daughter?
That is the prettiest legend of them all.

_Prince Henry._ Then tell it to me.
But first come hither.
Lay the flowers down beside me.
And put both thy hands in mine.
Now tell me the story.

_Elsie._ Early in the morning
The Sultan's daughter
Walked in her father's garden,
Gathering the bright flowers,
All full of dew.

_Prince Henry._ Just as thou hast been doing
This morning, dearest Elsie.

_Elsie._ And as she gathered them,
She wondered more and more
Who was the Master of the Flowers,
And made them grow
Out of the cold, dark earth.
'In my heart,' she said,
'I love him; and for him
Would leave my father's palace,
To labor in his garden.'

_Prince Henry._ Dear, innocent child!
How sweetly thou recallest
The long-forgotten legend,
That in my early childhood
My mother told me!
Upon my brain
It reappears once more,
As a birth-mark on the forehead
When a hand suddenly
Is laid upon it, and removed!

_Elsie._ And at midnight,
As she lay upon her bed,
She heard a voice
Call to her from the garden,
And, looking forth from her window,
She saw a beautiful youth
Standing among the flowers.
It was the Lord Jesus;
And she went down to him,
And opened the door for him;
And he said to her, 'O maiden!
Thou hast thought of me with love,
And for thy sake
Out of my Father's kingdom
Have I come hither:
I am the Master of the Flowers.
My garden is in Paradise,
And if thou wilt go with me,
Thy bridal garland
Shall be of bright red flowers.'
And then he took from his finger
A golden ring,
And asked the Sultan's daughter
If she would be his bride.
And when she answered him with love,
His wounds began to bleed,
And she said to him,
'O Love! how red thy heart is,
And thy hands are full of roses,'
'For thy sake,' answered he,
'For thy sake is my heart so red,
For thee I bring these roses.
I gathered them at the cross
Whereon I died for thee!
Come, for my Father calls.
Thou art my elected bride!'
And the Sultan's daughter
Followed him to his Father's garden.

_Prince Henry._ Wouldst thou have done so, Elsie?

_Elsie._ Yes, very gladly.

_Prince Henry._ Then the Celestial Bridegroom
Will come for thee also.
Upon thy forehead he will place,
Not his crown of thorns,
But a crown of roses.
In thy bridal chamber,
Like Saint Cecilia,
Thou shall hear sweet music,
And breathe the fragrance
Of flowers immortal!
Go now and place these flowers
Before her picture.

* * * * *

A ROOM IN THE FARM-HOUSE.

* * * * *

_Twilight._ URSULA _spinning._ GOTTLIEB _asleep in his
chair._

_Ursula._ Darker and darker! Hardly a glimmer
Of light comes in at the window-pane;
Or is it my eyes are growing dimmer?
I cannot disentangle this skein,
Nor wind it rightly upon the reel.
Elsie!

_Gottlieb (starting)_. The stopping of thy wheel
Has wakened me out of a pleasant dream.
I thought I was sitting beside a stream,
And heard the grinding of a mill,
When suddenly the wheels stood still,
And a voice cried 'Elsie' in my ear!
It startled me, it seemed so near.

_Ursula._ I was calling her: I want a light.
I cannot see to spin my flax.
Bring the lamp, Elsie. Dost thou hear?

_Elsie (within)._ In a moment!

_Gottlieb._ Where are Bertha and Max?

_Ursula._ They are sitting with Elsie at the door.
She is telling them stories of the wood,
And the Wolf, and Little Red Ridinghood.

_Gottlieb_. And where is the Prince?

_Ursula_. In his room overhead;
I heard him walking across the floor,
As he always does, with a heavy tread.

(ELSIE _comes in with a lamp_. MAX _and_ BERTHA _follow her;
and they all sing the Evening Song on the lighting of the lamps_.)


EVENING SONG.

O gladsome light
Of the Father Immortal,
And of the celestial
Sacred and blessed
Jesus, our Saviour!

Now to the sunset
Again hast thou brought us;
And, seeing the evening
Twilight, we bless thee,
Praise thee, adore thee!

Father omnipotent!
Son, the Life-giver!
Spirit, the Comforter!
Worthy at all times
Of worship and wonder!


_Prince Henry (at the door)_. Amen!

_Ursula_. Who was it said Amen?

_Elsie_. It was the Prince: he stood at the door,
And listened a moment, as we chaunted
The evening song. He is gone again.
I have often seen him there before.

_Ursula_. Poor Prince!

_Gottlieb_. I thought the house was haunted!
Poor Prince, alas! and yet as mild
And patient as the gentlest child!

_Max._ I love him because he is so good,
And makes me such fine bows and arrows,
To shoot at the robins and the sparrows,
And the red squirrels in the wood!

_Bertha._ I love him, too!

_Gottlieb._ Ah, yes! we all
Love him, from the bottom of our hearts;
He gave us the farm, the house, and the grange,
He gave us the horses and the carts,
And the great oxen in the stall,
The vineyard, and the forest range!
We have nothing to give him but our love!

_Bertha._ Did he give us the beautiful stork above
On the chimney-top, with its large, round nest?

_Gottlieb._ No, not the stork; by God in heaven,
As a blessing, the dear, white stork was given;
But the Prince has given us all the rest.
God bless him, and make him well again.

_Elsie._ Would I could do something for his sake,
Something to cure his sorrow and pain!

_Gottlieb._ That no one can; neither thou nor I,
Nor any one else.

_Elsie._ And must he die?

_Ursula._ Yes; if the dear God does not take
Pity upon him, in his distress,
And work a miracle!

_Gottlieb._ Or unless
Some maiden, of her own accord,
Offers her life for that of her lord,
And is willing to die in his stead.

_Elsie._ I will!

_Ursula._ Prithee, thou foolish child, be still!
Thou shouldst not say what thou dost not mean!

_Elsie._ I mean it truly!

_Max._ O father! this morning,
Down by the mill, in the ravine,
Hans killed a wolf, the very same
That in the night to the sheepfold came,
And ate up my lamb, that was left outside.

_Gottlieb._ I am glad he is dead. It will be a warning
To the wolves in the forest, far and wide.

_Max._ And I am going to have his hide!

_Bertha._ I wonder if this is the wolf that ate
Little Red Ridinghood!

_Ursula._ O, no!
That wolf was killed a long while ago.
Come, children, it is growing late.

_Max._ Ah, how I wish I were a man,
As stout as Hans is, and as strong!
I would do nothing else, the whole day long,
But just kill wolves.

_Gottlieb._ Then go to bed,
And grow as fast as a little boy can.
Bertha is half asleep already.
See how she nods her heavy head,
And her sleepy feet are so unsteady
She will hardly be able to creep upstairs.

_Ursula._ Good-night, my children. Here's the light.
And do not forget to say your prayers
Before you sleep.

_Gottlieb._ Good-night!

_Max and Bertha._ Good-night!

(_They go out with_ ELSIE.)

_Ursula, (spinning)._ She is a strange and wayward child,
That Elsie of ours. She looks so old,
And thoughts and fancies weird and wild
Seem of late to have taken hold
Of her heart, that was once so docile and mild!

_Gottlieb._ She is like all girls.

_Ursula._ Ah no, forsooth!
Unlike all I have ever seen.
For she has visions and strange dreams,
And in all her words and ways, she seems
Much older than she is in truth.
Who would think her but fourteen?
And there has been of late such a change!
My heart is heavy with fear and doubt
That she may not live till the year is out.
She is so strange,--so strange,--so strange!

_Gottlieb._ I am not troubled with any such fear!
She will live and thrive for many a year.

* * * * *

ELSIE'S CHAMBER.

* * * * *

_Night._ ELSIE _praying._

_Elsie._ My Redeemer and my Lord,
I beseech thee, I entreat thee,
Guide me in each act and word,
That hereafter I may meet thee,
Watching, waiting, hoping, yearning,
With my lamp well trimmed and burning!

Interceding
With these bleeding
Wounds upon thy hands and side,
For all who have lived and erred
Thou hast suffered, thou hast died,
Scourged, and mocked, and crucified,
And in the grave hast thou been buried!

If my feeble prayer can reach thee,
O my Saviour, I beseech thee,
Even as thou hast died for me,
More sincerely
Let me follow where thou leadest,
Let me, bleeding as thou bleedest,
Die, if dying I may give
Life to one who asks to live,
And more nearly,
Dying thus, resemble thee!

* * * * *

THE CHAMBER OF GOTTLIEB AND URSULA.

* * * * *

_Midnight._ ELSIE _standing by their bedside, weeping._

_Gottlieb._ The wind is roaring; the rushing rain
Is loud upon roof and window-pane,
As if the Wild Huntsman of Rodenstein,
Boding evil to me and mine,
Were abroad to-night with his ghostly train!
In the brief lulls of the tempest wild,
The dogs howl in the yard; and hark!
Some one is sobbing in the dark,
Here in the chamber!

_Elsie._ It is I.

_Ursula._ Elsie! what ails thee, my poor child?

_Elsie._ I am disturbed and much distressed,
In thinking our dear Prince must die,
I cannot close mine eyes, nor rest.

_Gottlieb._ What wouldst thou? In the Power Divine
His healing lies, not in our own;
It is in the hand of God alone.

_Elsie._ Nay, he has put it into mine,
And into my heart!

_Gottlieb._ Thy words are wild!

_Ursula._ What dost thou mean? my child! my child!

_Elsie._ That for our dear Prince Henry's sake
I will myself the offering make,
And give my life to purchase his.

_Ursula_ Am I still dreaming, or awake?
Thou speakest carelessly of death,
And yet thou knowest not what it is.

_Elsie._ 'T is the cessation of our breath.
Silent and motionless we lie;
And no one knoweth more than this.
I saw our little Gertrude die,
She left off breathing, and no more
I smoothed the pillow beneath her head.
She was more beautiful than before.
Like violets faded were her eyes;
By this we knew that she was dead.
Through the open window looked the skies
Into the chamber where she lay,
And the wind was like the sound of wings,
As if angels came to bear her away.
Ah! when I saw and felt these things,
I found it difficult to stay;
I longed to die, as she had died,
And go forth with her, side by side.
The Saints are dead, the Martyrs dead,
And Mary, and our Lord, and I
Would follow in humility
The way by them illumined!

_Ursula._ My child! my child! thou must not die!

_Elsie_ Why should I live? Do I not know
The life of woman is full of woe?
Toiling on and on and on,
With breaking heart, and tearful eyes,
And silent lips, and in the soul
The secret longings that arise,
Which this world never satisfies!
Some more, some less, but of the whole
Not one quite happy, no, not one!

_Ursula._ It is the malediction of Eve!

_Elsie._ In place of it, let me receive
The benediction of Mary, then.

_Gottlieb._ Ah, woe is me! Ah, woe is me!
Most wretched am I among men!

_Ursula._ Alas! that I should live to see
Thy death, beloved, and to stand
Above thy grave! Ah, woe the day!

_Elsie._ Thou wilt not see it. I shall lie
Beneath the flowers of another land,
For at Salerno, far away
Over the mountains, over the sea,
It is appointed me to die!
And it will seem no more to thee
Than if at the village on market-day
I should a little longer stay
Than I am used.

_Ursula._ Even as thou sayest!
And how my heart beats, when thou stayest!
I cannot rest until my sight
Is satisfied with seeing thee.
What, then, if thou wert dead?

_Gottlieb_ Ah me!
Of our old eyes thou art the light!
The joy of our old hearts art thou!
And wilt thou die?

_Ursula._ Not now! not now!

_Elsie_ Christ died for me, and shall not I
Be willing for my Prince to die?
You both are silent; you cannot speak.
This said I, at our Saviour's feast,
After confession, to the priest,
And even he made no reply.
Does he not warn us all to seek
The happier, better land on high,
Where flowers immortal never wither,
And could he forbid me to go thither?

_Gottlieb._ In God's own time, my heart's delight!
When he shall call thee, not before!

_Elsie._ I heard him call. When Christ ascended
Triumphantly, from star to star,
He left the gates of heaven ajar.
I had a vision in the night,
And saw him standing at the door
Of his Father's mansion, vast and splendid,
And beckoning to me from afar.
I cannot stay!

_Gottlieb._ She speaks almost
As if it were the Holy Ghost
Spake through her lips, and in her stead!
What if this were of God?

_Ursula._ Ah, then
Gainsay it dare we not.

_Gottlieb._ Amen!
Elsie! the words that thou hast said
Are strange and new for us to hear,
And fill our hearts with doubt and fear.
Whether it be a dark temptation
Of the Evil One, or God's inspiration,
We in our blindness cannot say.
We must think upon it, and pray;
For evil and good in both resembles.
If it be of God, his will be done!
May he guard us from the Evil One!
How hot thy hand is! how it trembles!
Go to thy bed, and try to sleep.

_Ursula._ Kiss me. Good-night; and do not weep!

(ELSIE _goes out._)

Ah, what an awful thing is this!
I almost shuddered at her kiss.
As if a ghost had touched my cheek,
I am so childish and so weak!
As soon as I see the earliest gray
Of morning glimmer in the east,
I will go over to the priest,
And hear what the good man has to say!

* * * * *

A VILLAGE CHURCH.

* * * * *

_A woman kneeling at the confessional.

The Parish Priest (from within)_. Go, sin no
more! Thy penance o'er,
A new and better life begin!
God maketh thee forever free
From the dominion of thy sin!
Go, sin no more! He will restore
The peace that filled thy heart before,
And pardon thine iniquity!

(_The woman goes out. The Priest comes forth, and
walks slowly up and down the church_.)

O blessed Lord! how much I need
Thy light to guide me on my way!
So many hands, that, without heed,
Still touch thy wounds, and make them bleed!
So many feet, that, day by day,
Still wander from thy fold astray!
Unless thou fill me with thy light,
I cannot lead thy flock aright;
Nor, without thy support, can bear
The burden of so great a care,
But am myself a castaway!

(_A pause_.)

The day is drawing to its close;
And what good deeds, since first it rose,
Have I presented, Lord, to thee,
As offerings of my ministry?
What wrong repressed, what right maintained
What struggle passed, what victory gained,
What good attempted and attained?
Feeble, at best, is my endeavor!
I see, but cannot reach, the height
That lies forever in the light,
And yet forever and forever,
When seeming just within my grasp,
I feel my feeble hands unclasp,
And sink discouraged into night!
For thine own purpose, thou hast sent
The strife and the discouragement!

(_A pause_.)

Why stayest thou, Prince of Hoheneck?
Why keep me pacing to and fro
Amid these aisles of sacred gloom,
Counting my footsteps as I go,
And marking with each step a tomb?
Why should the world for thee make room,
And wait thy leisure and thy beck?
Thou comest in the hope to hear
Some word of comfort and of cheer.
What can I say? I cannot give
The counsel to do this and live;
But rather, firmly to deny
The tempter, though his power is strong,
And, inaccessible to wrong,
Still like a martyr live and die!

(_A pause_.)

The evening air grows dusk and brown;
I must go forth into the town,
To visit beds of pain and death,
Of restless limbs, and quivering breath,
And sorrowing hearts, and patient eyes
That see, through tears, the sun go down,
But never more shall see it rise.
The poor in body and estate,
The sick and the disconsolate.
Must not on man's convenience wait.

(_Goes out. Enter_ LUCIFER, _as a Priest_. LUCIFER,
_with a genuflexion, mocking_.)

This is the Black Pater-noster.
God was my foster,
He fostered me
Under the book of the Palm-tree!
St. Michael was my dame.
He was born at Bethlehem,
He was made of flesh and blood.
God send me my right food,
My right food, and shelter too,
That I may to yon kirk go,
To read upon yon sweet book
Which the mighty God of heaven shook.
Open, open, hell's gates!
Shut, shut, heaven's gates!
All the devils in the air
The stronger be, that hear the Black Prayer!

(_Looking round the church_.)

What a darksome and dismal place!
I wonder that any man has the face
To call such a hole the House of the Lord,
And the Gate of Heaven,--yet such is the word.
Ceiling, and walls, and windows old,
Covered with cobwebs, blackened with mould;
Dust on the pulpit, dust on the stairs,
Dust on the benches, and stalls, and chairs!
The pulpit, from which such ponderous sermons
Have fallen down on the brains of the Germans,
With about as much real edification
As if a great Bible, bound in lead,
Had fallen, and struck them on the head;
And I ought to remember that sensation!
Here stands the holy water stoup!
Holy-water it may be to many,
But to me, the veriest Liquor Gehennae!
It smells like a filthy fast day soup!
Near it stands the box for the poor;
With its iron padlock, safe and sure,
I and the priest of the parish know
Whither all these charities go;
Therefore, to keep up the institution,
I will add my little contribution!

(_He puts in money._)

Underneath this mouldering tomb,
With statue of stone, and scutcheon of brass,
Slumbers a great lord of the village.
All his life was riot and pillage,
But at length, to escape the threatened doom
Of the everlasting, penal fire,
He died in the dress of a mendicant friar,
And bartered his wealth for a daily mass.
But all that afterward came to pass,
And whether he finds it dull or pleasant,
Is kept a secret for the present,
At his own particular desire.

And here, in a corner of the wall,
Shadowy, silent, apart from all,
With its awful portal open wide,
And its latticed windows on either side,
And its step well worn by the bended knees
Of one or two pious centuries,
Stands the village confessional!
Within it, as an honored guest,
I will sit me down awhile and rest!

(_Seats himself in the confessional_.)

Here sits the priest, and faint and low,
Like the sighing of an evening breeze,
Comes through these painted lattices
The ceaseless sound of human woe,
Here, while her bosom aches and throbs
With deep and agonizing sobs,
That half are passion, half contrition,
The luckless daughter of perdition
Slowly confesses her secret shame!
The time, the place, the lover's name!
Here the grim murderer, with a groan,
From his bruised conscience rolls the stone,
Thinking that thus he can atone
For ravages of sword and flame!
Indeed, I marvel, and marvel greatly,
How a priest can sit here so sedately,
Reading, the whole year out and in,
Naught but the catalogue of sin,
And still keep any faith whatever
In human virtue! Never! never!

I cannot repeat a thousandth part
Of the horrors and crimes and sins and woes
That arise, when with palpitating throes
The graveyard in the human heart
Gives up its dead, at the voice of the priest,
As if he were an archangel, at least.
It makes a peculiar atmosphere,
This odor of earthly passions and crimes,
Such as I like to breathe, at times,
And such as often brings me here
In the hottest and most pestilential season.
To-day, I come for another reason;
To foster and ripen an evil thought
In a heart that is almost to madness wrought,
And to make a murderer out of a prince,
A sleight of hand I learned long since!
He comes In the twilight he will not see
the difference between his priest and me!
In the same net was the mother caught!

(_Prince Henry entering and kneeling at the confessional._)

Remorseful, penitent, and lowly,
I come to crave, O Father holy,
Thy benediction on my head.

_Lucifer_. The benediction shall be said
After confession, not before!
'T is a God speed to the parting guest,
Who stands already at the door,
Sandalled with holiness, and dressed
In garments pure from earthly stain.
Meanwhile, hast thou searched well thy breast?
Does the same madness fill thy brain?
Or have thy passion and unrest
Vanished forever from thy mind?

_Prince Henry_. By the same madness still made blind,
By the same passion still possessed,
I come again to the house of prayer,
A man afflicted and distressed!
As in a cloudy atmosphere,
Through unseen sluices of the air,
A sudden and impetuous wind
Strikes the great forest white with fear,
And every branch, and bough, and spray
Points all its quivering leaves one way,
And meadows of grass, and fields of grain,
And the clouds above, and the slanting rain,
And smoke from chimneys of the town,
Yield themselves to it, and bow down,
So does this dreadful purpose press
Onward, with irresistible stress,
And all my thoughts and faculties,
Struck level by the strength of this,
From their true inclination turn,
And all stream forward to Salem!

_Lucifer_. Alas! we are but eddies of dust,
Uplifted by the blast, and whirled
Along the highway of the world
A moment only, then to fall
Back to a common level all,
At the subsiding of the gust!

_Prince Henry_. O holy Father! pardon in me
The oscillation of a mind
Unsteadfast, and that cannot find
Its centre of rest and harmony!
For evermore before mine eyes
This ghastly phantom flits and flies,
And as a madman through a crowd,
With frantic gestures and wild cries,
It hurries onward, and aloud
Repeats its awful prophecies!
Weakness is wretchedness! To be strong
Is to be happy! I am weak,
And cannot find the good I seek,
Because I feel and fear the wrong!

_Lucifer_. Be not alarmed! The Church is kind--
And in her mercy and her meekness
She meets half-way her children's weakness,
Writes their transgressions in the dust!
Though in the Decalogue we find
The mandate written, 'Thou shalt not kill!'
Yet there are cases when we must.
In war, for instance, or from scathe
To guard and keep the one true Faith!
We must look at the Decalogue in the light
Of an ancient statute, that was meant
For a mild and general application,
To be understood with the reservation,
That, in certain instances, the Right
Must yield to the Expedient!
Thou art a Prince. If thou shouldst die,
What hearts and hopes would prostrate he!
What noble deeds, what fair renown,
Into the grave with thee go down!
What acts of valor and courtesy
Remain undone, and die with thee!
Thou art the last of all thy race!
With thee a noble name expires,
And vanishes from the earth's face
The glorious memory of thy sires!
She is a peasant. In her veins
Flows common and plebeian blood;
It is such as daily and hourly stains
The dust and the turf of battle plains,
By vassals shed, in a crimson flood,
Without reserve, and without reward,
At the slightest summons of their lord!
But thine is precious, the fore-appointed
Blood of kings, of God's anointed!
Moreover, what has the world in store
For one like her, but tears and toil?
Daughter of sorrow, serf of the soil,
A peasant's child and a peasant's wife,
And her soul within her sick and sore
With the roughness and barrenness of life!
I marvel not at the heart's recoil
From a fate like this, in one so tender,
Nor at its eagerness to surrender
All the wretchedness, want, and woe
That await it in this world below,
For the unutterable splendor
Of the world of rest beyond the skies.
So the Church sanctions the sacrifice:
Therefore inhale this healing balm,
And breathe this fresh life into thine;
Accept the comfort and the calm
She offers, as a gift divine,
Let her fall down and anoint thy feet
With the ointment costly and most sweet
Of her young blood, and thou shall live.

_Prince Henry._ And will the righteous Heaven forgive?
No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it, till at length
The wrongs of ages are redressed,
And the justice of God made manifest!

_Lucifer_ In ancient records it is stated
That, whenever an evil deed is done,
Another devil is created
To scourge and torment the offending one!
But evil is only good perverted,
And Lucifer, the Bearer of Light,
But an angel fallen and deserted,
Thrust from his Father's house with a curse
Into the black and endless night.

_Prince Henry._ If justice rules the universe,
From the good actions of good men
Angels of light should be begotten,
And thus the balance restored again.

_Lucifer._ Yes; if the world were not so rotten,
And so given over to the Devil!

_Prince Henry._ But this deed, is it good or evil?
Have I thine absolution free
To do it, and without restriction?

_Lucifer._ Ay; and from whatsoever sin
Lieth around it and within,
From all crimes in which it may involve thee,
I now release thee and absolve thee!

_Prince Henry._ Give me thy holy benediction.

_Lucifer._ (_stretching forth his hand and muttering_),
Maledictione perpetua
Maledicat vos
Pater eternus!

_The Angel_ (_with the aeolian harp_). Take heed! take heed!
Noble art thou in thy birth,
By the good and the great of earth
Hast thou been taught!
Be noble in every thought
And in every deed!
Let not the illusion of thy senses
Betray thee to deadly offences.
Be strong! be good! be pure!
The right only shall endure,
All things else are but false pretences!
I entreat thee, I implore,
Listen no more
To the suggestions of an evil spirit,
That even now is there,
Making the foul seem fair,
And selfishness itself a virtue and a merit!

* * * * *

A ROOM IN THE FARM-HOUSE.

* * * * *

_Gottlieb_. It is decided! For many days,
And nights as many, we have had
A nameless terror in our breast,
Making us timid, and afraid
Of God, and his mysterious ways!
We have been sorrowful and sad;
Much have we suffered, much have prayed
That he would lead us as is best,
And show us what his will required.
It is decided; and we give
Our child, O Prince, that you may live!

_Ursula_. It is of God. He has inspired
This purpose in her; and through pain,
Out of a world of sin and woe,
He takes her to himself again.
The mother's heart resists no longer;
With the Angel of the Lord in vain
It wrestled, for he was the stronger.

_Gottlieb_. As Abraham offered long ago
His son unto the Lord, and even
The Everlasting Father in heaven
Gave his, as a lamb unto the slaughter,
So do I offer up my daughter!

(URSULA _hides her face_.)

_Elsie_. My life is little,
Only a cup of water,
But pure and limpid.
Take it, O my Prince!
Let it refresh you,
Let it restore you.
It is given willingly,
It is given freely;
May God bless the gift!

_Prince Henry._ And the giver!

_Gottlieb._ Amen!

_Prince Henry._ I accept it!

_Gottlieb._ Where are the children?

_Ursula._ They are already asleep.

_Gottlieb._ What if they were dead?

* * * * *

IN THE GARDEN.

* * * * *

_Elsie._ I have one thing to ask of you.

_Prince Henry._ What is it?
It is already granted.

_Elsie._ Promise me,
When we are gone from here, and on our way
Are journeying to Salerno, you will not,
By word or deed, endeavor to dissuade me
And turn me from my purpose, but remember
That as a pilgrim to the Holy City
Walks unmolested, and with thoughts of pardon
Occupied wholly, so would I approach
The gates of Heaven, in this great jubilee,
With my petition, putting off from me
All thoughts of earth, as shoes from off my feet.
Promise me this.

_Prince Henry._ Thy words fall from thy lips
Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and angels
Might stoop to pick them up!

_Elsie._ Will you not promise?

_Prince Henry._ If ever we depart upon this journey,
So long to one or both of us, I promise.

_Elsie._ Shall we not go, then? Have you lifted me
Into the air, only to hurl me back
Wounded upon the ground? and offered me
The waters of eternal life, to bid me
Drink the polluted puddles of this world?

_Prince Henry._ O Elsie! what a lesson thou dost teach me!
The life which is, and that which is to come,
Suspended hang in such nice equipoise
A breath disturbs the balance; and that scale
In which we throw our hearts preponderates,
And the other, like an empty one, flies up,
And is accounted vanity and air!
To me the thought of death is terrible,
Having such hold on life. To thee it is not
So much even as the lifting of a latch;
Only a step into the open air
Out of a tent already luminous
With light that shines through its transparent walls!
O pure in heart! from thy sweet dust shall grow
Lilies, upon whose petals will be written
'Ave Maria' in characters of gold!

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Vision of Columbus – Book 3

Now, twice twelve years, the children of the skies
Beheld in peace their growing empire rise;
O'er happy realms, display'd their generous care,
Diffused their arts and soothd the rage of war;
Bade yon tall temple grace the favourite isle.
The gardens bloom, the cultured valleys smile,
The aspiring hills their spacious mines unfold.
Fair structures blaze, and altars burn, in gold,
Those broad foundations bend their arches high,
And heave imperial Cusco to the sky;
From that fair stream that mark'd their northern sway,
Where Apurimac leads his lucid way,
To yon far glimmering lake, the southern bound,
The growing tribes their peaceful dwellings found;
While wealth and grandeur bless'd the extended reign,
From the bold Andes to the western main.
When, fierce from eastern wilds, the savage bands
Lead war and slaughter o'er the happy lands;
Thro' fertile fields the paths of culture trace,
And vow destruction to the Incan race.
While various fortune strow'd the embattled plain,
And baffled thousands still the strife maintain,
The unconquer'd Inca wakes the lingering war,
Drives back their host and speeds their flight afar;
Till, fired with rage, they range the wonted wood,
And feast their souls on future scenes of blood.
Where yon blue summits hang their cliffs on high;
Frown o'er the plains and lengthen round the sky;
Where vales exalted thro' the breaches run;
And drink the nearer splendors of the sun,
From south to north, the tribes innumerous wind,
By hills of ice and mountain streams confined;
Rouse neighbouring hosts, and meditate the blow,
To blend their force and whelm the world below.
Capac, with caution, views the dark design,
From countless wilds what hostile myriads join;
And greatly strives to bid the discord cease,
By profferd compacts of perpetual peace.
His eldest hope, young Rocha, at his call,
Leaves the deep confines of the temple wall;
In whose fair form, in lucid garments drest,
Began the sacred function of the priest.
In early youth, ere yet the genial sun
Had twice six changes o'er his childhood run,
The blooming prince, beneath his parents' hand,
Learn'd all the laws that sway'd the sacred land;
With rites mysterious served the Power divine,
Prepared the altar and adorn'd the shrine,
Responsive hail'd, with still returning praise,
Each circling season that the God displays,
Sooth'd with funereal hymns the parting dead,
At nuptial feasts the joyful chorus led;
While evening incense and the morning song
Rose from his hand or trembled on his tongue.
Thus, form'd for empire, ere he gain'd the sway;
To rule with reverence and with power obey,
Reflect the glories of the parent Sun,
And shine the Capac of his future throne,
Employ'd his ripening years; till now, from far,
The distant fields proclaim approaching war;
Inspired for active scenes he quits the shrine,
To aid the council or in arms to shine.
Where the mild monarch courtly throngs enclose,
Sublime in modest majesty he rose,
With reverence bow'd, conspicuous o'er the rest,
Approach'd the throne and thus the sire address'd:
Great king of nations, heaven-descended sage,
Guard of my youth and glory of my age,
These pontiff robes, to my blest brother's hand
Glad I resign, and wait thy kind command.
Should war invade, permit thy son to wield
The shaft of vengeance through the untempted field:
Led by thy powerful arm, my soul shall brave
The haughtiest foe, or find a glorious grave;
While our bold ranks a nobler toil demand,
In one dread field o'erwhelm the brutal band,
Pour to the mountain gods their wonted food,
And shield thy realms from future scenes of blood.
Yet oh, may sovereign mercy first ordain
Propounded compact to the savage train.
Fearless of foes, their own dark wilds I'll trace,
To quell the rage and give the terms of peace,
Teach the grim race to bow beneath thy sway,
And taste the blessings of the Power of day.
The sire return'd; My earliest wish you know,
To shield from slaughter and preserve the foe,
In bands of mutual peace all tribes to bind,
And live the friend and guardian of mankind.
Should strife begin, thy youthful arm shall share,
The toils of glory through the walks of war;
But o'er those hideous hills, thro' climes of snow,
With reason's voice to lure the savage foe,
To 'scape their snares, their jarring souls combine,
Claims hardier limbs and riper years than thine.
Yet one of heavenly race the task requires,
Whose mystic rites controul the ethereal fires;
So the sooth'd Godhead proves to faithless eyes,
His sway on earth and empire of the skies.
Some veteran chief, in those rough labours try'd,
Shall aid the toil, and go thy faithful guide;
O'er dreary heights thy sinking limbs sustain,
Teach the dark wiles of each insidious train,
Through all extremes of life thy voice attend,
In counsel lead thee or in arms defend.
While three firm youths, thy chosen friends, shall go
To learn the climes and meditate the foe;
That wars of future years their aid may find,
To serve the realm and save the savage kind.
Rise then, my son, bright partner of my fame,
With early toils to build thy sacred name;
In high behest, these heavenly tidings bear,
To bless mankind and ward the waste of war.
To those dark hosts, where shivering mountains run,
Proclaim the bounties of our sire the Sun.
On these fair plains, beneath his happier skies,
Tell how his fruits in boundless plenty rise;
How the bright Power, whose all delighting soul
Taught round the courts of heaven his stars to roll,
To all his earth-born sons hath kindly given
His noblest laws the favourite grace of heaven;
Bids every tribe the same glad laws attend,
His realms to widen and his fanes defend,
Confess and emulate his bounteous sway,
And give his blessings where he gives the day.
Yet, should the gathering legions still prepare
The shaft of slaughter for the barbarous war,
Tell them we know to tread the crimson plain,
And heaven's bright children never yield to man.
But oh, my child, with steps of caution go,
The ways are hideous and enraged the foe;
Blood stains their altars, all their feasts are blood,
Death their delight and Darkness reigns their God;
Tygers and vultures, storms and earthquakes share
Their rites of worship and their spoils of war.
Should'st thou, my Rocha, tempt their vengeful ire,
Should those dear relics feed a savage fire,
Deep sighs would heave thy wretched mother's breast,
The pale sun sink in clouds of darkness drest,
Thy sire and hapless nations rue the day,
That drew thy steps from these sad walls away.
Yet go; 'tis virtue calls; and realms unknown,
By these long toils, may bless thy future throne;
Millions of unborn souls in time may see
Their doom reversed, and owe their joys to thee;
While savage sires, with murdering hands, no more
Dread the grim Gods that claim their children's gore,
But, sway'd by happier sceptres, here behold
The rites of freedom and the shrines of gold.
Be wise, be mindful of thy realm and throne;
Heaven speed the labours, and preserve my son.
Soon the glad prince, in robes of white array'd,
Call'd his attendants, and the sire obey'd.
A diamond broad, in burning gold imprest,
Fix'd the Sun's image on his royal breast;
Fair in his hand appear'd the olive bough,
And the white lautu graced his beauteous brow.
Swift o'er the hills that lift the walks of day,
Thro' parting clouds he took his eastern way;
Height over height he gain'd, beyond the bound,
Where the wide empire claims its utmost round;
To numerous tribes proclaim'd the solar sway,
And held, through various toils, his wilder'd way.
At length, far distant, thro' the darkening skies,
Where hills o'er hills in rude disorder rise,
A dreadful groan, beneath the shuddering ground,
Rolls down the steeps and shakes the world around.
Columns of reddening smoke, above the height,
O'ercast the heavens and cloud their wonted light;
From tottering tops descend the cliffs of snow,
The mountains reel, the valleys rend below,
The headlong streams forget their usual round,
And shrink and vanish in the gaping ground;
The sun descends–Wide flames with livid glare
Break the red cloud and purple all the air;
Above the gaping top, wild cinders, driven,
Stream high and brighten to the midst of heaven;
Deep from beneath, full floods of boiling ore
Burst the dread mount, and thro' the opening roar;
Torrents of molten rocks, on every side,
Lead o'er the shelves of ice the fiery tide;
Hills slide before them, skies around them burn,
Towns sink beneath, and heaving plains o'erturn;
O'er distant realms, the flaming deluge, hurl'd,
Sweeps trembling nations from the astonish'd world.
Meanwhile, at distance, through the livid light,
A busy concourse met his wondering sight;
The prince drew near; an altar raised he view'd,
In form a furnace, fill'd with burning wood;
There a fair youth in pangs expiring lay,
And the fond father thus was heard to pray.
Receive, O dreadful Power, from feeble age,
This last pure offering to thy sateless rage,
Thrice has thy vengeance, on this hated land,
Claim'd a dear infant from my yielding hand;
Thrice have those lovely lips the victim press'd,
And all the mother torn that tender breast;
When the dread duty stifled every sigh,
And not a tear escaped her beauteous eye.
The fourth, and last now meets the fatal doom,
(Groan not, my child, thy God commands thee home)
Attend, once more, thou dark, infernal Name,
From yon far-streaming pyramid of flame;
Snatch, from the heaving flesh, the expiring breath,
Sacred to thee and all the Powers of death;
Then, in thy hall, with spoils of nations crown'd,
Confine thy walks beneath the rending ground;
No more on earth the imbowel'd flames to pour,
And scourge my people and my race no more.
Thus Rocha heard; and, tow'rd th'trembling croud,
Turn'd the bright ensign of his beaming God.
The afflicted chief, with fear and grief opprest,
Beheld the sign and thus the prince address'd.
From what far land, O royal stranger, say,
Ascend thy wandering steps this nightly way?
Com'st thou from plains like ours, with cinders fired?
And have thy people in the flames expired?
Or hast thou now, to stay the whelming flood,
No son to offer to the furious God?
From happier lands I came, the prince return'd,
Where no red vengeance e'er the concave burn'd;
No furious God disturbs the peaceful skies,
Nor yield our hands the bloody sacrifice.
But life and joy the Power delights to give,
And bids his children but rejoice and live.
Thou seest o'er heaven the all-delighting Sun.
In living radiance, rear his golden throne;
O'er plains and valleys shed his genial beams,
Call from yon cliffs of ice the winding streams;
While fruits and flowers adorn the indulgent field,
And seas and lakes their copious treasures yield;
He reigns our only God; in him we trace
The friend, the father of our happy race.
Late the lone tribes, on those delightful shores,
With gloomy reverence served imagin'd Powers;
Till he, in pity to the roving race,
Dispensed their laws, and form'd their minds for peace.
My heaven-born parents first the reign began,
Sent from his courts to rule the race of man,
Unfold his arts, extend his bounteous sway,
And give his blessings where he gives the day.
The wondering chief reply'd; thy form and dress
Proclaim thy lineage of superior race;
And our far-distant sires, no less than thine,
Sprang from a God, and own a birth divine.
From that ethereal mount, the source of flame,
In elder times, the great avengers came;
Where the dread Power conceals his dark abode,
And claims, as now, the tribute of a God.
This victim due when willing mortals pay,
His terrors lessen and his fires decay;
While purer sleet regales the untainted air,
And our glad hosts are fired for fiercer war.
Yet know, dread chief, the pious youth rejoin'd,
One sovereign Power produced all human kind;
Some Sire supreme, whose ever-ruling soul
Creates, preserves, and regulates the whole.
That Sire supreme must lift his radiant eye
Round the wide concave of the boundless sky;
That heaven's high courts, and all the walks of men
May rise unveil'd beneath his careful ken.
Could thy dark Power, that holds his drear abode
Deep in the bosom of that fiery flood,
Yield the glad fruits that distant nations find?
Or praise, or punish, or behold mankind?
When the blest God, from glooms of changing night
Shall gild his chambers with the morning light,
By mystic rites he'll vindicate his throne,
And own thy servant for his duteous son.
Meantime, the chief reply'd, thy cares released,
Share the poor relics of our scanty feast;
Which, driven in hasty rout our train supply'd,
When trembling earth proclaim'd the boiling tide.
They fared, they rested; till approaching morn
Beheld the day-star o'er the mountain burn;
The rising prince an altar rear'd on high.
And watch'd the splendors of the orient sky.
When o'er the mountain flamed the sun's broad ray,
He call'd the host his sacred rites t'essay;
Then took the loaves of maize, the bounties brake,
Gave to the chief and bade them all partake;
The hallowed relics on the pile he placed,
With tufts of flowers the simple offering graced,
Held to the sun the image from his breast,
Whose glowing concave all the God exprest;
O'er the dry'd leaves, the trembling lustre flies,
And thus his voice ascends the listening skies.
O thou, whose splendors kindle heaven with fire,
Great soul of nature, and the world's dread sire,
If e'er my father found thy sovereign grace,
Or thy blest will ordain'd the Incan race,
Give these lone tribes to learn thine awful name,
Receive this offering and the pile inflame:
So shall thy laws o'er these wide bounds be known,
And earth's unnumber'd sons be happy as thine own.
Thus pray'd the prince, the kindling flames aspire,
The tribes surrounding tremble and retire,
Gaze on the wonder, full conviction own,
And vow obedience to the genial Sun.
The Inca now his farther course descry'd,
A young cazique attending as a guide,
O'er eastern cliffs pursued the wilder'd way,
Where loftier champaigns meet the shivering day;
Saw timorous tribes in these sublime abodes,
Adore the blasts and turn the storms to Gods.
Each blackening cloud, that thunders thro' the skies,
Claims from their hands a human sacrifice.
A while the youth, their better faith to gain,
Strives, with his usual art, but strives in vain;
In vain he pleads the mildness of the sun,
In those cold bounds where chilling whirlwinds run;
Where the dark tempests sweep the world below,
And load the mountains with eternal snow.
The sun's bright beam, the fearful tribes declare,
Drives all their evils on the tortured air;
He draws the vapors up the eastern sky,
That sail and centre tow'rd his dazzling eye;
Leads the loud storms along his midday course,
And bids the Andes meet their sweeping force;
Builds their bleak summits, with an icy throne,
To shine through heaven a semblance of his own;
Hence the dire chills, the lifted lawns that wait,
And all the scourges that attend their state,
Seven toilsome days, the virtuous legate strove,
To social joys their savage minds to move;
Then, while the morning glow'd serenely bright,
He led their footsteps to an eastern height;
The world unbounded, stretch'd beneath them, lay,
And not a cloud obscured the rising day.
Broad Amazonia, with her star-like streams,
In azure drest, a heaven inverted seems:
Dim Paraguay extends the aching sight;
Xaraya glimmers, like the moon of night:
The earth and skies, in blending borders, stray,
And smile and brighten to the lamp of day.
When thus the prince; What majesty divine!
What robes of gold! what flames around him shine!
There walks the God! his starry sons on high
Draw their dim veil, and shrink behind the sky;
Earth with surrounding nature's born anew,
And tribes and empires greet the gladdening view
Who can behold his all-delighting soul
Give life and joy; and heaven and earth controul?
Bid death and darkness from his presence move–
Who can behold, and not adore and love?
Those plains, immensely circling feel his beams,
He greens the groves, he silvers o'er the streams,
Swells the wild fruitage, gives the beast his food,
And mute creation hails the genial God.
But nobler joys his righteous laws impart,
To aid the life and mould the social heart,
His peaceful arts o'er happy realms to spread,
And altars grace with pure celestial bread;
Such our distinguish'd lot, who own his sway,
Mild as his morning stars, and liberal as the day.
His unknown laws, the mountain chief reply'd,
In your far world, your boasted race may guide;
And yon low plains, that drink his genial ray,
At his glad shrine their just devotions pay,
But we, nor fear his frown, nor trust his smile;
He blasts our forests and o'erturns our toil;
Our bowers are bury'd in his whirls of snow,
Or swept and driven to shade his tribes below.
Even now his mounting steps thy hopes beguile;
He lures thy raptures with a morning smile
But soon (for so those saffron robes proclaim)
Black storms shall sail beneath his leading flame,
Thunders and blasts, against the mountain driven,
Shall shake the tottering tops and rend the vault of heaven.
He spoke; they waited, till the ascending ray,
High from the noon-tide, shot the faithless day;
When, lo! far-gathering, round the eastern skies
Solemn, and low, the dark-red vapors rise;
Full clouds convolving on the turbid air,
Move, like an ocean to the watery war.
The host, securely raised, no dangers harm,
They sit unclouded, and over-look the storm;
While, far beneath, the sky-borne waters ride,
O'er the dark deep and up the mountain's side;
The lightning's glancing wings, in fury curl'd,
Bend their long forky terrors o'er the world;
Torrents and broken craggs, and floods of rain,
From steep to steep, roll down their force amain,
In dreadful cataracts: the crashing sound
Fills the wide heavens and rocks the smouldering ground.
The blasts, unburden'd, take their upward course.
And, o'er the mountain-top, resume their force:
Swift, thro' the long, white ridges, from the north.
The rapid whirlwinds lead their terrors forth;
High rolls the storm, the circling surges rise,
And wild gyrations wheel the hovering skies;
Vast hills of snow, in sweeping columns driven,
Deluge the air and cloud the face of heaven;
Floods burst their chains, the rocks forget their place,
And the firm mountain trembles to its base.
Long gazed the host; when thus the stubborn chief,
With eyes on fire, and fill'd with sullen grief,
Behold thy careless God, securely high,
Laughs at our woes, and sails the heavens in joy;
Drives all his evils on these seats sublime,
And wafts his favours to a happier clime:
Sire of that peaceful race, thy words disclose,
There glads his children, here afflicts his foes.
Hence! speed thy course! pursue him where he leads;
Lest vengeance seize thee for thy father's deeds,
Thy immolated limbs asswage the fire
Of those curst Powers, which now a gift require.
The youth, in haste, collects his scanty train,
And, with the sun, flies o'er the western plain,
The fading orb with plaintive voice he plies,
To guide his steps and light him down the skies.
So, when the moon and all the host of even,
Hang, pale and trembling, on the verge of heaven,
While storms, ascending, threat their nightly reign,
They seek their absent sire, and settle down the main.
Now, to the south, he turns his tedious way,
Where tribes unnumber'd on the mountains stray;
And finds, collecting, in a central plain,
From all the hills, a wide-extended train.
Of various dress and various form they show'd;
Each wore the ensign of his local God.
From eastern steeps, a grisly host descends,
O'er whose grim chief a tyger's hide depends:
The tusky jaws grin o'er his shaggy brow,
The eye-balls glare, the paws depend below;
From his bored ears contorted serpents hung,
And drops of gore seem'd rolling on his tongue.
From northern wilds, dark move the vulture-race;
Black tufts of quills their shaded foreheads grace;
The claws extend, the beak is oped for blood,
And all the armour imitates the God.
The condor, frowning, from a southern plain,
Borne on a standard, leads a numerous train:
Clench'd in his talons, hangs a warrior dead,
His long beak pointing where the squadrons tread;
His wings, far-stretching, cleave the whistling wind.
And his broad tail o'ershades the host behind.
From other plains, and other hills, afar,
The assembling tribes throng dreadful to the war;
Some wear the crested furies of the snake,
Some show the emblems of a stream or lake;
All, from the Power they serve, assume their mode,
And foam and yell to taste the Incan blood.
The prince, incautious, with his train drew near,
Known for an Inca by his dress and air.
Sudden the savage bands to vengeance move,
Demand their arms and chace them round the grove;
His scattering host in vain the combat tries,
While circling thousands from their ambush rise;
Nor power to strive, nor hope of flight remains,
They bow in silence to the victor's chains.
When, now the gathering squadrons throng the plain,
And echoing skies the rending shouts retain;
Zamor, the leader of the tyger-band,
By choice appointed to the first command,
Shrugg'd up his spotted spoils above the rest,
And, grimly frowning, thus the croud address'd:
Warriors, attend; tomorrow leads abroad
Our sacred vengeance for our brothers' blood.
On those scorch'd plains forever must they lie,
Their bones still naked to the burning sky?
Left in the field for foreign hawks to tear,
Nor our own vultures can the banquet share.
But soon, ye mountain Gods, yon dreary west
Shall sate your vengeance with a nobler feast;
When the proud Sun, that terror of the plain,
Shall grieve in heaven for all his children slain;
O'er boundless fields our slaughtering myriads roam,
And your dark Powers command a happier home.
Mean while, ye tribes, these men of solar race,
Food for the flames, your bloody rites shall grace:
Each to a different God, his panting breath
Resigns in fire; this night demands their death:
All but the Inca; him, reserved in state,
These conquering hands ere long shall immolate,
To that dread Power that thunders in the skies,
A grateful gift, before his mother's eyes,
The savage ceased; the chiefs of every race
Lead the bold captives to their destined place;
The sun descends, the parting day expires,
And earth and heaven display their sparkling fires.
Soon the raised altars kindle round the gloom,
And call the victims to the vengeful doom;
Led to the scene, in sovereign pomp they tread,
And sing, by turns, the triumphs of the dead.
Amid the croud, beside his altar, stood
The youth devoted to the tyger-God.
A beauteous form he rose, of princely grace,
The only hope of his illustrious race;
His aged sire, through numerous years, had shone,
The first supporter of the Incan throne;
Wise Capac loved the youth, and graced his hand
With a fair virgin, from a neighbouring band;
And him the joyous prince, in equal prime;
Had chose t'attend him round the savage clime.
He mounts the pyre; the flames approach his breath,
And thus he wakes the canticle of death.
O thou dark vault of heaven! his daily throne.
Where flee the absent glories of the Sun?
Ye starry hosts, that kindle from his eye,
Can you behold him in the western sky?
Or if, unseen, he rests his radiant head,
Beneath the confines of his watery bed;
When next his morning steps your courts inflame,
And seek on earth for young Azonto's name,
Then point these ashes, mark the smoky pile,
And say the hero suffer'd with a smile.
So shall the avenging Power, in fury drest,
Bind the red circler o'er his changing vest,
Bid dire destruction, on these dark abodes,
Whelm the grim tribes and all their savage Gods.
But oh! forbear to tell my stooping sire,
His darling hopes have fed a coward fire;
Why should he know the tortures of the brave?
Or fruitless sorrows bend him to the grave?
And may'st thou ne'er be told, my anxious fair,
What rending pangs these panting vitals tear;
But, blooming still, the impatient wish employ
On the blind hope of future scenes of joy.
Now haste, ye strides of death, the Power of day,
In absent slumbers, gives your vengeance way;
While fainter light these livid flames supply,
And short-lived thousands learn of me to die.
He ceased not speaking; when the yell of was
Drowns all their death-songs in a hideous jar;
Round the far echoing hills the yellings pour,
And wolves and tygers catch the distant roar.
Now more concordant all their voices join,
And round the plain they form the lengthening line;
When, to the music of the dismal din,
Indignant Zamor bids the dance begin.
Dim, thro' the shadowy fires, each changing form
Moves like a cloud before an evening storm;
When, o'er the moon's pale face and starry plain,
The shades of heaven lead on their broken train;
The mingling tribes their mazy circles tread,
Till the last groan proclaims the victims dead;
Then part the smoky flesh, enjoy the seast,
And lose their labours in oblivious rest.
Now, when the western hills proclaim'd the morn,
And falling fires were scarcely seen to burn,
Grimm'd by the horrors of the dreadful night,
The hosts woke fiercer for the distant fight;
And, dark and silent, like a shadowy grove,
The different tribes beneath their standards move.
But round the blissful city of the sun,
Since the young prince his foreign toils begun,
The prudent king collected, from afar,
His numerous hosts to meet the expected war.
The various tribes, in one extended train,
Move to the confines of an eastern plain;
Where, from the exalted kingdom's utmost end,
Sublimer hills and savage walks ascend.
High in the front, imperial Capac strode,
In fair effulgence like the beaming God;
A golden girdle bound his snowy vest,
A mimic Sun hung trembling on his breast,
The lautu's circling band his temples twined,
The bow, the quiver shade his waist behind;
Raised high in air, his golden sceptre burn'd,
And hosts surrounding trembled as he turn'd.
O'er eastern hills he cast his kindling eye,
Where opening breaches lengthen down the sky;
In whose blue clefts, wide, sloping alleys bend,
Where annual floods from melting snows descend;
Now, dry and deep, far up the dreary height,
Show the dark squadrons moving into sight;
They throng and thicken on the smoky air,
And every breach pours down the dusky war.
So when an hundred streams explore their way,
Down the same slopes, convolving to the sea;
They boil, they bend, they urge their force amain,
Swell o'er th'obstructing craggs and sweep the distant plain.
Capac beholds, and waits the coming shock,
Unmoved, and gleaming like an icy rock;
And while for fight the arming hosts prepare,
Thus thro' the files he breathes the soul of war.
Ye hosts, of every tribe and every plain,
That live and flourish in my father's reign,
Long have your flocks and ripening harvests shown
The genial smiles of his indulgent throne;
As o'er surrounding realms his blessings flow'd,
And conquer'd all without the stain of blood.
But now, behold yon wide-collecting band,
With threatening war, demands the happy land:
Beneath the dark, immeasurable host,
Descending, swarming, how the craggs are lost!
Already now, their ravening eyes behold
Your star-bright temples and your gates of gold;
And to their Gods in fancied goblets pour,
The warm libation of your children's gore.
Move then to vengeance, meet the whelming flood,
Led by this arm and lighted by that God;
The strife is fierce, your fanes and fields the prize,
The warrior conquers or the infant dies.
Fill'd with his fire, the hosts, in squared array,
Eye the dark legions and demand the affray;
Their pointed arrows, rising on the bow,
Look up the sky and chide the lagging foe.
Fierce Zamor, frowning, leads the grisly train,
Moves from the clefts, and stretches o'er the plain;
He gives the shriek; the deep convulsing sound
The hosts re-echo; and the hills around
Retain the rending tumult; all the air
Clangs in the conflict of the clashing war.
But firm, undaunted, as a shelvy strand,
That meets the billowy surge, the squadrons stand;
Bend the broad bow, in lengthier circuit spread,
And showers of arrows thicken heaven with shade.
When each grim host, in closer conflict join'd,
Clench the dire ax, and cast the bow behind;
Thro' broken ranks sweep wide the rapid course,
Now struggle back, now sidelong sway the force;
Here, from grim chiefs is lopp'd the grisly head;
All gride the dying, all deface the dead;
There, scattering o'er the field, in thin array,
Man strives with man, and stones with axes play;
With broken shafts they follow and they fly,
And yells and groans and shouts invade the sky;
Round all the plains and groves, the ground is strow'd
With sever'd limbs and corses bathed in blood.
Long raged the strife; and where, on either side,
A friend, a father or a brother died,
No trace remain'd of what he show'd before.
Mangled with horrid wounds and smear'd with gore.
Now the Peruvians, in collected might,
With one wide sweep had wing'd the savage flight;
But heaven's bright Splendor in his midday race,
With glooms unusual, veil'd his radiant face.
By slow degrees a solemn twilight moves,
Browns the dim heavens and shades the conscious groves.
The observing Inca views, with wild surprise,
Deep glooms on earth, no cloud around the skies;
His host o'ershaded in the field of blood,
Gored by his foes, deserted by his God.
All mute with wonder, cease the strife to wage,
Gaze at each-other, and forget their rage;
When pious Capac, to the listening croud,
Raised high his wand and pour'd his voice aloud:
Ye chiefs and warriors of Peruvian race,
Some dire offence obscures my father's face;
What moves the Godhead to desert the plain,
Nor save his children, nor behold them slain?
Fly! speed your course, and seek the distant town,
Ere darkness shroud you in a deeper frown;
The lengthening walls your squadrons shall defend,
While my sad steps the sacred dome ascend;
There learn the cause, and ward the woes we fear–
Haste, haste, my sons, I guard the flying rear.
The hero spoke; the trembling tribes obey,
While deeper glooms obscure the source of day.
Sudden, the savage bands collect amain,
Hang on the rear and sweep them o'er the plain;
Their shouts, redoubling o'er the flying war,
Drown the loud groans and torture all the air;
The hawks of heaven, that o'er the field had stood
Scared by the tumult from the scent of blood,
Cleave the far gloom; the beasts forget their prey,
And scour the waste, and give the war its way.
Zamor, elate with horrid joy, beheld
The Sun depart, his children fly the field,
And raised his rending voice; Thou darkening sky,
Deepen thy glooms, the Power of death is nigh;
Behold him rising from his nightly throne,
To veil the heavens and drive the conquer'd Sun!
The glaring Godhead yields to sacred Night;
And all his armies imitate his flight.
O dark, infernal Power, confirm thy reign;
Give deadlier shades and heap the piles of slain:
Soon, the young captive prince shall roll in fire,
And all his race accumulate the pyre.
Ye mountain vultures, here your vengeance pour,
Tygers and condors, all ye Gods of gore,
In these dread fields, beneath your frowning sky,
A plenteous feast shall every God supply.
Rush forward, warriors, hide the plains with dead;
'Twas here our friends, in former combat, bled;
Strow'd thro' the waste, their bloody bones demand
This sweeping vengeance from our conquering hand.
He said; and, high before the tyger-train,
With longer strides, hangs forward o'er the slain,
Bends, like a falling tree, to reach the foe,
And o'er tall Capac aims a deadly blow.
The king beheld the ax, and with his wand,
Struck the raised weapon from his grasping hand
Then clench'd the falling helve, and whirling round,
Fell'd furious hosts of heroes to the ground:
Nor stay'd, but follow'd, where the squadrons run,
Fearing to fight, forsaken by the Sun:
Till Cusco's walls salute their longing sight,
And the wide gates receive their rapid flight.
The folds are barr'd, the foes, in shade conceal'd,
Like howling wolves, rave round the affrighted field.
The monarch now ascends the sacred dome,
Where the Sun's image wore a faded gloom.
Thro' all the courts a solemn shade prevail'd,
And dismal groans his listening ear assail'd;
Deep from an inner shrine, the stifled sighs
Breathe forth awhile, and these sad accents rise.
Was it for this, my son to distant lands
Must trace the wilds, amid those savage bands?
And does the God obscure his golden throne,
In mournful silence for my slaughter'd son?
Oh, had his beam, ere that disastrous day,
That snatch'd the youth from these fond arms away,
Received my mounting spirit to the sky,
That sad Oella might have seen him die.
Where slept thy shaft of vengeance, O my God,
When those fell tygers drank his sacred blood?
Did not the pious prince, with rites divine;
Feed the pure flame, within thy hallow'd shrine?
And early learn, beneath his father's hand,
To shed thy blessings round the favour'd land?
Form'd by thy laws the royal seat to grace,
Son of thy son, and glory of his race.
Where, dearest Rocha, rests thy beauteous head?
Where the rent robes thy hapless mother made?
I see thee, mid those hideous hills of snow,
Pursued and slaughter'd by the savage foe;
Or, doom'd a feast for some infernal God,
Whose horrid shrine demands thy harmless blood.
Snatch me, O Sun, to happier worlds of light–
No shroud me, shroud me, with thyself in night
Thou hear'st me not; thou dread, departed Power,
Thy face is dark, and Rocha is no more.
Thus heard the silent king; his heaving heart
Caught all her grief, and bore a father's part.
The cause, suggested by her tender moan,
That veil'd the midday splendors of the sun,
And shouts insulting of the raging foe,
Fix'd him suspense, in all the strength of woe
A doubtful moment held his changing choice;
Now would he sooth her; half assumes his voice;
But greater cares the rising wish controul,
And call forth all his dignity of soul.
Why should he cease to ward the coming fate?
Or she be told the foes besiege the gate?
He turn'd in haste; and now the image-God,
High in the front, with kindling lustre glow'd:
Swift thro' the portal, flew the hero's eye,
And hail'd the growing Splendor in the sky.
The thronging host, now brightening at the sight,
Pour round the dome, impatient for the fight;
The chief, descending, in the portal stood,
And thus address'd the all-delighting God.
O sovereign Soul of heaven; thy changing face
Makes or destroys the glory of thy race.
If, from the bounds of earth, my son be fled,
First of thy line that ever graced the dead;
If thy bright Godhead ceased in heaven to burn,
For that loved youth, who never must return;
Forgive thine armies; when, in fields of blood,
They lose their strength, and fear the frowning God,
As now thy glory, with superior day,
Glows thro' the field and leads the warrior's way,
May our delighted souls, to vengeance driven,
Burn with new brightness in the cause of heaven;
For thy slain son see larger squadrons bleed,
We mourn the hero, but avenge the deed.
He said; and, from the battlements on high,
A watchful warrior raised an eager cry;
An Inca white on yonder altar tied–
Tis Rocha's self–the flame ascends his side.
In sweeping haste the bursting gates unbar,
And flood the champaign with a tide of war;
A cloud of arrows leads the rapid train,
They shout, they swarm, they hide the moving plain;
The bows and quivers strow the field behind,
And the raised axes cleave the parting wind;
The prince, confest to every warrior's sight,
Inspires each soul and centres all the fight;
Each hopes to snatch him from the kindling pyre,
Each fears his breath already flits in fire:
While Zamor spread his thronging squadrons wide,
Wedged like a wall–and thus the king defied:
Haste! son of Light, pour fast the winged war,
The prince, the dying prince demands your care:
Hear how his death-song chides your dull delay,
Lift larger strides, bend forward to the affray;
Ere folding flames prevent his stifled groan,
Child of your beaming God, a victim to our own.
He said; and raised his shaggy form on high,
And bade the shafts glide thicker thro' the sky.
Like the black billows of the lifted main,
Rolls into sight the long Peruvian train;
A white sail, bounding, on the billows tost,
Is Capac, striding o'er the furious host.
Now meet the dreadful chiefs, with eyes on fire;
Beneath their blows the parting ranks retire:
In whirlwind-sweep, their meeting axes bound,
Wheel, crash in air, and plough the trembling ground;
Their sinewy limbs, in fierce contortions, bend,
And mutual strokes, with equal force, descend;
The king sways backward from the struggling foe,
Collects new strength, and with a circling blow
Rush'd furious on; his flinty edge, on high,
Met Zamor's helve, and glancing, cleft his thigh,
The savage fell; when, thro' the tyger-train,
The driving Inca swept a widening lane;
Whole ranks fall staggering, where he lifts his arm,
Or roll before him, like a billowy storm;
Behind his steps collecting legions close,
While, centred in a circling ridge of foes,
He drives his furious way; the prince unties,
And thus his voice–Dread Sovereign of the skies,
Accept my living son, again bestow'd,
To grace with rites the temple of his God.
Move, warriors, move, complete the work begun,
Crush the grim race, avenge the injured Sun.
The savage host, that view'd the daring deed,
And saw deep squadrons with their leader bleed,
Raised high the shriek of horror; all the plain
Is trod with flight and cover'd with the slain.
The bold Peruvians circle round the field,
Confine their flight and bid the relics yield:
While Capac raised his placid voice again–
Ye conquering hosts, collect the scatter'd train;
The Sun commands to stay the rage of war,
He knows to conquer, but he loves to spare.
He ceased; and, where the savage leader lay
Weltering in gore, directs his eager way;
Unwraps the tyger's hide, and strives in vain
To close the wound, and mitigate the pain;
And, while soft pity moved his manly breast,
Raised the huge head and thus the chief addrest.
Too long, dread prince, thy raging arms withstood
The hosts of heaven, and braved the avenging God;
His sovereign will commands all strife to cease,
His realm is concord, and his pleasure, peace;
This copious carnage, spreading all the plain,
Insults his bounties, but confirms his reign.
Enough, 'tis past–thy parting breath demands
The last, sad office from my yielding hands.
To share thy pains, and feel thy hopeless woe,
Are rites ungrateful to a falling foe;
Yet rest in peace; and know, a chief so brave,
When life departs, shall find an honour'd grave;
These hands, in mournful pomp, thy tomb shall rear,
And tribes unborn thy hapless fate declare.
Insult me not with tombs, the savage cried,
Let closing clods thy coward carcase hide;
But these brave bones, unbury'd on the plain,
Touch not with dust, nor dare with rites profane;
Let no curst earth conceal this gorey head,
Nor songs proclaim the dreadful Zamor dead.
Me, whom the hungry Gods, from plain to plain,
Have follow'd, feasting on thy slaughter'd train,
Me wouldst thou cover? no! from yonder sky,
The wide-beak'd hawk, that now beholds me die,
Soon, with his cowering train, my flesh shall tear,
And wolves and tygers vindicate their share.
Receive, dread Powers, (since I can slay no more)
My last glad victim, this devoted gore.
Thus pour'd the vengeful chief his fainting breath,
And lost his utterance in the gasp of death.
The sad remaining tribes confess the Power,
That sheds his bounties round the favourite shore;
All bow obedient to the Incan throne,
And blest Oella hails her living son.

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The King of the Vasse

A LEGEND OF THE BUSH.


MY tale which I have brought is of a time
Ere that fair Southern land was stained with crime,
Brought thitherward in reeking ships and cast
Like blight upon the coast, or like a blast
From angry levin on a fair young tree,
That stands thenceforth a piteous sight to see.
So lives this land to-day beneath the sun,—
A weltering plague-spot, where the hot tears run,
And hearts to ashes turn, and souls are dried
Like empty kilns where hopes have parched and died.
Woe's cloak is round her,—she the fairest shore
In all the Southern Ocean o'er and o'er.
Poor Cinderella! she must bide her woe,
Because an elder sister wills it so.
Ah! could that sister see the future day
When her own wealth and strength are shorn away,
A.nd she, lone mother then, puts forth her hand
To rest on kindred blood in that far land;
Could she but see that kin deny her claim
Because of nothing owing her but shame,—
Then might she learn 'tis building but to fall,
If carted rubble be the basement-wall.

But this my tale, if tale it be, begins
Before the young land saw the old land's sins
Sail up the orient ocean, like a cloud
Far-blown, and widening as it neared,—a shroud
Fate-sent to wrap the bier of all things pure,
And mark the leper-land while stains endure.
In the far days, the few who sought the West
Were men all guileless, in adventurous quest
Of lands to feed their flocks and raise their grain,
And help them live their lives with less of pain
Than crowded Europe lets her children know.
From their old homesteads did they seaward go,
As if in Nature's order men must flee
As flow the streams,—from inlands to the sea.

In that far time, from out a Northern land,
With home-ties severed, went a numerous band
Of men and wives and children, white-haired folk:
Whose humble hope of rest at home had broke,
As year was piled on year, and still their toil
Had wrung poor fee from -Sweden's rugged soil.
One day there gathered from the neighboring steads,
In Jacob Eibsen's, five strong household heads,—
Five men large-limbed and sinewed, Jacob's sons,
Though he was hale, as one whose current runs
In stony channels, that the streamlet rend,
But keep it clear and full unto the end.
Eight sons had Jacob Eibsen,—three still boys,
And these five men, who owned of griefs and joys
The common lot; and three tall girls beside,
Of whom the eldest was a blushing bride
One year before. Old-fashioned times and men,
And wives and maidens, were in Sweden then.
These five came there for counsel: they were tired
Of hoping on for all the heart desired;
And Jacob, old but mighty-thewed as youth,
In all their words did sadly own the truth,
And said unto them, 'Wealth cannot be found
In Sweden now by men who till the ground.
I've thought at times of leaving this bare place,
And holding seaward with a seeking face
For those new lands they speak of, where men thrive.
Alone .I've thought of this-; but now you five—
Five brother men of Eibsen blood—shall say
If our old stock from here must wend their way,
And seek a home where anxious sires can give
To every child enough whereon to live.'

Then each took thought in silence. Jacob gazed
Across them at the pastures worn and grazed
By ill-fed herds; his glance to corn-fields passed,
Where stunted oats, worse each year than the last,
And blighted barley, grew amongst the stones,
That showed ungainly, like earth's fleshless bones.
He sighed, and turned away. 'Sons, let me know
What think you?'

Each one answered firm, 'We go.'
And then they said, 'We want no northern wind
To chill us more, or driving hail to blind.
But let us sail where south winds fan the sea,
And happier we and all our race shall be.'
And so in time there started for the coast,
With farm and household gear, this Eibsen host;
And there, with others, to a good ship passed,
Which soon of Sweden's hills beheld the last.

I know not of their voyage, nor how they
Did wonder-stricken sit, as day by day,
'Neath tropic rays, they saw the smooth sea swell
And heave; while night by night the north-star fell,
Till last they watched him burning on the sea;
Nor how they saw, and wondered it could be,
Strange beacons rise before them as they gazed:
Nor how their hearts grew light when southward blazed
Five stars in blessed shape,—the Cross! whose flame
Seemed shining welcome as the wanderers came.

My story presses from this star-born hope
To where on young New Holland's western slope
These Northern-farming folk found homes at last,
And all their thankless toil seemed now long past.
Nine fruitful years chased over, and nigh all
Of life was sweet. But one dark dropp of gall
Had come when first they landed, like a sign
Of some black woe; and deep in Eibsen's wine
Of life it hid, till in the sweetest cup
The old man saw its shape come shuddering up.
And first it came in this wise: when their ship
Had made the promised land, and every lip
Was pouring praise for what the eye did meet,—
For all the air was yellow as with heat
Above the peaceful sea and dazzling sand
That wooed each other round the beauteous land,
Where inward stretched the slumbering forest's green,—
When first these sights from off the deck were seen,
There rose a wailing stern wards, and the men
Who dreamt of heaven turned to earth agen,
And heard the direful cause with bated breath,—
The land's first gleam had brought the blight of death!

The wife of Eibsen held her six-years' son,
Her youngest, and in secret best-loved one,
Close to her lifeless: his had been the cry
That first horizonwards bent every eye;
And from that opening sight of sand and tree
Like one deep spell-bound did he seem to be,
And moved by some strange phantasy; his eyes
Were wide distended as in glad surprise
At something there he saw; his arms reached o'er
The vessel's side as if to greet the shore,
And sounds came from his lips like sobs of joy.

A brief time so; and then the blue-eyed boy
Sank down convulsed, as if to him appeared
Strange sights that they saw not; and all afeard
Grew the late joyous people with vague dread;
And loud the mother wailed above her dead.
The ship steered in and found a bay, and then
The anchor plunged aweary-like: the men
Breathed breaths of rest at treading land agen.

Upon the beach by Christian men untrod
The wanderers kneeling offered up to God
The land's first-fruits; and nigh the kneeling band
The burdened mother sat upon the sand,
And still she wailed, not praying.

'Neath the wood
That lined the beach a crowd of watchers stood:
Tall men spear-armed, with skins like dusky night,
And aspect blended of deep awe and fright.
The ship that morn they saw, like some vast bird,
Come sailing toward their country; and they heard
The voices now of those strange men whose eyes
Were turned aloft, who spake unto the skies!

They heard and feared, not knowing, that first prayer,
But feared not when the wail arose, for there
Was some familiar thing did not appall,—
Grief, common heritage and lot of all.
They moved and breathed more freely at the cry,
And slowly from the wood, and timorously,
They one by one emerged upon the beach.
The white men saw, and like to friends did reach
Their hands unarmed; and soon the dusky crowd
Drew nigh and stood where wailed the mother loud.
They claimed her kindred, they could understand
That woe was hers and theirs; whereas the band
Of white-skinned men did not as brethren seem.
But now, behold! a man, whom one would deem
From eye and mien, wherever met, a King,
Did stand beside the woman. No youth's spring
Was in the foot that naked pressed the sand;
No warrior's might was in the long dark hand
That waved his people backward; no bright gold.
Of lace or armor glittered; gaunt and old,—
A belt, half apron, made of emu-down,
Upon his loins; upon his head no crown
Save only that which eighty years did trace
In whitened hair above his furrowed face.
Nigh nude he was: a short fur boka hung
In toga-folds upon his back, but flung
From his right arm and shoulder,—ever there
The spear-arm of the warrior is bare.

So stood he nigh the woman, gaunt and wild
But king-like, spearless, looking on the child
That lay with livid face upon her knees.
Thus long and fixed he gazed, as one who sees
A symbol hidden in a simple thing,
And trembles at its meaning: so the King
Fell trembling there, and from his breast there broke
A cry, part joy, part fear; then to his folk
With upraised hands he spoke one guttural word,
And said it over thrice; and when they heard,
They, too, were stricken with strange fear and joy.

The white-haired King then to the breathless boy
Drew closer still, while all the dusky crowd
In weird abasement to the earth were bowed.
Across his breast the aged ruler wore
A leathern thong or belt; whate'er it bore
Was hidden 'neath the boka. As he drew
Anigh the mother, from his side he threw
Far back the skin that made his rich-furred robe,
And showed upon the belt a small red globe
Of carven wood, bright-polished, as with years:
When this they saw, deep grew his people's fears,
And to the white sand were their foreheads pressed.

The King then raised his arms, as if he blest
The youth who lay there seeming dead and cold;
Then took the globe and oped it, and behold!
Within it, bedded in the carven case,
There lay a precious thing for that rude race
To hold, though it as God they seemed to prize, —
A Pearl of purest hue and wondrous size!

And as the sunbeams kissed it, from the dead
The dusk King looked, and o'er his snowy head
With both long hands he raised the enthroned gem,
And turned him toward the strangers: e'en on them
Before the lovely Thing, an awe did fall
To see that worship deep and mystical,
That King with upraised god, like rev' rent priest
With elevated Host at Christian feast.

Then to the mother turning slow, the King
Took out the Pearl, and laid the beauteous Thing
Upon the dead boy's mouth and brow and breast,
And as it touched him, lo! the awful rest
Of death was broken, and the youth uprose!

* * * * * * *

Nine years passed over since on that fair shore
The wanderers knelt,—but wanderers they no more.
With hopeful hearts they bore the promise-pain
Of early labor, and soon bending grain
And herds and homesteads and a teeming soil
A thousand-fold repaid their patient toil.

Nine times the sun's high glory glared above,
As if his might set naught on human love,
But yearned to scorn and scorch the things that grew
On man's poor home, till all the forest's hue
Of blessed green was burned to dusty brown;
And still the ruthless rays rained fiercely down,
Till insects, reptiles, shriveled as they lay,
And piteous cracks, like lips, in parching clay
Sent silent pleadings skyward,—as if she,
The fruitful, generous mother, plaintively
Did wail for water. Lo! her cry is heard,
And swift, obedient to the Ruler's word,
From Southern Iceland sweeps the cool sea breeze,
To fan the earth and bless the suffering trees,
And bear dense clouds with bursting weight of rain
To soothe with moisture all the parching pain.

Oh, Mercy's sweetest symbol! only they
Who see the earth agape in burning day,
Who watch its living things thirst-stricken lie,
And turn from brazen heaven as they die,—
Their hearts alone, the shadowy cloud can prize
That veils the sun,—as to poor earth-dimmed eyes
The sorrow comes to veil our joy's dear face,
All rich-in mercy and in God's sweet grace!

Thrice welcome, clouds from seaward, settling down
O'er thirsting nature! Now the trees' dull brown
Is washed away, and leaflet buds appear,
And youngling undergrowth, and far and near
The bush is whispering in her pent-up glee,
As myriad roots bestir them to be free,
And drink the soaking moisture; while bright heaven
Shows clear, as inland are the spent clouds driven;
And oh! that arch, that sky's intensate hue!
That deep, God-painted, unimagined blue
Through which the golden sun now smiling sails,
And sends his love to fructify the vales
That late he seemed to curse! Earth throbs and heaves
With pregnant prescience of life and leaves;
The shadows darken 'neath the tall trees' screen,
While round their stems the rank and velvet green
Of undergrowth is deeper still; and there,
Within the double shade and steaming air,
The scarlet palm has fixed its noxious root,
And hangs the glorious poison of its fruit;
And there, 'mid shaded green and shaded light,
The steel-blue silent birds take rapid flight
From earth to tree and tree to earth; and there
The crimson-plumaged parrot cleaves the air
Like flying fire, and huge brown owls awake
To watch, far down, the stealing carpet snake,
Fresh-skinned and glowing in his changing dyes,
With evil wisdom in the cruel eyes
That glint like gems as o'er his head flits by
The blue-black armor of the emperor-fly;
And all the humid earth displays its powers
Of prayer, with incense from the hearts of flowers
That load the air with beauty and with wine
Of mingled color, as with one design
Of making there a carpet to be trod,
In woven splendor, by the feet of God!

And high o'erhead is color: round and round
The towering gums and tuads, closely wound
Like cables, creep the climbers to the sun,
And over all the reaching branches run
And hang, and still send shoots that climb and wind
Till every arm and spray and leaf is twined,
And miles of trees, like brethren joined in love,
Are drawn and laced; while round them and above,
When all is knit, the creeper rests for days
As gathering might, and then one blinding blaze
Of very glory sends, in wealth and strength,
Of scarlet flowers o'er the forest's length!

Such scenes as these have subtile power to trace
Their clear-lined impress on the mind and face;
And these strange simple folk, not knowing why,
Grew more and more to silence; and the eye,
The quiet eye of Swedish gray, grew deep
With listening to the solemn rustling sweep
From wings of Silence, and the earth's great psalm
Intoned forever by the forest's calm.

But most of all was younger Jacob changed:
From morn till night, alone, the woods he ranged,
To kindred, pastime, sympathy estranged.
Since that first day of landing from the ship
When with the Pearl on brow and breast and lip
The aged King had touched him and he rose,
His former life had left him, and he chose
The woods as home, the wild, uncultured men
As friends and comrades. It were better then,
His brethren said, the boy had truly died
Than they should live to be by him denied,
As now they were. He lived in somber mood,
He spoke no word to them, he broke no food
That they did eat: his former life was dead,—
The soul brought back was not the soul that fled!
'Twas Jacob's form and feature, but the light
Within his eyes was strange unto their sight.

His mother's grief was piteous to see;
Unloving was he to the rest, but she
Held undespairing hope that deep within
Her son's changed heart was love that she might win
By patient tenderness; and so she strove
For nine long years, but won no look of love!

At last his brethren gazed on him with awe,
And knew untold that from the form they saw
Their brother's gentle mind was sure dispelled,
And now a gloomy savage soul it held.
From that first day, close intercourse he had
With those who raised him up,—fierce men, unclad,
Spear-armed and wild, in all their ways uncouth,
And strange to every habit of his youth.
His food they brought, his will they seemed to crave,
The wildest bushman tended like a slave;
He worked their charms, their hideous chants he sung;
Though dumb to all his own, their guttural tongue
He often spoke in tones of curt command,
And kinged it proudly o'er the dusky band.

And once each year there gathered from afar
A swarming host, as if a sudden war
Had called them forth, and with them did they bring
In solemn, savage pomp the white-haired King,
Who year by year more withered was and weak;
And he would lead the youth apart and speak
Some occult words, and from the carven case
Would take the Pearl and touch the young man's face,
And hold it o'er him blessing; while the crowd,
As on the shore, in dumb abasement bowed.
And when the King had closed the formal rite,
The rest held savage revelry by night,
Round blazing fires, with dance and orgies base,
That roused the sleeping echoes of the place,
Which down the forest vistas moaned the din,
Like spirits pure beholding impious sin.

Nine times they gathered thus; but on the last
The old king's waning life seemed well-nigh past.
His feeble strength had failed: he walked no more,
But on a woven spear-wood couch they bore
With careful tread the form that barely gasped,
As if the door of death now hung unhasped,
Awaiting but a breath to swing, and show
The dim eternal plain that stretched below.

The tenth year waned: the cloistered bush was stilled,
The earth lay sleeping, while the clouds distilled
In ghostly veil their blessing. Thin and white,
Through opening trees the moonbeams cleft the night,
And showed the somber arches, taller far
Than grandest aisles of built cathedrals are.
And up those dim-lit aisles in silence streamed
Tall men with trailing spears, until it seemed,
So many lines converged of endless length,
A nation there was gathered in its strength.

Around one spot was kept a spacious ring,
Where lay the body of the white-haired King,
Which all the spearmen gathered to behold
Upon its spear-wood litter, stiff and cold.
All naked, there the dusky corse was laid
Beneath a royal tuad's mourning shade;
Upon the breast was placed the carven case
That held the symbol of their ancient race,
And eyes awe-stricken saw the mystic Thing
That soon would clothe another as their King!
The midnight moon was high and white o'erhead,
And threw a ghastly pallor round the dead
That heightened still the savage pomp and state
In which they stood expectant, as for Fate
To move and mark with undisputed hand
The one amongst them to the high command.
And long they stood unanswered; each on each
Had looked in vain for motion or for speech:
Unmoved as ebon statues, grand and tall,
They ringed the shadowy circle, silent all.

Then came a creeping tremor, as a breeze
With cooling rustle moves the summer trees
Before the thunder crashes on the ear;
The dense ranks turn expectant, as they hear
A sound, at first afar, but nearing fast;
The outer crowd divides, as waves are cast
On either side a tall ship's cleaving bow,
Or mold is parted by the fearless plow
That leaves behind a passage clear and broad:
So through the murmuring multitude a road
Was cleft with power, up which in haughty swing
A figure stalking broke the sacred ring.
And stood beside the body of the King!

'Twas Jacob Eibsen, sad and gloomy-browed,
Who bared his neck and breast, one moment bowed
Above the corse, and then stood proud and tall,
And held the carven case before them all!
A breath went upward like a smothered fright
From every heart, to see that face, so white,
So foreign to their own, but marked with might
From source unquestioned, and to them divine;
Whilst he, the master of the mystic sign,
Then oped the case and took the Pearl and raised,
As erst the King had done, and upward gazed,
As swearing fealty to God on high!

But ere the oath took form, there thrilled a cry
Of shivering horror through the hush of night;
And there before him, blinded by the sight
Of all his impious purpose, brave with love,
His mother stood, and stretched her arms above
To tear the idol from her darling's hand;
But one fierce look, and rang a harsh command
In Jacob's voice, that smote her like a sword.
A thousand men sprang forward at the word,
To tear the mother from the form of stone,
And cast her forth; but, as he stood alone,
The keen, heart-broken wail that cut the air
Went two-edged through him, half reproach, half prayer.

But all unheeding, he nor marked her cry
By sign or look within the gloomy eye;
But round his body bound the carven case,
And swore the fealty with marble face.

As fades a dream before slow-waking sense,
The shadowy host, that late stood fixed and dense,
Began to melt; and as they came erewhile,
The streams flowed backward through each moonlit aisle;
And soon he stood alone within the place,
Their new-made king,—their king with pallid face,
Their king with strange foreboding and unrest,
And half-formed thoughts, like dreams, within his breast.
Like Moses' rod, that mother's cry of woe
Had struck for water; but the fitful flow
That weakly welled and streamed did seem to mock
Before it died forever on the rock.

The sun rose o'er the forest, and his light
Made still more dreamlike all the evil night.
Day streamed his glory down the aisles' dim arch,
All hushed and shadowy like a pillared church;
And through the lonely bush no living thing
Was seen, save now and then a garish wing
Of bird low-flying on its silent way.

But woeful searchers spent the weary day
In anxious dread, and found not what they sought,—
Their mother and their brother: evening brought
A son and father to the lonesome place
That saw the last night's scene; and there, her face
Laid earthward, speaking dumbly to her heart,
They found her, as the hands that tore apart
The son and mother flung her from their chief,
And with one cry her heart had spent its grief.

They bore the cold earth that so late did move
In household happiness and works of love,
Unto their rude home, lonely now; and he
Who laid her there, from present misery
Did turn away, half-blinded by his tears,
To see with inward eye the far-off years
When Swedish toil was light and hedgerows sweet;
Where, when the toil was o'er, he used to meet
A simple gray-eyed girl, with sun-browned face,
Whose love had won his heart, and whose sweet grace
Had blessed for threescore years his humble life.
So Jacob Eibsen mourned his faithful wife,
And found the world no home when she was gone.
The days that seemed of old to hurry on
Now dragged their course, and marred the wish that grew,
When first he saw her grave, to sleep there too.
But though to him, whose yearning hope outran
The steady motion of the seasons' plan,
The years were slow in coming, still their pace
With awful sureness left a solemn trace,
Like dust that settles on an open page,
On Jacob Eibsen's head, bent down with age;
And ere twice more the soothing rains had come,
The old man had his wish, and to his home,
Beneath the strange trees' shadow where she lay,
They bore the rude-made bier; and from that day,
When round the parent graves the brethren stood,
Their new-made homesteads were no longer good,
But marked they seemed by some o'erhanging dread
That linked the living with the dreamless dead.
Grown silent with the woods the men were all,
But words were needed not to note the pall
That each one knew hung o'er them. Duties now,
With straying herds or swinging scythe, or plow,
Were cheerless tasks: like men they were who wrought
A weary toil that no repayment brought.
And when the seasons came and went, and still
The pall was hanging o'er them, with one will
They yoked their oxen teams and piled the loads
Of gear selected for the aimless roads
That nature opens through the bush; and when
The train was ready, women-folk and men
Went over to the graves and wept and prayed,
Then rose and turned away, but still delayed
Ere leaving there forever those poor mounds.

The next bright sunrise heard the teamsters' sounds
Of voice and whip a long day's march away;
And wider still the space grew day by day
From their old resting-place: the trackless wood
Still led them on with promises of good,
As when the mirage leads a thirsty band
With palm-tree visions o'er the arid sand.

I Snow not where they settled down at last:
Their lives and homes from out my tale have passed,
And left me naught, or seeming naught, to trace
But cheerless record of the empty place,
Where long unseen the palm-thatched cabins stood,
And made more lonely still the lonesome wood.
Long lives of men passed over; but the years
That line men's faces with hard cares and tears,
Pass lightly o'er a forest, leaving there
No wreck of young disease or old despair;
For trees are mightier than men, and Time,
When left by cunning Sin and dark-browed Crime
To work alone, hath ever gentle mood.
Unchanged the pillars and the arches stood,
But shadowed taller vistas; and the earth,
That takes and gives the ceaseless death and birth,
Was blooming still, as once it bloomed before
When sea-tired eyes beheld the beauteous shore.

But man's best work is weak, nor stands nor grows
Like Nature's simplest. Every breeze that blows,
Health-bearing to the forest, plays its part
In hasting graveward all his humble art.

Beneath the trees the cabins still remained,
By all the changing seasons seared and stained;
Grown old and weirdlike, as the folk might grow
In such a place, who left them long ago.

Men came, and wondering found the work of men
Where they had deemed them first. The savage then
Heard through the wood the axe's death watch stroke
For him and all his people: odorous smoke
Of burning sandal rose where white men dwelt,
Around the huts; but they had shuddering felt
The weird, forbidden aspect of the spot,
And left the place untouched to mold and rot.
The woods grew blithe with labor: all around,
From point to point, was heard the hollow sound,
The solemn, far-off clicking on the ear
That marks the presence of the pioneer.
And children came like flowers to bless the toil
That reaped rich fruitage from the virgin soil;
And through, the woods they wandered fresh and fair,
To feast on all the beauties blooming there.
But always did they shun the spot where grew,
From earth once tilled, the flowers of rarest hue.
There wheat grown wild in rank luxuriance spread,
And fruits grown native; but a sudden tread
Or bramble's fall would foul goanos wake,
Or start the chilling rustle of the snake;
And diamond eyes of these and thousand more
Gleamed out from ruined roof and wall and floor.
The new-come people, they whose axes rung
Throughout the forest, spoke the English tongue,
And never knew that men of other race
From Europe's fields had settled in the place;
But deemed these huts were built some long-past day
By lonely seamen who were cast away
And thrown upon the coast, who there had built
Their homes, and lived until some woe or guilt
Was bred among them, and they fled the sight
Of scenes that held a horror to the light.

But while they thought such things, the spell that hung,
And cast its shadow o'er the place, was strung
To utmost tension that a breath would break,
And show between the rifts the deep blue lake
Of blessed peace,—as next to sorrow lies
A stretch of rest, rewarding hopeful eyes.
And while such things bethought this 'new-come folk,
That breath was breathed, the olden spell was broke:
From far away within the unknown land,
O'er belts of forest and o'er wastes of sand,
A cry came thrilling, like a cry of pain
From suffering heart and half-awakened brain;
As one thought dead who wakes within the tomb,
And, reaching, cries for sunshine in the gloom.

In that strange country's heart, whence comes the breath
Of hot disease and pestilential death,
Lie leagues of wooded swamp, that from the hills
Seem stretching meadows; but the flood that fills
Those valley-basins has the hue of ink,
And dismal doorways open on the brink,
Beneath the gnarled arms of trees that grow
All leafless to the top, from roots below
The Lethe flood; and he who enters there
Beneath their screen sees rising, ghastly-bare,
Like mammoth bones within a charnel dark,
The white and ragged stems of paper-bark,
That drip down moisture with a ceaseless drip,
From lines that run like cordage of a ship;
For myriad creepers struggle to the light,
And twine and mat o'erhead in murderous fight
For life and sunshine, like another race
That wars on brethren for the highest place.
Between the water and the matted screen,
The baldhead vultures, two and two, are seen
In dismal grandeur, with revolting face
Of foul grotesque, like spirits of the place;
And now and then a spear-shaped wave goes by,
Its apex glittering with an evil eye
That sets above its enemy and prey,
As from the wave in treacherous, slimy way
The black snake winds, and strikes the bestial bird,
Whose shriek-like wailing on the hills is heard.

Beyond this circling swamp, a circling waste
Of baked and barren desert land is placed,—
A land of awful grayness, wild and stark,
Where man will never leave a deeper mark,
On leagues of fissured clay and scorching stones,
Than may be printed there by bleaching bones.
Within this belt, that keeps a savage guard,
As round a treasure sleeps a dragon ward,
A forest stretches far of precious trees;
Whence came, one day, an odor-laden breeze
Of jam-wood bruised, and sandal sweet in smoke.
For there long dwelt a numerous native folk
In that heart-garden of the continent,—
There human lives with aims and fears were spent,
And marked by love and hate and peace and pain,
And hearts well-filled and hearts athirst for gain,
And lips that clung, and faces bowed in shame;
For, wild or polished, man is still the same,
And loves and hates and envies in the wood,
With spear and boka and with manners rude,
As loves and hates his brother shorn and sleek,
Who learns by lifelong practice how to speak
With oily tongue, while in his heart below
Lies rankling poison that he dare not show.

Afar from all new ways this people dwelt,
And knew no books, and to no God had knelt,
And had no codes to rule them writ in blood;
But savage, selfish, nomad-lived and rude,
With human passions fierce from unrestraint,
And free as their loose limbs; with every taint
That earth can give to that which God has given;
Their nearest glimpse of Him, o'er-arching heaven,
Where dwelt the giver and preserver,—Light,
Who daily slew and still was slain by Night.

A savage people they, and prone to strife;
Yet men grown weak with years had spent a life
Of peace unbroken, and their sires, long dead,
Had equal lives of peace unbroken led.
It was no statute's bond or coward fear
Of retribution kept the shivering spear
In all those years from fratricidal sheath;
But one it was who ruled them,—one whom Death
Had passed as if he saw not,—one whose word
Through all that lovely central land was heard
And bowed to, as of yore the people bent,
In desert wanderings, to a leader sent
To guide and guard them to a promised land.
O'er all the Austral tribes he held command,—
A man unlike them and not of their race,
A man of flowing hair and pallid face,
A man who strove by no deft juggler's art
To keep his kingdom in the people's heart,
Nor held his place by feats of brutal might
Or showy skill, to please the savage sight;
But one who ruled them as a King of kings,
A man above, not of them,—one who brings,
To prove his kingship to the low and high,
The inborn power of the regal eye.
Like him of Sinai with the stones of law,
Whose people almost worshiped when they saw
The veiled face whereon God's glory burned;
But yet who, mutable as water, turned
From that veiled ruler who had talked with God,
To make themselves an idol from a clod:
So turned one day this savage Austral race
Against their monarch with the pallid face.
The young men knew him not, the old had heard
In far-off days, from men grown old, a word
That dimly lighted up the mystic choice
Of this their alien King,—how once a voice
Was heard by their own monarch calling clear,
And leading onward, where as on a bier
A dead child lay upon a woman's knees;
Whom when the old King saw, like one who sees
Far through the mist of common life, he spoke
And touched him with the Pearl, and he awoke,
And from that day the people owned his right
To wear the Pearl and rule them, when the light
Had left their old King's eyes. But now, they said,
The men who owned that right were too long dead;
And they were young and strong and held their spears
In idle resting through this white King's fears,
Who still would live to rule them till they changed
Their men to puling women, and estranged
To Austral hands the spear and coila grew.
And so they rose against him, and they slew
The white-haired men who raised their hands to warn,
And true to ancient trust in warning fell,
While o'er them rang the fierce revolters' yell.
Then midst the dead uprose the King in scorn,
Like some strong, hunted thing that stands at bay
To win a brief but desperate delay.
A moment thus, and those within the ring
'Gan backward press from their unarmed King,
Who swept his hand as though he bade them fly,
And brave no more the anger of his eye.
The heaving crowd grew still before that face,
And watched him take the ancient carven case,
And ope it there, and take the Pearl and stand
As once before he stood, with upraised hand
And upturned eyes of inward worshiping.

Awe-struck and dumb, once more they owned him King,
And humbly crouched before him; when a sound,
A whirring sound that thrilled them, passed o'erhead,
And with a spring they rose. a spear had sped
With aim unerring and with deathful might,
And split the awful center of their sight,—
The upraised Pearl! A moment there it shone
Before the spear-point,—then forever gone!

* * * * * * *
The spell that long the ruined huts did shroud
Was rent and scattered, as a hanging cloud
In moveless air is torn and blown away
By sudden gust uprising; and one day
When evening's lengthened shadows came to hush
The children's voices, and the awful bush
Was lapt in somber stillness, and on high
Above the arches stretched the frescoed sky,—
When all the scene such chilling aspect wore
As marked one other night long years before,
When through the reaching trees the moonlight shone
Upon a prostrate form, and o'er it one
With kingly gesture. Now the light is shed
No more on youthful brow and daring head,
But on a man grown weirdly old, whose face
Keeps turning ever to some new-found place
That rises up before him like a dream;
And not unlike a dreamer does he seem,
Who might have slept, unheeding time's sure flow,
And woke to find a world he does not know.
His long white hair flows o'er a form low bowed
By wondrous weight of years: he speaks aloud
In garbled Swedish words, with piteous wist,
As long-lost objects rise through memory's mist.
Again and once again his pace he stays,
As crowding images of other days
Loom up before him dimly, and he sees
A vague, forgotten friendship in the trees
That reach their arms in welcome; but agen
These olden glimpses vanish, and dark men
Are round him, dumb and crouching, and he stands
With guttural sentences and upraised hands,
That hold a carven case,—but empty now,
Which makes more pitiful the aged brow
Full-turned to those tall tuads that did hear
A son's fierce mandate and a mother's prayer.

Ah, God! what memories can live of these,
Save only with the half-immortal trees
That saw the death of one, the other lost!

The weird-like figure now the bush has crost
And stands within the ring, and turns and moans,
With arms out-reaching and heart-piercing tones,
And groping hands, as one a long time blind
Who sees a glimmering light on eye and mind.
From tree to sky he turns, from sky to earth,
And gasps as one to whom a second birth
Of wondrous meaning is an instant shown.
Who is this wreck of years, who all alone,
In savage raiment and with words unknown,
Bows down like some poor penitent who fears
The wrath of God provoked?—this man who hears
Around him now, wide circling through the wood,
The breathing stillness of a multitude?
Who catches dimly through his straining sight
The misty vision of an impious rite?
Who hears from one a cry that rends his heart,
And feels that loving arms are torn apart,
And by his mandate fiercely thrust aside?
Who is this one who crouches where she died,
With face laid earthward as her face was laid,
And prays for her as she for him once prayed?

'Tis Jacob Eibsen, Jacob Eibsen's son,
Whose occult life and mystic rule are done,
And passed away the memory from his brain.
'Tis Jacob Eibsen, who has come again
To roam the woods, and see the mournful gleams
That flash and linger of his old-time dreams.

The morning found him where he sank to rest
Within the mystic circle: on his breast
With withered hands, as to the dearest place,
He held and pressed the empty carven case.

That day he sought the dwellings of his folk;
And when he found them, once again there broke
The far-off light upon him, and he cried
From that wrecked cabin threshold for a guide
To lead him, old and weary, to his own.
And surely some kind spirit heard his moan,
And led him to the graves where they were laid.
The evening found him in the tuads' shade,
And like a child at work upon the spot
Where they were sleeping, though he knew it not.
Next day the children found him, and they gazed
In fear at first, for they were sore amazed
To see a man so old they never knew,
Whose garb was savage, and whose white hair grew
And flowed upon his shoulders; but their awe
Was changed to love and pity when they saw
The simple work he wrought at; and they came
And gathered flowers for him, and asked his name,
And laughed at his strange language; and he smiled
To hear them laugh, as though himself a child.
Ere that brief day was o'er, from far and near
The children gathered, wondering; and though fear
Of scenes a long time shunned at first restrained,
The spell was broken, and soon naught remained
But gladsome features,, where of old was dearth
Of happy things and cheery sounds of mirth.
The lizards fled, the snakes and bright-eyed things
Found other homes, where childhood never sings;
And all because poor Jacob, old and wild,
White-haired and fur-clad, was himself a child.
Each day he lived amid these scenes, his ear
Heard far-off voices growing still more clear;
And that dim light that first he saw in gleams
Now left him only in his troubled dreams.

From far away the children loved to come
And play and work with Jacob at his home.
He learned their simple words with childish lip,
And told them often of a white-sailed ship
That sailed across a mighty sea, and found
A beauteous harbor, all encircled round
With flowers and tall green trees; but when they asked
What did the shipmen then, his mind was tasked
Beyond its strength, and Jacob shook his head,
And with them laughed, for all he knew was said.

The brawny sawyers often ceased their toil,
As Jacob with the children passed, to smile
With rugged pity on their simple play;
Then, gazing after the glad group, would say
How strange it was to see that snowy hair
And time-worn figure with the children fair.

So Jacob Eibsen lived through years of joy,—
A patriarch in age, in heart a boy.
Unto the last he told them of the sea
And white-sailed ship; and ever lovingly,
Unto the end, the garden he had made
He tended daily, 'neath the tuads' shade.

But one bright morning, when the children came
And roused the echoes calling Jacob's name,
The echoes only answered back the sound.
They sought within the huts, but nothing found
Save loneliness and shadow, falling chill
On every sunny searcher: boding ill,
They tried each well-known haunt, and every throat
Sent far abroad the bush man's cooing note.
But all in vain their searching: twilight fell,
And sent them home their sorrowing tale to tell.
That night their elders formed a torch-lit chain
To sweep the gloomy bush; and not in vain,—
For when the moon at midnight hung o'erhead,
The weary searchers found poor Jacob—dead!

He lay within the tuad ring, his face
Laid earthward on his hands; and all the place
Was dim with shadow where the people stood.
And as they gathered there, the circling wood
Seemed filled with awful whisperings, and stirred
By things unseen; and every bushman heard,
From where the corse lay plain within their sight,
A woman's heart-wail rising on the night.
For over all the darkness and the fear
That marked his life from childhood, shining clear,

An arch, like God's bright rainbow, stretched above,
And joined the first and last,—his mother's love.

They dug a grave beneath the tuads' shade,
Where all unknown to them the bones were laid
Of Jacob's kindred; and a prayer was said
In earnest sorrow for the unknown dead,
Hound which the children grouped.

Upon the breast
The hands were folded in eternal rest;
But still they held, as dearest to that place
Where life last throbbed, the empty carven case.

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The City of Dreadful Night

Per me si va nella citta dolente.

--Dante

Poi di tanto adoprar, di tanti moti
D'ogni celeste, ogni terrena cosa,
Girando senza posa,
Per tornar sempre la donde son mosse;
Uso alcuno, alcun frutto
Indovinar non so.

Sola nel mondo eterna, a cui si volve
Ogni creata cosa,
In te, morte, si posa
Nostra ignuda natura;
Lieta no, ma sicura
Dell' antico dolor . . .
Pero ch' esser beato
Nega ai mortali e nega a' morti il fato.

--Leopardi

PROEM

Lo, thus, as prostrate, "In the dust I write
My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears."
Yet why evoke the spectres of black night
To blot the sunshine of exultant years?
Why disinter dead faith from mouldering hidden?
Why break the seals of mute despair unbidden,
And wail life's discords into careless ears?

Because a cold rage seizes one at whiles
To show the bitter old and wrinkled truth
Stripped naked of all vesture that beguiles,
False dreams, false hopes, false masks and modes of youth;
Because it gives some sense of power and passion
In helpless innocence to try to fashion
Our woe in living words howe'er uncouth.

Surely I write not for the hopeful young,
Or those who deem their happiness of worth,
Or such as pasture and grow fat among
The shows of life and feel nor doubt nor dearth,
Or pious spirits with a God above them
To sanctify and glorify and love them,
Or sages who foresee a heaven on earth.

For none of these I write, and none of these
Could read the writing if they deigned to try;
So may they flourish in their due degrees,
On our sweet earth and in their unplaced sky.
If any cares for the weak words here written,
It must be some one desolate, Fate-smitten,
Whose faith and hopes are dead, and who would die.

Yes, here and there some weary wanderer
In that same city of tremendous night,
Will understand the speech and feel a stir
Of fellowship in all-disastrous fight;
"I suffer mute and lonely, yet another
Uplifts his voice to let me know a brother
Travels the same wild paths though out of sight."

O sad Fraternity, do I unfold
Your dolorous mysteries shrouded from of yore?
Nay, be assured; no secret can be told
To any who divined it not before:
None uninitiate by many a presage
Will comprehend the language of the message,
Although proclaimed aloud for evermore.

I

The City is of Night; perchance of Death
But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning's fragrant breath
After the dewy dawning's cold grey air:
The moon and stars may shine with scorn or pity
The sun has never visited that city,
For it dissolveth in the daylight fair.

Dissolveth like a dream of night away;
Though present in distempered gloom of thought
And deadly weariness of heart all day.
But when a dream night after night is brought
Throughout a week, and such weeks few or many
Recur each year for several years, can any
Discern that dream from real life in aught?

For life is but a dream whose shapes return,
Some frequently, some seldom, some by night
And some by day, some night and day: we learn,
The while all change and many vanish quite,
In their recurrence with recurrent changes
A certain seeming order; where this ranges
We count things real; such is memory's might.

A river girds the city west and south,
The main north channel of a broad lagoon,
Regurging with the salt tides from the mouth;
Waste marshes shine and glister to the moon
For leagues, then moorland black, then stony ridges;
Great piers and causeways, many noble bridges,
Connect the town and islet suburbs strewn.

Upon an easy slope it lies at large
And scarcely overlaps the long curved crest
Which swells out two leagues from the river marge.
A trackless wilderness rolls north and west,
Savannahs, savage woods, enormous mountains,
Bleak uplands, black ravines with torrent fountains;
And eastward rolls the shipless sea's unrest.

The city is not ruinous, although
Great ruins of an unremembered past,
With others of a few short years ago
More sad, are found within its precincts vast.
The street-lamps always burn; but scarce a casement
In house or palace front from roof to basement
Doth glow or gleam athwart the mirk air cast.

The street-lamps burn amid the baleful glooms,
Amidst the soundless solitudes immense
Of ranged mansions dark and still as tombs.
The silence which benumbs or strains the sense
Fulfils with awe the soul's despair unweeping:
Myriads of habitants are ever sleeping,
Or dead, or fled from nameless pestilence!

Yet as in some necropolis you find
Perchance one mourner to a thousand dead,
So there: worn faces that look deaf and blind
Like tragic masks of stone. With weary tread,
Each wrapt in his own doom, they wander, wander,
Or sit foredone and desolately ponder
Through sleepless hours with heavy drooping head.

Mature men chiefly, few in age or youth,
A woman rarely, now and then a child:
A child! If here the heart turns sick with ruth
To see a little one from birth defiled,
Or lame or blind, as preordained to languish
Through youthless life, think how it bleeds with anguish
To meet one erring in that homeless wild.

They often murmur to themselves, they speak
To one another seldom, for their woe
Broods maddening inwardly and scorns to wreak
Itself abroad; and if at whiles it grow
To frenzy which must rave, none heeds the clamour,
Unless there waits some victim of like glamour,
To rave in turn, who lends attentive show.

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell. This dreadful strain
Of thought and consciousness which never ceases,
Or which some moments' stupor but increases,
This, worse than woe, makes wretches there insane.

They leave all hope behind who enter there:
One certitude while sane they cannot leave,
One anodyne for torture and despair;
The certitude of Death, which no reprieve
Can put off long; and which, divinely tender,
But waits the outstretched hand to promptly render
That draught whose slumber nothing can bereave

II

Because he seemed to walk with an intent
I followed him; who, shadowlike and frail,
Unswervingly though slowly onward went,
Regardless, wrapt in thought as in a veil:
Thus step for step with lonely sounding feet
We travelled many a long dim silent street.

At length he paused: a black mass in the gloom,
A tower that merged into the heavy sky;
Around, the huddled stones of grave and tomb:
Some old God's-acre now corruption's sty:
He murmured to himself with dull despair,
Here Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

Then turning to the right went on once more
And travelled weary roads without suspense;
And reached at last a low wall's open door,
Whose villa gleamed beyond the foliage dense:
He gazed, and muttered with a hard despair,
Here Love died, stabbed by its own worshipped pair.

Then turning to the right resumed his march,
And travelled street and lanes with wondrous strength,
Until on stooping through a narrow arch
We stood before a squalid house at length:
He gazed, and whispered with a cold despair,
Here Hope died, starved out in its utmost lair.

When he had spoken thus, before he stirred,
I spoke, perplexed by something in the signs
Of desolation I had seen and heard
In this drear pilgrimage to ruined shrines:
Where Faith and Love and Hope are dead indeed,
Can Life still live? By what doth it proceed?

As whom his one intense thought overpowers,
He answered coldly, Take a watch, erase
The signs and figures of the circling hours,
Detach the hands, remove the dial-face;
The works proceed until run down; although
Bereft of purpose, void of use, still go.

Then turning to the right paced on again,
And traversed squares and travelled streets whose glooms
Seemed more and more familiar to my ken;
And reached that sullen temple of the tombs;
And paused to murmur with the old despair,
Here Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

I ceased to follow, for the knot of doubt
Was severed sharply with a cruel knife:
He circled thus forever tracing out
The series of the fraction left of Life;
Perpetual recurrence in the scope
Of but three terms, dead Faith, dead Love, dead Hope. [ 1]

LXX

[1] Life divided by that persistent three = --- = .210.

333

III
Although lamps burn along the silent streets,
Even when moonlight silvers empty squares
The dark holds countless lanes and close retreats;
But when the night its sphereless mantle wears
The open spaces yawn with gloom abysmal,
The sombre mansions loom immense and dismal,
The lanes are black as subterranean lairs.

And soon the eye a strange new vision learns:
The night remains for it as dark and dense,
Yet clearly in this darkness it discerns
As in the daylight with its natural sense;
Perceives a shade in shadow not obscurely,
Pursues a stir of black in blackness surely,
Sees spectres also in the gloom intense.

The ear, too, with the silence vast and deep
Becomes familiar though unreconciled;
Hears breathings as of hidden life asleep,
And muffled throbs as of pent passions wild,
Far murmurs, speech of pity or derision;
but all more dubious than the things of vision,
So that it knows not when it is beguiled.

No time abates the first despair and awe,
But wonder ceases soon; the weirdest thing
Is felt least strange beneath the lawless law
Where Death-in-Life is the eternal king;
Crushed impotent beneath this reign of terror,
Dazed with mysteries of woe and error,
The soul is too outworn for wondering.

IV

He stood alone within the spacious square
Declaiming from the central grassy mound,
With head uncovered and with streaming hair,
As if large multitudes were gathered round:
A stalwart shape, the gestures full of might,
The glances burning with unnatural light:--

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: All was black,
In heaven no single star, on earth no track;
A brooding hush without a stir or note,
The air so thick it clotted in my throat;
And thus for hours; then some enormous things
Swooped past with savage cries and clanking wings:
But I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Eyes of fire
Glared at me throbbing with a starved desire;
The hoarse and heavy and carnivorous breath
Was hot upon me from deep jaws of death;
Sharp claws, swift talons, fleshless fingers cold
Plucked at me from the bushes, tried to hold:
But I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Lo you, there,
That hillock burning with a brazen glare;
Those myriad dusky flames with points a-glow
Which writhed and hissed and darted to and fro;
A Sabbath of the Serpents, heaped pell-mell
For Devil's roll-call and some fete of Hell:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Meteors ran
And crossed their javelins on the black sky-span;
The zenith opened to a gulf of flame,
The dreadful thunderbolts jarred earth's fixed frame;
The ground all heaved in waves of fire that surged
And weltered round me sole there unsubmerged:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Air once more,
And I was close upon a wild sea-shore;
Enormous cliffs arose on either hand,
The deep tide thundered up a league-broad strand;
White foambelts seethed there, wan spray swept and flew;
The sky broke, moon and stars and clouds and blue:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: On the left
The sun arose and crowned a broad crag-cleft;
There stopped and burned out black, except a rim,
A bleeding eyeless socket, red and dim;
Whereon the moon fell suddenly south-west,
And stood above the right-hand cliffs at rest:
Yet I strode on austere;
No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: From the right
A shape came slowly with a ruddy light;
A woman with a red lamp in her hand,
Bareheaded and barefooted on that strand;
O desolation moving with such grace!
O anguish with such beauty in thy face!
I fell as on my bier,
Hope travailed with such fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: I was twain,
Two selves distinct that cannot join again;
One stood apart and knew but could not stir,
And watched the other stark in swoon and her;
And she came on, and never turned aside,
Between such sun and moon and roaring tide:
And as she came more near
My soul grew mad with fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Hell is mild
And piteous matched with that accursed wild;
A large black sign was on her breast that bowed,
A broad black band ran down her snow-white shroud;
That lamp she held was her own burning heart,
Whose blood-drops trickled step by step apart:
The mystery was clear;
Mad rage had swallowed fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: By the sea
She knelt and bent above that senseless me;
Those lamp-drops fell upon my white brow there,
She tried to cleanse them with her tears and hair;
She murmured words of pity, love, and woe,
Shee heeded not the level rushing flow:
And mad with rage and fear,
I stood stonebound so near.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: When the tide
Swept up to her there kneeling by my side,
She clasped that corpse-like me, and they were borne
Away, and this vile me was left forlorn;
I know the whole sea cannot quench that heart,
Or cleanse that brow, or wash those two apart:
They love; their doom is drear,
Yet they nor hope nor fear;
But I, what do I here?

V

How he arrives there none can clearly know;
Athwart the mountains and immense wild tracts,
Or flung a waif upon that vast sea-flow,
Or down the river's boiling cataracts:
To reach it is as dying fever-stricken
To leave it, slow faint birth intense pangs quicken;
And memory swoons in both the tragic acts.

But being there one feels a citizen;
Escape seems hopeless to the heart forlorn:
Can Death-in-Life be brought to life again?
And yet release does come; there comes a morn
When he awakes from slumbering so sweetly
That all the world is changed for him completely,
And he is verily as if new-born.

He scarcely can believe the blissful change,
He weeps perchance who wept not while accurst;
Never again will he approach the range
Infected by that evil spell now burst:
Poor wretch! who once hath paced that dolent city
Shall pace it often, doomed beyond all pity,
With horror ever deepening from the first.

Though he possess sweet babes and loving wife,
A home of peace by loyal friendships cheered,
And love them more than death or happy life,
They shall avail not; he must dree his weird;
Renounce all blessings for that imprecation,
Steal forth and haunt that builded desolation,
Of woe and terrors and thick darkness reared.

VI

I sat forlornly by the river-side,
And watched the bridge-lamps glow like golden stars
Above the blackness of the swelling tide,
Down which they struck rough gold in ruddier bars;
And heard the heave and plashing of the flow
Against the wall a dozen feet below.

Large elm-trees stood along that river-walk;
And under one, a few steps from my seat,
I heard strange voices join in stranger talk,
Although I had not heard approaching feet:
These bodiless voices in my waking dream
Flowed dark words blending with sombre stream:--

And you have after all come back; come back.
I was about to follow on your track.
And you have failed: our spark of hope is black.

That I have failed is proved by my return:
The spark is quenched, nor ever more will burn,
But listen; and the story you shall learn.

I reached the portal common spirits fear,
And read the words above it, dark yet clear,
"Leave hope behind, all ye who enter here:"

And would have passed in, gratified to gain
That positive eternity of pain
Instead of this insufferable inane.

A demon warder clutched me, Not so fast;
First leave your hopes behind!--But years have passed
Since I left all behind me, to the last:

You cannot count for hope, with all your wit,
This bleak despair that drives me to the Pit:
How could I seek to enter void of it?

He snarled, What thing is this which apes a soul,
And would find entrance to our gulf of dole
Without the payment of the settled toll?

Outside the gate he showed an open chest:
Here pay their entrance fees the souls unblest;
Cast in some hope, you enter with the rest.

This is Pandora's box; whose lid shall shut,
And Hell-gate too, when hopes have filled it; but
They are so thin that it will never glut.

I stood a few steps backwards, desolate;
And watched the spirits pass me to their fate,
And fling off hope, and enter at the gate.

When one casts off a load he springs upright,
Squares back his shoulders, breathes will all his might,
And briskly paces forward strong and light:

But these, as if they took some burden, bowed;
The whole frame sank; however strong and proud
Before, they crept in quite infirm and cowed.

And as they passed me, earnestly from each
A morsel of his hope I did beseech,
To pay my entrance; but all mocked my speech.

No one would cede a little of his store,
Though knowing that in instants three or four
He must resign the whole for evermore.

So I returned. Our destiny is fell;
For in this Limbo we must ever dwell,
Shut out alike from heaven and Earth and Hell.

The other sighed back, Yea; but if we grope
With care through all this Limbo's dreary scope,
We yet may pick up some minute lost hope;

And sharing it between us, entrance win,
In spite of fiends so jealous for gross sin:
Let us without delay our search begin.

VII

Some say that phantoms haunt those shadowy streets,
And mingle freely there with sparse mankind;
And tell of ancient woes and black defeats,
And murmur mysteries in the grave enshrined:
But others think them visions of illusion,
Or even men gone far in self-confusion;
No man there being wholly sane in mind.

And yet a man who raves, however mad,
Who bares his heart and tells of his own fall,
Reserves some inmost secret good or bad:
The phantoms have no reticence at all:
The nudity of flesh will blush though tameless
The extreme nudity of bone grins shameless,
The unsexed skeleton mocks shroud and pall.

I have seen phantoms there that were as men
And men that were as phantoms flit and roam;
Marked shapes that were not living to my ken,
Caught breathings acrid as with Dead Sea foam:
The City rests for man so weird and awful,
That his intrusion there might seem unlawful,
And phantoms there may have their proper home.

VIII

While I still lingered on that river-walk,
And watched the tide as black as our black doom,
I heard another couple join in talk,
And saw them to the left hand in the gloom
Seated against an elm bole on the ground,
Their eyes intent upon the stream profound.

"I never knew another man on earth
But had some joy and solace in his life,
Some chance of triumph in the dreadful strife:
My doom has been unmitigated dearth."

"We gaze upon the river, and we note
The various vessels large and small that float,
Ignoring every wrecked and sunken boat."

"And yet I asked no splendid dower, no spoil
Of sway or fame or rank or even wealth;
But homely love with common food and health,
And nightly sleep to balance daily toil."

"This all-too-humble soul would arrogate
Unto itself some signalising hate
From the supreme indifference of Fate!"

"Who is most wretched in this dolorous place?
I think myself; yet I would rather be
My miserable self than He, than He
Who formed such creatures to His own disgrace.

"The vilest thing must be less vile than Thou
From whom it had its being, God and Lord!
Creator of all woe and sin! abhorred
Malignant and implacable! I vow

"That not for all Thy power furled and unfurled,
For all the temples to Thy glory built,
Would I assume the ignominious guilt
Of having made such men in such a world."

"As if a Being, God or Fiend, could reign,
At once so wicked, foolish and insane,
As to produce men when He might refrain!

"The world rolls round for ever like a mill;
It grinds out death and life and good and ill;
It has no purpose, heart or mind or will.

"While air of Space and Time's full river flow
The mill must blindly whirl unresting so:
It may be wearing out, but who can know?

"Man might know one thing were his sight less dim;
That it whirls not to suit his petty whim,
That it is quite indifferent to him.

"Nay, does it treat him harshly as he saith?
It grinds him some slow years of bitter breath,
Then grinds him back into eternal death."

IX

It is full strange to him who hears and feels,
When wandering there in some deserted street,
The booming and the jar of ponderous wheels,
The trampling clash of heavy ironshod feet:
Who in this Venice of the Black Sea rideth?
Who in this city of the stars abideth
To buy or sell as those in daylight sweet?

The rolling thunder seems to fill the sky
As it comes on; the horses snort and strain,
The harness jingles, as it passes by;
The hugeness of an overburthened wain:
A man sits nodding on the shaft or trudges
Three parts asleep beside his fellow-drudges:
And so it rolls into the night again.

What merchandise? whence, whither, and for whom?
Perchance it is a Fate-appointed hearse,
Bearing away to some mysterious tomb
Or Limbo of the scornful universe
The joy, the peace, the life-hope, the abortions
Of all things good which should have been our portions,
But have been strangled by that City's curse.

X

The mansion stood apart in its own ground;
In front thereof a fragrant garden-lawn,
High trees about it, and the whole walled round:
The massy iron gates were both withdrawn;
And every window of its front shed light,
Portentous in that City of the Night.

But though thus lighted it was deadly still
As all the countless bulks of solid gloom;
Perchance a congregation to fulfil
Solemnities of silence in this doom,
Mysterious rites of dolour and despair
Permitting not a breath or chant of prayer?

Broad steps ascended to a terrace broad
Whereon lay still light from the open door;
The hall was noble, and its aspect awed,
Hung round with heavy black from dome to floor;
And ample stairways rose to left and right
Whose balustrades were also draped with night.

I paced from room to room, from hall to hall,
Nor any life throughout the maze discerned;
But each was hung with its funereal pall,
And held a shrine, around which tapers burned,
With picture or with statue or with bust,
all copied from the same fair form of dust:

A woman very young and very fair;
Beloved by bounteous life and joy and youth,
And loving these sweet lovers, so that care
And age and death seemed not for her in sooth:
Alike as stars, all beautiful and bright,
these shapes lit up that mausolean night.

At length I heard a murmur as of lips,
And reached an open oratory hung
With heaviest blackness of the whole eclipse;
Beneath the dome a fuming censer swung;
And one lay there upon a low white bed,
With tapers burning at the foot and head:

The Lady of the images, supine,
Deathstill, lifesweet, with folded palms she lay:
And kneeling there as at a sacred shrine
A young man wan and worn who seemed to pray:
A crucifix of dim and ghostly white
Surmounted the large altar left in night:--

The chambers of the mansion of my heart,
In every one whereof thine image dwells,
Are black with grief eternal for thy sake.

The inmost oratory of my soul,
Wherein thou ever dwellest quick or dead,
Is black with grief eternal for thy sake.

I kneel beside thee and I clasp the cross,
With eyes forever fixed upon that face,
So beautiful and dreadful in its calm.

I kneel here patient as thou liest there;
As patient as a statue carved in stone,
Of adoration and eternal grief.

While thou dost not awake I cannot move;
And something tells me thou wilt never wake,
And I alive feel turning into stone.

Most beautiful were Death to end my grief,
Most hateful to destroy the sight of thee,
Dear vision better than all death or life.

But I renounce all choice of life or death,
For either shall be ever at thy side,
And thus in bliss or woe be ever well.--

He murmured thus and thus in monotone,
Intent upon that uncorrupted face,
Entranced except his moving lips alone:
I glided with hushed footsteps from the place.
This was the festival that filled with light
That palace in the City of the Night.

XI

What men are they who haunt these fatal glooms,
And fill their living mouths with dust of death,
And make their habitations in the tombs,
And breathe eternal sighs with mortal breath,
And pierce life's pleasant veil of various error
To reach that void of darkness and old terror
Wherein expire the lamps of hope and faith?

They have much wisdom yet they are not wise,
They have much goodness yet they do not well,
(The fools we know have their own paradise,
The wicked also have their proper Hell);
They have much strength but still their doom is stronger,
Much patience but their time endureth longer,
Much valour but life mocks it with some spell.

They are most rational and yet insane:
And outward madness not to be controlled;
A perfect reason in the central brain,
Which has no power, but sitteth wan and cold,
And sees the madness, and foresees as plainly
The ruin in its path, and trieth vainly
To cheat itself refusing to behold.

And some are great in rank and wealth and power,
And some renowned for genius and for worth;
And some are poor and mean, who brood and cower
And shrink from notice, and accept all dearth
Of body, heart and soul, and leave to others
All boons of life: yet these and those are brothers,
The saddest and the weariest men on earth.

XII

Our isolated units could be brought
To act together for some common end?
For one by one, each silent with his thought,
I marked a long loose line approach and wend
Athwart the great cathedral's cloistered square,
And slowly vanish from the moonlit air.

Then I would follow in among the last:
And in the porch a shrouded figure stood,
Who challenged each one pausing ere he passed,
With deep eyes burning through a blank white hood:
Whence come you in the world of life and light
To this our City of Tremendous Night?--

From pleading in a senate of rich lords
For some scant justice to our countless hordes
Who toil half-starved with scarce a human right:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From wandering through many a solemn scene
Of opium visions, with a heart serene
And intellect miraculously bright:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From making hundreds laugh and roar with glee
By my transcendent feats of mimicry,
And humour wanton as an elvish sprite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From prayer and fasting in a lonely cell,
Which brought an ecstasy ineffable
Of love and adoration and delight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From ruling on a splendid kingly throne
A nation which beneath my rule has grown
Year after year in wealth and arts and might:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From preaching to an audience fired with faith
The Lamb who died to save our souls from death,
Whose blood hath washed our scarlet sins wool-white:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From drinking fiery poison in a den
Crowded with tawdry girls and squalid men,
Who hoarsely laugh and curse and brawl and fight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From picturing with all beauty and all grace
First Eden and the parents of our race,
A luminous rapture unto all men's sight:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From writing a great work with patient plan
To justify the ways of God to man,
And show how ill must fade and perish quite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

From desperate fighting with a little band
Against the powerful tyrants of our land,
To free our brethren in their own despite:
I wake from daydreams to this real night.

Thus, challenged by that warder sad and stern,
Each one responded with his countersign,
Then entered the cathedral; and in turn
I entered also, having given mine;
But lingered near until I heard no more,
And marked the closing of the massive door.

XIII

Of all things human which are strange and wild
This is perchance the wildest and most strange,
And showeth man most utterly beguiled,
To those who haunt that sunless City's range;
That he bemoans himself for aye, repeating
How Time is deadly swift, how life is fleeting,
How naught is constant on the earth but change.

The hours are heavy on him and the days;
The burden of the months he scarce can bear;
And often in his secret soul he prays
To sleep through barren periods unaware,
Arousing at some longed-for date of pleasure;
Which having passed and yielded him small treasure,
He would outsleep another term of care.

Yet in his marvellous fancy he must make
Quick wings for Time, and see it fly from us;
This Time which crawleth like a monstrous snake,
Wounded and slow and very venomous;
Which creeps blindwormlike round the earth and ocean,
Distilling poison at each painful motion,
And seems condemned to circle ever thus.

And since he cannot spend and use aright
The little time here given him in trust,
But wasteth it in weary undelight
Of foolish toil and trouble, strife and lust,
He naturally claimeth to inherit
The everlasting Future, that his merit
May have full scope; as surely is most just.

O length of the intolerable hours,
O nights that are as aeons of slow pain,
O Time, too ample for our vital powers,
O Life, whose woeful vanities remain
Immutable for all of all our legions
Through all the centuries and in all the regions,
Not of your speed and variance WE complain.

WE do not ask a longer term of strife,
Weakness and weariness and nameless woes;
We do not claim renewed and endless life
When this which is our torment here shall close,
An everlasting conscious inanition!
We yearn for speedy death in full fruition,
Dateless oblivion and divine repose.

XIV

Large glooms were gathered in the mighty fane,
With tinted moongleams slanting here and there;
And all was hush: no swelling organ-strain,
No chant, no voice or murmuring of prayer;
No priests came forth, no tinkling censers fumed,
And the high altar space was unillumed.

Around the pillars and against the walls
Leaned men and shadows; others seemed to brood
Bent or recumbent in secluded stalls.
Perchance they were not a great multitude
Save in that city of so lonely streets
Where one may count up every face he meets.

All patiently awaited the event
Without a stir or sound, as if no less
Self-occupied, doomstricken while attent.
And then we heard a voice of solemn stress
From the dark pulpit, and our gaze there met
Two eyes which burned as never eyes burned yet:

Two steadfast and intolerable eyes
Burning beneath a broad and rugged brow;
The head behind it of enormous size.
And as black fir-groves in a large wind bow,
Our rooted congregation, gloom-arrayed,
By that great sad voice deep and full were swayed:--

O melancholy Brothers, dark, dark, dark!
O battling in black floods without an ark!
O spectral wanderers of unholy Night!
My soul hath bled for you these sunless years,
With bitter blood-drops running down like tears:
Oh dark, dark, dark, withdrawn from joy and light!

My heart is sick with anguish for your bale;
Your woe hath been my anguish; yea, I quail
And perish in your perishing unblest.
And I have searched the highths and depths, the scope
Of all our universe, with desperate hope
To find some solace for your wild unrest.

And now at last authentic word I bring,
Witnessed by every dead and living thing;
Good tidings of great joy for you, for all:
There is no God; no Fiend with names divine
Made us and tortures us; if we must pine,
It is to satiate no Being's gall.

It was the dark delusion of a dream,
That living Person conscious and supreme,
Whom we must curse for cursing us with life;
Whom we must curse because the life he gave
Could not be buried in the quiet grave,
Could not be killed by poison or the knife.

This little life is all we must endure,
The grave's most holy peace is ever sure,
We fall asleep and never wake again;
Nothing is of us but the mouldering flesh,
Whose elements dissolve and merge afresh
In earth, air, water, plants, and other men.

We finish thus; and all our wretched race
Shall finish with its cycle, and give place
To other beings with their own time-doom:
Infinite aeons ere our kind began;
Infinite aeons after the last man
Has joined the mammoth in earth's tomb and womb.

We bow down to the universal laws,
Which never had for man a special clause
Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate:
If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
If tigers burn with beauty and with might,
Is it by favour or by wrath of Fate?

All substance lives and struggles evermore
Through countless shapes continually at war,
By countless interactions interknit:
If one is born a certain day on earth,
All times and forces tended to that birth,
Not all the world could change or hinder it.

I find no hint throughout the Universe
Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse;
I find alone Necessity Supreme;
With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
Unlighted ever by the faintest spark
For us the flitting shadows of a dream.

O Brothers of sad lives! they are so brief;
A few short years must bring us all relief:
Can we not bear these years of laboring breath?
But if you would not this poor life fulfil,
Lo, you are free to end it when you will,
Without the fear of waking after death.--

The organ-like vibrations of his voice
Thrilled through the vaulted aisles and died away;
The yearning of the tones which bade rejoice
Was sad and tender as a requiem lay:
Our shadowy congregation rested still
As brooding on that "End it when you will."

XV

Wherever men are gathered, all the air
Is charged with human feeling, human thought;
Each shout and cry and laugh, each curse and prayer,
Are into its vibrations surely wrought;
Unspoken passion, wordless meditation,
Are breathed into it with our respiration
It is with our life fraught and overfraught.

So that no man there breathes earth's simple breath,
As if alone on mountains or wide seas;
But nourishes warm life or hastens death
With joys and sorrows, health and foul disease,
Wisdom and folly, good and evil labours,
Incessant of his multitudinous neighbors;
He in his turn affecting all of these.

That City's atmosphere is dark and dense,
Although not many exiles wander there,
With many a potent evil influence,
Each adding poison to the poisoned air;
Infections of unutterable sadness,
Infections of incalculable madness,
Infections of incurable despair.

XVI

Our shadowy congregation rested still,
As musing on that message we had heard
And brooding on that "End it when you will;"
Perchance awaiting yet some other word;
When keen as lightning through a muffled sky
Sprang forth a shrill and lamentable cry:--

The man speaks sooth, alas! the man speaks sooth:
We have no personal life beyond the grave;
There is no God; Fate knows nor wrath nor ruth:
Can I find here the comfort which I crave?

In all eternity I had one chance,
One few years' term of gracious human life:
The splendours of the intellect's advance,
The sweetness of the home with babes and wife;

The social pleasures with their genial wit:
The fascination of the worlds of art,
The glories of the worlds of nature, lit
By large imagination's glowing heart;

The rapture of mere being, full of health;
The careless childhood and the ardent youth,
The strenuous manhood winning various wealth,
The reverend age serene with life's long truth:

All the sublime prerogatives of Man;
The storied memories of the times of old,
The patient tracking of the world's great plan
Through sequences and changes myriadfold.

This chance was never offered me before;
For me this infinite Past is blank and dumb:
This chance recurreth never, nevermore;
Blank, blank for me the infinite To-come.

And this sole chance was frustrate from my birth,
A mockery, a delusion; and my breath
Of noble human life upon this earth
So racks me that I sigh for senseless death.

My wine of life is poison mixed with gall,
My noonday passes in a nightmare dream,
I worse than lose the years which are my all:
What can console me for the loss supreme?

Speak not of comfort where no comfort is,
Speak not at all: can words make foul things fair?
Our life's a cheat, our death a black abyss:
Hush and be mute envisaging despair.--

This vehement voice came from the northern aisle
Rapid and shrill to its abrupt harsh close;
And none gave answer for a certain while,
For words must shrink from these most wordless woes;
At last the pulpit speaker simply said,
With humid eyes and thoughtful drooping head:--

My Brother, my poor Brothers, it is thus;
This life itself holds nothing good for us,
But ends soon and nevermore can be;
And we knew nothing of it ere our birth,
And shall know nothing when consigned to earth:
I ponder these thoughts and they comfort me.

XVII

How the moon triumphs through the endless nights!
How the stars throb and glitter as they wheel
Their thick processions of supernal lights
Around the blue vault obdurate as steel!
And men regard with passionate awe and yearning
The mighty marching and the golden burning,
And think the heavens respond to what they feel.

Boats gliding like dark shadows of a dream
Are glorified from vision as they pass
The quivering moonbridge on the deep black stream;
Cold windows kindle their dead glooms of glass
To restless crystals; cornice dome and column
Emerge from chaos in the splendour solemn;
Like faery lakes gleam lawns of dewy grass.

With such a living light these dead eyes shine,
These eyes of sightless heaven, that as we gaze
We read a pity, tremulous, divine,
Or cold majestic scorn in their pure rays:
Fond man! they are not haughty, are not tender;
There is no heart or mind in all their splendour,
They thread mere puppets all their marvellous maze.

If we could near them with the flight unflown,
We should but find them worlds as sad as this,
Or suns all self-consuming like our own
Enringed by planet worlds as much amiss:
They wax and wane through fusion and confusion;
The spheres eternal are a grand illusion,
The empyrean is a void abyss.

XVIII

I wandered in a suburb of the north,
And reached a spot whence three close lanes led down,
Beneath thick trees and hedgerows winding forth
Like deep brook channels, deep and dark and lown:
The air above was wan with misty light,
The dull grey south showed one vague blur of white.

I took the left-hand path and slowly trod
Its earthen footpath, brushing as I went
The humid leafage; and my feet were shod
With heavy languor, and my frame downbent,
With infinite sleepless weariness outworn,
So many nights I thus had paced forlorn.

After a hundred steps I grew aware
Of something crawling in the lane below;
It seemed a wounded creature prostrate there
That sobbed with pangs in making progress slow,
The hind limbs stretched to push, the fore limbs then
To drag; for it would die in its own den.

But coming level with it I discerned
That it had been a man; for at my tread
It stopped in its sore travail and half-turned,
Leaning upon its right, and raised its head,
And with the left hand twitched back as in ire
Long grey unreverend locks befouled with mire.

A haggard filthy face with bloodshot eyes,
An infamy for manhood to behold.
He gasped all trembling, What, you want my prize?
You leave, to rob me, wine and lust and gold
And all that men go mad upon, since you
Have traced my sacred secret of the clue?

You think that I am weak and must submit
Yet I but scratch you with this poisoned blade,
And you are dead as if I clove with it
That false fierce greedy heart. Betrayed! betrayed!
I fling this phial if you seek to pass,
And you are forthwith shrivelled up like grass.

And then with sudden change, Take thought! take thought!
Have pity on me! it is mine alone.
If you could find, it would avail you naught;
Seek elsewhere on the pathway of your own:
For who of mortal or immortal race
The lifetrack of another can retrace?

Did you but know my agony and toil!
Two lanes diverge up yonder from this lane;
My thin blood marks the long length of their soil;
Such clue I left, who sought my clue in vain:
My hands and knees are worn both flesh and bone;
I cannot move but with continual moan.

But I am in the very way at last
To find the long-lost broken golden thread
Which unites my present with my past,
If you but go your own way. And I said,
I will retire as soon as you have told
Whereunto leadeth this lost thread of gold.

And so you know it not! he hissed with scorn;
I feared you, imbecile! It leads me back
From this accursed night without a morn,
And through the deserts which have else no track,
And through vast wastes of horror-haunted time,
To Eden innocence in Eden's clime:

And I become a nursling soft and pure,
An infant cradled on its mother's knee,
Without a past, love-cherished and secure;
Which if it saw this loathsome present Me,
Would plunge its face into the pillowing breast,
And scream abhorrence hard to lull to rest.

He turned to grope; and I retiring brushed
Thin shreds of gossamer from off my face,
And mused, His life would grow, the germ uncrushed;
He should to antenatal night retrace,
And hide his elements in that large womb
Beyond the reach of man-evolving Doom.

And even thus, what weary way were planned,
To seek oblivion through the far-off gate
Of birth, when that of death is close at hand!
For this is law, if law there be in Fate:
What never has been, yet may have its when;
The thing which has been, never is again.

XIX

The mighty river flowing dark and deep,
With ebb and flood from the remote sea-tides
Vague-sounding through the City's sleepless sleep,
Is named the River of the Suicides;
For night by night some lorn wretch overweary,
And shuddering from the future yet more dreary,
Within its cold secure oblivion hides.

One plunges from a bridge's parapet,
As if by some blind and sudden frenzy hurled;
Another wades in slow with purpose set
Until the waters are above him furled;
Another in a boat with dreamlike motion
Glides drifting down into the desert ocean,
To starve or sink from out the desert world.

They perish from their suffering surely thus,
For none beholding them attempts to save,
The while thinks how soon, solicitous,
He may seek refuge in the self-same wave;
Some hour when tired of ever-vain endurance
Impatience will forerun the sweet assurance
Of perfect peace eventual in the grave.

When this poor tragic-farce has palled us long,
Why actors and spectators do we stay?--
To fill our so-short roles out right or wrong;
To see what shifts are yet in the dull play
For our illusion; to refrain from grieving
Dear foolish friends by our untimely leaving:
But those asleep at home, how blest are they!

Yet it is but for one night after all:
What matters one brief night of dreary pain?
When after it the weary eyelids fall
Upon the weary eyes and wasted brain;
And all sad scenes and thoughts and feelings vanish
In that sweet sleep no power can ever banish,
That one best sleep which never wakes again.

XX

I sat me weary on a pillar's base,
And leaned against the shaft; for broad moonlight
O'erflowed the peacefulness of cloistered space,
A shore of shadow slanting from the right:
The great cathedral's western front stood there,
A wave-worn rock in that calm sea of air.

Before it, opposite my place of rest,
Two figures faced each other, large, austere;
A couchant sphinx in shadow to the breast,
An angel standing in the moonlight clear;
So mighty by magnificence of form,
They were not dwarfed beneath that mass enorm.

Upon the cross-hilt of the naked sword
The angel's hands, as prompt to smite, were held;
His vigilant intense regard was poured
Upon the creature placidly unquelled,
Whose front was set at level gaze which took
No heed of aught, a solemn trance-like look.

And as I pondered these opposed shapes
My eyelids sank in stupor, that dull swoon
Which drugs and with a leaden mantle drapes
The outworn to worse weariness. But soon
A sharp and clashing noise the stillness broke,
And from the evil lethargy I woke.

The angel's wings had fallen, stone on stone,
And lay there shattered; hence the sudden sound:
A warrior leaning on his sword alone
Now watched the sphinx with that regard profound;
The sphinx unchanged looked forthright, as aware
Of nothing in the vast abyss of air.

Again I sank in that repose unsweet,
Again a clashing noise my slumber rent;
The warrior's sword lay broken at his feet:
An unarmed man with raised hands impotent
Now stood before the sphinx, which ever kept
Such mien as if open eyes it slept.

My eyelids sank in spite of wonder grown;
A louder crash upstartled me in dread:
The man had fallen forward, stone on stone,
And lay there shattered, with his trunkless head
Between the monster's large quiescent paws,
Beneath its grand front changeless as life's laws.

The moon had circled westward full and bright,
And made the temple-front a mystic dream,
And bathed the whole enclosure with its light,
The sworded angel's wrecks, the sphinx supreme:
I pondered long that cold majestic face
Whose vision seemed of infinite void space.

XXI

Anear the centre of that northern crest
Stands out a level upland bleak and bare,
From which the city east and south and west
Sinks gently in long waves; and throned there
An Image sits, stupendous, superhuman,
The bronze colossus of a winged Woman,
Upon a graded granite base foursquare.

Low-seated she leans forward massively,
With cheek on clenched left hand, the forearm's might
Erect, its elbow on her rounded knee;
Across a clasped book in her lap the right
Upholds a pair of compasses; she gazes
With full set eyes, but wandering in thick mazes
Of sombre thought beholds no outward sight.

Words cannot picture her; but all men know
That solemn sketch the pure sad artist wrought
Three centuries and threescore years ago,
With phantasies of his peculiar thought:
The instruments of carpentry and science
Scattered about her feet, in strange alliance
With the keen wolf-hound sleeping undistraught;

Scales, hour-glass, bell, and magic-square above;
The grave and solid infant perched beside,
With open winglets that might bear a dove,
Intent upon its tablets, heavy-eyed;
Her folded wings as of a mighty eagle,
But all too impotent to lift the regal
Robustness of her earth-born strength and pride;

And with those wings, and that light wreath which seems
To mock her grand head and the knotted frown
Of forehead charged with baleful thoughts and dreams,
The household bunch of keys, the housewife's gown
Voluminous, indented, and yet rigid
As if a shell of burnished metal frigid,
The feet thick-shod to tread all weakness down;

The comet hanging o'er the waste dark seas,
The massy rainbow curved in front of it
Beyond the village with the masts and trees;
The snaky imp, dog-headed, from the Pit,
Bearing upon its batlike leathern pinions
Her name unfolded in the sun's dominions,
The "MELENCOLIA" that transcends all wit.

Thus has the artist copied her, and thus
Surrounded to expound her form sublime,
Her fate heroic and calamitous;
Fronting the dreadful mysteries of Time,
Unvanquished in defeat and desolation,
Undaunted in the hopeless conflagration
Of the day setting on her baffled prime.

Baffled and beaten back she works on still,
Weary and sick of soul she works the more,
Sustained by her indomitable will:
The hands shall fashion and the brain shall pore,
And all her sorrow shall be turned to labour,
Till Death the friend-foe piercing with his sabre
That mighty heart of hearts ends bitter war.

But as if blacker night could dawn on night,
With tenfold gloom on moonless night unstarred,
A sense more tragic than defeat and blight,
More desperate than strife with hope debarred,
More fatal than the adamantine Never
Encompassing her passionate endeavour,
Dawns glooming in her tenebrous regard:

To sense that every struggle brings defeat
Because Fate holds no prize to crown success;
That all the oracles are dumb or cheat
Because they have no secret to express;
That none can pierce the vast black veil uncertain
Because there is no light beyond the curtain;
That all is vanity and nothingness.

Titanic from her high throne in the north,
That City's sombre Patroness and Queen,
In bronze sublimity she gazes forth
Over her Capital of teen and threne,
Over the river with its isles and bridges,
The marsh and moorland, to the stern rock-ridges,
Confronting them with a coeval mien.

The moving moon and stars from east to west
Circle before her in the sea of air;
Shadows and gleams glide round her solemn rest.
Her subjects often gaze up to her there:
The strong to drink new strength of iron endurance,
The weak new terrors; all, renewed assurance
And confirmation of the old despair.

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The House Of Dust: Complete

I.

The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.

And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.

'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams,
I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins . . .'
The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness,
Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest,
Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.

We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music,
Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard;
We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight,
We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair,
With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word;
We flow, we descend, we turn . . . and the eternal dreamer
Moves among us like light, like evening air . . .

Good-night! Good-night! Good-night! We go our ways,
The rain runs over the pavement before our feet,
The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride. We turn our faces
To what the eternal evening brings.

Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid,
We have built a tower of stone high into the sky,
We have built a city of towers.

Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours . . .
What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? . . .
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam . . .
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain;
Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands;
And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.


II.

One, from his high bright window in a tower,
Leans out, as evening falls,
And sees the advancing curtain of the shower
Splashing its silver on roofs and walls:
Sees how, swift as a shadow, it crosses the city,
And murmurs beyond far walls to the sea,
Leaving a glimmer of water in the dark canyons,
And silver falling from eave and tree.

One, from his high bright window, looking down,
Peers like a dreamer over the rain-bright town,
And thinks its towers are like a dream.
The western windows flame in the sun's last flare,
Pale roofs begin to gleam.

Looking down from a window high in a wall
He sees us all;
Lifting our pallid faces towards the rain,
Searching the sky, and going our ways again,
Standing in doorways, waiting under the trees . . .
There, in the high bright window he dreams, and sees
What we are blind to,—we who mass and crowd
From wall to wall in the darkening of a cloud.

The gulls drift slowly above the city of towers,
Over the roofs to the darkening sea they fly;
Night falls swiftly on an evening of rain.
The yellow lamps wink one by one again.
The towers reach higher and blacker against the sky.


III.

One, where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand,
With wave upon slowly shattering wave,
Turned to the city of towers as evening fell;
And slowly walked by the darkening road toward it;
And saw how the towers darkened against the sky;
And across the distance heard the toll of a bell.

Along the darkening road he hurried alone,
With his eyes cast down,
And thought how the streets were hoarse with a tide of people,
With clamor of voices, and numberless faces . . .
And it seemed to him, of a sudden, that he would drown
Here in the quiet of evening air,
These empty and voiceless places . . .
And he hurried towards the city, to enter there.

Along the darkening road, between tall trees
That made a sinister whisper, loudly he walked.
Behind him, sea-gulls dipped over long grey seas.
Before him, numberless lovers smiled and talked.
And death was observed with sudden cries,
And birth with laughter and pain.
And the trees grew taller and blacker against the skies
And night came down again.


IV.

Up high black walls, up sombre terraces,
Clinging like luminous birds to the sides of cliffs,
The yellow lights went climbing towards the sky.
From high black walls, gleaming vaguely with rain,
Each yellow light looked down like a golden eye.

They trembled from coign to coign, and tower to tower,
Along high terraces quicker than dream they flew.
And some of them steadily glowed, and some soon vanished,
And some strange shadows threw.

And behind them all the ghosts of thoughts went moving,
Restlessly moving in each lamplit room,
From chair to mirror, from mirror to fire;
From some, the light was scarcely more than a gloom:
From some, a dazzling desire.

And there was one, beneath black eaves, who thought,
Combing with lifted arms her golden hair,
Of the lover who hurried towards her through the night;
And there was one who dreamed of a sudden death
As she blew out her light.

And there was one who turned from clamoring streets,
And walked in lamplit gardens among black trees,
And looked at the windy sky,
And thought with terror how stones and roots would freeze
And birds in the dead boughs cry . . .

And she hurried back, as snow fell, mixed with rain,
To mingle among the crowds again,
To jostle beneath blue lamps along the street;
And lost herself in the warm bright coiling dream,
With a sound of murmuring voices and shuffling feet.

And one, from his high bright window looking down
On luminous chasms that cleft the basalt town,
Hearing a sea-like murmur rise,
Desired to leave his dream, descend from the tower,
And drown in waves of shouts and laughter and cries.


V.

The snow floats down upon us, mingled with rain . . .
It eddies around pale lilac lamps, and falls
Down golden-windowed walls.
We were all born of flesh, in a flare of pain,
We do not remember the red roots whence we rose,
But we know that we rose and walked, that after a while
We shall lie down again.

The snow floats down upon us, we turn, we turn,
Through gorges filled with light we sound and flow . . .
One is struck down and hurt, we crowd about him,
We bear him away, gaze after his listless body;
But whether he lives or dies we do not know.

One of us sings in the street, and we listen to him;
The words ring over us like vague bells of sorrow.
He sings of a house he lived in long ago.
It is strange; this house of dust was the house I lived in;
The house you lived in, the house that all of us know.
And coiling slowly about him, and laughing at him,
And throwing him pennies, we bear away
A mournful echo of other times and places,
And follow a dream . . . a dream that will not stay.

Down long broad flights of lamplit stairs we flow;
Noisy, in scattered waves, crowding and shouting;
In broken slow cascades.
The gardens extend before us . . . We spread out swiftly;
Trees are above us, and darkness. The canyon fades . . .

And we recall, with a gleaming stab of sadness,
Vaguely and incoherently, some dream
Of a world we came from, a world of sun-blue hills . . .
A black wood whispers around us, green eyes gleam;
Someone cries in the forest, and someone kills.

We flow to the east, to the white-lined shivering sea;
We reach to the west, where the whirling sun went down;
We close our eyes to music in bright cafees.
We diverge from clamorous streets to streets that are silent.
We loaf where the wind-spilled fountain plays.

And, growing tired, we turn aside at last,
Remember our secret selves, seek out our towers,
Lay weary hands on the banisters, and climb;
Climbing, each, to his little four-square dream
Of love or lust or beauty or death or crime.


VI.

Over the darkened city, the city of towers,
The city of a thousand gates,
Over the gleaming terraced roofs, the huddled towers,
Over a somnolent whisper of loves and hates,
The slow wind flows, drearily streams and falls,
With a mournful sound down rain-dark walls.
On one side purples the lustrous dusk of the sea,
And dreams in white at the city's feet;
On one side sleep the plains, with heaped-up hills.
Oaks and beeches whisper in rings about it.
Above the trees are towers where dread bells beat.

The fisherman draws his streaming net from the sea
And sails toward the far-off city, that seems
Like one vague tower.
The dark bow plunges to foam on blue-black waves,
And shrill rain seethes like a ghostly music about him
In a quiet shower.

Rain with a shrill sings on the lapsing waves;
Rain thrills over the roofs again;
Like a shadow of shifting silver it crosses the city;
The lamps in the streets are streamed with rain;
And sparrows complain beneath deep eaves,
And among whirled leaves
The sea-gulls, blowing from tower to lower tower,
From wall to remoter wall,
Skim with the driven rain to the rising sea-sound
And close grey wings and fall . . .

. . . Hearing great rain above me, I now remember
A girl who stood by the door and shut her eyes:
Her pale cheeks glistened with rain, she stood and shivered.
Into a forest of silver she vanished slowly . . .
Voices about me rise . . .

Voices clear and silvery, voices of raindrops,—
'We struck with silver claws, we struck her down.
We are the ghosts of the singing furies . . . '
A chorus of elfin voices blowing about me
Weaves to a babel of sound. Each cries a secret.
I run among them, reach out vain hands, and drown.

'I am the one who stood beside you and smiled,
Thinking your face so strangely young . . . '
'I am the one who loved you but did not dare.'
'I am the one you followed through crowded streets,
The one who escaped you, the one with red-gleamed hair.'

'I am the one you saw to-day, who fell
Senseless before you, hearing a certain bell:
A bell that broke great memories in my brain.'
'I am the one who passed unnoticed before you,
Invisible, in a cloud of secret pain.'

'I am the one who suddenly cried, beholding
The face of a certain man on the dazzling screen.
They wrote me that he was dead. It was long ago.
I walked in the streets for a long while, hearing nothing,
And returned to see it again. And it was so.'


Weave, weave, weave, you streaks of rain!
I am dissolved and woven again . . .
Thousands of faces rise and vanish before me.
Thousands of voices weave in the rain.

'I am the one who rode beside you, blinking
At a dazzle of golden lights.
Tempests of music swept me: I was thinking
Of the gorgeous promise of certain nights:
Of the woman who suddenly smiled at me this day,
Smiled in a certain delicious sidelong way,
And turned, as she reached the door,
To smile once more . . .
Her hands are whiter than snow on midnight water.
Her throat is golden and full of golden laughter,
Her eyes are strange as the stealth of the moon
On a night in June . . .
She runs among whistling leaves; I hurry after;
She dances in dreams over white-waved water;
Her body is white and fragrant and cool,
Magnolia petals that float on a white-starred pool . . .
I have dreamed of her, dreaming for many nights
Of a broken music and golden lights,
Of broken webs of silver, heavily falling
Between my hands and their white desire:
And dark-leaved boughs, edged with a golden radiance,
Dipping to screen a fire . . .
I dream that I walk with her beneath high trees,
But as I lean to kiss her face,
She is blown aloft on wind, I catch at leaves,
And run in a moonless place;
And I hear a crashing of terrible rocks flung down,
And shattering trees and cracking walls,
And a net of intense white flame roars over the town,
And someone cries; and darkness falls . . .
But now she has leaned and smiled at me,
My veins are afire with music,
Her eyes have kissed me, my body is turned to light;
I shall dream to her secret heart tonight . . . '

He rises and moves away, he says no word,
He folds his evening paper and turns away;
I rush through the dark with rows of lamplit faces;
Fire bells peal, and some of us turn to listen,
And some sit motionless in their accustomed places.

Cold rain lashes the car-roof, scurries in gusts,
Streams down the windows in waves and ripples of lustre;
The lamps in the streets are distorted and strange.
Someone takes his watch from his pocket and yawns.
One peers out in the night for the place to change.

Rain . . . rain . . . rain . . . we are buried in rain,
It will rain forever, the swift wheels hiss through water,
Pale sheets of water gleam in the windy street.
The pealing of bells is lost in a drive of rain-drops.
Remote and hurried the great bells beat.

'I am the one whom life so shrewdly betrayed,
Misfortune dogs me, it always hunted me down.
And to-day the woman I love lies dead.
I gave her roses, a ring with opals;
These hands have touched her head.

'I bound her to me in all soft ways,
I bound her to me in a net of days,
Yet now she has gone in silence and said no word.
How can we face these dazzling things, I ask you?
There is no use: we cry: and are not heard.

'They cover a body with roses . . . I shall not see it . . .
Must one return to the lifeless walls of a city
Whose soul is charred by fire? . . . '
His eyes are closed, his lips press tightly together.
Wheels hiss beneath us. He yields us our desire.

'No, do not stare so—he is weak with grief,
He cannot face you, he turns his eyes aside;
He is confused with pain.
I suffered this. I know. It was long ago . . .
He closes his eyes and drowns in death again.'

The wind hurls blows at the rain-starred glistening windows,
The wind shrills down from the half-seen walls.
We flow on the mournful wind in a dream of dying;
And at last a silence falls.


VII.

Midnight; bells toll, and along the cloud-high towers
The golden lights go out . . .
The yellow windows darken, the shades are drawn,
In thousands of rooms we sleep, we await the dawn,
We lie face down, we dream,
We cry aloud with terror, half rise, or seem
To stare at the ceiling or walls . . .
Midnight . . . the last of shattering bell-notes falls.
A rush of silence whirls over the cloud-high towers,
A vortex of soundless hours.

'The bells have just struck twelve: I should be sleeping.
But I cannot delay any longer to write and tell you.
The woman is dead.
She died—you know the way. Just as we planned.
Smiling, with open sunlit eyes.
Smiling upon the outstretched fatal hand . . .'

He folds his letter, steps softly down the stairs.
The doors are closed and silent. A gas-jet flares.
His shadow disturbs a shadow of balustrades.
The door swings shut behind. Night roars above him.
Into the night he fades.

Wind; wind; wind; carving the walls;
Blowing the water that gleams in the street;
Blowing the rain, the sleet.
In the dark alley, an old tree cracks and falls,
Oak-boughs moan in the haunted air;
Lamps blow down with a crash and tinkle of glass . . .
Darkness whistles . . . Wild hours pass . . .

And those whom sleep eludes lie wide-eyed, hearing
Above their heads a goblin night go by;
Children are waked, and cry,
The young girl hears the roar in her sleep, and dreams
That her lover is caught in a burning tower,
She clutches the pillow, she gasps for breath, she screams . . .
And then by degrees her breath grows quiet and slow,
She dreams of an evening, long ago:
Of colored lanterns balancing under trees,
Some of them softly catching afire;
And beneath the lanterns a motionless face she sees,
Golden with lamplight, smiling, serene . . .
The leaves are a pale and glittering green,
The sound of horns blows over the trampled grass,
Shadows of dancers pass . . .
The face smiles closer to hers, she tries to lean
Backward, away, the eyes burn close and strange,
The face is beginning to change,—
It is her lover, she no longer desires to resist,
She is held and kissed.
She closes her eyes, and melts in a seethe of flame . . .
With a smoking ghost of shame . . .

Wind, wind, wind . . . Wind in an enormous brain
Blowing dark thoughts like fallen leaves . . .
The wind shrieks, the wind grieves;
It dashes the leaves on walls, it whirls then again;
And the enormous sleeper vaguely and stupidly dreams
And desires to stir, to resist a ghost of pain.

One, whom the city imprisoned because of his cunning,
Who dreamed for years in a tower,
Seizes this hour
Of tumult and wind. He files through the rusted bar,
Leans his face to the rain, laughs up at the night,
Slides down the knotted sheet, swings over the wall,
To fall to the street with a cat-like fall,
Slinks round a quavering rim of windy light,
And at last is gone,
Leaving his empty cell for the pallor of dawn . . .

The mother whose child was buried to-day
Turns her face to the window; her face is grey;
And all her body is cold with the coldness of rain.
He would have grown as easily as a tree,
He would have spread a pleasure of shade above her,
He would have been his father again . . .
His growth was ended by a freezing invisible shadow.
She lies, and does not move, and is stabbed by the rain.

Wind, wind, wind; we toss and dream;
We dream we are clouds and stars, blown in a stream:
Windows rattle above our beds;
We reach vague-gesturing hands, we lift our heads,
Hear sounds far off,—and dream, with quivering breath,
Our curious separate ways through life and death.


VIII.

The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city,
Over the pale grey tumbled towers,—
And settles among the roofs, the pale grey walls.
Along damp sinuous streets it crawls,
Curls like a dream among the motionless trees
And seems to freeze.

The fog slips ghostlike into a thousand rooms,
Whirls over sleeping faces,
Spins in an atomy dance round misty street lamps;
And blows in cloudy waves over open spaces . . .

And one from his high window, looking down,
Peers at the cloud-white town,
And thinks its island towers are like a dream . . .
It seems an enormous sleeper, within whose brain
Laborious shadows revolve and break and gleam.

PART II.


I.

The round red sun heaves darkly out of the sea.
The walls and towers are warmed and gleam.
Sounds go drowsily up from streets and wharves.
The city stirs like one that is half in dream.

And the mist flows up by dazzling walls and windows,
Where one by one we wake and rise.
We gaze at the pale grey lustrous sea a moment,
We rub the darkness from our eyes,

And face our thousand devious secret mornings . . .
And do not see how the pale mist, slowly ascending,
Shaped by the sun, shines like a white-robed dreamer
Compassionate over our towers bending.

There, like one who gazes into a crystal,
He broods upon our city with sombre eyes;
He sees our secret fears vaguely unfolding,
Sees cloudy symbols shape to rise.

Each gleaming point of light is like a seed
Dilating swiftly to coiling fires.
Each cloud becomes a rapidly dimming face,
Each hurrying face records its strange desires.

We descend our separate stairs toward the day,
Merge in the somnolent mass that fills the street,
Lift our eyes to the soft blue space of sky,
And walk by the well-known walls with accustomed feet.


II. THE FULFILLED DREAM

More towers must yet be built—more towers destroyed—
Great rocks hoisted in air;
And he must seek his bread in high pale sunlight
With gulls about him, and clouds just over his eyes . . .
And so he did not mention his dream of falling
But drank his coffee in silence, and heard in his ears
That horrible whistle of wind, and felt his breath
Sucked out of him, and saw the tower flash by
And the small tree swell beneath him . . .
He patted his boy on the head, and kissed his wife,
Looked quickly around the room, to remember it,—
And so went out . . . For once, he forgot his pail.

Something had changed—but it was not the street—
The street was just the same—it was himself.
Puddles flashed in the sun. In the pawn-shop door
The same old black cat winked green amber eyes;
The butcher stood by his window tying his apron;
The same men walked beside him, smoking pipes,
Reading the morning paper . . .

He would not yield, he thought, and walk more slowly,
As if he knew for certain he walked to death:
But with his usual pace,—deliberate, firm,
Looking about him calmly, watching the world,
Taking his ease . . . Yet, when he thought again
Of the same dream, now dreamed three separate times,
Always the same, and heard that whistling wind,
And saw the windows flashing upward past him,—
He slowed his pace a little, and thought with horror
How monstrously that small tree thrust to meet him! . . .
He slowed his pace a little and remembered his wife.

Was forty, then, too old for work like this?
Why should it be? He'd never been afraid—
His eye was sure, his hand was steady . . .
But dreams had meanings.
He walked more slowly, and looked along the roofs,
All built by men, and saw the pale blue sky;
And suddenly he was dizzy with looking at it,
It seemed to whirl and swim,
It seemed the color of terror, of speed, of death . . .
He lowered his eyes to the stones, he walked more slowly;
His thoughts were blown and scattered like leaves;
He thought of the pail . . . Why, then, was it forgotten?
Because he would not need it?

Then, just as he was grouping his thoughts again
About that drug-store corner, under an arc-lamp,
Where first he met the girl whom he would marry,—
That blue-eyed innocent girl, in a soft blouse,—
He waved his hand for signal, and up he went
In the dusty chute that hugged the wall;
Above the tree; from girdered floor to floor;
Above the flattening roofs, until the sea
Lay wide and waved before him . . . And then he stepped
Giddily out, from that security,
To the red rib of iron against the sky,
And walked along it, feeling it sing and tremble;
And looking down one instant, saw the tree
Just as he dreamed it was; and looked away,
And up again, feeling his blood go wild.

He gave the signal; the long girder swung
Closer to him, dropped clanging into place,
Almost pushing him off. Pneumatic hammers
Began their madhouse clatter, the white-hot rivets
Were tossed from below and deftly caught in pails;
He signalled again, and wiped his mouth, and thought
A place so high in the air should be more quiet.
The tree, far down below, teased at his eyes,
Teased at the corners of them, until he looked,
And felt his body go suddenly small and light;
Felt his brain float off like a dwindling vapor;
And heard a whistle of wind, and saw a tree
Come plunging up to him, and thought to himself,
'By God—I'm done for now, the dream was right . . .'


III. INTERLUDE

The warm sun dreams in the dust, the warm sun falls
On bright red roofs and walls;
The trees in the park exhale a ghost of rain;
We go from door to door in the streets again,
Talking, laughing, dreaming, turning our faces,
Recalling other times and places . . .
We crowd, not knowing why, around a gate,
We crowd together and wait,
A stretcher is carried out, voices are stilled,
The ambulance drives away.
We watch its roof flash by, hear someone say
'A man fell off the building and was killed—
Fell right into a barrel . . .' We turn again
Among the frightened eyes of white-faced men,
And go our separate ways, each bearing with him
A thing he tries, but vainly, to forget,—
A sickened crowd, a stretcher red and wet.

A hurdy-gurdy sings in the crowded street,
The golden notes skip over the sunlit stones,
Wings are upon our feet.
The sun seems warmer, the winding street more bright,
Sparrows come whirring down in a cloud of light.
We bear our dreams among us, bear them all,
Like hurdy-gurdy music they rise and fall,
Climb to beauty and die.
The wandering lover dreams of his lover's mouth,
And smiles at the hostile sky.
The broker smokes his pipe, and sees a fortune.
The murderer hears a cry.


IV. NIGHTMARE

'Draw three cards, and I will tell your future . . .
Draw three cards, and lay them down,
Rest your palms upon them, stare at the crystal,
And think of time . . . My father was a clown,
My mother was a gypsy out of Egypt;
And she was gotten with child in a strange way;
And I was born in a cold eclipse of the moon,
With the future in my eyes as clear as day.'

I sit before the gold-embroidered curtain
And think her face is like a wrinkled desert.
The crystal burns in lamplight beneath my eyes.
A dragon slowly coils on the scaly curtain.
Upon a scarlet cloth a white skull lies.

'Your hand is on the hand that holds three lilies.
You will live long, love many times.
I see a dark girl here who once betrayed you.
I see a shadow of secret crimes.

'There was a man who came intent to kill you,
And hid behind a door and waited for you;
There was a woman who smiled at you and lied.
There was a golden girl who loved you, begged you,
Crawled after you, and died.

'There is a ghost of murder in your blood—
Coming or past, I know not which.
And here is danger—a woman with sea-green eyes,
And white-skinned as a witch . . .'

The words hiss into me, like raindrops falling
On sleepy fire . . . She smiles a meaning smile.
Suspicion eats my brain; I ask a question;
Something is creeping at me, something vile;

And suddenly on the wall behind her head
I see a monstrous shadow strike and spread,
The lamp puffs out, a great blow crashes down.
I plunge through the curtain, run through dark to the street,
And hear swift steps retreat . . .

The shades are drawn, the door is locked behind me.
Behind the door I hear a hammer sounding.
I walk in a cloud of wonder; I am glad.
I mingle among the crowds; my heart is pounding;
You do not guess the adventure I have had! . . .

Yet you, too, all have had your dark adventures,
Your sudden adventures, or strange, or sweet . . .
My peril goes out from me, is blown among you.
We loiter, dreaming together, along the street.


V. RETROSPECT

Round white clouds roll slowly above the housetops,
Over the clear red roofs they flow and pass.
A flock of pigeons rises with blue wings flashing,
Rises with whistle of wings, hovers an instant,
And settles slowly again on the tarnished grass.

And one old man looks down from a dusty window
And sees the pigeons circling about the fountain
And desires once more to walk among those trees.
Lovers walk in the noontime by that fountain.
Pigeons dip their beaks to drink from the water.
And soon the pond must freeze.

The light wind blows to his ears a sound of laughter,
Young men shuffle their feet, loaf in the sunlight;
A girl's laugh rings like a silver bell.
But clearer than all these sounds is a sound he hears
More in his secret heart than in his ears,—
A hammer's steady crescendo, like a knell.
He hears the snarl of pineboards under the plane,
The rhythmic saw, and then the hammer again,—
Playing with delicate strokes that sombre scale . . .
And the fountain dwindles, the sunlight seems to pale.

Time is a dream, he thinks, a destroying dream;
It lays great cities in dust, it fills the seas;
It covers the face of beauty, and tumbles walls.
Where was the woman he loved? Where was his youth?
Where was the dream that burned his brain like fire?
Even a dream grows grey at last and falls.

He opened his book once more, beside the window,
And read the printed words upon that page.
The sunlight touched his hand; his eyes moved slowly,
The quiet words enchanted time and age.

'Death is never an ending, death is a change;
Death is beautiful, for death is strange;
Death is one dream out of another flowing;
Death is a chorded music, softly going
By sweet transition from key to richer key.
Death is a meeting place of sea and sea.'


VI. ADELE AND DAVIS

She turned her head on the pillow, and cried once more.
And drawing a shaken breath, and closing her eyes,
To shut out, if she could, this dingy room,
The wigs and costumes scattered around the floor,—
Yellows and greens in the dark,—she walked again
Those nightmare streets which she had walked so often . . .
Here, at a certain corner, under an arc-lamp,
Blown by a bitter wind, she stopped and looked
In through the brilliant windows of a drug-store,
And wondered if she dared to ask for poison:
But it was late, few customers were there,
The eyes of all the clerks would freeze upon her,
And she would wilt, and cry . . . Here, by the river,
She listened to the water slapping the wall,
And felt queer fascination in its blackness:
But it was cold, the little waves looked cruel,
The stars were keen, and a windy dash of spray
Struck her cheek, and withered her veins . . . And so
She dragged herself once more to home, and bed.

Paul hadn't guessed it yet—though twice, already,
She'd fainted—once, the first time, on the stage.
So she must tell him soon—or else—get out . . .
How could she say it? That was the hideous thing.
She'd rather die than say it! . . . and all the trouble,
Months when she couldn't earn a cent, and then,
If he refused to marry her . . . well, what?
She saw him laughing, making a foolish joke,
His grey eyes turning quickly; and the words
Fled from her tongue . . . She saw him sitting silent,
Brooding over his morning coffee, maybe,
And tried again . . . she bit her lips, and trembled,
And looked away, and said . . . 'Say Paul, boy,—listen—
There's something I must tell you . . . ' There she stopped,
Wondering what he'd say . . . What would he say?
'Spring it, kid! Don't look so serious!'
'But what I've got to say—IS—serious!'
Then she could see how, suddenly, he would sober,
His eyes would darken, he'd look so terrifying—
He always didand what could she do but cry?
Perhaps, then, he would guess—perhaps he wouldn't.
And if he didn't, but asked her 'What's the matter?'—
She knew she'd never tell—just say she was sick . . .
And after that, when would she dare again?
And what would he do—even suppose she told him?

If it were Felix! If it were only Felix!—
She wouldn't mind so much. But as it was,
Bitterness choked her, she had half a mind
To pay out Felix for never having liked her,
By making people think that it was he . . .
She'd write a letter to someone, before she died,—
Just saying 'Felix did itand wouldn't marry.'
And then she'd die . . . But that was hard on Paul . . .
Paul would never forgive her—he'd never forgive her!
Sometimes she almost thought Paul really loved her . . .
She saw him look reproachfully at her coffin.

And then she closed her eyes and walked again
Those nightmare streets that she had walked so often:
Under an arc-lamp swinging in the wind
She stood, and stared in through a drug-store window,
Watching a clerk wrap up a little pill-box.
But it was late. No customers were there,—
Pitiless eyes would freeze her secret in her!
And then—what poison would she dare to ask for?
And if they asked her why, what would she say?


VII. TWO LOVERS: OVERTONES

Two lovers, here at the corner, by the steeple,
Two lovers blow together like music blowing:
And the crowd dissolves about them like a sea.
Recurring waves of sound break vaguely about them,
They drift from wall to wall, from tree to tree.
'Well, am I late?' Upward they look and laugh,
They look at the great clock's golden hands,
They laugh and talk, not knowing what they say:
Only, their words like music seem to play;
And seeming to walk, they tread strange sarabands.

'I brought you this . . . ' the soft words float like stars
Down the smooth heaven of her memory.
She stands again by a garden wall,
The peach tree is in bloom, pink blossoms fall,
Water sings from an opened tap, the bees
Glisten and murmur among the trees.
Someone calls from the house. She does not answer.
Backward she leans her head,
And dreamily smiles at the peach-tree leaves, wherethrough
She sees an infinite May sky spread
A vault profoundly blue.
The voice from the house fades far away,
The glistening leaves more vaguely ripple and sway . .
The tap is closed, the water ceases to hiss . . .
Silence . . . blue sky . . . and then, 'I brought you this . . . '
She turns again, and smiles . . . He does not know
She smiles from long ago . . .

She turns to him and smiles . . . Sunlight above him
Roars like a vast invisible sea,
Gold is beaten before him, shrill bells of silver;
He is released of weight, his body is free,
He lifts his arms to swim,
Dark years like sinister tides coil under him . . .
The lazy sea-waves crumble along the beach
With a whirring sound like wind in bells,
He lies outstretched on the yellow wind-worn sands
Reaching his lazy hands
Among the golden grains and sea-white shells . . .

'One white rose . . . or is it pink, to-day?'
They pause and smile, not caring what they say,
If only they may talk.
The crowd flows past them like dividing waters.
Dreaming they stand, dreaming they walk.

'Pink,—to-day!'—Face turns to dream-bright face,
Green leaves rise round them, sunshine settles upon them,
Water, in drops of silver, falls from the rose.
She smiles at a face that smiles through leaves from the mirror.
She breathes the fragrance; her dark eyes close . . .

Time is dissolved, it blows like a little dust:
Time, like a flurry of rain,
Patters and passes, starring the window-pane.
Once, long ago, one night,
She saw the lightning, with long blue quiver of light,
Ripping the darkness . . . and as she turned in terror
A soft face leaned above her, leaned softly down,
Softly around her a breath of roses was blown,
She sank in waves of quiet, she seemed to float
In a sea of silence . . . and soft steps grew remote . .

'Well, let us walk in the park . . . The sun is warm,
We'll sit on a bench and talk . . .' They turn and glide,
The crowd of faces wavers and breaks and flows.
'Look how the oak-tops turn to gold in the sunlight!
Look how the tower is changed and glows!'

Two lovers move in the crowd like a link of music,
We press upon them, we hold them, and let them pass;
A chord of music strikes us and straight we tremble;
We tremble like wind-blown grass.

What was this dream we had, a dream of music,
Music that rose from the opening earth like magic
And shook its beauty upon us and died away?
The long cold streets extend once more before us.
The red sun drops, the walls grow grey.


VIII. THE BOX WITH SILVER HANDLES

Well,—it was two days after my husband died—
Two days! And the earth still raw above him.
And I was sweeping the carpet in their hall.
In number four—the room with the red wall-paper—
Some chorus girls and men were singing that song
'They'll soon be lighting candles
Round a box with silver handles'—and hearing them sing it
I started to cry. Just then he came along
And stopped on the stairs and turned and looked at me,
And took the cigar from his mouth and sort of smiled
And said, 'Say, what's the matter?' and then came down
Where I was leaning against the wall,
And touched my shoulder, and put his arm around me . . .
And I was so sad, thinking about it,—
Thinking that it was raining, and a cold night,
With Jim so unaccustomed to being dead,—
That I was happy to have him sympathize,
To feel his arm, and leaned against him and cried.
And before I knew it, he got me into a room
Where a table was set, and no one there,
And sat me down on a sofa, and held me close,
And talked to me, telling me not to cry,
That it was all right, he'd look after me,—
But not to cry, my eyes were getting red,
Which didn't make me pretty. And he was so nice,
That when he turned my face between his hands,
And looked at me, with those blue eyes of his,
And smiled, and leaned, and kissed me—
Somehow I couldn't tell him not to do it,
Somehow I didn't mind, I let him kiss me,
And closed my eyes! . . . Well, that was how it started.
For when my heart was eased with crying, and grief
Had passed and left me quiet, somehow it seemed
As if it wasn't honest to change my mind,
To send him away, or say I hadn't meant it
And, anyway, it seemed so hard to explain!
And so we sat and talked, not talking much,
But meaning as much in silence as in words,
There in that empty room with palms about us,
That private dining-room . . . And as we sat there
I felt my future changing, day by day,
With unknown streets opening left and right,
New streets with farther lights, new taller houses,
Doors swinging into hallways filled with light,
Half-opened luminous windows, with white curtains
Streaming out in the night, and sudden music,—
And thinking of this, and through it half remembering
A quick and horrible death, my husband's eyes,
The broken-plastered walls, my boy asleep,—
It seemed as if my brain would break in two.
My voice began to tremble . . . and when I stood,
And told him I must go, and said good-night
I couldn't see the end. How would it end?
Would he return to-morrow? Or would he not?
And did I want him to—or would I rather
Look for another job?—He took my shoulders
Between his hands, and looked down into my eyes,
And smiled, and said good-night. If he had kissed me,
That would have—well, I don't know; but he didn't . .
And so I went downstairs, then, half elated,
Hoping to close the door before that party
In number four should sing that song again—
'They'll soon be lighting candles round a box with silver handles'—
And sure enough, I did. I faced the darkness.
And my eyes were filled with tears. And I was happy.


IX. INTERLUDE

The days, the nights, flow one by one above us,
The hours go silently over our lifted faces,
We are like dreamers who walk beneath a sea.
Beneath high walls we flow in the sun together.
We sleep, we wake, we laugh, we pursue, we flee.

We sit at tables and sip our morning coffee,
We read the papers for tales of lust or crime.
The door swings shut behind the latest comer.
We set our watches, regard the time.

What have we done? I close my eyes, remember
The great machine whose sinister brain before me
Smote and smote with a rhythmic beat.
My hands have torn down walls, the stone and plaster.
I dropped great beams to the dusty street.

My eyes are worn with measuring cloths of purple,
And golden cloths, and wavering cloths, and pale.
I dream of a crowd of faces, white with menace.
Hands reach up to tear me. My brain will fail.

Here, where the walls go down beneath our picks,
These walls whose windows gap against the sky,
Atom by atom of flesh and brain and marble
Will build a glittering tower before we die . . .

The young boy whistles, hurrying down the street,
The young girl hums beneath her breath.
One goes out to beauty, and does not know it.
And one goes out to death.


X. SUDDEN DEATH

'Number four—the girl who died on the table—
The girl with golden hair—'
The purpling body lies on the polished marble.
We open the throat, and lay the thyroid bare . . .

One, who held the ether-cone, remembers
Her dark blue frightened eyes.
He heard the sharp breath quiver, and saw her breast
More hurriedly fall and rise.
Her hands made futile gestures, she turned her head
Fighting for breath; her cheeks were flushed to scarlet,—
And, suddenly, she lay dead.

And all the dreams that hurried along her veins
Came to the darkness of a sudden wall.
Confusion ran among them, they whirled and clamored,
They fell, they rose, they struck, they shouted,
Till at last a pallor of silence hushed them all.

What was her name? Where had she walked that morning?
Through what dark forest came her feet?
Along what sunlit walls, what peopled street?

Backward he dreamed along a chain of days,
He saw her go her strange and secret ways,
Waking and sleeping, noon and night.
She sat by a mirror, braiding her golden hair.
She read a story by candlelight.

Her shadow ran before her along the street,
She walked with rhythmic feet,
Turned a corner, descended a stair.
She bought a paper, held it to scan the headlines,
Smiled for a moment at sea-gulls high in sunlight,
And drew deep breaths of air.

Days passed, bright clouds of days. Nights passed. And music
Murmured within the walls of lighted windows.
She lifted her face to the light and danced.
The dancers wreathed and grouped in moving patterns,
Clustered, receded, streamed, advanced.

Her dress was purple, her slippers were golden,
Her eyes were blue; and a purple orchid
Opened its golden heart on her breast . . .
She leaned to the surly languor of lazy music,
Leaned on her partner's arm to rest.
The violins were weaving a weft of silver,
The horns were weaving a lustrous brede of gold,
And time was caught in a glistening pattern,
Time, too elusive to hold . . .

Shadows of leaves fell over her face,—and sunlight:
She turned her face away.
Nearer she moved to a crouching darkness
With every step and day.

Death, who at first had thought of her only an instant,
At a great distance, across the night,
Smiled from a window upon her, and followed her slowly
From purple light to light.

Once, in her dreams, he spoke out clearly, crying,
'I am the murderer, death.
I am the lover who keeps his appointment
At the doors of breath!'

She rose and stared at her own reflection,
Half dreading there to find
The dark-eyed ghost, waiting beside her,
Or reaching from behind
To lay pale hands upon her shoulders . . .
Or was this in her mind? . . .

She combed her hair. The sunlight glimmered
Along the tossing strands.
Was there a stillness in this hair,—
A quiet in these hands?

Death was a dream. It could not change these eyes,
Blow out their light, or turn this mouth to dust.
She combed her hair and sang. She would live forever.
Leaves flew past her window along a gust . . .
And graves were dug in the earth, and coffins passed,
And music ebbed with the ebbing hours.
And dreams went along her veins, and scattering clouds
Threw streaming shadows on walls and towers.


XI.

Snow falls. The sky is grey, and sullenly glares
With purple lights in the canyoned street.
The fiery sign on the dark tower wreathes and flares . . .
The trodden grass in the park is covered with white,
The streets grow silent beneath our feet . . .
The city dreams, it forgets its past to-night.

And one, from his high bright window looking down
Over the enchanted whiteness of the town,
Seeing through whirls of white the vague grey towers,
Desires like this to forget what will not pass,
The littered papers, the dust, the tarnished grass,
Grey death, stale ugliness, and sodden hours.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again,
Slurred bells of grief and pain,
Dull echoes of hideous times and poisonous places.
He desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.
He desires to forget a million faces . . .

In one room breathes a woman who dies of hunger.
The clock ticks slowly and stops. And no one winds it.
In one room fade grey violets in a vase.
Snow flakes faintly hiss and melt on the window.
In one room, minute by minute, the flutist plays
The lamplit page of music, the tireless scales.
His hands are trembling, his short breath fails.

In one room, silently, lover looks upon lover,
And thinks the air is fire.
The drunkard swears and touches the harlot's heartstrings
With the sudden hand of desire.

And one goes late in the streets, and thinks of murder;
And one lies staring, and thinks of death.
And one, who has suffered, clenches her hands despairing,
And holds her breath . . .

Who are all these, who flow in the veins of the city,
Coil and revolve and dream,
Vanish or gleam?
Some mount up to the brain and flower in fire.
Some are destroyed; some die; some slowly stream.

And the new are born who desire to destroy the old;
And fires are kindled and quenched; and dreams are broken,
And walls flung down . . .
And the slow night whirls in snow over towers of dreamers,
And whiteness hushes the town.

PART III


I

As evening falls,
And the yellow lights leap one by one
Along high walls;
And along black streets that glisten as if with rain,
The muted city seems
Like one in a restless sleep, who lies and dreams
Of vague desires, and memories, and half-forgotten pain . . .
Along dark veins, like lights the quick dreams run,
Flash, are extinguished, flash again,
To mingle and glow at last in the enormous brain
And die away . . .
As evening falls,
A dream dissolves these insubstantial walls,—
A myriad secretly gliding lights lie bare . . .
The lovers rise, the harlot combs her hair,
The dead man's face grows blue in the dizzy lamplight,
The watchman climbs the stair . . .
The bank defaulter leers at a chaos of figures,
And runs among them, and is beaten down;
The sick man coughs and hears the chisels ringing;
The tired clown
Sees the enormous crowd, a million faces,
Motionless in their places,
Ready to laugh, and seize, and crush and tear . . .
The dancer smooths her hair,
Laces her golden slippers, and runs through the door
To dance once more,
Hearing swift music like an enchantment rise,
Feeling the praise of a thousand eyes.

As darkness falls
The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls
Tremble and glow with the lives within them moving,
Moving like music, secret and rich and warm.
How shall we live tonight? Where shall we turn?
To what new light or darkness yearn?
A thousand winding stairs lead down before us;
And one by one in myriads we descend
By lamplit flowered walls, long balustrades,
Through half-lit halls which reach no end.


II. THE SCREEN MAIDEN

You read—what is it, then that you are reading?
What music moves so silently in your mind?
Your bright hand turns the page.
I watch you from my window, unsuspected:
You move in an alien land, a silent age . . .

. . . The poet—what was his name—? Tokkei—Tokkei—
The poet walked alone in a cold late rain,
And thought his grief was like the crying of sea-birds;
For his lover was dead, he never would love again.

Rain in the dreams of the mind—rain forever—
Rain in the sky of the heart—rain in the willows—
But then he saw this face, this face like flame,
This quiet lady, this portrait by Hiroshigi;
And took it home with him; and with it came

What unexpected changes, subtle as weather!
The dark room, cold as rain,
Grew faintly fragrant, stirred with a stir of April,
Warmed its corners with light again,

And smoke of incense whirled about this portrait,
And the quiet lady there,
So young, so quietly smiling, with calm hands,
Seemed ready to loose her hair,

And smile, and lean from the picture, or say one word,
The word already clear,
Which seemed to rise like light between her eyelids . .
He held his breath to hear,

And smiled for shame, and drank a cup of wine,
And held a candle, and searched her face
Through all the little shadows, to see what secret
Might give so warm a grace . . .

Was it the quiet mouth, restrained a little?
The eyes, half-turned aside?
The jade ring on her wrist, still almost swinging? . . .
The secret was denied,

He chose his favorite pen and drew these verses,
And slept; and as he slept
A dream came into his heart, his lover entered,
And chided him, and wept.

And in the morning, waking, he remembered,
And thought the dream was strange.
Why did his darkened lover rise from the garden?
He turned, and felt a change,

As if a someone hidden smiled and watched him . . .
Yet there was only sunlight there.
Until he saw those young eyes, quietly smiling,
And held his breath to stare,

And could have sworn her cheek had turned—a little . . .
Had slightly turned away . . .
Sunlight dozed on the floor . . . He sat and wondered,
Nor left his room that day.

And that day, and for many days thereafter,
He sat alone, and thought
No lady had ever lived so beautiful
As Hiroshigi wrought . . .

Or if she lived, no matter in what country,
By what far river or hill or lonely sea,
He would look in every face until he found her . . .
There was no other as fair as she.

And before her quiet face he burned soft incense,
And brought her every day
Boughs of the peach, or almond, or snow-white cherry,
And somehow, she seemed to say,

That silent lady, young, and quietly smiling,
That she was happy there;
And sometimes, seeing this, he started to tremble,
And desired to touch her hair,

To lay his palm along her hand, touch faintly
With delicate finger-tips
The ghostly smile that seemed to hover and vanish
Upon her lips . . .

Until he knew he loved this quiet lady;
And night by night a dread
Leered at his dreams, for he knew that Hiroshigi
Was many centuries dead,—

And the lady, too, was dead, and all who knew her . .
Dead, and long turned to dust . . .
The thin moon waxed and waned, and left him paler,
The peach leaves flew in a gust,

And he would surely have died; but there one day
A wise man, white with age,
Stared at the portrait, and said, 'This Hiroshigi
Knew more than archimage,—

Cunningly drew the body, and called the spirit,
Till partly it entered there . . .
Sometimes, at death, it entered the portrait wholly . .
Do all I say with care,

And she you love may come to you when you call her . . . '
So then this ghost, Tokkei,
Ran in the sun, bought wine of a hundred merchants,
And alone at the end of day

Entered the darkening room, and faced the portrait,
And saw the quiet eyes
Gleaming and young in the dusk, and held the wine-cup,
And knelt, and did not rise,

And said, aloud, 'Lo-san, will you drink this wine?'
Said it three times aloud.
And at the third the faint blue smoke of incense
Rose to the walls in a cloud,

And the lips moved faintly, and the eyes, and the calm hands stirred;
And suddenly, with a sigh,
The quiet lady came slowly down from the portrait,
And stood, while worlds went by,

And lifted her young white hands and took the wine cup;
And the poet trembled, and said,
'Lo-san, will you stay forever?'—'Yes, I will stay.'—
'But what when I am dead?'

'When you are dead your spirit will find my spirit,
And then we shall die no more.'
Music came down upon them, and spring returning,
They remembered worlds before,

And years went over the earth, and over the sea,
And lovers were born and spoke and died,
But forever in sunlight went these two immortal,
Tokkei and the quiet bride . . .


III. HAUNTED CHAMBERS

The lamplit page is turned, the dream forgotten;
The music changes tone, you wake, remember
Deep worlds you lived before,—deep worlds hereafter
Of leaf on falling leaf, music on music,
Rain and sorrow and wind and dust and laughter.

Helen was late and Miriam came too soon.
Joseph was dead, his wife and children starving.
Elaine was married and soon to have a child.
You dreamed last night of fiddler-crabs with fiddles;
They played a buzzing melody, and you smiled.

To-morrow—what? And what of yesterday?
Through soundless labyrinths of dream you pass,
Through many doors to the one door of all.
Soon as it's opened we shall hear a music:
Or see a skeleton fall . . .

We walk with you. Where is it that you lead us?
We climb the muffled stairs beneath high lanterns.
We descend again. We grope through darkened cells.
You say: this darkness, here, will slowly kill me.
It creeps and weighs upon me . . . Is full of bells.

This is the thing remembered I would forget—
No matter where I go, how soft I tread,
This windy gesture menaces me with death.
Fatigue! it says, and points its finger at me;
Touches my throat and stops my breath.

My fans—my jewels—the portrait of my husband—
The torn certificate for my daughter's grave—
These are but mortal seconds in immortal time.
They brush me, fade away: like drops of water.
They signify no crime.

Let us retrace our steps: I have deceived you:
Nothing is here I could not frankly tell you:
No hint of guilt, or faithlessness, or threat.
Dreams—they are madness. Staring eyes—illusion.
Let us return, hear music, and forget . . .


IV. ILLICIT

Of what she said to me that nightno matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me—;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,—
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution—only hung there,
And left me morbid . . . Where, then, had I heard it? . . .
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust', it said, 'dust . . . and dust . . . and sunlight . .
A cold clear April evening . . . snow, bedraggled,
Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass . . .
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go . . . '
These were the phrases . . . but behind, beneath them
A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow
I stood and guessed . . . Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers—
And had I danced with her,—upon this music?
Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood?—No—much recenter than that.

You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow,—leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound:
Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted,
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars—;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
An April afternoon, eight years ago—
Or was it nine?—no matter—call it nine—
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And, she who played the same thing later, playing.

She played this tune. And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap. She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.

'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you . . .
If she should ever know, or even guess it,—
What would she do?—Listen!—I'm not absurd . . .
I'm sure of it. If you had eyes, for women—
To understand them—which you've never had—
You'd know it too . . . ' So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant . . . while her fingers, softly,
Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure . . .
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it—nor conclude?
It paused . . . and wandered . . . paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,—
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go . . .

Well, April passed with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains . . .
And she was right: and Miriam found it out . . .
And after that, when eight deep years had passed
Or nine—we met once more,—by accident . . .
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune?—Or what, then, was intended? . . .


V. MELODY IN A RESTAURANT

The cigarette-smoke loops and slides above us,
Dipping and swirling as the waiter passes;
You strike a match and stare upon the flame.
The tiny fire leaps in your eyes a moment,
And dwindles away as silently as it came.

This melody, you say, has certain voices—
They rise like nereids from a river, singing,
Lift white faces, and dive to darkness again.
Wherever you go you bear this river with you:
A leaf falls,—and it flows, and you have pain.

So says the tune to you—but what to me?
What to the waiter, as he pours your coffee,
The violinist who suavely draws his bow?
That man, who folds his paper, overhears it.
A thousand dreams revolve and fall and flow.

Some one there is who sees a virgin stepping
Down marble stairs to a deep tomb of roses:
At the last moment she lifts remembering eyes.
Green leaves blow down. The place is checked with shadows.
A long-drawn murmur of rain goes down the skies.
And oaks are stripped and bare, and smoke with lightning:
And clouds are blown and torn upon high forests,
And the great sea shakes its walls.
And then falls silence . . . And through long silence falls
This melody once more:
'Down endless stairs she goes, as once before.'

So says the tune to him—but what to me?
What are the worlds I see?
What shapes fantastic, terrible dreams? . . .
I go my secret way, down secret alleys;
My errand is not so simple as it seems.


VI. PORTRAIT OF ONE DEAD

This is the house. On one side there is darkness,
On one side there is light.
Into the darkness you may lift your lanterns—
O, any number—it will still be night.
And here are echoing stairs to lead you downward
To long sonorous halls.
And here is spring forever at these windows,
With roses on the walls.

This is her room. On one side there is music—
On one side not a sound.
At one step she could move from love to silence,
Feel myriad darkness coiling round.
And here are balconies from which she heard you,
Your steady footsteps on the stair.
And here the glass in which she saw your shadow
As she unbound her hair.

Here is the room—with ghostly walls dissolving—
The twilight room in which she called you 'lover';
And the floorless room in which she called you 'friend.'
So many times, in doubt, she ran between them!—
Through windy corridors of darkening end.

Here she could stand with one dim light above her
And hear far music, like a sea in caverns,
Murmur away at hollowed walls of stone.
And here, in a roofless room where it was raining,
She bore the patient sorrow of rain alone.

Your words were walls which suddenly froze around her.
Your words were windows,—large enough for moonlight,
Too small to let her through.
Your letters—fragrant cloisters faint with music.
The music that assuaged her there was you.

How many times she heard your step ascending
Yet never saw your face!
She heard them turn again, ring slowly fainter,
Till silence swept the place.
Why had you gone? . . . The door, perhaps, mistaken . . .
You would go elsewhere. The deep walls were shaken.

A certain rose-leaf—sent without intention—
Became, with time, a

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Another Lonely Night In Ny

Baby , oh no , Ive been stuck here
Ive been searchin so long
Baby dont go , millions of people were wrong
In the dark of the cold light of day ,
I will still be here
If my heart and my soul had their way ,
You would still be here
Another lonely night in new york
The city of dreams just keeps on getting me down
cause my babys no longer around
And my feeling can never be found
Another lonely night in new york
And my sorry eyes are lookin out on the world
Baby , you said , a guy like me was way out of line
And knowing today , your leavin was a question of time
In the mist of a sweet summer rain ,you will find me here
Should the sparkle of stars lose their way ,
Ill be holdin near
Another lonely night in new york
The city of dreams just keeps on getting me down
cause my babys no longer around
And my feelings can never be found
Another lonely night in new york
And my sorry eyes are lookin out on the world
(break)
In the dark of the cold light of day ,
You will find me here
If my heart and my soul had their way ,
You would still be here
Another lonely night in new york
And Im just a soul in the heart of the city
Just another lonely night in new york
The city of dreams just keeps on getting me down
Just another lonely night in new york ( fade )

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Chicago [1920's slang]

Left my dump, off to the [Gourmet Cafe]
Ankling it, no need for a hack
I'm a johnnie walker
Stopped a bit to jaw a little
With two wiseheads [Jess] and [Carrianne]
Before work
As we discuss how one of their coffee-and-donut doble
Keep klunking out on them
When I arrived
I poured me a cup of joe
Then took a powder
To find me an ameche
To arrange a get together for tonight
With my tight squeeze
I get back and drink the joe
Shortly afterwards I get jingle-brained
Then I threw a joe
I wake to find me in this heap
Someplace in a back of alley
And was being pulled out by three goons
I recognize [Daniel], [Bob] and [Dain]
Once they get me inside their hideout
I'm still jingle-brained
I realized I drunk a mickey finn
Now I'm in a jam
I recognize the butter and egg man
As the baddest gangster in upstate New York
His name is [Don Levy]
I also recognize the rest of the chopper squad
They are [Thom], [Josh] and also [Dan]
Who I use to drink out of the same bottle with
Don sends one of his hatchmen to get the seventh
Which he refers to [Engelhardt]
Each one of these numbers were well-heeled
With Chicago typewriters
Couple of them had dinchers in there kissers
Another asks for one of their ciggies
Mr. Levy who comes off as a nance
Tosses his deck to him and tells him to pipe down
Then he slaps my lid of my keyster
I know I'll be grilled about dust I know about
I can see by their get-ups
They have heavy sugar
The hard-boiled gimp tells me to level with him
He thinks I know alot the couple I'm working with
He mentions they're his biggest rival
Who don't want to play ball with him
All I am is a pearl diver in their restaurant
I don't know their potatoes of capers
I tell him he's tooting the wrong ringer
'All I do is wash dishes.'
They don't seem to be in that type of racketeering
Then two bins ankles in
Den tells them '[Terese] and [Carole] get in the back
Few minutes later two skirts arrive
This time he says
'Annie and Mary go in the back'
'Keep those other two company'
'This is business'
He tells me once he was left holding the bag
He never got his dib from my big cheese
My big cheese according to Don
Gave him the Chinese squeeze
He apparently became my big cheese's patsy
And refered him as a smooth
Need to bring this chin to a conclusion with me still intact
At this time, the gals in the back were giggling
Maybe this joint is wet with giggle water
Mr. Levy then says
'I'll have one of my goons sock your scnozzle, savvy? '
He wants me to rat out
If there were anyone planted on the inside of his operations
As if a pearl diver, like myself know anything
Then a dish with a pretty pan enters
Don then asks her
'Why do you gals always come when I'm doing business
He takes out his bank roll
Which seems to be at least a pai of Cs
Or possibly more
He places some lettuce in her hands
Then suggests she take the other gals out and dry up
She has these big bubs
Which i'd like to put my flippers on
Just then she puts her lips upon his
Then i realize she's his moll
Knowing I shouldn't get dizzy with this dame
I tell him don't get ing bing
Then confess ish kabibble
About neither his nor his rival's bee's wax
Well Jeepers Creepers
It's not getting duck soup
In convincing him I know nothing
I believe soon he'll be gashouse with me
Sure enough he put his paws upon my pipes
Which sent my pump to leap out of my pipes
From the heebie jeepies
He pours himself some yack yack bourbon
And then takes a snort of it
He says 'Says you'
'Now start singing, tell me who's the inside guy'
'Or I'll have one of my goons put the broderick on you'
I've remembered I've had sap poison upon my head before
He orders one of his goons to sock my peeper
I get dry gulched
It was so hard I know I have a goog
One of the fellas asks
If he should take me for a one way ride
Then I see Mr. Levy jerking a nod
Just then a Chicago pineapple flys through the window
I think I'll be out of this dump in a Chicago overcoat
One of the goons grabs the Chicago pineapple
Tosses it out of another window
They all begin to burn powder
I duck to stay out of the Chicago lightning
I see lead smashing into everything in sight
One of the fellas takes a shiv to me
Once the Chicago lightning ends
Mr. Levy and his goons are nowheres to be seen
I take to the air
Covering up the Harlem sunset
With a rag that was by the door
Today hasn't been much of a cat's pajamas
I get outside find myself in front of an old hash house
Across the street from [Caffe Lena]
Then I hear 'Grab a little air'
I look around and see buttons
Waving their buzzers at me in one hand
And the other their pieces

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September on Jessore Road

Millions of babies watching the skies
Bellies swollen, with big round eyes
On Jessore Road--long bamboo huts
Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts

Millions of fathers in rain
Millions of mothers in pain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of sisters nowhere to go

One Million aunts are dying for bread
One Million uncles lamenting the dead
Grandfather millions homeless and sad
Grandmother millions silently mad

Millions of daughters walk in the mud
Millions of children wash in the flood
A Million girls vomit & groan
Millions of families hopeless alone

Millions of souls nineteenseventyone
homeless on Jessore road under grey sun
A million are dead, the million who can
Walk toward Calcutta from East Pakistan

Taxi September along Jessore Road
Oxcart skeletons drag charcoal load
past watery fields thru rain flood ruts
Dung cakes on treetrunks, plastic-roof huts

Wet processions Families walk
Stunted boys big heads don't talk
Look bony skulls & silent round eyes
Starving black angels in human disguise

Mother squats weeping & points to her sons
Standing thin legged like elderly nuns
small bodied hands to their mouths in prayer
Five months small food since they settled there

on one floor mat with small empty pot
Father lifts up his hands at their lot
Tears come to their mother's eye
Pain makes mother Maya cry

Two children together in palmroof shade
Stare at me no word is said
Rice ration, lentils one time a week
Milk powder for warweary infants meek

No vegetable money or work for the man
Rice lasts four days eat while they can
Then children starve three days in a row
and vomit their next food unless they eat slow.

On Jessore road Mother wept at my knees
Bengali tongue cried mister Please
Identity card torn up on the floor
Husband still waits at the camp office door

Baby at play I was washing the flood
Now they won't give us any more food
The pieces are here in my celluloid purse
Innocent baby play our death curse

Two policemen surrounded by thousands of boys
Crowded waiting their daily bread joys
Carry big whistles & long bamboo sticks
to whack them in line They play hungry tricks

Breaking the line and jumping in front
Into the circle sneaks one skinny runt
Two brothers dance forward on the mud stage
Teh gaurds blow their whistles & chase them in rage

Why are these infants massed in this place
Laughing in play & pushing for space
Why do they wait here so cheerful & dread
Why this is the House where they give children bread

The man in the bread door Cries & comes out
Thousands of boys and girls Take up his shout
Is it joy? is it prayer? "No more bread today"
Thousands of Children at once scream "Hooray!"

Run home to tents where elders await
Messenger children with bread from the state
No bread more today! & and no place to squat
Painful baby, sick shit he has got.

Malnutrition skulls thousands for months
Dysentery drains bowels all at once
Nurse shows disease card Enterostrep
Suspension is wanting or else chlorostrep

Refugee camps in hospital shacks
Newborn lay naked on mother's thin laps
Monkeysized week old Rheumatic babe eye
Gastoenteritis Blood Poison thousands must die

September Jessore Road rickshaw
50,000 souls in one camp I saw
Rows of bamboo huts in the flood
Open drains, & wet families waiting for food

Border trucks flooded, food cant get past,
American Angel machine please come fast!
Where is Ambassador Bunker today?
Are his Helios machinegunning children at play?

Where are the helicopters of U.S. AID?
Smuggling dope in Bangkok's green shade.
Where is America's Air Force of Light?
Bombing North Laos all day and all night?

Where are the President's Armies of Gold?
Billionaire Navies merciful Bold?
Bringing us medicine food and relief?
Napalming North Viet Nam and causing more grief?

Where are our tears? Who weeps for the pain?
Where can these families go in the rain?
Jessore Road's children close their big eyes
Where will we sleep when Our Father dies?

Whom shall we pray to for rice and for care?
Who can bring bread to this shit flood foul'd lair?
Millions of children alone in the rain!
Millions of children weeping in pain!

Ring O ye tongues of the world for their woe
Ring out ye voices for Love we don't know
Ring out ye bells of electrical pain
Ring in the conscious of America brain

How many children are we who are lost
Whose are these daughters we see turn to ghost?
What are our souls that we have lost care?
Ring out ye musics and weep if you dare--

Cries in the mud by the thatch'd house sand drain
Sleeps in huge pipes in the wet shit-field rain
waits by the pump well, Woe to the world!
whose children still starve in their mother's arms curled.

Is this what I did to myself in the past?
What shall I do Sunil Poet I asked?
Move on and leave them without any coins?
What should I care for the love of my loins?

What should we care for our cities and cars?
What shall we buy with our Food Stamps on Mars?
How many millions sit down in New York
& sup this night's table on bone & roast pork?

How many millions of beer cans are tossed
in Oceans of Mother? How much does She cost?
Cigar gasolines and asphalt car dreams
Stinking the world and dimming star beams--

Finish the war in your breast with a sigh
Come tast the tears in your own Human eye
Pity us millions of phantoms you see
Starved in Samsara on planet TV

How many millions of children die more
before our Good Mothers perceive the Great Lord?
How many good fathers pay tax to rebuild
Armed forces that boast the children they've killed?

How many souls walk through Maya in pain
How many babes in illusory pain?
How many families hollow eyed lost?
How many grandmothers turning to ghost?

How many loves who never get bread?
How many Aunts with holes in their head?
How many sisters skulls on the ground?
How many grandfathers make no more sound?

How many fathers in woe
How many sons nowhere to go?
How many daughters nothing to eat?
How many uncles with swollen sick feet?

Millions of babies in pain
Millions of mothers in rain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of children nowhere to go

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Walt Whitman

Song Of The Exposition

AFTER all, not to create only, or found only,
But to bring, perhaps from afar, what is already founded,
To give it our own identity, average, limitless, free;
To fill the gross, the torpid bulk with vital religious fire;
Not to repel or destroy, so much as accept, fuse, rehabilitate;
To obey, as well as command--to follow, more than to lead;
These also are the lessons of our New World;
--While how little the New, after all--how much the Old, Old World!

Long, long, long, has the grass been growing,
Long and long has the rain been falling, 10
Long has the globe been rolling round.


Come, Muse, migrate from Greece and Ionia;
Cross out, please, those immensely overpaid accounts,
That matter of Troy, and Achilles' wrath, and Eneas', Odysseus'
wanderings;
Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy Parnassus;
Repeat at Jerusalem--place the notice high on Jaffa's gate, and on
Mount Moriah;
The same on the walls of your Gothic European Cathedrals, and German,
French and Spanish Castles;
For know a better, fresher, busier sphere--a wide, untried domain
awaits, demands you.


Responsive to our summons,
Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination, 20
Join'd with an irresistible, natural gravitation,

She comes! this famous Female--as was indeed to be expected;
(For who, so-ever youthful, 'cute and handsome, would wish to stay in
mansions such as those,
When offer'd quarters with all the modern improvements,
With all the fun that 's going--and all the best society?)

She comes! I hear the rustling of her gown;
I scent the odor of her breath's delicious fragrance;
I mark her step divine--her curious eyes a-turning, rolling,
Upon this very scene.

The Dame of Dames! can I believe, then, 30
Those ancient temples classic, and castles strong and feudalistic,
could none of them restrain her?
Nor shades of Virgil and Dante--nor myriad memories, poems, old
associations, magnetize and hold on to her?
But that she 's left them all--and here?

Yes, if you will allow me to say so,
I, my friends, if you do not, can plainly see Her,
The same Undying Soul of Earth's, activity's, beauty's, heroism's
Expression,
Out from her evolutions hither come--submerged the strata of her
former themes,
Hidden and cover'd by to-day's--foundation of to-day's;
Ended, deceas'd, through time, her voice by Castaly's fountain;
Silent through time the broken-lipp'd Sphynx in Egypt--silent those
century-baffling tombs; 40
Closed for aye the epics of Asia's, Europe's helmeted warriors;
Calliope's call for ever closed--Clio, Melpomene, Thalia closed and
dead;
Seal'd the stately rhythmus of Una and Oriana--ended the quest of the
Holy Graal;
Jerusalem a handful of ashes blown by the wind--extinct;
The Crusaders' streams of shadowy, midnight troops, sped with the
sunrise;
Amadis, Tancred, utterly gone--Charlemagne, Roland, Oliver gone,
Palmerin, ogre, departed--vanish'd the turrets that Usk reflected,
Arthur vanish'd with all his knights--Merlin and Lancelot and
Galahad--all gone--dissolv'd utterly, like an exhalation;
Pass'd! pass'd! for us, for ever pass'd! that once so mighty World--
now void, inanimate, phantom World!

Embroider'd, dazzling World! with all its gorgeous legends, myths, 50
Its kings and barons proud--its priests, and warlike lords, and
courtly dames;
Pass'd to its charnel vault--laid on the shelf--coffin'd, with Crown
and Armor on,
Blazon'd with Shakspeare's purple page,
And dirged by Tennyson's sweet sad rhyme.

I say I see, my friends, if you do not, the Animus of all that World,
Escaped, bequeath'd, vital, fugacious as ever, leaving those dead
remains, and now this spot approaching, filling;
--And I can hear what maybe you do not--a terrible aesthetical
commotion,
With howling, desperate gulp of "flower" and "bower,"
With "Sonnet to Matilda's Eyebrow" quite, quite frantic;
With gushing, sentimental reading circles turn'd to ice or stone; 60
With many a squeak, (in metre choice,) from Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, London;
As she, the illustrious Emigré, (having, it is true, in her day,
although the same, changed, journey'd considerable,)
Making directly for this rendezvous--vigorously clearing a path for
herself--striding through the confusion,
By thud of machinery and shrill steam-whistle undismay'd,
Bluff'd not a bit by drain-pipe, gasometers, artificial fertilizers,
Smiling and pleased, with palpable intent to stay,
She 's here, install'd amid the kitchen ware!


But hold--don't I forget my manners?
To introduce the Stranger (what else indeed have I come for?) to
thee, Columbia:
In Liberty's name, welcome, Immortal! clasp hands, 70
And ever henceforth Sisters dear be both.

Fear not, O Muse! truly new ways and days receive, surround you,
(I candidly confess, a queer, queer race, of novel fashion,)
And yet the same old human race--the same within, without,
Faces and hearts the same--feelings the same--yearnings the same,
The same old love--beauty and use the same.


We do not blame thee, Elder World--nor separate ourselves from thee:
(Would the Son separate himself from the Father?)
Looking back on thee--seeing thee to thy duties, grandeurs, through
past ages bending, building,
We build to ours to-day. 80

Mightier than Egypt's tombs,
Fairer than Grecia's, Roma's temples,
Prouder than Milan's statued, spired Cathedral,
More picturesque than Rhenish castle-keeps,
We plan, even now, to raise, beyond them all,
Thy great Cathedral, sacred Industry--no tomb,
A Keep for life for practical Invention.

As in a waking vision,
E'en while I chant, I see it rise--I scan and prophesy outside and
in,
Its manifold ensemble. 90


Around a Palace,
Loftier, fairer, ampler than any yet,
Earth's modern Wonder, History's Seven outstripping,
High rising tier on tier, with glass and iron façades.

Gladdening the sun and sky--enhued in cheerfulest hues,
Bronze, lilac, robin's-egg, marine and crimson,
Over whose golden roof shall flaunt, beneath thy banner, Freedom,
The banners of The States, the flags of every land,
A brood of lofty, fair, but lesser Palaces shall cluster.

Somewhere within the walls of all, 100
Shall all that forwards perfect human life be started,
Tried, taught, advanced, visibly exhibited.

Here shall you trace in flowing operation,
In every state of practical, busy movement,
The rills of Civilization.

Materials here, under your eye, shall change their shape, as if by
magic;
The cotton shall be pick'd almost in the very field,
Shall be dried, clean'd, ginn'd, baled, spun into thread and cloth,
before you:
You shall see hands at work at all the old processes, and all the new
ones;
You shall see the various grains, and how flour is made, and then
bread baked by the bakers; 110
You shall see the crude ores of California and Nevada passing on and
on till they become bullion;
You shall watch how the printer sets type, and learn what a composing
stick is;
You shall mark, in amazement, the Hoe press whirling its cylinders,
shedding the printed leaves steady and fast:
The photograph, model, watch, pin, nail, shall be created before you.

In large calm halls, a stately Museum shall teach you the infinite,
solemn lessons of Minerals;
In another, woods, plants, Vegetation shall be illustrated--in
another Animals, animal life and development.

One stately house shall be the Music House;
Others for other Arts--Learning, the Sciences, shall all be here;
None shall be slighted--none but shall here be honor'd, help'd,
exampled.


This, this and these, America, shall be your Pyramids and
Obelisks, 120
Your Alexandrian Pharos, gardens of Babylon,
Your temple at Olympia.

The male and female many laboring not,
Shall ever here confront the laboring many,
With precious benefits to both--glory to all,
To thee, America--and thee, Eternal Muse.

And here shall ye inhabit, Powerful Matrons!
In your vast state, vaster than all the old;
Echoed through long, long centuries to come,
To sound of different, prouder songs, with stronger themes, 130
Practical, peaceful life--the people's life--the People themselves,
Lifted, illumin'd, bathed in peace--elate, secure in peace.


Away with themes of war! away with War itself!
Hence from my shuddering sight, to never more return, that show of
blacken'd, mutilated corpses!
That hell unpent, and raid of blood--fit for wild tigers, or for lop-
tongued wolves--not reasoning men!
And in its stead speed Industry's campaigns!
With thy undaunted armies, Engineering!
Thy pennants, Labor, loosen'd to the breeze!
Thy bugles sounding loud and clear!

Away with old romance! 140
Away with novels, plots, and plays of foreign courts!
Away with love-verses, sugar'd in rhyme--the intrigues, amours of
idlers,
Fitted for only banquets of the night, where dancers to late music
slide;
The unhealthy pleasures, extravagant dissipations of the few,
With perfumes, heat and wine, beneath the dazzling chandeliers.


To you, ye Reverent, sane Sisters,
To this resplendent day, the present scene,
These eyes and ears that like some broad parterre bloom up around,
before me,
I raise a voice for far superber themes for poets and for Art,
To exalt the present and the real, 150
To teach the average man the glory of his daily walk and trade,
To sing, in songs, how exercise and chemical life are never to be
baffled;
Boldly to thee, America, to-day! and thee, Immortal Muse!
To practical, manual work, for each and all--to plough, hoe, dig,
To plant and tend the tree, the berry, the vegetables, flowers,
For every man to see to it that he really do something--for every
woman too;
To use the hammer, and the saw, (rip or cross-cut,)
To cultivate a turn for carpentering, plastering, painting,
To work as tailor, tailoress, nurse, hostler, porter,
To invent a little--something ingenious--to aid the washing, cooking,
cleaning, 160
And hold it no disgrace to take a hand at them themselves.

I say I bring thee, Muse, to-day and here,
All occupations, duties broad and close,
Toil, healthy toil and sweat, endless, without cessation,
The old, old general burdens, interests, joys,
The family, parentage, childhood, husband and wife,
The house-comforts--the house itself, and all its belongings,
Food and its preservations--chemistry applied to it;
Whatever forms the average, strong, complete, sweet-blooded Man or
Woman--the perfect, longeve Personality,
And helps its present life to health and happiness--and shapes its
Soul, 170
For the eternal Real Life to come.

With latest materials, works,
Steam-power, the great Express lines, gas, petroleum,
These triumphs of our time, the Atlantic's delicate cable,
The Pacific Railroad, the Suez canal, the Mont Cenis tunnel;
Science advanced, in grandeur and reality, analyzing every thing,
This world all spann'd with iron rails--with lines of steamships
threading every sea,
Our own Rondure, the current globe I bring.


And thou, high-towering One--America!
Thy swarm of offspring towering high--yet higher thee, above all
towering, 180
With Victory on thy left, and at thy right hand Law;
Thou Union, holding all--fusing, absorbing, tolerating all,
Thee, ever thee, I bring.

Thou--also thou, a world!
With all thy wide geographies, manifold, different, distant,
Rounding by thee in One--one common orbic language,
One common indivisible destiny and Union.


And by the spells which ye vouchsafe,
To those, your ministers in earnest,
I here personify and call my themes, 190
To make them pass before ye.

Behold, America! (And thou, ineffable Guest and Sister!)
For thee come trooping up thy waters and thy lands:
Behold! thy fields and farms, thy far-off woods and mountains,
As in procession coming.

Behold! the sea itself!
And on its limitless, heaving breast, thy ships:
See! where their white sails, bellying in the wind, speckle the green
and blue!
See! thy steamers coming and going, steaming in or out of port!
See! dusky and undulating, their long pennants of smoke! 200

Behold, in Oregon, far in the north and west,
Or in Maine, far in the north and east, thy cheerful axemen,
Wielding all day their axes!

Behold, on the lakes, thy pilots at their wheels--thy oarsmen!
Behold how the ash writhes under those muscular arms!

There by the furnace, and there by the anvil,
Behold thy sturdy blacksmiths, swinging their sledges;
Overhand so steady--overhand they turn and fall, with joyous clank,
Like a tumult of laughter.

Behold! (for still the procession moves,) 210
Behold, Mother of All, thy countless sailors, boatmen, coasters!
The myriads of thy young and old mechanics!
Mark--mark the spirit of invention everywhere--thy rapid patents,
Thy continual workshops, foundries, risen or rising;
See, from their chimneys, how the tall flame-fires stream!

Mark, thy interminable farms, North, South,
Thy wealthy Daughter-States, Eastern, and Western,
The varied products of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia, Texas,
and the rest;
Thy limitless crops--grass, wheat, sugar, corn, rice, hemp, hops,
Thy barns all fill'd--thy endless freight-trains, and thy bulging
store-houses, 220
The grapes that ripen on thy vines--the apples in thy orchards,
Thy incalculable lumber, beef, pork, potatoes--thy coal--thy gold and
silver,
The inexhaustible iron in thy mines.


All thine, O sacred Union!
Ship, farm, shop, barns, factories, mines,
City and State--North, South, item and aggregate,
We dedicate, dread Mother, all to thee!

Protectress absolute, thou! Bulwark of all!
For well we know that while thou givest each and all, (generous as
God,)
Without thee, neither all nor each, nor land, home, 230
Ship, nor mine--nor any here, this day, secure,
Nor aught, nor any day secure.


And thou, thy Emblem, waving over all!
Delicate beauty! a word to thee, (it may be salutary;)
Remember, thou hast not always been, as here to-day, so comfortably
ensovereign'd;
In other scenes than these have I observ'd thee, flag;
Not quite so trim and whole, and freshly blooming, in folds of
stainless silk;
But I have seen thee, bunting, to tatters torn, upon thy splinter'd
staff,
Or clutch'd to some young color-bearer's breast, with desperate
hands,
Savagely struggled for, for life or death--fought over long, 240
'Mid cannon's thunder-crash, and many a curse, and groan and yell--
and rifle-volleys cracking sharp,
And moving masses, as wild demons surging--and lives as nothing
risk'd,
For thy mere remnant, grimed with dirt and smoke, and sopp'd in
blood;
For sake of that, my beauty--and that thou might'st dally, as now,
secure up there,
Many a good man have I seen go under.


Now here, and these, and hence, in peace all thine, O Flag!
And here, and hence, for thee, O universal Muse! and thou for them!
And here and hence, O Union, all the work and workmen thine!
The poets, women, sailors, soldiers, farmers, miners, students thine!
None separate from Thee--henceforth one only, we and Thou; 250
(For the blood of the children--what is it only the blood Maternal?
And lives and works--what are they all at last except the roads to
Faith and Death?)

While we rehearse our measureless wealth, it is for thee, dear
Mother!
We own it all and several to-day indissoluble in Thee;
--Think not our chant, our show, merely for products gross, or
lucre--it is for Thee, the Soul, electric, spiritual!
Our farms, inventions, crops, we own in Thee! Cities and States in
Thee!
Our freedom all in Thee! our very lives in Thee!

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Tamerton Church-Tower, Or, First Love

I.
We left the Church at Tamerton
In gloomy western air;
To greet the day we gallop'd on,
A merry-minded pair.
The hazy East hot noon did bode;
Our horses sniff'd the dawn;
We made ten Cornish miles of road
Before the dew was gone.
We clomb the hill where Lanson's Keep
Fronts Dartmoor's distant ridge;
Thence trotted South; walk'd down the steep
That slants to Gresson Bridge;
And paused awhile, where Tamar waits,
In many a shining coil,
And teeming Devon separates
From Cornwall's sorry soil.


II.
Our English skies contain'd, that Spring,
A Caribbean sun;
The singing birds forgot to sing,
The rivulets to run.
For three noons past, the skies had frown'd,
Obscured with blighting shades
That only mock'd the thirsty ground
And unrejoicing glades.
To-day, before the noon was nigh,
Bright-skirted vapours grew,
And on the sky hung languidly;
The sky was languid too.
Our horses dropp'd their necks, and nosed
The dusty wayside grass,
Whilst we beneath still boughs reposed
And watch'd the water pass.
We spoke of plighted Bertha: Frank
Shot pebbles in the stream;
And I lay by him on the bank,
But dreamt no lover's dream.
She was a blythe and bashful maid,
Much blushing in her glee;
Yet gracing all she did and said
With sweet sufficiency.
‘Is Blanche as fair?’ ask'd I, who yearn'd
To feel my life complete;
To taste unselfish pleasures earn'd
By service strict and sweet.
‘Well, some say fairer: she'll surprise
Your heart with crimson lips;
Fat underlids, that hold bright eyes
In laughing half-eclipse;
Alluring locks, done up with taste
Behind her dainty ears;
And manners full of wayward haste,
Tho' facile as the deer's.’


III.
‘You paint a leaflet, here and there;
And not the blossom: tell
What mysteries of good and fair
These blazon'd letters spell.’


IV.
‘Her mouth and teeth, by Cupid's bow!
Are letters spelling 'kiss;'
And, witchingly withdrawn below
Twin worlds of baby-bliss,
Her waist, so soft and small, may mean,
'O, when will some one come
To make me catch my breath between
His finger and his thumb!'’


V.
My life, 'twas like a land of dreams,
Where nothing noble throve:
Dull seem'd it as to maiden seems
The verse that's not of love.
‘See where,’ sigh'd I, ‘the water dim
Repeats, with leaden hue,
The fervid sun, the cloud's hot rim,
The gap of dazzling blue!’
Quoth Frank, ‘I do, and hence foresee
And all too plainly scan
Some sentimental homily
On Duty, Death, or Man.’
‘'Tis this;’ said I, ‘our senses mar,
Ev'n so, sweet Nature's face,
Unless by love revived they are,
Or lit by heavenly grace.
Below the hazel talks the rill;
My heart speaks not again;
The solemn cloud, the stately hill,
I look on each in vain.
Sure he for whom no Power shall strike
This darkness into day—’

‘Is damn'd,’ said Frank, who morall'd like
The Fool in an old Play.
That's true!’ cried I, ‘yet, as the worm
That sickens ere it change—’
‘Or as the pup that nears the term
At which pups have the mange—
Pooh! Come, Man, let us on,’ he said,
‘For now the storm is nigh!’
And whilst we rode quaint sense we read
Within the changing sky.
Above us bent a prophet wild,
Pointing to hidden harm;
Beyond, a magic woman smiled,
And wove some wondrous charm;
Past that, a censer jetted smoke:
Black convolutions roll'd
Sunwards, and caught the light, and broke
In crowns of shining gold.


VI.
The gaps of blue shrank fast in span;
The long-forgotten breeze,
By lazy starts and fits, began
To stir the higher trees.
At noon, we came to Tavistock;
And sunshine still was there,
But gloomy Dartmoor seem'd to mock
Its weak and yellow glare.
The swallows, in the wrathful light,
Were pitching up and down;
A string of rooks made rapid flight,
Due southward, o'er the town,
Where, baiting at the Tiger-Inn,
We talk'd by windows wide,
Of Blanche and all my unseen kin,
Who did our coming bide.


VII.

The heavy sign-board swung and shriek'd,
In dark air whirl'd the vane,
Blinds flapp'd, dust rose, and, straining, creak'd
The shaken window-pane;
And, just o'erhead, a huge cloud flung,
For earnest of its stores,
A few calm drops, that struck among
The light-leaved sycamores.
Hot to be gone, Frank rose and eyed
Dark cloud and swinging branch;
But less long'd he to greet his Bride
Than I to look on Blanche.
Her name, pair'd still with praise at home,
Would make my pulses start;
The hills between us were become
A weight upon my heart.
‘Behold,’ I cried, ‘the storm comes not;
The northern heavens grow fair.’
‘Look South,’ said Frank, ‘'tis one wide blot
Of thunder-threatening air.’
The string of rooks had travell'd on,
Against the southern shroud,
And, like some snaky skeleton,
Lay twisted in the cloud.
No storm to-day!’ said I, ‘for, see,
Yon black thing travels south.’
We follow'd soon; our spirits free,
Our bodies slaked from drouth.
I rode in silence; Frank, with tongue
Made lax by too much port,
Soliloquising, said or sung
After this tipsy sort:

‘Yea, nerves they are the Devil's mesh,
And pups begin quite blind,
And health is ofttimes in the flesh,
And measles in the mind!
‘Foolish and fair was Joan without;
Foolish and foul within;
High as a hunted pig his snout,
She carried a foolish chin.
The Boy beheld, and brisk rose he
At this badly painted fly:
That boys less wise than fish will be
Makes many a man to sigh.’


VIII.
On, on we toil'd, amidst the blaze
From Dartmoor's ridges bare;
Beneath the hush'd and scorching haze,
And through the twinkling air;
Along the endless mountain-side,
That seem'd with us to move;
Past dreary mine-mouths, far and wide;
Huge dross-heap, wheel, and groove;
Dark towns by disembowell'd hills,
Where swarthy tribes abode,
Who, in hard rocks with harder wills,
Pursued the crooked lode;
Up heights, that seem'd against us match'd;
Until, from table-land,
Before the teasing midge was hatch'd,
We hail'd the southern strand.
Then pleasantly, on level ground
And through the lighter air,
We paced along and breathed around,
A merry-minded pair.
A western night of even cloud
Suck'd in the sultry disk;
Bright racks look'd on, a fiery crowd,
To seamen boding risk;
The late crow wing'd his silent way
Across the shadowy East;
The gnat danced out his little day,
His ceaseless singing ceased;
Along the dim horizon round
Fled faint electric fires;
Blue glow-worms lit the fresher ground
By moisture-harbouring briers;
Far northward twinkled lonely lights,
The peopled vales among;
In front, between the gaping heights,
The mystic ocean hung.


IX.
Our weary spirits flagg'd beneath
The still and loaded air;
We left behind the freër heath,
A moody-minded pair.
With senses slack and sick of mirth,
Tho' near the happy goal,
I murmur'd, fearing nought on earth
Could quite content the soul:
‘Suppose your love prove such a light
As yonder glow-worm's lamp,
That gleams, at distance, strong and bright,
Approach'd, burns weak and damp.
Perchance, by much of bliss aroused,
Your heart will pant for more;
And then the worm of want lies housed
Within the sweet fruit's core!
Far worse, if, led by fancy blind,
But undeceiv'd by use—’
‘I dream,’ yawn'd Frank, ‘and wake to find
My Goddess a green goose!’

‘Vain, vain,’ said I, ‘is worldly weal:
We faint, within the heart,
For good which all we see and feel
Foreshadows but in part.’
Frank answer'd, ‘What you faint for, win!
Faint not, but forward press.
Heav'n proffers all: 'twere grievous sin
To live content in less.
The Sun rolls by us every day;
And it and all things speak
To the sinking heart of man, and say,
'Tis wicked to be weak.
We would not hear the hated sound;
But, by the Lord, we must:
If not, the heavy world goes round,
And grinds us into dust.’
With each a moral in his mouth,
We rein'd our sweating nags,
Where quiet Ocean, on the South,
Kiss'd Edgecumb's ruddy crags.


II
I.
So subtly love within me wrought,
So excellent she seem'd,
Daily of Blanche was all my thought,
Nightly of Blanche I dream'd;
And this was all my wish, and all
The work now left for life,
To make this Wonder mine, to call
This laughing Blanche my Wife.


II.
I courted her till hope grew bold;
Then sought her in her place,
And all my passion freely told,
Before her blushing face.
I kiss'd her twice, I kiss'd her thrice,
Thro' tresses and thro' tears;
I kiss'd her lips, I kiss'd her eyes,
And calm'd her joys and fears.
So woo'd I Blanche, and so I sped,
And so, with small delay,
I and the patient Frank were wed
Upon the self-same day.
And friends all round kiss'd either Bride,
I Frank's, Frank mine; and he
Laugh'd as for once we thus defied
Love's sweet monopoly.
And then we drove by garth and grove;
And soon forgot the place
Where all the world had look'd shy Love
So rudely in the face.


III
I.
The noon was hot and close and still,
When, steadying Blanche's hand,
I led her down the southern hill,
And row'd with her from land.
Ere summer's prime that year the wasp
Lay gorged within the peach;
The tide, as though the sea did gasp,
Fell lax upon the beach.
Quietly dipp'd the dripping scull,
And all beside was calm;
But o'er the strange and weary lull
No angel waved his palm.
The sun was rayless, pale the sky,
The distance thick with light:
We glided past the fort and by
The war-ship's sleeping might.
Her paddle stirr'd: without a breeze,
A mimic tempest boil'd:
The sailors on the silent seas
With storm-tuned voices toil'd.
I could not toil; I seldom pray'd:
What was to do or ask?
Love's purple glory round me play'd,
Unfed by prayer or task.
All perfect my contentment was,
For Blanche was all my care;
And heaven seem'd only heaven because
My goddess would be there.
No wafted breeze the ships did strike,
No wish unwon moved me;
The peace within my soul was like
The peace upon the sea.
At times, when action sleeps, unstirr'd
By any motive gale,
A mystic wind, with warning heard,
Ruffles life's idle sail.
The fancy, then, a fear divines,
And, borne on gloomy wings,
Sees threats and formidable signs
In simply natural things.
It smote my heart, how, yesternight,
The moon rose in eclipse,
And how her maim'd and shapeless light
O'erhung the senseless ships.
The passion pass'd, as, lightning-lit,
Red cloud-scenes shew and close;
And soon came wonder at the fit,
And smiles and full repose.
Again I turn'd me, all devote,
To my sweet Idol's shrine;
Again I gazed where, on the boat,
Her shadow mix'd with mine.


II.
Cried Frank, who, with his Wife, was there,
‘We dream! sing each a song.’
And he sang first an old, brave air,
And pull'd the boat along:
‘Sir Pelles woo'd, in scorn's despite;
He cherish'd love's sweet smart;
Ettarde proved light; then, like a Knight,
He turn'd her from his heart.
‘O, the remorse with which we pay
For duties done too well!
But conscience gay does grief allay;
As all true knights can tell.’


III.
‘Alas, poor Knight!’ cried Blanche, ‘Nay, hear,’
Said Frank, ‘the saddest half!’
And drearily he troll'd, while clear
Rose Blanche's puzzled laugh.
‘Sir Lob was drunk; the stars were bright.
Within an empty ditch,
Sir Lob all night lay right and tight
As a Saint within his niche.
‘Now, well, quoth he, goes life with me;
I've liquor and to spare;
I hate the herd that vulgar be;
And, O, the stars are fair!
The mill-dam burst: Sir Lob lay sunk
In that celestial swound:
The mill-stream found the knight dead drunk,
And the Jury found him drown'd.’


IV.
The tunes are good; the words,’ said I,
‘Are hard to understand.’
And soon I prefaced with a sigh
This pagan love-song grand:
‘When Love's bright Ichor fills the veins,
Love's Amaranth lights the brow,
The Past grows dark, the Future wanes,
Before the golden Now.
‘Marc Antony the war-flags furl'd,
For Egypt's Queen said, 'Stay:
He reck'd not of the worthless world,
Well lost by that delay.
‘Quoth Antony, Here set I up
My everlasting rest:
Leave me to drain Joy's magic cup,
To dream on Egypt's breast.’


V.
Frank smiled, and said my note was wrong;
'Twas neither Man's nor Boy's;
And Blanche sang next, some modern song,
Of ‘Flowers’ and ‘Fairy Joys.’
As bright disparted skies that break
To let a cherub through,
So seem'd her mouth: my sight did ache,
Glitt'ring with fiery dew;
And, in the laugh of her brown eye,
My heart, contented so,
Lay like the honey-thirsty fly
Drows'd in the cactus' glow.
Nor heeded I what sang my Saint,
Such magic had the sound.
The myrtle in her breath made faint
The air that hearken'd round.


VI.
‘Now, Wife,’ said Frank, ‘to shame our lays,
Try you in turn your power;
And sing your little song in praise
Of Love's selectest flower.’
Her hand felt his: thus sang she then,
Submitted to his rule,
Tho' shyer than the water-hen
On Tamar's shadiest pool.
The Myrtle sates with scent the air
That flows by Grecian hills;
Its fervid leaflets glisten fair
By warm Italian rills.
The North too has its Lover's-Flower,
The glad Forget-me-not;
Too bold thro' sunshine, wind, and shower,
Too blue to be forgot.’


VII.
Pointing far East, Frank said, ‘Do you see
Yon porpoise-droves at play?’
We gazed, and saw, with failing glee,
Bright lines of spotted spray.
Once more the boded terror shook
My heart, and made me dumb.
‘To land! to land!’ cried Frank, ‘for, look,
The storm, at last, is come!’
Above us, heated fields of mist
Precipitated cloud;
For shore we pull'd; the swift keel hiss'd;
Above us grew the shroud.
The pale gull flapp'd the stagnant air;
The thunder-drop fell straight;
The first wind lifted Blanche's hair;
Looking to me she sate.
Across the boundless mirror crept,
In dark'ning blasts, the squall;
And round our terror lightly leapt
Mad wavelets, many and small.
The oars cast by, convuls'd outflew
Our perilous hope the sail.
None spoke; all watch'd the waves, that grew
Under the splashing hail.
With urgent hearts and useless hands,
We sate and saw them rise,
Coursing to shore in gloomy bands,
Below the appalling skies.
The wrathful thunder scared the deeps,
And where, upon our wake,
The sea got up in ghastly heaps,
White lines of lightning strake.
On, on, with fainting hope we fled,
Hard-hunted by the grave;
Slow seem'd it, though like wind we sped
Over the shouldering wave;
In front swift rose the crags, where still
A storm of sunshine pour'd;
At last, beneath the southern hill,
The pitiless breakers roar'd.
O, bolt foreseen before it burst!
O, chastening hard to bear!
O, cup of sweetness quite revers'd,
And turn'd to void despair!
Blanche in fear swooning, I let go
The helm; we struck the ground;
The sea fell in from stern to prow,
And Blanche, my Bride, was drown'd.
What guilt was hers? But God is great,
And all that may be known
To each of any other's fate
Is, that it helps his own.


IV
I.
In a swift vortex go the years,
Each swifter than the last,
And seasons four their set careers
Pursued, and somehow pass'd.
The spirit of Spring, this year, was quench'd
With clouds and wind and rain;
All night the gust-blown torrent drench'd
The gloomy window-pane;
Against the pane the flapping blind
Flapp'd ever, dismally;
And ever, above the rain and wind,
Sounded the dismal sea.
The billows, like some guilty crew
Devour'd by vain remorse,
Dash'd up the beach, sighing withdrew,
And mix'd, with murmurs hoarse.
The morning was a cheerless sight,
Amongst the turbid skies;
But sweet was the relief of light
Within my restless eyes;
For then I rose to prayer and toil,
Forgat the ocean's moan,
Or faced the dizzy crash and coil
That drown'd its mournfuller tone.
But never, when the tide drew back,
Trod I the weltering strand;
For horribly my single track
Pursued me in the sand.


II.
One morn I watch'd the rain subside;
And then fared singly forth,
Below the clouds, till eve to ride
From Edgecumb to the North.
Once, only once, I paused upon
The sea-transcending height,
And turn'd to gaze: far breakers shone,
Slow gleams of silent light.
Into my horse I struck the spur;
Sad was the soul in me;
Sore were my lids with tears for her
Who slept beneath the sea.
But soon I sooth'd my startled horse,
And check'd that sudden grief,
And look'd abroad on crag and gorse
And Dartmoor's cloudy reef.
Far forth the air was dark and clear,
The crags acute and large,
The clouds uneven, black, and near,
And ragged at the marge.
The spider, in his rainy mesh,
Shook not, but, as I rode,
The opposing air, sweet, sharp, and fresh,
Against my hot lids flow'd.
Peat-cutters pass'd me, carrying tools;
Hawks glimmer'd on the wing;
The ground was glad with grassy pools,
And brooklets galloping;
And sparrows chirp'd, with feathers spread,
And dipp'd and drank their fill,
Where, down its sandy channel, fled
The lessening road-side rill.


III.
I cross'd the furze-grown table-land,
And near'd the northern vales,
That lay perspicuously plann'd
In lesser hills and dales.
Then rearward, in a slow review,
Fell Dartmoor's jagged lines;
Around were dross-heaps, red and blue,
Old shafts of gutted mines,
Impetuous currents copper-stain'd,
Wheels stream-urged with a roar,
Sluice-guiding grooves, strong works that strain'd
With freight of upheaved ore.
And then, the train, with shock on shock,
Swift rush and birth-scream dire,
Grew from the bosom of the rock,
And pass'd in noise and fire.
With brazen throb, with vital stroke,
It went, far heard, far seen,
Setting a track of shining smoke
Against the pastoral green.
Then, bright drops, lodged in budding trees,
Were loos'd in sudden showers,
Touch'd by the novel western breeze,
Friend of the backward flowers.
Then rose the Church at Tavistock,
The rain still falling there;
But sunny Dartmoor seem'd to mock
The gloom with cheerful glare.
About the West the gilt vane reel'd
And pois'd; and, with sweet art,
The sudden, jangling changes peal'd
Until, around my heart,
Conceits of brighter times, of times
The brighter for past storms,
Clung thick as bees, when brazen chimes
Call down the hiveless swarms.


IV.
I rested at the Tiger Inn,
There half-way on my ride,
And mused with joy of friends and kin
Who did my coming bide.
The Vicar, in his sombre wear
That shone about the knees,
Before me stood, his aspect fair
With godly memories.
I heard again his kind ‘Good-bye:
Christ speed and keep thee still
From frantic passions, for they die
And leave a frantic will.’
My fond, old Tutor, learn'd and meek!
A soul, in strangest truth,
As wide as Asia and as weak;
Not like his daughter Ruth.
A Girl of fullest heart she was;
Her spirit's lovely flame
Nor dazzled nor surprised, because
It always burn'd the same;
And in the maiden path she trod
Fair was the wife foreshown,
A Mary in the house of God,
A Martha in her own.
Charms for the sight she had; but these
Were tranquil, grave, and chaste,
And all too beautiful to please
A rash, untutor'd taste.


V.
In love with home, I rose and eyed
The rainy North; but there
The distant hill-top, in its pride,
Adorn'd the brilliant air:
And, as I pass'd from Tavistock,
The scatter'd dwellings white,
The Church, the golden weather-cock,
Were whelm'd in happy light;
The children 'gan the sun to greet,
With song and senseless shout;
The lambs to skip, their dams to bleat;
In Tavy leapt the trout;
Across a fleeting eastern cloud,
The splendid rainbow sprang,
And larks, invisible and loud,
Within its zenith sang.


VI.
So lay the Earth that saw the skies
Grow clear and bright above,
As the repentant spirit lies
In God's forgiving love.
The lark forsook the waning day,
And all loud songs did cease;
The Robin, from a wither'd spray,
Sang like a soul at peace.
Far to the South, in sunset glow'd
The peaks of Dartmoor ridge,
And Tamar, full and tranquil, flow'd
Beneath the Gresson Bridge.
There, conscious of the numerous noise
Of rain-awaken'd rills,
And gathering deep and sober joys
From the heart-enlarging hills,
I sat, until the first white star
Appear'd, with dewy rays,
And the fair moon began to bar
With shadows all the ways.
O, well is thee, whate'er thou art,
And happy shalt thou be,
If thou hast known, within thy heart,
The peace that came to me.
O, well is thee, if aught shall win
Thy spirit to confess,
God proffers all, 'twere grievous sin
To live content in less!


VII.
I mounted, now, my patient nag;
And scaled the easy steep;
And soon beheld the quiet flag
On Lanson's solemn Keep.
And now, whenas the waking lights
Bespake the valley'd Town,
A child o'ertook me, on the heights,
In cap and russet gown.
It was an alms-taught scholar trim,
Who, on her happy way,
Sang to herself the morrow's hymn;
For this was Saturday.

‘Saint Stephen, stoned, nor grieved nor groan'd:
'Twas all for his good gain;
For Christ him blest, till he confess'd
A sweet content in pain.
Then Christ His cross is no way loss,
But even a present boon:
Of His dear blood fair shines a flood
On heaven's eternal noon.’


VIII.
My sight, once more, was dim for her
Who slept beneath the sea,
As on I sped, without the spur,
By homestead, heath, and lea.
Beside my path the moon kept pace,
In meek and brilliant power,
And lit, ere long, the eastern face
Of Tamerton Church-tower.

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Saul

I.

Said Abner, ``At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak,
``Kiss my cheek, wish me well!'' Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
And he, ``Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent,
``Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent
``Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,
``Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
``For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three days,
``Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise,
``To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife,
``And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.

II.

``Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God's child with his dew
``On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue
``Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat
``Were now raging to torture the desert!''

III.

Then I, as was meet,
Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet,
And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped;
I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped
Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone,
That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on
Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed,
And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid
But spoke, ``Here is David, thy servant!'' And no voice replied.
At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried
A something more black than the blackness---the vast, the upright
Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight
Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
Then a sunbeam, that burst thro' the tent-roof, showed Saul.

IV.

He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side;
He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs
And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
With the spring-time,---so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.

V.

Then I tuned my harp,---took off the lilies we twine round its chords
Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noon-tide---those sunbeams like swords!
And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed;
And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
Into eve and the blue far above us,---so blue and so far!

VI.

---Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate
Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
To set the quick jerboa amusing outside his sand house---
There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.


VII.

Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand
And grow one in the sense of this world's life.---And then, the last song
When the dead man is praised on his journey---``Bear, bear him along
``With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
``To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
``Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!''---And then, the glad chaunt
Of the marriage,---first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.---And then, the great march
Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?---Then, the chorus intoned
As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.

VIII.

And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart;
And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan dart
From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start,
All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked,
As I sang,---

IX.

``Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste,
``Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
``Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,
``The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock
``Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear,
``And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair.
``And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine,
``And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine,
``And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
``That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
``How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ
``All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy!
``Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard
``When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward?
``Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung
``The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue
``Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest,
`` `I have lived, seen God's hand thro'a lifetime, and all was for best'?
``Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest.
``And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew
``Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true:
``And the friends of thy boyhood---that boyhood of wonder and hope,
``Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope,---
``Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine;
``And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine!
``On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe
``That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go)
``High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,---all
``Brought to blaze on the head of one creature---King Saul!''

X.

And lo, with that leap of my spirit,---heart, hand, harp and voice,
Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
Saul's fame in the light it was made for---as when, dare I say,
The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
And up soareth the cherubim-chariot---``Saul!'' cried I, and stopped,
And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped
By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone,
While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,---leaves grasp of the sheet?
Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old,
With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold---
Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest---all hail, there they are!
---Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled
All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled
At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware.
What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, 'twixt hope and despair;
Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand
Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
To their place what new objects should enter: 'twas Saul as before.
I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore,
At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean---a sun's slow decline
Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine
Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm
O'er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.

XI.

What spell or what charm,
(For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge
To sustain him where song had restored him?---Song filled to the verge
His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields,
Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
He saith, ``It is good;'' still he drinks not: he lets me praise life,
Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.

XII.

Then fancies grew rife
Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep
Fed in silence---above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep;
And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie
'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky:
And I laughed---``Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
``Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
``Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
``Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
``Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
``And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.'' And now these old trains
Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus---

XIII.

``Yea, my King,''
I began---``thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring
``From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute:
``In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
``Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,---how its stem trembled first
``Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler then safely outburst
``The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
``Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn,
``E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight,
``When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight
``Of the palm's self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch
``Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch
``Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine.
``Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
``By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
``More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
``Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done
``Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun
``Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface,
``Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace
``The results of his past summer-prime'---so, each ray of thy will,
``Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill
``Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth
``A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North
``With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past!
``But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last:
``As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height
``So with man---so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
``No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o'er the years!
``Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's!
``Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb---bid arise
``A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,
``Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?
``Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go
``In great characters cut by the scribe,---Such was Saul, so he did;
``With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,---
``For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,
``In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
``(See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record
``With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,---the statesman's great word
``Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's a-wave
``With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave:
``So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
``In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!''

XIV.

And behold while I sang ... but O Thou who didst grant me that day,
And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
Carry on and complete an adventure,---my shield and my sword
In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,---
Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour
And scaling the highest, man's thought could, gazed hopeless as ever
On the new stretch of heaven above me---till, mighty to save,
Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance---God's throne from man's grave!
Let me tell out my tale to its ending---my voice to my heart
Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine.

XV.

I say then,---my song
While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong
Made a proffer of good to console him---he slowly resumed
His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed
His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes
Of his turban, and see---the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
He is Saul, ye remember in glory,---ere error had bent
The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile
Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
And sat out my singing,---one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
His bent head, and the other hung slack---till I touched on the praise
I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there;
And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was 'ware
That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair
The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power---
All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine---
And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
I yearned---``Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
``I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this;
``I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
``As this moment,---had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!''

XVI.

Then the truth came upon me. No harp more---no song more! outbroke---

XVII.

``I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
``I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain
``And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work---returned him again
``His creation's approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
``I report, as a man may of God's work---all's love, yet all's law.
``Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
``To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
``Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
``Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
``Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
``I but open my eyes,---and perfection, no more and no less,
``In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
``In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
``And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
``(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
``The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's all-complete,
``As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
``Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known,
``I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
``There's a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,
``I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
``Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
``E'en the Giver in one gift.---Behold, I could love if I durst!
``But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake
``God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake.
``---What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
``Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
``In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
``Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift,
``That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
``Here, the creature surpass the Creator,---the end, what Began?
``Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
``And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
``Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
``To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
``Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
``Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
``And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
``These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
``Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
``This perfection,---succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of night?
``Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,
``Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,---and bid him awake
``From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
``Clear and safe in new light and new life,---a new harmony yet
``To be run, and continued, and ended---who knows?---or endure!
``The man taught enough, by life's dream, of the rest to make sure;
``By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
``And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this.

XVIII.

``I believe it! 'Tis thou, God, that givest, 'tis I who receive:
``In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
``All's one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
``As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
``From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
``_I_ will?---the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth
``To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
``Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair?
``This;---'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
``See the King---I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
``Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,
``To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would---knowing which,
``I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
``Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou---so wilt thou!
``So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown---
``And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
``One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
``Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
``As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
``Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
``He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
``'Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
``In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
``A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
``Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
``Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!''

XIX.

I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware:
I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
As a runner beset by the populace famished for news---
Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not,
For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed
All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth---
Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth;
In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills;
In the shuddering forests' held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills;
In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill
That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe:
E'en the serpent that slid away silent,---he felt the new law.
The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers:
And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
With their obstinate, all but hushed voices---``E'en so, it is so!''

* 1 The jumping hare.
* 2 One of the three cities of Refuge.
* 3 A brook in Jerusalem.

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The Triumph of Life

Swift as a spirit hastening to his task
Of glory & of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, & the mask
Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth.
The smokeless altars of the mountain snows
Flamed above crimson clouds, & at the birth
Of light, the Ocean's orison arose
To which the birds tempered their matin lay,
All flowers in field or forest which unclose
Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day,
Swinging their censers in the element,
With orient incense lit by the new ray
Burned slow & inconsumably, & sent
Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air,
And in succession due, did Continent,
Isle, Ocean, & all things that in them wear
The form & character of mortal mould
Rise as the Sun their father rose, to bear
Their portion of the toil which he of old
Took as his own & then imposed on them;
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold
Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep,
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem
Which an old chestnut flung athwart the steep
Of a green Apennine: before me fled
The night; behind me rose the day; the Deep
Was at my feet, & Heaven above my head
When a strange trance over my fancy grew
Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread
Was so transparent that the scene came through
As clear as when a veil of light is drawn
O'er evening hills they glimmer; and I knew
That I had felt the freshness of that dawn,
Bathed in the same cold dew my brow & hair
And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn
Under the self same bough, & heard as there
The birds, the fountains & the Ocean hold
Sweet talk in music through the enamoured air.
And then a Vision on my brain was rolled.

As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay
This was the tenour of my waking dream.
Methought I sate beside a public way
Thick strewn with summer dust, & a great stream
Of people there was hurrying to & fro
Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam,
All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know
Whither he went, or whence he came, or why
He made one of the multitude, yet so
Was borne amid the crowd as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier.--
Old age & youth, manhood & infancy,
Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear,
Some flying from the thing they feared & some
Seeking the object of another's fear,
And others as with steps towards the tomb
Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath,
And others mournfully within the gloom
Of their own shadow walked, and called it death ...
And some fled from it as it were a ghost,
Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath.
But more with motions which each other crost
Pursued or shunned the shadows the clouds threw
Or birds within the noonday ether lost,
Upon that path where flowers never grew;
And weary with vain toil & faint for thirst
Heard not the fountains whose melodious dew
Out of their mossy cells forever burst
Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told
Of grassy paths, & wood lawns interspersed
With overarching elms & caverns cold,
And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they
Pursued their serious folly as of old ....
And as I gazed methought that in the way
The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June
When the South wind shakes the extinguished day.--
And a cold glare, intenser than the noon
But icy cold, obscured with [[blank]] light
The Sun as he the stars. Like the young moon
When on the sunlit limits of the night
Her white shell trembles amid crimson air
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might
Doth, as a herald of its coming, bear
The ghost of her dead Mother, whose dim form
Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,
So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within as one whom years deform
Beneath a dusky hood & double cape
Crouching within the shadow of a tomb,
And o'er what seemed the head, a cloud like crape,
Was bent a dun & faint etherial gloom
Tempering the light; upon the chariot's beam
A Janus-visaged Shadow did assume
The guidance of that wonder-winged team.
The Shapes which drew it in thick lightnings
Were lost: I heard alone on the air's soft stream
The music of their ever moving wings.
All the four faces of that charioteer
Had their eyes banded . . . little profit brings
Speed in the van & blindness in the rear,
Nor then avail the beams that quench the Sun
Or that his banded eyes could pierce the sphere
Of all that is, has been, or will be done.--
So ill was the car guided, but it past
With solemn speed majestically on . . .
The crowd gave way, & I arose aghast,
Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw like clouds upon the thunder blast
The million with fierce song and maniac dance
Raging around; such seemed the jubilee
As when to greet some conqueror's advance
Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea
From senatehouse & prison & theatre
When Freedom left those who upon the free
Had bound a yoke which soon they stooped to bear.
Nor wanted here the true similitude
Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er
The chariot rolled a captive multitude
Was driven; althose who had grown old in power
Or misery,--all who have their age subdued,
By action or by suffering, and whose hour
Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe,
So that the trunk survived both fruit & flower;
All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form & name
Of their own earth with them forever low,
All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the Conqueror, but as soon
As they had touched the world with living flame
Fled back like eagles to their native noon,
Of those who put aside the diadem
Of earthly thrones or gems, till the last one
Were there;--for they of Athens & Jerusalem
Were neither mid the mighty captives seen
Nor mid the ribald crowd that followed them
Or fled before . . Now swift, fierce & obscene
The wild dance maddens in the van, & those
Who lead it, fleet as shadows on the green,
Outspeed the chariot & without repose
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music .... Wilder as it grows,
They, tortured by the agonizing pleasure,
Convulsed & on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure
Was soothed by mischief since the world begun,
Throw back their heads & loose their streaming hair,
And in their dance round her who dims the Sun
Maidens & youths fling their wild arms in air
As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now
Bending within each other's atmosphere
Kindle invisibly; and as they glow
Like moths by light attracted & repelled,
Oft to new bright destruction come & go.
Till like two clouds into one vale impelled
That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle
And die in rain,--the fiery band which held
Their natures, snaps . . . ere the shock cease to tingle
One falls and then another in the path
Senseless, nor is the desolation single,
Yet ere I can say where the chariot hath
Past over them; nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the Ocean's wrath
Is spent upon the desert shore.--Behind,
Old men, and women foully disarrayed
Shake their grey hair in the insulting wind,
Limp in the dance & strain, with limbs decayed,
Seeking to reach the light which leaves them still
Farther behind & deeper in the shade.
But not the less with impotence of will
They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose
Round them & round each other, and fulfill
Their work and to the dust whence they arose
Sink & corruption veils them as they lie
And frost in these performs what fire in those.
Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,
Half to myself I said, "And what is this?
Whose shape is that within the car? & why"-
I would have added--"is all here amiss?"
But a voice answered . . "Life" . . . I turned & knew
(O Heaven have mercy on such wretchedness!)
That what I thought was an old root which grew
To strange distortion out of the hill side
Was indeed one of that deluded crew,
And that the grass which methought hung so wide
And white, was but his thin discoloured hair,
And that the holes it vainly sought to hide
Were or had been eyes.--"lf thou canst forbear
To join the dance, which I had well forborne,"
Said the grim Feature, of my thought aware,
"I will now tell that which to this deep scorn
Led me & my companions, and relate
The progress of the pageant since the morn;
"If thirst of knowledge doth not thus abate,
Follow it even to the night, but I
Am weary" . . . Then like one who with the weight
Of his own words is staggered, wearily
He paused, and ere he could resume, I cried,
"First who art thou?" . . . "Before thy memory
"I feared, loved, hated, suffered, did, & died,
And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit
Earth had with purer nutriment supplied
"Corruption would not now thus much inherit
Of what was once Rousseau--nor this disguise
Stained that within which still disdains to wear it.--
"If I have been extinguished, yet there rise
A thousand beacons from the spark I bore."--
"And who are those chained to the car?" "The Wise,
"The great, the unforgotten: they who wore
Mitres & helms & crowns, or wreathes of light,
Signs of thought's empire over thought; their lore
"Taught them not this--to know themselves; their might
Could not repress the mutiny within,
And for the morn of truth they feigned, deep night
"Caught them ere evening." "Who is he with chin
Upon his breast and hands crost on his chain?"
"The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win
"The world, and lost all it did contain
Of greatness, in its hope destroyed; & more
Of fame & peace than Virtue's self can gain
"Without the opportunity which bore
Him on its eagle's pinion to the peak
From which a thousand climbers have before
"Fall'n as Napoleon fell."--I felt my cheek
Alter to see the great form pass away
Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak
That every pigmy kicked it as it lay--
And much I grieved to think how power & will
In opposition rule our mortal day--
And why God made irreconcilable
Good & the means of good; and for despair
I half disdained mine eye's desire to fill
With the spent vision of the times that were
And scarce have ceased to be . . . "Dost thou behold,"
Said then my guide, "those spoilers spoiled, Voltaire,
"Frederic, & Kant, Catherine, & Leopold,
Chained hoary anarch, demagogue & sage
Whose name the fresh world thinks already old--
"For in the battle Life & they did wage
She remained conqueror--I was overcome
By my own heart alone, which neither age
"Nor tears nor infamy nor now the tomb
Could temper to its object."--"Let them pass"--
I cried--"the world & its mysterious doom
"Is not so much more glorious than it was
That I desire to worship those who drew
New figures on its false & fragile glass
"As the old faded."--"Figures ever new
Rise on the bubble, paint them how you may;
We have but thrown, as those before us threw,
"Our shadows on it as it past away.
But mark, how chained to the triumphal chair
The mighty phantoms of an elder day--
"All that is mortal of great Plato there
Expiates the joy & woe his master knew not;
That star that ruled his doom was far too fair--
"And Life, where long that flower of Heaven grew not,
Conquered the heart by love which gold or pain
Or age or sloth or slavery could subdue not--
"And near [[blank]] walk the [[blank]] twain,
The tutor & his pupil, whom Dominion
Followed as tame as vulture in a chain.--
"The world was darkened beneath either pinion
Of him whom from the flock of conquerors
Fame singled as her thunderbearing minion;
"The other long outlived both woes & wars,
Throned in new thoughts of men, and still had kept
The jealous keys of truth's eternal doors
"If Bacon's spirit [[blank]] had not leapt
Like lightning out of darkness; he compelled
The Proteus shape of Nature's as it slept
"To wake & to unbar the caves that held
The treasure of the secrets of its reign--
See the great bards of old who inly quelled
"The passions which they sung, as by their strain
May well be known: their living melody
Tempers its own contagion to the vein
"Of those who are infected with it--I
Have suffered what I wrote, or viler pain!--
"And so my words were seeds of misery--
Even as the deeds of others."--"Not as theirs,"
I said--he pointed to a company
In which I recognized amid the heirs
Of Caesar's crime from him to Constantine,
The Anarchs old whose force & murderous snares
Had founded many a sceptre bearing line
And spread the plague of blood & gold abroad,
And Gregory & John and men divine
Who rose like shadows between Man & god
Till that eclipse, still hanging under Heaven,
Was worshipped by the world o'er which they strode
For the true Sun it quenched.--"Their power was given
But to destroy," replied the leader--"I
Am one of those who have created, even
"If it be but a world of agony."--
"Whence camest thou & whither goest thou?
How did thy course begin," I said, "& why?
"Mine eyes are sick of this perpetual flow
Of people, & my heart of one sad thought.--
Speak."--"Whence I came, partly I seem to know,
"And how & by what paths I have been brought
To this dread pass, methinks even thou mayst guess;
Why this should be my mind can compass not;
"Whither the conqueror hurries me still less.
But follow thou, & from spectator turn
Actor or victim in this wretchedness,
"And what thou wouldst be taught I then may learn
From thee.--Now listen . . . In the April prime
When all the forest tops began to burn
"With kindling green, touched by the azure clime
Of the young year, I found myself asleep
Under a mountain which from unknown time
"Had yawned into a cavern high & deep,
And from it came a gentle rivulet
Whose water like clear air in its calm sweep
"Bent the soft grass & kept for ever wet
The stems of the sweet flowers, and filled the grove
With sound which all who hear must needs forget
"All pleasure & all pain, all hate & love,
Which they had known before that hour of rest:
A sleeping mother then would dream not of
"The only child who died upon her breast
At eventide, a king would mourn no more
The crown of which his brow was dispossest
"When the sun lingered o'er the Ocean floor
To gild his rival's new prosperity.--
Thou wouldst forget thus vainly to deplore
"Ills, which if ills, can find no cure from thee,
The thought of which no other sleep will quell
Nor other music blot from memory--
"So sweet & deep is the oblivious spell.--
Whether my life had been before that sleep
The Heaven which I imagine, or a Hell
"Like this harsh world in which I wake to weep,
I know not. I arose & for a space
The scene of woods & waters seemed to keep,
"Though it was now broad day, a gentle trace
Of light diviner than the common Sun
Sheds on the common Earth, but all the place
"Was filled with many sounds woven into one
Oblivious melody, confusing sense
Amid the gliding waves & shadows dun;
"And as I looked the bright omnipresence
Of morning through the orient cavern flowed,
And the Sun's image radiantly intense
"Burned on the waters of the well that glowed
Like gold, and threaded all the forest maze
With winding paths of emerald fire--there stood
"Amid the sun, as he amid the blaze
Of his own glory, on the vibrating
Floor of the fountain, paved with flashing rays,
"A shape all light, which with one hand did fling
Dew on the earth, as if she were the Dawn
Whose invisible rain forever seemed to sing
"A silver music on the mossy lawn,
And still before her on the dusky grass
Iris her many coloured scarf had drawn.--
"In her right hand she bore a crystal glass
Mantling with bright Nepenthe;--the fierce splendour
Fell from her as she moved under the mass
"Of the deep cavern, & with palms so tender
Their tread broke not the mirror of its billow,
Glided along the river, and did bend her
"Head under the dark boughs, till like a willow
Her fair hair swept the bosom of the stream
That whispered with delight to be their pillow.--
"As one enamoured is upborne in dream
O'er lily-paven lakes mid silver mist
To wondrous music, so this shape might seem
"Partly to tread the waves with feet which kist
The dancing foam, partly to glide along
The airs that roughened the moist amethyst,
"Or the slant morning beams that fell among
The trees, or the soft shadows of the trees;
And her feet ever to the ceaseless song
"Of leaves & winds & waves & birds & bees
And falling drops moved in a measure new
Yet sweet, as on the summer evening breeze
"Up from the lake a shape of golden dew
Between two rocks, athwart the rising moon,
Moves up the east, where eagle never flew.--
"And still her feet, no less than the sweet tune
To which they moved, seemed as they moved, to blot
The thoughts of him who gazed on them, & soon
"All that was seemed as if it had been not,
As if the gazer's mind was strewn beneath
Her feet like embers, & she, thought by thought,
"Trampled its fires into the dust of death,
As Day upon the threshold of the east
Treads out the lamps of night, until the breath
"Of darkness reillumines even the least
Of heaven's living eyes--like day she came,
Making the night a dream; and ere she ceased
"To move, as one between desire and shame
Suspended, I said--'If, as it doth seem,
Thou comest from the realm without a name,
" 'Into this valley of perpetual dream,
Shew whence I came, and where I am, and why--
Pass not away upon the passing stream.'
" 'Arise and quench thy thirst,' was her reply,
And as a shut lily, stricken by the wand
Of dewy morning's vital alchemy,
"I rose; and, bending at her sweet command,
Touched with faint lips the cup she raised,
And suddenly my brain became as sand
"Where the first wave had more than half erased
The track of deer on desert Labrador,
Whilst the fierce wolf from which they fled amazed
"Leaves his stamp visibly upon the shore
Until the second bursts--so on my sight
Burst a new Vision never seen before.--
"And the fair shape waned in the coming light
As veil by veil the silent splendour drops
From Lucifer, amid the chrysolite
"Of sunrise ere it strike the mountain tops--
And as the presence of that fairest planet
Although unseen is felt by one who hopes
"That his day's path may end as he began it
In that star's smile, whose light is like the scent
Of a jonquil when evening breezes fan it,
"Or the soft note in which his dear lament
The Brescian shepherd breathes, or the caress
That turned his weary slumber to content.--
"So knew I in that light's severe excess
The presence of that shape which on the stream
Moved, as I moved along the wilderness,
"More dimly than a day appearing dream,
The ghost of a forgotten form of sleep
A light from Heaven whose half extinguished beam
"Through the sick day in which we wake to weep
Glimmers, forever sought, forever lost.--
So did that shape its obscure tenour keep
"Beside my path, as silent as a ghost;
But the new Vision, and its cold bright car,
With savage music, stunning music, crost
"The forest, and as if from some dread war
Triumphantly returning, the loud million
Fiercely extolled the fortune of her star.--
"A moving arch of victory the vermilion
And green & azure plumes of Iris had
Built high over her wind-winged pavilion,
"And underneath aetherial glory clad
The wilderness, and far before her flew
The tempest of the splendour which forbade
Shadow to fall from leaf or stone;--the crew
Seemed in that light like atomies that dance
Within a sunbeam.--Some upon the new
"Embroidery of flowers that did enhance
The grassy vesture of the desart, played,
Forgetful of the chariot's swift advance;
"Others stood gazing till within the shade
Of the great mountain its light left them dim.--
Others outspeeded it, and others made
"Circles around it like the clouds that swim
Round the high moon in a bright sea of air,
And more did follow, with exulting hymn,
"The chariot & the captives fettered there,
But all like bubbles on an eddying flood
Fell into the same track at last & were
"Borne onward.--I among the multitude
Was swept; me sweetest flowers delayed not long,
Me not the shadow nor the solitude,
"Me not the falling stream's Lethean song,
Me, not the phantom of that early form
Which moved upon its motion,--but among
"The thickest billows of the living storm
I plunged, and bared my bosom to the clime
Of that cold light, whose airs too soon deform.--
"Before the chariot had begun to climb
The opposing steep of that mysterious dell,
Behold a wonder worthy of the rhyme
"Of him whom from the lowest depths of Hell
Through every Paradise & through all glory
Love led serene, & who returned to tell
"In words of hate & awe the wondrous story
How all things are transfigured, except Love;
For deaf as is a sea which wrath makes hoary
"The world can hear not the sweet notes that move
The sphere whose light is melody to lovers---
A wonder worthy of his rhyme--the grove
"Grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers,
The earth was grey with phantoms, & the air
Was peopled with dim forms, as when there hovers
"A flock of vampire-bats before the glare
Of the tropic sun, bring ere evening
Strange night upon some Indian isle,--thus were
"Phantoms diffused around, & some did fling
Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves,
Behind them, some like eaglets on the wing
"Were lost in the white blaze, others like elves
Danced in a thousand unimagined shapes
Upon the sunny streams & grassy shelves;
"And others sate chattering like restless apes
On vulgar paws and voluble like fire.
Some made a cradle of the ermined capes
"Of kingly mantles, some upon the tiar
Of pontiffs sate like vultures, others played
Within the crown which girt with empire
"A baby's or an idiot's brow, & made
Their nests in it; the old anatomies
Sate hatching their bare brood under the shade
"Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes
To reassume the delegated power
Arrayed in which these worms did monarchize
"Who make this earth their charnel.--Others more
Humble, like falcons sate upon the fist
Of common men, and round their heads did soar,
"Or like small gnats & flies, as thick as mist
On evening marshes, thronged about the brow
Of lawyer, statesman, priest & theorist,
"And others like discoloured flakes of snow
On fairest bosoms & the sunniest hair
Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow
"Which they extinguished; for like tears, they were
A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained
In drops of sorrow.--I became aware
"Of whence those forms proceeded which thus stained
The track in which we moved; after brief space
From every form the beauty slowly waned,
"From every firmest limb & fairest face
The strength & freshness fell like dust, & left
The action & the shape without the grace
"Of life; the marble brow of youth was cleft
With care, and in the eyes where once hope shone
Desire like a lioness bereft
"Of its last cub, glared ere it died; each one
Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly
These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown
"In Autumn evening from a popular tree--
Each, like himself & like each other were,
At first, but soon distorted, seemed to be
"Obscure clouds moulded by the casual air;
And of this stuff the car's creative ray
Wrought all the busy phantoms that were there
"As the sun shapes the clouds--thus, on the way
Mask after mask fell from the countenance
And form of all, and long before the day
"Was old, the joy which waked like Heaven's glance
The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died,
And some grew weary of the ghastly dance
"And fell, as I have fallen by the way side,
Those soonest from whose forms most shadows past
And least of strength & beauty did abide."--
"Then, what is Life?" I said . . . the cripple cast
His eye upon the car which now had rolled
Onward, as if that look must be the last,
And answered .... "Happy those for whom the fold
Of ...

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Guilt and Sorrow

I

A traveller on the skirt of Sarum's Plain
Pursued his vagrant way, with feet half bare;
Stooping his gait, but not as if to gain
Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air
Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn with care
Both of the time to come, and time long fled:
Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair;
A coat he wore of military red
But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch and shred.

II

While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
That welcome in such house for him was none.
No board inscribed the needy to allure
Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor
And desolate, "Here you will find a friend!"
The pendent grapes glittered above the door;--
On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend,
Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines extend.

III

The gathering clouds grow red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
That inn he long had passed; the distant spire,
Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye,
Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank sky.
Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around,
And scarce could any trace of man descry,
Save cornfields stretched and stretching without bound;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.

IV

No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green,
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be near;
And so he sent a feeble shout--in vain;
No voice made answer, he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain,
Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurrowed plain.

V

Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn
And rest; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne.
Thus warned he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head,
But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn,
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread;
The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his only bed.

VI

And be it so--for to the chill night shower
And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared;
A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour
Hath told; for, landing after labour hard,
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
He to an armed fleet was forced away
By seamen, who perhaps themselves had shared
Like fate; was hurried off, a helpless prey,
'Gainst all that in 'his' heart, or theirs perhaps, said nay.

VII

For years the work of carnage did not cease,
And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed,
Death's minister; then came his glad release,
And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made
Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw
Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could know.

VIII

Vain hope! for frand took all that he had earned.
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood
Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned,
Bears not to those he loves their needful food.
His home approaching, but in such a mood
That from his sight his children might have run.
He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood;
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to shun.

IX

From that day forth no place to him could be
So lonely, but that thence might come a pang
Brought from without to inward misery.
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang
A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
A human body that in irons swang,
Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.

X

It was a spectacle which none might view,
In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain;
Nor only did for him at once renew
All he had feared from man, but roused a train
Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
The stones, as if to cover him from day,
Rolled at his back along the living plain;
He fell, and without sense or motion lay;
But, when the trance was gone, feebly pursued his way.

XI

As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires
Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed
Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost,
Left his mind still as a deep evening stream.
Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed,
Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem
To traveller who might talk of any casual theme.

XII

Hurtle the clouds in deeper darkness piled,
Gone is the raven timely rest to seek;
He seemed the only creature in the wild
On whom the elements their rage might wreak;
Save that the bustard, of those regions bleak
Shy tenant, seeing by the uncertain light
A man there wandering, gave a mournful shriek,
And half upon the ground, with strange affright,
Forced hard against the wind a thick unwieldy flight.

XIII

All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye--which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms--at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every side.

XIV

Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would gain.

XV

Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through storm
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam,
Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led;
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.

XVI

No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome;
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms beneath night's starless gloom;
No gipsy cowered o'er fire of furze or broom;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room;
Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.

XVII

At length, though hid in clouds, the moon arose;
The downs were visible--and now revealed
A structure stands, which two bare slopes enclose.
It was a spot, where, ancient vows fulfilled,
Kind pious hands did to the Virgin build
A lonely Spital, the belated swain
From the night terrors of that waste to shield:
But there no human being could remain,
And now the walls are named the "Dead House" of the plain.

XVIII

Though he had little cause to love the abode
Of man, or covet sight of mortal face,
Yet when faint beams of light that ruin showed,
How glad he was at length to find some trace
Of human shelter in that dreary place.
Till to his flock the early shepherd goes,
Here shall much-needed sleep his frame embrace.
In a dry nook where fern the floor bestrows
He lays his stiffened limbs,--his eyes begin to close;

XIX

When hearing a deep sigh, that seemed to come
From one who mourned in sleep, he raised his head,
And saw a woman in the naked room
Outstretched, and turning on a restless bed:
The moon a wan dead light around her shed.
He waked her--spake in tone that would not fail,
He hoped, to calm her mind; but ill he sped,
For of that ruin she had heard a tale
Which now with freezing thoughts did all her powers assail;

XX

Had heard of one who, forced from storms to shroud,
Felt the loose walls of this decayed Retreat
Rock to incessant neighings shrill and loud,
While his horse pawed the floor with furious heat;
Till on a stone, that sparkled to his feet,
Struck, and still struck again, the troubled horse:
The man half raised the stone with pain and sweat,
Half raised, for well his arm might lose its force
Disclosing the grim head of a late murdered corse.

XXI

Such tale of this lone mansion she had learned
And, when that shape, with eyes in sleep half drowned,
By the moon's sullen lamp she first discerned,
Cold stony horror all her senses bound.
Her he addressed in words of cheering sound;
Recovering heart, like answer did she make;
And well it was that, of the corse there found,
In converse that ensued she nothing spake;
She knew not what dire pangs in him such tale could wake.

XXII

But soon his voice and words of kind intent
Banished that dismal thought; and now the wind
In fainter howlings told its 'rage' was spent:
Meanwhile discourse ensued of various kind,
Which by degrees a confidence of mind
And mutual interest failed not to create.
And, to a natural sympathy resigned,
In that forsaken building where they sate
The Woman thus retraced her own untoward fate.

XXIII

"By Derwent's side my father dwelt--a man
Of virtuous life, by pious parents bred;
And I believe that, soon as I began
To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
And in his hearing there my prayers I said:
And afterwards, by my good father taught,
I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought,
And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.

XXIV

"A little croft we owned--a plot of corn,
A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme,
And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn
Plucked while the church bells rang their earliest chime.
Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime;
The swans that with white chests upreared in pride
Rushing and racing came to meet me at the water-side.

XXV

"The staff I well remember which upbore
The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honied sycamore
Where the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire;
When market-morning came, the neat attire
With which, though bent on haste, myself I decked;
Our watchful house-dog, that would tease and tire
The stranger till its barking-fit I checked;
The red-breast, known for years, which at my casement pecked.

XXVI

"The suns of twenty summers danced along,--
Too little marked how fast they rolled away:
But, through severe mischance and cruel wrong,
My father's substance fell into decay:
We toiled and struggled, hoping for a day
When Fortune might put on a kinder look;
But vain were wishes, efforts vain as they;
He from his old hereditary nook
Must part; the summons came;--our final leave we took.

XXVII

"It was indeed a miserable hour
When, from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed,
Peering above the trees, the steeple tower
That on his marriage day sweet music made!
Tilt then, he hoped his bones might there be laid
Close by my mother in their native bowers:
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed;--
I could not pray:--through tears that fell in showers
Glimmered our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!

XXVIII

"There was a Youth whom I had loved so long,
That when I loved him not I cannot say:
'Mid the green mountains many a thoughtless song
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May;
When we began to tire of childish play,
We seemed still more and more to prize each other;
We talked of marriage and our marriage day;
And I in truth did love him like a brother,
For never could I hope to meet with such another.

XXIX

"Two years were passed since to a distant town
He had repaired to ply a gainful trade:
What tears of bitter grief, till then unknown!
What tender vows, our last sad kiss delayed!
To him we turned:--we had no other aid:
Like one revived, upon his neck I wept;
And her whom he had loved in joy, he said,
He well could love in grief; his faith he kept;
And in a quiet home once more my father slept.

XXX

"We lived in peace and comfort; and were blest
With daily bread, by constant toil supplied.
Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast;
And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed,
And knew not why. My happy father died,
When threatened war reduced the children's meal:
Thrice happy! that for him the grave could hide
The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel,
And tears that flowed for ills which patience might not heal.

XXXI

"'Twas a hard change; an evil time was come;
We had no hope, and no relief could gain:
But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum
Beat round to clear the streets of want and pain.
My husband's arms now only served to strain
Me and his children hungering in his view;
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain:
To join those miserable men he flew,
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, we drew.

XXXII

"There were we long neglected, and we bore
Much sorrow ere the fleet its anchor weighed;
Green fields before us, and our native shore,
We breathed a pestilential air, that made
Ravage for which no knell was heard. We prayed
For our departure; wished and wished--nor knew,
'Mid that long sickness and those hopes delayed,
That happier days we never more must view.
The parting signal streamed--at last the land withdrew.

XXXIII

"But the calm summer season now was past.
On as we drove, the equinoctial deep
Ran mountains high before the howling blast,
And many perished in the whirlwind's sweep.
We gazed with terror on their gloomy sleep,
Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue,
Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap,
That we the mercy of the waves should rue:
We reached the western world, a poor devoted crew.

XXXIV

"The pains and plagues that on our heads came down,
Disease and famine, agony and fear,
In wood or wilderness, in camp or town,
It would unman the firmest heart to hear.
All perished--all in one remorseless year,
Husband and children! one by one, by sword
And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear
Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board
A British ship I waked, as from a trance restored."

XXXV

Here paused she of all present thought forlorn,
Nor voice nor sound, that moment's pain expressed,
Yet Nature, with excess of grief o'erborne,
From her full eyes their watery load released.
He too was mute; and, ere her weeping ceased,
He rose, and to the ruin's portal went,
And saw the dawn opening the silvery east
With rays of promise, north and southward sent;
And soon with crimson fire kindled the firmament.

XXXVI

"O come," he cried, "come, after weary night
Of such rough storm, this happy change to view."
So forth she came, and eastward looked; the sight
Over her brow like dawn of gladness threw;
Upon her cheek, to which its youthful hue
Seemed to return, dried the last lingering tear,
And from her grateful heart a fresh one drew:
The whilst her comrade to her pensive cheer
Tempered fit words of hope; and the lark warbled near.

XXXVII

They looked and saw a lengthening road, and wain
That rang down a bare slope not far remote:
The barrows glistered bright with drops of rain,
Whistled the waggoner with merry note,
The cock far off sounded his clarion throat;
But town, or farm, or hamlet, none they viewed,
Only were told there stood a lonely cot
A long mile thence. While thither they pursued
Their way, the Woman thus her mournful tale renewed.

XXXVIII

"Peaceful as this immeasurable plain
Is now, by beams of dawning light imprest,
In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main;
The very ocean hath its hour of rest.
I too forgot the heavings of my breast.
How quiet 'round me ship and ocean were!
As quiet all within me. I was blest,
And looked, and fed upon the silent air
Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair.

XXXIX

"Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke;
The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,
The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke,
The shriek that from the distant battle broke,
The mine's dire earthquake, and the pallid host
Driven by the bomb's incessant thunderstroke
To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish tossed,
Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost!

XL

"Some mighty gulf of separation past,
I seemed transported to another world;
A thought resigned with pain, when from the mast
The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,
And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled
The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home
And from all hope I was for ever hurled.
For me--farthest from earthly port to roam
Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.

XLI

"And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)
That I, at last, a resting-place had found;
'Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long,
Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned,
And end my days upon the peaceful flood.'--
To break my dream the vessel reached its bound;
And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.

XLII

"No help I sought; in sorrow turned adrift,
Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock;
Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift,
Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.
I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock
From the cross-timber of an out-house hung:
Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock!
At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,
Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my tongue.

XLIII

"So passed a second day; and, when the third
Was come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.
--In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,
Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort;
There, pains which nature could no more support,
With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall;
And, after many interruptions short
Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl:
Unsought for was the help that did my life recall.

XLIV

"Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory;
I heard my neighbours in their beds complain
Of many things which never troubled me--
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee,
Of looks where common kindness had no part,
Of service done with cold formality,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart,
And groans which, as they said, might make a dead man start.

XLV

"These things just served to stir the slumbering sense,
Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
With strength did memory return; and, thence
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed.
The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed,
The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired,
And gave me food--and rest, more welcome, more desired.

XLVI

"Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly
With panniered asses driven from door to door;
But life of happier sort set forth to me,
And other joys my fancy to allure--
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor
In barn uplighted; and companions boon,
Well met from far with revelry secure
Among the forest glades, while jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon.

XLVII

"But ill they suited me--those journeys dark
O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch!
To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch.
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match,
The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill:
Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding still.

XLVIII

"What could I do, unaided and unblest?
My father! gone was every friend of thine:
And kindred of dead husband are at best
Small help; and, after marriage such as mine,
With little kindness would to me incline.
Nor was I then for toil or service fit;
My deep-drawn sighs no effort could confine;
In open air forgetful would I sit
Whole hours, with idle arms in moping sorrow knit.

XLIX

"The roads I paced, I loitered through the fields;
Contentedly, yet sometimes self-accused.
Trusted my life to what chance bounty yields,
Now coldly given, now utterly refused.
The ground I for my bed have often used:
But what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth,
Is that I have my inner self abused,
Foregone the home delight of constant truth,
And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth.

L

"Through tears the rising sun I oft have viewed,
Through tears have seen him towards that world descend
Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude:
Three years a wanderer now my course I bend--
Oh! tell me whither--for no earthly friend
Have I."--She ceased, and weeping turned away;
As if because her tale was at an end,
She wept; because she had no more to say
Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.

LI

True sympathy the Sailor's looks expressed,
His looks--for pondering he was mute the while.
Of social Order's care for wretchedness,
Of Time's sure help to calm and reconcile,
Joy's second spring and Hope's long-treasured smile,
'Twas not for 'him' to speak--a man so tried,
Yet, to relieve her heart, in friendly style
Proverbial words of comfort he applied,
And not in vain, while they went pacing side by side.

LII

Ere long, from heaps of turf, before their sight,
Together smoking in the sun's slant beam,
Rise various wreaths that into one unite
Which high and higher mounts with silver gleam:
Fair spectacle,---but instantly a scream
Thence bursting shrill did all remark prevent;
They paused, and heard a hoarser voice blaspheme,
And female cries. Their course they thither bent,
And met a man who foamed with anger vehement,

LIII

A woman stood with quivering lips and pale,
And, pointing to a little child that lay
Stretched on the ground, began a piteous tale;
How in a simple freak of thoughtless play
He had provoked his father, who straightway,
As if each blow were deadlier than the last,
Struck the poor innocent. Pallid with dismay
The Soldier's Widow heard and stood aghast;
And stern looks on the man her grey-haired Comrade cast.

LIV

His voice with indignation rising high
Such further deed in manhood's name forbade;
The peasant, wild in passion, made reply
With bitter insult and revilings sad;
Asked him in scorn what business there he had;
What kind of plunder he was hunting now;
The gallows would one day of him be glad;--
Though inward anguish damped the Sailor's brow,
Yet calm he seemed as thoughts so poignant would allow.

LV

Softly he stroked the child, who lay outstretched
With face to earth; and, as the boy turned round
His battered head, a groan the Sailor fetched
As if he saw--there and upon that ground--
Strange repetition of the deadly wound
He had himself inflicted. Through his brain
At once the griding iron passage found;
Deluge of tender thoughts then rushed amain,
Nor could his sunken eyes the starting tear restrain.

LVI

Within himself he said--What hearts have we!
The blessing this a father gives his child!
Yet happy thou, poor boy! compared with me,
Suffering not doing ill--fate far more mild.
The stranger's looks and tears of wrath beguiled
The father, and relenting thoughts awoke;
He kissed his son--so all was reconciled.
Then, with a voice which inward trouble broke
Ere to his lips it came, the Sailor them bespoke.

LVII

"Bad is the world, and hard is the world's law
Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece;
Much need have ye that time more closely draw
The bond of nature, all unkindness cease,
And that among so few there still be peace:
Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes
Your pains shall ever with your years increase?"--
While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows,
A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes.

LVIII

Forthwith the pair passed on; and down they look
Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene
Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook,
That babbled on through groves and meadows green;
A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between;
The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,
And melancholy lowings intervene
Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,
Some amid lingering shade, some touched by the sun's rays.

LIX

They saw and heard, and, winding with the road,
Down a thick wood, they dropt into the vale;
Comfort, by prouder mansions unbestowed,
Their wearied frames, she hoped, would soon regale.
Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale:
It was a rustic inn;--the board was spread,
The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail,
And lustily the master carved the bread,
Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort fed.

LX

Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must part;
Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees.
She rose and bade farewell! and, while her heart
Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease,
She left him there; for, clustering round his knees,
With his oak-staff the cottage children played;
And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees
And banks of ragged earth; beneath the shade
Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed.

LXI

A cart and horse beside the rivulet stood;
Chequering the canvas roof the sunbeams shone.
She saw the carman bend to scoop the flood
As the wain fronted her,--wherein lay one,
A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.
The carman wet her lips as well behoved;
Bed under her lean body there was none,
Though even to die near one she most had loved
She could not of herself those wasted limbs have moved.

LXII

The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain
And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced
Far as the cottage. "A sad sight is here,"
She cried aloud; and forth ran out in haste
The friends whom she had left but a few minutes past.

LXIII

While to the door with eager speed they ran,
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised
Her bony visage--gaunt and deadly wan;
No pity asking, on the group she gazed
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed;
Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.
Fervently cried the housewife--"God be praised,
I have a house that I can call my own;
Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone!"

LXIV

So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
And busily, though yet with fear, untie
Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh
She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear;
Then said--"I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear;
Till now I did not think my end had been so near.

LXV

"Barred every comfort labour could procure,
Suffering what no endurance could assuage,
I was compelled to seek my father's door,
Though loth to be a burthen on his age.
But sickness stopped me in an early stage
Of my sad journey; and within the wain
They placed me--there to end life's pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain;
For I shall never see my father's door again.

LXVI

"My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthensome;
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek
May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb:
Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.--
Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,
My husband served in sad captivity
On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set him free.

LXVII

"A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,
Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed;
Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers
Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread;
Till one was found by stroke of violence dead,
Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie;
A dire suspicion drove us from our shed;
In vain to find a friendly face we try,
Nor could we live together those poor boys and I;

LXVIII

"For evil tongues made oath how on that day
My husband lurked about the neighbourhood;
Now he had fled, and whither none could say,
And 'he' had done the deed in the dark wood--
Near his own home!--but he was mild and good;
Never on earth was gentler creature seen;
He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.
My husband's lovingkindness stood between
Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however keen."

LXIX

Alas! the thing she told with labouring breath
The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness
His hand had wrought; and when, in the hour of death,
He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless
With her last words, unable to suppress
His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive;
And, weeping loud in this extreme distress,
He cried--"Do pity me! That thou shouldst live
I neither ask nor wish--forgive me, but forgive!"

LXX

To tell the change that Voice within her wrought
Nature by sign or sound made no essay;
A sudden joy surprised expiring thought,
And every mortal pang dissolved away.
Borne gently to a bed, in death she lay;
Yet still while over her the husband bent,
A look was in her face which seemed to say,
"Be blest; by sight of thee from heaven was sent
Peace to my parting soul, the fulness of content."

LXXI

'She' slept in peace,--his pulses throbbed and stopped,
Breathless he gazed upon her face,--then took
Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped,
When on his own he cast a rueful look.
His ears were never silent; sleep forsook
His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead;
All night from time to time under him shook
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed;
And oft he groaned aloud, "O God, that I were dead!"

LXXII

The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot,
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care
Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter brought,
Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer
He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair.
The corse interred, not one hour heremained
Beneath their roof, but to the open air
A burthen, now with fortitude sustained,
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet reigned.

LXXIII

Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared
For act and suffering, to the city straight
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared:
"And from your doom," he added, "now I wait,
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate."
Not ineffectual was that piteous claim:
"O welcome sentence which will end though late,"
He said, "the pangs that to my conscience came
Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour! is in thy name!"

LXXIV

His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
(Reader, forgive the intolerable thought)
They hung not:--no one on 'his' form or face
Could gaze, as on a show by idlers sought;
No kindred sufferer, to his death-place brought
By lawless curiosity or chance,
When into storm the evening sky is wrought,
Upon his swinging corse an eye can glance,
And drop, as he once dropped, in miserable trance.

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The Pleasures of Imagination: Book The Second

When shall the laurel and the vocal string
Resume their honours? When shall we behold
The tuneful tongue, the Promethéan hand
Aspire to ancient praise? Alas! how faint,
How slow the dawn of beauty and of truth
Breaks the reluctant shades of Gothic night
Which yet involve the nations! Long they groan'd
Beneath the furies of rapacious force;
Oft as the gloomy north, with iron-swarms
Tempestuous pouring from her frozen caves,
Blasted the Italian shore, and swept the works
Of liberty and wisdom down the gulph
Of all-devouring night. As long immur'd
In noon-tide darkness by the glimmering lamp,
Each muse and each fair science pin'd away
The sordid hours: while foul, barbarian hands
Their mysteries profan'd, unstrung the lyre,
And chain'd the soaring pinion down to earth.
At last the muses rose, and spurn'd their bonds,
And wildly warbling, scatter'd, as they flew,
Their blooming wreaths from fair Valclusa's bowers
Arno's myrtle border and the shore of soft Parthenope.

But still the rage of dire ambition and gigantic power,
From public aims and from the busy walk
Of civil commerce, drove the bolder train
Of penetrating science to the cells,
Where studious ease consumes the silent hour
In shadowy searches and unfruitful care.
Thus from their guardians torn, the tender arts
Of mimic fancy and harmonious joy,
To priestly domination and the lust
Of lawless courts, their amiable toil
For three inglorious ages have resign'd,
In vain reluctant: and Torquato's tongue
Was tun'd for slavish pæans at the throne
Of tinsel pomp: and Raphael's magic hand
Effus'd its fair creation to enchant
The fond adoring herd in Latian fanes
To blind belief; while on their prostrate necks
The sable tyrant plants his heel secure.

But now behold! the radiant æra dawns,
When freedom's ample fabric, fix'd at length
For endless years on Albion's happy shore
In full proportion, once more shall extend
To all the kindred powers of social bliss
A common mansion, a parental roof.
There shall the virtues, there shall wisdom's train,
Their long-lost friends rejoining, as of old,
Embrace the smiling family of arts,
The muses and the graces. Then no more
Shall vice, distracting their delicious gifts
To aims abhorr'd, with high distaste and scorn
Turn from their charms the philosophic eye,
The patriot-bosom; then no more the paths
Of public care or intellectual toil,
Alone by footsteps haughty and severe
In gloomy state be trod: the harmonious Muse
And her persuasive sisters then shall plant
Their sheltering laurels o'er the bleak ascent,
And scatter flowers along the rugged way.
Arm'd with the lyre, already have we dar'd
To pierce divine philosophy's retreats,
And teach the Muse her lore; already strove
Their long-divided honours to unite,
While tempering this deep argument we sang
Of truth and beauty. Now the same glad task
Impends; now urging our ambitious toil,
We hasten to recount the various springs
Of adventitious pleasure, which adjoin
Their grateful influence to the prime effect
Of objects grand or beauteous, and inlarge
The complicated joy. The sweets of sense,
Do they not oft with kind accession flow,
To raise harmonious fancy's native charm?
So while we taste the fragrance of the rose,
Glows not her blush the fairer? While we view
Amid the noontide walk a limpid rill
Gush through the trickling herbage, to the thirst
Of summer yielding the delicious draught
Of cool refreshment; o'er the mossy brink
Shines not the surface clearer, and the waves
With sweeter music murmur as they flow?

Nor this alone; the various lot of life
Oft from external circumstance assumes
A moment's disposition to rejoice
In those delights which at a different hour
Would pass unheeded. Fair the face of spring,
When rural songs and odours wake the morn,
To every eye; but how much more to his
Round whom the bed of sickness long diffus'd
Its melancholy gloom! how doubly fair,
When first with fresh-born vigour he inhales
The balmy breeze, and feels the blessed sun
Warm at his bosom, from the springs of life
Chasing oppressive damps and languid pain!

Or shall i mention, where cœlestial truth
Her awful light discloses, to bestow
A more majestic pomp on beauty's frame?
For man loves knowledge, and the beams of truth
More welcome touch his understanding's eye,
Than all the blandishments of sound his ear,
Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet
The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues
To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
The hand of science pointed out the path
In which the sun-beams gleaming from the west
Fall on the watry cloud, whose darksome veil
Involves the orient; and that trickling shower
Piercing through every crystalline convex
Of clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,
Recoil at length where concave all behind
The internal surface of each glassy orb
Repells their forward passage into air;
That thence direct they seek the radiant goal
From which their course began; and, as they strike
In different lines the gazer's obvious eye,
Assume a different lustre, through the brede
Of colours changing from the splendid rose
To the pale violet's dejected hue.

Or shall we touch that kind access of joy,
That springs to each fair object, while we trace
Through all its fabric, wisdom's artful aim
Disposing every part, and gaining still
By means proportion'd her benignant end?
Speak, ye, the pure delight, whose favour'd steps
The lamp of science through the jealous maze
Of nature guides, when haply you reveal
Her secret honours: whether in the sky,
The beauteous laws of light, the central powers
That wheel the pensile planets round the year;
Whether in wonders of the rowling deep,
Or the rich fruits of all-sustaining earth,
Or fine-adjusted springs of life and sense,
Ye scan the counsels of their author's hand.

What, when to raise the meditated scene,
The flame of passion, through the struggling soul
Deep-kindled, shows across that sudden blaze
The object of its rapture, vast of size,
With fiercer colours and a night of shade?
What? like a storm from their capacious bed
The sounding seas o'erwhelming, when the might
Of these eruptions, working from the depth
Of man's strong apprehension, shakes his frame
Even to the base; from every naked sense
Of pain or pleasure dissipating all
Opinion's feeble coverings, and the veil
Spun from the cobweb fashion of the times
To hide the feeling heart? Then nature speaks
Her genuine language, and the words of men,
Big with the very motion of their souls,
Declare with what accumulated force,
The impetuous nerve of passion urges on
The native weight and energy of things.

Yet more: her honours where nor beauty claims,
Nor shews of good the thirsty sense allure,
From passion's power alone our nature holds
Essential pleasure. Passion's fierce illapse
Rouzes the mind's whole fabric; with supplies
Of daily impulse keeps the elastic powers
Intensely poiz'd, and polishes anew
By that collision all the fine machine:
Else rust would rise, and foulness, by degrees
Incumbering, choak at last what heaven design'd
For ceaseless motion and a round of toil.
But say, does every passion thus to man
Administer delight? That name indeed
Becomes the rosy breath of love; becomes
The radiant smiles of joy, the applauding hand
Of admiration: but the bitter shower
That sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave,
But the dumb palsy of nocturnal fear,
Or those consuming fires that gnaw the heart
Of panting indignation, find we there
To move delight?—Then listen while my tongue
The unalter'd will of heaven with faithful awe
Reveals; what old Harmodius wont to teach
My early age; Harmodius, who had weigh'd
Within his learned mind whate'er the schools
Of wisdom, or thy lonely-whispering voice,
O faithful nature! dictate of the laws
Which govern and support this mighty frame
Of universal being. Oft the hours
From morn to eve have stolen unmark'd away,
While mute attention hung upon his lips,
As thus the sage his awful tale began.

'Twas in the windings of an ancient wood,
When spotless youth with solitude resigns
To sweet philosophy the studious day,
What time pale autumn shades the silent eve,
Musing i rov'd. Of good and evil much,
And much of mortal man my thought revolv'd;
When starting full on fancy's gushing eye
The mournful image of Parthenia's fate,
That hour, o long belov'd and long deplor'd!
When blooming youth, nor gentlest wisdom's arts,
Nor Hymen's honours gather'd for thy brow,
Nor all thy lover's, all thy father's tears
Avail'd to snatch thee from the cruel grave;
Thy agonizing looks, thy last farewel
Struck to the inmost feeling of my soul
As with the hand of death. At once the shade
More horrid nodded o'er me, and the winds
With hoarser murmuring shook the branches. Dark
As midnight storms, the scene of human things
Appear'd before me; desarts, burning sands,
Where the parch'd adder dies; the frozen south,
And desolation blasting all the west
With rapine and with murder: tyrant power
Here sits enthron'd with blood; the baleful charms
Of superstition there infect the skies,
And turn the sun to horror. Gracious heaven!
What is the life of man? Or cannot these,
Not these portents thy awful will suffice?
That, propagated thus beyond their scope,
They rise to act their cruelties anew
In my afflicted bosom, thus decreed
The universal sensitive of pain,
The wretched heir of evils not its own!

Thus I impatient; when, at once effus'd,
A flashing torrent of cœlestial day
Burst through the shadowy void. With slow descent
A purple cloud came floating through the sky,
And pois'd at length within the circling trees,
Hung obvious to my view; till opening wide
Its lucid orb, a more than human form
Emerging lean'd majestic o'er my head,
And instant thunder shook the conscious grove.
Then melted into air the liquid cloud,
And all the shining vision stood reveal'd.
A wreath of palm his ample forehead bound,
And o'er his shoulder, mantling to his knee,
Flow'd the transparent robe, around his waist
Collected with a radiant zone of gold
Æthereal: there in mystic signs ingrav'd,
I read his office high and sacred name,
Genius of human kind. Appall'd i gaz'd
The godlike presence; for athwart his brow
Displeasure, temper'd with a mild concern,
Look'd down reluctant on me, and his words
Like distant thunders broke the murmuring air.

Vain are thy thoughts, o child of mortal birth!
And impotent thy tongue. Is thy short span
Capacious of this universal frame?
Thy wisdom all-sufficient? Thou, alas!
Dost thou aspire to judge between the Lord
Of nature and his works? to lift thy voice
Against the sovran order he decreed,
All good and lovely? to blaspheme the bands
Of tenderness innate and social love,
Holiest of things! by which the general orb
Of being, as by adamantine links,
Was drawn to perfect union and sustain'd
From everlasting? Hast thou felt the pangs
Of softening sorrow, of indignant zeal
So grievous to the soul, as thence to wish
The ties of nature broken from thy frame;
That so thy selfish, unrelenting heart
Might cease to mourn its lot, no longer then
The wretched heir of evils not its own?
O fair benevolence of generous minds!
O man by nature form'd for all mankind!

He spoke; abash'd and silent i remain'd,
As conscious of my tongue's offence, and aw'd
Before his presence, though my secret soul
Disdain'd the imputation. On the ground
I fix'd my eyes; till from his airy couch
He stoop'd sublime, and touching with his hand
My dazling forehead, Raise thy sight, he cry'd
And let thy sense convince thy erring tongue.

I look'd, and lo! the former scene was chang'd;
For verdant alleys and surrounding trees,
A solitary prospect, wide and wild,
Rush'd on my senses. 'Twas an horrid pile
Of hills with many a shaggy forest mix'd,
With many a sable cliff and glittering stream.
Aloft recumbent o'er the hanging ridge,
The brown woods wav'd; while ever-trickling springs
Wash'd from the naked roots of oak and pine
The crumbling soil; and still at every fall
Down the steep windings of the channel'd rock,
Remurmuring rush'd the congregated floods
With hoarser inundation; till at last
They reach'd a grassy plain, which from the skirts
Of that high desart spread her verdant lap,
And drank the gushing moisture, where confin'd
In one smooth current, o'er the lilied vale
Clearer than glass it flow'd. Autumnal spoils
Luxuriant spreading to the rays of morn,
Blush'd o'er the cliffs, whose half-incircling mound
As in a sylvan theatre inclos'd
That flowery level. On the river's brink
I spy'd a fair pavilion, which diffus'd
Its floating umbrage 'mid the silver shade
Of osiers. Now the western sun reveal'd
Between two parting cliffs his golden orb,
And pour'd across the shadow of the hills,
On rocks and floods, a yellow stream of light
That cheer'd the solemn scene. My listening powers
Were aw'd, and every thought in silence hung,
And wondering expectation. Then the voice
Of that cœlestial power, the mystic show
Declaring, thus my deep attention call'd.

Inhabitant of earth, to whom is given
The gracious ways of providence to learn,
Receive my sayings with a stedfast ear—
Know then, the sovran spirit of the world,
Though self-collected from eternal time,
Within his own deep essence he beheld
The bounds of true felicity complete;
Yet by immense benignity inclin'd
To spread around him that primæval joy
Which fill'd himself, he rais'd his plastic arm,
And sounded through the hollow depth of space
The strong, creative mandate. Strait arose
These heavenly orbs, the glad abodes of life
Effusive kindled by his breath divine
Through endless forms of being. Each inhal'd
From him its portion of the vital flame,
In measure such, that, from the wide complex
Of coexistent orders, one might rise,
One order, all-involving and intire.
He too beholding in the sacred light
Of his essential reason, all the shapes
Of swift contingence, all successive ties
Of action propagated through the sum
Of possible existence, he at once,
Down the long series of eventful time,
So fix'd the dates of being, so dispos'd,
To every living soul of every kind
The field of motion and the hour of rest,
That all conspir'd to his supreme design,
To universal good: with full accord
Answering the mighty model he had chosen,
The best and fairest of unnumber'd worlds
That lay from everlasting in the store
Of his divine conceptions. Nor content,
By one exertion of creative power
His goodness to reveal; through every age,
Through every moment up the tract of time
His parent-hand with ever-new increase
Of happiness and virtue has adorn'd
The vast harmonious frame: his parent-hand,
From the mute shell-fish gasping on the shore,
To men, to angels, to cœlestial minds
For ever leads the generations on
To higher scenes of being; while supply'd
From day to day with his enlivening breath,
Inferior orders in succession rise
To fill the void below. As flame ascends,
As bodies to their proper center move,
As the pois'd ocean to the attracting moon
Obedient swells, and every headlong stream
Devolves its winding waters to the main;
So all things which have life aspire to God,
The sun of being, boundless, unimpair'd,
Center of souls! Nor does the faithful voice
Of nature cease to prompt their eager steps
Aright; nor is the care of heaven withheld
From granting to the task proportion'd aid;
That in their stations all may persevere
To climb the ascent of being, and approach
For ever nearer to the life divine.

That rocky pile thou seest, that verdant lawn
Fresh-water'd from the mountains. Let the scene
Paint in thy fancy the primæval seat
Of man, and where the will supreme ordain'd
His mansion, that pavilion fair-diffus'd
Along the shady brink; in this recess
To wear the appointed season of his youth,
Till riper hours should open to his toil
The high communion of superior minds,
Of consecrated heroes and of gods.
Nor did the sire omnipotent forget
His tender bloom to cherish; nor withheld
Cœlestial footsteps from his green abode.
Oft from the radiant honours of his throne,
He sent whom most he lov'd, the sovran fair,
The effluence of his glory, whom he plac'd
Before his eyes for ever to behold;
The goddess from whose inspiration flows
The toil of patriots, the delight of friends;
Without whose work divine, in heaven or earth,
Nought lovely, nought propitious comes to pass,
Nor hope, nor praise, nor honour. Her the sire
Gave it in charge to rear the blooming mind,
The folded powers to open, to direct
The growth luxuriant of his young desires,
And from the laws of this majestic world
To teach him what was good. As thus the nymph
Her daily care attended, by her side
With constant steps her gay companion stay'd,
The fair Euphrosyné, the gentle queen
Of smiles, and graceful gladness, and delights
That cheer alike the hearts of mortal men
And powers immortal. See the shining pair!
Behold, where from his dwelling now disclos'd
They quit their youthful charge and seek the skies.

I look'd, and on the flowery turf there stood
Between two radiant forms a smiling youth
Whose tender cheeks display'd the vernal flower
Of beauty; sweetest innocence illum'd
His bashful eyes, and on his polish'd brow
Sate young simplicity. With fond regard
He view'd the associates, as their steps they mov'd;
The younger chief his ardent eyes detain'd,
With mild regret invoking her return.
Bright as the star of evening she appear'd
Amid the dusky scene. Eternal youth
O'er all her form its glowing honours breath'd;
And smiles eternal from her candid eyes
Flow'd, like the dewy lustre of the morn
Effusive trembling on the placid waves.
The spring of heaven had shed its blushing spoils
To bind her sable tresses: full diffus'd
Her yellow mantle floated in the breeze;
And in her hand she wav'd a living branch
Rich with immortal fruits, of power to calm
The wrathful heart, and from the brightening eyes,
To chase the cloud of sadness. More sublime
The heavenly partner mov'd. The prime of age
Compos'd her steps. The presence of a god,
High on the circle of her brow inthron'd,
From each majestic motion darted awe,
Devoted awe! till, cherish'd by her looks
Benevolent and meek, confiding love
To filial rapture soften'd all the soul.
Free in her graceful hand she pois'd the sword
Of chaste dominion. An heroic crown
Display'd the old simplicity of pomp
Around her honour'd head. A matron's robe,
White as the sunshine streams through vernal clouds,
Her stately form invested. Hand in hand
The immortal pair forsook the enamel'd green,
Ascending slowly. Rays of limpid light
Gleam'd round their path; cœlestial sounds were heard,
And through the fragrant air æthereal dews
Distill'd around them; till at once the clouds
Disparting wide in midway sky, withdrew
Their airy veil, and left a bright expanse
Of empyréan flame, where spent and drown'd,
Afflicted vision plung'd in vain to scan
What object it involv'd. My feeble eyes
Indur'd not. Bending down to earth i stood,
With dumb attention. Soon a female voice,
As watry murmurs sweet, or warbling shades,
With sacred invocation thus began.

Father of gods and mortals! whose right arm
With reins eternal guides the moving heavens,
Bend thy propitious ear. Behold well-pleas'd
I seek to finish thy divine decree.
With frequent steps I visit yonder seat
Of man, thy offspring; from the tender seeds
Of justice and of wisdom, to evolve
The latent honours of his generous frame;
Till thy conducting hand shall raise his lot
From earth's dim scene to these æthereal walks,
The temple of thy glory. But not me,
Not my directing voice he oft requires,
Or hears delighted: this inchanting maid,
The associate thou hast given me, her alone
He loves, o Father! absent, her he craves;
And but for her glad presence ever join'd,
Rejoices not in mine: that all my hopes
This thy benignant purpose to fulfil,
I deem uncertain; and my daily cares
Unfruitful all and vain, unless by thee
Still farther aided in the work divine.

She ceas'd; a voice more awful thus reply'd.
O thou! in whom for ever i delight,
Fairer than all the inhabitants of heaven,
Best image of thy author! far from thee
Be disappointment, or distaste, or blame;
Who soon or late shalt every work fulfil,
And no resistance find. If man refuse
To hearken to thy dictates; or allur'd
By meaner joys, to any other power
Transfer the honours due to thee alone;
That joy which he pursues he ne'er shall taste,
That power in whom delighteth ne'er behold.
Go then, once more, and happy be thy toil;
Go then! but let not this thy smiling friend
Partake thy footsteps. In her stead, behold!
With thee the son of Nemesis i send;
The fiend abhorr'd! whose vengeance takes account
Of sacred order's violated laws.
See where he calls thee, burning to be gone,
Fierce to exhaust the tempest of his wrath
On yon devoted head. But thou, my child,
Controul his cruel phrenzy, and protect
Thy tender charge; that when despair shall grasp
His agonizing bosom, he may learn,
Then he may learn to love the gracious hand
Alone sufficient in the hour of ill,
To save his feeble spirit; then confess
Thy genuine honours, o excelling fair!
When all the plagues that wait the deadly will.
Of this avenging dæmon, all the storms
Of night infernal, serve but to display
The energy of thy superior charms
With mildest awe triumphant o'er his rage,
And shining clearer in the horrid gloom.

Here ceas'd that awful voice, and soon i felt
The cloudy curtain of refreshing eve
Was clos'd once more, from that immortal fire
Sheltering my eye-lids. Looking up, i view'd
A vast gigantic spectre striding on
Through murmuring thunders and a waste of clouds,
With dreadful action. Black as night his brow
Relentless frowns involv'd. His savage limbs
With sharp impatience violent he writh'd,
As through convulsive anguish; and his hand,
Arm'd with a scorpion-lash, full oft he rais'd
In madness to his bosom; while his eyes
Rain'd bitter tears, and bellowing loud he shook
The void with horror. Silent by his side
The virgin came. No discomposure stirr'd
Her features. From the glooms which hung around
No stain of darkness mingled with the beam
Of her divine effulgence. Now they stoop
Upon the river-bank; and now to hail
His wonted guests, with eager steps advanc'd
The unsuspecting inmate of the shade.

As when a famish'd wolf, that all night long
Had rang'd the Alpine snows, by chance at morn
Sees from a cliff incumbent o'er the smoke
Of some lone village, a neglected kid
That strays along the wild for herb or spring;
Down from the winding ridge he sweeps amain,
And thinks he tears him: so with tenfold rage,
The monster sprung remorseless on his prey.
Amaz'd the stripling stood: with panting breast
Feebly he pour'd the lamentable wail
Of helpless consternation, struck at once,
And rooted to the ground. The queen beheld
His terror, and with looks of tenderest care
Advanc'd to save him. Soon the tyrant felt
Her awful power. His keen, tempestuous arm
Hung nerveless, nor descended where his rage
Had aim'd the deadly blow: then dumb retir'd
With sullen rancour. Lo! the sovran maid
Folds with a mother's arms the fainting boy,
Till life rekindles in his rosy cheek;
Then grasps his hands, and cheers him with her tongue.

O wake thee, rouze thy spirit! Shall the spite
Of yon tormentor thus appall thy heart,
While i, thy friend and guardian, am at hand
To rescue and to heal? O let thy soul
Remember, what the will of heaven ordains
Is ever good for all; and if for all,
Then good for thee. Nor only by the warmth
And soothing sunshine of delightful things,
Do minds grow up and flourish. Oft misled
By that bland light, the young unpractis'd views
Of reason wander through a fatal road,
Far from their native aim: as if to lye
Inglorious in the fragrant shade, and wait
The soft access of ever-circling joys,
Were all the end of being. Ask thyself,
This pleasing error did it never lull
Thy wishes? Has thy constant heart refus'd
The silken fetters of delicious ease?
Or when divine Euphrosyné appear'd
Within this dwelling, did not thy desires
Hang far below the measure of thy fate,
Which i reveal'd before thee? and thy eyes,
Impatient of my counsels, turn away
To drink the soft effusion of her smiles?
Know then, for this the everlasting sire
Deprives thee of her presence, and instead,
O wise and still benevolent! ordains
This horrid visage hither to pursue
My steps; that so thy nature may discern
Its real good, and what alone can save
Thy feeble spirit in this hour of ill
From folly and despair. O yet belov'd!
Let not this headlong terror quite o'erwhelm
Thy scatter'd powers; nor fatal deem the rage
Of this tormentor, nor his proud assault,
While i am here to vindicate thy toil,
Above the generous question of thy arm.
Brave by thy fears and in thy weakness strong,
This hour he triumphs: but confront his might,
And dare him to the combat, then with ease
Disarm'd and quell'd, his fierceness he resigns
To bondage and to scorn: while thus inur'd
By watchful danger, by unceasing toil,
The immortal mind, superior to his fate,
Amid the outrage of external things,
Firm as the solid base of this great world,
Rests on his own foundations. Blow, ye winds!
Ye waves! ye thunders! rowl your tempest on;
Shake, ye old pillars of the marble sky!

Till all its orbs and all its worlds of fire
Be loosen'd from their seats; yet still serene,
The unconquer'd mind looks down upon the wreck;
And ever stronger as the storms advance,
Firm through the closing ruin holds his way,
Where nature calls him to the destin'd goal.

So spake the goddess; while through all her frame
Cœlestial raptures flow'd, in every word,
In every motion kindling warmth divine
To seize who listen'd. Vehement and swift
As lightening fires the aromatic shade
In Æthiopian fields, the stripling felt
Her inspiration catch his fervid soul,
And starting from his languor thus exclaim'd.

Then let the trial come! and witness thou,
If terror be upon me; if i shrink
To meet the storm, or faulter in my strength
When hardest it besets me. Do not think
That i am fearful and infirm of soul,
As late thy eyes beheld: for thou hast chang'd
My nature; thy commanding voice has wak'd
My languid powers to bear me boldly on,
Where'er the will divine my path ordains
Through toil or peril: only do not thou
Forsake me; o be thou for ever near,
That i may listen to thy sacred voice,
And guide by thy decrees my constant feet.
But say, for ever are my eyes bereft?
Say, shall the fair Euphrosyné not once
Appear again to charm me? Thou, in heaven!
O thou eternal arbiter of things!
Be thy great bidding done: for who am i,
To question thy appointment? Let the frowns
Of this avenger every morn o'ercast
The cheerful dawn, and every evening damp
With double night my dwelling; i will learn
To hail them both, and unrepining bear
His hateful presence: but permit my tongue
One glad request, and if my deeds may find
Thy awful eye propitious, o restore
The rosy-featur'd maid; again to cheer
This lonely seat, and bless me with her smiles.

He spoke; when instant through the sable glooms
With which that furious presence had involv'd
The ambient air, a flood of radiance came
Swift as the lightening flash; the melting clouds
Flew diverse, and amid the blue serene
Euphrosyné appear'd. With sprightly step
The nymph alighted on the irriguous lawn,
And to her wondering audience thus began.

Lo! i am here to answer to your vows,
And be the meeting fortunate! i come
With joyful tidings; we shall part no more
Hark! how the gentle echo from her cell
Talks through the cliffs, and murmuring o'er the stream
Repeats the accents; we shall part no more.
O my delightful friends! well-pleas'd on high
The father has beheld you, while the might
Of that stern foe with bitter trial prov'd
Your equal doings; then for ever spake
The high decree: that thou, cœlestial maid!
Howe'er that griesly phantom on thy steps
May sometimes dare intrude, yet never more
Shalt thou, descending to the abode of man,
Alone endure the rancour of his arm,
Or leave thy lov'd Euphrosyné behind.

She ended; and the whole romantic scene
Immediate vanish'd; rocks, and woods, and rills,
The mantling tent, and each mysterious form
Flew like the pictures of a morning dream,
When sun-shine fills the bed. A while i stood
Perplex'd and giddy; till the radiant power
Who bade the visionary landscape rise,
As up to him i turn'd, with gentlest looks
Preventing my enquiry, thus began.

There let thy soul acknowledge its complaint
How blind, how impious! There behold the ways
Of heaven's eternal destiny to man,
For ever just, benevolent and wise:
That virtue's awful steps, howe'er pursu'd
By vexing fortune and intrusive pain,
Should never be divided from her chaste,
Her fair attendant, pleasure. Need i urge
Thy tardy thought through all the various round
Of this existence, that thy softening soul
At length may learn what energy the hand
Of virtue mingles in the bitter tide
Of passion swelling with distress and pain,
To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops
Of cordial pleasure? Ask the faithful youth,
Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd
So often fills his arms; so often draws
His lonely footsteps at the silent hour,
To pay the mournful tribute of his tears?
O! he will tell thee, that the wealth of worlds
Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego
That sacred hour, when, stealing from the noise
Of care and envy, sweet remembrance sooths
With virtue's kindest looks his aking breast,
And turns his tears to rapture.—Ask the croud
Which flies impatient from the village-walk
To climb the neighbouring cliffs, when far below
The cruel winds have hurl'd upon the coast
Some helpless bark; while sacred pity melts
The general eye, or terror's icy hand
Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair;
While every mother closer to her breast
Catches her child, and pointing where the waves
Foam through the shatter'd vessel, shrieks aloud
As one poor wretch that spreads his piteous arms
For succour, swallow'd by the roaring surge,
As now another, dash'd against the rock,
Drops lifeless down: o! deemest thou indeed
No kind endearment here by nature given
To mutual terror and compassion's tears?
No sweetly-melting softness which attracts,
O'er all that edge of pain, the social powers
To this their proper action and their end?
—Ask thy own heart; when at the midnight hour,
Slow through that studious gloom thy pausing eye
Led by the glimmering taper moves around
The sacred volumes of the dead, the songs
Of Grecian bards, and records writ by fame
For Grecian heroes, where the present power
Of heaven and earth surveys the immortal page,
Even as a father blessing, while he reads
The praises of his son. If then thy soul,
Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days,
Mix in their deeds and kindle with their flame;
Say, when the prospect blackens on thy view,
When rooted from the base, heroic states
Mourn in the dust and tremble at the frown
Of curst ambition; when the pious band
Of youths who fought for freedom and their sires,
Lie side by side in gore; when ruffian pride
Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp
Of public power, the majesty of rule,
The sword, the laurel, and the purple robe,
To slavish empty pageants, to adorn
A tyrant's walk, and glitter in the eyes
Of such as bow the knee; when honour'd urns
Of patriots and of chiefs, the awful bust
And storied arch, to glut the coward-rage
Of regal envy, strew the public way
With hallow'd ruins; when the Muse's haunt,
The marble porch where wisdom wont to talk
With Socrates or Tully, hears no more,
Save the hoarse jargon of contentious monks,
Or female superstition's midnight prayer;
When ruthless rapine from the hand of time
Tears the destroying scythe, with surer blow
To sweep the works of glory from their base;
Till desolation o'er the grass-grown street
Expands his raven-wings, and up the wall,
Where senates once the price of monarchs doom'd,
Hisses the gliding snake through hoary weeds
That clasp the mouldering column; thus defac'd,
Thus widely mournful when the prospect thrills
Thy beating bosom, when the patriot's tear
Starts from thine eye, and thy extended arm
In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove
To fire the impious wreath on Philip's
Or dash Octavius from the trophied car;
Say, does thy secret soul repine to taste
The big distress? Or would'st thou then exchange
Those heart-ennobling sorrows for the lot
Of him who sits amid the gaudy herd
Of mute barbarians bending to his nod,
And bears aloft his gold-invested front,
And says within himself, “i am a king,
And wherefore should the clamorous voice of woe
“Intrude upon mine ear?—” The baleful dregs
Of these late ages, this inglorious draught
Of servitude and folly, have not yet,
Blest be the eternal ruler of the world!
Defil'd to such a depth of sordid shame
The native honours of the human soul,
Nor so effac'd the image of its sire.

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William Cowper

Retirement

Hackney'd in business, wearied at that oar,
Which thousands, once fast chain'd to, quit no more,
But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low,
All wish, or seem to wish, they could forego;
The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade,
Pants for the refuge of some rural shade,
Where, all his long anxieties forgot
Amid the charms of a sequester'd spot,
Or recollected only to gild o'er
And add a smile to what was sweet before,
He may possess the joys he thinks he sees,
Lay his old age upon the lap of ease,
Improve the remnant of his wasted span,
And, having lived a trifler, die a man.
Thus conscience pleads her cause within the breast,
Though long rebell'd against, not yet suppress'd,
And calls a creature form'd for God alone,
For Heaven's high purposes, and not his own,
Calls him away from selfish ends and aims,
From what debilitates and what inflames,
From cities humming with a restless crowd,
Sordid as active, ignorant as loud,
Whose highest praise is that they live in vain,
The dupes of pleasure, or the slaves of gain,
Where works of man are cluster'd close around,
And works of God are hardly to be found,
To regions where, in spite of sin and woe,
Traces of Eden are still seen below,
Where mountain, river, forest, field, and grove,
Remind him of his Maker’s power and love.
'Tis well, if look’d for at so late a day,
In the last scene of such a senseless play,
True wisdom will attend his feeble call,
And grace his action ere the curtain fall.
Souls, that have long despised their heavenly birth,
Their wishes all impregnated with earth,
For threescore years employ’d with ceaseless care,
In catching smoke, and feeding upon air,
Conversant only with the ways of men,
Rarely redeem the short remaining ten.
Inveterate habits choke the unfruitful heart,
Their fibres penetrate its tenderest part,
And, draining its nutritious power to feed
Their noxious growth, starve every better seed.
Happy, if full of days—but happier far,
If, ere we yet discern life’s evening star,
Sick of the service of a world that feeds
Its patient drudges with dry chaff and weeds,
We can escape from custom’s idiot sway,
To serve the sovereign we were born to obey.
Then sweet to muse upon his skill display’d
(Infinite skill) in all that he has made!
To trace in nature’s most minute design
The signature and stamp of power divine,
Contrivance intricate, express’d with ease,
Where unassisted sight no beauty sees,
The shapely limb and lubricated joint,
Within the small dimensions of a point,
Muscle and nerve miraculously spun,
His mighty work, who speaks and it is done,
The invisible in things scarce seen reveal’d,
To whom an atom is an ample field:
To wonder at a thousand insect forms,
These hatch’d, and those resuscitated worms.
New life ordain’d, and brighter scenes to share,
Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air,
Whose shape would make them, had they bulk and size,
More hideous foes than fancy can devise;
With helmet-heads and dragon-scales adorn’d,
The mighty myriads, now securely scorn’d,
Would mock the majesty of man’s high birth,
Despise his bulwarks, and unpeople earth:
Then with a glance of fancy to survey,
Far as the faculty can stretch away,
Ten thousand rivers pour’d at his command,
From urns that never fail, through every land;
These like a deluge with impetuous force,
Those winding modestly a silent course;
The cloud-surmounting Alps, the fruitful vales;
Seas, on which every nation spreads her sails;
The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light,
The crescent moon, the diadem of night:
Stars countless, each in his appointed place,
Fast anchor’d in the deep abyss of space—
At such a sight to catch the poet’s flame,
And with a rapture like his own exclaim
These are thy glorious works, thou Source of Good,
How dimly seen, how faintly understood!
Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care,
This universal frame, thus wondrous fair;
Thy power divine, and bounty beyond thought,
Adored and praised in all that thou has wrought.
Absorb’d in that immensity I see,
I shrink abased, and yet aspire to thee;
Instruct me, guide me to that heavenly day
Thy words more clearly than thy works display,
That, while thy truths my grosser thoughts refine,
I may resemble thee, and call thee mine.
O blest proficiency! surpassing all
That men erroneously their glory call,
The recompence that arts or arms can yield,
The bar, the senate, or the tented field.
Compared with this sublimest life below,
Ye kings and rulers, what have courts to shew?
Thus studied, used, and consecrated thus,
On earth what is, seems form’d indeed for us;
Not as the plaything of a froward child,
Fretful unless diverted and beguiled,
Much less to feed and fan the fatal fires
Of pride, ambition, or impure desires;
But as a scale, by which the soul ascends
From mighty means to more important ends,
Securely, though by steps but rarely trod,
Mounts from inferior beings up to God,
And sees, by no fallacious light or dim,
Earth made for man, and man himself for him.
Not that I mean to approve, or would enforce,
A superstitious and monastic course:
Truth is not local, God alike pervades
And fills the world of traffic and the shades,
And may be fear’d amidst the busiest scenes,
Or scorn’d where business never intervenes.
But, ‘tis not easy, with a mind like ours,
Conscious of weakness in its noblest powers,
And in a world where, other ills apart,
The roving eye misleads the careless heart,
To limit thought, by nature prone to stray
Wherever freakish fancy points the way;
To bid the pleadings of self-love be still,
Resign our own and seek our Maker’s will;
To spread the page of Scripture, and compare
Our conduct with the laws engraven there;
To measure all that passes in the breast,
Faithfully, fairly, by that sacred test;
To dive into the secret deeps within,
To spare no passion and no favourite sin,
And search the themes, important above all,
Ourselves, and our recovery from our fall.
But leisure, silence, and a mind released
From anxious thoughts how wealth may be increased,
How to secure, in some propitious hour
The point of interest or the post of power,
A soul serene, and equally retired
From objects too much dreaded or desired,
Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute,
At least are friendly to the great pursuit.
Opening the map of God’s extensive plan,
We find a little isle, this life of man;
Eternity’s unknown expanse appears
Circling around and limiting his years.
The busy race examine and explore
Each creek and cavern of the dangerous shore,
With care collect what in their eyes excels,
Some shining pebbles, and some weeds and shells;
Thus laden, dream that they are rich and great,
And happiest he that groans beneath his weight.
The waves o’ertake them in their serious play,
And every hour sweeps multitudes away;
They shriek and sink, survivors start and weep,
Pursue their sport, and follow to the deep.
A few forsake the throng; with lifted eyes
Ask wealth of Heaven, and gain a real prize,
Truth, wisdom, grace, and peace like that above,
Seal’d with his signet whom they serve and love;
Scorn’d by the rest, with patient hope they wait
A kind release from their imperfect state,
And unregretted are soon snatch’d away
From scenes of sorrow into glorious day.
Nor these alone prefer a life recluse,
Who seek retirement for its proper use;
The love of change, that lives in every breast,
Genius, and temper, and desire of rest,
Discordant motives in one centre meet,
And each inclines its votary to retreat.
Some minds by nature are averse to noise,
And hate the tumult half the world enjoys,
The lure of avarice, or the pompous prize
That courts display before ambitious eyes;
The fruits that hang on pleasure’s flowery stem,
Whate’er enchants them, are no snares to them.
To them the deep recess of dusky groves,
Or forest, where the deer securely roves,
The fall of waters, and the song of birds,
And hills that echo to the distant herds,
Are luxuries excelling all the glare
The world can boast, and her chief favourites share.
With eager step, and carelessly array’d,
For such a cause the poet seeks the shade,
From all he sees he catches new delight,
Pleased Fancy claps her pinions at the sight,
The rising or the setting orb of day,
The clouds that flit, or slowly float away,
Nature in all the various shapes she wears,
Frowning in storms, or breathing gentle airs,
The snowy robe her wintry state assumes,
Her summer heats, her fruits, and her perfumes,
All, all alike transport the glowing bard,
Success in rhyme his glory and reward.
O Nature! whose Elysian scenes disclose
His bright perfections at whose word they rose,
Next to that power who form’d thee, and sustains,
Be thou the great inspirer of my strains.
Still, as I touch the lyre, do thou expand
Thy genuine charms, and guide an artless hand,
That I may catch a fire but rarely known,
Give useful light, though I should miss renown.
And, poring on thy page, whose every line
Bears proof of an intelligence divine,
May feel a heart enrich’d by what it pays,
That builds its glory on its Maker’s praise.
Woe to the man whose wit disclaims its use,
Glittering in vain, or only to seduce,
Who studies nature with a wanton eye,
Admires the work, but slips the lesson by;
His hours of leisure and recess employs
In drawing pictures of forbidden joys,
Retires to blazon his own worthless name,
Or shoot the careless with a surer aim.
The lover too shuns business and alarms,
Tender idolater of absent charms.
Saints offer nothing in their warmest prayers
That he devotes not with a zeal like theirs;
‘Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time,
And every thought that wanders is a crime.
In sighs he worships his supremely fair,
And weeps a sad libation in despair;
Adores a creature, and, devout in vain,
Wins in return an answer of disdain.
As woodbine weds the plant within her reach,
Rough elm, or smooth-grain’d ash, or glossy beech
In spiral rings ascends the trunk, and lays
Her golden tassels on the leafy sprays,
But does a mischief while she lends a grace,
Straitening its growth by such a strict embrace;
So love, that clings around the noblest minds,
Forbids the advancement of the soul he binds;
The suitor’s air, indeed, he soon improves,
And forms it to the taste of her he loves,
Teaches his eyes a language, and no less
Refines his speech, and fashions his address;
But farewell promises of happier fruits,
Manly designs, and learning’s grave pursuits;
Girt with a chain he cannot wish to break,
His only bliss is sorrow for her sake;
Who will may pant for glory and excel,
Her smile his aim, all higher aims farewell!
Thyrsis, Alexis, or whatever name
May least offend against so pure a flame,
Though sage advice of friends the most sincere
Sounds harshly in so delicate an ear,
And lovers, of all creatures, tame or wild,
Can least brook management, however mild,
Yet let a poet (poetry disarms
The fiercest animals with magic charms)
Risk an intrusion on thy pensive mood,
And woo and win thee to thy proper good.
Pastoral images and still retreats,
Umbrageous walks and solitary seats,
Sweet birds in concert with harmonious streams,
Soft airs, nocturnal vigils, and day-dreams,
Are all enchantments in a case like thine,
Conspire against thy peace with one design,
Soothe thee to make thee but a surer prey,
And feed the fire that wastes thy powers away.
Up—God has form’d thee with a wiser view,
Not to be led in chains, but to subdue;
Calls thee to cope with enemies, and first
Points out a conflict with thyself, the worst.
Woman, indeed, a gift he would bestow
When he design’d a Paradise below,
The richest earthly boon his hands afford,
Deserves to be beloved, but not adored.
Post away swiftly to more active scenes,
Collect the scatter’d truth that study gleans,
Mix with the world, but with its wiser part,
No longer give an image all thine heart;
Its empire is not hers, nor is it thine,
‘Tis God’s just claim, prerogative divine.
Virtuous and faithful Heberden, whose skill
Attempts no task it cannot well fulfil,
Gives melancholy up to nature’s care,
And sends the patient into purer air.
Look where he comes—in this embower’d alcove
Stand close conceal’d, and see a statue move:
Lips busy, and eyes fix’d, foot falling slow,
Arms hanging idly down, hands clasp’d below,
Interpret to the marking eye distress,
Such as its symptoms can alone express.
That tongue is silent now; that silent tongue
Could argue once, could jest, or join the song,
Could give advice, could censure or commend,
Or charm the sorrows of a drooping friend.
Renounced alike its office and its sport,
Its brisker and its graver strains fall short;
Both fail beneath a fever’s secret sway,
And like a summer-brook are past away.
This is a sight for pity to peruse,
Till she resembles faintly what she views,
Till sympathy contract a kindred pain,
Pierced with the woes that she laments in vain.
This, of all maladies that man infest,
Claims most compassion, and receives the least;
Job felt it, when he groan’d beneath the rod
And the barb’d arrows of a frowning God;
And such emollients as his friends could spare,
Friends such as his for modern Jobs prepare.
Blest, rather curst, with hearts that never feel,
Kept snug in caskets of close-hammer’d steel,
With mouths made only to grin wide and eat,
And minds that deem derided pain a treat,
With limbs of British oak, and nerves of wire,
And wit that puppet prompters might inspire,
Their sovereign nostrum is a clumsy joke
On pangs enforced with God’s severest stroke.
But, with a soul that ever felt the sting
Of sorrow, sorrow is a sacred thing:
Not to molest, or irritate, or raise
A laugh at his expense, is slender praise;
He that has not usurp’d the name of man
Does all, and deems too little all, he can,
To assuage the throbbings of the fester’d part,
And staunch the bleedings of a broken heart.
‘Tis not, as heads that never ache suppose,
Forgery of fancy, and a dream of woes;
Man is a harp, whose chords elude the sight,
Each yielding harmony disposed aright;
The screws reversed (a task which, if he please,
God in a moment executes with ease),
Ten thousand thousand strings at once go loose,
Lost, till he tune them, all their power and use.
Then neither heathy wilds, nor scenes as fair
As ever recompensed the peasant’s care,
Nor soft declivities with tufted hills,
Nor view of waters turning busy mills,
Parks in which art preceptress nature weds,
Nor gardens interspersed with flowery beds,
Nor gales, that catch the scent of blooming groves,
And waft it to the mourner as he roves,
Can call up life into his faded eye,
That passes all he sees unheeded by;
No wounds like those a wounded spirit feels,
No cure for such, till God who makes them heals.
And thou, sad sufferer under nameless ill
That yields not to the touch of human skill,
Improve the kind occasion, understand
A Father’s frown, and kiss his chastening hand.
To thee the day-spring, and the blaze of noon,
The purple evening and resplendent moon,
The stars that, sprinkled o’er the vault of night,
Seem drops descending in a shower of light,
Shine not, or undesired and hated shine,
Seen through the medium of a cloud like thine:
Yet seek him, in his favour life is found,
All bliss beside—a shadow or a sound:
Then heaven, eclipsed so long, and this dull earth,
Shall seem to start into a second birth;
Nature, assuming a more lovely face,
Borrowing a beauty from the works of grace,
Shall be despised and overlook’d no more,
Shall fill thee with delights unfelt before,
Impart to things inanimate a voice,
And bid her mountains and her hills rejoice;
The sound shall run along the winding vales,
And thou enjoy an Eden ere it fails.
Ye groves (the statesman at his desk exclaims,
Sick of a thousand disappointed aims),
My patrimonial treasure and my pride,
Beneath your shades your grey possessor hide,
Receive me, languishing for that repose
The servant of the public never knows.
Ye saw me once (ah, those regretted days,
When boyish innocence was all my praise!)
Hour after hour delightfully allot
To studies then familiar, since forgot,
And cultivate a taste for ancient song,
Catching its ardour as I mused along;
Nor seldom, as propitious Heaven might send,
What once I valued and could boast, a friend,
Were witnesses how cordially I press’d
His undissembling virtue to my breast;
Receive me now, not uncorrupt as then,
Nor guiltless of corrupting other men,
But versed in arts that, while they seem to stay
A falling empire, hasten its decay.
To the fair haven of my native home,
The wreck of what I was, fatigued, I come;
For once I can approve the patriot’s voice,
And make the course he recommends my choice:
We meet at last in one sincere desire,
His wish and mine both prompt me to retire.
‘Tis done—he steps into the welcome chaise,
Lolls at his ease behind four handsome bays,
That whirl away from business and debate
The disencumber’d Atlas of the state.
Ask not the boy, who, when the breeze of morn
First shakes the glittering drops from every thorn,
Unfolds his flock, then under bank or bush
Sits linking cherry-stones, or platting rush,
How fair is Freedom?—he was always free:
To carve his rustic name upon a tree,
To snare the mole, or with ill-fashion’d hook
To draw the incautious minnow from the brook,
Are life’s prime pleasures in his simple view,
His flock the chief concern he ever knew;
She shines but little in his heedless eyes,
The good we never miss we rarely prize:
But ask the noble drudge in state affairs,
Escaped from office and its constant cares,
What charms he sees in Freedom’s smile express’d,
In freedom lost so long, now repossess’d;
The tongue whose strains were cogent as commands,
Revered at home, and felt in foreign lands,
Shall own itself a stammerer in that cause,
Or plead its silence as its best applause.
He knows indeed that, whether dress’d or rude,
Wild without art, or artfully subdued,
Nature in every form inspires delight,
But never mark’d her with so just a sight.
Her hedge-row shrubs, a variegated store,
With woodbine and wild roses mantled o’er,
Green balks and furrow’d lands, the stream that spreads
Its cooling vapour o’er the dewy meads,
Downs, that almost escape the inquiring eye,
That melt and fade into the distant sky,
Beauties he lately slighted as he pass’d,
Seem all created since he travell’d last.
Master of all the enjoyments he design’d,
No rough annoyance rankling in his mind,
What early philosophic hours he keeps,
How regular his meals, how sound he sleeps!
Not sounder he that on the mainmast head,
While morning kindles with a windy red,
Begins a long look-out for distant land,
Nor quits till evening watch his giddy stand,
Then, swift descending with a seaman’s haste,
Slips to his hammock, and forgets the blast.
He chooses company, but not the squire’s,
Whose wit is rudeness, whose good-breeding tires,
Nor yet the parson’s, who would gladly come,
Obsequious when abroad, though proud at home;
Nor can he much affect the neighbouring peer,
Whose toe of emulation treads too near;
But wisely seeks a more convenient friend,
With whom, dismissing forms, he may unbend.
A man, whom marks of condescending grace
Teach, while they flatter him, his proper place;
Who comes when call’d, and at a word withdraws,
Speaks with reserve, and listens with applause;
Some plain mechanic, who, without pretence
To birth or wit, nor gives nor takes offence;
On whom he rest well pleased his weary powers,
And talks and laughs away his vacant hours.
The tide of life, swift always in its course,
May run in cities with a brisker force,
But nowhere with a current so serene,
Or half so clear, as in the rural scene.
Yet how fallacious is all earthly bliss,
What obvious truths the wisest heads may miss!
Some pleasures live a month, and some a year,
But short the date of all we gather here;
No happiness is felt, except the true,
That does not charm thee more for being new.
This observation, as it chanced, not made,
Or, if the thought occurr’d, not duly weigh’d,
He sighs—for after all by slow degrees
The spot he loved has lost the power to please;
To cross his ambling pony day by day
Seems at the best but dreaming life away;
The prospect, such as might enchant despair,
He views it not, or sees no beauty there;
With aching heart, and discontented looks,
Returns at noon to billiards or to books,
But feels, while grasping at his faded joys,
A secret thirst of his renounced employs.
He chides the tardiness of every post,
Pants to be told of battles won or lost,
Blames his own indolence, observes, though late,
‘Tis criminal to leave a sinking state,
Flies to the levee, and, received with grace,
Kneels, kisses hands, and shines again in place.
Suburban villas, highway-side retreats,
That dread the encroachment of our growing streets,
Tight boxes neatly sash’d, and in a blaze
With all a July sun’s collected rays,
Delight the citizen, who, gasping there,
Breathes clouds of dust, and calls it country air.
O sweet retirement! who would balk the thought
That could afford retirement or could not?
‘Tis such an easy walk, so smooth and straight,
The second milestone fronts the garden gate;
A step if fair, and, if a shower approach,
They find safe shelter in the next stage-coach.
There, prison’d in a parlour snug and small,
Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall,
The man of business and his friends compress’d,
Forget their labours, and yet find no rest;
But still ‘tis rural—trees are to be seen
From every window, and the fields are green;
Ducks paddle in the pond before the door,
And what could a remoter scene shew more?
A sense of elegance we rarely find
The portion of a mean or vulgar mind,
And ignorance of better things makes man,
Who cannot much, rejoice in what he can;
And he, that deems his leisure well bestow’d,
In contemplation of a turnpike-road,
Is occupied as well, employs his hours
As wisely, and as much improves his powers,
As he that slumbers in pavilions graced
With all the charms of an accomplish’d taste.
Yet hence, alas! insolvencies; and hence
The unpitied victim of ill-judged expense,
From all his wearisome engagements freed,
Shakes hands with business, and retires indeed.
Your prudent grandmammas, ye modern belles,
Content with Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge Wells,
When health required it, would consent to roam,
Else more attach’d to pleasures found at home;
But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife,
Ingenious to diversify dull life,
In coaches, chaises, caravans, and hoys,
Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys,
And all, impatient of dry land, agree
With one consent to rush into the sea.
Ocean exhibits, fathomless and broad,
Much of the power and majesty of God.
He swathes about the swelling of the deep,
That shines and rests, as infants smile and sleep;
Vast as it is, it answers as it flows
The breathings of the lightest air that blows;
Curling and whitening over all the waste,
The rising waves obey the increasing blast,
Abrupt and horrid as the tempest roars,
Thunder and flash upon the steadfast shores,
Till he that rides the whirlwind checks the rein,
Then all the world of waters sleeps again.
Nereids or Dryads, as the fashion leads,
Now in the floods, now panting in the meads,
Votaries of pleasure still, where’er she dwells,
Near barren rocks, in palaces, or cells,
Oh, grant a poet leave to recommend
(A poet fond of nature, and your friend)
Her slighted works to your admiring view;
Her works must needs excel, who fashion’d you.
Would ye, when rambling in your morning ride,
With some unmeaning coxcomb at your side,
Condemn the prattler for his idle pains,
To waste unheard the music of his strains,
And, deaf to all the impertinence of tongue,
That, while it courts, affronts and does you wrong,
Mark well the finish’d plan without a fault,
The seas globose and huge, the o’er-arching vault,
Earth’s millions daily fed, a world employ’d
In gathering plenty yet to be enjoy’d,
Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise
Of God, beneficent in all his ways;
Graced with such wisdom, how would beauty shine!
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine.
Anticipated rents and bills unpaid,
Force many a shining youth into the shade,
Not to redeem his time, but his estate,
And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate.
There, hid in loathed obscurity, removed
From pleasures left, but never more beloved,
He just endures, and with a sickly spleen
Sighs o’er the beauties of the charming scene.
Nature indeed looks prettily in rhyme;
Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime:
The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong,
Are musical enough in Thomson’s song;
And Cobham’s groves, and Windsor’s green retreats,
When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets;
He likes the country, but in truth must own,
Most likes it when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack—no matter who—for when I blame,
I pity, and must therefore sink the name,
Lived in his saddle, loved the chase, the course,
And always, ere he mounted, kiss’d his horse.
The estate, his sires had own’d in ancient years,
Was quickly distanced, match’d against a peer’s.
Jack vanish’d, was regretted, and forgot;
‘Tis wild good-nature’s never failing lot.
At length, when all had long supposed him dead,
By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead,
My lord, alighting at his usual place,
The Crown, took notice of an ostler’s face.
Jack knew his friend, but hoped in that disguise
He might escape the most observing eyes,
And whistling, as if unconcern’d and gay,
Curried his nag and look’d another way;
Convinced at last, upon a nearer view,
‘Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew,
O’erwhelm’d at once with wonder, grief, and joy,
He press’d him much to quit his base employ;
His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand,
Influence and power, were all at his command:
Peers are not always generous as well-bred,
But Granby was, meant truly what he said.
Jack bow’d, and was obliged—confess’d ‘twas strange,
That so retired he should not wish a change,
But knew no medium between guzzling beer,
And his old stint—three thousand pounds a year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe;
Some seeking happiness not found below;
Some to comply with humour, and a mind
To social scenes by nature disinclined;
Some sway’d by fashion, some by deep disgust;
Some self-impoverish’d, and because they must;
But few, that court Retirement, are aware
Of half the toils they must encounter there.
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
For want of powers proportion’d to the post:
Give e’en a dunce the employment he desires,
And he soon finds the talents it requires;
A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
But in his arduous enterprise to close
His active years with indolent repose,
He finds the labours of that state exceed
His utmost faculties, severe indeed.
‘Tis easy to resign a toilsome place,
But not to manage leisure with a grace;
Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d,
The veteran steed, excused his task at length,
In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turn’d into the park or mead to graze,
Exempt from future service all his days,
There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind,
Ranges at liberty, and snuffs the wind:
But when his lord would quit the busy road,
To taste a joy like that he has bestow’d,
He proves, less happy than his favour’d brute,
A life of ease a difficult pursuit.
Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seem
As natural as when asleep to dream:
But reveries (for human minds will act),
Specious in show, impossible in fact,
Those flimsy webs, that break as soon as wrought,
Attain not to the dignity of thought:
Nor yet the swarms that occupy the brain,
Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign;
Nor such as useless conversation breeds,
Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds.
Whence, and what are we? to what end ordain’d?
What means the drama by the world sustain’d?
Business or vain amusement, care or mirth,
Divide the frail inhabitants of earth.
Is duty a mere sport, or an employ?
Life an entrusted talent, or a toy?
Is there, as reason, conscience, Scripture say,
Cause to provide for a great future day,
When, earth’s assign’d duration at an end,
Man shall be summon’d, and the dead attend?
The trumpet—will it sound? the curtain rise?
And shew the august tribunal of the skies,
Where no prevarication shall avail,
Where eloquence and artifice shall fail,
The pride of arrogant distinctions fall,
And conscience and our conduct judge us all?
Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil
To learned cares or philosophic toil;
Though I revere your honourable names,
Your useful labours, and important aims,
And hold the world indebted to your aid,
Enrich’d with the discoveries ye have made;
Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem
A mind employ’d on so sublime a theme,
Pushing her bold inquiry to the date
And outline of the present transient state,
And, after poising her adventurous wings,
Settling at last upon eternal things,
Far more intelligent, and better taught
The strenuous use of profitable thought,
Than ye, when happiest, and enlighten’d most,
And highest in renown, can justly boast.
A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care,
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires,
Must change her nature, or in vain retires.
An idler is a watch that wants both hands;
As useless if it goes as when it stands.
Books, therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves;
Nor those, in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success let modern manners shew;
Nor his who, for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church, and laugh’d his Word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side-thrust;
Nor those of learn’d philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah’s ark;
But such as learning, without false pretence,
The friend of truth, the associate of sound sense,
And such as, in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment labouring in the Scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use:
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And, while she polishes, perverts the taste;
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
The loud demand, from year to year the same,
Beggars invention, and makes fancy lame;
Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune,
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune;
And novels (witness every month’s review)
Belie their name, and offer nothing new.
The mind, relaxing into needful sport,
Should turn to writers of an abler sort,
Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style,
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile.
Friends (for I cannot stint, as some have done,
Too rigid in my view, that name to one;
Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast
Will stand advanced a step above the rest;
Flowers by that name promiscuously we call,
But one, the rose, the regent of them all)—
Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy’s haste,
But chosen with a nice discerning taste,
Well born, well disciplined, who, placed apart
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart,
And, though the world may think the ingredients odd,
The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed,
A temper rustic as the life we lead,
And keep the polish of the manners clean,
As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene;
For solitude, however some may rave,
Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave,
A sepulchre, in which the living lie,
Where all good qualities grow sick and die.
I praise the Frenchman, his remark was shrewd,
How sweet, how passing sweet is solitude!
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper—Solitude is sweet.
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside,
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Can save us always from a tedious day,
Or shine the dulness of still life away;
Divine communion, carefully enjoy’d,
Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
Oh, sacred art! to which alone life owes
Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,
Scorn’d in a world, indebted to that scorn
For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
Not knowing thee, we reap, with bleeding hands,
Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands,
And, while experience cautions us in vain,
Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain.
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,
Lost by abandoning her own relief,
Murmuring and ungrateful discontent,
That scorns afflictions mercifully meant,
Those humours, tart as wines upon the fret,
Which idleness and weariness beget;
These, and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast,
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens the obedient beasts of prey.
See Judah’s promised king, bereft of all,
Driven out an exile from the face of Saul,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies,
To seek that peace a tyrant’s frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him o’erwhelm’d with sorrow, yet rejoice;
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart;
‘Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour’s sake.
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds, familiar with a lion’s roar,
Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before;
‘Tis love like his that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumber’d pleasures harmlessly pursued;
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain, or herb, or plant that each demands;
To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create;
To mark the matchless workings of the power
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends Nature forth the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes;
To teach the canvas innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet—
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of time.
Me poetry (or, rather, notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse;
Content if, thus sequester’d, I may raise
A monitor’s, though not a poet’s, praise,
And, while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.

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The Columbiad: Book VII

The Argument


Coast of France rises in vision. Louis, to humble the British power, forms an alliance with the American states. This brings France, Spain and Holland into the war, and rouses Hyder Ally to attack the English in India. The vision returns to America, where the military operations continue with various success. Battle of Monmouth. Storming of Stonypoint by Wayne. Actions of Lincoln, and surrender of Charleston. Movements of Cornwallis. Actions of Greene, and battle of Eutaw. French army arrives, and joins the American. They march to besiege the English army of Cornwallis in York and Gloster. Naval battle of Degrasse and Graves. Two of their ships grappled and blown up. Progress of the siege. A citadel mined and blown up. Capture of Cornwallis and his army. Their banners furled and muskets piled on the field of battle.


Thus view'd the Pair; when lo, in eastern skies,
From glooms unfolding, Gallia's coasts arise.
Bright o'er the scenes of state a golden throne,
Instarr'd with gems and hung with purple, shone;
Young Bourbon there in royal splendor sat,
And fleets and moving armies round him wait.
For now the contest, with increased alarms,
Fill'd every court and roused the world to arms;
As Hesper's hand, that light from darkness brings,
And good to nations from the scourge of kings,
In this dread hour bade broader beams unfold,
And the new world illuminate the old.

In Europe's realms a school of sages trace
The expanding dawn that waits the Reasoning Race;
On the bright Occident they fix their eyes,
Thro glorious toils where struggling nations rise;
Where each firm deed, each new illustrious name
Calls into light a field of nobler fame:
A field that feeds their hope, confirms the plan
Of well poized freedom and the weal of man.
They scheme, they theorize, expand their scope,
Glance o'er Hesperia to her utmost cope;
Where streams unknown for other oceans stray,
Where suns unseen their waste of beams display,
Where sires of unborn nations claim their birth,
And ask their empires in those wilds of earth.
While round all eastern climes, with painful eye,
In slavery sunk they see the kingdoms lie,
Whole states exhausted to enrich a throne,
Their fruits untasted and their rights unknown;
Thro tears of grief that speak the well taught mind,
They hail the æra that relieves mankind.

Of these the first, the Gallic sages stand,
And urge their king to lift an aiding hand.
The cause of humankind their souls inspired,
Columbia's wrongs their indignation fired;
To share her fateful deeds their counsel moved,
To base in practice what in theme they proved:
That no proud privilege from birth can spring,
No right divine, nor compact form a king;
That in the people dwells the sovereign sway,
Who rule by proxy, by themselves obey;
That virtues, talents are the test of awe,
And Equal Rights the only source of law.
Surrounding heroes wait the monarch's word,
In foreign fields to draw the patriot sword,
Prepared with joy to join those infant powers,
Who build republics on the western shores.

By honest guile the royal ear they bend,
And lure him on, blest Freedom to defend;
That, once recognised, once establisht there,
The world might learn her profer'd boon to share.
But artful arguments their plan disguise,
Garb'd in the gloss that suits a monarch's eyes.
By arms to humble Britain's haughty power,
From her to sever that extended shore,
Contents his utmost wish. For this he lends
His powerful aid, and calls the opprest his friends.
The league proposed, he lifts his arm to save,
And speaks the borrow'd language of the brave:

Ye states of France, and ye of rising name
Who work those distant miracles of fame,
Hear and attend; let heaven the witness bear,
We wed the cause, we join the righteous war.
Let leagues eternal bind each friendly land,
Given by our voice, and stablisht by our hand;
Let that brave people fix their infant sway,
And spread their blessings with the bounds of day.
Yet know, ye nations; hear, ye Powers above,
Our purposed aid no views of conquest move;
In that young world revives no ancient claim
Of regions peopled by the Gallic name;
Our envied bounds, already stretch'd afar,
Nor ask the sword, nor fear encroaching war;
But virtue, coping with the tyrant power
That drenches earth in her best children's gore,
With nature's foes bids former compact cease;
We war reluctant, and our wish is peace;
For man's whole race the sword of France we draw;
Such is our will, and let our will be law.

He spoke; his moving armies veil'd the plain,
His fleets rode bounding on the western main;
O'er lands and seas the loud applauses rung,
And war and union dwelt on every tongue.

The other Bourbon caught the splendid strain,
To Gallia's arms he joins the powers of Spain;
Their sails assemble; Crillon lifts the sword,
Minorca bows and owns her ancient lord.
But while dread Elliott shakes the Midland wave,
They strive in vain the Calpian rock to brave.
Batavia's states with equal speed prepare
Thro western isles to meet the naval war;
For Albion there rakes rude the tortured main,
And foils the force of Holland, France and Spain.

Where old Indostan still perfumes the skies,
To furious strife his ardent myriads rise;
Fierce Hyder there, unconquerably bold,
Bids a new flag its horned moons unfold,
Spreads o'er Carnatic kings his splendid force,
And checks the Britons in their waiting course.

Europe's pacific powers their counsels join,
The laws of trade to settle and define.
The imperial Moscovite around him draws
Each Baltic state to join the righteous cause;
Whose arm'd Neutrality the way prepares
To check the ravages of future wars;
Till by degrees the wasting sword shall cease,
And commerce lead to universal peace.

Thus all the ancient world with anxious eyes
Enjoy the lights that gild Atlantic skies,
Wake to new life, assume a borrow'd flame,
Enlarge the lustre and partake the fame.
So mounts of ice, that polar heavens invade,
Tho piled unseen thro night's long wintry shade.
When morn at last illumes their glaring throne,
Give back the day and imitate the sun.

But still Columbus, on his war-beat shore,
Sees Albion's fleets her new battalions pour;
The states unconquer'd still their terrors wield,
And stain with mingled gore the embattled field.
On Pennsylvania's various plains they move,
And adverse armies equal slaughter prove;
Columbia mourns her Nash in combat slain,
Britons around him press the gory plain;
Skirmish and cannonade and distant fire
Each power diminish and each nation tire.
Till Howe from fruitless toil demands repose,
And leaves despairing in a land of foes
His wearied host; who now, to reach their fleet,
O'er Jersey hills commence their long retreat,
Tread back the steps their chief had led before,
And ask in vain the late abandon'd shore,
Where Hudson meets, the main; for on their rear
Columbia moves; and checks their swift career.

But where green Monmouth lifts his grassy height,
They halt, they face, they dare the coming fight.
Howe's proud successor, Clinton, hosting there,
To tempt once more the desperate chance of war,
Towers at their head, in hopes to work relief,
And mend the errors of his former chief.
Here shines his day; and here with loud acclaim
Begins and ends his little task of fame.
He vaults before them with his balanced blade,
Wheels the bright van, and forms the long parade;
Where Britons, Hessians crowd the glittering field,
And all their powers for ready combat wield.
As the dim sun, beneath the skirts of even,
Crimsons the clouds that sail the western heaven;
So, in red wavy rows, where spread the train
Of men and standards, shone the fateful plain.

They shone, till Washington obscured their light,
And his long ranks roll'd forward to the fight.
He points the charge; the mounted thunders roar,
And rake the champaign to the distant shore.
Above the folds of smoke that veil the war,
His guiding sword illumes the fields of air;
And vollied flames, bright bursting o'er the plain,
Break the brown clouds, discovering far the slain:
Till flight begins; the smoke is roll'd away,
And the red standards open into day.
Britons and Germans hurry from the field,
Now wrapt in dust, and now to sight reveal'd;
Behind, swift Washington his falchion drives,
Thins the pale ranks, but saves submissive lives.
Hosts captive bow and move behind his arm,
And hosts before him wing the sounding storm;
When the glad sea salutes their fainting sight,
And Albion's fleet wide thundering aids their flight;
They steer to sad Newyork their hasty way,
And rue the toils of Monmouth's mournful day.

But Hudson still, with his interior tide,
Laves a rude rock that bears Britannia's pride,
Swells round the headland with indignant roar,
And mocks her thunders from his murmuring shore;
When a firm cohort starts from Peekskill plain,
To crush the invaders and the post regain.
Here, gallant Hull, again thy sword is tried,
Meigs, Fleury, Butler, laboring side by side,
Wayne takes the guidance, culls the vigorous band,
Strikes out the flint, and bids the nervous hand
Trust the mute bayonet and midnight skies,
To stretch o'er craggy walls the dark surprise.
With axes, handspikes on the shoulder hung,
And the sly watchword whisper'd from the tongue,
Thro different paths the silent march they take,
Plunge, climb the ditch, the palisado break,
Secure each sentinel, each picket shun,
Grope the dim postern where the byways run.
Soon the roused garrison perceives its plight;
Small time to rally and no means of flight,
They spring confused to every post they know,
Point their poized cannon where they hear the foe,
Streak the dark welkin with the flames they pour,
And rock the mountain with convulsive roar.

The swift assailants still no fire return,
But, tow'rd the batteries that above them burn,
Climb hard from crag to crag; and scaling higher
They pierce the long dense canopy of fire
That sheeted all the sky; then rush amain,
Storm every outwork, each dread summit gain,
Hew timber'd gates, the sullen drawbridge fall,
File thro and form within the sounding wall.
The Britons strike their flag, the fort forgo,
Descend sad prisoners to the plain below.
A thousand veterans, ere the morning rose,
Received their handcuffs from five hundred foes;
And Stonypoint beheld, with dawning day,
His own starr'd standard on his rampart play.

From sack'd Savanna, whelm'd in hostile fires,
A few raw troops brave Lincoln now retires; 2l
With rapid march to suffering Charleston goes,
To meet the myriads of concentring foes,
Who shade the pointed strand. Each fluvial flood
Their gathering fleets and floating batteries load,
Close their black sails, debark the amphibious host,
And with their moony anchors fang the coast.

The bold beleaguer'd post the hero gains,
And the hard siege with various fate sustains.
Cornwallis, towering at the British van,
In these fierce toils his wild career began;
He mounts the forky streams, and soon bestrides
The narrow neck that parts converging tides,
Sinks the deep trench, erects the mantling tower,
Lines with strong forts the desolated shore,
Hems on all sides the long unsuccour'd place,
With mines and parallels contracts the space;
Then bids the battering floats his labors crown,
And pour their bombard on the shuddering town.

High from the decks the mortar's bursting fires
Sweep the full streets, and splinter down the spires.
Blaze-trailing fuses vault the night's dim round,
And shells and langrage lacerate the ground;
Till all the tented plain, where heroes tread,
Is torn with crags and cover'd with the dead.
Each shower of flames renews the townsmen's woe,
They wail the fight, they dread the cruel foe.
Matrons in crowds, while tears bedew their charms,
Babes at their sides and infants in their arms,
Press round their Lincoln and his hand implore,
To save them trembling from the tyrant's power.
He shares their anguish with a moistening eye,
And bids the balls rain thicker thro the sky;
Tries every aid that art and valor yield,
The sap, the countermine, the battling field,
The bold sortie, by famine urged afar,
That dreadful daughter of earth-wasting War.
But vain the conflict now; on all the shore
The foes in fresh brigades around him pour;
He yields at last the well contested prize,
And freedom's banners quit the southern skies.

The victor Britons soon the champaign tread,
And far anorth their fire and slaughter spread;
Thro fortless realms, where unarm'd peasants fly,
Cornwallis bears his bloody standard high;
O'er Carolina rolls his growing force,
And thousands fall and thousands aid his course;
While in his march athwart the wide domain,
Colonial dastards join his splendid train.
So mountain streams thro slopes of melting snow
Swell their foul waves and flood the world below.

Awhile the Patriarch saw, with heaving sighs,
These crimson flags insult the saddening skies,
Saw desolation whelm his favorite coast,
His children scattered and their vigor lost,
Dekalb in furious combat press the plain,
Morgan and Smallwood every shock sustain,
Gates, now no more triumphant, quit the field,
Indignant Davidson his lifeblood yield,
Blount, Gregory, Williamson, with souls of fire
But slender force, from hill to hill retire;
When Greene in lonely greatness takes the ground,
And bids at last the trump of vengeance sound.

A few firm patriots to the chief repair,
Raise the star standard and demand the war.
But o'er the regions as he turns his eyes,
What foes develop! and what forts arise!
Rawdon with rapid marches leads their course,
From state to state Cornwallis whirls their force,
Impetuous Tarleton like a torrent pours,
And fresh battalions land along the shores;
Where, now resurgent from his captive chain,
Phillips wide storming shakes the field again;
And traitor Arnold, lured by plunder o'er,
Joins the proud powers his valor foil'd before.

Greene views the tempest with collected soul,
Arid fates of empires in his bosom roll;
So small his force, where shall he lift the steel?
(Superior hosts o'er every canton wheel)
Or how behold their wanton carnage spread,
Himself stand idle and his country bleed?
Fixt in a moment's pause the general stood,
And held his warriors from the field of blood;
Then points the British legions where to steer,
Marks to their chief a rapid wild career,
Wide o'er Virginia lets him foeless roam,
To search for pillage and to find his doom,
With short-lived glory feeds his sateless flame,
But leaves the victory to a nobler name,
Gives to great Washington to meet his way,
Nor claims the honors of so bright a day.

Now to the conquer'd south he turns his force,
Renerves the nation by his rapid course;
Forts fall around him, hosts before him fly,
And captive bands his growing train supply;
A hundred leagues of coast, in one campaign,
Return reconquer'd to their lords again.
At last Britannia's vanguard, near the strand,
Veers on her foe to make one vigorous stand.
Her gallant Stuart here amass'd from far
The veteran legions of the Georgian war,
To aid her hard-pusht powers, and quick restore
The British name to that extended shore.
He checks their flight, and chooses well their field,
Flank'd with a marsh, by lofty woods concealed;
Where Eutaw's fountains, tinged of old with gore,
Still murmuring swell'd amid the bones they bore,
Destined again to foul their pebbly stream,
The mournful monuments of human fame;
There Albion's columns, ranged in order bright,
Stand like a fiery wall and wait the shock of fight.

Swift on the neighboring hill as Greene arose,
He view'd, with rapid glance, the glittering foes,
Disposed for combat all his ardent train,
To charge, change front, each echelon sustain;
Roused well their rage, superior force to prove,
Waved his bright blade and bade the onset move.
As hovering clouds, when morning beams arise,
Hang their red curtains round our eastern skies,
Unfold a space to hail the promised sun,
And catch their splendors from his rising throne;
Thus glow'd the opposing fronts, whose steely glare
Glanced o'er the shuddering interval of war.

From Albion's left the cannonade began,
And pour'd thick thunders on Hesperia's van,
Forced in her dexter guards, that skirmisht wide
To prove what powers the forest hills might hide;
They break, fall back, with measured quickstep tread,
Form close, and flank the solid squares they led.
Now roll, with kindling haste, the long stark lines,
From wing to wing the sounding battle joins;
Batteries and field-parks and platoons of fire,
In mingled shocks their roaring blasts exspire.
Each front approaching fast, with equal pace,
Devours undaunted their dividing space;
Till, dark beneath the smoke, the meeting ranks
Slope their strong bayonets, with short firm shanks
Protruded from their tubes; each bristling van,
Steel fronting steel, and man encountering man,
In dreadful silence tread. As, wrapt from sight,
The nightly ambush moves to secret fight;
So rush the raging files, and sightless close
In plunging thrust with fierce conflicting foes.
They reach, they strike, they stagger o'er the slain,
Deal doubtful blows, or closing clench their man,
Intwine their twisting limbs, the gun forgo,
Wrench off the bayonet and dirk the foe;
Then struggling back, reseize the musket bare,
Club the broad breech, and headlong whirl to war
Ranks crush on ranks with equal slaughter gored;
Warm dripping streams from every lifted sword
Stain the thin carnaged corps who still maintain,
With mutual shocks, the vengeance of the plain.
At last where Williams fought and Campbell fell,
Unwonted strokes the British line repel.
The rout begins; the shattered wings afar
Roll back in haste and scatter from the war;
They drop their arms, they scour the marshy field,
Whole squadrons fall and faint battalions yield.

The great Observer, fixt in his midsky,
View'd the whole combat, saw them fall and fly:
He mark'd where Greene with every onset drove,
Saw death and victory with his presence move,
Beneath his arm saw Marion, Sumter, Gaine,
Pickens and Sumner shake the astonish'd plain;
He saw young Washington, the child of fame,
Preserve in fight the honors of his name.
Lee, Jackson, Hampton, Pinckney, matcht in might,
Roll'd on the storm and hurried fast the flight:
While numerous chiefs, that equal trophies raise,
Wrought, not unseen, the deeds of deathless praise.

As Europe now the newborn states beheld
The shock sustain of many a hard-fought field;
Swift o'er the main, with high-spread sails, advance
Our brave auxiliars from the coast of France.
On the tall decks their curious chiefs explore,
With optic tube, our camp-encumber'd shore;
And, as the lessening wave behind them flies,
Wide scenes of conflict open on their eyes.
Rochambeau foremost with his gleamy brand
Points to each field and singles every band,
Sees Washington the power of nations guide,
And longs to toil and conquer by his side.
Two brother chiefs, Viominil the name,
Brothers in birth but twins in generous fame,
Behold with steadfast eye the plains disclose,
Uncase their arms and claim the promised foes.
Biron, beneath his sail, in armor bright,
Frown'd o'er the wave impatient for the fight;
A fiery steed beside the hero stood,
And his blue blade waved forward o'er the crowd.

With eager haste descending on the coast,
Thro the glad states they march their veteran host,
From sea-nursed Newport file o'er western roads,
Pitch many a camp, and bridge a hundred floods,
Pass the full towns, where joyful crowds admire
Their foreign speech, gay mien and gilt attire,
Applaud their generous deeds, the zeal that draws
Their swords untried in freedom's doubtful cause.
Thro Hartford plains, on Litchfield hills they gleam,
Wave their white flags o'er Hudson's loaded stream,
Band after band with Delaware's current pour,
Shade Schuylkill's wave and Elk's indented shore,
Join their new friends, where allied banners lead,
Demand the foe and bid the war proceed.

Again Columbus turn'd his anxious eye
Where Britain's banner waved along the sky;
And, graced with spoils of many fields of blood,
Cornwallis boastful on a bulwark stood.
Where York and Gloster's rocky towers bestride
Their parent stream, Virginia's midmost tide,
He camp'd his hundred nations, to regain
Their force, exhausted in the long campaign;
Paused for a moment on a scene so vast,
To plan the future and review the past.
Thro vanquisht provinces and towns in flame
He mark'd his recent monuments of fame,
His checker'd marches, long and various toils,
And camp well stored with wide collected spoils.

High glittering to the sun his hands unfold
A map new drafted on a sheet of gold;
There in delusive haste his burin graved
A country conquer'd and a race enslaved.
Its middle realm, by fairer figures known
And rich with fruits, lay bounded for his own;
Deep thro the centre spreads a branching bay,
Full sails ascend and golden rivers stray;
Bright palaces arise relieved in gold,
And gates and streets the crossing lines unfold.
James furrows o'er the plate with turgid tide,
Young Richmond roughens on his masted side;
Reviving Norfolk from her ashes springs,
A golden phoenix on refulgent wings;
Potowmak's yellow waves reluctant spread,
And Vernon rears his rich and radiant head,
Tis here the chief his pointed graver stays,
The bank to burnish with a purer blaze,
Gives all his art, on this bright hill to trace
His future seat and glory of his race;
Deems his long line of lords the realm shall own,
The kings predestined to Columbia's throne.

But while his mind thus quafft its airy food,
And gazing thousands round the rampart stood,
Whom future ease and golden dreams employ,
The songs of triumph and the feast of joy;
Sudden great Washington arose in view,
And allied flags his stately steps pursue;
Gaul's veteran host and young Hesperia's pride
Bend the long march concentring at his side,
Stream over Chesapeak, like sheets of flame,
And drive tempestuous to the field of fame.

Far on the wild expanse, where ocean lies,
And scorns all confines but incumbent skies,
Scorns to retain the imprinted paths of men
To guide their wanderings or direct their ken;
Where warring vagrants, raging as they go,
Ask of the stars their way to find the foe,
Columbus saw two hovering fleets advance,
And rival ensigns o'er their pinions dance.
Graves, on the north, with Albion's flag unfurl'd,
Waves proud defiance to the watery world;
Degrasse, from southern isles, conducts his train,
And shades with Gallic sheets the moving main.

Now Morn, unconscious of the coming fray
That soon shall storm the crystal cope of day,
Glows o'er the heavens, and with her orient breeze
Fans her fair face and curls the summer seas.
The swelling sails, as far as eye can sweep,
Look thro the skies and awe the shadowy deep,
Lead their long bending lines; and, ere they close,
To count, recognise, circumvent their foes,
Each hauls his wind, the weathergage to gain
And master all the movements of the plain;
Or bears before the breeze with loftier gait,
And, beam to beam, begins the work of fate.

As when the warring winds, from each far pole,
Their adverse storms across the concave roll,
Thin fleecy vapors thro the expansion run,
Veil the blue vault and tremble o'er the sun,
Till the dark folding wings together drive,
And, ridged with fire and rock'd with thunder, strive;
So, hazing thro the void, at first appear
White clouds of canvass floating on the air,
Then frown the broad black decks, the sails are stay'd,
The gaping portholes cast a frightful shade,
Flames, triple tier'd, and tides of smoke, arise.
And fulminations rock the seas and skies.

From van to rear the roaring deluge runs,
The storm disgorging from a thousand guns,
Each like a vast volcano, spouting wide
His hissing hell-dogs o'er the shuddering tide,
Whirls high his chainshot, cleaves the mast and strews
The shiver'd fragments on the staggering foes;
Whose gunwale sides with iron globes are gored,
And a wild storm of splinters sweeps the board.
Husht are the winds of heaven; no more the gale
Breaks the red rolls of smoke nor flaps the sail;
A dark dead calm continuous cloaks the glare,
And holds the clouds of sulphur on the war,
Convolving o'er the space that yawns and shines,
With frequent flash, between the laboring lines.
Nor sun nor sea nor skyborn lightning gleams,
But flaming Phlegethon's asphaltic steams
Streak the long gaping gulph; where varying glow
Carbonic curls above, blue flakes of fire below.

Hither two hostile ships to contact run,
Both grappling, board to board and gun to gun;
Each thro the adverse ports their contents pour,
Rake the lower decks, the interior timbers bore,
Drive into chinks the illumined wads unseen,
Whose flames approach the unguarded magazine.
Above, with shrouds afoul and gunwales mann'd,
Thick halberds clash; and, closing hand to hand,
The huddling troops, infuriate from despair,
Tug at the toils of death, and perish there;
Grenados, carcasses their fragments spread,
And pikes and pistols strow the decks with dead.
Now on the Gallic board the Britons rush,
The intrepid Gauls the rash adventurers crush;
And now, to vengeance Stung, with frantic air,
Back on the British maindeck roll the war.
There swells the carnage; all the tar-beat floor
Is clogg'd with spatter'd brains and glued with gore;
And down the ship's black waist fresh brooks of blood
Course o'er their clots, and tinge the sable flood.
Till War, impatient of the lingering strife
That tires and slackens with the waste of life,
Opes with engulphing gape the astonish'd wave,
And whelms the combat whole, in one vast grave.
For now the imprison'd powder caught the flames,
And into atoms whirl'd the monstrous frames
Of both the entangled ships; the vortex wide
Roars like an Ætna thro the belching tide,
And blazing into heaven, and bursting high,
Shells, carriages and guns obstruct the sky;
Cords, timbers, trunks of men the welkin sweep,
And fall on distant ships, or shower along the deep.

The matcht armadas still the fight maintain,
But cautious, distant; lest the staggering main
Drive their whole lines afoul, and one dark day
Glut the proud ocean with too rich a prey.
At last, where scattering fires the cloud disclose,
Hulls heave in sight and blood the decks o'erflows;
Here from the field tost navies rise to view,
Drive hack to vengeance and the roar renew,
There shatter'd ships commence their flight afar,
Tow'd thro the smoke, hard struggling from the war;
And some, half seen amid the gaping wave,
Plunge in the whirl they make, and gorge their grave.

Soon the dark smoky volumes roll'd away,
And a long line ascended into day;
The pinions swell'd, Britannia's cross arose
And flew the terrors of triumphing foes;
When to Virginia's bay, new shocks to brave,
The Gallic powers their conquering banners wave.
Glad Chesapeak unfolds his bosom wide,
And leads their prows to York's contracting tide;
Where still dread Washington directs his way,
And seas and continents his voice obey;
While brave Cornwallis, mid the gathering host,
Perceives his glories gone, his promised empire lost.

Columbus here with silent joy beheld
His favorite sons the fates of nations wield.
Here joyous Lincoln rose in arms again,
Nelson and Knox moved ardent o'er the plain;
Scammel alert with force unusual trod,
Prepared to seal their victory with his blood;
Cobb, Dearborn, Laurens, Tilghman, green in years
But ripe in glory, tower'd amid their peers;
Death-daring Hamilton with splendor shone,
And claim'd each post of danger for his own,
Skill'd every arm in war's whole hell to wield,
An Ithacus in camp, an Ajax in the field.

Their Gallic friends an equal ardor fires;
Brisk emulation every troop inspires:
Where Tarleton turns, with hopes of flight elate,
Brave Biron moves and drives him back to fate,
Hems in his host, to wait, on Gloster plains,
Their finish'd labors and their destined chains.

Two British forts the growing siege outflank,
Rake its wide works and awe the tide-beat bank;
Swift from the lines two chosen bands advance,
Our light-arm'd scouts, the grenadiers of France;
These young Viominil conducts to fame,
And those Fayette's unerring guidance claim.
No cramm'd cartouch their belted back attires,
No grains of sleeping thunder wait their fires;
The flint, the ramrod spurn'd, away they cast;
The strong bright bayonet, imbeaded fast,
Stands beaming from the bore; with this they tread,
Nor heed from high-wall'd foes their showers of lead.
Each rival band, tho wide and distant far,
Springs simultaneous to this task of war;
For here a twofold force each hero draws,
His own proud country and the general cause;
And each with twofold energy contends,
His foes to vanquish and outstrip his friends.
They summon all their zeal, and wild and warm
O'er flaming ramparts pour the maddening storm,
The mounted cannons crush, and lead the foe
Two trains of captives to the plain below;
An equal prize each gallant troop ameeds,
Alike their numbers and alike their deeds.

A strong high citadel still thundering stood,
And stream'd her standard o'er the field of blood,
Check'd long the siege with fulminating blare,
Scorn'd all the steel and every globe of war,
Defied fell famine, heapt her growing store,
And housed in bombproof all the host she bore.
No rude assault can stretch the scale so high,
In vain the battering siege-guns round her ply;
Mortars well poized their deafening deluge rain,
Load the red skies and shake the shores in vain;
Her huge rock battlements rebound the blow,
And roll their loose crags on the men below.

But while the fusing fireballs scorch the sky,
Their mining arts the staunch besiegers ply,
Delve from the bank of York, and gallery far,
Deep subterranean, to the mount of war;
Beneath the ditch, thro rocks and fens they go,
Scoop the dark chamber plumb beneath the foe;
There lodge their tons of powder and retire,
Mure the dread passage, wave the fatal fire,
Send a swift messenger to warn the foe
To seek his safety and the post forgo.
A taunting answer comes; he dares defy
To spring the mine and all its Ætnas try;
When a black miner seized the sulphur'd brand,
Shriek'd high for joy, and with untrembling hand
Touch'd quick the insidious train; lest here the chief
Should change his counsel and afford relief:
For hard the general's task, to speak the doom
That sends a thousand heroes to the tomb;
Heroes who know no wrong; who thoughtless speed
Where kings command or where their captains lead,
-Burst with the blast, the reeling mountain roars,
Heaves, labors, boils, and thro the concave pours
His flaming contents high; he chokes the air
With all his warriors and their works of war;
Guns, bastions, magazines confounded fly,
Vault wide their fresh explosions o'er the sky,
Encumber each far camp, and plough profound
With their rude fragments every neighboring ground.

Britain's brave leader, where he sought repose,
And deem'd his hill-fort still repulsed the foes,
Starts at the astounding earthquake, and descries
His chosen veterans whirling down the skies.
Their mangled members round his balcon fall,
Scorch'd in the flames, and dasht on every wall:
Sad field of contemplation! Here, ye great,
Kings, priests of God, and ministers of state,
Review your system here! behold and scan
Your own fair deeds, your benefits to man!
You will not leave him to his natural toil,
To tame these elements and till the soil.
To reap, share, tithe you what his hand has sown,
Enjoy his treasures and increase your own,
Build up his virtues on the base design'd,
The well-toned harmonies of humankind.
You choose to check his toil, and band his eyes
To all that's honest and to all that's wise;
Lure with false fame, false morals and false lore,
To barter fields of corn for fields of gore,
To take by bands what single thieves would spare,
And methodise his murders into war.

Now the prest garrison fresh danger warms;
They rush impetuous to each post of arms,
Man the long trench, each embrasure sustain,
And pour their langrage on the allied train;
Whose swift approaches, crowding on the line,
Each wing envelop and each front confine.
O'er all sage Washington his arm extends,
Points every movement, every work defends,
Bids closer quarters, bloodier strokes proceed,
New batteries blaze and heavier squadrons bleed.
Line within line fresh parallels enclose;
Here runs a zigzag, there a mantlet grows,
Round the pent foe approaching breastworks rise,
And bombs, like meteors, vault the flaming skies.
Night, with her hovering wings, asserts in vain
The shades, the silence of her rightful reign;
High roars her canopy with fiery flakes,
And War stalks wilder thro the glare he makes.

With dire dismay the British chief beheld
The foe advance, his veterans shun the field,
Despair and slaughter where he turns his eye,
No hope in combat and no power to fly;
Degrasse victorious shakes the shadowy tide,
Imbodied nations all the champaign hide,
Fosses and batteries, growing on the sight,
Still pour new thunders and increase the fight;
Shells rain before him, rending every mound,
Crags, gunstones, balls o'erturn the tented ground,
From post to post his driven ranks retire,
The earth in crimson and the skies on fire.

Death wantons proud in this decisive round,
For here his hand its favorite victim found;
Brave Scammel perisht here. Ah! short, my friend,
Thy bright career, but glorious to its end.
Go join thy Warren's ghost, your fates compare,
His that commenced, with thine that closed the war;
Freedom, with laurel'd brow but tearful eyes,
Bewails her first and last, her twinlike sacrifice.

Now grateful truce suspends the burning war,
And groans and shouts promiscuous load the air;
When the tired Britons, where the smokes decay,
Quit their strong station and resign the day.
Slow files along the immeasurable train,
Thousands on thousands redden all the plain,
Furl their torn bandrols, all their plunder yield.
And pile their muskets on the battle field.
Their wide auxiliar nations swell the crowd,
And the coop'd navies, from the neighboring flood,
Repeat surrendering signals, and obey
The landmen's fate on this concluding day.

Cornwallis first, their late all-conquering lord,
Bears to the victor chief his conquer'd sword,
Presents the burnisht hilt, and yields with pain
The gift of kings, here brandisht long in vain.
Then bow their hundred banners, trailing far
Their wearied wings from all the skirts of war.
Battalion'd infantry and squadron'd horse
Dash the silk tassel and the golden torse;
Flags from the forts and ensigns from the fleet
Roll in the dust, and at Columbia's feet
Prostrate the pride of thrones; they firm the base
Of Freedom's temple, while her arms they grace.
Here Albion's crimson Cross the soil o'erspreads,
Her Lion crouches and her Thistle fades;
Indignant Erin rues her trampled Lyre,
Brunswick's pale Steed forgets his foamy fire,
Proud Hessia's Castle lies in dust o'erthrown,
And venal Anspach quits her broken Crown.

Long trains of wheel'd artillery shade the shore,
Quench their blue matches and forget to roar;
Along the encumber'd plain, thick planted rise
High stacks of muskets glittering to the skies,
Numerous and vast. As when the toiling swains
Heap their whole harvest on the stubbly plains,
Gerb after gerb the bearded shock expands,
Shocks, ranged in rows, hill high the burden'd lands;
The joyous master numbers all the piles,
And o'er his well-earn'd crop complacent smiles:
Such growing heaps this iron harvest yield,
So tread the victors this their final field.

Triumphant Washington, with brow serene,
Regards unmoved the exhilarating scene,
Weighs in his balanced thought the silent grief
That sinks the bosom of the fallen chief.
With all the joy that laurel crowns bestow,
A world reconquer'd and a vanquished foe.
Thus thro extremes of life, in every state,
Shines the clear soul, beyond all fortune great;
While smaller minds, the dupes of fickle chance,
Slight woes o'erwhelm and sudden joys entrance.
So the full sun, thro all the changing sky,
Nor blasts nor overpowers the naked eye;
Tho transient splendors, borrowed from his light,
Glance on the mirror and destroy the sight.

He bids brave Lincoln guide with modest air
The last glad triumph of the finish'd war;
Who sees, once more, two armies shade one plain,
The mighty victors and the captive train.

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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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