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Digging A Ditch

I'm digging a ditch
Where madness lives
I'm digging a ditch
Where my silence lives
I'm diggin a ditch and when I am through
Digging this ditch I'll dig one for you
Digging a ditch
As black as cold
Digging a ditch
Where I can hide my soul
Digging a ditch
Where my secrets stay

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Third Book

'TO-DAY thou girdest up thy loins thyself,
And goest where thou wouldest: presently
Others shall gird thee,' said the Lord, 'to go
Where thou would'st not.' He spoke to Peter thus,
To signify the death which he should die
When crucified head downwards.
If He spoke
To Peter then, He speaks to us the same;
The word suits many different martyrdoms,
And signifies a multiform of death,
Although we scarcely die apostles, we,
And have mislaid the keys of heaven and earth.

For tis not in mere death that men die most;
And, after our first girding of the loins
In youth's fine linen and fair broidery,
To run up hill and meet the rising sun,
We are apt to sit tired, patient as a fool,
While others gird us with the violent bands
Of social figments, feints, and formalisms,
Reversing our straight nature, lifting up
Our base needs, keeping down our lofty thoughts,
Head downward on the cross-sticks of the world.
Yet He can pluck us from the shameful cross.
God, set our feet low and our forehead high,
And show us how a man was made to walk!

Leave the lamp, Susan, and go up to bed.
The room does very well; I have to write
Beyond the stroke of midnight. Get away;
Your steps, for ever buzzing in the room,
Tease me like gnats. Ah, letters! throw them down
At once, as I must have them, to be sure,
Whether I bid you never bring me such
At such an hour, or bid you. No excuse.
You choose to bring them, as I choose perhaps
To throw them in the fire. Now, get to bed,
And dream, if possible, I am not cross.

Why what a pettish, petty thing I grow,–
A mere, mere woman,–a mere flaccid nerve,-
A kerchief left out all night in the rain,
Turned soft so,–overtasked and overstrained
And overlived in this close London life!
And yet I should be stronger.
Never burn
Your letters, poor Aurora! for they stare
With red seals from the table, saying each,
'Here's something that you know not.' Out alas,
'Tis scarcely that the world's more good and wise
Or even straighter and more consequent
Since yesterday at this time–yet, again,
If but one angel spoke from Ararat,
I should be very sorry not to hear:
So open all the letters! let me read.
Blanche Ord, the writer in the 'Lady's Fan,'
Requests my judgment on . . that, afterwards.
Kate Ward desires the model of my cloak,
And signs, 'Elisha to you.' Pringle Sharpe
Presents his work on 'Social Conduct,' . . craves
A little money for his pressing debts . .
From me, who scarce have money for my needs,–
Art's fiery chariot which we journey in
Being apt to singe our singing-robes to holes,
Although you ask me for my cloak, Kate Ward!
Here's Rudgely knows it,–editor and scribe–
He's 'forced to marry where his heart is not,
Because the purse lacks where he lost his heart.'
Ah,–lost it because no one picked it up!
That's really loss! (and passable impudence.)
My critic Hammond flatters prettily,
And wants another volume like the last.
My critic Belfair wants another book
Entirely different, which will sell, (and live?)
A striking book, yet not a startling book,
The public blames originalities.
(You must not pump spring-water unawares
Upon a gracious public, full of nerves–)
Good things, not subtle, new yet orthodox,
As easy reading as the dog-eared page
That's fingered by said public, fifty years,
Since first taught spelling by its grandmother,
And yet a revelation in some sort:
That's hard, my critic, Belfair! So–what next?
My critic Stokes objects to abstract thoughts;
'Call a man, John, a woman, Joan,' says he,
'And do not prate so of humanities:'
Whereat I call my critic, simply Stokes.
My critic Jobson recommends more mirth,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times,
And all true poets laugh unquenchably
Like Shakspeare and the gods. That's very hard,
The gods may laugh, and Shakspeare; Dante smiled
With such a needy heart on two pale lips,
We cry, 'Weep rather, Dante.' Poems are
Men, if true poems: and who dares exclaim
At any man's door, 'Here, 'tis probable
The thunder fell last week, and killed a wife,
And scared a sickly husband–what of that?
Get up, be merry, shout, and clap your hands,
Because a cheerful genius suits the times–'?
None says so to the man,–and why indeed
Should any to the poem? A ninth seal;
The apocalypse is drawing to a close.
Ha,–this from Vincent Carrington,–'Dear friend,
I want good counsel. Will you lend me wings
To raise me to the subject, in a sketch
I'll bring to-morrow–may I? at eleven?
A poet's only born to turn to use;
So save you! for the world . . and Carrington.'

'(Writ after.) Have you heard of Romney Leigh,
Beyond what's said of him in newspapers,
His phalansteries there, his speeches here,
His pamphlets, pleas, and statements, everywhere?
He dropped me long ago; but no one drops
A golden apple–though, indeed, one day,
You hinted that, but jested. Well, at least,
You know Lord Howe, who sees him . . whom he sees,
And you see, and I hate to see,–for Howe
Stands high upon the brink of theories,
Observes the swimmers, and cries 'Very fine,'
But keeps dry linen equally,–unlike
That gallant breaster, Romney. Strange it is,
Such sudden madness, seizing a young man,
To make earth over again,–while I'm content
To make the pictures. Let me bring the sketch.
A tiptoe Danae, overbold and hot:
Both arms a-flame to meet her wishing Jove
Halfway, and burn him faster down; the face
And breasts upturned and straining, the loose locks
All glowing with the anticipated gold.
Or here's another on the self-same theme.
She lies here–flat upon her prison-floor,
The long hair swathed about her to the heel,
Like wet sea-weed. You dimly see her through
The glittering haze of that prodigious rain,
Half blotted out of nature by a love
As heavy as fate. I'll bring you either sketch.
I think, myself, the second indicates
More passion. '
Surely. Self is put away,
And calm with abdication. She is Jove,
And no more Danae–greater thus. Perhaps
The painter symbolises unawares
Two states of the recipient artist-soul;
One, forward, personal, wanting reverence,
Because aspiring only. We'll be calm,
And know that, when indeed our Joves come down.
We all turn stiller than we have ever been.

Kind Vincent Carrington. I'll let him come.
He talks of Florence,–and may say a word
Of something as it chanced seven years ago,–
A hedgehog in the path, or a lame bird,
In those green country walks, in that good time,
When certainly I was so miserable . .
I seem to have missed a blessing ever since.

The music soars within the little lark,
And the lark soars. It is not thus with men.
We do not make our places with our strains,–
Content, while they rise, to remain behind,
Alone on earth instead of so in heaven.
No matter–I bear on my broken tale.

When Romney Leigh and I had parted thus,
I took a chamber up three flights of stairs
Not far from being as steep as some larks climb,
And, in a certain house in Kensington,
Three years I lived and worked. Get leave to work
In this world,–'tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction. God says, 'Sweat
For foreheads;' men say 'crowns;' and so we are crowned,
Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel
Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work; get work;
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.

So, happy and unafraid of solitude,
I worked the short days out,–and watched the sun
On lurid morns or monstrous afternoons,
Like some Druidic idol's fiery brass,
With fixed unflickering outline of dead heat,
In which the blood of wretches pent inside
Seemed oozing forth to incarnadine the air,–
Push out through fog with his dilated disk,
And startle the slant roofs and chimney-pots
With splashes of fierce colour. Or I saw
Fog only, the great tawny weltering fog,
Involve the passive city, strangle it
Alive, and draw it off into the void,
Spires, bridges, streets, and squares, as if a sponge
Had wiped out London,–or as noon and night
Had clapped together and utterly struck out
The intermediate time, undoing themselves
In the act. Your city poets see such things,
Not despicable. Mountains of the south,
When, drunk and mad with elemental wines,
They rend the seamless mist and stand up bare,
Make fewer singers, haply. No one sings,
Descending Sinai; on Parnassus mount,
You take a mule to climb, and not a muse,
Except in fable and figure: forests chant
Their anthems to themselves, and leave you dumb.
But sit in London, at the day's decline,
And view the city perish in the mist
Like Pharaoh's armaments in the deep Red Sea,–
The chariots, horsemen, footmen, all the host,
Sucked down and choked to silence–then, surprised
By a sudden sense of vision and of tune,
You feel as conquerors though you did not fight,
And you and Israel's other singing girls,
Ay, Miriam with them, sing the song you choose.

I worked with patience which means almost power
I did some excellent things indifferently,
Some bad things excellently. Both were praised,
The latter loudest. And by such a time
That I myself had set them down as sins
Scarce worth the price of sackcloth, week by week,
Arrived some letter through the sedulous post,
Like these I've read, and yet dissimilar,
With pretty maiden seals,–initials twined
Of lilies, or a heart marked Emily,
(Convicting Emily of being all heart);
Or rarer tokens from young bachelors,
Who wrote from college (with the same goosequill,
Suppose, they had been just plucked of) and a snatch
From Horace, 'Collegisse juvat,' set
Upon the first page. Many a letter signed
Or unsigned, showing the writers at eighteen
Had lived too long, though every muse should help
The daylight, holding candles,–compliments,
To smile or sigh at. Such could pass with me
No more than coins from Moscow circulate
At Paris. Would ten rubles buy a tag
Of ribbon on the boulevard, worth a sou?
I smiled that all this youth should love me,–sighed
That such a love could scarcely raise them up
To love what was more worthy than myself;
Then sighed again, again, less generously,
To think the very love they lavished so,
Proved me inferior. The strong loved me not,
And he . . my cousin Romney . . did not write.
I felt the silent finger of his scorn
Prick every bubble of my frivolous fame
As my breath blew it, and resolve it back
To the air it came from. Oh, I justified
The measure he had taken of my height:
The thing was plain–he was not wrong a line;
I played at art, made thrusts with a toy-sword,
Amused the lads and maidens.
Came a sigh
Deep, hoarse with resolution,–I would work
To better ends, or play in earnest. 'Heavens,
I think I should be almost popular
If this went on!'–I ripped my verses up,
And found no blood upon the rapier's point:
The heart in them was just an embryo's heart,
Which never yet had beat, that it should die:
Just gasps of make-believe galvanic life;
Mere tones, inorganised to any tune.

And yet I felt it in me where it burnt,
Like those hot fire-seeds of creation held
In Jove's clenched palm before the worlds were sown;
But II was not Juno even! my hand
Was shut in weak convulsion, woman's ill,
And when I yearned to loose a finger–lo,
The nerve revolted. 'Tis the same even now:
This hand may never, haply, open large,
Before the spark is quenched, or the palm charred,
To prove the power not else than by the pain.

It burns, it burnt–my whole life burnt with it,
And light, not sunlight and not torchlight, flashed
My steps out through the slow and difficult road.
I had grown distrustful of too forward Springs,
The season's books in drear significance
Of morals, dropping round me. Lively books?
The ash has livelier verdure than the yew;
And yet the yew's green longer, and alone
Found worthy of the holy Christmas time.
We'll plant more yews if possible, albeit
We plant the graveyards with them.
Day and night
I worked my rhythmic thought, and furrowed up
Both watch and slumber with long lines of life
Which did not suit their season. The rose fell
From either cheek, my eyes globed luminous
Through orbits of blue shadow, and my pulse
Would shudder along the purple-veined wrist
Like a shot bird. Youth's stern, set face to face
With youth's ideal: and when people came
And said, 'You work too much, you are looking ill,'
I smiled for pity of them who pitied me,
And thought I should be better soon perhaps
For those ill looks. Observe–' I,' means in youth
Just I . . the conscious and eternal soul
With all its ends,–and not the outside life,
The parcel-man, the doublet of the flesh,
The so much liver, lung, integument,
Which make the sum of 'I' hereafter, when
World-talkers talk of doing well or ill.
I prosper, if I gain a step, although
A nail then pierced my foot: although my brain
Embracing any truth, froze paralysed,
I prosper. I but change my instrument;
I break the spade off, digging deep for gold,
And catch the mattock up.
I worked on, on.
Through all the bristling fence of nights and days
Which hedges time in from the eternities,
I struggled, . . never stopped to note the stakes
Which hurt me in my course. The midnight oil
Would stink sometimes; there came some vulgar needs:
I had to live, that therefore I might work.
And, being but poor, I was constrained, for life,
To work with one hand for the booksellers,
While working with the other for myself
And art. You swim with feet as well as hands
Or make small way. I apprehended this,–
In England, no one lives by verse that lives;
And, apprehending, I resolved by prose
To make a space to sphere my living verse.
I wrote for cyclopædias, magazines,
And weekly papers, holding up my name
To keep it from the mud. I learnt the use
Of the editorial 'we' in a review,
As courtly ladies the fine trick of trains,
And swept it grandly through the open doors
As if one could not pass through doors at all
Save so encumbered. I wrote tales beside,
Carved many an article on cherry-stones
To suit light readers,–something in the lines
Revealing, it was said, the mallet-hand,
But that, I'll never vouch for. What you do
For bread, will taste of common grain, not grapes,
Although you have a vineyard in Champagne,–
Much less in Nephelococcygia,
As mine was, peradventure.
Having bread
For just so many days, just breathing room
For body and verse, I stood up straight and worked
My veritable work. And as the soul
Which grows within a child, makes the child grow,–
Or as the fiery sap, the touch from God,
Careering through a tree, dilates the bark,
And roughs with scale and knob, before it strikes
The summer foliage out in a green flame–
So life, in deepening with me, deepened all
The course I took, the work I did. Indeed,
The academic law convinced of sin;
The critics cried out on the falling off
Regretting the first manner. But I felt
My heart's life throbbing in my verse to show
It lived, it also–certes incomplete,
Disordered with all Adam in the blood,
But even its very tumours, warts, and wens,
Still organised by, and implying life.

A lady called upon me on such a day.
She had the low voice of your English dames,
Unused, it seems, to need rise half a note
To catch attention,–and their quiet mood,
As if they lived too high above the earth
For that to put them out in anything:
So gentle, because verily so proud;
So wary and afeared of hurting you,
By no means that you are not really vile,
But that they would not touch you with their foot
To push you to your place; so self-possessed
Yet gracious and conciliating, it takes
An effort in their presence to speak truth:
You know the sort of woman,–brilliant stuff,
And out of nature. 'Lady Waldemar.'
She said her name quite simply, as if it meant
Not much indeed, but something,–took my hands,
And smiled, as if her smile could help my case,
And dropped her eyes on me, and let them melt.
'Is this,' she said, 'the Muse?'
'No sibyl even,'
I answered, 'since she fails to guess the cause
Which taxed you with this visit, madam.'
'Good,'
She said, 'I like to be sincere at once;
Perhaps, if I had found a literal Muse,
The visit might have taxed me. As it is,
You wear your blue so chiefly in your eyes,
My fair Aurora, in a frank good way,
It comforts me entirely for your fame,
As well as for the trouble of my ascent
To this Olympus. '
There, a silver laugh
Ran rippling through her quickened little breaths
The steep stair somewhat justified.
'But still
Your ladyship has left me curious why
You dared the risk of finding the said Muse?'

'Ah,–keep me, notwithstanding, to the point
Like any pedant. Is the blue in eyes
As awful as in stockings, after all,
I wonder, that you'd have my business out
Before I breathe–exact the epic plunge
In spite of gasps? Well, naturally you think
I've come here, as the lion-hunters go
To deserts, to secure you, with a trap
For exhibition in my drawing-rooms
On zoologic soirées? Not in the least.
Roar softly at me; I am frivolous,
I dare say; I have played at lions, too
Like other women of my class,–but now
I meet my lion simply as Androcles
Met his . . when at his mercy.'
So, she bent
Her head, as queens may mock,–then lifting up
Her eyelids with a real grave queenly look,
Which ruled, and would not spare, not even herself,
'I think you have a cousin:–Romney Leigh.'

'You bring a word from him? '–my eyes leapt up
To the very height of hers,– 'a word from him? '

'I bring a word about him, actually.
But first,'–she pressed me with her urgent eyes–
'You do not love him,–you?'
'You're frank at least
In putting questions, madam,' I replied.
'I love my cousin cousinly–no more.'

'I guessed as much. I'm ready to be frank
In answering also, if you'll question me,
Or even with something less. You stand outside,
You artist women, of the common sex;
You share not with us, and exceed us so
Perhaps by what you're mulcted in, your hearts
Being starved to make your heads: so run the old
Traditions of you. I can therefore speak,
Without the natural shame which creatures feel
When speaking on their level, to their like.
There's many a papist she, would rather die
Than own to her maid she put a ribbon on
To catch the indifferent eye of such a man,–
Who yet would count adulteries on her beads
At holy Mary's shrine, and never blush;
Because the saints are so far off, we lose
All modesty before them. Thus, to-day.
'Tis I, love Romney Leigh.'
'Forbear,' I cried.
'If here's no muse, still less is any saint;
Nor even a friend, that Lady Waldemar
Should make confessions' . .
'That's unkindly said.
If no friend, what forbids to make a friend
To join to our confession ere we have done?
I love your cousin. If it seems unwise
To say so, it's still foolisher (we're frank)
To feel so. My first husband left me young,
And pretty enough, so please you, and rich enough,
To keep my booth in May-fair with the rest
To happy issues. There are marquises
Would serve seven years to call me wife, I know:
And, after seven, I might consider it,
For there's some comfort in a marquisate
When all's said,–yes, but after the seven years;
I, now, love Romney. You put up your lip,
So like a Leigh! so like him!–Pardon me,
I am well aware I do not derogate
In loving Romney Leigh. The name is good,
The means are excellent; but the man, the man–
Heaven help us both,–I am near as mad as he
In loving such an one.'
She slowly wrung
Her heavy ringlets till they touched her smile,
As reasonably sorry for herself;
And thus continued,–
'Of a truth, Miss Leigh,
I have not, without a struggle, come to this.
I took a master in the German tongue,
I gamed a little, went to Paris twice;
But, after all, this love! . . . you eat of love,
And do as vile a thing as if you ate
Of garlic–which, whatever else you eat,
Tastes uniformly acrid, till your peach
Reminds you of your onion! Am I coarse?
Well, love's coarse, nature's coarse–ah there's the rub!
We fair fine ladies, who park out our lives
From common sheep-paths, cannot help the crows
From flying over,–we're as natural still
As Blowsalinda. Drape us perfectly
In Lyons' velvet,–we are not, for that,
Lay-figures, like you! we have hearts within,
Warm, live, improvident, indecent hearts,
As ready for distracted ends and acts
As any distressed sempstress of them all
That Romney groans and toils for. We catch love
And other fevers, in the vulgar way.
Love will not be outwitted by our wit,
Nor outrun by our equipages:–mine
Persisted, spite of efforts. All my cards
Turned up but Romney Leigh; my German stopped
At germane Wertherism; my Paris rounds
Returned me from the Champs Elysées just
A ghost, and sighing like Dido's. I came home
Uncured,–convicted rather to myself
Of being in love . . in love! That's coarse you'll say
I'm talking garlic.'
Coldly I replied.
'Apologise for atheism, not love!
For, me, I do believe in love, and God.
I know my cousin: Lady Waldemar
I know not: yet I say as much as this
Whoever loves him, let her not excuse
But cleanse herself; that, loving such a man,
She may not do it with such unworthy love
He cannot stoop and take it.'
'That is said
Austerely, like a youthful prophetess,
Who knits her brows across her pretty eyes
To keep them back from following the grey flight
Of doves between the temple-columns. Dear,
Be kinder with me. Let us two be friends.
I'm a mere woman–the more weak perhaps
Through being so proud; you're better; as for him,
He's best. Indeed he builds his goodness up
So high, it topples down to the other side,
And makes a sort of badness; there's the worst
I have to say against your cousin's best!
And so be mild, Aurora, with my worst,
For his sake, if not mine.'
'I own myself
Incredulous of confidence like this
Availing him or you.'
'I, worthy of him?
In your sense I am not so–let it pass.
And yet I save him if I marry him;
Let that pass too.'
'Pass, pass, we play police
Upon my cousin's life, to indicate
What may or may not pass?' I cried. 'He knows
what's worthy of him; the choice remains with him;
And what he chooses, act or wife, I think
I shall not call unworthy, I, for one.'
'Tis somewhat rashly said,' she answered slow.
Now let's talk reason, though we talk of love.
Your cousin Romney Leigh's a monster! there,
The word's out fairly; let me prove the fact.
We'll take, say, that most perfect of antiques,
They call the Genius of the Vatican,
Which seems too beauteous to endure itself
In this mixed world, and fasten it for once
Upon the torso of the Drunken Fawn,
(Who might limp surely, if he did not dance,)
Instead of Buonarroti's mask: what then?
We show the sort of monster Romney is,
With god-like virtue and heroic aims
Subjoined to limping possibilities
Of mismade human nature. Grant the man
Twice godlike, twice heroic,–still he limps,
And here's the point we come to.'
'Pardon me,
But, Lady Waldemar, the point's the thing
We never come to.'
'Caustic, insolent
At need! I like you'–(there, she took my hands)
'And now my lioness, help Androcles,
For all your roaring. Help me! for myself
I would not say so–but for him. He limps
So certainly, he'll fall into the pit
A week hence,–so I lose him–so he is lost!
And when he's fairly married, he a Leigh,
To a girl of doubtful life, undoubtful birth,
Starved out in London, till her coarse-grained hands
Are whiter than her morals,–you, for one,
May call his choice most worthy.'
'Married! lost!
He, . . . Romney!'
'Ah, you're moved at last,' she said.
'These monsters, set out in the open sun,
Of course throw monstrous shadows: those who think
Awry, will scarce act straightly. Who but he?
And who but you can wonder? He has been mad,
The whole world knows, since first, a nominal man,
He soured the proctors, tried the gownsmen's wits,
With equal scorn of triangles and wine,
And took no honours, yet was honourable.
They'll tell you he lost count of Homer's ships
In Melbourne's poor-bills, Ashley's factory bills,–
Ignored the Aspasia we all dared to praise,
For other women, dear, we could not name
Because we're decent. Well, he had some right
On his side probably; men always have,
Who go absurdly wrong. The living boor
Who brews your ale, exceeds in vital worth
Dead Caesar who 'stops bungholes' in the cask;
And also, to do good is excellent,
For persons of his income, even to boors:
I sympathise with all such things. But he
Went mad upon them . . madder and more mad,
From college times to these,–as, going down hill,
The faster still, the farther! you must know
Your Leigh by heart; he has sown his black young curls
With bleaching cares of half a million men
Already. If you do not starve, or sin,
You're nothing to him. Pay the income-tax,
And break your heart upon't . . . he'll scarce be touched;
But come upon the parish, qualified
For the parish stocks, and Romney will be there
To call you brother, sister, or perhaps
A tenderer name still. Had I any chance
With Mister Leigh, who am Lady Waldemar,
And never committed felony?'
'You speak
Too bitterly,' I said, 'for the literal truth.'

'The truth is bitter. Here's a man who looks
For ever on the ground! you must be low;
Or else a pictured ceiling overhead,
Good painting thrown away. For me, I've done
What women may, (we're somewhat limited,
We modest women) but I've done my best.
–How men are perjured when they swear our eyes
Have meaning in them! they're just blue or brown,–
They just can drop their lids a little. In fact,
Mine did more, for I read half Fourier through,
Proudhon, Considerant, and Louis Blanc
With various other of his socialists;
And if I had been a fathom less in love,
Had cured myself with gaping. As it was,
I quoted from them prettily enough,
Perhaps, to make them sound half rational
To a saner man than he, whene'er we talked,
(For which I dodged occasion)–learnt by heart
His speeches in the Commons and elsewhere
Upon the social question; heaped reports
Of wicked women and penitentiaries,
On all my tables, with a place for Sue;
And gave my name to swell subscription-lists
Toward keeping up the sun at nights in heaven,
And other possible ends. All things I did,
Except the impossible . . such as wearing gowns
Provided by the Ten Hours' movement! there,
I stopped–we must stop somewhere. He, meanwhile,
Unmoved as the Indian tortoise 'neath the world
Let all that noise go on upon his back;
He would not disconcert or throw me out;
'Twas well to see a woman of my class
With such a dawn of conscience. For the heart,
Made firewood for his sake, and flaming up
To his very face . . he warmed his feet at it:
But deigned to let my carriage stop him short
In park or street,–he leaning on the door
With news of the committee which sate last
On pickpockets at suck.'

'You jest–you jest.'

'As martyrs jest, dear (if you read their lives),
Upon the axe which kills them. When all's done
By me, . . for him–you'll ask him presently
The color of my hair–he cannot tell,
Or answers 'dark' at random,–while, be sure,
He's absolute on the figure, five or ten,
Of my last subscription. Is it bearable,
And I a woman?'
'Is it reparable,
Though I were a man?'
'I know not. That's to prove.
But, first, this shameful marriage?'
'Ay?' I cried.
'Then really there's a marriage.'
'Yesterday
I held him fast upon it. 'Mister Leigh,'
Said I, 'shut up a thing, it makes more noise.
'The boiling town keeps secrets ill; I've known
'Yours since last week. Forgive my knowledge so:
'You feel I'm not the woman of the world
'The world thinks; you have borne with me before
'And used me in your noble work, our work,
'And now you shall not cast me off because
'You're at the difficult point, the join. 'Tis true
'Even if I can scarce admit the cogency
'Of such a marriage . . where you do not love
'(Except the class), yet marry and throw your name
'Down to the gutter, for a fire-escape
'To future generation! it's sublime,
'A great example,–a true Genesis
'Of the opening social era. But take heed;
'This virtuous act must have a patent weight,
'Or loses half its virtue. Make it tell,
'Interpret it, and set it in the light,
'And do not muffle it in a winter-cloak
'As a vulgar bit of shame,–as if, at best,
'A Leigh had made a misalliance and blushed
'A Howard should know it.' Then, I pressed him more–
'He would not choose,' I said, 'that even his kin, . .
'Aurora Leigh, even . . should conceive his act
'Less sacrifice, more appetite.' At which
He grew so pale, dear, . . to the lips, I knew
I had touched him. 'Do you know her,' he inquired,
'My cousin Aurora?' 'Yes,' I said, and lied
(But truly we all know you by your books),
And so I offered to come straight to you,
Explain the subject, justify the cause,
And take you with me to Saint Margaret's Court
To see this miracle, this Marian Erle,
This drover's daughter (she's not pretty, he swears),
Upon whose finger, exquisitely pricked
By a hundred needles, we're to hang the tie
'Twixt class and class in England,–thus indeed
By such a presence, yours and mine, to lift
The match up from the doubtful place. At once
He thanked me, sighing, . . murmured to himself
'She'll do it perhaps; she's noble,'–thanked me, twice,
And promised, as my guerdon, to put off
His marriage for a month.'
I answered then.
'I understand your drift imperfectly.
You wish to lead me to my cousin's betrothed,
To touch her hand if worthy, and hold her hand
If feeble, thus to justify his match.
So be it then. But how this serves your ends,
And how the strange confession of your love
Serves this, I have to learn–I cannot see.'

She knit her restless forehead. 'Then, despite,
Aurora, that most radiant morning name,
You're dull as any London afternoon.
I wanted time,–and gained it,–wanted you,
And gain you! You will come and see the girl
In whose most prodigal eyes, the lineal pearl
And pride of all your lofty race of Leighs
Is destined to solution. Authorised
By sight and knowledge, then, you'll speak your mind,
And prove to Romney, in your brilliant way,
He'll wrong the people and posterity
(Say such a thing is bad for you and me,
And you fail utterly), by concluding thus
An execrable marriage. Break it up.
Disroot it–peradventure, presently,
We'll plant a better fortune in its place.
Be good to me, Aurora, scorn me less
For saying the thing I should not. Well I know
I should not. I have kept, as others have,
The iron rule of womanly reserve
In lip and life, till now: I wept a week
Before I came here.'–Ending, she was pale;
The last words, haughtily said, were tremulous.
This palfrey pranced in harness, arched her neck,
And, only by the foam upon the bit,
You saw she champed against it.
Then I rose.
'I love love: truth's no cleaner thing than love.
I comprehend a love so fiery hot
It burns its natural veil of august shame,
And stands sublimely in the nude, as chaste
As Medicean Venus. But I know,
A love that burns through veils will burn through masks
And shrivel up treachery. What, love and lie!
Nay–go to the opera! your love's curable.'

'I love and lie!' she said–'I lie, forsooth?'
And beat her taper foot upon the floor,
And smiled against the shoe,–'You're hard, Miss Leigh,
Unversed in current phrases.–Bowling-greens
Of poets are fresher than the world's highways:
Forgive me that I rashly blew the dust
Which dims our hedges even, in your eyes,
And vexed you so much. You find, probably,
No evil in this marriage,–rather good
Of innocence, to pastoralise in song:
You'll give the bond your signature, perhaps,
Beneath the lady's work,–indifferent
That Romney chose a wife, could write her name,
In witnessing he loved her.'
'Loved!' I cried;
'Who tells you that he wants a wife to love?
He gets a horse to use, not love, I think:
There's work for wives as well,–and after, straw,
When men are liberal. For myself, you err
Supposing power in me to break this match.
I could not do it, to save Romney's life,
And would not, to save mine.'
'You take it so,'
She said, 'farewell then. Write your books in peace,
As far as may be for some secret stir
Now obvious to me,–for, most obviously,
In coming hither I mistook the way.'
Whereat she touched my hand and bent her head,
And floated from me like a silent cloud
That leaves the sense of thunder.
I drew breath,
As hard as in a sick-room. After all,
This woman breaks her social system up
For love, so counted–the love possible
To such,–and lilies are still lilies, pulled
By smutty hands, though spotted from their white;
And thus she is better, haply, of her kind,
Than Romney Leigh, who lives by diagrams,
And crosses out the spontaneities
Of all his individual, personal life
With formal universals. As if man
Were set upon a high stool at a desk,
To keep God's books for Him, in red and black,
And feel by millions! What, if even God
Were chiefly God by living out Himself
To an individualism of the Infinite,
Eterne, intense, profuse,–still throwing up
The golden spray of multitudinous worlds
In measure to the proclive weight and rush
Of his inner nature,–the spontaneous love
Still proof and outflow of spontaneous life?
Then live, Aurora!
Two hours afterward,
Within Saint Margaret's Court I stood alone,
Close-veiled. A sick child, from an ague-fit,
Whose wasted right hand gambled 'gainst his left
With an old brass button, in a blot of sun,
Jeered weakly at me as I passed across
The uneven pavement; while a woman, rouged
Upon the angular cheek-bones, kerchief torn,
Thin dangling locks, and flat lascivious mouth,
Cursed at a window, both ways, in and out,
By turns some bed-rid creature and myself,–
'Lie still there, mother! liker the dead dog
You'll be to-morrow. What, we pick our way,
Fine madam, with those damnable small feet!
We cover up our face from doing good,
As if it were our purse! What brings you here,
My lady? is't to find my gentleman
Who visits his tame pigeon in the eaves?
Our cholera catch you with its cramps and spasms,
And tumble up your good clothes, veil and all,
And turn your whiteness dead-blue.' I looked up;
I think I could have walked through hell that day,
And never flinched. 'The dear Christ comfort you,'
I said, 'you must have been most miserable
To be so cruel,'–and I emptied out
My purse upon the stones: when, as I had cast
The last charm in the cauldron, the whole court
Went boiling, bubbling up, from all its doors
And windows, with a hideous wail of laughs
And roar of oaths, and blows perhaps . . I passed
Too quickly for distinguishing . . and pushed
A little side-door hanging on a hinge,
And plunged into the dark, and groped and climbed
The long, steep, narrow stair 'twixt broken rail
And mildewed wall that let the plaster drop
To startle me in the blackness. Still, up, up!
So high lived Romney's bride. I paused at last
Before a low door in the roof, and knocked;
There came an answer like a hurried dove–
'So soon! can that be Mister Leigh? so soon?'
And, as I entered, an ineffable face
Met mine upon the threshold. 'Oh, not you,
Not you!' . . the dropping of the voice implied;
'Then, if not you, for me not any one.'
I looked her in the eyes, and held her hands,
And said 'I am his cousin,–Romney Leigh's;
And here I'm come to see my cousin too.'
She touched me with her face and with her voice,
This daughter of the people. Such soft flowers
From such rough roots? The people, under there,
Can sin so, curse so, look so, smell so . . . faugh!
Yet have such daughters!
Nowise beautiful
Was Marian Erle. She was not white nor brown,
But could look either, like a mist that changed
According to being shone on more or less:
The hair, too, ran its opulence of curls
In doubt 'twixt dark and bright, nor left you clear
To name the color. Too much hair perhaps
(I'll name a fault here) for so small a head,
Which seemed to droop on that side and on this,
As a full-blown rose uneasy with its weight,
Though not a breath should trouble it. Again,
The dimple in the cheek had better gone
With redder, fuller rounds; and somewhat large
The mouth was, though the milky little teeth
Dissolved it to so infantile a smile!
For soon it smiled at me; the eyes smiled too,
But 'twas as if remembering they had wept,
And knowing they should, some day, weep again.

We talked. She told me all her story out,
Which I'll re-tell with fuller utterance,
As coloured and confirmed in aftertimes
By others, and herself too. Marian Erle
Was born upon the ledge of Malvern Hill,
To eastward, in a hut, built up at night,
To evade the landlord's eye, of mud and turf,
Still liable, if once he looked that way,
To being straight levelled, scattered by his foot,
Like any other anthill. Born, I say;
God sent her to his world, commissioned right,
Her human testimonials fully signed,
Not scant in soul–complete in lineaments;
But others had to swindle her a place
To wail in when she had come. No place for her,
By man's law! born an outlaw, was this babe;
Her first cry in our strange and strangling air,
When cast in spasms out by the shuddering womb,
Was wrong against the social code,–forced wrong.
What business had the baby to cry there?

I tell her story and grow passionate.
She, Marian, did not tell it so, but used
Meek words that made no wonder of herself
For being so sad a creature. 'Mister Leigh
Considered truly that such things should change.
They will, in heaven–but meantime, on the earth,
There's none can like a nettle as a pink,
Except himself. We're nettles, some of us,
And give offence by the act of springing up;
And, if we leave the damp side of the wall,
The hoes, of course, are on us.' So she said.
Her father earned his life by random jobs
Despised by steadier workmen–keeping swine
On commons, picking hops, or hurrying on
The harvest at wet seasons,–or, at need,
Assisting the Welsh drovers, when a drove
Of startled horses plunged into the mist
Below the mountain-road, and sowed the wind
With wandering neighings. In between the gaps
Of such irregular work, he drank and slept,
And cursed his wife because, the pence being out,
She could not buy more drink. At which she turned,
(The worm), and beat her baby in revenge
For her own broken heart. There's not a crime
But takes its proper change out still in crime
If once rung on the counter of this world:
Let sinners look to it.
Yet the outcast child,
For whom the very mother's face forewent
The mother's special patience, lived and grew;
Learnt early to cry low, and walk alone,
With that pathetic vacillating roll
Of the infant body on the uncertain feet,
(The earth being felt unstable ground so soon)
At which most women's arms unclose at once
With irrepressive instinct. Thus, at three,
This poor weaned kid would run off from the fold,
This babe would steal off from the mother's chair,
And, creeping through the golden walls of gorse,
Would find some keyhole toward the secrecy
Of Heaven's high blue, and, nestling down, peer out–
Oh, not to catch the angels at their games,
She had never heard of angels, but to gaze
She knew not why, to see she knew not what,
A-hungering outward from the barren earth
For something like a joy. She liked, she said,
To dazzle black her sight against the sky,
For then, it seemed, some grand blind Love came down,
And groped her out, and clasped her with a kiss;
She learnt God that way, and was beat for it
Whenever she went home,–yet came again,
As surely as the trapped hare, getting free,
Returns to his form. This grand blind Love, she said,
This skyey father and mother both in one,
Instructed her and civilised her more
Than even the Sunday-school did afterward,
To which a lady sent her to learn books
And sit upon a long bench in a row
With other children. Well, she laughed sometimes
To see them laugh and laugh, and moil their texts;
But ofter she was sorrowful with noise,
And wondered if their mothers beat them hard
That ever they should laugh so. There was one
She loved indeed,–Rose Bell, a seven years' child,
So pretty and clever, who read syllables
When Marian was at letters; she would laugh
At nothing–hold your finger up, she laughed,
Then shook her curls down on her eyes and mouth
To hide her make-mirth from the schoolmaster.
And Rose's pelting glee, as frank as rain
On cherry-blossoms, brightened Marian too,
To see another merry whom she loved.
She whispered once (the children side by side,
With mutual arms entwined about their necks)
'Your mother lets you laugh so?' 'Ay,' said Rose,
'She lets me. She was dug into the ground
Six years since, I being but a yearling wean.
Such mothers let us play and lose our time,
And never scold nor beat us! Don't you wish
You had one like that?' There, Marian, breaking off
Looked suddenly in my face. 'Poor Rose,' said she,
'I heard her laugh last night in Oxford Street.
I'd pour out half my blood to stop that laugh,–
Poor Rose, poor Rose!' said Marian.
She resumed.
It tried her, when she had learnt at Sunday-school
What God was, what he wanted from us all,
And how, in choosing sin, we vexed the Christ,
To go straight home and hear her father pull
The name down on us from the thunder-shelf,
Then drink away his soul into the dark
From seeing judgment. Father, mother, home,
Were God and heaven reversed to her: the more
She knew of Right, the more she guessed their wrong:
Her price paid down for knowledge, was to know
The vileness of her kindred: through her heart,
Her filial and tormented heart, henceforth
They struck their blows at virtue. Oh, 'tis hard
To learn you have a father up in heaven
By a gathering certain sense of being, on earth,
Still worse than orphaned: 'tis too heavy a grief,
The having to thank God for such a joy!

And so passed Marian's life from year to year.
Her parents took her with them when they tramped,
Dodged lanes and heaths, frequented towns and fairs,
And once went farther and saw Manchester,
And once the sea, that blue end of the world,
That fair scroll-finis of a wicked book,–
And twice a prison, back at intervals,
Returning to the hills. Hills draw like heaven,
And stronger sometimes, holding out their hands
To pull you from the vile flats up to them;
And though, perhaps, these strollers still strolled back,
As sheep do, simply that they knew the way,
They certainly felt bettered unawares
Emerging from the social smut of towns
To wipe their feet clean on the mountain turf.
In which long wanderings, Marian lived and learned,
Endured and learned. The people on the roads
Would stop and ask her how her eyes outgrew
Her cheeks, and if she meant to lodge the birds
In all that hair; and then they lifted her,
The miller in his cart, a mile or twain,
The butcher's boy on horseback. Often, too,
The pedlar stopped, and tapped her on the head
With absolute forefinger, brown and ringed,
And asked if peradventure she could read:
And when she answered 'ay,' would toss her down
Some stray odd volume from his heavy pack,
A Thomson's Seasons, mulcted of the Spring,
Or half a play of Shakespeare's, torn across:
(She had to guess the bottom of a page
By just the top sometimes,–as difficult,
As, sitting on the moon, to guess the earth!),
Or else a sheaf of leaves (for that small Ruth's
Small gleanings) torn out from the heart of books,
From Churchyard Elegies and Edens Lost,
From Burns, and Bunyan, Selkirk, and Tom Jones.
'Twas somewhat hard to keep the things distinct,
And oft the jangling influence jarred the child
Like looking at a sunset full of grace
Through a pothouse window while the drunken oaths
Went on behind her; but she weeded out
Her book-leaves, threw away the leaves that hurt,
(First tore them small, that none should find a word),
And made a nosegay of the sweet and good
To fold within her breast, and pore upon
At broken moments of the noontide glare,
When leave was given her to untie her cloak
And rest upon the dusty roadside bank
From the highway's dust. Or oft, the journey done,
Some city friend would lead her by the hand
To hear a lecture at an institute.
And thus she had grown, this Marian Erle of ours,
To no book-learning,–she was ignorant
Of authors,–not in earshot of the things
Out-spoken o'er the heads of common men,
By men who are uncommon,–but within
The cadenced hum of such, and capable
Of catching from the fringes of the wind
Some fragmentary phrases, here and there,
Of that fine music,–which, being carried in
To her soul, had reproduced itself afresh
In finer motions of the lips and lids.

She said, in speaking of it, 'If a flower
Were thrown you out of heaven at intervals,
You'd soon attain to a trick of looking up,–
And so with her.' She counted me her years,
Till I felt old; and then she counted me
Her sorrowful pleasures, till I felt ashamed.
She told me she was almost glad and calm
On such and such a season; sate and sewed,
With no one to break up her crystal thoughts:
While rhymes from lovely poems span around
Their ringing circles of ecstatic tune,
Beneath the moistened finger of the Hour.
Her parents called her a strange, sickly child,
Not good for much, and given to sulk and stare,
And smile into the hedges and the clouds,
And tremble if one shook her from her fit
By any blow, or word even. Out-door jobs
Went ill with her; and household quiet work
She was not born to. Had they kept the north,
They might have had their pennyworth out of her
Like other parents, in the factories;
(Your children work for you, not you for them,
Or else they better had been choked with air
The first breath drawn;) but, in this tramping life,
Was nothing to be done with such a child,
But tramp and tramp. And yet she knitted hose
Not ill, and was not dull at needlework;
And all the country people gave her pence
For darning stockings past their natural age,
And patching petticoats from old to new,
And other light work done for thrifty wives.

One day, said Marian–the sun shone that day–
Her mother had been badly beat, and felt
The bruises sore about her wretched soul
(That must have been): she came in suddenly,
And snatching, in a sort of breathless rage,
Her daughter's headgear comb, let down the hair
Upon her, like a sudden waterfall,
Then drew her drenched and passive, by the arm,
Outside the hut they lived in. When the child
Could clear her blinded face from all that stream
Of tresses . . there, a man stood, with beasts' eyes
That seemed as they would swallow her alive,
Complete in body and spirit, hair and all,–
With burning stertorous breath that hurt her cheek,
He breathed so near. The mother held her tight,
Saying hard between her teeth–'Why wench, why wench,
The squire speaks to you now–the squire's too good,
He means to set you up and comfort us.
Be mannerly at least.' The child turned round
And looked up piteous in the mother's face
(Be sure that mother's death-bed will not want
Another devil to damn, than such a look),
'Oh, mother!' then, with desperate glance to heaven,
'Good, free me from my mother,' she shrieked out,
'These mothers are too dreadful.' And, with force
As passionate as fear, she tore her hands,
Like lilies from the rocks, from hers and his,
And sprang down, bounded headlong down the steep,
Away from both–away, if possible,
As far as God,–away! They yelled at her,
As famished hounds at a hare. She heard them yell;
She felt her name hiss after her from the hills,
Like shot from guns. On, on. And now she had cast
The voices off with the uplands. On. Mad fear
Was running in her feet and killing the ground;
The white roads curled as if she burnt them up,
The green fields melted, wayside trees fell back
To make room for her. Then her head grew vexed;
Trees, fields, turned on her and ran after her;
She heard the quick pants of the hills behind,
Their keen air pricked her neck. She had lost her feet,
Could run no more, yet somehow went as fast,–
The horizon, red, 'twixt steeples in the east
So sucked her forward, forward, while her heart
Kept swelling, swelling, till it swelled so big
It seemed to fill her body; then it burst,
And overflowed the world and swamped the light,
'And now I am dead and safe,' thought Marian Erle–
She had dropped, she had fainted.
When the sense returned,
The night had passed–not life's night. She was 'ware
Of heavy tumbling motions, creaking wheels,
The driver shouting to the lazy team
That swung their rankling bells against her brain,
While, through the waggon's coverture and chinks,
The cruel yellow morning pecked at her
Alive or dead, upon the straw inside,–
At which her soul ached back into the dark
And prayed, 'no more of that.' A waggoner
Had found her in a ditch beneath the moon,
As white as moonshine, save for the oozing blood.
At first he thought her dead; but when he had wiped
The mouth and heard it sigh, he raised her up,
And laid her in his waggon in the straw,
And so conveyed her to the distant town
To which his business called himself, and left
That heap of misery at the hospital.

She stirred;–the place seemed new and strange as death.
The white strait bed, with others strait and white,
Like graves dug side by side, at measured lengths,
And quiet people walking in and out
With wonderful low voices and soft steps,
And apparitional equal care for each,
Astonished her with order, silence, law:
And when a gentle hand held out a cup,
She took it, as you do at sacrament,
Half awed, half melted,–not being used, indeed,
To so much love as makes the form of love
And courtesy of manners. Delicate drinks
And rare white bread, to which some dying eyes
Were turned in observation. O my God,
How sick we must be, ere we make men just!
I think it frets the saints in heaven to see
How many Desolate creatures on the earth
Have learnt the simple dues of fellowship
And social comfort, in a hospital,
As Marian did. She lay there, stunned, half tranced,
And wished, at intervals of growing sense,
She might be sicker yet, if sickness made
The world so marvellous kind, the air so hushed,
And all her wake-time quiet as a sleep;
For now she understood, (as such things were)
How sickness ended very oft in heaven,
Among the unspoken raptures. Yet more sick,
And surelier happy. Then she dropped her lids,
And, folding up her hands as flowers at night,
Would lose no moment of the blessed time.

She lay and seethed in fever many weeks;
But youth was strong and overcame the test;
Revolted soul and flesh were reconciled
And fetched back to the necessary day
And daylight duties. She could creep about
The long bare rooms, and stare out drearily
From any narrow window on the street,
Till some one, who had nursed her as a friend,
Said coldly to her, as an enemy,
'She had leave to go next week, being well enough,'
While only her heart ached. 'Go next week,' thought she,
'Next week! how would it be with her next week,
Let out into that terrible street alone
Among the pushing people, . . to go . . where?'

One day, the last before the dreaded last,
Among the convalescents, like herself
Prepared to go next morning, she sate dumb,
And heard half absently the women talk,
How one was famished for her baby's cheeks–
'The little wretch would know her! a year old,
And lively, like his father!' one was keen
To get to work, and fill some clamorous mouths;
And one was tender for her dear goodman
Who had missed her sorely,–and one, querulous . .
'Would pay those scandalous neighbours who had dared
To talk about her as already dead,'–
And one was proud . . 'and if her sweetheart Luke
Had left her for a ruddier face than hers,
(The gossip would be seen through at a glance)
Sweet riddance of such sweethearts–let him hang!
'Twere good to have been as sick for such an end.'

And while they talked, and Marian felt the worse
For having missed the worst of all their wrongs,
A visitor was ushered through the wards
And paused among the talkers. 'When he looked,
It was as if he spoke, and when he spoke
He sang perhaps,' said Marian; 'could she tell?
She only knew' (so much she had chronicled,
As seraphs might, the making of the sun)
'That he who came and spake was Romney Leigh,
And then, and there, she saw and heard him first.'
And when it was her turn to have the face
Upon her,–all those buzzing pallid lips
Being satisfied with comfort–when he changed
To Marian, saying, 'And you? You're going, where?'–
She, moveless as a worm beneath a stone
Which some one's stumbling foot has spurned aside,
Writhed suddenly, astonished with the light,
And breaking into sobs cried, 'Where I go?
None asked me till this moment. Can I say
Where I go? When it has not seemed worth while
To God himself, who thinks of every one,
To think of me, and fix where I shall go?'

'So young,' he gently asked her, 'you have lost
Your father and your mother?'
'Both' she said,
'Both lost! My father was burnt up with gin
Or ever I sucked milk, and so is lost.
My mother sold me to a man last month,
And so my mother's lost, 'tis manifest.
And I, who fled from her for miles and miles,
As if I had caught sight of the fires of hell
Through some wild gap, (she was my mother, sir)
It seems I shall be lost too, presently,
And so we end, all three of us.'
'Poor child!'
He said,–with such a pity in his voice,
It soothed her more than her own tears,–'poor child!
'Tis simple that betrayal by mother's love
Should bring despair of God's too. Yet be taught
He's better to us than many mothers are,
And children cannot wander beyond reach
Of the sweep of his white raiment. Touch and hold'
And if you weep still, weep where John was laid
While Jesus loved him.'
'She could say the words,'
She told me, 'exactly as he uttered them
A year back, . . since in any doubt or dark,
They came out like the stars, and shone on her
With just their comfort. Common words, perhaps;
The ministers in church might say the same;
But he, he made the church with what he spoke,–
The difference was the miracle,' said she.

Then catching up her smile to ravishment,
She added quickly, 'I repeat his words,
But not his tones: can any one repeat
The music of an organ, out of church?
And when he said 'poor child,' I shut my eyes
To feel how tenderly his voice broke through,
As the ointment-box broke on the Holy feet
To let out the rich medicative nard.'

She told me how he had raised and rescued her
With reverent pity, as, in touching grief,
He touched the wounds of Christ,–and made her feel
More self-respecting. Hope, he called, belief
In God,–work, worship . . therefore let us pray!
And thus, to snatch her soul from atheism,
And keep it stainless from her mother's face,
He sent her to a famous sempstress-house
Far off in London, there to work and hope.

With that they parted. She kept sight of Heaven,
But not of Romney. He had good to do
To others: through the days and through the nights,
She sewed and sewed and sewed. She drooped sometimes,
And wondered, while, along the tawny light,
She struck the new thread into her needle's eye,
How people without mothers on the hills,
Could choose the town to live in!–then she drew
The stitch, and mused how Romney's face would look,
And if 'twere likely he'd remember hers,
When they two had their meeting after death.

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As if everything is burning to black (in answer to Mongane Serote)

It’s a relentless hot summer
with sweltering days without rain
where the sun comes up day after day again
and the grass, the leaves are frizzled
trees stand erect like telephone poles
with stripped branches
like silhouettes against the sky

It’s a relentless hot summer
and not only nature knows the pain,
but there’s havoc in humanity,
with oppression surging hotter than the sun
and it feels as if this season
will never pass
as if everything is burning to black
and opportunities for a life will never be back.

[Reference: For Don M. – Banned by Mongane Serote.]

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Rio Grande's Last Race

Now this was what Macpherson told
While waiting in the stand;
A reckless rider, over-bold,
The only man with hands to hold
The rushing Rio Grande.

He said, `This day I bid good-bye
To bit and bridle rein,
To ditches deep and fences high,
For I have dreamed a dream, and I
Shall never ride again.

`I dreamt last night I rode this race
That I to-day must ride,
And cant'ring down to take my place
I saw full many an old friend's face
Come stealing to my side.

`Dead men on horses long since dead,
They clustered on the track;
The champions of the days long fled,
They moved around with noiseless tread -
Bay, chestnut, brown, and black.

`And one man on a big grey steed
Rode up and waved his hand;
Said he, "We help a friend in need,
And we have come to give a lead
To you and Rio Grande.

`"For you must give the field the slip,
So never draw the rein,
But keep him moving with the whip,
And if he falter - set your lip
And rouse him up again.

`"But when you reach the big stone wall,
Put down your bridle hand
And let him sail - he cannot fall -
But don't you interfere at all;
You trust old Rio Grande."

`We started, and in front we showed,
The big horse running free:
Right fearlessly and game he strode,
And by my side those dead men rode
Whom no one else could see.

`As silently as flies a bird,
They rode on either hand;
At every fence I plainly heard
The phantom leader give the word,
"Make room for Rio Grande!"

`I spurred him on to get the lead,
I chanced full many a fall;
But swifter still each phantom steed
Kept with me, and at racing speed
We reached the big stone wall.

`And there the phantoms on each side
Drew in and blocked his leap;
"Make room! make room!" I loudly cried,
But right in front they seemed to ride -
I cursed them in my sleep. `He never flinched, he faced it game,
He struck it with his chest,
And every stone burst out in flame,
And Rio Grande and I became
As phantoms with the rest.

`And then I woke, and for a space
All nerveless did I seem;
For I have ridden many a race,
But never one at such a pace
As in that fearful dream.

`And I am sure as man can be
That out upon the track,
Those phantoms that men cannot see
Are waiting now to ride with me,
And I shall not come back.

`For I must ride the dead men's race,
And follow their command;
'Twere worse than death, the foul disgrace
If I should fear to take my place
To-day on Rio Grande.'

He mounted, and a jest he threw,
With never sign of gloom;
But all who heard the story knew
That Jack Macpherson, brave and true,
Was going to his doom.

They started, and the big black steed
Came flashing past the stand;
All single-handed in the lead
He strode along at racing speed,
The mighty Rio Grande.

But on his ribs the whalebone stung,
A madness it did seem!
And soon it rose on every tongue
That Jack Macpherson rode among
The creatures of his dream.

He looked to left and looked to right,
As though men rode beside;
And Rio Grande, with foam-flecks white,
Raced at his jumps in headlong flight
And cleared them in his stride.

But when they reached the big stone wall,
Down went the bridle-hand,
And loud we heard Macpherson call,
`Make room, or half the field will fall!
Make room for Rio Grande!'

. . . . .

`He's down! he's down!' And horse and man
Lay quiet side by side!
No need the pallid face to scan,
We knew with Rio Grande he ran
The race the dead men ride.

A.B. (Banjo) Paterson

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Rio Grande

Now this was what Macpherson told
While waiting in the stand;
A reckless rider, over-bold,
The only man with hands to hold
The rushing Rio Grande.
He said, “This day I bid good-bye
To bit and bridle rein,
To ditches deep and fences high,
For I have dreamed a dream, and I
Shall never ride again.

I dreamt last night I rode this race
That I today must ride,
And cantering down to take my place
I saw full many an old friend’s face
Come stealing to my side.

“Dead men on horses long since dead,
They clustered on the track;
The champions of the days long fled,
They moved around with noiseless tread—
Bay, chestnut, brown, and black.

And one man on a big grey steed
Rode up and waved his hand;
Said he, ‘We help a friend in need,
And we have come to give a lead
To you and Rio Grande.

“‘For you must give the field the slip;
So never draw the rein,
But keep him moving with the whip,
And, if he falter, set your lip
And rouse him up again.

“‘But when you reach the big stone wall
Put down your bridle-hand
And let him sail-he cannot fall,
But don’t you interfere at all;
You trust old Rio Grande.’

“We started, and in front we showed,
The big horse running free:
Right fearlessly and game he strode,
And by my side those dead men rode
Whom no one else could see.

As silently as flies a bird,
They rode on either hand;
At every fence I plainly heard
The phantom leader give the word,
‘Make room for Rio Grande!’

I spurred him on to get the lead,
n I chanced full many a fall;
But swifter still each phantom steed
Kept with me, and at racing speed
We reached the big stone wall.

And there the phantoms on each side
Drew in and blocked his leap;
‘Make room! make room!’ I loudly cried,
But right in front they seemed to ride—
I cursed them in my sleep.

“He never flinched, he faced it game,
He struck it with his chest,
And every stone burst out in flame—
And Rio Grande and I became
Phantoms among the rest.

And then I woke, and for a space
All nerveless did I seem;
For I have ridden many a race
But never one at such a pace
As in that fearful dream.

And I am sure as man can be
That out upon the track
Those phantoms that men cannot see
Are waiting now to ride with me;
And I shall not come back.

For I must ride the dead men’s race,
And follow their command;
’Twere worse than death, the foul disgrace
If I should fear to take my place
Today on Rio Grande.”

He mounted, and a jest he threw,
With never sign of gloom;
But all who heard the story knew
That Jack Macpherson, brave and true,
Was going to his doom.

They started, and the big black steed
Came flashing past the stand;
All single-handed in the lead
He strode along at racing speed,
The mighty Rio Grande.

But on his ribs the whalebone stung—
A madness, sure, it seemed—
And soon it rose on every tongue
That Jack Macpherson rode among
The creatures he had dreamed.

He looked to left, and looked to right,
As though men rode beside;
And Rio Grande, with foam-flecks white,
Raced at his jumps in headlong flight
And cleared them in his stride.

But when they reached the big stone wall,
Down went the bridle-hand,
And loud we heard Macpherson call
“Make room, or half the field will fall!
Make room for Rio Grande!”

“He’s down! he’s down!” And horse and man
Lay quiet side by side!
No need the pallid face to scan,
We knew with Rio Grande he ran
The race the dead men ride.

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Racism - Engaged in War

The Black race is engaged in war
against an evil will,
the progress made in recent years
has come to a standstill

Our enemy is racism;
a wretched institution
you're either part of the problem
or part of the solution

Too many Blacks that 'move on up'
get complacent at the top
they may drive down old ghetto streets
but never do you stop

They lock their doors, they close their minds,
don blinders and rush through
oblivious to this raging war
convinced racisms' through

For every one Black that succeeds
two hundred go to jail
when one Black student makes an 'A',
at least four hundred fail

When prisoners of war escape
two things stick in their minds, ..
conditions of their captor's jail
and comrades left behind

Blacks can't forget from whence they came
or history will repeat;
in unity lies victory;
in division lies defeat

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Jotun

I often dream of huge numb buildings
jet-black sinister architecture
being installed when nobody sees
Their appearance so sudden
that few would take notice
And when I wake up
I imagine being crushed by one
imagining it's weight it's silence
and the absence of excuses for a havoced life
and the priviledge of a 22-kilometer tombstone
Jotun
A body of black
that carried no reflection
defying it's own room
un-earthly eggs of decreation
There would be colonies
mushroom-scattered forever out of context
rising spores from a dying world
to pollute to chase away what's left
Sun-white pulverised desert stone
and serpentine lizard mouths
Pales away the pyramids
rewriting 4500 years of history
raping the statue of liberty
outplays the acropolis
inverting the fjords
invades the N.Y. skyline to
dream it's own existence in one single final word
Jotun
Can we identify them
as the flint buried in our reptile skulls
or the time-bomb coded in our dna

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Faker

Can you come take this back...
This sadness that you wrapped.
And kept in a sack,
That seeps out this madness.

Can you give up on a hate...
You made from your mistakes.
Prefabricated to induce
A 'paradise' based on a fluke.

On lies you had us both go through!

You're a faker!
Heartbreaker...
Of the fools you make!

Faker!
Such a sick...
Degenerate!

Faker!
I want to leave you with this,
'See my balled fist?
I want to give you some of it! '

You're a faker!
Heartbreaker...
Of the fools you make!

Faker!
Such a sick...
Degenerate!

Faker!
I want to leave you with this,
'See my balled fist?
I want to give you some of it! '

Faker!
Can you come take this back.
Faker!
This sadness that you wrapped.
Faker!
I want to leave you with this,
'See my balled fist?
I want to give you some of it! '

You're a faker!
Can you give up on a hate?
Heartbreaker.
Of the fools like me you make!
Faker!
I want to leave you with this,
'See my balled fist?
I want to give you much of it! '

Can you come take this back...
This sadness that you wrapped,
And kept in a sack!
That seeps out this madness.
Faker!

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The Guardian and BloodRose

BloodRose,
Rose of my love,
My love for Dark moon,
Dark as my heart,
Black as my soul,
And gave me my rose.

The rose of blood,
With petals soft and black,
Never as a rose so beautiful,
Grown not in light,
But under a dark moon lit sky.

Guardian,
Yes a guardian of BloodRose,
With teeth long and sharp,
Claws hard as diamonds,
Scales as dark as night.

My dear sweet guardian,
Guardian black as my heart,
Fire in your eyes,
Shadows in your soul,
A dragon of the dark moon.

A single rose,
With petals so fare,
As dark as my heart,
I now hold in my hand,
The rose of blood.

You are my darkness,
Fear of this love,
This love for you,
Love for darkness,
The cold shadows in my heart
That makes me yearn for you.

Now as you lay dying,
I hold a single rose,
The rose you gave me,
And as I hold it tight,
The thorns slice my hand,
Covered with blood,
My blood.

I have one fear,
The fear of death,
Symbol of my lost love,
Rose as dark as me,
Laying in a pool of blood,
Blood from me.

As I lay dying,
I remember my name,
BloodRose,
I am the rose of blood,
And I died of my own creation.

A creation of perfect beauty,
Petals dark black,
Thorns like small daggers,
Grown from my love,
My love for a dragon,
A dragon as dark as my heart.

Even in my death,
I think of you,
And the rose you gave me,
The rose that killed me,
The Rose of Blood.

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Amarillo

(emmylou harris/rodney crowell)
My baby never was the cheatin kind
But it wasnt cause the ladies didnt try
Now everywhere we go
Theyre walkin round him slow
Givin him a flutter and a sigh
Now I got him past that redhead in atlanta
Lord I walked all over that black-eyed cajun queen
But outside of amarillo, he found his thrill, Ill tell you
Oh, I lost him to a jukebox and a pinball machine
Oh amarillo whatd you want my baby for
Oh amarillo now he wont come home no more
You done played a trick on me
Hooked him in the first degree
While he put another quarter
Push dolly and then porter
While he racks up fifty thousand on the pinball machine
If we only hadnt stopped in there for coffee
If someone hadnt played the window up above
Hed still be mine today
But he heard those fiddles play
One look and then I knew this must be love
Oh that pinball machine was in the corner
Well he saw the lights and he had to hear em ring
And he never was the same after he won his first free game
Oh I lost him to a jukebox and a pinball machine
Oh amarillo whatd you want my baby for
Oh amarillo now he wont come home no more
You done played a trick on me
Hooked him in the first degree
While he put another quarter
Push dolly and then porter
While he racks up fifty thousand on the pinball machine
Oh amarillo whatd you want my baby for
Oh amarillo now he wont come home no more
You done played a trick on me
Hooked him in the first degree
While he put another quarter
Push dolly and then porter
While he racks up fifty thousand on the pinball machine

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The Boola-Boola Maid

In the wilds of Madagascar, Dwelt a Boola-boola maid;
For her hand young men would ask her, But she always was afraid.
Oh that Boola-boola maid She was living in the shade Of a spreading Yum-yum tree;
And - when the day was done At the setting of the sun, She would make this melodee:

As this ditty she was cooing, Came a Boola-boola man;
And he lost no time in wooing; For he punched her on the pan.
Oh that Boola-boola maid She was terribly afraid So he punched her on the eye;
And - then he laugh'd with glee As beneath the Yum-yum tree He - heard that maiden cry:

Then with shrieks of ribald laughter, Said the Boola-boola man;
"If it's only socks you're after, I will do the best I can.
I have handed you a pair, And I've plenty more to spare," So he socked her on the nose;
And a woeful maid was she, As beneath the Yum-yum tree, This - lamentation 'rose:

Now the wedding tom-tom's over, for this Boola-boola maid;
And when ev'ning shadows hover, She no longer is afraid.
For she weasrs a palm-leaf pinny And she rocks a pickaninny In the shade of the Yum-yum tree,
And she's happy with her he-man, Though she still dreams of a She-man, As she sings this song with glee:

Chorus:
Oh - I don't want my cave-man to caress me,
Oh I don't want no coal-black heads to press me.
All I want is a fellow who wears suspenders,
That'll be the coon to whom this babe surenders.
For the man I wed must have a proper trouseau.
On none of your fig-leaf dudes will make me do so.
For it's funny how I feel, But I'm crazy for socks appeal
And my dream is to marry a man with a pair of socks.

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My Side

Black emptiness is where I travel
Casting shadow where ever I go
Someone must play this part
There must be balance to make this world work
There needs to be darkness
May I bring despair, hate, and jealousy
into the lives of others
I despise myself
I despise the thought of being alone on the hated side
I am revolted even though I didn't choose this life
But as I said there needs to be a balance
And she is on the other side

There's always a ray of light in the darkness
She is that light I wish to have stabbed in me
She is my light, the guide of my love
I can feel her deep in my heart
But the darkness covers her in my eyes
Though she is always with me
Because as she casts light there must always be a shadow

I sit near a blackened pool on the opposite side of the world
and I look at the closest reflection I have of you
The moon shines on as I'm wishing you were here
I look into the pool and think of the time we have spent
Those brief few moments when light met dark

'This is a love to fight for'
That's what I said the last time we met
You shook your head and said
'In the end we'll both lose'
Time fades fast
I must convince her here and now
'Look at me' I said in her ear
She looks and her eyes twinkle
'If at anything my dream came true
I brush back her hair
'I got to meet a girl like you'
Gentle lips meet
Sometimes a kiss is all you need to do

That day was the last time I saw her
As time hit the right mark we were forced to pull away
Me into darkness
She into light
I grab her hand and try not to let go
But I was being pulled back
I yell so she could hear
'I'll come back to you I promise'
She nods
'I know you will'
And we break
I am swallowed in the darkness again
Alone and again on the other side of the world
I will wait again for the next day
When light and the dark can meet once more

Written: February 16,2010

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Believe What I Say

Believe what I say
A sonnet is a moment's
Monument,
Memorial from the souls's
Eternity to one's deathless
Hour
Shed a light
Don't shed a tear
Give a small praise
Don't dance with a stranger
Farewell to the soldiers
farewell to the world
As winter is coming
Believe what I say
A woman speaks with her heart
Save me
Even if
Is to realy love you
Even if the love is to evaporate
The irresisteble one you are
A rose
The Jasmin tree
Has the perfume of eternity
With these eyes
Full of raindrops
That had fallen fron the sky
There is hope
For us so strong
God will cary us through
Our lives
And my hope for us is that we live and love each other
Like lover's do
What else can I say?
Believe in me
Let's get our act together
Because we don't know our destiny
It is hard to know if we are heading through the right direction
All I need is assurance
There are no disapointments for us I can assure you that
Everything is alright with me
And it will be all right for us
Take your time to be with me
There is somebody at your door
With not just a pretty face
This one is me
There are letters left unopened at my desk
You can always pull me through
I saw you in the mirror
I am gratefulul for you
Because you can always pull me through
My black dats
And lift my spyrit
We are not afraid to die
We are not afraid to dream
We are not afraid to show the love we have for each other
We are not afraid to speak our mind
Once the morning comes
You can change your mind
Your love is like a river that runs trhough my heart and soul
When I am warm and thirsty
Nothing will change my mind
You are the one for me
And I am the one for you
I know that we can't live another day without each other
Let's make a wish for us
And I hope that life will be good for the two of us
I don't need to see the trust you have in me
Because I have so much trust for you
If there were no dreamers like us
What the world would be without dreamers
If we didn't had each other
What would our lives be?
It would be inposible for us to describe
Because we better not think about it
Let's enjoy life
Let's enjoy our love
Hope is what we need for each other

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Aaap menka bankar

?? ????? ???? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ????
???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???
?????? ????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????
???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ?? ????

You came like 'Menaka' and seduced
what was actually in mind and how did it shape?
Why did I do it as Ii was in tight sport this before?
why was I masmarized and gave love to her?

was this real magic which had created history?
India got new name with this fine imagery
one well known sage was desectrated by her charm
gave up life of meditation and chose the relation very warm

???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ??? ????
???? ???????? ?? ????? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ???
?? ???? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ????
?? ?? ??????? ????????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ????? ??? ????

I won't be able to say what magical eyes she had?
can't insist upon or discuss in open if i had..
think of one beautiful black night
where only stars and we were by right

???? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ?? ????
???? ???? ???????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ????
?? ?? ????? ?? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ??
????? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??


??????? ?? ?? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ????
??? ???? ?? ??? ? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?????
??? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ????????? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ????
?? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????

if god was witness to such event, he won't have preferred to stop
wouldn't have held hands firmly and saved from going atop
rather would have escaped silently as there was no use
moon and stars were ready witness to bless and choose

????? ?? ??? ?? ???? ????? ??? ??? ??
???? ?? ?????? ?? ?????? ??????? ??? ??
???? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ??
?????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?????????? ??

whole sky has delighted as if with joy
moon and stars twilight and enjoy
as if welcoming new guest with honor
mildly smiling and garlanding with flowers


???? ???? ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ???? ????? ??
???? ????? ???? ? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ????? ????? ??
?? ???? ???? ??????? ????? ?? ???? ??? ??????? ??????
?? ?????? ?????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??????

if this is what love is meant for then i prefer
let there be no pardon then also she is lover
Neither I shall desert her nor complain about
Not a faint memory of this selfish world ever brought

?? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ?????? ??
??? ?????? ?????? ?? ??????
?? ?? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ???? ??????
????? ?? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?? ?? ??? ????? ??????

now i have to live with and be faithful too
walk hand to hand and truthful
neither i am afraid nor apprehensive of this world
if loved willingly then why should i have fear of getting cold?

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Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis

I

Plague take all your pedants, say I!
He who wrote what I hold in my hand,
Centuries back was so good as to die,
Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land;
This, that was a book in its time,
Printed on paper and bound in leather,
Last month in the white of a matin-prime
Just when the birds sang all together.

II

Into the garden I brought it to read,
And under the arbute and laurustine
Read it, so help me grace in my need,
From title-page to closing line.
Chapter on chapter did I count,
As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge;
Added up the mortal amount;
And then proceeded to my revenge.

III

Yonder's a plum-tree with a crevice
An owl would build in, were he but sage;
For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis
In a castle of the Middle Age,
Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber;
When he'd be private, there might he spend
Hours alone in his lady's chamber:
Into this crevice I dropped our friend.

IV

Splash, went he, as under he ducked,
—At the bottom, I knew, rain-drippings stagnate:
Next, a handful of blosoms I plucked
To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate;
Then I went in-doors, brought out a loaf,
Half a cheese, and a bottle of CHablis;
Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf
Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais.

V

Now, this morning, betwixt the moss
And gum that locked our friend in limbo,
A spider had spun his web across,
And sat in the midst with arms akimbo:
So, I took pity, for learning's sake,
And, de profundis, accentibus lætis,
Cantate! quoth I, as I got a rake;
And up I fished his delectable treatise.

VI

Here you have it, dry in the sun,
With all the binding all of a blister,
And great blue spots where the ink has run,
And reddish streaks that wink and glister
O'er the page so beautifully yellow:
Oh, well have the droppings played their tricks!
Did he guess how toadstools grow, this fellow?
Here's one stuck in his chapter six!

VII

How did he like it when the live creatures
Tickled and toused and browsed him all over,
And worm, slug, eft, with serious features,
Came in, each one, for his right of trover?
When the water-beetle with great blind deaf face
Made of her eggs the stately deposit
And the newt borrowewd just so much of the preface
As tiled in the top of his black wife's closet?

VIII

All that life and fun and romping
All that frisking and twisting and coupling,
While slowly our poor friend's leaves were swamping
And clasps were cracking and covers suppling!
As if you had carried sour John Knox
To the play-house at Paris, Vienna or Munich,
Fastened him into a front-row box,
And danced off the ballet with trousers and tunic.

IX

Come, old martyr! What torment enough is it?
Back to my room shall you take your sweet self.
Good-bye, mother-beetle; husband-eft sufficit!
See the snug niche I have made on my shelf!
A.'s book shall prop you up, B.'s shall cover you,
Here's C. to be grave with, or D. to be Gay,
And with E. on each side, and F. right over you,
Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment-day!

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Kathleen

O Norah, lay your basket down,
And rest your weary hand,
And come and hear me sing a song
Of our old Ireland.

There was a lord of Galaway,
A mighty lord was he;
And he did wed a second wife,
A maid of low degree.

But he was old, and she was young,
And so, in evil spite,
She baked the black bread for his kin,
And fed her own with white.

She whipped the maids and starved the kern,
And drove away the poor;
'Ah, woe is me!' the old lord said,
'I rue my bargain sore!'

This lord he had a daughter fair,
Beloved of old and young,
And nightly round the shealing-fires
Of her the gleeman sung.

'As sweet and good is young Kathleen
As Eve before her fall;'
So sang the harper at the fair,
So harped he in the hall.

'Oh, come to me, my daughter dear!
Come sit upon my knee,
For looking in your face, Kathleen,
Your mother's own I see!'

He smoothed and smoothed her hair away,
He kissed her forehead fair;
'It is my darling Mary's brow,
It is my darling's hair!'

Oh, then spake up the angry dame,
'Get up, get up,' quoth she,
'I'll sell ye over Ireland,
I'll sell ye o'er the sea!'

She clipped her glossy hair away,
That none her rank might know;
She took away her gown of silk,
And gave her one of tow,

And sent her down to Limerick town
And to a seaman sold
This daughter of an Irish lord
For ten good pounds in gold.

The lord he smote upon his breast,
And tore his beard so gray;
But he was old, and she was young,
And so she had her way.

Sure that same night the Banshee howled
To fright the evil dame,
And fairy folks, who loved Kathleen,
With funeral torches came.

She watched them glancing through the trees,
And glimmering down the hill;
They crept before the dead-vault door,
And there they all stood still!

'Get up, old man! the wake-lights shine!'
'Ye murthering witch,' quoth he,
'So I'm rid of your tongue, I little care
If they shine for you or me.'

'Oh, whoso brings my daughter back,
My gold and land shall have!'
Oh, then spake up his handsome page,
'No gold nor land I crave!

'But give to me your daughter dear,
Give sweet Kathleen to me,
Be she on sea or be she on land,
I'll bring her back to thee.'

'My daughter is a lady born,
And you of low degree,
But she shall be your bride the day
You bring her back to me.'

He sailed east, he sailed west,
And far and long sailed he,
Until he came to Boston town,
Across the great salt sea.

'Oh, have ye seen the young Kathleen,
The flower of Ireland?
Ye'll know her by her eyes so blue,
And by her snow-white hand!'

Out spake an ancient man, 'I know
The maiden whom ye mean;
I bought her of a Limerick man,
And she is called Kathleen.

'No skill hath she in household work,
Her hands are soft and white,
Yet well by loving looks and ways
She doth her cost requite.'

So up they walked through Boston town,
And met a maiden fair,
A little basket on her arm
So snowy-white and bare.

'Come hither, child, and say hast thou
This young man ever seen?'
They wept within each other's arms,
The page and young Kathleen.

'Oh give to me this darling child,
And take my purse of gold.'
'Nay, not by me,' her master said,
'Shall sweet Kathleen be sold.

'We loved her in the place of one
The Lord hath early ta'en;
But, since her heart's in Ireland,
We give her back again!'

Oh, for that same the saints in heaven
For his poor soul shall pray,
And Mary Mother wash with tears
His heresies away.

Sure now they dwell in Ireland;
As you go up Claremore
Ye'll see their castle looking down
The pleasant Galway shore.

And the old lord's wife is dead and gone,
And a happy man is he,
For he sits beside his own Kathleen,
With her darling on his knee.

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Separation

I

You have left and I am missing life
do miss sitting in the mornings or evenings on the porch
or under the old pepper tree
to hear doves coo, small birds calling each other
or to see you making food in the kitchen
where you fry feta cheese with spinach,
where your are involved in conversations with me,
where I see you busy making fruit salad
where I at times pour a glass of wine for you
but more to hold you tightly against me,
to see the stars shining against the heaven
when the day grows faint from blue to black,
to hear you play a song over and over again,
to share maybe a hundred times with me.

II

To share maybe a hundred times with me
that you really love me
or did I only imagine it?
Sometimes I try to understand
the meaning behind all of your words,
slowly I become aware of feelings,
as if something magical hides somewhere
in the loving deed and hungry kiss.
I do not know the direction to take
when I am caught in a labyrinth,
where I wander goalless without ever finding you
and I have got to go on my own way,
when my plans and dreams fall apart,
when you stay out of my life.

III

When you stay out of my life,
then I loose you
as you hide your face from mine,
when your pretty eyes do not shine anymore.
When we lead lives at other places,
when I have no desire for you,
it makes me totally free from you,
with a harsh unapproachable law
where your love turns to hatred
to fall only on your new lover,
then let me find someone else as partner
where your anger cannot fall on me.
At a time I trusted you far too much,
I did build my whole world on you.

IV

I did build my whole world on you,
on a family and children
and wanted life with you and nothing more
and like this I trusted my humanity to you
as if there is treasure to something that can fade,
in self-sacrifice I invested my existence,
did do things, to tell you about my love
and somewhere everything was spoiled
while you as if our love did not exist
openly loved another man,
while continually you fabricated that which was between us
and the most beautiful things did perish,
while you acted as if insane,
while one morning we were still a family.

V


While one morning we were still a family
(with you that I thought was still true) ,
two mischievous boys that was sometimes naughty
and two dogs and cats in it,
the final day did come
while I did not really take notice
and I lost my work and as if sentenced
I told you before I could reflect on it
with the flash of a hat, before I had any suspicion
you went to frolic with your lover,
you made arrangement to move to his house,
you got rid of most our belongings,
and took your two children along and I was nauseous;
you treated me worse than rubbish.

VI

You treated me worse than rubbish
your policeman lover wanted to lock me up,
when you left you cursed me and wished that I do perish
and I had to chase you lover away from my property.
Some weavers made their nests
out of pieces of yellow grass and some branches
where tamboti branches reach to the roof
and they are their constantly and almost as tame as doves,
against my reflection the window's glass shines,
while they sit and twitter,
some other wild birds peck against the window
while they see their mirror image;
but we are divorced and our marriage is shattered;
once more I see the sun setting.

VII

Once more I see the sun setting
where it becomes orange-yellow almost like a rose
and when I look at this picture
I know how much I do need someone.
There are far too many nights of being lonely,
when the night's cloak folds around me
that has healed me from my heartache
and sometimes also from the bitter remembering.
I am looking for matchless happiness,
something to bind me with the love of someone,
something that I cannot express in words,
and I wonder if anybody does find it?
The stars glitter above me blue and white,
you have left and I am missing life

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Boyhood

Were you to ask what age of womanhood
Brings most delight, producing most of good,
I should, to quote a phrase much used in rhyme,
“Turn back the leaflets in the Book of Time.”
To find the page, whereon, in letters bright,
Is written clear, my first ecstatic night.

I was a boy attuned to passion’s strain,
I knew its music and I knew its pain,
I longed for—something—but, I was a boy;
I knew not how to change my pain to joy.

But Heaven has given to earth, in its dire needs,
No sweeter thing than widows, in their weeds,
And in the household, where I ruled supreme,
A widow lived, a sorrowing, throbbing dream.
I was her comfort. Many times, at night,
When I, awakened by some childish fright,
Cried out to her, she took me to her side,
And kissed me till my fears were pacified.
She was my confidant. My childish fears,
My hopes and dreams and all my boyish tears
Found comfort sweet upon that loving breast
Where all perplexities were set at rest.

One night, worn out with tossing to and fro,
In longings vain which boyhood’s night must know,
I dared to make pretence of sudden fright,
That I might see that figure, clad in white,
Come stealing to my side to whisper low:
“What makes my precious darling tremble so?”
All ye who cannot sympathize, stop here.
I speak in tenderness and hold most dear
The memory of that sweet transition hour,
When Nature first revealed her wondrous power.
My heart still throbs as I remember when
I joined the ranks of sturdy little men.

I know not now, what courage made me dare,
But, pillowed close, upon her bosom fair,
A truant hand went wandering far astray
And found—that night hath greater charms than day.
As mighty Mars, full statured, in an hour,
From great Athena’s helmet, in his power,
Sprang forth full armoured, at the will of Jove,

So I sprang forth, equipped and armed for love.
With new-found strength, I ceased to be afraid
And something wild within would not be stayed.
Disarmed, perhaps, by hungry widowhood.
She could not check me, even if she would
And kisses wild were riotously pressed
On starving lips too long left uncaressed,
And roses red, upon the white flesh burned,
The while she murmured: “Child! where have you learned?”

I knew my madness, but my heart was fire
And all was swept away in my desire.
Her very gown of daintiest, filmiest lace,
Seemed cumbersome to me and out of place;
I reached and tore it, throat to hem, to find—
How cruel Fate has been to those born blind.
For even the moonbeams, stealing through the bars,
Turned back to whisper to the twinkling stars,
And tip-toed out again to realms of space,
But left the memory of her blushing face.
And when, at last, her beating heart stood still,
As though no more subservient to her will,
And when with fluttering breath, she closed her eyes,
I seemed to lose her, in a mist of sighs.
My senses swam as though a bursting star
Had set on fire the cloudland realms afar,
For one brief moment, I was lost in fear
That all I held so passionately dear
Might chide me as she never had before,
And hold me in her clinging arms no more.
I was a boy—unversed in Nature’s needs,
Unlearned of a widow’s ways, without their weeds.

She was not wanton. Nay! she was a woman.
Whose wakened, passionate heart was truly human.
And just when love was bursting into flower,
The fates, relentless, sent her saddest hour,
And, torn apart, from all she held most dear,
Time’s healing touch had dried the falling tear.
She loved me. I could feel her bosom stir
And strive to soothe my turbulent thoughts of her.
But boon companions who have loved for long,
Draw wavering lines betwixt the right and wrong.
And who shall say that love, new-born like this,
Must never know the madness of a kiss!
And who shall say it was her duty clear
To let me find a different atmosphere
In which to learn the mysteries of the world,
Where unclad sin, in wicked eddies whirled!
I must not whisper, in a careless way,
The thoughts that came to me at dawn of day.
And yet—when asked what age of womanhood
Brings most delight, producing most of good,
I turn to widowhood with tender touch,
And say: “Stop her, for widows know so much.”

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Garden Francies

I. THE FLOWER'S NAME

Here's the garden she walked across,
Arm in my arm, such a short while since:
Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss
Hinders the hinges and makes them wince!
She must have reached this shrub ere she turned,
As back with that murmur the wicket swung;
For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned,
To feed and forget it the leaves among.

II.

Down this side ofthe gravel-walk
She went while her rope's edge brushed the box:
And here she paused in her gracious talk
To point me a moth on the milk-white phlox.
Roses, ranged in valiant row,
I will never think that she passed you by!
She loves you noble roses, I know;
But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie!

III.

This flower she stopped at, finger on lip,
Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim;
Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip,
Its soft meandering Spanish name:
What a name! Was it love or praise?
Speech half-asleep or song half-awake?
I must learn Spanish, one of these days,
Only for that slow sweet name's sake.

IV.

Roses, if I live and do well,
I may bring her, one of these days,
To fix you fast with as fine a spell,
Fit you each with his Spanish phrase;
But do not detain me now; for she lingers
There, like sunshine over the ground,
And ever I see her soft white fingers
Searching after the bud she found.

V.

Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not,
Stay as you are and be loved for ever!
Bud, if I kiss you 'tis that you blow not:
Mind, the shut pink mouth opens never!
For while it pouts, her fingers wrestle,
Twinkling the audacious leaves between,
Till round they turn and down they nestle---
Is not the dear mark still to be seen?

VI.

Where I find her not, beauties vanish;
Whither I follow ber, beauties flee;
Is there no method to tell her in Spanish
June's twice June since she breathed it with me?
Come, bud, show me the least of her traces,
Treasure my lady's lightest footfall!
---Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces---
Roses, you are not so fair after all!


II. SIBRANDUS SCHAFNABURGENSIS.

Plague take all your pedants, say I!
He who wrote what I hold in my hand,
Centuries back was so good as to die,
Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land;
This, that was a book in its time,
Printed on paper and bound in leather,
Last month in the white of a matin-prime
Just when the birds sang all together.

II.

Into the garden I brought it to read,
And under the arbute and laurustine
Read it, so help me grace in my need,
From title-page to closing line.
Chapter on chapter did I count,
As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge;
Added up the mortal amount;
And then proceeded to my revenge.

III.

Yonder's a plum-tree with a crevice
An owl would build in, were he but sage;
For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis
In a castle of the Middle Age,
Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber;
When he'd be private, there might he spend
Hours alone in his lady's chamber:
Into this crevice I dropped our friend.

IV.

Splash, went he, as under he ducked,
---At the bottom, I knew, rain-drippings stagnate:
Next, a handful of blossoms I plucked
To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate;
Then I went in-doors, brought out a loaf,
Half a cheese, and a bottle of Chablis;
Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf
Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais.

V.

Now, this morning, betwixt the moss
And gum that locked our friend in limbo,
A spider had spun his web across,
And sat in the midst with arms akimbo:
So, I took pity, for learning's sake,
And, _de profundis, accentibus ltis,
Cantate!_ quoth I, as I got a rake;
And up I fished his delectable treatise.

VI.

Here you have it, dry in the sun,
With all the binding all of a blister,
And great blue spots where the ink has run,
And reddish streaks that wink and glister
O'er the page so beautifully yellow:
Oh, well have the droppings played their tricks!
Did he guess how toadstools grow, this fellow?
Here's one stuck in his chapter six!

VII.

How did he like it when the live creatures
Tickled and toused and browsed him all over,
And worm, slug, eft, with serious features,
Came in, each one, for his right of trover?
---When the water-beetle with great blind deaf face
Made of her eggs the stately deposit,
And the newt borrowed just so much of the preface
As tiled in the top of his black wife's closet?

VIII.

All that life and fun and romping,
All that frisking and twisting and coupling,
While slowly our poor friend's leaves were swamping
And clasps were cracking and covers suppling!
As if you bad carried sour John Knox
To the play-house at Paris, Vienna or Munich,
Fastened him into a front-row box,
And danced off the ballet with trousers and tunic.

IX.

Come, old martyr! What, torment enough is it?
Back to my room shall you take your sweet self.
Good-bye, mother-beetle; husband-eft, _sufficit!_
See the snug niche I have made on my shelf!
A.'s book shall prop you up, B.'s shall cover you,
Here's C. to be grave with, or D. to be gay,
And with E. on each side, and F. right over you,
Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment-day!

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Aleister Crowley

The Priestess of Panormita

Hear me, Lord of the Stars!
For thee I have worshipped ever
With stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful endeavour.
Hear me, O lily-white goat!
O crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for Thy throat,
A scarlet bow for Thy horns!

Here, in the dusty air,
I build Thee a shrine of yew.
All green is the garland I wear,
But I feed it with blood for dew!
After the orange bars
That ribbed the green west dying
Are dead, O Lord of the Stars,
I come to Thee, come to Thee crying.

The ambrosial moon that arose
With breasts slow heaving in splendour
Drops wine from her infinite snows.
Ineffably, utterly, tender.
O moon! ambrosial moon!
Arise on my desert of sorrow
That the Magical eyes of me swoon
With lust of rain to-morrow!

Ages and ages ago
I stood on the bank of a river
Holy and Holy and holy, I know,
For ever and ever and ever!
A priest in the mystical shrine
I muttered a redeless rune,
Till the waters were redder than wine
In the blush of the harlot moon.

I and my brother priests
Worshipped a wonderful woman
With a body lithe as a beast's
Subtly, horribly human.
Deep in the pit of her eyes
I saw the image of death,
And I drew the water of sighs
From the well of her lullaby breath.

She sitteth veiled for ever
Brooding over the waste.
She hath stirred or spoken never.
She is fiercely, manly chaste!
What madness made me awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her poisonous body held?

By night I ravished a maid
From her father's camp to the cave.
I bared the beautiful blade;
I dipped her thrice i' the wave;
I slit her throat as a lamb's,
That the fount of blood leapt high
With my clamorous dithyrambs
Like a stain on the shield of the sky.

With blood and censer and song
I rent the mysterious veil:
My eyes gaze long and long
On the deep of that blissful bale.
My cold grey kisses awake
From the silence of utmost eld
The grey cold slime of the snake
That her beautiful body held.

But --- God! I was not content
With the blasphemous secret of years;
The veil is hardly rent
While the eyes rain stones for tears.
So I clung to the lips and laughed
As the storms of death abated,
The storms of the grevious graft
By the swing of her soul unsated.

Wherefore reborn as I am
By a stream profane and foul
In the reign of a Tortured Lamb,
In the realm of a sexless Owl,
I am set apart from the rest
By meed of the mystic rune
That reads in peril and pest
The ambrosial moon --- the moon!

For under the tawny star
That shines in the Bull above
I can rein the riotous car
Of galloping, galloping Love;
And straight to the steady ray
Of the Lion-heart Lord I career,
Pointing my flaming way
With the spasm of night for a spear!

O moon! O secret sweet!
Chalcedony clouds of caresses
About the flame of our feet,
The night of our terrible tresses!
Is it a wonder, then,
If the people are mad with blindness,
And nothing is stranger to men
Than silence, and wisdom, and kindness?

Nay! let him fashion an arrow
Whose heart is sober and stout!
Let him pierce his God to the marrow!
Let the soul of his God flow out!
Whether a snake or a sun
In his horoscope Heaven hath cast,
It is nothing; every one
Shall win to the moon at last.

The mage hath wrought by his art
A billion shapes in the sun.
Look through to the heart of his heart,
And the many are shapes of one!
An end to the art of the mage,
And the cold grey blank of the prison!
An end to the adamant age!
The ambrosial moon is arisen.

I have bought a lily-white goat
For the price of a crown of thorns,
A collar of gold for its throat,
A scarlet bow for its horns.
I have bought a lark in the lift
For the price of a butt of sherry:
With these, and God for a gift,
It needs no wine to be merry!

I have bought for a wafer of bread
A garden of poppies and clover;
For a water bitter and dead
A foam of fire flowing over.
From the Lamb and his prison fare
And the owl's blind stupor, arise
Be ye wise, and strong, and fair,
And the nectar afloat in your eyes!

Arise, O ambrosial moon
By the strong immemorial spell,
By the subtle veridical rune
That is mighty in heaven and hell!
Drip thy mystical dews
On the tongues of the tender fauns
In the shade of initiate yews
Remote from the desert dawns!

Satyrs and Fauns, I call.
Bring your beauty to man!
I am the mate for ye all'
I am the passionate Pan.
Come, O come to the dance
Leaping with wonderful whips,
Life on the stroke of a glance,
Death in the stroke of the lips!

I am hidden beyond,
Shed in a secret sinew
Smitten through by the fond
Folly of wisdom in you!
Come, while the moon (the moon!)
Sheds her ambrosial splendour,
Reels in the redeless rune
Ineffably, utterly, tender!
Hark! the appealing cry
Of deadly hurt in the hollow: ---
Hyacinth! Hyacinth! Ay!
Smitten to death by Apollo.
Swift, O maiden moon,
Send thy ray-dews after;
Turn the dolorous tune
To soft ambiguous laughter!

Mourn, O Maenads, mourn!
Surely your comfort is over:
All we laugh at you lorn.
Ours are the poppies and clover!
O that mouth and eyes,
Mischevious, male, alluring!
O that twitch of the thighs
Dorian past enduring!

Where is wisdom now?
Where the sage and his doubt?
Surely the sweat of the brow
Hath driven the demon out.
Surely the scented sleep
That crowns the equal war
Is wiser than only to weep ---
To weep for evermore!

Now, at the crown of the year,
The decadent days of October,
I come to thee, God, without fear;
Pious, chaste, and sober.
I solemnly sacrifice
This first-fruit flower of wine
For a vehicle of thy vice
As I am Thine to be mine.

For five in the year gone by
I pray Thee give to me one;
A love stronger than I,
A moon to swallow the sun!
May he be like a lily-white goat
Crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for his throat,
A scarlet bow for his horns!

ELAINE CARR.

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Rudiger - A Ballad

Author Note: Divers Princes and Noblemen being assembled in a beautiful and fair
Palace, which was situate upon the river Rhine, they beheld a boat or
small barge make toward the shore, drawn by a Swan in a silver chain,
the one end fastened about her neck, the other to the vessel; and in it
an unknown soldier, a man of a comely personage and graceful presence,
who stept upon the shore; which done, the boat guided by the Swan left
him, and floated down the river. This man fell afterward in league with
a fair gentlewoman, married her, and by her had many children. After
some years, the same Swan came with the same barge into the same place;
the soldier entering into it, was carried thence the way he came, left
wife, children and family, and was never seen amongst them after.

Now who can judge this to be other than one of those spirits that are
named Incubi? says Thomas Heywood. I have adopted his story, but not his
solution, making the unknown soldier not an evil spirit, but one who had
purchased happiness of a malevolent being, by the promised sacrifice of
his first-born child.

.................

Bright on the mountain's heathy slope
The day's last splendors shine
And rich with many a radiant hue
Gleam gayly on the Rhine.

And many a one from Waldhurst's walls
Along the river stroll'd,
As ruffling o'er the pleasant stream
The evening gales came cold.

So as they stray'd a swan they saw
Sail stately up and strong,
And by a silver chain she drew
A little boat along,

Whose streamer to the gentle breeze
Long floating fluttered light,
Beneath whose crimson canopy
There lay reclin'd a knight.

With arching crest and swelling breast
On sail'd the stately swan
And lightly up the parting tide
The little boat came on.

And onward to the shore they drew
And leapt to land the knight,
And down the stream the swan-drawn boat
Fell soon beyond the sight.

Was never a Maid in Waldhurst's walls
Might match with Margaret,
Her cheek was fair, her eyes were dark,
Her silken locks like jet.

And many a rich and noble youth
Had strove to win the fair,
But never a rich or noble youth
Could rival Rudiger.

At every tilt and turney he
Still bore away the prize,
For knightly feats superior still
And knightly courtesies.

His gallant feats, his looks, his love,
Soon won the willing fair,
And soon did Margaret become
The wife of Rudiger.

Like morning dreams of happiness
Fast roll'd the months away,
For he was kind and she was kind
And who so blest as they?

Yet Rudiger would sometimes sit
Absorb'd in silent thought
And his dark downward eye would seem
With anxious meaning fraught;

But soon he rais'd his looks again
And smil'd his cares eway,
And mid the hall of gaiety
Was none like him so gay.

And onward roll'd the waining months,
The hour appointed came,
And Margaret her Rudiger
Hail'd with a father's name.

But silently did Rudiger
The little infant see,
And darkly on the babe he gaz'd
And very sad was he.

And when to bless the little babe
The holy Father came,
To cleanse the stains of sin away
In Christ's redeeming name,

Then did the cheek of Rudiger
Assume a death-pale hue,
And on his clammy forehead stood
The cold convulsive dew;

And faltering in his speech he bade
The Priest the rites delay,
Till he could, to right health restor'd,
Enjoy the festive day.

When o'er the many-tinted sky
He saw the day decline,
He called upon his Margaret
To walk beside the Rhine.

"And we will take the little babe,
"For soft the breeze that blows,
"And the wild murmurs of the stream
"Will lull him to repose."

So forth together did they go,
The evening breeze was mild,
And Rudiger upon his arm
Did pillow the sweet child.

And many a one from Waldhurst's walls
Along the banks did roam,
But soon the evening wind came cold,
And all betook them home.

Yet Rudiger in silent mood
Along the banks would roam,
Nor aught could Margaret prevail
To turn his footsteps home.

"Oh turn thee--turn thee Rudiger,
"The rising mists behold,
"The evening wind is damp and chill,
"The little babe is cold!"

"Now hush thee--hush thee Margaret,
"The mists will do no harm,
"And from the wind the little babe
"Lies sheltered on my arm."

"Oh turn thee--turn thee Rudiger,
"Why onward wilt thou roam?
"The moon is up, the night is cold,
"And we are far from home."

He answered not, for now he saw
A Swan come sailing strong,
And by a silver chain she drew
A little boat along.

To shore they came, and to the boat
Fast leapt he with the child,
And in leapt Margaret--breathless now
And pale with fear and wild.

With arching crest and swelling breast
On sail'd the stately swan,
And lightly down the rapid tide
The little boat went on.

The full-orb'd moon that beam'd around
Pale splendor thro' the night,
Cast through the crimson canopy
A dim-discoloured light.

And swiftly down the hurrying stream
In silence still they sail,
And the long streamer fluttering fast
Flapp'd to the heavy gale.

And he was mute in sullen thought
And she was mute with fear,
Nor sound but of the parting tide
Broke on the listening ear.

The little babe began to cry
And waked his mother's care,
"Now give to me the little babe
"For God's sake, Rudiger!"

"Now hush thee, hush thee Margaret!
"Nor my poor heart distress--
"I do but pay perforce the price
"Of former happiness.

"And hush thee too my little babe,
"Thy cries so feeble cease:
"Lie still, lie still;--a little while
"And thou shalt be at peace."

So as he spake to land they drew,
And swift he stept on shore,
And him behind did Margaret
Close follow evermore.

It was a place all desolate,
Nor house nor tree was there,
And there a rocky mountain rose
Barren, and bleak, and bare.

And at its base a cavern yawn'd,
No eye its depth might view,
For in the moon-beam shining round
That darkness darker grew.

Cold Horror crept thro' Margaret's blood,
Her heart it paus'd with fear,
When Rudiger approach'd the cave
And cried, "lo I am here!"

A deep sepulchral sound the cave
Return'd "lo I am here!"
And black from out the cavern gloom
Two giant arms appear.

And Rudiger approach'd and held
The little infant nigh;
Then Margaret shriek'd, and gather'd then
New powers from agony.

And round the baby fast and firm
Her trembling arms she folds,
And with a strong convulsive grasp
The little infant holds.

"Now help me, Jesus!" loud she cries.
And loud on God she calls;
Then from the grasp of Rudiger
The little infant falls.

And now he shriek'd, for now his frame
The huge black arms clasp'd round,
And dragg'd the wretched Rudiger
Adown the dark profound.

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