This is the story of one man’s soul.
The paths are stony and passion is blind,
And feet must bleed ere the light we find.
The cypher is writ on Life’s mighty scroll,
And the key is in each man’s mind.
But who read aright, ye have won release,
Ye have touched the joy in the heart of Peace.
THERE’S a bend of the river on Glenbar run
Which the wild duck haunt at the set of sun,
And the song of the waters is softened so
That scarcely its current is heard to flow;
And the blackfish hide by the shady bank
’Neath the sunken logs where the reeds are rank,
And the halcyon’s mail is an azure gleam
O’er the shifting shoals of the silver bream,
And the magpies chatter their idle whim,
And the wagtails flitter along the brim,
And tiny martins with breasts of snow
Keep fluttering restlessly to and fro,
And the weeping willows have framed the scene
With the trailing fall of their curtains green,
And the grass grows lush on the level leas
’Neath the low gnarled boughs of the apple trees,
Where the drowsy cattle dream away
The noon-tide hours of the summer day.
There’s a shady nook by the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer.
So faint are the marks of the bridle track,
From the old slip-rails on the ridge’s back,
That few can follow the lines I know—
But I ride with the shadows of long ago!
I am gaunt and gray, I am old and worn,
But my heart goes back to a radiant morn
When someone waited and watched for me
In the friendly shade of that grand old tree.
The winter of Memory brings again
The summer rapture of passionate pain,
And she comes to me with the morning grace
On her sun-gold hair and her lily face,
And her blue eyes soft with the dreamy light
She stole from the stars of the Southern night,
And her slender form like a springtide flower
That sprang from the earth in a magic hour,
With the trembling smile and the tender tone
And the welcome glance—that were mine alone.
And we sit once more as we sat of old
When the future lay in a haze of gold—
In the fairy days when the gods have lent
To our lips the silence of heart’s content.
Ah! those were the days of youth’s perfect spring,
When each wandering wind had a song to sing,
When the touch of care and the shade of woe
Were but empty words we could never know
As we rode ’neath the gum and the box trees high,
And our idle laughter went floating by,
As we rode o’er the leagues of the billowy plain
Where the grass grew green ’neath the summer rain,
And over the hills in the range’s heart
To the fern-decked glen where the waters dart,
And we railed at time and the laggard year
Ere a bride would be mistress of Bendemeer.
Now the old-time feud that was first begun
When the Gordons settled on Glenbar run,
It had passed away, it was buried deep
In the quiet graves where our fathers sleep,
And sweet Mary Gordon was left alone
In the quaint old station of rough-hewn stone,
The maiden whom lovers sought near and far—
The stately lily of old Glenbar.
Our kinsfolk had hated, from year to year,
Since the first Loraine came to Bendemeer
They have passed where none can cavil and strive;
How could she and I keep the feud alive!
I, James Loraine, who were better dead
Than harm one hair of her gentle head!
So we made the bond that would bind, one day,
Glenbar and Bendemeer for aye.
For at last, though it left me with saddened face,
I was master of all in my father’s place.
Of the gray old dwelling, rambling and wide,
With the homestead paddocks on either side,
And the deep verandahs and porches tall
Where the vine climbs high on the trellised wall,
Where the pine and cypress their dark crowns rear
O’er the garden—the glory of Bendemeer—
From whence you can dream o’er the tranquil scene
Of the scattered sheep on the lucerne green,
And the mighty plain in the sunlight spread,
With the brown hawk motionless overhead,
And the stockmen’s cottages clustering still
On the gentle slope of the station hill,
And the woolshed gray on the swelling rise
Where the creek winds blue ’neath the bluer skies.
And here in the days when our hearts were light
We lived life joyously day and night.
For the friend of my soul, who was dear to me
As no friend hath been or again can be,
Was Oliver Douglas. In cloud or shine
My heart was his and his heart was mine,
And we lived like brothers from year to year,
And toiled for the honour of Bendemeer,
And my life moved on thro’ a golden haze
The splendid glamour of fortunate days.
What more to a man can the high God send
Than the fairest maid and the firmest friend!
I have read in some poet how Friendship may
Stand strong as a tower in the darkest day,
When the lips of Love that were quick to vow
Have failed ’neath the frown upon Fortune’s brow.
What a friend was he, without fear or guile,
With his careless ways and his ready smile,
With the voice to cheer, and the eye to praise,
And the heart to toil through the hardest days!
How he won all hearts, were they high or low,
By the easy charm that I envied so!
For they say in jest I am true to race—
The dark Loraines of the haughty face—
Awkward, and shy, and unbending when
I am full of love for my fellow-men.
But I caught at the sunshine he flung about—
The man to whom all my heart went out.
Ah! how oft at dusk ’neath the evening star
Have we reined our horses at old Glenbar,
And sat in the quaint familiar room
Made sweet with the scent of the jasmine bloom,
Where my soul first saw in her dreamy eyes
The lights of the gateways of Paradise!
How we lingered over our hopes and fears
As we planned the course of the coming years
Whilst Oliver chatted with easy flow
To Margaret Bruce with the hair of snow—
The proud old dame of a proud old race
Who lived for the child with her sister’s face.
O the joyous days! O the morning air!
When the blood was young and the world was air!
When from Tara and Westmere and Boradaile,
And from Snowdon Hills and from Lilyvale,
And from Tallaran and the plains of Scar
All sent down their horses to old Glenbar.
From many a station for miles away
Came the happy faces on racing day,
Came the big bush buggies fast rolling in
With the four-in-hands and the merry din.
And if strife was keen in those days of old
’Twas for love of sport, not for lust of gold;
For then each man rode as a man should ride
With his honour at stake and the station’s pride,
When every racehorse was sent to race
And each run had a crack for the steeplechase.
And I see the last timber loom big and bare
As we held the field with a length to spare,
And Douglas crashed past me on Charioteer,
The big gray gelding from Bendemeer.
But I rode the bay with the tiny star
That had carried the Lily of old Glenbar.
And I rode for all that I cared for most
And I collared the gray ere he passed the post.
Ah! how gaily and lightly our pulses beat
As the night went out to the trip of feet!
And though all men sought her with hope and praise
It was I she loved—with my awkward ways—
It was I she loved in the golden days!
The drought came down upon Bendemeer,
And the grass grew yellow, and scant, and sere,
And the lucerne paddocks were eaten brown,
And half the trees on the run cut down,
And we toiled all day ’midst the dying sheep,
The tottering frames that could scarcely creep,
And the dead by scores lay over the plain,
But God seemed deaf—for He sent no rain.
And whilst Hope stood sounding her funeral knells
Who had heart to talk about wedding bells?
And the drought held on for a three-year span,
And I woke one morning a ruined man.
Yet Fate smote harder—a deadlier blow—
For on old Glenbar there was word to go.
For the mortgage hung over Glenbar run,
And their stock were dead and their credit done,
And the bank foreclosed. We were cast aside
From the homes where our fathers had lived and died.
So we said good-bye—ah! the bitter end—
At the trysting place on the river bend.
But the ground lay sullen and bare below,
And most of the river had ceased to flow,
And the springs of Hope in our souls were dried,
And in silence we stood there side by side,
And a leaden fear held my brain and heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.
O sweet is the dawn of Love’s perfect spring,
When the white arms clasp and the soft lips cling;
But fierce is the passion that fires the blood
When Love stands baulked in its summer flood!
In her dark-ringed eyes shone the sad unrest
That spoke in the heave of her troubled breast,
And her face was white as the chiselled stone,
And her lips pressed madly against my own,
And her heart beat wildly against my heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.
But these were the words she said to me—
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee.”
’TWAS a long last look and a mute farewell
To the homes where our fathers had loved to dwell,
And our faces turned to the wild north-west,
And we rode away on a roving quest.
But our hearts were young and we cheered the way
With the golden dreams of a coming day,
When Fate should lead ’neath a happier star
Back to Bendemeer and to old Glenbar.
And a vision rose of one bearded and brown,
A wanderer hasting to Melbourne town,
To the faithful eyes now with sorrow dim
That had suffered and waited and watched for him.
For the new home lay midst the city’s roar
And the Station’s calm would be her’s no more;
And from Douglas’ lips came the story strange
Of the wondrous wealth in a northern range.
The weeks grew months and the months were spent,
As we overlanded a continent—
A thousand miles over scrub and plain
In the sun’s fierce glare and the tropic rain.
But we laughed at hardships to undergo
As we smoked in the ring of the campfire’s glow
And we pushed ahead till, in tracks grown blind,
The last station fence had been left behind;
And the land of the mighty runs spread wide,
Unfenced and virgin on every side,
Where you move—a ship that has lost the strand—
O’er the grassy ocean of one man’s land,
Where a score of beasts or a mile the less
Are of little count in the wilderness,
But men count their grass and cattle instead
By the hundred miles and the thousand head.
I have seen the plains lying baked and bare
When drought and famine hold revel there,
And the cattle sink where the rotting shoals
Of the fish float dead in the waterholes.
I have seen the plains when the flood brings down
The leagues of its waters, sullen and brown,
When only the tops of the swaying trees
Mark the creek that wound thro’ the level leas,
And all is a sea to the straining eyes
Save some lonely hut on a distant rise.
I have seen the plains in the mad delight
Of the racing flames in their crimson flight,
When the whip of the wind will not stay or spare,
And woe to the rider who lingers there!
But, O! the plains when their beauty burst
On our wondering eyes as we crossed them first!
When the sun shone bright and a soft wind blew,
And the sky was clear with a fairy hue,
And afar, like an isle in a sea of mist,
Rose a mountain-cap, as of amethyst.
And the big-horned cattle, knee-deep in grass,
Wheeled scattered legions to watch us pass,
As we drifted onward from group to group,
And swift as a bolt came the wild hawk’s swoop
When the brown quail whirled ’neath our horses’ feet,
Or the bronzewing1 broke from his ground retreat;
And the lazy bustard on laggard wing
Out of easy gunshot was loitering;
And for miles around us, at daylight’s close,
The little flock pigeons in coveys rose,
And the squadrons flew, with a gathering force,
Till an army darkened the watercourse.
Thus we crossed the plains to their utmost rim,
To the timbered belts round the mountains grim,
Chain upon chain, to the north and west,
Rose the swelling ridge and the purple crest,
And the gorges hid from the light of God
Where the foot of a white man had never trod.
There’s a tiny flat where the grass grows green,
Like a bay it lies two dark hills between.
And a stream comes down through a narrow cleft:
Here the camp was fixed and the horses left.
’Twas the last sweet grass, and no man could ride
O’er the beetling fastness on either side.
Thence into the heart of the hills we bore,
Rich with ironstone masses and copper ore,
And once or twice in the gorges old
We found a trace of the colour of gold.
In a deep ravine, walled by rugged heights,
Through the toiling days and the restless nights
I felt, ’neath the spell of that gloomy place,
That a change had come o’er my comrade’s face;
Felt, rather than saw, as it seemed to me,
That all was not quite as it used to be;
The laughter and jest, and the glance and tone,
Were not of the man that I once had known,
And it seemed to me that he shunned to hear
Of Mary and Glenbar and Bendemeer.
And there rose a sense I could not define,
Like a widening stream ’twixt his soul and mine.
Then the light of the Past like a star shone out,
And I turned in scorn from my evil doubt.
But the passions that rule since the world began
Were working there in the heart of man,
And a breast that had guarded its secret well
Was burning then with the fires of hell.
’Tis the old, old tale of a woman’s face
More strong than the shadow of foul disgrace.
The old mad lust for the mastery
To pluck the flower that is not for thee.
For the dreamy light of a woman’s eyes
It can lead on to hell or to paradise.
Ah! little I dreamt in the days now done
That the eyes I loved were as dear to one
Whose heart had been eaten with jealous pride
Through the years of our brotherhood, side by side!
For once it chanced as I moved alone
That I stumbled and fell on the ironstone—
A stumble that might have been made in blood,
For a bullet hummed where my feet had stood.
And I turned and saw from my vantage place
The look that was written across his face.
“He had fired at a bird but too low by half,”
And he turned it off with an awkward laugh.
For as yet no shadow of what might be
The power ’neath the surface had come to me.
Yet a shadow crossed, and it left behind
A doubt that rankled within my mind;
And for weeks we played at the duel hard
Of an open candour but secret guard;
And the seeds of discord were subtly sown
When the fever seized me and struck me down;
And days there were when the blood coursed free,
To be followed by morrows of misery.
But the fever heightened, and day by day
I could feel the cords of my life give way.
And my strength went out like an ebbing sea,
Yet daily he tended and cared for me.
It may be some touch of the days of old
Made his hand draw back, made his heart cry “Hold.”
But I saw in his eyes, with all anguish dumb,
That he waited and hoped for the end to come.
Then I lost the power to move hand and head,
And at last I lay in a trance as dead,
Awake yet a-dream, for a day and night
Then I woke with a start—and the moon shone bright
But the tent and the tools and the guns were gone,
And all save the blanket I lay upon!
Not a sound came down from the mountains lone
Where the shadows huge by the moon were thrown.
In the gloomy gorge not a soul was near,
And I called his name with a bitter fear.
But no answer came to my feeble cry—
And I knew he had left me alone to die.
They speak the truth and they judge me well,
Who call me “the Man who has been in Hell.”
Though the sky be clear and the sun shine bright,
Men have walked on earth through that awful night,
Whose ears have heard and whose eyes have seen
The infernal shades, like the Florentine,
When the veil is rent and we see unroll
The heights and depths of the human soul;
And with whitened locks and with pallid cheek
Have known and felt what we may not speak.
My life had gone out like a brief light’s breath
Had no help come into that fight with death,
But the hands of Fate that are swift and strange
Brought a people down from the Western range,
Brought a wild black tribe down the gorges dark
Who had seen the prints of an unknown mark,
And quickly around me were clustering
Dark faces and spears in a bristling ring;
And I lay there still in a helpless shrift
With a silent prayer that the end be swift.
But a man spoke forth with a threatening spear
That I was the God of the mountains drear,
And accursed be he and his kin and wife,
Who should lay a hand on a sacred life!
So they succoured me. And I lay as a king
Who has dusky daughters to fetch and bring,
Boughs to shelter, and water and food,
And berries to temper the burning blood.
And they made me a shade from the tropic sun
Till the fire of the fever its course had run.
And at last new life, after weeks of pain,
Came stealing gently through every vein;
And I moved with the tribe, but I pondered long
Why Douglas had worked me this bitter wrong.
For as yet no word of the truth was told,
And I held that the motive was lust of gold.
We moved for the plain, and we passed between
The walls of the flat where the camp had been.
No sign of a horse in that grassy bay,
And Oliver Douglas was far away
Across the plains where the red sun dips,
A sin on his soul and a lie on his lips.
But, O! the joy when I found and knelt
By a full revolver and cartridge belt
Marked with his name, and a mark of the mind
In whose guilty haste they were left behind,
To be sacred things till the morn should rise
When men pay in full for their treacheries.
These gave me power and a stronger claim.
They called me, “The Lord of the Thunder and Flame.”
But they watched me close with a sleepless care:
Three years in the mountains still found me there.
But I learnt by heart all the gorges old,
And I found the granite and found the gold:
Wealth beyond dreams—to a savage man
As wild as the myalls with whom he ran!
Ah, God! Could ever my lot have been
To have lived and loved in a different scene,
To have seen love shine like a splendid star
In the eyes of the Lily of old Glenbar?
Five years had passed, and another year,
Since we turned our horses from Bendemeer.
And a bushman, wrinkled, and aged, and brown,
Had worked his passage to Melbourne town.
Let it matter not through what evil stress
He had battled out of the wilderness,
For the joy that was thrilling him through and through
With a secret music that no man knew—
The last sweet words that she said to me:
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee!”
Why do you tremble, and sob, and stare,
Old Margaret Bruce with the snowy hair,
And chatter of ghosts of the past to me?
I am here to claim what you hold in fee.
Give me back my own! I have done no wrong.
For the eyes I love I have suffered long.
Now the toil is over—the fierce unrest,
And the lily shall lie on the broad leaf’s breast.
And the heart that was faithful, and strong, and true,
Shall learn what the love of a man can do.
For the future calls both to her and me.
Thither Eden lies—and I hold the key.
Cease, woman, cease! I am waiting here
For a bride to be mistress of Bendemeer.
“Let be the past and this formless dread!
I am James Loraine who was long since dead.
Give me welcome now! Shall all things be vain
To the dead man come to his own again?
Have you naught of comfort for such as I?
The past is dead—let its memories die!
I am changed and worn, I am tired and old,
But I bring the secret of countless gold.
But a wish of hers, but a word of thine,
And Bendemeer and Glenbar are mine.
Bid her come to me that her eyes may see!
Bid her come to me! Bid her come to me!
Then Margaret faced me with words of lead:—
“Peace, peace, Loraine!—the poor child is dead.
Married and dead! You are parted far,
Dear friend, from the Lily of old Glenbar.
The Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands,
They have passed long since to the Douglas hands.
She had waited long, she had waited true,
She had knelt in her sorrow and wept for you.
When he came, at last, with a grave, sad face
To tell the tale of your resting place.
His were the hands—they were clasped in ours—
That had soothed and tended your dying hours;
That had dug the grave and had piled the stone
In the dim blue range where you slept alone.
And he spoke your word in his own sad pain,
‘Not to mourn for you—we should meet again
But whatever the fate of the years might send,
The friend of your soul—let him be her friend. ’
But the starlight died in her eyes that day,
And with roses white on her cheeks she lay,
And the summer faded and came again
Ere her shadow rose from its bed of pain.
But he came and went with an anxious air
As one consecrated to watch and care,
And from oversea came the call of race
To title and wealth and an ancient place,
And when Bendemeer and Glenbar were sold,
They were his for the sake of the days of old.
And he pressed his claim till she came to see
That their lives could be lived to your memory.
She was wedded here. She lies buried far.
The ocean divides her from old Glenbar.”
Married, and dead! Is it all a dream,
To melt away on the morning beam?
Some passing horror of night whose power
Still haunts the brain in its waking hour?
Can these trembling lips and these stony eyes,
And this heart grown numb in its agonies,
Be a man indeed? Do I see and hear?
Or roam a shade through some realm of fear?
“And of him?” I cried. “Shall no vengeance find
These soft lying lips and this double mind?
There are human snakes who have lived too long!”
But she said: “Loraine, let God judge the wrong.
For the man you seek—he is oversea
With ten thousand miles ’twixt his face and thee.”
In the fevered night when the gas-lamps flare,
And the human river sweeps here and there,
By terrace and church, and long lines of street,
And by dim-lit parks where the shadows meet,
I am drifting down with the human flood:
The poison of madness is in my blood.
Are there hearts as bitter and dead as mine
Where the faces throng in the moving line—
Numb with the chill of a black despair
That no man guesses or wants to share?
Unto each man once shall the gage be thrown:
He must fight the fight with his soul alone,
When all ways are barred and he stands at bay
Face to face with truth in the naked day.
I have fought the fight with my soul alone.
I have won my laurel—a heart of stone.
O never again when the white stars shine
Shall the eyes I love look their love in mine!
And never again when the soft winds blow
Shall we ride by the river, or whisper low
By the shady nook ’neath the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer!
And no bridal bells for our joy shall ring
When Nature wakes to the voice of Spring.
And no tiny hands with a touch divine
Shall link for ever her soul and mine!
She is dead! My lily! My shy bush flower!
The summer has fled where she bloomed an hour.
Do her sweet eyes shine from some lonely star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar?
Mine is selfish grief, mine is selfish pain;
But her sorrow is seared on my heart and brain.
What she heard, I hear; what she saw, I see;
What she felt is bare as a page to me
Shall such evil thrive? Shall she droop and die
And the man who loved her stand idly by?
Let God right the wrong! Will he give the dead
The sunshine and grace of the summers fled?
Has He solace here for the silent tears
Of the hopeless days, of the wasted years?
Let God right the wrong! He is deaf and blind
To the griefs and passions that shake mankind!
Who has eyes to see, let him use his sight:
Wrong is not righted, but might is right.
Then be might my right and my hate the rod,
And my hand in anger the hand of God
And the power is gold, which no power can bend—
I have learnt the means—I can see the end
To my mountains then: there to toil and wait.
I have lived for love: I can live for hate.
Till the power be mine, till the way be sure,
I can face the future and still endure.
With a wild fire flaming through all my blood
I have called to Evil “Be thou my Good!”
Love has patient been: love was strong and true;
But the heart of hate can be patient too
Can be strong to suffer and calm to wait,
But swift to strike in the hour of Fate—
To strike at the heart that has wrought her dole,
To strike at the man who has killed my soul!
THE mountains swarm like a human hive,
The picks are swinging in many a drive,
The axe is ringing on many a tree,
And the blast of a charge thunders sullenly;
And the growing heaps of the dull gray stone
And the tents of men stud the hillside lone,
And the moan of the windlass comes again,
With an eerie sound like a soul in pain.
And across the plains, lying baked and brown,
Where the long teams creep till the sun goes down,
Comes the curse, and the whip like a pistol crack,
As the bullocks strain on the burning track.
Soon the battery’s thunder will rend the sky
From the gorge where he left me alone to die.
They have felt the stir in the cities south,
And the “Comrade Field” is in every mouth,
And northward rushes the wave of greed,
For the whole world knows of “The Devil’s Lead.”
“Four jewelled walls—there are millions there!”
But one man’s hand is on every share—
One who knows the mountains from crest to glen,
A hater of women and feared of men,
Who has heart for nothing save gold and gain.
A power to be reckoned with—James Loraine!
As a miser handles and counts his gold,
So I hoard my hate with a joy untold.
Let the weaklings sink ’neath their dumb despair!
Shall I spare the coward who did not spare
O, the joy of hate! O, the liquid fire!
When the strong soul throbs to one fierce desire!
So I thirst for life as a hound for blood,
And woe to the hunters who cross my mood!
To strike hard and home! Then to watch him die
And to soothe his death with my memory!
This were joy indeed, worth a few years’ breath!
This were joy indeed, though the price were death!
Then what holds my heart, and what stays my hand,
Who can cross at will to the motherland?
’Tis a voice that floats through my dreams at night,
And a white hand ringed with a fairy light,
From the world unseen, that has drawn anear,
A tremulous whisper—“At Bendemeer.”
I had planned the end in the mountains grim,
Where the dream of wealth would be lure to him.
Bound fast to a tree in some gloomy glen
Where no cry can reach to the ears of men,
And shot with the bullet he meant for me—
I have dug it out of the hardwood tree.
Then to loose his cords and to let him lie
With his false face turned to the smiling sky,
With his dying grip—in a death of shame—
On the pistol butt that still bears his name!
A fool I have been from my mother’s breast,
A fool who acted and thought for the best,
Made way for others and stood aside
And saw knaves feasted and deified.
With an open heart I have striven to do
“To men as ye would they would do to you.”
And what have I gained by the Christian rule?
A smile and a sneer at the trusting fool!
And the generous wish to be fair and just
Has been deemed but weakness and self-distrust.
Now these things are over. My soul is free.
I will deal with men as they deal with me.
For I care not whither my purpose tend,
Let Hell find the means so I gain the end
And no guile too subtle or dark shall prove;
I have done with scruple, and done with love.
The thud of the stampers all night and day
Is loud in the gorge where the campfire lay.
From the big hotel where the lights shine long
Comes the broken snatch of a drinking song.
For the roofs go up as the shafts go down
In the fever and rush of a mining town.
I sit in my office with busy pen,
The saddest and richest of mining men.
I have sat like a spider and spun and spun
Till I hold the mortgage on many a run.
I have land and houses and shares and gold,
My stock increase by the thousandfold.
I am feared and courted with flattering breath
And all that I live for is one man’s death.
I have worked his ruin. I hold his fate.
I have woven a web round the man I hate.
I have crossed his schemes, I have won the fight,
For tools can be willing when gold is bright.
And the deeds of mortgage are in their hands
Over Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands.
As I sleep at last on my bed of care
Comes the white hand floating upon the air,
And a woman’s whisper is in my ear,
“The man that you hate is at Bendemeer.”
The last crimson streak in the West was dead,
And the white stars broke through the blue o’erhead,
And the hornèd moon like a sceptre pale
Cast its thin blue ray on the old sliprail,
As I crossed Glenbar by the big tree where
The track goes winding to Bendemeer.
All the plain lay silent and silver-gray
Like a shroud for a bride on her bridal day.
I could feel the menace and the hand of Fate
As I stood once more at the garden gate.
With a passionate heart for a while I stood,
For the past came back like a rushing flood,
Then I moved the latch and I crept within—
A thief in the silence who fears his sin.
Like funeral plumes for some giant king
Rise the dark pine-crowns, and their shadows cling
Purple and solemn to path and lawn,
Like the shadow of murder that waits the dawn.
And the morepork’s call from the timbered knoll
Seems the hoot of fiends for a dead man’s soul.
I am creeping slow down the well-known way,
All round me is ruin and slow decay,
By the weed-choked beds and the paths o’ergrown,
And rank grass seeding on lawns unmown,
And a low fence matted with running vine,
In the home of my fathers that once was mine.
The old rambling pile and verandahs wide,
Like an isle half lost in some dim gray tide,
Seems to welcome me, seems to feel and know
That a ghost is here from the Long Ago!
And my fingers close, whilst my blood is flame,
Round the pistol-butt that still bears his name.
Creep, creep to the west where the ground is bare,
For a dim light shines from a window there.
I have toiled for this thro’ the gloomy past.
I have prayed for this—’tis my hour at last!
Hear, God of the Just, whilst I own Thy might
Who hast given this man to my hands this night!
Here I kneel and pray. Be my hand the rod,
Be my hand in anger the hand of God!
Where the fold of the curtain falls, half drawn,
By the windows, wide to the western lawn,
From the shadows vague of the outer gloom
I have slipped—a shadow—within the room.
In the shaded light, on the low white bed,
I can see his face . . . he is lying . . . dead
The hand of Time has not marred its grace,
Though the lines are deep on the well-known face.
And the brow is placid and white and chill
With the peace that comes when the heart is still.
And the lamplight falls on the golden hair
Of a weeping child who is kneeling there.
O human vengeance and human hate!
See, thine altars scattered and desolate!
Poor paltry things of a passing breath,
Ye are silent here in the halls of Death!
Be his soul at rest. Though his sin was deep,
Yet bitter the harvest he lived to reap.
He has suffered long, he has worn the chain
Of a life’s remorse in his heart and brain.
He has known the terror of hidden sin
When the soul stands bare to the judge within.
Be his heart at rest in the peace divine!
Be Thy mercy, Lord, on his soul . . . and mine!
For the child looks up with her mother’s face,
With the sungold hair and the lily’s grace.
From the lashes wet with their pearly dew
Shine the dark-blue depths of the eyes I knew,
The sweet eyes soft with the dreamy light
And the mystic spell of the southern night.
They have left me this—’tis the bond of Fate—
The woman I love and the man I hate!
Through the windows wide blows the gentle breeze,
And the wind-harp sighs in the shadowy trees,
And I see the rise of a splendid star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar!
- quotes about elders
- quotes about strength
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about mountains
- quotes about grey
- quotes about fate
- quotes about grass
- quotes about brown
- quotes about blue
Honours - Part1
A Scholar is musing on his want of success.
To strive—and fail. Yes, I did strive and fail;
I set mine eyes upon a certain night
To find a certain star—and could not hail
With them its deep-set light.
Fool that I was! I will rehearse my fault:
I, wingless, thought myself on high to lift
Among the winged—I set these feet that halt
To run against the swift.
And yet this man, that loved me so, can write—
That loves me, I would say, can let me see;
Or fain would have me think he counts but light
These Honours lost to me.
[The letter of his friend.]
What are they? that old house of yours which gave
Such welcomes oft to me, the sunbeams fall
Still, down the squares of blue and white which pave
Its hospitable hall.
A brave old house! a garden full of bees,
Large dropping poppies, and Queen hollihocks,
With butterflies for crowns—tree peonies
And pinks and goldilocks.
'Go, when the shadow of your house is long
Upon the garden—when some new-waked bird,
Pecking and fluttering, chirps a sudden song,
And not a leaf is stirred;
'But every one drops dew from either edge
Upon its fellow, while an amber ray
Slants up among the tree-tops like a wedge
Of liquid gold—to play
'Over and under them, and so to fall
Upon that lane of water lying below—
That piece of sky let in, that you do call
A pond, but which I know
'To be a deep and wondrous world; for I
Have seen the trees within it—marvellous things
So thick no bird betwixt their leaves could fly
But she would smite her wings;—
'Go there, I say; stand at the water's brink,
And shoals of spotted grayling you shall see
Basking between the shadows—look, and think
'This beauty is for me;
' 'For me this freshness in the morning hours,
For me the water's clear tranquillity;
For me the soft descent of chestnut flowers;
The cushat's cry for me.
'The lovely laughter of the wind-swayed wheat;
The easy slope of yonder pastoral hill;
The sedgy brook whereby the red kine meet
And wade and drink their fill.'
'Then saunter down that terrace whence the sea
All fair with wing-like sails you may discern;
Be glad, and say 'This beauty is for me—
A thing to love and learn.
' 'For me the bounding in of tides; for me
The laying bare of sands when they retreat;
The purple flush of calms, the sparkling glee
When waves and sunshine meet.'
'So, after gazing, homeward turn, and mount
To that long chamber in the roof; there tell
Your heart the laid-up lore it holds to count
And prize and ponder well.
'The lookings onward of the race before
It had a past to make it look behind;
Its reverent wonders, and its doublings sore,
Its adorations blind.
'The thunder of its war-songs, and the glow
Of chants to freedom by the old world sung;
The sweet love cadences that long ago
Dropped from the old-world tongue.
'And then this new-world lore that takes account
Of tangled star-dust; maps the triple whirl
Of blue and red and argent worlds that mount
And greet the IRISH EARL;
'Or float across the tube that HERSCHEL sways,
Like pale-rose chaplets, or like sapphire mist;
Or hang or droop along the heavenly ways,
Like scarves of amethyst.
'O strange it is and wide the new-world lore,
For next it treateth of our native dust!
Must dig out buried monsters, and explore
The green earth's fruitful crust;
Must write the story of her seething youth—
How lizards paddled in her lukewarm seas;
Must show the cones she ripened, and forsooth
Count seasons on her trees;
'Must know her weight, and pry into her age,
Count her old beach lines by their tidal swell;
Her sunken mountains name, her craters gauge,
Her cold volcanoes tell;
'And treat her as a ball, that one might pass
From this hand to the other—such a ball
As he could measure with a blade of grass,
And say it was but small!
'Honours! O friend, I pray you bear with me:
The grass hath time to grow in meadow lands,
And leisurely the opal murmuring sea
Breaks on her yellow sands;
'And leisurely the ring-dove on her nest
Broods till her tender chick will peck the shell;
And leisurely down fall from ferny crest
The dew-drops on the well;
'And leisurely your life and spirit grew,
With yet the time to grow and ripen free:
No judgment past withdraws that boon from you,
Nor granteth it to me.
'Still must I plod, and still in cities moil;
From precious leisure, learned leisure far,
Dull my best self with handling common soil;
Yet mine those honours are.
'Mine they are called; they are a name which means,
'This man had steady pulses, tranquil nerves;
Here, as in other fields, the most he gleans
Who works and never swerves.
' 'We measure. not his mind; we cannot tell
What lieth under, over, or beside
The test we put him to; he doth excel,
We knew, where he is tried;
' 'But, if he boast some farther excellence—
Mind to create as well as to attain;
To sway his peers by golden eloquence,
As wind doth shift a fane;
' 'To sing among the poets—we are nought:
We cannot drop a line into that sea
And read its fathoms off, nor gauge a thought,
Nor map a simile.
' 'It may be of all voices sublunar
The only one he echoes we did try,
We may have come upon the only star
That twinkles in his sky.'
' And so it was with me.'
O false my friend!
False, false, a random charge, a blame undue;
Wrest not fair reasoning to a crooked end:
False, false, as you are true!
But I read on: 'And so it was with me;
Your golden constellations lying apart
They neither hailed nor greeted heartily,
Nor noted on their chart.
'And yet to you and not to me belong
Those finer instincts that, like second sight
And hearing, catch creation's undersong,
And see by inner light.
'You are a well, whereon I, gazing, see
Reflections of the upper heavens—a well
From whence come deep, deep echoes up to me—
Some underwave's low swell.
'I cannot soar into the heights you show,
Nor dive among the deeps that you reveal;
But it is much that high things ARE to know,
That deep things ARE to feel.
' 'Tis yours, not mine, to pluck out of your breast
Some human truth, whose workings recondite
Were unattired in words, and manifest
And hold it forth to light
'And cry, 'Behold this thing that I have found.'
And though they knew not of it till that day,
Nor should have done with no man to expound
Its meaning, yet they say,
' 'We do accept it: lower than the shoals
We skim, this diver went, nor did create,
But find it for us deeper in our souls
Than we can penetrate.'
You were to me the world's interpreter,
The man that taught me Nature's unknown tongue,
And to the notes of her wild dulcimer
First set sweet words and sung.
'And what am I to you? A steady hand
To hold, a steadfast heart to trust withal;
Merely a man that loves you, and will stand
By you, whate'er befall.
'But need we praise his tendance tutelar
Who feeds a flame that warms him? Yet 't is true
I love you for the sake of what you are.
And not of what you do:—
'As heaven's high twins, whereof in Tyrian blue
The one revolveth: through his course immense
Might love his fellow of the damask hue,
For like, and difference.
'For different pathways evermore decreed
To intersect, but not to interfere;
For common goal, two aspects, and one speed,
One centre and one year;
'For deep affinities, for drawings strong,
That by their nature each must needs exert;
For loved alliance, and for union long,
That stands before desert.
'And yet desert makes brighter not the less,
For nearest his own star he shall not fail
To think those rays unmatched for nobleness,
That distance counts but pale.
'Be pale afar; since still to me you shine,
And must while Nature's eldest law shall hold;'—
Ah, there's the thought which makes his random line
Dear as refined gold!
Then shall I drink this drought of oxymel,
Part sweet, part sharp? Myself o'erprized to know
Is sharp; the cause is sweet, and truth to tell
Few would that cause forego,
Which is, that this of all the men on earth
Doth love me well enough to count me great—
To think my soul and his of equal girth—
O liberal estimate!
And yet it is so; he is bound to me,
For human love makes aliens near of kin;
By it I rise, there is equality:
I rise to thee, my twin.
'Take courage'—courage! ay, my purple peer,
I will take courage; for thy Tyrian rays
Refresh me to the heart, and strangely dear
And healing is thy praise.
'Take courage,' quoth he, 'and respect the mind
Your Maker gave, for good your fate fulfill;
The fate round many hearts your own to wind.
Twin soul. I will! I will!
- quotes about honor
- quotes about music
- quotes about harvest
- quotes about seasons
- quotes about pink
- quotes about equality
- quotes about drawing
- quotes about television
The Passing Of Arthur
That story which the bold Sir Bedivere,
First made and latest left of all the knights,
Told, when the man was no more than a voice
In the white winter of his age, to those
With whom he dwelt, new faces, other minds.
For on their march to westward, Bedivere,
Who slowly paced among the slumbering host,
Heard in his tent the moanings of the King:
'I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and dim,
And have not power to see it as it is:
Perchance, because we see not to the close;--
For I, being simple, thought to work His will,
And have but stricken with the sword in vain;
And all whereon I leaned in wife and friend
Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten me in my death;
Nay--God my Christ--I pass but shall not die.'
Then, ere that last weird battle in the west,
There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain killed
In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain blown
Along a wandering wind, and past his ear
Went shrilling, 'Hollow, hollow all delight!
Hail, King! tomorrow thou shalt pass away.
Farewell! there is an isle of rest for thee.
And I am blown along a wandering wind,
And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight.'
And fainter onward, like wild birds that change
Their season in the night and wail their way
From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream
Shrilled; but in going mingled with dim cries
Far in the moonlit haze among the hills,
As of some lonely city sacked by night,
When all is lost, and wife and child with wail
Pass to new lords; and Arthur woke and called,
'Who spake? A dream. O light upon the wind,
Thine, Gawain, was the voice--are these dim cries
Thine? or doth all that haunts the waste and wild
Mourn, knowing it will go along with me?'
This heard the bold Sir Bedivere and spake:
'O me, my King, let pass whatever will,
Elves, and the harmless glamour of the field;
But in their stead thy name and glory cling
To all high places like a golden cloud
For ever: but as yet thou shalt not pass.
Light was Gawain in life, and light in death
Is Gawain, for the ghost is as the man;
And care not thou for dreams from him, but rise--
I hear the steps of Modred in the west,
And with him many of thy people, and knights
Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown
Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee.
Right well in heart they know thee for the King.
Arise, go forth and conquer as of old.'
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'Far other is this battle in the west
Whereto we move, than when we strove in youth,
And brake the petty kings, and fought with Rome,
Or thrust the heathen from the Roman wall,
And shook him through the north. Ill doom is mine
To war against my people and my knights.
The king who fights his people fights himself.
And they my knights, who loved me once, the stroke
That strikes them dead is as my death to me.
Yet let us hence, and find or feel a way
Through this blind haze, which ever since I saw
One lying in the dust at Almesbury,
Hath folded in the passes of the world.'
Then rose the King and moved his host by night,
And ever pushed Sir Modred, league by league,
Back to the sunset bound of Lyonnesse--
A land of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
And the long mountains ended in a coast
Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
The phantom circle of a moaning sea.
There the pursuer could pursue no more,
And he that fled no further fly the King;
And there, that day when the great light of heaven
Burned at his lowest in the rolling year,
On the waste sand by the waste sea they closed.
Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last, dim, weird battle of the west.
A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold
With formless fear; and even on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist,
And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew;
And some had visions out of golden youth,
And some beheld the faces of old ghosts
Look in upon the battle; and in the mist
Was many a noble deed, many a base,
And chance and craft and strength in single fights,
And ever and anon with host to host
Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn,
Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash
Of battleaxes on shattered helms, and shrieks
After the Christ, of those who falling down
Looked up for heaven, and only saw the mist;
And shouts of heathen and the traitor knights,
Oaths, insults, filth, and monstrous blasphemies,
Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of the lungs
In that close mist, and cryings for the light,
Moans of the dying, and voices of the dead.
Last, as by some one deathbed after wail
Of suffering, silence follows, or through death
Or deathlike swoon, thus over all that shore,
Save for some whisper of the seething seas,
A dead hush fell; but when the dolorous day
Grew drearier toward twilight falling, came
A bitter wind, clear from the North, and blew
The mist aside, and with that wind the tide
Rose, and the pale King glanced across the field
Of battle: but no man was moving there;
Nor any cry of Christian heard thereon,
Nor yet of heathen; only the wan wave
Brake in among dead faces, to and fro
Swaying the helpless hands, and up and down
Tumbling the hollow helmets of the fallen,
And shivered brands that once had fought with Rome,
And rolling far along the gloomy shores
The voice of days of old and days to be.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere,
And whiter than the mist that all day long
Had held the field of battle was the King:
'Hearest thou this great voice that shakes the world,
And wastes the narrow realm whereon we move,
And beats upon the faces of the dead,
My dead, as though they had not died for me?--
O Bedivere, for on my heart hath fallen
Confusion, till I know not what I am,
Nor whence I am, nor whether I be King.
Behold, I seem but King among the dead.'
Then spake the bold Sir Bedivere: 'My King,
King everywhere! and so the dead have kings,
There also will I worship thee as King.
Yet still thy life is whole, and still I live
Who love thee; but who hates thee, he that brought
The heathen back among us, yonder stands,
Modred, unharmed, the traitor of thine house.'
Then spake the King: 'My house hath been my doom.
But call not thou this traitor of my house
Who hath but dwelt beneath one roof with me.
My house are rather they who sware my vows,
Yea, even while they brake them, owned me King.
And well for thee, saying in my dark hour,
When all the purport of my throne hath failed,
That quick or dead thou holdest me for King.
King am I, whatsoever be their cry;
And one last act of kinghood shalt thou see
Yet, ere I pass.' And uttering this the King
Made at the man: then Modred smote his liege
Hard on that helm which many a heathen sword
Had beaten thin; while Arthur at one blow,
Striking the last stroke with Excalibur,
Slew him, and all but slain himself, he fell.
So all day long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's Table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their lord,
King Arthur. Then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land:
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'The sequel of today unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep--the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls
Of Camelot, as in the days that were.
I perish by this people which I made,--
Though Merlin sware that I should come again
To rule once more; but, let what will be, be,
I am so deeply smitten through the helm
That without help I cannot last till morn.
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur,
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword--and how I rowed across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king;
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,
And fling him far into the middle mere:
Watch what thou se st, and lightly bring me word.'
To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:
'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus,
Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm--
A little thing may harm a wounded man;
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,
Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word.'
So saying, from the ruined shrine he stept,
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, stepping down
By zigzag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
Came on the shining levels of the lake.
There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long
That both his eyes were dazzled as he stood,
This way and that dividing the swift mind,
In act to throw: but at the last it seemed
Better to leave Excalibur concealed
There in the many-knotted waterflags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.
So strode he back slow to the wounded King.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'Hast thou performed my mission which I gave?
What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?'
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'I heard the ripple washing in the reeds,
And the wild water lapping on the crag.'
To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale:
'Thou hast betrayed thy nature and thy name,
Not rendering true answer, as beseemed
Thy f alty, nor like a noble knight:
For surer sign had followed, either hand,
Or voice, or else a motion of the mere.
This is a shameful thing for men to lie.
Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again,
As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing
I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word.'
Then went Sir Bedivere the second time
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fixed in thought;
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt,
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote
His palms together, and he cried aloud:
'And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Should thus be lost for ever from the earth,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
What good should follow this, if this were done?
What harm, undone? Deep harm to disobey,
Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.
Were it well to obey then, if a king demand
An act unprofitable, against himself?
The King is sick, and knows not what he does.
What record, or what relic of my lord
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath
And rumours of a doubt? But were this kept,
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
Some one might show it at a joust of arms,
Saying, "King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills."
So might some old man speak in the aftertime
To all the people, winning reverence.
But now much honour and much fame were lost.'
So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
And hid Excalibur the second time,
And so strode back slow to the wounded King.
Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily:
'What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?'
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'I heard the water lapping on the crag,
And the long ripple washing in the reeds.'
To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath:
'Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue,
Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me!
Authority forgets a dying king,
Laid widowed of the power in his eye
That bowed the will. I see thee what thou art,
For thou, the latest-left of all my knights,
In whom should meet the offices of all,
Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt;
Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.
Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice,
And the third time may prosper, get thee hence:
But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur,
I will arise and slay thee with my hands.'
Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
And, leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged
Among the bulrush beds, and clutched the sword,
And strongly wheeled and threw it. The great brand
Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon,
And flashing round and round, and whirled in an arch,
Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
By night, with noises of the Northern Sea.
So flashed and fell the brand Excalibur:
But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandished him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.
And lightly went the other to the King.
Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath:
'Now see I by thine eyes that this is done.
Speak out: what is it thou hast heard, or seen?'
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
'Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems
Should blind my purpose, for I never saw,
Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die,
Not though I live three lives of mortal men,
So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him;
But when I looked again, behold an arm,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
That caught him by the hilt, and brandished him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.'
And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard:
'My end draws nigh; 'tis time that I were gone.
Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight,
And bear me to the margin; yet I fear
My wound hath taken cold, and I shall die.'
So saying, from the pavement he half rose,
Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm,
And looking wistfully with wide blue eyes
As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere
Remorsefully regarded through his tears,
And would have spoken, but he found not words;
Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee,
O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands,
And rising bore him through the place of tombs.
But, as he walked, King Arthur panted hard,
Like one that feels a nightmare on his bed
When all the house is mute. So sighed the King,
Muttering and murmuring at his ear, 'Quick, quick!
I fear it is too late, and I shall die.'
But the other swiftly strode from ridge to ridge,
Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walked,
Larger than human on the frozen hills.
He heard the deep behind him, and a cry
Before. His own thought drove him like a goad.
Dry clashed his harness in the icy caves
And barren chasms, and all to left and right
The bare black cliff clanged round him, as he based
His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang
Sharp-smitten with the dint of armd heels--
And on a sudden, lo! the level lake,
And the long glories of the winter moon.
Then saw they how there hove a dusky barge,
Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern,
Beneath them; and descending they were ware
That all the decks were dense with stately forms,
Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream--by these
Three Queens with crowns of gold: and from them rose
A cry that shivered to the tingling stars,
And, as it were one voice, an agony
Of lamentation, like a wind that shrills
All night in a waste land, where no one comes,
Or hath come, since the making of the world.
Then murmured Arthur, 'Place me in the barge.'
So to the barge they came. There those three Queens
Put forth their hands, and took the King, and wept.
But she, that rose the tallest of them all
And fairest, laid his head upon her lap,
And loosed the shattered casque, and chafed his hands,
And called him by his name, complaining loud,
And dropping bitter tears against a brow
Striped with dark blood: for all his face was white
And colourless, and like the withered moon
Smote by the fresh beam of the springing east;
And all his greaves and cuisses dashed with drops
Of onset; and the light and lustrous curls--
That made his forehead like a rising sun
High from the das-throne--were parched with dust;
Or, clotted into points and hanging loose,
Mixed with the knightly growth that fringed his lips.
So like a shattered column lay the King;
Not like that Arthur who, with lance in rest,
From spur to plume a star of tournament,
Shot through the lists at Camelot, and charged
Before the eyes of ladies and of kings.
Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:
'Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.
But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world,
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds.'
And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
'The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou se st--if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)--
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.'
So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Looked one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.
But when that moan had past for evermore,
The stillness of the dead world's winter dawn
Amazed him, and he groaned, 'The King is gone.'
And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,
'From the great deep to the great deep he goes.'
Whereat he slowly turned and slowly clomb
The last hard footstep of that iron crag;
Thence marked the black hull moving yet, and cried,
'He passes to be King among the dead,
And after healing of his grievous wound
He comes again; but--if he come no more--
O me, be yon dark Queens in yon black boat,
Who shrieked and wailed, the three whereat we gazed
On that high day, when, clothed with living light,
They stood before his throne in silence, friends
Of Arthur, who should help him at his need?'
Then from the dawn it seemed there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.
Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.
Rokeby: Canto V.
The sultry summer day is done,
The western hills have hid the sun,
But mountain peak and village spire
Retain reflection of his fire.
Old Barnard's towers are purple still,
To those that gaze from Toller-hill;
Distant and high, the tower of Bowes
Like steel upon the anvil glows;
And Stanmore's ridge, behind that lay,
Rich with the spoils of parting day,
In crimson and in gold array'd,
Streaks yet awhile the closing shade,
Then slow resigns to darkening heaven
The tints which brighter hours had given.
Thus aged men, full loth and slow,
The vanities of life forego,
And count their youthful follies o'er,
Till Memory lends her light no more.
The eve, that slow on upland fades,
Has darker closed on Rokeby's glades,
Where, sunk within their banks profound,
Her guardian streams to meeting wound.
The stately oaks, whose sombre frown
Of noontide made a twilight brown,
Impervious now to fainter light,
Of twilight make an early night.
Hoarse into middle air arose
The vespers of the roosting crows,
And with congenial, murmurs seem
To wake the Genii of the stream;
For louder clamour'd Greta's tide,
And Tees in deeper voice replied,
And fitful waked the evening wind,
Fitful in sighs its breath resign'd.
Wilfrid, whose fancy-nurtured soul
Felt in the scene a soft control,
With lighter footstep press'd the ground,
And often paused to look around;
And, though his path was to his love,
Could not but linger in the grove,
To drink the thrilling interest dear,
Of awful pleasure check'd by fear.
Such inconsistent moods have we,
Even when our passions strike the key.
Now, through the wood's dark mazes past,
The opening lawn he reach'd at last,
Where, silver'd by the moonlight ray,
The ancient Hall before him lay.
Those martial terrors long were fled,
That frown'd of old around its head:
The battlements, the turrets gray,
Seem'd half abandon'd to decay;
On barbican and keep of stone
Stern Time the foeman's work had done.
Where banners the invader braved,
The harebell now and wallflower waved;
In the rude guard-room, where of yore
Their weary hours the warders wore,
Now, while the cheerful fagots blaze,
On the paved floor the spindle plays;
The flanking guns dismounted lie,
The moat is ruinous and dry,
The grim portcullis gone-and all
The fortress turn'd to peaceful Hall.
But yet precautions, lately ta'en,
Show'd danger's day revived again;
The court-yard wall show'd marks of care,
The fall'n defences to repair,
Lending such strength as might withstand
The insult of marauding band.
The beams once more were taught to bear
The trembling drawbridge into air,
And not, till question'd o'er and o'er,
For Wilfrid oped the jealous door,
And when he entered, bolt and bar
Resumed their place with sullen jar;
Then, as he cross'd the vaulted porch,
The old grey porter raised his torch,
And view'd him o'er, from foot to head,
Ere to the hall his steps he led.
That huge old hall, of nightly state,
Dismantled seem'd and desolate.
The moon through transom-shafts of stone,
Which cross'd the latticed oriels, shone,
And by the mournful light she gave,
The Gothic vault seem'd funeral cave.
Pennon and banner waved no more
O'er beams of stag and tusks of boar,
Nor glimmering arms were marshall'd seen,
To glance those sylvan spoils between.
Those arms, those ensigns, borne away,
Accomplish'd Rokeby's brave array,
But all were lost on Marston's day!
Yet here and there the moonbeams fall
Where armour yet adorns the wall,
Cumbrous of size, uncouth to sight,
And useless in the modern fight!
Like veteran relic of the wars,
Known only by neglected scars.
Matilda soon to greet him came,
And bade them light the evening flame;
Said, all for parting was prepared,
And tarried but for Wilfrid's guard.
But then reluctant to unfold
His father's avarice of gold,
He hinted, that lest jealous eye
Should on their precious burden pry,
He judged it best the castle gate
To enter when the night wore late;
And therefore he had left command
With those he trusted of his band,
That they should be at Rokeby met,
What time the midnight-watch was set.
Now Redmond came, whose anxious care
Till then was busied to prepare
All needful, meetly to arrange
The mansion for its mournful change.
With Wilfrid's care and kindness pleased,
His cold unready hand he seized,
And press'd it, till his kindly strain
The gentle youth return'd again.
Seem'd as between them this was said,
'Awhile let jealousy be dead;
And let our contest be, whose care
Shall best assist this helpless fair.'
There was no speech the truce to bind,
It was a compact of the mind,
A generous thought, at once impress'd
On either rival's generous breast.
Matilda well the secret took,
From sudden change of mien and look;
And-for not small had been her fear
Of jealous ire and danger near-
Felt, even in her dejected state,
A joy beyond the reach of fate.
They closed beside the chimney's blaze,
And talk'd, and hoped for happier days,
And lent their spirits' rising glow
Awhile to gild impending woe;
High privilege of youthful time,
Worth all the pleasures of our prime!
The bickering fagot sparkled bright,
And gave the scene of love to sight,
Bade Wilfrid's cheek more lively glow,
Play'd on Matilda's neck of snow,
Her nut-brown curls and forehead high,
And laugh'd in Redmond's azure eye.
Two lovers by the maiden sate,
Without a glance of jealous hate;
The maid her lovers sat between,
With open brow and equal mien;
It is a sight but rarely spied,
Thanks to man's wrath and woman's pride.
While thus in peaceful guise they sate,
A knock alarm'd the outer gate,
And ere the tardy porter stirr'd,
The tinkling of a harp was heard.
A manly voice of mellow swell,
Bore burden to the music well.
'Summer eve is gone and past,
Summer dew is falling fast;
I have wander'd all the day,
Do not bid me farther stray!
Gentle hearts, of gentle kin,
Take the wandering harper in.'
But the stern porter answer gave,
With 'Get thee hence, thou strolling knave!
The king wants soldiers; war, I trow,
Were meeter trade for such as thou.'
At this unkind reproof; again
Answer'd the ready Minstrel's strain.
Bid not me, in battle-field,
Buckler lift, or broadsword wield!
All my strength and all my art
Is to touch the gentle heart,
With the wizard notes that ring
From the peaceful minstrel-string.'
The porter, all unmoved, replied,
'Depart in peace, with Heaven to guide;
If longer by the gate thou dwell,
Trust me, thou shalt not part so well.'
With somewhat of appealing look,
The harper's part young Wilfrid took:
'These notes so wild and ready thrill.
They show no vulgar minstrel's skill;
Hard were his task to seek a home
More distant, since the night is come;
And for his faith I dare engage
Your Harpool's blood is sour'd by age;
His gate, once readily display'd,
To greet the friend, the poor to aid,
Now even to me, though known of old,
Did but reluctantly unfold.'
'0 blame not, as poor Harpool's crime,
An evil of this evil time.
He deems dependent on his care
The safety of his patron's heir,
Nor judges meet to ope the tower
To guest unknown at parting hour,
Urging his duty to excess
Of rough and stubborn faithfulness.
For this poor harper, I would fain
He may relax:-Hark to his strain!'
'I have song of war for knight,
Lay of love for lady bright,
Fairy tale to lull the heir,
Goblin grim the maids to scare.
Dark the night, and long till day,
Do not bid me farther stray!
'Rokeby's lords of martial fame,
I can count them name by name;
Legends of their line there be,
Known to few, but known to me;
If you honour Rokeby's kin,
Take the wandering harper in!
'Rokeby's lords had fair regard
For the harp, and for the bard;
Baron's race throve never well,
Where the curse of minstrel fell.
If you love that noble kin,
Take the weary harper in!'
'Hark! Harpool parleys-there is hope,'
Said Redmond, 'that the gate will ope.'-
'For all thy brag and boast, I trow,
Nought know'st thou of the Felon Sow,'
Quoth Harpool, 'nor how Greta-side
She roam'd, and Rokeby forest wide;
Nor how Ralph Rokeby gave the beast
To Richmond's friars to make a feast.
Of Gilbert Griffinson the tale
Goes, and of gallant Peter Dale,
That well could strike with sword amain,
And of the valiant son of Spain,
Friar Middleton, and blithe Sir Ralph;
There were a jest to make us laugh!
If thou canst tell it, in yon shed
Thou'st won thy supper and thy bed.'
Matilda smiled; 'Cold hope,' said she,
'From Harpool's love of minstrelsy!
But, for this harper, may we dare,
Redmond, to mend his couch and fare?'-
'O0, ask me not!-At minstrel-string
My heart from infancy would spring;
Nor can I hear its simplest strain,
But it brings Erin's dream again,
When placed by Owen Lysagh's knee,
(The Filea of O'Neale was he,
A blind and bearded man, whose eld
Was sacred as a prophet's held,)
I've seen a ring of rugged kerne,
With aspects shaggy, wild, and stern,
Enchanted by the master's lay,
Linger around the livelong day,
Shift from wild rage to wilder glee,
To love, to grief, to ecstasy,
And feel each varied change of soul
Obedient to the bard's control.
Ah, Clandeboy! thy friendly floor
Slieve-Donard's oak shall light no more;
Nor Owen's harp, beside the blaze,
Tell maiden's love, or hero's praise!
The mantling brambles hide thy hearth,
Centre of hospitable mirth;
All undistinguish'd in the glade,
My sires' glad home is prostrate laid,
Their vassals wander wide and far,
Serve foreign lords in distant war,
And now the stranger's sons enjoy
The lovely woods of Clandeboy!
He spoke, and proudly turn'd aside,
The starting tear to dry and hide.
Matilda's dark and soften'd eye
Was glistening ere O'Neale's was dry.
Her hand upon his arm she laid,
'It is the will of heaven,' she said.
'And think'st thou, Redmond, I can part
From this loved home with lightsome heart,
Leaving to wild neglect whate'er
Even from my infancy was dear?
For in this calm domestic bound
Were all Matilda's pleasures found.
That hearth, my sire was wont to grace,
Full soon may be a stranger's place;
This hall, in which a child I play'd,
Like thine, dear Redmond, lowly laid,
The bramble and the thorn may braid;
Or, pass'd for aye from me and mine,
It ne'er may shelter Rokeby's line.
Yet is this consolation given,
My Redmond, 'tis the will of heaven.'
Her word, her action, and her phrase,
Were kindly as in early days;
For cold reserve had lost its power,
In sorrow's sympathetic hour.
Young Redmond dared not trust his voice;
But rather had it been his choice
To share that melancholy hour,
Than, arm'd with all a chieftain's power,
In full possession to enjoy
Slieve-Donard wide, and Clandeboy.
The blood left Wilfrid's ashen cheek;
Matilda sees, and hastes to speak.
'Happy in friendship's ready aid,
Let all my murmurs here be staid!
And Rokeby's Maiden will not part
From Rokeby's hall with moody heart.
This night at least, for Rokeby's fame,
The hospitable hearth shall flame,
And, ere its native heir retire,
Find for the wanderer rest and fire,
While this poor harper, by the blaze,
Recounts the tale of other days.
Bid Harpool ope the door with speed,
Admit him, and relieve each need.
Meantime, kind Wycliffe, wilt thou try
Thy minstrel skill?-Nay, no reply-
And look not sad!-I guess thy thought,
Thy verse with laurels would be bought;
And poor Matilda, landless now,
Has not a garland for thy brow.
True, I must leave sweet Rokeby's glades,
Nor wander more in Greta's shades;
But sure, no rigid jailer, thou
Wilt a short prison-walk allow,
Where summer flowers grow wild at will,
On Marwood-chase and Toller Hill;
Then holly green and lily gay
Shall twine in guerdon of thy lay.'
The mournful youth, a space aside,
To tune Matilda's harp applied;
And then a low sad descant rung,
As prelude to the lay he sung.
XIII. THE CYPRESS WREATH.
0, Lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!
Too lively glow the lilies light,
The varnish'd holly's all too bright,
The May-flower and the eglantine
May shade a brow less sad than mine;
But, Lady, weave no wreath for me,
Or weave it of the cypress-tree!
Let dimpled Mirth his temples twine
With tendrils of the laughing vine;
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due;
The myrtle bough bids lovers live,
But that Matilda will not give;
Then, Lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree!
Let merry England proudly rear
Her blended roses, bought so dear;
Let Albin bind her bonnet blue
With heath and harebell dipp'd in dew;
On favour'd Erin's crest be seen
The flower she loves of emerald green
But, Lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress-tree.
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair;
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves,
With bloody hand the victor weaves,
Let the loud trump his triumph tell;
But when you hear the passing bell,
Then, Lady, twine a wreath for me,
And twine it of the cypress-tree.
Yes! twine for me the cypress bough;
But, 0 Matilda, twine not now!
Stay till a few brief months are past,
And I have look'd and loved my last!
When villagers my shroud bestrew
With pansies, rosemary, and rue,
Then, Lady, weave a wreath for me,
And weave it of the cypress-tree.
O'Neale observed the starting tear,
And spoke with kind and blithesome cheer
'No, noble Wilfrid! ere the day
When mourns the land thy silent lay,
Shall many a wreath be freely wove
By hand of friendship and of love.
I would not wish that rigid Fate
Had doom'd thee to a captive's state,
Whose hands are bound by honour's law,
Who wears a sword he must not draw;
But were it so, in minstrel pride
The land together would we ride,
On prancing steeds, like harpers old,
Bound for the halls of barons bold,
Each lover of the lyre we'd seek,
From Michael's Mount to Skiddaw's Peak,
Survey wild Albin's mountain strand,
And roam green Erin's lovely land,
While thou the gentler souls should move,
With lay of pity and of love,
And I, thy mate, in rougher strain,
Would sing of war and warriors slain.
Old England's bards were vanquish'd then,
And Scotland's vaunted Hawthornden,
And, silenced on Iernian shore,
M'Curtin's harp should charm no more!'
In lively mood he spoke, to wile
From Wilfrid's wo-worn cheek a smile.
'But,' said Matilda, 'ere thy name,
Good Redmond, gain its destined fame,
Say, wilt thou kindly deign to call
Thy brother-minstrel to the hall?
Bid all the household, too, attend,
Each in his rank a humble friend;
I know their faithful hearts will grieve,
When their poor Mistress takes her leave;
So let the horn and beaker flow
To mitigate their parting wo.'
The harper came;-in youth's first prime
Himself; in mode of olden time
His garb was fashion'd, to express
The ancient English minstrel's dress,
A seemly gown of Kendal green,
With gorget closed of silver sheen;
His harp in silken scarf was slung,
And by his side an anlace hung.
It seem'd some masquer's quaint array,
For revel or for holiday.
He made obeisance with a free
Yet studied air of courtesy.
Each look and accent, framed to please,
Seem'd to affect a playful ease;
His face was of that doubtful kind,
That wins the eye, but not the mind;
Yet harsh it seem'd to deem amiss
Of brow so young and smooth as this.
His was the subtle look and sly,
That, spying all, seems nought to spy;
Round all the group his glances stole,
Unmark'd themselves, to mark the whole.
Yet sunk beneath Matilda's look,
Nor could the eye of Redmond brook.
To the suspicious, or the old,
Subtile and dangerous and bold
Had seem'd this self-invited guest;
But young our lovers,-and the rest,
Wrapt in their sorrow and their fear
At parting of their Mistress dear,
Tear-blinded to the Castle-hall,
Came as to bear her funeral pall.
All that expression base was gone,
When waked the guest his minstrel tone;
It fled at inspiration's call,
As erst the demon fled from Saul.
More noble glance he cast around,
More free-drawn breath inspired the sound,
His pulse beat bolder and more high,
In all the pride of minstrelsy!
Alas! too soon that pride was o'er,
Sunk with the lay that bade it soar!
His soul resumed, with habit's chain,
Its vices wild and follies vain,
And gave the talent, with him born,
To be a common curse and scorn.
Such was the youth whom Rokeby's Maid,
With condescending kindness, pray'd
Here to renew the strains she loved,
At distance heard and well approved.
SONG. THE HARP.
I was a wild and wayward boy,
My childhood scorn'd each childish toy;
Retired from all, reserved and coy,
To musing prone,
I woo'd my solitary joy,
My Harp alone.
My youth, with bold Ambition's mood,
Despised the humble stream and wood,
Where my poor father's cottage stood,
To fame unknown;
What should my soaring views make good?
My Harp alone!
Love came with all his frantic fire,
And wild romance of vain desire:
The baron's daughter heard my lyre,
And praised the tone;
What could presumptuous hope inspire?
My Harp alone!
At manhood's touch the bubble burst,
And manhood's pride the vision curst,
And all that had my folly nursed
Love's sway to own;
Yet spared the spell that lull'd me first,
My Harp alone!
Wo came with war, and want with wo;
And it was mine to undergo
Each outrage of the rebel foe:
Can aught atone
My fields laid waste, my cot laid low?
My Harp alone
Ambition's dreams I've seen depart,
Have rued of penury the smart,
Have felt of love the venom'd dart,
When hope was flown;
Yet rests one solace to my heart,-;
My Harp alone!
Then over mountain, moor, and hill,
My faithful Harp, I'll bear thee still;
And when this life of want and ill
Is wellnigh gone,
Thy strings mine elegy shall thrill,
My Harp alone!
'A' pleasing lay!' Matilda said;
But Harpool shook his old grey head,
And took his baton and his torch,
To seek his guard-room in the porch.
Edmund observed-with sudden change,
Among the strings his fingers range,
Until they waked a bolder glee
Of military melody;
Then paused amid the martial sound,
And look'd with well-feign'd fear around;-
'None to this noble house belong,'
He said, 'that would a Minstrel wrong,
Whose fate has been, through good and ill,
To love his Royal Master still;
And, with your honour'd leave, would fain
Rejoice you with a loyal strain.'
Then, as assured by sign and look,
The warlike tone again he took;
And Harpool stopp'd, and turn'd to hear
A ditty of the Cavalier.
SONG. THE CAVALIER.
While the dawn on the mountain was misty and gray,
My true love has mounted his steed and away,
Over hill, over valley, o'er dale, and o'er down;
Heaven shield the brave Gallant that fights for the Crown!
He has doff'd the silk doublet the breast-plate to bear,
He has placed the steel-cap o'er his long flowing hair,
From his belt to his stirrup his broadsword hangs down,
Heaven shield the brave Gallant that fights for the Crown!
For the rights of fair England that broadsword he draws,
Her King is his leader, her Church is his cause;
His watchword is honour, his pay is renown,
GoD strike with the Gallant that strikes for the Crown!
They may boast of their Fairfax, their Waller, and all
The roundheaded rebels of Westminster Hall;
But tell these bold traitors of London's proud town,
That the spears of the North have encircled the Crown.
There's Derby and Cavendish, dread of their foes;
There's Erin's high Ormond, and Scotland's Montrose!
Would you match the base Skippon, and Massey, and Brown,
With the Barons of England, that fight for the Crown?
Now joy to the crest of the brave Cavalier!
Be his banner unconquer'd, resistless his spear,
Till in peace and in triumph his toils he may drown,
In a pledge to fair England, her Church, and her Crown.
Alas!' Matilda said, 'that strain,
Good harper, now is heard in vain!
The time has been, at such a sound,
When Rokeby's vassals gather'd round,
An hundred manly hearts would bound;
But now, the stirring verse we hear,
Like trump in dying soldier's ear!
Listless and sad the notes we own,
The power to answer them is flown.
Yet not without his meet applause
Be he that sings the rightful cause,
Even when the crisis of its fate
To human eye seems desperate.
While Rokeby's Heir such power retains,
Let this slight guerdon pay thy pains:
And, lend thy harp; I fain would try,
If my poor skill can ought supply,
Ere yet I leave my fathers' hall,
To mourn the cause in which we fall.'
The harper, with a downcast look,
And trembling hand, her bounty took.
As yet, the conscious pride of art
Had steel'd him in his treacherous part;
A powerful spring, of force unguess'd,
That hath each gentler mood suppress'd,
And reign'd in many a human breast;
From his that plans the red campaign,
To his that wastes the woodland reign.
The failing wing, the blood-shot eye,-
The sportsman marks with apathy,
Each feeling of his victim's ill
Drown'd in his own successful skill.
The veteran, too, who now no more
Aspires to head the battle's roar,
Loves still the triumph of his art,
And traces on the pencill'd chart
Some stern invader's destined way,
Through blood and ruin, to his prey;
Patriots to death, and towns to flame,
He dooms, to raise another's name,
And shares the guilt, though not the tame.
What pays him for his span of time
Spent in premeditating crime?
What against pity arms his heart?
It is the conscious pride of art.
But principles in Edmund's mind
Were baseless, vague, and undefined.
His soul, like bark with rudder lost,
On Passion's changeful tide was tost;
Nor Vice nor Virtue had the power
Beyond the impression of the hour;
And, O! when Passion rules, how rare
The hours that fall to Virtue's share!
Yet now she roused her-for the pride,
That lack of sterner guilt supplied,
Could scarce support him when arose
The lay that mourn'd Matilda's woes.
SONG. THE FAREWELL.
The sound of Rokeby's woods I hear,
They mingle with the song:
Dark Greta's voice is in mine ear,
I must not hear them long.
From every loved and native haunt
The native Heir must stray,
And, like a ghost whom sunbeams daunt,
Must part before the day.
Soon from the halls my fathers rear'd,
Their scutcheons may descend,
A line so long beloved and fear'd
May soon obscurely end.
No longer here Matilda's tone
Shall bid those echoes swell;
Yet shall they hear her proudly own
The cause in which we fell.
The Lady paused, and then again
Resumed the lay in loftier strain.
Let our halls and towers decay,
Be our name and line forgot,
Lands and manors pass away,
We but share our Monarch's lot.
If no more our annals show
Battles won and banners taken,
Still in death, defeat, and wo,
Ours be loyalty unshaken!
Constant still in danger's hour,
Princes own'd our fathers' aid;
Lands and honours, wealth and power,
Well their loyalty repaid.
Perish wealth, and power, and pride!
Mortal boons by mortals given;
But let Constancy abide,
Constancy's the gift of Heaven.
While thus Matilda; lay was heard,
A thousand thoughts in Edmund stirr'd.
In peasant life he might have known
As fair a face, as sweet a tone;
But village notes could ne'er supply
That rich and varied melody;
And ne'er in cottage-maid was seen
The easy dignity of mien,
Claiming respect, yet waving state,
That marks the daughters of the great.
Yet not, perchance, had these alone
His scheme of purposed guilt o'erthrown;
But while her energy of mind
Superior rose to griefs combined,
Lending its kindling to her eye,
Giving her form new majesty,
To Edmund's thought Matilda seem'd
The very object he had dream'd;
When, long ere guilt his soul had known,
In Winston bowers he mused alone,
Taxing his fancy to combine
The face, the air, the voice divine,
Of princess fair, by cruel fate
Reft of her honours, power, and state,
Till to her rightful realm restored
By destined hero's conquering sword.
'Such was my vision!' Edmund thought;
'And have I, then, the ruin wrought
Of such a maid, that fancy ne'er
In fairest vision form'd her peer?
Was it my hand that could unclose
The postern to her ruthless foes?
Foes, lost to honour, law, and faith,
Their kindest mercy sudden death!
Have I done this? I! who have swore,
That if the globe such angel bore,
I would have traced its circle broad,
To kiss the ground on which she trode!
And now-O! would that earth would rive,
And close upon me while alive!
Is there no hope? Is all then lost?
Bertram's already on his post!
Even now, beside the Hall's arch'd door,
I saw his shadow cross the floor!
He was to wait my signal strain
A little respite thus we gain:
By what I heard the menials say,
Young Wycliffe's troop are on their way
Alarm precipitates the crime!
My harp must wear away the time.'
And then, in accents faint and low,
He falter'd forth a tale of wo.
'And whither would you lead me then?'
Quoth the Friar of orders-gray;
And the Ruffians twain replied again,
'By a dying woman to pray.'
'I see,' he said, 'a lovely sight,
A sight bodes little harm,
A lady as a lily bright,
With an infant on her arm.'
'Then do thine office, Friar gray,
And see thou shrive her free!
Else shall the sprite, that parts to-night,
Fling all its guilt on thee.
'Let mass be said, and trentrals read,
When thou'rt to convent gone,
And bid the bell of St Benedict
Toll out its deepest tone.'
The shrift is done, the Friar is gone,
Blindfolded as he came
Next morning all, in Littlecot Hall
Were weeping for their dame.
Wild Darrell is an alter'd man,
The village crones can tell;
He looks pale as clay, and strives to pray,
If he hears the convent bell.
If prince or peer cross Darrell's way,
He'll beard him in his pride-
If he meet a Friar of orders gray,
He droops and turns aside.
'Harper! methinks thy magic lays,'
Matilda said, 'can goblins raise!
Wellnigh my fancy can discern,
Near the dark porch, a visage stern;
E'en now, in yonder shadowy nook,
I see it!-Redmond, Wilfrid, look!
A human form distinct and clear
God, for thy mercy!-it draws near!'
She saw too true. Stride after stride,
The centre of that chamber wide
Fierce Bertram gain'd; then made a stand,
And, proudly waving with his hand,
Thunder'd-'Be still, upon your lives!-
He bleeds who speaks, he dies who strives.'
Behind their chief, the robber crew
Forth from the darken'd portal drew,
In silence-save that echo dread
Return'd their heavy measured tread.
The lamp's uncertain lustre gave
Their arms to gleam, their plumes to wave;
File after file in order pass,
Like forms on Banquo's mystic glass.
Then, halting at their leader's sign,
At once they form'd and curved their line,
Hemming within its crescent drear
Their victims, like a herd of deer.
Another sign, and to the aim
Levell'd at once their muskets came,
As waiting but their chieftain's word,
To make their fatal volley heard.
Back in a heap the menials drew;
Yet, even in mortal terror, true,
Their pale and startled group oppose
Between Matilda and the foes.
0, haste thee, Wilfrid!' Redmond cried;
'Undo that wicket by thy side!
Bear hence Matilda-gain the wood
The pass may be awhile made good
Thy band, ere this, must sure be nigh-
0 speak not-dally not-but fly!
'While yet the crowd their motions hide,
Through the low wicket door they glide.
Through vaulted passages they wind,
In Gothic intricacy twined;
Wilfrid half led, and half he bore,
Matilda to the postern-door,
And safe beneath the forest tree,
The Lady stands at liberty.
The moonbeams, the fresh gale's caress,
Renew'd suspended consciousness;
'Where's Redmond?' eagerly she cries:
'Thou answer'st not-he dies! he dies!
And thou hast left him, all bereft
Of mortal aid-with murderers left!
I know it well-he would not yield
His sword to man-his doom is seal'd!
For my scorn'd life, which thou hast bought
At price of his, I thank thee not.'
The unjust reproach, the angry look,
The heart of Wilfrid could not brook.
'Lady,' he said, 'my band so near,
In safety thou mayst rest thee here.
For Redmond's death thou shalt not mourn,
If mine can buy his safe return.'
He turn'd away-his heart throbb'd high,
The tear was bursting from his eye;
The sense of her injustice press'd
Upon the Maid's distracted breast,-
Stay, Wilfrid, stay! all aid is vain!'
He heard, but turn'd him not again;
He reaches now the postern-door,
Now enters-and is seen no more.
With all the agony that e'er
Was gender'd'twixt suspense and fear,
She watch'd the line of windows tall,
Whose Gothic lattice lights the Hall,
Distinguish'd by the paly red
The lamps in dim reflection shed,
While all beside in wan moonlight
Each grated casement glimmer'd white.
No sight of harm, no sound of ill,
It is a deep and midnight still.
Who look'd upon the scene, had guess'd
All in the Castle were at rest:
When sudden on the windows shone
A lightning flash, just seen and gone!
A shot is heard-Again the flame
Flash'd thick and fast-a volley came!
Then echo'd wildly, from within,
Of shout and scream the mingled din,
And weapon-clash and maddening cry,
Of those who kill, and those who die!
As fill'd the Hall with sulphurous smoke,
More red, more dark, the death-flash broke
And forms were on the lattice cast,
That struck, or struggled, as they past.
What sounds upon the midnight wind
Approach so rapidly behind?
It is, it is, the tramp of steeds,
Matilda hears the sound, she speeds,
Seizes upon the leader's rein
'O, haste to aid, ere aid be vain!
Fly to the postern-gain the Hall!'
From saddle spring the troopers all;
Their gallant steeds, at liberty,
Run wild along the moonlight lea.
But, ere they burst upon the scene,
Full stubborn had the conflict been.
When Bertram mark'd Matilda's flight,
It gave the signal for the fight;
And Rokeby's veterans, seam'd with scars
Of Scotland's and of Erin's wars,
Their momentary panic o'er,
Stood to the arms which then they bore;
(For they were weapon'd, and prepared
Their Mistress on her way to guard.)
Then cheer'd them to the fight O'Neale,
Then peal'd the shot, and clash'd the steel;
The war-smoke soon with sable breath
Darken'd the scene of blood and death,
While on the few defenders close
The Bandits, with redoubled blows,
And, twice driven back, yet fierce and fell
Renew the charge with frantic yell.
Wilfrid has fall'n-but o'er him stood
Young Redmond, soil'd with smoke and blood,
Cheering his mates with heart and hand
Still to make good their desperate stand.
'Up, comrades, up! In Rokeby halls
Ne'er be it said our courage falls.
What! faint ye for their savage cry,
Or do the smoke-wreaths daunt your eye?
These rafters have return'd a shout
As loud at Rokeby's wassail rout,
As thick a smoke these hearths have given
At Hallow-tide or Christmas-even.
Stand to it yet! renew the fight,
For Rokeby's and Matilda's right!
These slaves! they dare not, hand to hand,
Bide buffet from a true man's brand.'
Impetuous, active, fierce, and young,
Upon the advancing foes he sprung.
Wo to the wretch at whom is bent
His brandish'd falchion's sheer descent!
Backward they scatter'd as he came,
Like wolves before the levin flame,
When, mid their howling conclave driven,
Hath glanced the thunderbolt of heaven.
Bertram rush'd on-but Harpool clasp'd
His knees, although in death he gasped,
His falling corpse before him flung,
And round the trammell'd ruffian clung.
Just then, the soldiers fill'd the dome,
And, shouting, charged the felons home
So fiercely, that, in panic dread,
They broke, they yielded, fell, or fled,
Bertram's stern voice they heed no more,
Though heard above the battle's roar;
While trampling down the dying man,
He strove, with volley'd threat and ban,
In scorn of odds, in fate's despite,
To rally up the desperate fight.
Soon murkier clouds the Hall enfold,
Than e'er from battle-thunders roll'd;
So dense, the combatants scarce know
To aim or to avoid the blow.
Smothering and blindfold grows the fight
But soon shall dawn a dismal light!
Mid cries, and clashing arms, there came
The hollow sound of rushing flame;
New horrors on the tumult dire
Arise-the Castle is on fire!
Doubtful, if chance had cast the brand,
Or frantic Bertram's desperate hand.
Matilda saw-for frequent broke
From the dim casements gusts of smoke.
Yon tower, which late so clear defined
On the fair hemisphere reclined,
That, pencill'd on its azure pure,
The eye could count each embrazure,
Now, swath'd within the sweeping cloud,
Seems giant-spectre in his shroud;
Till, from each loop-hole flashing light,
A spout of fire shines ruddy bright,
And, gathering to united glare,
Streams high into the midnight air;
A dismal beacon, far and wide
That waken'd Greta's slumbering side.
Soon all beneath, through gallery long,
And pendant arch, the fire flash'd strong,
Snatching whatever could maintain,
Raise, or extend, its furious reign;
Startling, with closer cause of dread,
The females who the conflict fled,
And now rush'd forth upon the plain,
Filling the air with clamours vain.
But, ceased not yet, the Hall within,
The shriek, the shout, the carnage-din,
Till bursting lattices give proof
The flames have caught the rafter'd roof.
What! wait they till its beams amain
Crash on the slayers and the slain?
The alarm is caught-the drawbridge falls,
The warriors hurry from the walls,
But, by the conflagration's light,
Upon the lawn renew the fight.
Each straggling felon down was hew'd,
Not one could gain the sheltering wood;
But forth the affrighted harper sprung,
And to Matilda's robe he clung.
Her shriek, entreaty, and command,
Stopp'd the pursuer's lifted hand.
Denzil and he alive were ta'en;
The rest, save Bertram, all are slain.
And where is Bertram?-soaring high,
The general flame ascends the sky;
In gather'd group the soldiers gaze
Upon the broad and roaring blaze,
When, like infernal demon, sent
Red from his penal element,
To plague and to pollute the air,
His face all gore, on fire his hair,
Forth from the central mass of smoke
The giant form of Bertram broke!
His brandish'd sword on high lie rears,
Then plunged among opposing spears;
Round his left arm his mantle truss'd,
Received and foil'd three lances' thrust;
Nor these his headlong course withstood,
Like reeds he snapp'd the tough ash-wood.
In vain his foes around him clung;
With matchless force aside he flung
Their boldest,-as the bull, at bay,
Tosses the ban-dogs from his way,
Through forty foes his path he made,
And safely gain'd the forest glade.
Scarce was this final conflict o'er,
When from the postern Redmond bore
Wilfrid, who, as of life bereft,
Had in the fatal Hall been left,
Deserted there by all his train;
But Redmond saw, and turn'd again.
Beneath an oak he laid him down,
That in the blaze gleam'd ruddy brown,
And then his mantle's clasp undid;
Matilda held his drooping head,
Till, given to breathe the freer air,
Returning life repaid their care.
He gazed on them with heavy sigh,-
I could have wish'd even thus to die!'
No more he said-for now with speed
Each trooper had regain'd his steed;
The ready palfreys stood array'd,
For Redmond and for Rokeby's Maid;
Two Wilfrid on his horse sustain,
One leads his charger by the rein.
But oft Matilda look'd behind,
As up the Vale of Tees they wind,
Where far the mansion of her sires
Beacon'd the dale with midnight fires.
In gloomy arch above them spread,
The clouded heaven lower'd bloody red;
Beneath, in sombre light, the flood
Appear'd to roll in waves of blood.
Then, one by one, was heard to fall
The tower, the donjon-keep, the hall.
Each rushing down with thunder sound,
A space the conflagration drown'd;
Till, gathering strength, again it rose,
Announced its triumph in its close,
Shook wide its light the landscape o'er,
Then sunk-and Rokeby was no more!
Memorials Of A Tour In Scotland, 1803
Now we are tired of boisterous joy,
Have romped enough, my little Boy!
Jane hangs her head upon my breast,
And you shall bring your stool and rest;
This corner is your own.
There! take your seat, and let me see
That you can listen quietly:
And, as I promised, I will tell
That strange adventure which befell
A poor blind Highland Boy.
A 'Highland' Boy!-why call him so?
Because, my Darlings, ye must know
That, under hills which rise like towers,
Far higher hills than these of ours!
He from his birth had lived.
He ne'er had seen one earthly sight
The sun, the day; the stars, the night;
Or tree, or butterfly, or flower,
Or fish in stream, or bird in bower,
Or woman, man, or child.
And yet he neither drooped nor pined,
Nor had a melancholy mind;
For God took pity on the Boy,
And was his friend; and gave him joy
Of which we nothing know.
His Mother, too, no doubt, above
Her other children him did love:
For, was she here, or was she there,
She thought of him with constant care,
And more than mother's love.
And proud she was of heart, when, clad
In crimson stockings, tartan plaid,
And bonnet with a feather gay,
To Kirk he on the Sabbath day
Went hand in hand with her.
A dog too, had he; not for need,
But one to play with and to feed;
Which would have led him, if bereft
Of company or friends, and left
Without a better guide.
And then the bagpipes he could blow-
And thus from house to house would go;
And all were pleased to hear and see,
For none made sweeter melody
Than did the poor blind Boy.
Yet he had many a restless dream;
Both when he heard the eagles scream,
And when he heard the torrents roar,
And heard the water beat the shore
Near which their cottage stood.
Beside a lake their cottage stood,
Not small like ours, a peaceful flood;
But one of mighty size, and strange;
That, rough or smooth, is full of change,
And stirring in its bed.
For to this lake, by night and day,
The great Sea-water finds its way
Through long, long windings of the hills
And drinks up all the pretty rills
And rivers large and strong:
Then hurries back the road it came-
Returns, on errand still the same;
This did it when the earth was new;
And this for evermore will do
As long as earth shall last.
And, with the coming of the tide,
Come boats and ships that safely ride
Between the woods and lofty rocks;
And to the shepherds with their flocks
Bring tales of distant lands.
And of those tales, whate'er they were,
The blind Boy always had his share;
Whether of mighty towns, or vales
With warmer suns and softer gales,
Or wonders of the Deep.
Yet more it pleased him, more it stirred,
When from the water-side he heard
The shouting, and the jolly cheers;
The bustle of the mariners
In stillness or in storm.
But what do his desires avail?
For He must never handle sail;
Nor mount the mast, nor row, nor float
Ill sailor's ship, or fisher's boat,
Upon the rocking waves.
His Mother often thought, and said,
What sin would be upon her head
If she should suffer this: 'My Son,
Whate'er you do, leave this undone;
The danger is so great.'
Thus lived he by Loch Leven's side
Still sounding with the sounding tide,
And heard the billows leap and dance,
Without a shadow of mischance,
Till he was ten years old.
When one day (and now mark me well,
Ye soon shall know how this befell)
He in a vessel of his own,
On the swift flood is hurrying down,
Down to the mighty Sea.
In such a vessel never more
May human creature leave the shore!
If this or that way he should stir,
Woe to the poor blind Mariner!
For death will be his doom.
But say what bears him?-Ye have seen
The Indian's bow, his arrows keen,
Rare beasts, and birds with plumage bright;
Gifts which, for wonder or delight,
Are brought in ships from far.
Such gifts had those seafaring men
Spread round that haven in the glen;
Each hut, perchance, might have its own;
And to the Boy they all were known-
He knew and prized them all.
The rarest was a Turtle-shell
Which he, poor Child, had studied well;
A shell of ample size, and light
As the pearly car of Amphitrite,
That sportive dolphins drew.
And, as a Coracle that braves
On Vaga's breast the fretful waves,
This shell upon the deep would swim,
And gaily lift its fearless brim
Above the tossing surge.
And this the little blind Boy knew:
And he a story strange yet true
Had heard, how in a shell like this
An English Boy, O thought of bliss!
Had stoutly launched from shore;
Launched from the margin of a bay
Among the Indian isles, where lay
His father's ship, and had sailed far-
To join that gallant ship of war,
In his delightful shell.
Our Highland Boy oft visited
The house that held this prize; and, led
By choice or chance, did thither come
One day when no one was at home,
And found the door unbarred.
While there he sate, alone and blind,
That story flashed upon his mind;-
A bold thought roused him, and he took
The shell from out its secret nook,
And bore it on his head.
He launched his vessel,-and in pride
Of spirit, from Loch Leven's side,
Stepped into it-his thoughts all free
As the light breezes that with glee
Sang through the adventurer's hair.
A while he stood upon his feet;
He felt the motion-took his seat;
Still better pleased as more and more
The tide retreated from the shore,
And sucked, and sucked him in.
And there he is in face of Heaven.
How rapidly the Child is driven!
The fourth part of a mile, I ween,
He thus had gone, ere he was seen
By any human eye.
But when he was first seen, oh me
What shrieking and what misery!
For many saw; among the rest
His Mother, she who loved him best,
She saw her poor blind Boy.
But for the child, the sightless Boy,
It is the triumph of his joy!
The bravest traveller in balloon,
Mounting as if to reach the moon,
Was never half so blessed.
And let him, let him go his way,
Alone, and innocent, and gay!
For, if good Angels love to wait
On the forlorn unfortunate,
This Child will take no harm.
But now the passionate lament,
Which from the crowd on shore was sent,
The cries which broke from old and young
In Gaelic, or the English tongue,
Are stifled-all is still.
And quickly with a silent crew
A boat is ready to pursue;
And from the shore their course they take,
And swiftly down the running lake
They follow the blind Boy.
But soon they move with softer pace;
So have ye seen the fowler chase
On Grasmere's clear unruffled breast
A youngling of the wild-duck's nest
With deftly-lifted oar;
Or as the wily sailors crept
To seize (while on the Deep it slept)
The hapless creature which did dwell
Erewhile within the dancing shell,
They steal upon their prey.
With sound the least that can be made,
They follow, more and more afraid,
More cautious as they draw more near;
But in his darkness he can hear,
And guesses their intent.
'Lei-gha-Lei-gha'-he then cried out,
'Lei-gha-Lei-gha'-with eager shout;
Thus did he cry, and thus did pray,
And what he meant was, 'Keep away,
And leave me to myself!'
Alas! and when he felt their hands--
You've often heard of magic wands,
That with a motion overthrow
A palace of the proudest show,
Or melt it into air:
So all his dreams-that inward light
With which his soul had shone so bright-
All vanished;-'twas a heartfelt cross
To him, a heavy, bitter loss,
As he had ever known.
But hark! a gratulating voice,
With which the very hills rejoice:
'Tis from the crowd, who tremblingly
Have watched the event, and now can see
That he is safe at last.
And then, when he was brought to land,
Full sure they were a happy band,
Which, gathering round, did on the banks
Of that great Water give God thanks,
And welcomed the poor Child.
And in the general joy of heart
The blind Boy's little dog took part;
He leapt about, and oft did kiss
His master's hands in sign of bliss,
With sound like lamentation.
But most of all, his Mother dear,
She who had fainted with her fear,
Rejoiced when waking she espies
The Child; when she can trust her eyes,
And touches the blind Boy.
She led him home, and wept amain,
When he was in the house again:
Tears flowed in torrents from her eyes;
She kissed him-how could she chastise?
She was too happy far.
Thus, after he had fondly braved
The perilous Deep, the Boy was saved;
And, though his fancies had been wild,
Yet he was pleased and reconciled
To live in peace on shore.
And in the lonely Highland dell
Still do they keep the Turtle-shell
And long the story will repeat
Of the blind Boy's adventurous feat,
And how he was preserved.
I give God thanks that I, a lean old man,
Wrinkled, infirm, and crippled with keen pains
By austere penance and continuous toil,
Now rest in spirit, and possess 'the peace
Which passeth understanding.' Th' end draws nigh,
Though the beginning is yesterday,
And a broad lifetime spreads 'twixt this and that-
A favored life, though outwardly the butt
Of ignominy, malice, and affront,
Yet lighted from within by the clear star
Of a high aim, and graciously prolonged
To see at last its utmost goal attained.
I speak not of mine Order and my House,
Here founded by my hands and filled with saints-
A white society of snowy souls,
Swayed by my voice, by mine example led;
For this is but the natural harvest reaped
From labors such as mine when blessed by God.
Though I rejoice to think my spirit still
Will work my purposes, through worthy hands,
After my bones are shriveled into dust,
Yet have I gleaned a finer, sweeter fruit
Of holy satisfaction, sure and real,
Though subtler than the tissue of the air-
The power completely to detach the soul
From her companion through this life, the flesh;
So that in blessed privacy of peace,
Communing with high angels, she can hold,
Serenely rapt, her solitary course.
Ye know, O saints of heaven, what I have borne
Of discipline and scourge; the twisted lash
Of knotted rope that striped my shrinking limbs;
Vigils and fasts protracted, till my flesh
Wasted and crumbled from mine aching bones,
And the last skin, one woof of pain and sores,
Thereto like yellow parchment loosely clung;
Exposure to the fever and the frost,
When 'mongst the hollows of the hills I lurked
From persecution of misguided folk,
Accustoming my spirit to ignore
The burden of the cross, while picturing
The bliss of disembodied souls, the grace
Of holiness, the lives of sainted men,
And entertaining all exalted thoughts,
That nowise touched the trouble of the hour,
Until the grief and pain seemed far less real
Than the creations of my brain inspired.
The vision, the beatitude, were true:
The agony was but an evil dream.
I speak not now as one who hath not learned
The purport of those lightly-bandied words,
Evil and Fate, but rather one who knows
The thunders of the terrors of the world.
No mortal chance or change, no earthly shock,
Can move or reach my soul, securely throned
On heights of contemplation and calm prayer,
Happy, serene, no less actual joy
Of present peace than faith in joys to come.
This soft, sweet, yellow evening, how the trees
Stand crisp against the clear, bright-colored sky!
How the white mountain-tops distinctly shine,
Taking and giving radiance, and the slopes
Are purpled with rich floods of peach-hued light!
Thank God, my filmy, old dislustred eyes
Find the same sense of exquisite delight,
My heart vibrates to the same touch of joy
In scenes like this, as when my pulse danced high,
And youth coursed through my veins! This the one link
That binds the wan old man that now I am
To the wild lad who followed up the hounds
Among Ravenna's pine-woods by the sea.
For there how oft would I lose all delight
In the pursuit, the triumph, or the game,
To stray alone among the shadowy glades,
And gaze, as one who is not satisfied
With gazing, at the large, bright, breathing sea,
The forest glooms, and shifting gleams between
The fine dark fringes of the fadeless trees,
On gold-green turf, sweet-brier, and wild pink rose!
How rich that buoyant air with changing scent
Of pungent pine, fresh flowers, and salt cool seas!
And when all echoes of the chase had died,
Of horn and halloo, bells and baying hounds,
How mine ears drank the ripple of the tide
On the fair shore, the chirp of unseen birds,
The rustling of the tangled undergrowth,
And the deep lyric murmur of the pines,
When through their high tops swept the sudden breeze!
There was my world, there would my heart dilate,
And my aspiring soul dissolve in prayer
Unto that Spirit of Love whose energies
Were active round me, yet whose presence, sphered
In the unsearchable, unbodied air,
Made itself felt, but reigned invisible.
This ere the day that made me what I am.
Still can I see the hot, bright sky, the sea
Illimitably sparkling, as they showed
That morning. Though I deemed I took no note
Of heaven or earth or waters, yet my mind
Retains to-day the vivid portraiture
Of every line and feature of the scene.
Light-hearted 'midst the dewy lanes I fared
Unto the sea, whose jocund gleam I caught
Between the slim boles, when I heard the clink
Of naked weapons, then a sudden thrust
Sickening to hear, and then a stifled groan;
And pressing forward I beheld the sight
That seared itself for ever on my brain-
My kinsman, Ser Ranieri, on the turf,
Fallen upon his side, his bright young head
Among the pine-spurs, and his cheek pressed close
Unto the moist, chill sod: his fingers clutched
A handful of loose weeds and grass and earth,
Uprooted in his anguish as he fell,
And slowly from his heart the thick stream flowed,
Fouling the green, leaving the fair, sweet face
Ghastly, transparent, with blue, stony eyes
Staring in blankness on that other one
Who triumphed over him. With hot desire
Of instant vengeance I unsheathed my sword
To rush upon the slayer, when he turned
In his first terror of blood-guiltiness.
. . . . . . .
Within my heart a something snapped and brake.
What was it but the chord of rapturous joy
For ever stilled? I tottered and would fall,
Had I not leaned against the friendly pine;
For all realities of life, unmoored
From their firm anchorage, appeared to float
Like hollow phantoms past my dizzy brain.
The strange delusion wrought upon my soul
That this had been enacted ages since.
This very horror curdled at my heart,
This net of trees spread round, these iron heavens,
Were closing over me when I had stood,
Unnumbered cycles back, and fronted HIM,
My father; and he felt mine eyes as now,
Yet saw me not; and then, as now, that form,
The one thing real, lay stretched between us both.
The fancy passed, and I stood sane and strong
To grasp the truth. Then I remembered all-
A few fierce words between them yester eve
Concerning some poor plot of pasturage,
Soon silenced into courteous, frigid calm:
This was the end. I could not meet him now,
To curse him, to accuse him, or to save,
And draw him from the red entanglement
Coiled by his own hands round his ruined life.
God pardon me! My heart that moment held
No drop of pity toward this wretched soul;
And cowering down, as though his guilt were mine,
I fled amidst the savage silences
Of that grim wood, resolved to nurse alone
My boundless desolation, shame, and grief.
There, in that thick-leaved twilight of high noon,
The quiet of the still, suspended air,
Once more my wandering thoughts were calmly ranged,
Shepherded by my will. I wept, I prayed
A solemn prayer, conceived in agony,
Blessed with response instant, miraculous;
For in that hour my spirit was at one
With Him who knows and satisfies her needs.
The supplication and the blessing sprang
From the same source, inspired divinely both.
I prayed for light, self-knowledge, guidance, truth,
And these like heavenly manna were rained down
To feed my hungered soul. His guilt was mine.
What angel had been sent to stay mine arm
Until the fateful moment passed away
That would have ushered an eternity
Of withering remorse? I found the germs
In mine own heart of every human sin,
That waited but occasion's tempting breath
To overgrow with poisoned bloom my life.
What God thus far had saved me from myself?
Here was the lofty truth revealed, that each
Must feel himself in all, must know where'er
The great soul acts or suffers or enjoys,
His proper soul in kinship there is bound.
Then my life-purpose dawned upon my mind,
Encouraging as morning. As I lay,
Crushed by the weight of universal love,
Which mine own thoughts had heaped upon myself,
I heard the clear chime of a slow, sweet bell.
I knew it-whence it came and what it sang.
From the gray convent nigh the wood it pealed,
And called the monks to prayer. Vigil and prayer,
Clean lives, white days of strict austerity:
Such were the offerings of these holy saints.
How far might such not tend to expiate
A riotous world's indulgence? Here my life,
Doubly austere and doubly sanctified,
Might even for that other one atone,
So bound to mine, till both should be forgiven.
They sheltered me, not questioning the need
That led me to their cloistered solitude.
How rich, how freighted with pure influence,
With dear security of perfect peace,
Was the first day I passed within those walls!
The holy habit of perpetual prayer,
The gentle greetings, the rare temperate speech,
The chastening discipline, the atmosphere
Of settled and profound tranquillity,
Were even as living waters unto one
Who perisheth of thirst. Was this the world
That yesterday seemed one huge battlefield
For brutish passions? Could the soul of man
Withdraw so easily, and erect apart
Her own fair temple for her own high ends?
But this serene contentment slowly waned
As I discerned the broad disparity
Betwixt the form and spirit of the laws
That bound the order in strait brotherhood.
Yet when I sought to gain a larger love,
More rigid discipline, severer truth,
And more complete surrender of the soul
Unto her God, this was to my reproach,
And scoffs and gibes beset me on all sides.
In mine own cell I mortified my flesh,
I held aloof from all my brethren's feasts
To wrestle with my viewless enemies,
Till they should leave their blessing on my head;
For nightly was I haunted by that face,
White, bloodless, as I saw it 'midst the ferns,
Now staring out of darkness, and it held
Mine eyes from slumber and my brain from rest
And drove me from my straw to weep and pray.
Rebellious thoughts such subtle torture wrought
Upon my spirit that I lay day-long
In dumb despair, until the blessed hope
Of mercy dawned again upon my soul,
As gradual as the slow gold moon that mounts
The airy steps of heaven. My faith arose
With sure perception that disaster, wrong,
And every shadow of man's destiny
Are merely circumstance, and cannot touch
The soul's fine essence: they exist or die
Only as she affirms them or denies.
This faith sustain me even to the end:
It floods my heart with peace as surely now
As on that day the friars drove me forth,
Urging that my asceticism, too harsh,
Endured through pride, would bring into reproach
Their customs and their order. Then began
My exile in the mountains, where I bode
A hunted man. The elements conspired
Against me, and I was the seasons' sport,
Drenched, parched, and scorched and frozen alternately,
Burned with shrewd frosts, prostrated by fierce heats,
Shivering 'neath chilling dews and gusty rains,
And buffeted by all the winds of heaven.
Yet was this period my time of joy:
My daily thoughts perpetual converse held
With angels ministrant; mine ears were charmed
With sweet accordance of celestial sounds,
Song, harp and choir, clear ringing through the air.
And visions were revealed unto mine eyes
By night and day of Heaven's very courts,
In shadowless, undimmed magnificence.
I gave God thanks, not that He sheltered me,
And fed me as He feeds the fowls of air-
For had I perished, this too had been well-
But for the revelation of His truth,
The glory, the beatitude vouchsafed
To exalt, to heal, to quicken, to inspire;
So that the pinched, lean excommunicate
Was crowned with joy more solid, more secure,
Than all the comfort of the vales could bring.
Then the good Lord touched certain fervid hearts,
Aspiring toward His love, to come to me,
Timid and few at first; but as they heard
From mine own lips the precious oracles,
That soothed the trouble of their souls, appeased
Their spiritual hunger, and disclosed
All of the God within them to themselves,
They flocked about me, and they hailed me saint,
And sware to follow and to serve the good
Which my word published and my life declared.
Thus the lone hermit of the mountain-top
Descended leader of a band of saints,
And midway 'twixt the summit and the vale
I perched my convent. Yet I bated not
One whit of strict restraint and abstinence.
And they who love me and who serve the truth
Have learned to suffer with me, and have won
The supreme joy that is not of the flesh,
Foretasting the delights of Paradise.
This faith, to them imparted, will endure
After my tongue hath ceased to utter it,
And the great peace hath settled on my soul.
The Ancient Banner
In boundless mercy, the Redeemer left,
The bosom of his Father, and assumed
A servant's form, though he had reigned a king,
In realms of glory, ere the worlds were made,
Or the creating words, 'Let there be light'
In heaven were uttered. But though veiled in flesh,
His Deity and his Omnipotence,
Were manifest in miracles. Disease
Fled at his bidding, and the buried dead
Rose from the sepulchre, reanimate,
At his command, or, on the passing bier
Sat upright, when he touched it. But he came,
Not for this only, but to introduce
A glorious dispensation, in the place
Of types and shadows of the Jewish code.
Upon the mount, and round Jerusalem,
He taught a purer, and a holier law,—
His everlasting Gospel, which is yet
To fill the earth with gladness; for all climes
Shall feel its influence, and shall own its power.
He came to suffer, as a sacrifice
Acceptable to God. The sins of all
Were laid upon Him, when in agony
He bowed upon the cross. The temple's veil
Was rent asunder, and the mighty rocks,
Trembled, as the incarnate Deity,
By his atoning blood, opened that door,
Through which the soul, can have communion with
Its great Creator; and when purified,
From all defilements, find acceptance too,
Where it can finally partake of all
The joys of His salvation.
But the pure Church he planted,—the pure Church
Which his apostles watered,—and for which,
The blood of countless martyrs freely flowed,
In Roman Amphitheatres,—on racks,—
And in the dungeon's gloom,—this blessed Church,
Which grew in suffering, when it overspread
Surrounding nations, lost its purity.
Its truth was hidden, and its light obscured
By gross corruption, and idolatry.
As things of worship, it had images,
And even painted canvas was adored.
It had a head and bishop, but this head
Was not the Saviour, but the Pope of Rome.
Religion was a traffic. Men defiled,
Professed to pardon sin, and even sell,
The joys of heaven for money,—and to raise
Souls out of darkness to eternal light,
For paltry silver lavished upon them.
And thus thick darkness, overspread the Church
As with a mantle.
At length the midnight of apostacy
Passed by, and in the horizon appeared,
Day dawning upon Christendom. The light,
Grew stronger, as the Reformation spread.
For Luther, and Melancthon, could not be
Silenced by papal bulls, nor by decrees
Of excommunication thundered forth
Out of the Vatican. And yet the light,
Of Luther's reformation, never reached
Beyond the morning's dawn. The noontide blaze
Of Truth's unclouded day, he never saw.
Yet after him, its rising sun displayed
More and more light upon the horizon.
Though thus enlightened, the professing Church,
Was far from many of the precious truths
Of the Redeemer's gospel; and as yet,
Owned not his Spirit's government therein.
But now the time approached, when he would pour
A larger measure of his light below;
And as he chose unlearned fishermen
To spread his gospel when first introduced,
So now he passed mere human learning by,
And chose an instrument, comparable
To the small stone the youthful David used,
To smite the champion who defied the Lord.
Apart from human dwellings, in a green
Rich pasturage of England, sat a youth,
Who seemed a shepherd, for around him there
A flock was feeding, and the sportive lambs
Gambolled amid the herbage. But his face
Bore evidence of sadness. On his knee
The sacred book lay open, upon which
The youth looked long and earnestly, and then,
Closing the book, gazed upward, in deep thought
This was the instrument by whom the Lord
Designed to spread a clearer light below
And fuller reformation. He appeared,
Like ancient Samuel, to be set apart
For the Lord's service from his very birth.
Even in early childhood, he refrained
From youthful follies, and his mind was turned
To things of highest moment. He was filled
With awful feelings, by the wickedness
He saw around him. As he grew in years,
Horror of sin grew stronger; and his mind
Became so clothed with sadness, and so full
Of soul-felt longings, for the healing streams
Of heavenly consolation, that he left
His earthly kindred, seeking quietude
In solitary places, where he read
The book of inspiration, and in prayer,
Sought heavenly counsel.
In this deep-proving season he was told,
Of priests, whose reputation had spread wide
For sanctity and wisdom; and from these
He sought for consolation,—but in vain.
One of these ministers became enraged,
Because the youth had inadvertently
Misstepped within his garden; and a priest
Of greater reputation, counselled him
To use tobacco, and sing holy psalms!
And the inquirer found a third to be
But as an empty, hollow cask at best.
Finding no help in man, the youthful Fox,
Turned to a higher and a holier source,
For light and knowledge. In his Saviour's school,
He sat a scholar, and was clearly shown
The deep corruption, that had overspread
Professing Christendom. And one by one,
The doctrines of the Gospel, were unveiled,
To the attentive student,—doctrines, which,
Though clearly written on the sacred page,
Had long been hidden, by the rubbish man's
Perversions and inventions heaped thereon.
He saw that colleges, could not confer,
A saving knowledge of the way of Truth,
Nor qualify a minister to preach
The everlasting Gospel; but that Christ,
Is the true Teacher, and that he alone
Has power to call, anoint, and qualify,
And send a Gospel minister to preach
Glad tidings of salvation. He was shown,
No outward building, made of wood and stone
Could be a holy place,—and that the Church—
The only true and living Church—must be
A holy people gathered to the Lord,
And to his teaching. He was clearly taught,
The nature of baptism, by which souls
Are purified and fitted for this Church;
That this was not, by being dipped into,
Or sprinkled with clear water, but it was
The one baptism of the Holy Ghost.
He saw the Supper was no outward food,
Made and administered by human hands,—
But the Lord's Table was within the heart;
Where in communion with him, holy bread
Was blessed and broken, and the heavenly wine,
Which cheers the fainting spirit, handed forth.
The Saviour showed him that all outward wars,
Are now forbidden,—that the warfare here,
Is to be waged within. Its weapons too,
Though mighty, even to the pulling down,
Of the strong holds of Satan, are yet all
The Spirit's weapons. He was shown, that oaths
Judicial or profane, are banished from
The Christian dispensation, which commands,
'Swear not at all.' He saw the compliments,—
Hat honour, and lip service of the world,
Sprang from pride's evil root, and were opposed
To the pure spirit of Christ's holy law.
And by His inward Light, was clearly seen
The perfect purity of heart and life
For which that Saviour calls, who never asked,
These truths and others, being thus revealed,
Fox was prepared and qualified to preach,
The unveiled Gospel, to the sons of men.
Clothed with divine authority, he went
Abroad through Britain, and proclaimed that Light,
Which Christ's illuminating Spirit sheds,
In the dark heart of man. Some heard of this,
Who seemed prepared and waiting, to receive
His Gospel message, and were turned to Him,
Whose Holy Spirit sealed it on their hearts.
And not a few of these, were called upon,
To take the message, and themselves declare
The way of Truth to others. But the Priests,
Carnal professors, and some magistrates,
Heard of the inward light, and purity,
With indignation, and they seized upon,
And thrust the Preacher within prison walls.
Not once alone, but often was he found,
Amid the very dregs of wickedness—
With robbers, and with blood-stained criminals,
Locked up in loathsome jails. And when abroad
Upon his Master's service, he was still
Reviled and buffeted, and spit upon.
But none of these things moved him, for within
He felt that soul-sustaining evidence,
Which bore his spirit high above the waves,
Of bitter persecution.
But now the time approached, for his release
From suffering and from labour. He had spent,
Long years in travel for the cause of Truth,—
Not all in Britain,—for he preached its light,
And power in Holland,—the West Indian isles,
And North America. Far through the wild,
And trackless wilderness, this faithful man,
Carried his Master's message; he lived,
To see Truth's banner fearlessly displayed
Upon both continents. He lived to see,
Pure hearted men and women gathered to
The inward teaching of the Saviour's will,—
Banded together in the covenant,
Of light and life. But his allotted work,
Was now accomplished, and his soul prepared,
For an inheritance with saints in light,
And with his loins all girded, he put off
His earthly shackles, triumphing in death,
That the Seed reigned, and Truth was over all!
Where the dark waters of the Delaware,
Roll onward to the ocean, sweeping by,
Primeval forests, where the red man still,
Built his rude wigwam, and the timid deer
Fled for concealment from the Indian's eye,
And the unerring arrow of his bow;
There, in the shadow of these ancient woods,
A sea-worn ship has anchored. On her deck,
Men of grave mien are gathered. One of whom,
Of noble figure, and quick searching eyes,
Surveys the scene, wrapt in the deepest thought.
And this is William Penn. He stands among,
Fellow believers, who have sought a home,
And place of refuge, in this wilderness.
Born of an ancient family, his sire
An English Admiral, the youthful Penn,
Might, with his talents, have soon ranked among
The proudest subjects of the British throne.
He chose the better part—to serve that King
Who is immortal and invisible.
While yet a student within college halls,
He heard Truth's message, and his heart was reached,
And fully owned it, though it came through one
Of that despised and persecuted class,
Called in derision Quakers. Thus convinced,
He left the college worship, to commune
In spirit with his Maker. And for this,
He was expelled from Oxford; and was soon
Maltreated by his father, who, enraged,
Because his only son, had turned away
From brilliant prospects, to pursue the path
Of self-denial, drove him harshly forth
From the paternal roof. But William Penn,
Had still a Father, who supported him,
With strength and courage to perform his will;
And he was called and qualified to preach,
And to bear witness of that blessed Light
Which shines within. He suffered in the cause,
His share of trial. He was dragged before
Judges and juries, and was shut within
The walls of prisons.
Looking abroad through England, he was filled
With deep commiseration, for the jails—
The loathsome, filthy jails—were crowded with
His brethren in the Truth. For their relief,
He sought the ear of royalty, and plead
Their cruel sufferings; and their innocence;
And thus became the instrument through which
Some prison doors were opened. But he sought
A place of refuge from oppression's power,
That Friends might worship the Creator there,
Free from imprisonment and penalties.
And such a place soon opened to his view,
Far in the Western Wilderness, beyond
The Atlantic's wave.
And here is William Penn, and here a band
Of weary emigrants, who now behold
The promised land before them; but it is
The Indian's country, and the Indian's home.
Penn had indeed, received a royal grant,
To occupy it; but a grant from one
Who had no rightful ownership therein;
He therefore buys it honestly from those
Whose claims are aboriginal, and just.
With these inhabitants, behold, he stands
Beneath an ancient elm, whose spreading limbs
O'erhang the Delaware. The forest chiefs
Sit in grave silence, while the pipe of peace
Goes round the circle. They have made a league
With faithful Onas—a perpetual league,
And treaty of true friendship, to endure
While the sun shines, and while the waters run.
And here was founded in the wilderness,
A refuge from oppression, where all creeds
Found toleration, and where truth and right
Were the foundation of its government,
And its protection. In that early day,
The infant colony sought no defence
But that of justice and of righteousness;
The only guarantees of peace on earth,
Because they ever breathe, good will to men.
His colony thus planted, William Penn
Sought his old field of labour, and again,
Both through the press and vocally, he plead
The right of conscience, and the rights of man;
And frequently, and forcibly he preached
Christ's universal and inshining Light.
His labour was incessant; and the cares,
And the perplexities connected with
His distant province, which he visited
A second time, bore heavily upon
His burdened spirit, which demanded rest;—
That rest was granted. In the midst of all
His labour and his trials, there was drawn
A veil, in mercy, round his active mind,
Which dimmed all outward things; but he still saw
The beauty and the loveliness of Truth,
And found sweet access to the Source of good.
And thus, shut out from the perplexities
And sorrows of the world, he was prepared
To hear the final summons, to put off
His tattered garments, and be clothed upon
With heavenly raiment.
Scotland, thou hadst a noble citizen,
In him of Ury! Born amid thy hills,
Though educated where enticing scenes,
Crowd giddy Paris, he rejected all
The world's allurements, and unlike the youth
Who talked with Jesus, Barclay turned away
From great possessions, and embraced the Truth.
He early dedicated all the powers
Of a well cultivated intellect
To the Redeemer and His holy cause.
He was a herald, to proclaim aloud,
Glad tidings of salvation; and his life
Preached a loud sermon by its purity.
Not only were his lips made eloquent,
By the live coal that touched them, but his pen,
Moved by a force from the same altar, poured
Light, truth, and wisdom. From it issued forth
The great Apology, which yet remains
One of the best expositors of Truth
That man has published, since that sacred book
Anciently written. Seekers are still led
By its direction, to that blessed Light,
And inward Teacher, who is Jesus Christ.
But now, this noble servant of the Lord,
Rests from his faithful labour, while his works
Yet follow him.
Early believers in the light of Truth,
Dwelt not at ease in Zion. They endured
Conflicts and trials, and imprisonments.
Even the humble Penington, whose mind
Seemed purged and purified from all the dross
Of human nature—who appeared as meek
And harmless as an infant—was compelled
To dwell in loathsome prisons. But he had,
Though in the midst of wickedness, sublime
And holy visions of the purity,
And the true nature of Christ's living Church.
While Edmundson, the faithful pioneer
Of Truth in Ireland, was compelled to drink
Deeply of suffering for the blessed cause.
Dragged from his home, half naked, by a mob
Who laid that home in ashes, he endured
Heart-rending cruelties. But all of these,
Stars of the morning, felt oppression's hand,
And some endured it to the closing scene.
Burroughs, a noble servant of the Lord,
Whose lips and pen were eloquent for Truth,
Drew his last breath in prison. Parnel, too,
A young and valiant soldier of the Lamb,
Died, a true martyr in a dungeon's gloom.
Howgill and Hubberthorn, both ministers
Of Christ's ordaining, were released from all
Their earthly trials within prison walls.
And beside these, there was a multitude
Of faithful men, and noble women too,
Who past from scenes of conflict, to the joys
Of the Redeemer's kingdom, within jails,
And some in dungeons. But amid it all,
Light spread in Britain, and a living Church
Was greatly multiplied. The tender minds,
Even of children, felt the power of Truth,
And showed the fruit and firmness it affords.
When persecution, rioted within
The town of Bristol, and all older Friends
Were locked in prison, little children met,
Within their place of worship, by themselves,
To offer praises, in the very place
From which their parents had been dragged to jail.
But let us turn from Britain, and look down,
Upon an inland sea whose swelling waves
Encircle Malta. There a cloudless sun,
In Eastern beauty, pours its light upon
The Inquisition. All without its walls
Seems calm and peaceful, let us look within.
There, stretched upon the floor, within a close,
Dark, narrow cell, inhaling from a crack
A breath of purer air, two women lie.
But who are these, and wherefore are they here?
These are two ministers of Christ, who left
Their homes in England, faithfully to bear,
The Saviour's message into eastern lands.
And here at Malta they were seized upon
By bigotted intolerance, and shut
Within this fearful engine of the Pope.
Priests and Inquisitor assail them here,
And urge the claims of popery. The rack,
And cruel deaths are threatened; and again
Sweet liberty is offered, as the price
Of their apostacy. All, all in vain!
For years these tender women have been thus,
Victims of cruelty. At times apart,
Confined in gloomy, solitary cells.
But all these efforts to convert them failed:
The Inquisition had not power enough
To shake their faith and confidence in Him,
Whose holy presence was seen anciently
To save his children from devouring flames;
He, from this furnace of affliction, brought
These persecuted women, who came forth
Out of the burning, with no smell of fire
Upon their garments, and again they trod,
Their native land rejoicing.
In Hungary, two ministers of Christ,
Were stretched upon the rack. Their tortured limbs
Were almost torn asunder, but no force
Could tear them from their Master, and they came
Out of the furnace, well refined gold.
Nor were these all who suffered for the cause
Of truth and righteousness, in foreign lands.
For at Mequinez and Algiers, some toiled,
And died in slavery. But nothing could
Discourage faithful messengers of Christ
From his required service. They were found
Preaching repentance where the Israelites
Once toiled in Egypt, and the ancient Nile
Still rolls its waters. And the holy light
Of the eternal Gospel was proclaimed,
Where its great Author had first published it—
Where the rich temple of King Solomon,
Stood in its ancient glory. Even there,
The haughty Musselmen, were told of Him,
The one great Prophet, who now speaks within.
For their refusing to participate
In carnal warfare, many early Friends,
Were made to suffer. On a ship of war
Equipped for battle, Richard Sellers bore,
With a meek, Christian spirit, cruelties
The most atrocious, for obeying Him
Who was his heavenly Captain, and by whom,
War is forbidden. Sellers would not touch,
The instruments of carnage, nor could all
The cruelties inflicted, move his soul
From a reliance on that holy Arm,
Which had sustained him in the midst of all
His complicated trials; and he gained
A peaceful, but a greater victory
Than that of battle, for he wearied out
Oppression, by his constancy, and left
A holy savor, with that vessel's crew.
But let us turn from persecuting scenes,
That stain the annals of the older world,
To young America, whose virgin shores
Offer a refuge from oppression's power.
Here lies a harbour in the noble bay
Of Massachusetts. Many little isles
Dot its expanding waters, and Nahant
Spreads its long beach and eminence beyond,
A barrier to the ocean. The whole scene,
Looks beautiful, in the clear northern air,
And loveliness of morning. On the heights
That overlook the harbour, there is seen
An infant settlement. Let us approach,
And anchor where the Puritans have sought,
For liberty of conscience. But there seems,
Disquietude in Boston. Men appear
Urged on by stormy passions, and some wear
A look of unrelenting bitterness.
But what is that now rising into view,
Where crowds are gathered on an eminence?
These are the Puritans. They now surround
A common gallows. On its platform, stands
A lovely woman in the simple garb
Worn by the early Quakers. Of the throng,
She only seems unmoved, although her blood
They madly thirst for.
The first professors of Christ's inward Light,
Who brought this message into Boston bay,
Were inoffensive women. They were searched
For signs of witchcraft, and their books were burned.
The captain who had brought them, was compelled
To carry them away. But others came,
Both men and women, zealous for the Truth.
These were received with varied cruelties—
By frequent whippings and imprisonments.
Law after law was made excluding them;
But all in vain, for still these faithful ones
Carried their Master's message undismayed
Among the Puritans, and still they found
Those who received it, and embraced the Truth,
And steadily maintained it, in the midst
Of whipping posts, and pillories, and jails!
A law was then enacted, by which all
The banished Quakers, who were found again
Within the province, were to suffer death.
But these, though ever ready to obey
All just enactments, when laws trespassed on
The rights of conscience, and on God's command,
Could never for a moment hesitate,
Which to obey.—And soon there stood upon
A scaffold of New England, faithful friends,
Who, in obeying Christ, offended man!
Of these was Mary Dyer, who exclaimed,
While passing to this instrument of death,
'No eye can witness, and no ear can hear,
No tongue can utter, nor heart understand
The incomes and refreshings from the Lord
Which now I feel.' And in the spirit which
These words a little pictured, Robinson,
Past to the presence of that Holy One
For whom he laboured, and in whom he died.
Then Stevenson, another faithful steward
And servant of the Lamb, was ushered from
Deep scenes of suffering into scenes of joy.
But Mary Dyer, who was all prepared,
To join these martyrs in their heavenward flight,
Was left a little longer upon earth.
But a few fleeting months had rolled away,
Ere this devoted woman felt constrained,
Again to go among the Puritans,
In Massachusetts, and in Boston too.
And here she stands! the second time, upon
A gallows of New England. No reprieve
Arrests her sentence now. But still she feels
The same sweet incomes, and refreshing streams
From the Lord's Holy Spirit. In the midst
Of that excited multitude, she seems
The most resigned and peaceful.—But the deed
Is now accomplished, and the scene is closed!
Among the faithful martyrs of the Lamb,
Gathered forever round His Holy Throne,
She doubtless wears a pure and spotless robe,
And bears the palm of victory.
The blood of Leddra was soon after shed,
Which closed the scene of martyrdom among
The early Quakers in this colony,
But not the scene of suffering. Women were
Dragged through its towns half-naked, tied to carts,
While the lash fell upon their unclothed backs,
And bloody streets, showed where they past along.
And such inhuman treatment was bestowed
On the first female minister of Christ,
Who preached the doctrine of his inward Light.
But in New England, there was really found
A refuge from oppression, justice reigned
Upon Rhode Island. In that early day,
The rights of conscience were held sacred there,
And persecution was a thing unknown.
A bright example, as a governor,
Was William Coddington. He loved the law—
The perfect law of righteousness—and strove
To govern by it; and all faithful Friends
Felt him a brother in the blessed Truth.
In North America, the Puritans
Stood not alone in efforts to prevent
The introduction and the spread of light.
The Dutch plantation of New Amsterdam,
Sustained a measure of the evil work.
The savage cruelties inflicted on
The faithful Hodgson, have few parallels
In any age or country; but the Lord
Was with His servant in the midst of all,
And healed his tortured and his mangled frame.
The early Friends were bright and shining stars,
For they reflected the clear holy light
The Sun of Righteousness bestowed on them.
They followed no deceiving, transient glare—
No ignis fatuus of bewildered minds;
They followed Jesus in the holiness
Of His unchanging Gospel. They endured
Stripes and imprisonment and pillories,
Torture and slavery and banishment,
And even death; but they would not forsake
Their Holy Leader, or His blessed cause.
Their patient suffering, and firm steadfastness,
Secured a rich inheritance for those
Who have succeeded them. Do these now feel
That firm devotion to the cause of Truth—That
singleheartedness their fathers felt?
Do they appreciate the price and worth
Of the great legacy and precious trust
Held for their children? The great cruelties
Borne by the fathers, have not been entailed
On their descendants, who now dwell at ease.
The world does not revile them. Do not some
Love it the more for this? and do they not
Make more alliance with it, and partake
More and more freely of its tempting baits,
Its fashions and its spirit? but are these
More pure and holy than they were of old,
When in the light of Truth, their fathers saw
That deep corruption overspread the world?
Other professors latterly have learned
To speak of Quakers with less bitterness
Than when the name reproachfully was cast
In ridicule upon them. Has not this
Drawn watchmen from the citadel of Truth?
Has it not opened doors that had been closed,
And should have been forever? And by these,
Has not an enemy been stealing in,
To spoil the goods of many; to assail,
And strive in secrecy to gather strength,
To overcome the citadel at last?
Is it not thought illiberal to refuse
Alliances with those who now profess
Respect and friendship? Must the Quaker then
Bow in the house of Rimmon, saying, Lord
Pardon in this thy servant? Do not some
Fail to resist encroachments, when they come
Clothed in enticing words, and wear the guise
Of charity and kindness, and are veiled,
Or sweetened to the taste, by courtesy?
But is a snare less certain, when concealed
By some enticing bait? or is a ball
Less sure and fatal, when it flies unheard,
Or, when the hand that sends it is unseen,
Or offers friendship? Did not Joab say,
'Art thou in health my brother?' and appeared
To kiss Amasa, while he thrust his sword
Into his life-blood? And when Jonas fled
From the Lord's service, and the stormy waves
Threatened the ship that bore him, was the cause
Not found within it? Was there not a calm
When he, whose disobedience to the Lord
Had raised the tempest, was no longer there?
Truth has a standard openly displayed,
Untorn—unsullied. Man indeed may change,
And may forsake it; but the Standard still
Remains immutable. May all who love
This Holy Banner, rally to it now!
May all whose dwellings are upon the sand,
Seek for a building on that living Rock,
Which stands forever;—for a storm has come—
A storm that tries foundations! Even now,
The flooding rains are falling, and the winds
Rapidly rising to a tempest, beat
Upon all dwellings. They alone can stand
Which have the Rock beneath them, and above
The Omnipresent and Omnipotent
Creator and Defender of His Church!
Today is the day to take it to the top
So head for the sun and don't you stop
Until you find the place where you belong
Let your life sing the sun song.
Rivers run dry, a beach is sand
Open your mind and try to understand
Spread your wings and fly to your sun
All you've gotta do is stand up and run.
Gain some speed
Run in the right direction
Open your wings
And fly at the suns reflection
It reflects onto you so you can shine
And beams down light so you can see the signs
It heals your soul with ultra violet rays
It sings your song do you hear what it says?
Can you hear it singing the sun song
Can you feel it, its been shining to you for so long
So why don't you just fly into its open arms
Don't lose your souls sun, your suns soul charms
Of your sun song.
To Mr. Henry Lawes, Who Had Then Newly Set a Song of Mine
Verse makes heroic virtue live;
But you can life to verses give.
As, when in open air we blow,
The breath, though strained, sounds flat and low;
But if a trumpet take the blast,
It lifts it high, and makes it last:
So in your airs and our numbers dressed,
Make a shrill sally from the breast
Of nymphs, who, singing what we penned,
Our passions to themselves commend;
While love, victorious with thy art,
Governs at once their voice and heart.
You, by the help of tune and time,
Can make that song which was but rhyme.
Noy pleading, no man doubts the cause;
Or questions verses set by Lawes.
As a Church window, thick with paint,
Lets in a light but dim and faint,
So others, with division, hide
The light of sense, the poet's pride;
But you alone may truly boast
That not a syllable is lost:
The writer's and the setter's skill
At once the ravished ears do fill.
Let those which only warble long,
And gargle in their throats a song,
Content themselves with
ut, re, mi
Let words, and sense, be set by thee.
Cold night: the wild duck
Cold night: the wild duck,
sick, falls from the sky
and sleeps awhile.
Translated by Robert Hass
Twelve years ago our Jack was lost. All night,
Twelve years ago, the Spirit of the Storm
Sobbed round our camp. A wind of northern hills
That hold a cold companionship with clouds
Came down, and wrestled like a giant with
The iron-featured woods; and fall and ford,
The night our Jack was lost, sent forth a cry
Of baffled waters, where the Murray sucked
The rain-replenished torrents at his source,
And gathered strength, and started for the sea.
We took our Jack from Melbourne just two weeks
Before this day twelve years ago. He left
A home where Love upon the threshold paused,
And wept across the shoulder of the lad,
And blest us when we said we’d take good care
To keep the idol of the house from harm.
We were a band of three. We started thence
To look for watered lands and pastures new,
With faces set towards the down beyond
Where cool Monaro’s topmost mountain breaks
The wings of many a seaward-going storm,
And shapes them into wreaths of subtle fire.
We were, I say, a band of three in all,
With brother Tom for leader. Bright-eyed Jack,
Who thought himself as big a man as Tom,
Was self-elected second in command,
And I was cook and groom. A week slipt by,
Brimful of life — of health, and happiness;
For though our progress northward had been slow,
Because the country on the track was rough,
No one amongst us let his spirits flag;
Moreover, being young, and at the stage
When all things novel wear a fine romance,
We found in ridge and glen, and wood and rock
And waterfall, and everything that dwells
Outside with nature, pleasure of that kind
Which only lives for those whose hearts are tired
Of noisy cities, and are fain to feel
The peace and power of the mighty hills.
The second week we crossed the upper fork
Where Murray meets a river from the east;
And there one evening dark with coming storm,
We camped a furlong from the bank. Our Jack,
The little man that used to sing and shout
And start the merry echoes of the cliffs,
And gravely help me to put up the tent,
And try a thousand tricks and offices,
That made me scold and laugh by turns — the pet
Of sisters, and the youngest hope of one
Who grew years older in a single night —
Our Jack, I say, strayed off into the dusk,
Lured by the noises of a waterfall;
And though we hunted, shouting right and left,
The whole night long, through wind and rain, and searched
For five days afterwards, we never saw
The lad again.
I turned to Tom and said,
That wild fifth evening, “Which of us has heart
Enough to put the saddle on our swiftest horse,
And post away to Melbourne, there to meet
And tell his mother we have lost her son?
Or which of us can bear to stand and see
The white affliction of a faded face,
Made old by you and me? O, Tom, my boy,
Her heart will break!” Tom moaned, but did not speak
A word. He saddled horse, and galloped off.
O, Jack! Jack! Jack! When bright-haired Benjamin
Was sent to Egypt with his father’s sons,
Those rough half-brothers took more care of him
Than we of you! But shall we never see
Your happy face, my brave lad, any more?
Nor hear you whistling in the fields at eve?
Nor catch you up to mischief with your knife
Amongst the apple trees? Nor find you out
A truant playing on the road to school?
Nor meet you, boy, in any other guise
You used to take? Is this worn cap I hold
The only thing you’ve left us of yourself?
Are we to sit from night to night deceived
Through rainy seasons by presentiments
That make us start at shadows on the pane,
And fancy that we hear you in the dark,
And wonder that your step has grown so slow,
And listen for your hand upon the door?
Bursts from a rending East in flaws
The young green leaflet's harrier, sworn
To strew the garden, strip the shaws,
And show our Spring with banner torn.
Was ever such virago morn?
The wind has teeth, the wind has claws.
All the wind's wolves through woods are loose,
The wild wind's falconry aloft.
Shrill underfoot the grassblade shrews,
At gallop, clumped, and down the croft
Bestrid by shadows, beaten, tossed;
It seems a scythe, it seems a rod.
The howl is up at the howl's accost;
The shivers greet and the shivers nod.
Is the land ship? we are rolled, we drive
Tritonly, cleaving hiss and hum;
Whirl with the dead, or mount or dive,
Or down in dregs, or on in scum.
And drums the distant, pipes the near,
And vale and hill are grey in grey,
As when the surge is crumbling sheer,
And sea-mews wing the haze of spray.
Clouds--are they bony witches?--swarms,
Darting swift on the robber's flight,
Hurry an infant sky in arms:
It peeps, it becks; 'tis day, 'tis night.
Black while over the loop of blue
The swathe is closed, like shroud on corse.
Lo, as if swift the Furies flew,
The Fates at heel at a cry to horse!
Interpret me the savage whirr:
And is it Nature scourged, or she,
Her offspring's executioner,
Reducing land to barren sea?
But is there meaning in a day
When this fierce angel of the air,
Intent to throw, and haply slay,
Can for what breath of life we bear,
Exact the wrestle?--Call to mind
The many meanings glistening up
When Nature to her nurslings kind,
Hands them the fruitage and the cup!
And seek we rich significance
Not otherwhere than with those tides
Of pleasure on the sunned expanse,
Whose flow deludes, whose ebb derides?
Look in the face of men who fare
Lock-mouthed, a match in lungs and thews
For this fierce angel of the air,
To twist with him and take his bruise.
That is the face beloved of old
Of Earth, young mother of her brood:
Nor broken for us shows the mould
When muscle is in mind renewed:
Though farther from her nature rude,
Yet nearer to her spirit's hold:
And though of gentler mood serene,
Still forceful of her fountain-jet.
So shall her blows be shrewdly met,
Be luminously read the scene
Where Life is at her grindstone set,
That she may give us edgeing keen,
String us for battle, till as play
The common strokes of fortune shower.
Such meaning in a dagger-day
Our wits may clasp to wax in power.
Yea, feel us warmer at her breast,
By spin of blood in lusty drill,
Than when her honeyed hands caressed,
And Pleasure, sapping, seemed to fill.
Behold the life at ease; it drifts.
The sharpened life commands its course.
She winnows, winnows roughly; sifts,
To dip her chosen in her source:
Contention is the vital force,
Whence pluck they brain, her prize of gifts,
Sky of the senses! on which height,
Not disconnected, yet released,
They see how spirit comes to light,
Through conquest of the inner beast,
Which Measure tames to movement sane,
In harmony with what is fair.
Never is Earth misread by brain:
That is the welling of her, there
The mirror: with one step beyond,
For likewise is it voice; and more,
Benignest kinship bids respond,
When wail the weak, and them restore
Whom days as fell as this may rive,
While Earth sits ebon in her gloom,
Us atomies of life alive
Unheeding, bent on life to come.
Her children of the labouring brain,
These are the champions of the race,
True parents, and the sole humane,
With understanding for their base.
Earth yields the milk, but all her mind
Is vowed to thresh for stouter stock.
Her passion for old giantkind,
That scaled the mount, uphurled the rock,
Devolves on them who read aright
Her meaning and devoutly serve;
Nor in her starlessness of night
Peruse her with the craven nerve:
But even as she from grass to corn,
To eagle high from grubbing mole,
Prove in strong brain her noblest born,
The station for the flight of soul.
Silicate Syndrome Rubaiyat
Seagull spirit soars above wide screen
Impressions individual, seldom seen,
Lofty thoughts caught in symbolic net,
ICArus soaring, wax unmelted scene.
Soul keen keys multi-modal meanings green,
Ice hoar, grey-bearded, harvests facts few glean,
LIke, unlike compares, dare hedge no bet,
CAndle holds to render secrets clean.
Sin, virtue, truth, false, helix paradigm,
Id and ego's everlasting climb,
Loss and gain, retained as ethic's anchor -
Inherit building blocks. Primeval slime.
CArbon based with [f]oxy Jekyll hyd,
SIsyphus and Tantalus abide
LIght-sleeping yet day-dreaming till demise
CArries forward balance-sheet belied.
Silicate, slight sliver grey-silver slate,
Impermanence man's emblem, love and hate
Last but a blink - first cry to final breath,
Intestate hang by thread, birth ~ berth's small state.
CApture's, conquest's, spinning weel the Norms
SIlk work, weave waft and weft, whose frame deforms
LIght-hearted, grave, both coward, brave soon sleep,
CAre not for what may be, tomorrow's storms.
Slate soon is wiped, root, fruit ripe wilt spoiled rotten,
Intents and purposes, strong-willed, forgotten,
Lathe-turned pot's bolt shot, wraith spurned sinks from sight,
Innocence spilt, guilt cense, both unbegotten.
CAp doffed capitulation and aggression
SIze and small-talk, walk, run, leap, steep, depression,
LIly livers, sore spleen, vim, verve, raw nerve
CAve in, soon sleep, before scored Time's oppression.
Self-perpetuating syndrome seeks
Internal logic which rich sound sense speaks,
Logic egocentric spins sprung top
Ignoring contradictions, ship that leaks.
Caught in maze matrix mortals justify
SIgnificance of dominance ‘neath sky,
LIst their priorities while Nature mocks
CAprice as oceans rise while wells run dry.
See on life's chequerboard of dames and knights
Inane vain critics wrong song poet writes,
Long lacking w[r]it move on from point to point
In chase of name for fame the flaming wights!
CAn moving finger check mate game's displays
SIng on with w[h]ine flask, bread and lisping lays
LIfe spend sans end with epigrams to tease
CAuse and Effect with well sustainèd blaze?
Single-minded and autonomous,
Inhibited, frustrate anonymous,
Locked, cuffed, straightjacket tied, both far and wide
Idealistic driven, infamous,
Careworn, carefree, heretic or saint,
SIren seductive, bright spark, glimmer faint,
Limping, wimping, whimpering or hale,
CArouse and carousel flake pristine paint.
Society seems patterned compromise
Implicit where trust seldom counters lies,
Libido, ambition, mingle, wrangle,
Initiatives once strong soon paralyse.
CAlculations savvy or mistaken,
SIlo full where greed takes home the bacon,
LIce infested, ashes, crust, endowed,
CAmpfire dowsed ends journey undertaken.
Sexploitation's often orthodoxy,
Innovation countered or by proxy
Licit where it bolsters up régime
Inept, swept up in contradictions poxy.
CAlm seems exception to the human rule,
SIck sense of self scorns others, styled as fool,
LIcit and illicit seem defined
CAse by case, with justice stretched as tool.
Strange range rich rhesus pieces, mice and men
Intent upon survival, city zen,
Lout, country bumpkin, slippered pantaloon,
Ironic interplays, time and again
CAll out for explanations: how, why, when,
SIgnification seek threescore and ten,
LInger, fingers' crooked gesticulations
CAncelled check rejected … and then?
Some take as god the fickle Lady Luck,
Imagine Spanish castles, come unstuck,
Look not before the leep then blame fell chance
If game's not won, they try to pass the buck.
Calypso serenade spurt spur advance,
SIdeways some scuttle, subtle pincer dance,
LIdless eyes seek opportunities
Caress great expectations blessed by Chance.
Should time well spent invent kaleidoscope
In hand expand verse band, collide? - O scope!
Let no crimes in my name be here engraved
If once ground down - dug up again sounds dope!
CApacity conundrum from abyss
SIghs upwards with a timeless Kismet kiss,
LInks through the quintessential to prepare
CAse study never muddy, bearing bliss.
Slips startled here from superficial gear
Insist from shallows rise to high idea
Lief soar to skies song sonorous, scarce leave
Intact trite piffle peddled on deaf ear.
CAter not unto the crowds that throng
SIft out spare dross - their loss and not your wrong -
LIght shines as wave vibration penetrates,
CAsts nets which fish with strokes surprising strong.
Stage after stage each inks his page or blots
Insidiously life's book, forget-me-nots
Last rarely - fairly drawn, graffiti torn
Impressions swiftly sink - nor sage, nor sots
CAn be reclaimed from orphan D.N.A.
SIgnals send with no real-time delay,
LIft miracles to commonplace events,
CAnvas dark convert to light of day.
Stage after stage uncoils to serpentine
Inside and out, shoot wide, about turn sign,
Late or early pearly gate appears
Idyll idiotic, tenuous twine.
CAncer or senility? venom vine
SIght closes, quite imposes mortal mine,
LIp service paid to idol, sect, or profit king
CAn't catalyze soiled genes to recombine.
Since, shadow-shapes, we flitter for a space,
Invisible to most, leave little trace
Lasting on environments where change
Is both ends, means, chased way, waste play, disgrace,
CAmeleon each cleaves to flesh and bone,
SImple or complicated, yet alone,
LIstening for some acknowledgement:
CAution to the winds had best be thrown.
Sight is reclaimed, as eyes inflamed surmise
Insight is gleamed, well streamed despite disguise,
Lifting veils beyond which so few see -
Incandescence in a subtle guise.
CApture rapture, for once race is run
SItuation shadow shape and sun
LIttle difference know, so grow to flow,
CAre not for shade when end is light begun.
(19 March 2009)
Divine Comedy Mother Goose after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Divina Commedia Fleur de Luce
Oft have I seen within some bookstore door
a comic book, with illustrations neat,
unburdened by the hands of tiny feet
chaperoned by smothering mothers sure
to seal a bargain in free-time for chore
while toddler turns the page of storied treat,
from loud vociferations saved before tears fleet
become an undistinguishable roar.
Fables' chapters read aloud each day
provide the basic groundwork, opens gate
well earned to letters learned the easy way,
The tumult of bed-time disconsolate,
complaints, and plaintive murmurs fade away,
while pages turn on Cinderella's fate.
Strange sculptures do adorn Prince Charming's towers,
round Sleeping Beauty's statue crowd, fly leaves
bird's eye view provide of of dark Queen's sleeves
from which immortal bloom witch hands for hours,
gesticulate vast curses, scheme crossed princess cowers.
See fiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves
throw Snow White frightening curses. Child believes
in Ali Baba's forty thieves and powers
fantastical suspending heart and brain,
till exultation tramples on despair,
till tenderness soothes tears, till hate of wrong -
with passionate cries of infant soul in pain -
reads through these tales of Hubbard's cupboard bare
in mediæval miracle of song.
These entertaing gossips glitter, gloom
dissolves before Pierrot and Columbine,
for nurs'ry rhymes step up pace children sign
their names, prepare for fame till they make room
in turn for others through life's mortal doom
when mourners pass, when votive tapers shine.
Psych books don't daunt imaginations fine,
synaptic echoes linked to Perrault's plume
from fairy tales of sixpence, apple pies,
rehearsing songs of blackbirds as crow flies
from cryptic lamentations, cheeks aglow.
For parents' choice celestial voice begins
with 'Once upon a time...' sows peace time wins,
no scarlet sins knows, Mother Goose morals show.
See seven dwarfs fight flame of evil fame,
Queen's poisoned apple sent so long ago,
filling young hearts with passion, dread, and woe,
rescued from wrong when song's conclusions came
splendiferous while stern rebukes bad tame,
and ice about cold heart melts as the snow
on mountain heights when spring rains overflow
through climate change gush like lips' sobs of shame,
with full confession made. Child's eyes may gleam,
like dawn's beam slant chant on dark forest cast,
seems to uplifted hope's scope, also increase
imagination, sparks remembered dream,
sorrow forgotten, enlightenment at last
rings perfect pardon that brings perfect peace.
Eyes T.V. free read on, souls' windows blaze
with forms of black sheep wool bags well supplied,
her set to song, hereafter glorified,
see bramble Rose upon its leaves displays
elf arrow thorns for Beauty's roundelay,
with splendor upon splendor multiplied
in bedside book that's seldom set aside.
No more rebukes, but smiles greet words of praise
from pre-school up, contentment's chorus choirs
re-sing old tales no child e'er fails to love,
and many on the Internet would post
cockle-shells, melodious bells, light fires
to warm from house-tops up to heaven above
Contrary Mary, Curly Locks' love boast.
Historic star whose kindergarden key
unlocks appreciation of these easy rhymes
both ageless and with age together climbs,
becomes forerunner of adults to be.
The choice of Hark the Lark, Georgie Porgie,
free voice for Jack Straw, Jack and Jill's Hill, signs,
repeats, light songs until familiar lines
are footpaths for deep thoughts of root and tree.
Fond fame is blown abroad from all the heights,
throughout all nations Mother Goose is heard
as child's and adult's album, leaves none out,
strangers, at home, becoming proselytes,
In their own language hear tales' wondrous word,
and many stay amazed, no penny doubt.
Divina Commedia Fleur de Luce
Oft have I seen at some cathedral door
A laborer, pausing in the dust and heat,
Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet
Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor
Kneel to repeat his paternoster o'er;
Far off the noises of the world retreat;
The loud vociferations of the street
Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
And leave my burden at this minster gate,
Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
To inarticulate murmurs dies away,
While the eternal ages watch and wait.
How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers!
This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves
Birds build their nests; while canopied with leaves
Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers,
And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers!
But fiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves
Watch the dead Christ between the living thieves,
And, underneath, the traitor Judas lowers!
Ah! from what agonies of heart and brain,
What exultations trampling on despair,
What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong,
What passionate outcry of a soul in pain,
Uprose this poem of the earth and air,
This mediæval miracle of song!
I enter, and I see thee in the gloom
Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine!
And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine.
The air is filled with some unknown perfume;
The congregation of the dead make room
For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine;
Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine
The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb.
From the confessionals I hear arise
Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies,
And lamentations from the crypts below;
And then a voice celestial that begins
With the pathetic words, "Although your sins
As scarlet be, " and ends with "as the snow."
With snow-white veil and garments as of flame,
She stands before thee, who so long ago
Filled thy young heart with passion and the woe
From which thy song and all its splendors came;
And while with stern rebuke she speaks thy name,
The ice about thy heart melts as the snow
On mountain heights, and in swift overflow
Comes gushing from thy lips in sobs of shame.
Thou makest full confession; and a gleam,
As of the dawn on some dark forest cast,
Seems on thy lifted forehead to increase;
Lethe and Eunoë—the remembered dream
And the forgotten sorrow—bring at last
That perfect pardon which is perfect peace.
I lift mine eyes, and all the windows blaze
With forms of Saints and holy men who died,
Here martyred and hereafter glorified;
And the great Rose upon its leaves displays
Christ's Triumph, and the angelic roundelays,
With splendor upon splendor multiplied;
And Beatrice again at Dante's side
No more rebukes, but smiles her words of praise.
And then the organ sounds, and unseen choirs
Sing the old Latin hymns of peace and love
And benedictions of the Holy Ghost;
And the melodious bells among the spires
O'er all the house-tops and through heaven above
Proclaim the elevation of the Host!
O star of morning and of liberty!
O bringer of the light, whose splendor shines
Above the darkness of the Apennines,
Forerunner of the day that is to be!
The voices of the city and the sea,
The voices of the mountains and the pines,
Repeat thy song, till the familiar lines
Are footpaths for the thought of Italy!
Thy fame is blown abroad from all the heights,
Through all the nations, and a sound is heard,
As of a mighty wind, and men devout,
Strangers of Rome, and the new proselytes,
In their own language hear thy wondrous word,
And many are amazed and many doubt.
(25 February 2012)
Hymn To Death
Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heart
Might hear my song without a frown, nor deem
My voice unworthy of the theme it tries,--
I would take up the hymn to Death, and say
To the grim power, The world hath slandered thee
And mocked thee. On thy dim and shadowy brow
They place an iron crown, and call thee king
Of terrors, and the spoiler of the world,
Deadly assassin, that strik'st down the fair,
The loved, the good--that breath'st upon the lights
Of virtue set along the vale of life,
And they go out in darkness. I am come,
Not with reproaches, not with cries and prayers,
Such as have stormed thy stern insensible ear
From the beginning. I am come to speak
Thy praises. True it is, that I have wept
Thy conquests, and may weep them yet again:
And thou from some I love wilt take a life
Dear to me as my own. Yet while the spell
Is on my spirit, and I talk with thee
In sight of all thy trophies, face to face,
Meet is it that my voice should utter forth
Thy nobler triumphs: I will teach the world
To thank thee.--Who are thine accusers?--Who?
The living!--they who never felt thy power,
And know thee not. The curses of the wretch
Whose crimes are ripe, his sufferings when thy hand
Is on him, and the hour he dreads is come,
Are writ among thy praises. But the good--
Does he whom thy kind hand dismissed to peace,
Upbraid the gentle violence that took off
His fetters, and unbarred his prison cell?
Raise then the Hymn to Death. Deliverer!
God hath anointed thee to free the oppressed
And crush the oppressor. When the armed chief,
The conqueror of nations, walks the world,
And it is changed beneath his feet, and all
Its kingdoms melt into one mighty realm--
Thou, while his head is loftiest, and his heart
Blasphemes, imagining his own right hand
Almighty, sett'st upon him thy stern grasp,
And the strong links of that tremendous chain
That bound mankind are crumbled; thou dost break
Sceptre and crown, and beat his throne to dust.
Then the earth shouts with gladness, and her tribes
Gather within their ancient bounds again.
Else had the mighty of the olden time,
Nimrod, Sesostris, or the youth who feigned
His birth from Lybian Ammon, smote even now
The nations with a rod of iron, and driven
Their chariot o'er our necks. Thou dost avenge,
In thy good time, the wrongs of those who know
No other friend. Nor dost thou interpose
Only to lay the sufferer asleep,
Where he who made him wretched troubles not
His rest--thou dost strike down his tyrant too.
Oh, there is joy when hands that held the scourge
Drop lifeless, and the pitiless heart is cold.
Thou too dost purge from earth its horrible
And old idolatries; from the proud fanes
Each to his grave their priests go out, till none
Is left to teach their worship; then the fires
Of sacrifice are chilled, and the green moss
O'ercreeps their altars; the fallen images
Cumber the weedy courts, and for loud hymns,
Chanted by kneeling crowds, the chiding winds
Shriek in the solitary aisles. When he
Who gives his life to guilt, and laughs at all
The laws that God or man has made, and round
Hedges his seat with power, and shines in wealth,--
Lifts up his atheist front to scoff at Heaven,
And celebrates his shame in open day,
Thou, in the pride of all his crimes, cutt'st off
The horrible example. Touched by thine,
The extortioner's hard hand foregoes the gold
Wrong from the o'er-worn poor. The perjurer,
Whose tongue was lithe, e'en now, and voluble
Against his neighbour's life, and he who laughed
And leaped for joy to see a spotless fame
Blasted before his own foul calumnies,
Are smit with deadly silence. He, who sold
His conscience to preserve a worthless life,
Even while he hugs himself on his escape,
Trembles, as, doubly terrible, at length,
Thy steps o'ertake him, and there is no time
For parley--nor will bribes unclench thy grasp.
Oft, too, dost thou reform thy victim, long
Ere his last hour. And when the reveller,
Mad in the chase of pleasure, stretches on,
And strains each nerve, and clears the path of life
Like wind, thou point'st him to the dreadful goal,
And shak'st thy hour-glass in his reeling eye,
And check'st him in mid course. Thy skeleton hand
Shows to the faint of spirit the right path,
And he is warned, and fears to step aside.
Thou sett'st between the ruffian and his crime
Thy ghastly countenance, and his slack hand
Drops the drawn knife. But, oh, most fearfully
Dost thou show forth Heaven's justice, when thy shafts
Drink up the ebbing spirit--then the hard
Of heart and violent of hand restores
The treasure to the friendless wretch he wronged.
Then from the writhing bosom thou dost pluck
The guilty secret; lips, for ages sealed,
Are faithless to the dreadful trust at length,
And give it up; the felon's latest breath
Absolves the innocent man who bears his crime;
The slanderer, horror smitten, and in tears,
Recalls the deadly obloquy he forged
To work his brother's ruin. Thou dost make
Thy penitent victim utter to the air
The dark conspiracy that strikes at life,
And aims to whelm the laws; ere yet the hour
Is come, and the dread sign of murder given.
Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found
On virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee,
Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth
Had crushed the weak for ever. Schooled in guile
For ages, while each passing year had brought
Its baneful lesson, they had filled the world
With their abominations; while its tribes,
Trodden to earth, imbruted, and despoiled,
Had knelt to them in worship; sacrifice
Had smoked on many an altar, temple roofs
Had echoed with the blasphemous prayer and hymn:
But thou, the great reformer of the world,
Tak'st off the sons of violence and fraud
In their green pupilage, their lore half learned--
Ere guilt has quite o'errun the simple heart
God gave them at their birth, and blotted out
His image. Thou dost mark them, flushed with hope,
As on the threshold of their vast designs
Doubtful and loose they stand, and strik'st them down.
Alas, I little thought that the stern power
Whose fearful praise I sung, would try me thus
Before the strain was ended. It must cease--
For he is in his grave who taught my youth
The art of verse, and in the bud of life
Offered me to the muses. Oh, cut off
Untimely! when thy reason in its strength,
Ripened by years of toil and studious search
And watch of Nature's silent lessons, taught
Thy hand to practise best the lenient art
To which thou gavest thy laborious days.
And, last, thy life. And, therefore, when the earth
Received thee, tears were in unyielding eyes
And on hard cheeks, and they who deemed thy skill
Delayed their death-hour, shuddered and turned pale
When thou wert gone. This faltering verse, which thou
Shalt not, as wont, o'erlook, is all I have
To offer at thy grave--this--and the hope
To copy thy example, and to leave
A name of which the wretched shall not think
As of an enemy's, whom they forgive
As all forgive the dead. Rest, therefore, thou
Whose early guidance trained my infant steps--
Rest, in the bosom of God, till the brief sleep
Of death is over, and a happier life
Shall dawn to waken thine insensible dust.
Now thou art not--and yet the men whose guilt
Has wearied Heaven for vengeance--he who bears
False witness--he who takes the orphan's bread,
And robs the widow--he who spreads abroad
Polluted hands in mockery of prayer,
Are left to cumber earth. Shuddering I look
On what is written, yet I blot not out
The desultory numbers--let them stand.
The record of an idle revery.
I Drown In Myself
Distinct Voice Of Pleasure
Hair Golden Like The Sapphire Sun
Face Of Angels
Creatures Are Everywhere
In The Middle
Between The Lines
Dreams Of Orgasms
Cum To It All
What Makes You Tick
The Flick Of Fate
Destiny Is One With Honor
Honesty Is Truth
Loyalty Is Trust
Mind Is Power
Feelings Inspire Designation
Heart Is Part Of The Soul
Real Soul Power Comes From All Together
Mind The Heart
Spirit Train Down To My Spleen
Am I Me?
Driving The Point
and then i look
straight on the face of
the creature fronting me
and we had an
i was saying something
from what my eyes are
uttering and that
creature was not wise enough
what was driven
i understand that my eyes
live in a different world
from my lips
and so does my heart
my soul and my
my feet too travel in
apart from what
i have in mind
nothing goes much
without unlike what war is waged therein
the winner is still
the loser perhaps is so kind
the sadness of understanding
I wandered into your wonderland with eyes open wide
You turn me into your yesterday
But you will remain inside of me
Like I care for you
Oh, I care for you
Run wild , out on the edge of time , child
Carry your dreams away , love
No one can hold you now
For you are an island
I may be broken but understand my love will get by
There will be others along the way , my love
They will try to care for me
Like I care for you
Oh , I care for you
Run wild , out on the edge of time , child
Carry your dreams away , love
No one can hold you now
For you are an island
Run wild , out on the edge of time , child
Carry your dreams away , love
No one can hold you now
For you are an island
Run wild , out on the edge of time , child
Carry your dreams away , love
No one can hold you now
For you are an island ( fade)
Either Run Or Duck
So much wanted that is wished,
Seems to come with required prerequisites.
Just to test one's desire.
Sometimes it feels as if,
There are more steps taken backward.
As that scent gets stronger to behold.
A twist of impatience glued in cement,
Who hasn't experienced this to decide,
If it is easier to let go and be crazed?
And in these days we face,
Who would notice this as abnormal behavior?
Would you argue with anyone throwing a fit?
Either run or duck,
That would be my recommendation.
Confronting someone on a rage,
Is not conducive to a maintaining of one's health.
So much wanted that is wished,
Seems to come with required prerequisites.
Just to test one's desire.
Only until tears begin to drip does it appear,
Those locked doors begin to open.
Leaving one to wonder...
What was the significance of the attempt tried.
Let Him Run Wild
When I watched you walk with him
Tears filled my eyes
And when I heard you talk with him
I couldnt stand his lies
And now before he tries it
I hope you realize it
Let him run wild
He dont care
Let him run wild
Hell find out
Let him run wild
He dont care
(guess you know I waited for you)
Hell do the same to other girls
That he did to you
But then one day hell run in to one
Thats gonna hurt him too
Before he makes you over
Im gonna take you over
Let him run wild
He dont care
Let him run wild
Hell find out
Let him run wild
He dont care
(guess you know I waited for you girl)
All the dreams you shared with him
You might as well forget
I know you need a truer love
And thats what youll get
And now that you dont need him
Well he can have his freedom
Let him run wild
He dont care
Let him run wild
Hell find out
Let him run wild
He dont care
Let him run wild
Hell find out
Let him run wild
He dont care
Let him run wild
Hell find out
Let him run wild
In This And That Of Life
In the happy and sad of life
Ask for peace
In the thick and thin of life
Stick to your roots
In the length and breadth of life
Never leave grace
In the black and white of life
Be a warm cheerful shade
In the hard and soft of life
Know the when
In the lines and circles of life
Don’t lose focus
In the near and far of life
Keep in touch
In the flat and heels of life
Be light on your feet
In the light and heavy of life
Guard your spine
In the hot and cold of life
Calm your nerves
In the sweet and sour of life
In traditional and modern of life
In the cocktails and mocktails of life
Don’t pet carbs
In the silk and cotton of life
Please your skin
In the mornings and evenings of life
Never skip breakfast
In the love and betrayals of life
In the fast and slow of life
In the wide and narrow of life
In the vacations and jobs of life
In the tranquil and chaos of life
In the hearts and minds of life
Pamper your soul
In the darkness and brightness of your life
Don’t get lost in either