When Mere Moments Are Holy
When mere moments are holy,
when in prayer I go to You
I am surrounded by Your presence
then I see in every flower, in each small thing
even in the stars, sun and moon
that there is of You a kind of witness,
thunderbolts falling blue-white,
the wild untamed stormy wind,
trees that flower in spring,
tells me that You care about my destiny
and that You choose me out as a child
of the almighty Lord of the universe.
The three tailors
I shall tell you in rhyme how, once on a time,
Three tailors tramped up to the inn Ingleheim,
On the Rhine, lovely Rhine;
They were broke, but the worst of it all, they were curst
With that malady common to tailors--a thirst
For wine, lots of wine.
"Sweet host," quoth the three, "we're hard up as can be,
Yet skilled in the practice of cunning are we,
On the Rhine, genial Rhine;
And we pledge you we will impart you that skill
Right quickly and fully, providing you'll fill
Us with wine, cooling wine."
But that host shook his head, and he warily said:
"Though cunning be good, we take money instead,
On the Rhine, thrifty Rhine;
If ye fancy ye may without pelf have your way
You'll find that there's both host and the devil to pay
For your wine, costly wine."
Then the first knavish wight took his needle so bright
And threaded its eye with a wee ray of light
From the Rhine, sunny Rhine;
And, in such a deft way, patched a mirror that day
That where it was mended no expert could say--
Done so fine 't was for wine.
The second thereat spied a poor little gnat
Go toiling along on his nose broad and flat
Towards the Rhine, pleasant Rhine;
"Aha, tiny friend, I should hate to offend,
But your stockings need darning"--which same did he mend,
All for wine, soothing wine.
And next there occurred what you'll deem quite absurd--
His needle a space in the wall thrust the third,
By the Rhine, wondrous Rhine;
And then all so spry, he leapt through the eye
Of that thin cambric needle--nay, think you I'd lie
About wine--not for wine.
The landlord allowed (with a smile) he was proud
To do the fair thing by that talented crowd
On the Rhine, generous Rhine.
So a thimble filled he as full as could be--
"Drink long and drink hearty, my jolly friends three,
Of my wine, filling wine."
- quotes about wine
- quotes about illness
- quotes about eyes
- quotes about nose
- quotes about friendship
- quotes about walls
- quotes about paying
- quotes about poverty
When You've Averaged Out Your Crucials
When you've averaged out your crucials
and you've walked in the light and you've walked
in the shadows of things your eyes still taste of
though you've set a star as the moral compass
of your cloudy destination, and it's following you
down a long stray thread of a road, the smart money
bets on doing some good in the world
you may not even be aware of, let alone
expect payback for as if you were doing business
not gambling on an intuitionally calculated risk
its probably better to leave a sweeter cachet to the place
for your having been here, chicory by the side of the road,
or wild orchids in the marsh, by the addition
of one flower more than to desecrate your life
with bitterness, resentment, the indifference of ambition
when its heart gargles with an inhumane antiseptic
to keep from being infected by the human in its bloodstream.
You don't have to arrange paradigms of shining
into some kind of mandalic starmap unless you want to.
Giving something up isn't the same as adding yourself to it.
Even if you foreknow you're doomed to lose, total eclipse,
if you're a real gambler, you lose with flare, like a solar corona.
You're intrigued by the unfolding of the road you took,
the river you're running, the rapids in the mindstream
you're about to shoot down the middle in an inflatable life raft
in the spring run off of the waterclock of a reverential northern river.
It might be important to seek
the eventual forgiveness of the night
for what we've done to it, treating it as a reward
for breathing our way through another day in the light.
But the stars aren't listening to the alibis
we're whispering in the dark to our selves.
They labour under the cowbells of their own myths of origin.
But you can always do a little good in the world.
The whole place is wounded. No shortage of opportunity.
You can drive the ambulance back to the hospital.
You can be the atom that decides the outcome
of a cosmic event, so slight are the actions of the random,
chaos in action, it just takes one to light up
infinite time and space moment by moment
and blow it out just as quickly to enhance the night,
the pulsar of a firefly in a lighthouse of dark matter.
You ever wonder how many messiahs
have come and gone from the world
without ever once having heard of themselves?
If you don't like to drink spit out of the public fountains
of other people's mouths, though they exhale rainbows in the mist
maybe it's time to taste your own to see if it's sweet or not.
When things are real, not solid, nothing's diminished,
nothing's enlarged, because size is no longer relevant
in a world of wavelengths that have given up living like particles.
And forms are more provisional than cast in bronze.
Waifs of the air, maple leaves cast on the mindstream
covering their own reflections with the fans and hand mirrors
they carry like accessories to their own deathmasks.
Hard to make a wax mould of a dream, an emotion, or an insight.
The mystery of life isn't an interpretation
waiting to be deciphered any way you like,
though you're free to do this with the impunity
of a crossroad puzzle. Its silence is a deeper eloquence
than that, and when it expresses itself it's as immediate
as starlight on water. Its spontaneity never hesitates
to shock us with the impersonal beauty
of a moonrise over the lake in a lunar flood of wonder.
Or some small act of love that's denounced by the doer
as a foolish way to live against the odds, as soon as it's done.
Everybody's on death row here. No one gets out alive
or unwounded. Sparrows and stars and houseflies
pass freely through the bars, and the wind at night
whistles through them like the vocal cords of a harp.
Would it hurt to pass a cigarette through them
to someone in front of a firing squad of stars
or write a loveletter for someone who can't read it?
- quotes about blood
- quotes about expose
- quotes about calculations
- quotes about particles
- quotes about voice
- quotes about walking
- quotes about eclipse
- quotes about tobacco
- quotes about outer space
The Golden Legend: V. A Covered Bridge At Lucerne
_Prince Henry_. God's blessing on the architects who build
The bridges o'er swift rivers and abysses
Before impassable to human feet,
No less than on the builders of cathedrals,
Whose massive walls are bridges thrown across
The dark and terrible abyss of Death.
Well has the name of Pontifex been given
Unto the Church's head, as the chief builder
And architect of the invisible bridge
That leads from earth to heaven.
_Elsie_ How dark it grows!
What are these paintings on the walls around us?
_Prince Henry_ The Dance Macaber!
_Prince Henry_ The Dance of Death!
All that go to and fro must look upon it,
Mindful of what they shall be, while beneath,
Among the wooden piles, the turbulent river
Rushes, impetuous as the river of life,
With dimpling eddies, ever green and bright,
Save where the shadow of this bridge falls on it.
_Elsie._ O, yes! I see it now!
_Prince Henry_ The grim musician
Leads all men through the mazes of that dance,
To different sounds in different measures moving;
Sometimes he plays a lute, sometimes a drum,
To tempt or terrify.
_Elsie_ What is this picture?
_Prince Henry_ It is a young man singing to a nun,
Who kneels at her devotions, but in kneeling
Turns round to look at him, and Death, meanwhile,
Is putting out the candles on the altar!
_Elsie_ Ah, what a pity 't is that she should listen
to such songs, when in her orisons
She might have heard in heaven the angels singing!
_Prince Henry_ Here he has stolen a jester's cap and bells,
And dances with the Queen.
_Elsie_ A foolish jest!
_Prince Henry_ And here the heart of the new-wedded wife,
Coming from church with her beloved lord,
He startles with the rattle of his drum.
_Elsie_ Ah, that is sad! And yet perhaps 't is best
That she should die, with all the sunshine on her,
And all the benedictions of the morning,
Before this affluence of golden light
Shall fade into a cold and clouded gray,
Then into darkness!
_Prince Henry_ Under it is written,
'Nothing but death shall separate thee and me!'
_Elsie._ And what is this, that follows close upon it?
_Prince Henry_ Death, playing on a ducimer. Behind him,
A poor old woman, with a rosary,
Follows the sound, and seems to wish her feet
Were swifter to o'ertake him. Underneath,
The inscription reads, 'Better is Death than Life.'
_Elsie._ Better is Death than Life! Ah yes! to thousands
Death plays upon a dulcimer, and sings
That song of consolation, till the air
Rings with it, and they cannot choose but follow
Whither he leads. And not the old alone,
But the young also hear it, and are still.
_Prince Henry_ Yes, in their sadder moments. 'T is the sound
Of their own hearts they hear, half full of tears,
Which are like crystal cups, half filled with water.
Responding to the pressure of a finger
With music sweet and low and melancholy.
Let us go forward, and no longer stay
In this great picture-gallery of Death!
I hate it! ay, the very thought of it!
_Elsie._ Why is it hateful to you?
_Prince Henry._ For the reason
That life, and all that speaks of life, is lovely,
And death, and all that speaks of death, is hateful.
_Elsie._ The grave is but a covered bridge,
leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!
_Prince Henry (emerging from the bridge)._ I breathe again more
freely! Ah, how pleasant
To come once more into the light of day,
Out of that shadow of death! To hear again
The hoof-beats of our horses on firm ground,
And not upon those hollow planks, resounding
With a sepulchral echo, like the clods
On coffins in a churchyard! Yonder lies
The Lake of the Four Forest-Towns, apparelled
In light, and lingering, like a village maiden,
Hid in the bosom of her native mountains,
Then pouring all her life into another's,
Changing her name and being! Overhead,
Shaking his cloudy tresses loose in air,
Rises Pilatus, with his windy pines.
(_They pass on_.)
* * * * *
THE DEVIL'S BRIDGE.
* * * * *
PRINCE HENRY _and_ ELSIE _crossing, with attendants._
_Guide._ This bridge is called the Devil's Bridge.
With a single arch, from ridge to ridge,
It leaps across the terrible chasm
Yawning beneath us, black and deep,
As if, in some convulsive spasm,
the summits of the hills had cracked,
and made a road for the cataract,
That raves and rages down the steep!
_Lucifer (under the bridge)._ Ha! ha!
_Guide._ Never any bridge but this
Could stand across the wild abyss;
All the rest, of wood or stone,
By the Devil's hand were overthrown.
He toppled crags from the precipice,
And whatsoe'er was built by day
In the night was swept away;
None could stand but this alone.
_Lucifer (under the bridge)._ Ha! ha!
_Guide._ I showed you in the valley a boulder
Marked with the imprint of his shoulder;
As he was bearing it up this way,
A peasant, passing, cried, 'Herr Je!'
And the Devil dropped it in his fright,
And vanished suddenly out of sight!
_Lucifer (under the bridge)._ Ha! ha!
_Guide._ Abbot Giraldus of Einsiedel,
For pilgrims on their way to Rome,
Built this at last, with a single arch,
Under which, on its endless march,
Runs the river, white with foam,
Like a thread through the eye of a needle.
And the Devil promised to let it stand,
Under compact and condition
That the first living thing which crossed
Should be surrendered into his hand,
And be beyond redemption lost.
_Lucifer (under the bridge)._ Ha! ha! perdition!
_Guide._ At length, the bridge being all completed,
The Abbot, standing at its head,
Threw across it a loaf of bread,
Which a hungry dog sprang after,
And the rocks reechoed with peals of laughter
To see the Devil thus defeated!
(_They pass on_)
_Lucifer_ (_under the bridge_) Ha! ha! defeated!
For journeys and for crimes like this
To let the bridge stand o'er the abyss!
* * * * *
THE ST. GOTHARD PASS.
* * * * *
_Prince Henry._ This is the highest point. Two ways the rivers
Leap down to different seas, and as they roll
Grow deep and still, and their majestic presence
Becomes a benefaction to the towns
They visit, wandering silently among them,
Like patriarchs old among their shining tents.
_Elsie._ How bleak and bare it is! Nothing but mosses
Grow on these rocks.
_Prince Henry._ Yet are they not forgotten;
Beneficent Nature sends the mists to feed them.
_Elsie._ See yonder little cloud, that, borne aloft
So tenderly by the wind, floats fast away
Over the snowy peaks! It seems to me
The body of St. Catherine, borne by angels!
_Prince Henry._ Thou art St. Catherine, and invisible angels
Bear thee across these chasms and precipices,
Lest thou shouldst dash thy feet against a stone!
_Elsie._ Would I were borne unto my grave, as she was,
Upon angelic shoulders! Even now
I Seem uplifted by them, light as air!
What sound is that?
_Prince Henry_. The tumbling avalanches!
_Elsie_ How awful, yet how beautiful!
_Prince Henry_. These are
The voices of the mountains! Thus they ope
Their snowy lips, and speak unto each other,
In the primeval language, lost to man.
_Elsie_. What land is this that spreads itself beneath us?
_Prince Henry_ Italy! Italy!
_Elsie_ Land of the Madonna!
How beautiful it is! It seems a garden
_Prince Henry_. Nay, of Gethsemane
To thee and me, of passion and of prayer!
Yet once of Paradise. Long years ago
I wandered as a youth among its bowers,
And never from my heart has faded quite
Its memory, that, like a summer sunset,
Encircles with a ring of purple light
All the horizon of my youth.
_Guide_. O friends!
The days are short, the way before us long;
We must not linger, if we think to reach
The inn at Belinzona before vespers!
(_They pass on_.)
* * * * *
AT THE FOOT OF THE ALPS.
* * * * *
_A halt under the trees at noon_.
_Prince Henry_ Here let us pause a moment in the trembling
Shadow and sunshine of the roadside trees,
And, our tired horses in a group assembling,
Inhale long draughts of this delicious breeze
Our fleeter steeds have distanced our attendants;
They lag behind us with a slower pace;
We will await them under the green pendants
Of the great willows in this shady place.
Ho, Barbarossa! how thy mottled haunches
Sweat with this canter over hill and glade!
Stand still, and let these overhanging branches
Fan thy hot sides and comfort thee with shade!
_Elsie._ What a delightful landscape spreads before us,
Marked with a whitewashed cottage here and there!
And, in luxuriant garlands drooping o'er us,
Blossoms of grapevines scent the sunny air.
_Prince Henry._ Hark! what sweet sounds are those, whose accents holy
Fill the warm noon with music sad and sweet!
_Elsie._ It is a band of pilgrims, moving slowly
On their long journey, with uncovered feet.
_Pilgrims (chaunting the Hymn of St. Hildebert)_
Me receptet Sion illa,
Sion David, urbs tranquilla,
Cujus faber auctor lucis,
Cujus portae lignum crucis,
Cujus claves lingua Petri,
Cujus cives semper laeti,
Cujus muri lapis vivus,
Cujus custos Rex festivus!
_Lucifer (as a Friar in the procession)._ Here am I, too, in the
In the garb of a barefooted Carmelite dressed!
The soles of my feet are as hard and tanned
As the conscience of old Pope Hildebrand,
The Holy Satan, who made the wives
Of the bishops lead such shameful lives.
All day long I beat my breast,
And chaunt with a most particular zest
The Latin hymns, which I understand
Quite as well, I think, as the rest.
And at night such lodging in barns and sheds,
Such a hurly-burly in country inns,
Such a clatter of tongues in empty heads,
Such a helter-skelter of prayers and sins!
Of all the contrivances of the time
For sowing broadcast the seeds of crime,
There is none so pleasing to me and mine
As a pilgrimage to some far-off shrine!
_Prince Henry._ If from the outward man we judge the inner,
And cleanliness is godliness, I fear
A hopeless reprobate, a hardened sinner,
Must be that Carmelite now passing near.
_Lucifer._ There is my German Prince again,
Thus far on his journey to Salern,
And the lovesick girl, whose heated brain
Is sowing the cloud to reap the rain;
But it's a long road that has no turn!
Let them quietly hold their way,
I have also a part in the play.
But first I must act to my heart's content
This mummery and this merriment,
And drive this motley flock of sheep
Into the fold, where drink and sleep
The jolly old friars of Benevent.
Of a truth, it often provokes me to laugh
To see these beggars hobble along,
Lamed and maimed, and fed upon chaff,
Chanting their wonderful piff and paff,
And, to make up for not understanding the song,
Singing it fiercely, and wild, and strong!
Were it not for my magic garters and staff,
And the goblets of goodly wine I quaff,
And the mischief I make in the idle throng,
I should not continue the business long.
_Pilgrims (chaunting)._ In hac uibe, lux solennis,
Ver aeternum, pax perennis,
In hac odor implens caelos,
In hac semper festum melos!
_Prince Henry._ Do you observe that monk among the train,
Who pours from his great throat the roaring bass,
As a cathedral spout pours out the rain,
And this way turns his rubicund, round face?
_Elsie._ It is the same who, on the Strasburg square,
Preached to the people in the open air.
_Prince Henry._ And he has crossed o'er mountain, field, and fell,
On that good steed, that seems to bear him well,
The hackney of the Friars of Orders Gray,
His own stout legs! He, too, was in the play,
Both as King Herod and Ben Israel.
Good morrow, Friar!
_Friar Cuthbert._ Good morrow, noble Sir!
_Prince Henry._ I speak in German, for, unless I err,
You are a German.
_Friar Cuthbert._ I cannot gainsay you.
But by what instinct, or what secret sign,
Meeting me here, do you straightway divine
That northward of the Alps my country lies?
_Prince Henry._ Your accent, like St, Peter's, would betray you,
Did not your yellow beard and your blue eyes,
Moreover, we have seen your face before,
And heard you preach at the Cathedral door
On Easter Sunday, in the Strasburg square
We were among the crowd that gathered there,
And saw you play the Rabbi with great skill,
As if, by leaning o'er so many years
To walk with little children, your own will
Had caught a childish attitude from theirs,
A kind of stooping in its form and gait,
And could no longer stand erect and straight.
Whence come you now?
_Friar Cuthbert._ From the old monastery
Of Hirschau, in the forest; being sent
Upon a pilgrimage to Benevent,
To see the image of the Virgin Mary,
That moves its holy eyes, and sometimes speaks,
And lets the piteous tears run down its cheeks,
To touch the hearts of the impenitent.
_Prince Henry._ O, had I faith, as in the days gone by,
That knew no doubt, and feared no mystery!
_Lucifer (at a distance)._ Ho, Cuthbert! Friar Cuthbert!
_Friar Cuthbert._ Farewell, Prince!
I cannot stay to argue and convince.
_Prince Henry._ This is indeed the blessed Mary's land,
Virgin and Mother of our dear Redeemer!
All hearts are touched and softened at her name;
Alike the bandit, with the bloody hand,
The priest, the prince, the scholar, and the peasant,
The man of deeds, the visionary dreamer,
Pay homage to her as one ever present!
And even as children, who have much offended
A too indulgent father, in great shame,
Penitent, and yet not daring unattended
To go into his presence, at the gate
Speak with their sister, and confiding wait
Till she goes in before and intercedes;
So men, repenting of their evil deeds,
And yet not venturing rashly to draw near
With their requests an angry father's ear,
Offer to her their prayers and their confession,
And she for them in heaven makes intercession.
And if our Faith had given us nothing more
Than this example of all womanhood,
So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
So patient, peaceful, loyal, loving, pure,
This were enough to prove it higher and truer
Than all the creeds the world had known before.
_Pilgrims (chaunting afar off)_. Urbs ccelestis, urbs beata,
Supra petram collocata,
Urbs in portu satis tuto
De longinquo te saluto,
Te saluto, te suspiro,
Te affecto, te requiro!
* * * * *
THE INN AT GENOA.
* * * * *
_A terrace overlooking the sea. Night._
_Prince Henry._ It is the sea, it is the sea,
In all its vague immensity,
Fading and darkening in the distance!
Silent, majestical, and slow,
The white ships haunt it to and fro,
With all their ghostly sails unfurled,
As phantoms from another world
Haunt the dim confines of existence!
But ah! how few can comprehend
Their signals, or to what good end
From land to land they come and go!
Upon a sea more vast and dark
The spirits of the dead embark,
All voyaging to unknown coasts.
We wave our farewells from the shore,
And they depart, and come no more,
Or come as phantoms and as ghosts.
Above the darksome sea of death
Looms the great life that is to be,
A land of cloud and mystery,
A dim mirage, with shapes of men
Long dead, and passed beyond our ken.
Awe-struck we gaze, and hold our breath
Till the fair pageant vanisheth,
Leaving us in perplexity,
And doubtful whether it has been
A vision of the world unseen,
Or a bright image of our own
Against the sky in vapors thrown.
_Lucifer (singing from the sea)_. Thou didst not make it, thou
canst not mend it,
But thou hast the power to end it!
The sea is silent, the sea is discreet,
Deep it lies at thy very feet;
There is no confessor like unto Death!
Thou canst not see him, but he is near;
Thou needest not whisper above thy breath,
And he will hear;
He will answer the questions,
The vague surmises and suggestions,
That fill thy soul with doubt and fear!
_Prince Henry_. The fisherman, who lies afloat,
With shadowy sail, in yonder boat,
Is singing softly to the Night!
But do I comprehend aright
The meaning of the words he sung
So sweetly in his native tongue?
Ah, yes! the sea is still and deep.
All things within its bosom sleep!
A single step, and all is o'er;
A plunge, a bubble, and no more;
And thou, dear Elsie, wilt be free
From martyrdom and agony.
_Elsie (coming from her chamber upon the terrace)._
The night is calm and cloudless,
And still as still can be,
And the stars come forth to listen
To the music of the sea.
They gather, and gather, and gather,
Until they crowd the sky,
And listen, in breathless silence,
To the solemn litany.
It begins in rocky caverns,
As a voice that chaunts alone
To the pedals of the organ
In monotonous undertone;
And anon from shelving beaches,
And shallow sands beyond,
In snow-white robes uprising
The ghostly choirs respond.
And sadly and unceasing
The mournful voice sings on,
And the snow-white choirs still answer
_Prince Henry._ Angel of God! thy finer sense perceives
Celestial and perpetual harmonies!
Thy purer soul, that trembles and believes,
Hears the archangel's trumpet in the breeze,
And where the forest rolls, or ocean heaves,
Cecilia's organ sounding in the seas,
And tongues of prophets speaking in the leaves.
But I hear discord only and despair,
And whispers as of demons in the air!
* * * * *
* * * * *
_Il Padrone._ The wind upon our quarter lies,
And on before the freshening gale,
That fills the snow-white lateen sail,
Swiftly our light felucca flies.
Around, the billows burst and foam;
They lift her o'er the sunken rock,
They beat her sides with many a shock,
And then upon their flowing dome
They poise her, like a weathercock!
Between us and the western skies
The hills of Corsica arise;
Eastward, in yonder long, blue line,
The summits of the Apennine,
And southward, and still far away,
Salerno, on its sunny bay.
You cannot see it, where it lies.
_Prince Henry._ Ah, would that never more mine eyes
Might see its towers by night or day!
_Elsie._ Behind us, dark and awfully,
There comes a cloud out of the sea,
That bears the form of a hunted deer,
With hide of brown, and hoofs of black,
And antlers laid upon its back,
And fleeing fast and wild with fear,
As if the hounds were on its track!
_Prince Henry._ Lo! while we gaze, it breaks and falls
In shapeless masses, like the walls
Of a burnt city. Broad and red
The fires of the descending sun
Glare through the windows, and o'erhead,
Athwart the vapors, dense and dun,
Long shafts of silvery light arise,
Like rafters that support the skies!
_Elsie._ See! from its summit the lurid levin
Flashes downward without warning,
As Lucifer, son of the morning,
Fell from the battlements of heaven!
_Il Padrone._ I must entreat you, friends, below!
The angry storm begins to blow,
For the weather changes with the moon.
All this morning, until noon,
We had baffling winds, and sudden flaws
Struck the sea with their cat's-paws.
Only a little hour ago
I was whistling to Saint Antonio
For a capful of wind to fill our sail,
And instead of a breeze he has sent a gale.
Last night I saw St. Elmo's stars,
With their glimmering lanterns, all at play
On the tops of the masts and the tips of the spars,
And I knew we should have foul weather to-day.
Cheerily, my hearties! yo heave ho!
Brail up the mainsail, and let her go
As the winds will and Saint Antonio!
Do you see that Livornese felucca,
That vessel to the windward yonder,
Running with her gunwale under?
I was looking when the wind o'ertook her,
She had all sail set, and the only wonder
Is that at once the strength of the blast
Did not carry away her mast.
She is a galley of the Gran Duca,
That, through the fear of the Algerines,
Convoys those lazy brigantines,
Laden with wine and oil from Lucca.
Now all is ready, high and low;
Blow, blow, good Saint Antonio!
Ha! that is the first dash of the rain,
With a sprinkle of spray above the rails,
Just enough to moisten our sails,
And make them ready for the strain.
See how she leaps, as the blasts o'ertake her,
And speeds away with a bone in her mouth!
Now keep her head toward the south,
And there is no danger of bank or breaker.
With the breeze behind us, on we go;
Not too much, good Saint Antonio!
The Aeneid of Virgil: Book 9
WHILE these affairs in distant places pass’d,
The various Iris Juno sends with haste,
To find bold Turnus, who, with anxious thought,
The secret shade of his great grandsire sought.
Retir’d alone she found the daring man, 5
And op’d her rosy lips, and thus began:
“What none of all the gods could grant thy vows,
That, Turnus, this auspicious day bestows.
Æneas, gone to seek th’ Arcadian prince,
Has left the Trojan camp without defense; 10
And, short of succors there, employs his pains
In parts remote to raise the Tuscan swains.
Now snatch an hour that favors thy designs;
Unite thy forces, and attack their lines.”
This said, on equal wings she pois’d her weight, 15
And form’d a radiant rainbow in her flight.
The Daunian hero lifts his hands and eyes,
And thus invokes the goddess as she flies:
“Iris, the grace of heav’n, what pow’r divine
Has sent thee down, thro’ dusky clouds to shine? 20
See, they divide; immortal day appears,
And glitt’ring planets dancing in their spheres!
With joy, these happy omens I obey,
And follow to the war the god that leads the way.”
Thus having said, as by the brook he stood, 25
He scoop’d the water from the crystal flood;
Then with his hands the drops to heav’n he throws,
And loads the pow’rs above with offer’d vows.
Now march the bold confed’rates thro’ the plain,
Well hors’d, well clad; a rich and shining train. 30
Messapus leads the van; and, in the rear,
The sons of Tyrrheus in bright arms appear.
In the main battle, with his flaming crest,
The mighty Turnus tow’rs above the rest.
Silent they move, majestically slow, 35
Like ebbing Nile, or Ganges in his flow.
The Trojans view the dusty cloud from far,
And the dark menace of the distant war.
Caicus from the rampire saw it rise,
Black’ning the fields, and thick’ning thro’ the skies. 40
Then to his fellows thus aloud he calls:
“What rolling clouds, my friends, approach the walls?
Arm! arm! and man the works! prepare your spears
And pointed darts! the Latian host appears.”
Thus warn’d, they shut their gates; with shouts ascend 45
The bulwarks, and, secure, their foes attend:
For their wise gen’ral, with foreseeing care,
Had charg’d them not to tempt the doubtful war,
Nor, tho’ provok’d, in open fields advance,
But close within their lines attend their chance. 50
Unwilling, yet they keep the strict command,
And sourly wait in arms the hostile band.
The fiery Turnus flew before the rest:
A piebald steed of Thracian strain he press’d;
His helm of massy gold, and crimson was his crest. 55
With twenty horse to second his designs,
An unexpected foe, he fac’d the lines.
“Is there,” he said, “in arms, who bravely dare
His leader’s honor and his danger share?”
Then spurring on, his brandish’d dart he threw, 60
In sign of war: applauding shouts ensue.
Amaz’d to find a dastard race, that run
Behind the rampires and the battle shun,
He rides around the camp, with rolling eyes,
And stops at ev’ry post, and ev’ry passage tries. 65
So roams the nightly wolf about the fold:
Wet with descending show’rs, and stiff with cold,
He howls for hunger, and he grins for pain,
(His gnashing teeth are exercis’d in vain,)
And, impotent of anger, finds no way 70
In his distended paws to grasp the prey.
The mothers listen; but the bleating lambs
Securely swig the dug, beneath the dams.
Thus ranges eager Turnus o’er the plain.
Sharp with desire, and furious with disdain; 75
Surveys each passage with a piercing sight,
To force his foes in equal field to fight.
Thus while he gazes round, at length he spies,
Where, fenc’d with strong redoubts, their navy lies,
Close underneath the walls; the washing tide 80
Secures from all approach this weaker side.
He takes the wish’d occasion, fills his hand
With ready fires, and shakes a flaming brand.
Urg’d by his presence, ev’ry soul is warm’d,
And ev’ry hand with kindled firs is arm’d. 85
From the fir’d pines the scatt’ring sparkles fly;
Fat vapors, mix’d with flames, involve the sky.
What pow’r, O Muses, could avert the flame
Which threaten’d, in the fleet, the Trojan name?
Tell: for the fact, thro’ length of time obscure, 90
Is hard to faith; yet shall the fame endure.
’T is said that, when the chief prepar’d his flight,
And fell’d his timber from Mount Ida’s height,
The grandam goddess then approach’d her son,
And with a mother’s majesty begun: 95
“Grant me,” she said, “the sole request I bring,
Since conquer’d heav’n has own’d you for its king.
On Ida’s brows, for ages past, there stood,
With firs and maples fill’d, a shady wood;
And on the summit rose a sacred grove, 100
Where I was worship’d with religious love.
Those woods, that holy grove, my long delight,
I gave the Trojan prince, to speed his flight.
Now, fill’d with fear, on their behalf I come;
Let neither winds o’erset, nor waves intomb 105
The floating forests of the sacred pine;
But let it be their safety to be mine.”
Then thus replied her awful son, who rolls
The radiant stars, and heav’n and earth controls:
“How dare you, mother, endless date demand 110
For vessels molded by a mortal hand?
What then is fate? Shall bold Æneas ride,
Of safety certain, on th’ uncertain tide?
Yet, what I can, I grant; when, wafted o’er,
The chief is landed on the Latian shore, 115
Whatever ships escape the raging storms,
At my command shall change their fading forms
To nymphs divine, and plow the wat’ry way,
Like Dotis and the daughters of the sea.”
To seal his sacred vow, by Styx he swore, 120
The lake of liquid pitch, the dreary shore,
And Phlegethon’s innavigable flood,
And the black regions of his brother god.
He said; and shook the skies with his imperial nod.
And now at length the number’d hours were come, 125
Prefix’d by fate’s irrevocable doom,
When the great Mother of the Gods was free
To save her ships, and finish Jove’s decree.
First, from the quarter of the morn, there sprung
A light that sign’d the heav’ns, and shot along; 130
Then from a cloud, fring’d round with golden fires,
Were timbrels heard, and Berecynthian choirs;
And, last, a voice, with more than mortal sounds,
Both hosts, in arms oppos’d, with equal horror wounds:
“O Trojan race, your needless aid forbear, 135
And know, my ships are my peculiar care.
With greater ease the bold Rutulian may,
With hissing brands, attempt to burn the sea,
Than singe my sacred pines. But you, my charge,
Loos’d from your crooked anchors, launch at large, 140
Exalted each a nymph: forsake the sand,
And swim the seas, at Cybele’s command.”
No sooner had the goddess ceas’d to speak,
When, lo! th’ obedient ships their haulsers break;
And, strange to tell, like dolphins, in the main 145
They plunge their prows, and dive, and spring again:
As many beauteous maids the billows sweep,
As rode before tall vessels on the deep.
The foes, surpris’d with wonder, stood aghast;
Messapus curb’d his fiery courser’s haste; 150
Old Tiber roar’d, and, raising up his head,
Call’d back his waters to their oozy bed.
Turnus alone, undaunted, bore the shock,
And with these words his trembling troops bespoke:
“These monsters for the Trojans’ fate are meant, 155
And are by Jove for black presages sent.
He takes the cowards’ last relief away;
For fly they cannot, and, constrain’d to stay,
Must yield unfought, a base inglorious prey.
The liquid half of all the globe is lost; 160
Heav’n shuts the seas, and we secure the coast.
Theirs is no more than that small spot of ground
Which myriads of our martial men surround.
Their fates I fear not, or vain oracles.
’T was giv’n to Venus they should cross the seas, 165
And land secure upon the Latian plains:
Their promis’d hour is pass’d, and mine remains.
’T is in the fate of Turnus to destroy,
With sword and fire, the faithless race of Troy.
Shall such affronts as these alone inflame 170
The Grecian brothers, and the Grecian name?
My cause and theirs is one; a fatal strife,
And final ruin, for a ravish’d wife.
Was ’t not enough, that, punish’d for the crime,
They fell; but will they fall a second time? 175
One would have thought they paid enough before,
To curse the costly sex, and durst offend no more.
Can they securely trust their feeble wall,
A slight partition, a thin interval,
Betwixt their fate and them; when Troy, tho’ built 180
By hands divine, yet perish’d by their guilt?
Lend me, for once, my friends, your valiant hands,
To force from out their lines these dastard bands.
Less than a thousand ships will end this war,
Nor Vulcan needs his fated arms prepare. 185
Let all the Tuscans, all th’ Arcadians, join!
Nor these, nor those, shall frustrate my design.
Let them not fear the treasons of the night,
The robb’d Palladium, the pretended flight:
Our onset shall be made in open light. 190
No wooden engine shall their town betray;
Fires they shall have around, but fires by day.
No Grecian babes before their camp appear,
Whom Hector’s arms detain’d to the tenth tardy year.
Now, since the sun is rolling to the west, 195
Give we the silent night to needful rest:
Refresh your bodies, and your arms prepare;
The morn shall end the small remains of war.”
The post of honor to Messapus falls,
To keep the nightly guard, to watch the walls, 200
To pitch the fires at distances around,
And close the Trojans in their scanty ground.
Twice seven Rutulian captains ready stand,
And twice seven hundred horse these chiefs command;
All clad in shining arms the works invest, 205
Each with a radiant helm and waving crest.
Stretch’d at their length, they press the grassy ground;
They laugh, they sing, (the jolly bowls go round,)
With lights and cheerful fires renew the day,
And pass the wakeful night in feasts and play. 210
The Trojans, from above, their foes beheld,
And with arm’d legions all the rampires fill’d.
Seiz’d with affright, their gates they first explore;
Join works to works with bridges, tow’r to tow’r:
Thus all things needful for defense abound. 215
Mnestheus and brave Seresthus walk the round,
Commission’d by their absent prince to share
The common danger, and divide the care.
The soldiers draw their lots, and, as they fall,
By turns relieve each other on the wall. 220
Nigh where the foes their utmost guards advance,
To watch the gate was warlike Nisus’ chance.
His father Hyrtacus of noble blood;
His mother was a huntress of the wood,
And sent him to the wars. Well could he bear 225
His lance in fight, and dart the flying spear,
But better skill’d unerring shafts to send.
Beside him stood Euryalus, his friend:
Euryalus, than whom the Trojan host
No fairer face, or sweeter air, could boast— 230
Scarce had the down to shade his cheeks begun.
One was their care, and their delight was one:
One common hazard in the war they shar’d,
And now were both by choice upon the guard.
Then Nisus thus: “Or do the gods inspire 235
This warmth, or make we gods of our desire?
A gen’rous ardor boils within my breast,
Eager of action, enemy to rest:
This urges me to fight, and fires my mind
To leave a memorable name behind. 240
Thou see’st the foe secure; how faintly shine
Their scatter’d fires! the most, in sleep supine
Along the ground, an easy conquest lie:
The wakeful few the fuming flagon ply;
All hush’d around. Now hear what I revolve— 245
A thought unripe—and scarcely yet resolve.
Our absent prince both camp and council mourn;
By message both would hasten his return:
If they confer what I demand on thee,
(For fame is recompense enough for me,) 250
Methinks, beneath yon hill, I have espied
A way that safely will my passage guide.”
Euryalus stood list’ning while he spoke,
With love of praise and noble envy struck;
Then to his ardent friend expos’d his mind: 255
“All this, alone, and leaving me behind!
Am I unworthy, Nisus, to be join’d?
Think’st thou I can my share of glory yield,
Or send thee unassisted to the field?
Not so my father taught my childhood arms; 260
Born in a siege, and bred among alarms!
Nor is my youth unworthy of my friend,
Nor of the heav’n-born hero I attend.
The thing call’d life, with ease I can disclaim,
And think it over-sold to purchase fame.” 265
Then Nisus thus: “Alas! thy tender years
Would minister new matter to my fears.
So may the gods, who view this friendly strife,
Restore me to thy lov’d embrace with life,
Condemn’d to pay my vows, (as sure I trust,) 270
This thy request is cruel and unjust.
But if some chance—as many chances are,
And doubtful hazards, in the deeds of war—
If one should reach my head, there let it fall,
And spare thy life; I would not perish all. 275
Thy bloomy youth deserves a longer date:
Live thou to mourn thy love’s unhappy fate;
To bear my mangled body from the foe,
Or buy it back, and fun’ral rites bestow.
Or, if hard fortune shall those dues deny, 280
Thou canst at least an empty tomb supply.
O let not me the widow’s tears renew!
Nor let a mother’s curse my name pursue:
Thy pious parent, who, for love of thee,
Forsook the coasts of friendly Sicily, 285
Her age committing to the seas and wind,
When ev’ry weary matron stay’d behind.”
To this, Euryalus: “You plead in vain,
And but protract the cause you cannot gain.
No more delays, but haste!” With that, he wakes 290
The nodding watch; each to his office takes.
The guard reliev’d, the gen’rous couple went
To find the council at the royal tent.
All creatures else forgot their daily care,
And sleep, the common gift of nature, share; 295
Except the Trojan peers, who wakeful sate
In nightly council for th’ indanger’d state.
They vote a message to their absent chief,
Shew their distress, and beg a swift relief.
Amid the camp a silent seat they chose, 300
Remote from clamor, and secure from foes.
On their left arms their ample shields they bear,
The right reclin’d upon the bending spear.
Now Nisus and his friend approach the guard,
And beg admission, eager to be heard: 305
Th’ affair important, not to be deferr’d.
Ascanius bids ’em be conducted in,
Ord’ring the more experienc’d to begin.
Then Nisus thus: “Ye fathers, lend your ears;
Nor judge our bold attempt beyond our years. 310
The foe, securely drench’d in sleep and wine,
Neglect their watch; the fires but thinly shine;
And where the smoke in cloudy vapors flies,
Cov’ring the plain, and curling to the skies,
Betwixt two paths, which at the gate divide, 315
Close by the sea, a passage we have spied,
Which will our way to great Æneas guide.
Expect each hour to see him safe again,
Loaded with spoils of foes in battle slain.
Snatch we the lucky minute while we may; 320
Nor can we be mistaken in the way;
For, hunting in the vale, we both have seen
The rising turrets, and the stream between,
And know the winding course, with ev’ry ford.”
He ceas’d; and old Alethes took the word: 325
“Our country gods, in whom our trust we place,
Will yet from ruin save the Trojan race,
While we behold such dauntless worth appear
In dawning youth, and souls so void of fear.”
Then into tears of joy the father broke; 330
Each in his longing arms by turns he took;
Panted and paus’d; and thus again he spoke:
“Ye brave young men, what equal gifts can we,
In recompense of such desert, decree?
The greatest, sure, and best you can receive, 335
The gods and your own conscious worth will give.
The rest our grateful gen’ral will bestow,
And young Ascanius till his manhood owe.”
“And I, whose welfare in my father lies,”
Ascanius adds, “by the great deities, 340
By my dear country, by my household gods,
By hoary Vesta’s rites and dark abodes,
Adjure you both, (on you my fortune stands;
That and my faith I plight into your hands,)
Make me but happy in his safe return, 345
Whose wanted presence I can only mourn;
Your common gift shall two large goblets be
Of silver, wrought with curious imagery,
And high emboss’d, which, when old Priam reign’d,
My conqu’ring sire at sack’d Arisba gain’d; 350
And more, two tripods cast in antic mold,
With two great talents of the finest gold;
Beside a costly bowl, ingrav’d with art,
Which Dido gave, when first she gave her heart.
But, if in conquer’d Italy we reign, 355
When spoils by lot the victor shall obtain—
Thou saw’st the courser by proud Turnus press’d:
That, Nisus, and his arms, and nodding crest,
And shield, from chance exempt, shall be thy share:
Twelve lab’ring slaves, twelve handmaids young and fair, 360
All clad in rich attire, and train’d with care;
And, last, a Latian field with fruitful plains,
And a large portion of the king’s domains.
But thou, whose years are more to mine allied—
No fate my vow’d affection shall divide 365
From thee, heroic youth! Be wholly mine;
Take full possession; all my soul is thine.
One faith, one fame, one fate, shall both attend;
My life’s companion, and my bosom friend:
My peace shall be committed to thy care, 370
And to thy conduct my concerns in war.”
Then thus the young Euryalus replied:
“Whatever fortune, good or bad, betide,
The same shall be my age, as now my youth;
No time shall find me wanting to my truth. 375
This only from your goodness let me gain
(And, this ungranted, all rewards are vain):
Of Priam’s royal race my mother came—
And sure the best that ever bore the name—
Whom neither Troy nor Sicily could hold 380
From me departing, but, o’erspent and old,
My fate she follow’d. Ignorant of this
(Whatever) danger, neither parting kiss,
Nor pious blessing taken, her I leave,
And in this only act of all my life deceive. 385
By this right hand and conscious Night I swear,
My soul so sad a farewell could not bear.
Be you her comfort; fill my vacant place
(Permit me to presume so great a grace);
Support her age, forsaken and distress’d. 390
That hope alone will fortify my breast
Against the worst of fortunes, and of fears.”
He said. The mov’d assistants melt in tears.
Then thus Ascanius, wonderstruck to see
That image of his filial piety: 395
“So great beginnings, in so green an age,
Exact the faith which I again ingage.
Thy mother all the dues shall justly claim,
Creusa had, and only want the name.
Whate’er event thy bold attempt shall have, 400
’T is merit to have borne a son so brave.
Now by my head, a sacred oath, I swear,
(My father us’d it,) what, returning here
Crown’d with success, I for thyself prepare,
That, if thou fail, shall thy lov’d mother share.” 405
He said, and weeping, while he spoke the word,
From his broad belt he drew a shining sword,
Magnificent with gold. Lycaon made,
And in an iv’ry scabbard sheath’d the blade.
This was his gift. Great Mnestheus gave his friend 410
A lion’s hide, his body to defend;
And good Alethes furnish’d him, beside,
With his own trusty helm, of temper tried.
Thus arm’d they went. The noble Trojans wait
Their issuing forth, and follow to the gate 415
With prayers and vows. Above the rest appears
Ascanius, manly far beyond his years,
And messages committed to their care,
Which all in winds were lost, and flitting air.
The trenches first they pass’d; then took their way 420
Where their proud foes in pitch’d pavilions lay;
To many fatal, ere themselves were slain.
They found the careless host dispers’d upon the plain,
Who, gorg’d, and drunk with wine, supinely snore.
Unharnass’d chariots stand along the shore: 425
Amidst the wheels and reins, the goblet by,
A medley of debauch and war, they lie.
Observing Nisus shew’d his friend the sight:
“Behold a conquest gain’d without a fight.
Occasion offers, and I stand prepar’d; 430
There lies our way; be thou upon the guard,
And look around, while I securely go,
And hew a passage thro’ the sleeping foe.”
Softly he spoke; then striding took his way,
With his drawn sword, where haughty Rhamnes lay; 435
His head rais’d high on tapestry beneath,
And heaving from his breast, he drew his breath;
A king and prophet, by King Turnus lov’d:
But fate by prescience cannot be remov’d.
Him and his sleeping slaves he slew; then spies 440
Where Remus, with his rich retinue, lies.
His armor-bearer first, and next he kills
His charioteer, intrench’d betwixt the wheels
And his lov’d horses; last invades their lord;
Full on his neck he drives the fatal sword: 445
The gasping head flies off; a purple flood
Flows from the trunk, that welters in the blood,
Which, by the spurning heels dispers’d around,
The bed besprinkles and bedews the ground.
Lamus the bold, and Lamyrus the strong, 450
He slew, and then Serranus fair and young.
From dice and wine the youth retir’d to rest,
And puff’d the fumy god from out his breast:
Ev’n then he dreamt of drink and lucky play—
More lucky, had it lasted till the day. 455
The famish’d lion thus, with hunger bold,
O’erleaps the fences of the nightly fold,
And tears the peaceful flocks: with silent awe
Trembling they lie, and pant beneath his paw.
Nor with less rage Euryalus employs 460
The wrathful sword, or fewer foes destroys;
But on th’ ignoble crowd his fury flew;
He Fadus, Hebesus, and Rhoetus slew.
Oppress’d with heavy sleep the former fell,
But Rhoetus wakeful, and observing all: 465
Behind a spacious jar he slink’d for fear;
The fatal iron found and reach’d him there;
For, as he rose, it pierc’d his naked side,
And, reeking, thence return’d in crimson dyed.
The wound pours out a stream of wine and blood; 470
The purple soul comes floating in the flood.
Now, where Messapus quarter’d, they arrive.
The fires were fainting there, and just alive;
The warrior-horses, tied in order, fed.
Nisus observ’d the discipline, and said: 475
“Our eager thirst of blood may both betray;
And see the scatter’d streaks of dawning day,
Foe to nocturnal thefts. No more, my friend;
Here let our glutted execution end.
A lane thro’ slaughter’d bodies we have made.” 480
The bold Euryalus, tho’ loth, obey’d.
Of arms, and arras, and of plate, they find
A precious load; but these they leave behind.
Yet, fond of gaudy spoils, the boy would stay
To make the rich caparison his prey, 485
Which on the steed of conquer’d Rhamnes lay.
Nor did his eyes less longingly behold
The girdle-belt, with nails of burnish’d gold.
This present Cædicus the rich bestow’d
On Remulus, when friendship first they vow’d, 490
And, absent, join’d in hospitable ties:
He, dying, to his heir bequeath’d the prize;
Till, by the conqu’ring Ardean troops oppress’d,
He fell; and they the glorious gift possess’d.
These glitt’ring spoils (now made the victor’s gain) 495
He to his body suits, but suits in vain:
Messapus’ helm he finds among the rest,
And laces on, and wears the waving crest.
Proud of their conquest, prouder of their prey,
They leave the camp, and take the ready way. 500
But far they had not pass’d, before they spied
Three hundred horse, with Volscens for their guide.
The queen a legion to King Turnus sent;
But the swift horse the slower foot prevent,
And now, advancing, sought the leader’s tent. 505
They saw the pair; for, thro’ the doubtful shade,
His shining helm Euryalus betray’d,
On which the moon with full reflection play’d.
“’T is not for naught,” cried Volscens from the crowd,
“These men go there;” then rais’d his voice aloud: 510
“Stand! stand! why thus in arms? And whither bent?
From whence, to whom, and on what errand sent?”
Silent they scud away, and haste their flight
To neighb’ring woods, and trust themselves to night.
The speedy horse all passages belay, 515
And spur their smoking steeds to cross their way,
And watch each entrance of the winding wood.
Black was the forest: thick with beech it stood,
Horrid with fern, and intricate with thorn;
Few paths of human feet, or tracks of beasts, were worn. 520
The darkness of the shades, his heavy prey,
And fear, misled the younger from his way.
But Nisus hit the turns with happier haste,
And, thoughtless of his friend, the forest pass’d,
And Alban plains, from Alba’s name so call’d, 525
Where King Latinus then his oxen stall’d;
Till, turning at the length, he stood his ground,
And miss’d his friend, and cast his eyes around:
“Ah wretch!” he cried, “where have I left behind
Th’ unhappy youth? where shall I hope to find? 530
Or what way take?” Again he ventures back,
And treads the mazes of his former track.
He winds the wood, and, list’ning, hears the noise
Of tramping coursers, and the riders’ voice.
The sound approach’d; and suddenly he view’d 535
The foes inclosing, and his friend pursued,
Forelaid and taken, while he strove in vain
The shelter of the friendly shades to gain.
What should he next attempt? what arms employ,
What fruitless force, to free the captive boy? 540
Or desperate should he rush and lose his life,
With odds oppress’d, in such unequal strife?
Resolv’d at length, his pointed spear he shook;
And, casting on the moon a mournful look:
“Guardian of groves, and goddess of the night, 545
Fair queen,” he said, “direct my dart aright.
If e’er my pious father, for my sake,
Did grateful off’rings on thy altars make,
Or I increas’d them with my sylvan toils,
And hung thy holy roofs with savage spoils, 550
Give me to scatter these.” Then from his ear
He pois’d, and aim’d, and launch’d the trembling spear.
The deadly weapon, hissing from the grove,
Impetuous on the back of Sulmo drove;
Pierc’d his thin armor, drank his vital blood, 555
And in his body left the broken wood.
He staggers round; his eyeballs roll in death,
And with short sobs he gasps away his breath.
All stand amaz’d—a second jav’lin flies
With equal strength, and quivers thro’ the skies. 560
This thro’ thy temples, Tagus, forc’d the way,
And in the brainpan warmly buried lay.
Fierce Volscens foams with rage, and, gazing round,
Descried not him who gave the fatal wound,
Nor knew to fix revenge: “But thou,” he cries, 565
“Shalt pay for both,” and at the pris’ner flies
With his drawn sword. Then, struck with deep despair,
That cruel sight the lover could not bear;
But from his covert rush’d in open view,
And sent his voice before him as he flew: 570
“Me! me!” he cried—“turn all your swords alone
On me—the fact confess’d, the fault my own.
He neither could nor durst, the guiltless youth:
Ye moon and stars, bear witness to the truth!
His only crime (if friendship can offend) 575
Is too much love to his unhappy friend.”
Too late he speaks: the sword, which fury guides,
Driv’n with full force, had pierc’d his tender sides.
Down fell the beauteous youth: the yawning wound
Gush’d out a purple stream, and stain’d the ground. 580
His snowy neck reclines upon his breast,
Like a fair flow’r by the keen share oppress’d;
Like a white poppy sinking on the plain,
Whose heavy head is overcharg’d with rain.
Despair, and rage, and vengeance justly vow’d, 585
Drove Nisus headlong on the hostile crowd.
Volscens he seeks; on him alone he bends:
Borne back and bor’d by his surrounding friends,
Onward he press’d, and kept him still in sight;
Then whirl’d aloft his sword with all his might: 590
Th’ unerring steel descended while he spoke,
Pierc’d his wide mouth, and thro’ his weazon broke.
Dying, he slew; and, stagg’ring on the plain,
With swimming eyes he sought his lover slain;
Then quiet on his bleeding bosom fell, 595
Content, in death, to be reveng’d so well.
O happy friends! for, if my verse can give
Immortal life, your fame shall ever live,
Fix’d as the Capitol’s foundation lies,
And spread, where’er the Roman eagle flies! 600
The conqu’ring party first divide the prey,
Then their slain leader to the camp convey.
With wonder, as they went, the troops were fill’d,
To see such numbers whom so few had kill’d.
Serranus, Rhamnes, and the rest, they found: 605
Vast crowds the dying and the dead surround;
And the yet reeking blood o’erflows the ground.
All knew the helmet which Messapus lost,
But mourn’d a purchase that so dear had cost.
Now rose the ruddy morn from Tithon’s bed, 610
And with the dawn of day the skies o’erspread;
Nor long the sun his daily course withheld,
But added colors to the world reveal’d:
When early Turnus, wak’ning with the light,
All clad in armor, calls his troops to fight. 615
His martial men with fierce harangue he fir’d,
And his own ardor in their souls inspir’d.
This done—to give new terror to his foes,
The heads of Nisus and his friend he shows,
Rais’d high on pointed spears—a ghastly sight: 620
Loud peals of shouts ensue, and barbarous delight.
Meantime the Trojans run, where danger calls;
They line their trenches, and they man their walls.
In front extended to the left they stood;
Safe was the right, surrounded by the flood. 625
But, casting from their tow’rs a frightful view,
They saw the faces, which too well they knew,
Tho’ then disguis’d in death, and smear’d all o’er
With filth obscene, and dropping putrid gore.
Soon hasty fame thro’ the sad city bears 630
The mournful message to the mother’s ears.
An icy cold benumbs her limbs; she shakes;
Her cheeks the blood, her hand the web forsakes.
She runs the rampires round amidst the war,
Nor fears the flying darts; she rends her hair, 635
And fills with loud laments the liquid air.
“Thus, then, my lov’d Euryalus appears!
Thus looks the prop of my declining years!
Was’t on this face my famish’d eyes I fed?
Ah! how unlike the living is the dead! 640
And could’st thou leave me, cruel, thus alone?
Not one kind kiss from a departing son!
No look, no last adieu before he went,
In an ill-boding hour to slaughter sent!
Cold on the ground, and pressing foreign clay, 645
To Latian dogs and fowls he lies a prey!
Nor was I near to close his dying eyes,
To wash his wounds, to weep his obsequies,
To call about his corpse his crying friends,
Or spread the mantle (made for other ends) 650
On his dear body, which I wove with care,
Nor did my daily pains or nightly labor spare.
Where shall I find his corpse? what earth sustains
His trunk dismember’d, and his cold remains?
For this, alas! I left my needful ease, 655
Expos’d my life to winds and winter seas!
If any pity touch Rutulian hearts,
Here empty all your quivers, all your darts;
Or, if they fail, thou, Jove, conclude my woe,
And send me thunderstruck to shades below!” 660
Her shrieks and clamors pierce the Trojans’ ears,
Unman their courage, and augment their fears;
Nor young Ascanius could the sight sustain,
Nor old Ilioneus his tears restrain,
But Actor and Idæus jointly sent, 665
To bear the madding mother to her tent.
And now the trumpets terribly, from far,
With rattling clangor, rouse the sleepy war.
The soldiers’ shouts succeed the brazen sounds;
And heav’n, from pole to pole, the noise rebounds. 670
The Volscians bear their shields upon their head,
And, rushing forward, form a moving shed.
These fill the ditch; those pull the bulwarks down:
Some raise the ladders; others scale the town.
But, where void spaces on the walls appear, 675
Or thin defense, they pour their forces there.
With poles and missive weapons, from afar,
The Trojans keep aloof the rising war.
Taught, by their ten years’ siege, defensive fight,
They roll down ribs of rocks, an unresisted weight, 680
To break the penthouse with the pond’rous blow,
Which yet the patient Volscians undergo:
But could not bear th’ unequal combat long;
For, where the Trojans find the thickest throng,
The ruin falls: their shatter’d shields give way, 685
And their crush’d heads become an easy prey.
They shrink for fear, abated of their rage,
Nor longer dare in a blind fight engage;
Contented now to gall them from below
With darts and slings, and with the distant bow. 690
Elsewhere Mezentius, terrible to view,
A blazing pine within the trenches threw.
But brave Messapus, Neptune’s warlike son,
Broke down the palisades, the trenches won,
And loud for ladders calls, to scale the town. 695
Calliope, begin! Ye sacred Nine,
Inspire your poet in his high design,
To sing what slaughter manly Turnus made,
What souls he sent below the Stygian shade,
What fame the soldiers with their captain share, 700
And the vast circuit of the fatal war;
For you in singing martial facts excel;
You best remember, and alone can tell.
There stood a tow’r, amazing to the sight,
Built up of beams, and of stupendous height: 705
Art, and the nature of the place, conspir’d
To furnish all the strength that war requir’d.
To level this, the bold Italians join;
The wary Trojans obviate their design;
With weighty stones o’erwhelm their troops below, 710
Shoot thro’ the loopholes, and sharp jav’lins throw.
Turnus, the chief, toss’d from his thund’ring hand
Against the wooden walls, a flaming brand:
It stuck, the fiery plague; the winds were high;
The planks were season’d, and the timber dry. 715
Contagion caught the posts; it spread along,
Scorch’d, and to distance drove the scatter’d throng.
The Trojans fled; the fire pursued amain,
Still gath’ring fast upon the trembling train;
Till, crowding to the corners of the wall, 720
Down the defense and the defenders fall.
The mighty flaw makes heav’n itself resound:
The dead and dying Trojans strew the ground.
The tow’r, that follow’d on the fallen crew,
Whelm’d o’er their heads, and buried whom it slew: 725
Some stuck upon the darts themselves had sent;
All the same equal ruin underwent.
Young Lycus and Helenor only scape;
Sav’d—how, they know not—from the steepy leap.
Helenor, elder of the two: by birth, 730
On one side royal, one a son of earth,
Whom to the Lydian king Licymnia bare,
And sent her boasted bastard to the war
(A privilege which none but freemen share).
Slight were his arms, a sword and silver shield: 735
No marks of honor charg’d its empty field.
Light as he fell, so light the youth arose,
And rising, found himself amidst his foes;
Nor flight was left, nor hopes to force his way.
Embolden’d by despair, he stood at bay; 740
And—like a stag, whom all the troop surrounds
Of eager huntsmen and invading hounds—
Resolv’d on death, he dissipates his fears,
And bounds aloft against the pointed spears:
So dares the youth, secure of death; and throws 745
His dying body on his thickest foes.
But Lycus, swifter of his feet by far,
Runs, doubles, winds and turns, amidst the war;
Springs to the walls, and leaves his foes behind,
And snatches at the beam he first can find; 750
Looks up, and leaps aloft at all the stretch,
In hopes the helping hand of some kind friend to reach
But Turnus follow’d hard his hunted prey
(His spear had almost reach’d him in the way,
Short of his reins, and scarce a span behind): 755
“Fool!” said the chief, “tho’ fleeter than the wind,
Couldst thou presume to scape, when I pursue?”
He said, and downward by the feet he drew
The trembling dastard; at the tug he falls;
Vast ruins come along, rent from the smoking walls. 760
Thus on some silver swan, or tim’rous hare,
Jove’s bird comes sousing down from upper air;
Her crooked talons truss the fearful prey:
Then out of sight she soars, and wings her way.
So seizes the grim wolf the tender lamb, 765
In vain lamented by the bleating dam.
Then rushing onward with a barb’rous cry,
The troops of Turnus to the combat fly.
The ditch with fagots fill’d, the daring foe
Toss’d firebrands to the steepy turrets throw. 770
Ilioneus, as bold Lucetius came
To force the gate, and feed the kindling flame,
Roll’d down the fragment of a rock so right,
It crush’d him double underneath the weight.
Two more young Liger and Asylas slew: 775
To bend the bow young Liger better knew;
Asylas best the pointed jav’lin threw.
Brave Cæneus laid Ortygius on the plain;
The victor Cæneus was by Turnus slain.
By the same hand, Clonius and Itys fall, 780
Sagar, and Ida, standing on the wall.
From Capys’ arms his fate Privernus found:
Hurt by Themilla first—but slight the wound—
His shield thrown by, to mitigate the smart,
He clapp’d his hand upon the wounded part: 785
The second shaft came swift and unespied,
And pierc’d his hand, and nail’d it to his side,
Transfix’d his breathing lungs and beating heart:
The soul came issuing out, and hiss’d against the dart.
The son of Arcens shone amid the rest, 790
In glitt’ring armor and a purple vest,
(Fair was his face, his eyes inspiring love,)
Bred by his father in the Martian grove,
Where the fat altars of Palicus flame,
And sent in arms to purchase early fame. 795
Him when he spied from far, the Tuscan king
Laid by the lance, and took him to the sling,
Thrice whirl’d the thong around his head, and threw:
The heated lead half melted as it flew;
It pierc’d his hollow temples and his brain; 800
The youth came tumbling down, and spurn’d the plain.
Then young Ascanius, who, before this day,
Was wont in woods to shoot the savage prey,
First bent in martial strife the twanging bow,
And exercis’d against a human foe— 805
With this bereft Numanus of his life,
Who Turnus’ younger sister took to wife.
Proud of his realm, and of his royal bride,
Vaunting before his troops, and lengthen’d with a stride,
In these insulting terms the Trojans he defied: 810
‘Twice-conquer’d cowards, now your shame is shown—
Coop’d up a second time within your town!
Who dare not issue forth in open field,
But hold your walls before you for a shield.
Thus threat you war? thus our alliance force? 815
What gods, what madness, hether steer’d your course?
You shall not find the sons of Atreus here,
Nor need the frauds of sly Ulysses fear.
Strong from the cradle, of a sturdy brood,
We bear our newborn infants to the flood; 820
There bath’d amid the stream, our boys we hold,
With winter harden’d, and inur’d to cold.
They wake before the day to range the wood,
Kill ere they eat, nor taste unconquer’d food.
No sports, but what belong to war, they know: 825
To break the stubborn colt, to bend the bow.
Our youth, of labor patient, earn their bread;
Hardly they work, with frugal diet fed.
From plows and harrows sent to seek renown,
They fight in fields, and storm the shaken town. 830
No part of life from toils of war is free,
No change in age, or diff’rence in degree.
We plow and till in arms; our oxen feel,
Instead of goads, the spur and pointed steel;
Th’ inverted lance makes furrows in the plain. 835
Ev’n time, that changes all, yet changes us in vain:
The body, not the mind; nor can control
Th’ immortal vigor, or abate the soul.
Our helms defend the young, disguise the gray:
We live by plunder, and delight in prey. 840
Your vests embroider’d with rich purple shine;
In sloth you glory, and in dances join.
Your vests have sweeping sleeves; with female pride
Your turbants underneath your chins are tied.
Go, Phrygians, to your Dindymus again! 845
Go, less than women, in the shapes of men!
Go, mix’d with eunuchs, in the Mother’s rites,
Where with unequal sound the flute invites;
Sing, dance, and howl, by turns, in Ida’s shade:
Resign the war to men, who know the martial trade!” 850
This foul reproach Ascanius could not hear
With patience, or a vow’d revenge forbear.
At the full stretch of both his hands he drew,
And almost join’d the horns of the tough yew.
But, first, before the throne of Jove he stood, 855
And thus with lifted hands invok’d the god:
“My first attempt, great Jupiter, succeed!
An annual off’ring in thy grove shall bleed;
A snow-white steer, before thy altar led,
Who, like his mother, bears aloft his head, 860
Butts with his threat’ning brows, and bellowing stands,
And dares the fight, and spurns the yellow sands.”
Jove bow’d the heav’ns, and lent a gracious ear,
And thunder’d on the left, amidst the clear.
Sounded at once the bow; and swiftly flies 865
The feather’d death, and hisses thro’ the skies.
The steel thro’ both his temples forc’d the way:
Extended on the ground, Numanus lay.
“Go now, vain boaster, and true valor scorn!
The Phrygians, twice subdued, yet make this third return.” 870
Ascanius said no more. The Trojans shake
The heav’ns with shouting, and new vigor take.
Apollo then bestrode a golden cloud,
To view the feats of arms, and fighting crowd;
And thus the beardless victor he bespoke aloud: 875
“Advance, illustrious youth, increase in fame,
And wide from east to west extend thy name;
Offspring of gods thyself; and Rome shall owe
To thee a race of demigods below.
This is the way to heav’n: the pow’rs divine 880
From this beginning date the Julian line.
To thee, to them, and their victorious heirs,
The conquer’d war is due, and the vast world is theirs.
Troy is too narrow for thy name.” He said,
And plunging downward shot his radiant head; 885
Dispell’d the breathing air, that broke his flight:
Shorn of his beams, a man to mortal sight.
Old Butes’ form he took, Anchises’ squire,
Now left, to rule Ascanius, by his sire:
His wrinkled visage, and his hoary hairs, 890
His mien, his habit, and his arms, he wears,
And thus salutes the boy, too forward for his years:
“Suffice it thee, thy father’s worthy son,
The warlike prize thou hast already won.
The god of archers gives thy youth a part 895
Of his own praise, nor envies equal art.
Now tempt the war no more.” He said, and flew
Obscure in air, and vanish’d from their view.
The Trojans, by his arms, their patron know,
And hear the twanging of his heav’nly bow. 900
Then duteous force they use, and Phœbus’ name,
To keep from fight the youth too fond of fame.
Undaunted, they themselves no danger shun;
From wall to wall the shouts and clamors run.
They bend their bows; they whirl their slings around; 905
Heaps of spent arrows fall, and strew the ground;
And helms, and shields, and rattling arms resound.
The combat thickens, like the storm that flies
From westward, when the show’ry Kids arise;
Or patt’ring hail comes pouring on the main, 910
When Jupiter descends in harden’d rain,
Or bellowing clouds burst with a stormy sound,
And with an armed winter strew the ground.
Pand’rus and Bitias, thunderbolts of war,
Whom Hiera to bold Alcanor bare 915
On Ida’s top, two youths of height and size
Like firs that on their mother mountain rise,
Presuming on their force, the gates unbar,
And of their own accord invite the war.
With fates averse, against their king’s command, 920
Arm’d, on the right and on the left they stand,
And flank the passage: shining steel they wear,
And waving crests above their heads appear.
Thus two tall oaks, that Padus’ banks adorn,
Lift up to heav’n their leafy heads unshorn, 925
And, overpress’d with nature’s heavy load,
Dance to the whistling winds, and at each other nod.
In flows a tide of Latians, when they see
The gate set open, and the passage free;
Bold Quercens, with rash Tmarus, rushing on, 930
Equicolus, that in bright armor shone,
And Hæmon first; but soon repuls’d they fly,
Or in the well-defended pass they die.
These with success are fir’d, and those with rage,
And each on equal terms at length ingage. 935
Drawn from their lines, and issuing on the plain,
The Trojans hand to hand the fight maintain.
Fierce Turnus in another quarter fought,
When suddenly th’ unhop’d-for news was brought,
The foes had left the fastness of their place, 940
Prevail’d in fight, and had his men in chase.
He quits th’ attack, and, to prevent their fate,
Runs where the giant brothers guard the gate.
The first he met, Antiphates the brave,
But base-begotten on a Theban slave, 945
Sarpedon’s son, he slew: the deadly dart
Found passage thro’ his breast, and pierc’d his heart.
Fix’d in the wound th’ Italian cornel stood,
Warm’d in his lungs, and in his vital blood.
Aphidnus next, and Erymanthus dies, 950
And Meropes, and the gigantic size
Of Bitias, threat’ning with his ardent eyes.
Not by the feeble dart he fell oppress’d
(A dart were lost within that roomy breast),
But from a knotted lance, large, heavy, strong, 955
Which roar’d like thunder as it whirl’d along:
Not two bull hides th’ impetuous force withhold,
Nor coat of double mail, with scales of gold.
Down sunk the monster bulk and press’d the ground;
His arms and clatt’ring shield on the vast body sound, 960
Not with less ruin than the Bajan mole,
Rais’d on the seas, the surges to control—
At once comes tumbling down the rocky wall;
Prone to the deep, the stones disjointed fall
Of the vast pile; the scatter’d ocean flies; 965
Black sands, discolor’d froth, and mingled mud arise:
The frighted billows roll, and seek the shores;
Then trembles Prochyta, then Ischia roars:
Typhœus, thrown beneath, by Jove’s command,
Astonish’d at the flaw that shakes the land, 970
Soon shifts his weary side, and, scarce awake,
With wonder feels the weight press lighter on his back.
The warrior god the Latian troops inspir’d,
New strung their sinews, and their courage fir’d,
But chills the Trojan hearts with cold affright: 975
Then black despair precipitates their flight.
When Pandarus beheld his brother kill’d,
The town with fear and wild confusion fill’d,
He turns the hinges of the heavy gate
With both his hands, and adds his shoulders to the weight; 980
Some happier friends within the walls inclos’d;
The rest shut out, to certain death expos’d:
Fool as he was, and frantic in his care,
T’ admit young Turnus, and include the war!
He thrust amid the crowd, securely bold, 985
Like a fierce tiger pent amid the fold.
Too late his blazing buckler they descry,
And sparkling fires that shot from either eye,
His mighty members, and his ample breast,
His rattling armor, and his crimson crest. 990
Far from that hated face the Trojans fly,
All but the fool who sought his destiny.
Mad Pandarus steps forth, with vengeance vow’d
For Bitias’ death, and threatens thus aloud:
“These are not Ardea’s walls, nor this the town 995
Amata proffers with Lavinia’s crown:
’T is hostile earth you tread. Of hope bereft,
No means of safe return by flight are left.”
To whom, with count’nance calm, and soul sedate,
Thus Turnus: “Then begin, and try thy fate: 1000
My message to the ghost of Priam bear;
Tell him a new Achilles sent thee there.”
A lance of tough ground ash the Trojan threw,
Rough in the rind, and knotted as it grew:
With his full force he whirl’d it first around; 1005
But the soft yielding air receiv’d the wound:
Imperial Juno turn’d the course before,
And fix’d the wand’ring weapon in the door.
“But hope not thou,” said Turnus, “when I strike,
To shun thy fate: our force is not alike, 1010
Nor thy steel temper’d by the Lemnian god.”
Then rising, on his utmost stretch he stood,
And aim’d from high: the full descending blow
Cleaves the broad front and beardless cheeks in two.
Down sinks the giant with a thund’ring sound: 1015
His pond’rous limbs oppress the trembling ground;
Blood, brains, and foam gush from the gaping wound:
Scalp, face, and shoulders the keen steel divides,
And the shar’d visage hangs on equal sides.
The Trojans fly from their approaching fate; 1020
And, had the victor then secur’d the gate,
And to his troops without unclos’d the bars,
One lucky day had ended all his wars.
But boiling youth, and blind desire of blood,
Push’d on his fury, to pursue the crowd. 1025
Hamstring’d behind, unhappy Gyges died;
Then Phalaris is added to his side.
The pointed jav’lins from the dead he drew,
And their friends’ arms against their fellows threw.
Strong Halys stands in vain; weak Phlegys flies; 1030
Saturnia, still at hand, new force and fire supplies.
Then Halius, Prytanis, Alcander fall—
Ingag’d against the foes who scal’d the wall:
But, whom they fear’d without, they found within.
At last, tho’ late, by Lynceus he was seen. 1035
He calls new succors, and assaults the prince:
But weak his force, and vain is their defense.
Turn’d to the right, his sword the hero drew,
And at one blow the bold aggressor slew.
He joints the neck; and, with a stroke so strong, 1040
The helm flies off, and bears the head along.
Next him, the huntsman Amycus he kill’d,
In darts invenom’d and in poison skill’d.
Then Clytius fell beneath his fatal spear,
And Creteus, whom the Muses held so dear: 1045
He fought with courage, and he sung the fight;
Arms were his bus’ness, verses his delight.
The Trojan chiefs behold, with rage and grief,
Their slaughter’d friends, and hasten their relief.
Bold Mnestheus rallies first the broken train, 1050
Whom brave Seresthus and his troop sustain.
To save the living, and revenge the dead,
Against one warrior’s arms all Troy they led.
“O, void of sense and courage!” Mnestheus cried,
“Where can you hope your coward heads to hide? 1055
Ah! where beyond these rampires can you run?
One man, and in your camp inclos’d, you shun!
Shall then a single sword such slaughter boast,
And pass unpunish’d from a num’rous host?
Forsaking honor, and renouncing fame, 1060
Your gods, your country, and your king you shame!”
This just reproach their virtue does excite:
They stand, they join, they thicken to the fight.
Now Turnus doubts, and yet disdains to yield,
But with slow paces measures back the field, 1065
And inches to the walls, where Tiber’s tide,
Washing the camp, defends the weaker side.
The more he loses, they advance the more,
And tread in ev’ry step he trod before.
They shout: they bear him back; and, whom by might 1070
They cannot conquer, they oppress with weight.
As, compass’d with a wood of spears around,
The lordly lion still maintains his ground;
Grins horrible, retires, and turns again;
Threats his distended paws, and shakes his mane; 1075
He loses while in vain he presses on,
Nor will his courage let him dare to run:
So Turnus fares, and, unresolved of flight,
Moves tardy back, and just recedes from fight.
Yet twice, inrag’d, the combat he renews, 1080
Twice breaks, and twice his broken foes pursues.
But now they swarm, and, with fresh troops supplied,
Come rolling on, and rush from ev’ry side:
Nor Juno, who sustain’d his arms before,
Dares with new strength suffice th’ exhausted store; 1085
For Jove, with sour commands, sent Iris down,
To force th’ invader from the frighted town.
With labor spent, no longer can he wield
The heavy fanchion, or sustain the shield,
O’erwhelm’d with darts, which from afar they fling: 1090
The weapons round his hollow temples ring;
His golden helm gives way, with stony blows
Batter’d, and flat, and beaten to his brows.
His crest is rash’d away; his ample shield
Is falsified, and round with jav’lins fill’d. 1095
The foe, now faint, the Trojans overwhelm;
And Mnestheus lays hard load upon his helm.
Sick sweat succeeds; he drops at ev’ry pore;
With driving dust his cheeks are pasted o’er;
Shorter and shorter ev’ry gasp he takes; 1100
And vain efforts and hurtless blows he makes.
Plung’d in the flood, and made the waters fly.
The yellow god the welcome burthen bore,
And wip’d the sweat, and wash’d away the gore;
Then gently wafts him to the farther coast, 1105
And sends him safe to cheer his anxious host.
The Victories Of Love. Book I
From Frederick Graham
Mother, I smile at your alarms!
I own, indeed, my Cousin's charms,
But, like all nursery maladies,
Love is not badly taken twice.
Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes,
My playmate in the pleasant days
At Knatchley, and her sister, Anne,
The twins, so made on the same plan,
That one wore blue, the other white,
To mark them to their father's sight;
And how, at Knatchley harvesting,
You bade me kiss her in the ring,
Like Anne and all the others? You,
That never of my sickness knew,
Will laugh, yet had I the disease,
And gravely, if the signs are these:
As, ere the Spring has any power,
The almond branch all turns to flower,
Though not a leaf is out, so she
The bloom of life provoked in me;
And, hard till then and selfish, I
Was thenceforth nought but sanctity
And service: life was mere delight
In being wholly good and right,
As she was; just, without a slur;
Honouring myself no less than her;
Obeying, in the loneliest place,
Ev'n to the slightest gesture, grace
Assured that one so fair, so true,
He only served that was so too.
For me, hence weak towards the weak,
No more the unnested blackbird's shriek
Startled the light-leaved wood; on high
Wander'd the gadding butterfly,
Unscared by my flung cap; the bee,
Rifling the hollyhock in glee,
Was no more trapp'd with his own flower,
And for his honey slain. Her power,
From great things even to the grass
Through which the unfenced footways pass,
Was law, and that which keeps the law,
Cherubic gaiety and awe;
Day was her doing, and the lark
Had reason for his song; the dark
In anagram innumerous spelt
Her name with stars that throbb'd and felt;
'Twas the sad summit of delight
To wake and weep for her at night;
She turn'd to triumph or to shame
The strife of every childish game;
The heart would come into my throat
At rosebuds; howsoe'er remote,
In opposition or consent,
Each thing, or person, or event,
Or seeming neutral howsoe'er,
All, in the live, electric air,
Awoke, took aspect, and confess'd
In her a centre of unrest,
Yea, stocks and stones within me bred
Anxieties of joy and dread.
O, bright apocalyptic sky
O'erarching childhood! Far and nigh
Mystery and obscuration none,
Yet nowhere any moon or sun!
What reason for these sighs? What hope,
Daunting with its audacious scope
The disconcerted heart, affects
These ceremonies and respects?
Why stratagems in everything?
Why, why not kiss her in the ring?
'Tis nothing strange that warriors bold,
Whose fierce, forecasting eyes behold
The city they desire to sack,
Humbly begin their proud attack
By delving ditches two miles off,
Aware how the fair place would scoff
At hasty wooing; but, O child,
Why thus approach thy playmate mild?
One morning, when it flush'd my thought
That, what in me such wonder wrought
Was call'd, in men and women, love,
And, sick with vanity thereof,
I, saying loud, ‘I love her,’ told
My secret to myself, behold
A crisis in my mystery!
For, suddenly, I seem'd to be
Whirl'd round, and bound with showers of threads
As when the furious spider sheds
Captivity upon the fly
To still his buzzing till he die;
Only, with me, the bonds that flew,
Enfolding, thrill'd me through and through
With bliss beyond aught heaven can have
And pride to dream myself her slave.
A long, green slip of wilder'd land,
With Knatchley Wood on either hand,
Sunder'd our home from hers. This day
Glad was I as I went her way.
I stretch'd my arms to the sky, and sprang
O'er the elastic sod, and sang
‘I love her, love her!’ to an air
Which with the words came then and there;
And even now, when I would know
All was not always dull and low,
I mind me awhile of the sweet strain
Love taught me in that lonely lane.
Such glories fade, with no more mark
Than when the sunset dies to dark.
They pass, the rapture and the grace
Ineffable, their only trace
A heart which, having felt no less
Than pure and perfect happiness,
Is duly dainty of delight;
A patient, poignant appetite
For pleasures that exceed so much
The poor things which the world calls such,
That, when these lure it, then you may
The lion with a wisp of hay.
That Charlotte, whom we scarcely knew
From Anne but by her ribbons blue,
Was loved, Anne less than look'd at, shows
That liking still by favour goes!
This Love is a Divinity,
And holds his high election free
Of human merit; or let's say,
A child by ladies call'd to play,
But careless of their becks and wiles,
Till, seeing one who sits and smiles
Like any else, yet only charms,
He cries to come into her arms.
Then, for my Cousins, fear me not!
None ever loved because he ought.
Fatal were else this graceful house,
So full of light from ladies' brows.
There's Mary; Heaven in her appears
Like sunshine through the shower's bright tears;
Mildred's of Earth, yet happier far
Than most men's thoughts of Heaven are;
But, for Honoria, Heaven and Earth
Seal'd amity in her sweet birth.
The noble Girl! With whom she talks
She knights first with her smile; she walks,
Stands, dances, to such sweet effect,
Alone she seems to move erect.
The brightest and the chastest brow
Rules o'er a cheek which seems to show
That love, as a mere vague suspense
Of apprehensive innocence,
Perturbs her heart; love without aim
Or object, like the sunlit flame
That in the Vestals' Temple glow'd,
Without the image of a god.
And this simplicity most pure
She sets off with no less allure
Of culture, subtly skill'd to raise
The power, the pride, and mutual praise
Of human personality
Above the common sort so high,
It makes such homely souls as mine
Marvel how brightly life may shine.
How you would love her! Even in dress
She makes the common mode express
New knowledge of what's fit so well
'Tis virtue gaily visible!
Nay, but her silken sash to me
Were more than all morality,
Had not the old, sweet, feverous ill
Left me the master of my will!
So, Mother, feel at rest, and please
To send my books on board. With these,
When I go hence, all idle hours
Shall help my pleasures and my powers.
I've time, you know, to fill my post,
And yet make up for schooling lost
Through young sea-service. They all speak
German with ease; and this, with Greek,
(Which Dr. Churchill thought I knew,)
And history, which I fail'd in too,
Will stop a gap I somewhat dread,
After the happy life I've led
With these my friends; and sweet 'twill be
To abridge the space from them to me.
From Mrs. Graham
My Child, Honoria Churchill sways
A double power through Charlotte Hayes.
In minds to first-love's memory pledged
The second Cupid's born full-fledged.
I saw, and trembled for the day
When you should see her beauty, gay
And pure as apple-blooms, that show
Outside a blush and inside snow,
Her high and touching elegance
Of order'd life as free as chance.
Ah, haste from her bewitching side,
No friend for you, far less a bride!
But, warning from a hope so wild,
I wrong you. Yet this know, my Child:
He that but once too nearly hears
The music of forefended spheres,
Is thenceforth lonely, and for all
His days like one who treads the Wall
Of China, and, on this hand, sees
Cities and their civilities,
And, on the other, lions. Well,
(Your rash reply I thus foretell,)
Good is the knowledge of what's fair,
Though bought with temporal despair!
Yes, good for one, but not for two.
Will it content a wife that you
Should pine for love, in love's embrace,
Through having known a happier grace;
And break with inward sighs your rest,
Because, though good, she's not the best?
You would, you think, be just and kind,
And keep your counsel! You will find
You cannot such a secret keep;
'Twill out, like murder, in your sleep;
A touch will tell it, though, for pride,
She may her bitter knowledge hide;
And, while she accepts love's make-believe,
You'll twice despise what you'd deceive.
I send the books. Dear Child, adieu!
Tell me of all you are and do.
I know, thank God, whate'er it be,
'Twill need no veil 'twixt you and me.
The multitude of voices blythe
Of early day, the hissing scythe
Across the dew drawn and withdrawn,
The noisy peacock on the lawn,
These, and the sun's eye-gladding gleam,
This morning, chased the sweetest dream
That e'er shed penitential grace
On life's forgetful commonplace;
Yet 'twas no sweeter than the spell
To which I woke to say farewell.
Noon finds me many a mile removed
From her who must not be beloved;
And us the waste sea soon shall part,
Heaving for aye, without a heart!
Mother, what need to warn me so?
I love Miss Churchill? Ah, no, no.
I view, enchanted, from afar,
And love her as I love a star,
For, not to speak of colder fear,
Which keeps my fancy calm, I hear,
Under her life's gay progress hurl'd,
The wheels of the preponderant world,
Set sharp with swords that fool to slay
Who blunders from a poor byway,
To covet beauty with a crown
Of earthly blessing added on;
And she's so much, it seems to me,
Beyond all women womanly,
I dread to think how he should fare
Who came so near as to despair.
Yonder the sombre vessel rides
Where my obscure condition hides.
Waves scud to shore against the wind
That flings the sprinkling surf behind;
In port the bickering pennons show
Which way the ships would gladly go;
Through Edgecumb Park the rooted trees
Are tossing, reckless, in the breeze;
On top of Edgecumb's firm-set tower,
As foils, not foibles, of its power,
The light vanes do themselves adjust
To every veering of the gust:
By me alone may nought be given
To guidance of the airs of heaven?
In battle or peace, in calm or storm,
Should I my daily task perform,
Better a thousand times for love,
Who should my secret soul reprove?
Beholding one like her, a man
Longs to lay down his life! How can
Aught to itself seem thus enough,
When I have so much need thereof?
Blest in her place, blissful is she;
And I, departing, seem to be
Like the strange waif that comes to run
A few days flaming near the sun,
And carries back, through boundless night,
Its lessening memory of light.
Oh, my dear Mother, I confess
To a deep grief of homelessness,
Unfelt, save once, before. 'Tis years
Since such a shower of girlish tears
Disgraced me? But this wretched Inn,
At Plymouth, is so full of din,
Talkings and trampings to and fro.
And then my ship, to which I go
To-night, is no more home. I dread,
As strange, the life I long have led;
And as, when first I went to school,
And found the horror of a rule
Which only ask'd to be obey'd,
I lay and wept, of dawn afraid,
And thought, with bursting heart, of one
Who, from her little, wayward son,
Required obedience, but above
Obedience still regarded love,
So change I that enchanting place,
The abode of innocence and grace
And gaiety without reproof,
For the black gun-deck's louring roof,
Blind and inevitable law
Which makes light duties burdens, awe
Which is not reverence, laughters gain'd
At cost of purities profaned,
And whatsoever most may stir
Remorseful passion towards her,
Whom to behold is to depart
From all defect of life and heart.
But, Mother, I shall go on shore,
And see my Cousin yet once more!
'Twere wild to hope for her, you say.
l've torn and cast those words away.
Surely there's hope! For life 'tis well
Love without hope's impossible;
So, if I love, it is that hope
Is not outside the outer scope
Of fancy. You speak truth: this hour
I must resist, or lose the power.
What! and, when some short months are o'er,
Be not much other than before?
Drop from the bright and virtuous sphere
In which I'm held but while she's dear?
For daily life's dull, senseless mood,
Slay the fine nerves of gratitude
And sweet allegiance, which I owe
Whether the debt be weal or woe?
Nay, Mother, I, forewarn'd, prefer
To want for all in wanting her.
For all? Love's best is not bereft
Ever from him to whom is left
The trust that God will not deceive
His creature, fashion'd to believe
The prophecies of pure desire.
Not loss, not death, my love shall tire.
A mystery does my heart foretell;
Nor do I press the oracle
For explanations. Leave me alone,
And let in me love's will be done.
Fashion'd by Heaven and by art
So is she, that she makes the heart
Ache and o'erflow with tears, that grace
So lovely fair should have for place,
(Deeming itself at home the while,)
The unworthy earth! To see her smile
Amid this waste of pain and sin,
As only knowing the heaven within,
Is sweet, and does for pity stir
Passion to be her minister:
Wherefore last night I lay awake,
And said, ‘Ah, Lord, for Thy love's sake,
Give not this darling child of Thine
To care less reverent than mine!’
And, as true faith was in my word,
I trust, I trust that I was heard.
The waves, this morning, sped to land,
And shouted hoarse to touch the strand,
Where Spring, that goes not out to sea,
Lay laughing in her lovely glee;
And, so, my life was sunlit spray
And tumult, as, once more to-day,
For long farewell did I draw near
My Cousin, desperately dear.
Faint, fierce, the truth that hope was none
Gleam'd like the lightning in the sun;
Yet hope I had, and joy thereof.
The father of love is hope, (though love
Lives orphan'd on, when hope is dead,)
And, out of my immediate dread
And crisis of the coming hour,
Did hope itself draw sudden power.
So the still brooding storm, in Spring,
Makes all the birds begin to sing.
Mother, your foresight did not err:
I've lost the world, and not won her.
And yet, ah, laugh not, when you think
What cup of life I sought to drink!
The bold, said I, have climb'd to bliss
Absurd, impossible, as this,
With nought to help them but so great
A heart it fascinates their fate.
If ever Heaven heard man's desire,
Mine, being made of altar-fire,
Must come to pass, and it will be
That she will wait, when she shall see,
This evening, how I go to get,
By means unknown, I know not yet
Quite what, but ground whereon to stand,
And plead more plainly for her hand!
And so I raved, and cast in hope
A superstitious horoscope!
And still, though something in her face
Portended ‘No!’ with such a grace
It burthen'd me with thankfulness,
Nothing was credible but ‘Yes.’
Therefore, through time's close pressure bold,
I praised myself, and boastful told
My deeds at Acre; strain'd the chance
I had of honour and advance
In war to come; and would not see
Sad silence meant, ‘What's this to me.’
When half my precious hour was gone,
She rose to greet a Mr. Vaughan;
And, as the image of the moon
Breaks up, within some still lagoon
That feels the soft wind suddenly,
Or tide fresh flowing from the sea,
And turns to giddy flames that go
Over the water to and fro,
Thus, when he took her hand to-night,
Her lovely gravity of light
Was scatter'd into many smiles
And flattering weakness. Hope beguiles
No more my heart, dear Mother. He,
By jealous looks, o'erhonour'd me.
With nought to do, and fondly fain
To hear her singing once again,
I stay'd, and turn'd her music o'er;
Then came she with me to the door.
‘Dearest Honoria,’ I said,
(By my despair familiar made,)
‘Heaven bless you!’ Oh, to have back then stepp'd
And fallen upon her neck, and wept,
And said, ‘My friend, I owe you all
‘I am, and have, and hope for. Call
‘For some poor service; let me prove
‘To you, or him here whom you love,
‘My duty. Any solemn task,
‘For life's whole course, is all I ask!’
Then she must surely have wept too,
And said, ‘My friend, what can you do!’
And I should have replied, ‘I'll pray
‘For you and him three times a-day,
‘And, all day, morning, noon, and night,
‘My life shall be so high and right
‘That never Saint yet scaled the stairs
‘Of heaven with more availing prayers!’
But this (and, as good God shall bless
Somehow my end, I'll do no less,)
I had no right to speak. Oh, shame,
So rich a love, so poor a claim!
My Mother, now my only friend,
Farewell. The school-books which you send
I shall not want, and so return.
Give them away, or sell, or burn.
I'll write from Malta. Would I might
But be your little Child to-night,
And feel your arms about me fold,
Against this loneliness and cold!
From Mrs. Graham
The folly of young girls! They doff
Their pride to smooth success, and scoff
At far more noble fire and might
That woo them from the dust of fight!
But, Frederick, now the storm is past,
Your sky should not remain o'ercast.
A sea-life's dull, and, oh, beware
Of nourishing, for zest, despair.
My Child, remember, you have twice
Heartily loved; then why not thrice,
Or ten times? But a wise man shuns
To cry ‘All's over,’ more than once.
I'll not say that a young man's soul
Is scarcely measure of the whole
Earthly and heavenly universe,
To which he inveterately prefers
The one beloved woman. Best
Speak to the senses' interest,
Which brooks no mystery nor delay:
Frankly reflect, my Son, and say,
Was there no secret hour, of those
Pass'd at her side in Sarum Close,
When, to your spirit's sick alarm,
It seem'd that all her marvellous charm
Was marvellously fled? Her grace
Of voice, adornment, movement, face
Was what already heart and eye
Had ponder'd to satiety;
And so the good of life was o'er,
Until some laugh not heard before,
Some novel fashion in her hair,
Or style of putting back her chair,
Restored the heavens. Gather thence
The loss-consoling inference.
Yet blame not beauty, which beguiles,
With lovely motions and sweet smiles,
Which while they please us pass away,
The spirit to lofty thoughts that stay
And lift the whole of after-life,
Unless you take the vision to wife,
Which then seems lost, or serves to slake
Desire, as when a lovely lake
Far off scarce fills the exulting eye
Of one athirst, who comes thereby,
And inappreciably sips
The deep, with disappointed lips.
To fail is sorrow, yet confess
That love pays dearly for success!
No blame to beauty! Let's complain
Of the heart, which can so ill sustain
Delight. Our griefs declare our fall,
But how much more our joys! They pall
With plucking, and celestial mirth
Can find no footing on the earth,
More than the bird of paradise,
Which only lives the while it flies.
Think, also, how 'twould suit your pride
To have this woman for a bride.
Whate'er her faults, she's one of those
To whom the world's last polish owes
A novel grace, which all who aspire
To courtliest custom must acquire.
The world's the sphere she's made to charm,
Which you have shunn'd as if 'twere harm.
Oh, law perverse, that loneliness
Breeds love, society success!
Though young, 'twere now o'er late in life
To train yourself for such a wife;
So she would suit herself to you,
As women, when they marry, do.
For, since 'tis for our dignity
Our lords should sit like lords on high,
We willingly deteriorate
To a step below our rulers' state;
And 'tis the commonest of things
To see an angel, gay with wings,
Lean weakly on a mortal's arm!
Honoria would put off the charm
Of lofty grace that caught your love,
For fear you should not seem above
Herself in fashion and degree,
As in true merit. Thus, you see,
'Twere little kindness, wisdom none,
To light your cot with such a sun.
Write not, my Mother, her dear name
With the least word or hint of blame.
Who else shall discommend her choice,
I giving it my hearty voice?
Wed me? Ah, never near her come
The knowledge of the narrow home!
Far fly from her dear face, that shows
The sunshine lovelier than the rose,
The sordid gravity they wear
Who poverty's base burthen bear!
(And all are poor who come to miss
Their custom, though a crown be this.)
My hope was, that the wheels of fate,
For my exceeding need, might wait,
And she, unseen amidst all eyes,
Move sightless, till I sought the prize,
With honour, in an equal field.
But then came Vaughan, to whom I yield
With grace as much as any man,
In such cause, to another can.
Had she been mine, it seems to me
That I had that integrity
And only joy in her delight—
But each is his own favourite
In love! The thought to bring me rest
Is that of us she takes the best.
'Twas but to see him to be sure
That choice for her remain'd no more!
His brow, so gaily clear of craft;
His wit, the timely truth that laugh'd
To find itself so well express'd;
His words, abundant yet the best;
His spirit, of such handsome show
You mark'd not that his looks were so;
His bearing, prospects, birth, all these
Might well, with small suit, greatly please;
How greatly, when she saw arise
The reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and every breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her;
Whilst power and kindness of command,
Which women can no more withstand
Than we their grace, were still unquell'd,
And force and flattery both compell'd
Her softness! Say I'm worthy. I
Grew, in her presence, cold and shy.
It awed me, as an angel's might
In raiment of reproachful light.
Her gay looks told my sombre mood
That what's not happy is not good;
And, just because 'twas life to please,
Death to repel her, truth and ease
Deserted me; I strove to talk,
And stammer'd foolishness; my walk
Was like a drunkard's; if she took
My arm, it stiffen'd, ached, and shook:
A likely wooer! Blame her not;
Nor ever say, dear Mother, aught
Against that perfectness which is
My strength, as once it was my bliss.
And do not chafe at social rules.
Leave that to charlatans and fools.
Clay graffs and clods conceive the rose,
So base still fathers best. Life owes
Itself to bread; enough thereof
And easy days condition love;
And, kindly train'd, love's roses thrive,
No more pale, scentless petals five,
Which moisten the considerate eye
To see what haste they make to die,
But heavens of colour and perfume,
Which, month by month, renew the bloom
Of art-born graces, when the year
In all the natural grove is sere.
Blame nought then! Bright let be the air
About my lonely cloud of care.
Religion, duty, books, work, friends,—
'Tis good advice, but there it ends.
I'm sick for what these have not got.
Send no more books: they help me not;
I do my work: the void's there still
Which carefullest duty cannot fill.
What though the inaugural hour of right
Comes ever with a keen delight?
Little relieves the labour's heat;
Disgust oft crowns it when complete;
And life, in fact, is not less dull
For being very dutiful.
‘The stately homes of England,’ lo,
‘How beautiful they stand!’ They owe
How much to nameless things like me
Their beauty of security!
But who can long a low toil mend
By looking to a lofty end?
And let me, since 'tis truth, confess
The void's not fill'd by godliness.
God is a tower without a stair,
And His perfection, love's despair.
'Tis He shall judge me when I die;
He suckles with the hissing fly
The spider; gazes calmly down,
Whilst rapine grips the helpless town.
His vast love holds all this and more.
In consternation I adore.
Nor can I ease this aching gulf
With friends, the pictures of myself.
Then marvel not that I recur
From each and all of these to her.
For more of heaven than her have I
No sensitive capacity.
Had I but her, ah, what the gain
Of owning aught but that domain!
Nay, heaven's extent, however much,
Cannot be more than many such;
And, she being mine, should God to me
Say ‘Lo! my Child, I give to thee
All heaven besides,’ what could I then,
But, as a child, to Him complain
That whereas my dear Father gave
A little space for me to have
In His great garden, now, o'erblest,
I've that, indeed, but all the rest,
Which, somehow, makes it seem I've got
All but my only cared-for plot.
Enough was that for my weak hand
To tend, my heart to understand.
Oh, the sick fact, 'twixt her and me
There's naught, and half a world of sea.
In two, in less than two hours more
I set my foot on English shore,
Two years untrod, and, strange to tell,
Nigh miss'd through last night's storm! There fell
A man from the shrouds, that roar'd to quench
Even the billows' blast and drench.
Besides me none was near to mark
His loud cry in the louder dark,
Dark, save when lightning show'd the deeps
Standing about in stony heaps.
No time for choice! A rope; a flash
That flamed as he rose; a dizzy splash;
A strange, inopportune delight
Of mounting with the billowy might,
And falling, with a thrill again
Of pleasure shot from feet to brain;
And both paced deck, ere any knew
Our peril. Round us press'd the crew,
With wonder in the eyes of most.
As if the man who had loved and lost
Honoria dared no more than that!
My days have else been stale and flat.
This life's at best, if justly scann'd,
A tedious walk by the other's strand,
With, here and there cast up, a piece
Of coral or of ambergris,
Which, boasted of abroad, we ignore
The burden of the barren shore.
I seldom write, for 'twould be still
Of how the nerves refuse to thrill;
How, throughout doubly-darken'd days,
I cannot recollect her face;
How to my heart her name to tell
Is beating on a broken bell;
And, to fill up the abhorrent gulf,
Scarce loving her, I hate myself.
Yet, latterly, with strange delight,
Rich tides have risen in the night,
And sweet dreams chased the fancies dense
Of waking life's dull somnolence.
I see her as I knew her, grace
Already glory in her face;
I move about, I cannot rest,
For the proud brain and joyful breast
I have of her. Or else I float,
The pilot of an idle boat,
Alone, alone with sky and sea,
And her, the third simplicity.
Or Mildred, to some question, cries,
(Her merry meaning in her eyes,)
‘The Ball, oh, Frederick will go;
‘Honoria will be there!’ and, lo,
As moisture sweet my seeing blurs
To hear my name so link'd with hers,
A mirror joins, by guilty chance,
Either's averted, watchful glance!
Or with me, in the Ball-Room's blaze,
Her brilliant mildness thrids the maze;
Our thoughts are lovely, and each word
Is music in the music heard,
And all things seem but parts to be
Of one persistent harmony.
By which I'm made divinely bold;
The secret, which she knows, is told;
And, laughing with a lofty bliss
Of innocent accord, we kiss;
About her neck my pleasure weeps;
Against my lip the silk vein leaps;
Then says an Angel, ‘Day or night,
‘If yours you seek, not her delight,
‘Although by some strange witchery
‘It seems you kiss her, 'tis not she;
‘But, whilst you languish at the side
‘Of a fair-foul phantasmal bride,
‘Surely a dragon and strong tower
‘Guard the true lady in her bower.’
And I say, ‘Dear my Lord, Amen!’
And the true lady kiss again.
Or else some wasteful malady
Devours her shape and dims her eye;
No charms are left, where all were rife,
Except her voice, which is her life,
Wherewith she, for her foolish fear,
Says trembling, ‘Do you love me, Dear?’
And I reply, ‘Sweetest, I vow
‘I never loved but half till now.’
She turns her face to the wall at this,
And says, ‘Go, Love, 'tis too much bliss.’
And then a sudden pulse is sent
About the sounding firmament
In smitings as of silver bars;
The bright disorder of the stars
Is solved by music; far and near,
Through infinite distinctions clear,
Their twofold voices' deeper tone
Utters the Name which all things own,
And each ecstatic treble dwells
On one whereof none other tells;
And we, sublimed to song and fire,
Take order in the wheeling quire,
Till from the throbbing sphere I start,
Waked by the heaving of my heart.
Such dreams as these come night by night,
Disturbing day with their delight.
Portend they nothing? Who can tell!
God yet may do some miracle.
'Tis nigh two years, and she's not wed,
Or you would know! He may be dead,
Or mad, and loving some one else,
And she, much moved that nothing quells
My constancy, or, simply wroth
With such a wretch, accept my troth
To spite him; or her beauty's gone,
(And that's my dream!) and this man Vaughan
Takes her release: or tongues malign,
Confusing every ear but mine,
Have smirch'd her: ah, 'twould move her, sure,
To find I loved her all the more!
Nay, now I think, haply amiss
I read her words and looks, and his,
That night! Did not his jealousy
Show—Good my God, and can it be
That I, a modest fool, all blest,
Nothing of such a heaven guess'd?
Oh, chance too frail, yet frantic sweet,
To-morrow sees me at her feet!
Yonder, at last, the glad sea roars
Along the sacred English shores!
There lies the lovely land I know,
Where men and women lordliest grow;
There peep the roofs where more than kings
Postpone state cares to country things,
And many a gay queen simply tends
The babes on whom the world depends;
There curls the wanton cottage smoke
Of him that drives but bears no yoke;
There laughs the realm where low and high
Are lieges to society.
And life has all too wide a scope,
Too free a prospect for its hope,
For any private good or ill,
Except dishonour, quite to fill!
—Mother, since this was penn'd, I've read
That ‘Mr. Vaughan, on Tuesday, wed
‘The beautiful Miss Churchill.’ So
That's over; and to-morrow I go
To take up my new post on board
The ‘Wolf,’ my peace at last restored;
My lonely faith, like heart-of-oak,
Shock-season'd. Grief is now the cloak
I clasp about me to prevent
The deadly chill of a content
With any near or distant good,
Except the exact beatitude
Which love has shown to my desire.
Talk not of ‘other joys and higher,’
I hate and disavow all bliss
As none for me which is not this.
Think not I blasphemously cope
With God's decrees, and cast off hope.
How, when, and where can mine succeed?
I'll trust He knows who made my need.
Baseness of men! Pursuit being o'er,
Doubtless her Husband feels no more
The heaven of heavens of such a Bride,
But, lounging, lets her please his pride
With fondness, guerdons her caress
With little names, and turns a tress
Round idle fingers. If 'tis so,
Why then I'm happier of the two!
Better, for lofty loss, high pain,
Than low content with lofty gain.
Poor, foolish Dove, to trust from me
Her happiness and dignity!
I thought the worst had brought me balm:
'Twas but the tempest's central calm.
Vague sinkings of the heart aver
That dreadful wrong is come to her,
And o'er this dream I brood and dote,
And learn its agonies by rote.
As if I loved it, early and late
I make familiar with my fate,
And feed, with fascinated will,
On very dregs of finish'd ill.
I think, she's near him now, alone,
With wardship and protection none;
Alone, perhaps, in the hindering stress
Of airs that clasp him with her dress,
They wander whispering by the wave;
And haply now, in some sea-cave,
Where the ribb'd sand is rarely trod,
They laugh, they kiss. Oh, God! oh, God!
There comes a smile acutely sweet
Out of the picturing dark; I meet
The ancient frankness of her gaze,
That soft and heart-surprising blaze
Of great goodwill and innocence,
And perfect joy proceeding thence!
Ah! made for earth's delight, yet such
The mid-sea air's too gross to touch.
At thought of which, the soul in me
Is as the bird that bites a bee,
And darts abroad on frantic wing,
Tasting the honey and the sting;
And, moaning where all round me sleep
Amidst the moaning of the deep,
I start at midnight from my bed—
And have no right to strike him dead.
What world is this that I am in,
Where chance turns sanctity to sin!
'Tis crime henceforward to desire
The only good; the sacred fire
That sunn'd the universe is hell!
I hear a Voice which argues well:
‘The Heaven hard has scorn'd your cry;
‘Fall down and worship me, and I
‘Will give you peace; go and profane
‘This pangful love, so pure, so vain,
‘And thereby win forgetfulness
‘And pardon of the spirit's excess,
‘Which soar'd too nigh that jealous Heaven
‘Ever, save thus, to be forgiven.
‘No Gospel has come down that cures
‘With better gain a loss like yours.
‘Be pious! Give the beggar pelf,
‘And love your neighbour as yourself!
‘You, who yet love, though all is o'er,
‘And she'll ne'er be your neighbour more,
‘With soul which can in pity smile
‘That aught with such a measure vile
‘As self should be at all named 'love!'
‘Your sanctity the priests reprove;
‘Your case of grief they wholly miss;
‘The Man of Sorrows names not this.
‘The years, they say, graff love divine
‘On the lopp'd stock of love like thine;
‘The wild tree dies not, but converts.
‘So be it; but the lopping hurts,
‘The graff takes tardily! Men stanch
‘Meantime with earth the bleeding branch,
‘There's nothing heals one woman's loss,
‘And lighten's life's eternal cross
‘With intermission of sound rest,
‘Like lying in another's breast.
‘The cure is, to your thinking, low!
‘Is not life all, henceforward, so?’
Ill Voice, at least thou calm'st my mood.
I'll sleep! But, as I thus conclude,
The intrusions of her grace dispel
The comfortable glooms of hell.
A wonder! Ere these lines were dried,
Vaughan and my Love, his three-days' Bride,
Became my guests. I look'd, and, lo,
In beauty soft as is the snow
And powerful as the avalanche,
She lit the deck. The Heav'n-sent chance!
She smiled, surprised. They came to see
The ship, not thinking to meet me.
At infinite distance she's my day:
What then to him? Howbeit they say
'Tis not so sunny in the sun
But men might live cool lives thereon!
All's well; for I have seen arise
That reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and watch'd his breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her,
His wife. My Love, she's safe in his
Devotion! What ask'd I but this?
They bade adieu; I saw them go
Across the sea; and now I know
The ultimate hope I rested on,
The hope beyond the grave, is gone,
The hope that, in the heavens high,
At last it should appear that I
Loved most, and so, by claim divine,
Should have her, in the heavens, for mine,
According to such nuptial sort
As may subsist in the holy court,
Where, if there are all kinds of joys
To exhaust the multitude of choice
In many mansions, then there are
Loves personal and particular,
Conspicuous in the glorious sky
Of universal charity,
As Phosphor in the sunrise. Now
I've seen them, I believe their vow
Immortal; and the dreadful thought,
That he less honour'd than he ought
Her sanctity, is laid to rest,
And, blessing them, I too am blest.
My goodwill, as a springing air,
Unclouds a beauty in despair;
I stand beneath the sky's pure cope
Unburthen'd even by a hope;
And peace unspeakable, a joy
Which hope would deaden and destroy,
Like sunshine fills the airy gulf
Left by the vanishing of self.
That I have known her; that she moves
Somewhere all-graceful; that she loves,
And is belov'd, and that she's so
Most happy, and to heaven will go,
Where I may meet with her, (yet this
I count but accidental bliss,)
And that the full, celestial weal
Of all shall sensitively feel
The partnership and work of each,
And thus my love and labour reach
Her region, there the more to bless
Her last, consummate happiness,
Is guerdon up to the degree
Of that alone true loyalty
Which, sacrificing, is not nice
About the terms of sacrifice,
But offers all, with smiles that say,
'Tis little, but it is for aye!
From Mrs. Graham
You wanted her, my Son, for wife,
With the fierce need of life in life.
That nobler passion of an hour
Was rather prophecy than power;
And nature, from such stress unbent,
Recurs to deep discouragement.
Trust not such peace yet; easy breath,
In hot diseases, argues death;
And tastelessness within the mouth
Worse fever shows than heat or drouth.
Wherefore take, Frederick, timely fear
Against a different danger near:
Wed not one woman, oh, my Child,
Because another has not smiled!
Oft, with a disappointed man,
The first who cares to win him can;
For, after love's heroic strain,
Which tired the heart and brought no gain,
He feels consoled, relieved, and eased
To meet with her who can be pleased
To proffer kindness, and compute
His acquiescence for pursuit;
Who troubles not his lonely mood;
And asks for love mere gratitude.
Ah, desperate folly! Yet, we know,
Who wed through love wed mostly so.
At least, my Son, when wed you do,
See that the woman equals you,
Nor rush, from having loved too high,
Into a worse humility.
A poor estate's a foolish plea
For marrying to a base degree.
A woman grown cannot be train'd,
Or, if she could, no love were gain'd;
For, never was a man's heart caught
By graces he himself had taught.
And fancy not 'tis in the might
Of man to do without delight;
For, should you in her nothing find
To exhilarate the higher mind,
Your soul would deaden useless wings
With wickedness of lawful things,
And vampire pleasure swift destroy
Even the memory of joy.
So let no man, in desperate mood,
Wed a dull girl because she's good.
All virtues in his wife soon dim,
Except the power of pleasing him,
Which may small virtue be, or none!
I know my just and tender Son,
To whom the dangerous grace is given
That scorns a good which is not heaven;
My Child, who used to sit and sigh
Under the bright, ideal sky,
And pass, to spare the farmer's wheat,
The poppy and the meadow-sweet!
He would not let his wife's heart ache
For what was mainly his mistake;
But, having err'd so, all his force
Would fix upon the hard, right course.
She's graceless, say, yet good and true,
And therefore inly fair, and, through
The veils which inward beauty fold,
Faith can her loveliness behold.
Ah, that's soon tired; faith falls away
Without the ceremonial stay
Of outward loveliness and awe.
The weightier matters of the law
She pays: mere mint and cumin not;
And, in the road that she was taught,
She treads, and takes for granted still
Nature's immedicable ill;
So never wears within her eyes
A false report of paradise,
Nor ever modulates her mirth
With vain compassion of the earth,
Which made a certain happier face
Affecting, and a gayer grace
With pathos delicately edged!
Yet, though she be not privileged
To unlock for you your heart's delight,
(Her keys being gold, but not the right,)
On lower levels she may do!
Her joy is more in loving you
Than being loved, and she commands
All tenderness she understands.
It is but when you proffer more
The yoke weighs heavy and chafes sore.
It's weary work enforcing love
On one who has enough thereof,
And honour on the lowlihead
Of ignorance! Besides, you dread,
In Leah's arms, to meet the eyes
Of Rachel, somewhere in the skies,
And both return, alike relieved,
To life less loftily conceived.
Then wait the mood
In which a woman may be woo'd
Whose thoughts and habits are too high
For honour to be flattery,
And who would surely not allow
The suit that you could proffer now.
Her equal yoke would sit with ease;
It might, with wearing, even please,
(Not with a better word to move
The loyal wrath of present love);
She would not mope when you were gay,
For want of knowing aught to say;
Nor vex you with unhandsome waste
Of thoughts ill-timed and words ill-placed;
Nor reckon small things duties small,
And your fine sense fantastical;
Nor would she bring you up a brood
Of strangers bound to you by blood,
Boys of a meaner moral race,
Girls with their mother's evil grace,
But not her chance to sometimes find
Her critic past his judgment kind;
Nor, unaccustom'd to respect,
Which men, where 'tis not claim'd, neglect,
Confirm you selfish and morose,
And slowly, by contagion, gross;
But, glad and able to receive
The honour you would long to give,
Would hasten on to justify
Expectancy, however high,
Whilst you would happily incur
Compulsion to keep up with her.
Your letter, Mother, bears the date
Of six months back, and comes too late.
My Love, past all conceiving lost,
A change seem'd good, at any cost,
From lonely, stupid, silent grief,
Vain, objectless, beyond relief,
And, like a sea-fog, settled dense
On fancy, feeling, thought, and sense.
I grew so idle, so despised
Myself, my powers, by Her unprized,
Honouring my post, but nothing more,
And lying, when I lived on shore,
So late of mornings: weak tears stream'd
For such slight cause,—if only gleam'd,
Remotely, beautifully bright,
On clouded eves at sea, the light
Of English headlands in the sun,—
That soon I deem'd 'twere better done
To lay this poor, complaining wraith
Of unreciprocated faith:
And so, with heart still bleeding quick,
But strengthen'd by the comfort sick
Of knowing that She could not care,
I turn'd away from my despair,
And told our chaplain's daughter, Jane,—
A dear, good girl, who saw my pain,
And look'd as if she pitied me,—
How glad and thankful I should be
If some kind woman, not above
Myself in rank, would give her love
To one that knew not how to woo.
Whereat she, without more ado,
Blush'd, spoke of love return'd, and closed
With what she thought I had proposed.
And, trust me, Mother, I and Jane,
We suit each other well. My gain
Is very great in this good Wife,
To whom I'm bound, for natural life,
By hearty faith, yet crossing not
My faith towards—I know not what!
As to the ether is the air,
Is her good to Honoria's fair;
One place is full of both, yet each
Lies quite beyond the other's reach
If you say,
Am I contented? Yea and nay!
For what's base but content to grow
With less good than the best we know?
But think me not from life withdrawn,
By passion for a hope that's gone,
So far as to forget how much
A woman is, as merely such,
To man's affection. What is best,
In each, belongs to all the rest;
And though, in marriage, quite to kiss
And half to love the custom is,
'Tis such dishonour, ruin bare,
The soul's interior despair,
And life between two troubles toss'd,
To me, who think not with the most;
Whatever 'twould have been, before
My Cousin's time, 'tis now so sore
A treason to the abiding throne
Of that sweet love which I have known,
I cannot live so, and I bend
My mind perforce to comprehend
That He who gives command to love
Does not require a thing above
The strength He gives. The highest degree
Of the hardest grace, humility;
The step t'ward heaven the latest trod,
And that which makes us most like God,
And us much more than God behoves,
Is, to be humble in our loves.
Henceforth for ever therefore I
Renounce all partiality
Of passion. Subject to control
Of that perspective of the soul
Which God Himself pronounces good,
Confirming claims of neighbourhood,
And giving man, for earthly life,
The closest neighbour in a wife,
I'll serve all. Jane be much more dear
Than all as she is much more near!
I'll love her! Yea, and love's joy comes
Ever from self-love's martyrdoms!
Yet, not to lie for God, 'tis true
That 'twas another joy I knew
When freighted was my heart with fire
Of fond, irrational desire
For fascinating, female charms,
And hopeless heaven in Her mild arms.
Nor wrong I any, if I profess
That care for heaven with me were less
But that I'm utterly imbued
With faith of all Earth's hope renew'd
In realms where no short-coming pains
Expectance, and dear love disdains
Time's treason, and the gathering dross,
And lasts for ever in the gloss
All the bright past seems,
Now, but a splendour in my dreams,
Which shows, albeit the dreamer wakes,
The standard of right life. Life aches
To be therewith conform'd; but, oh,
The world's so stolid, dark, and low!
That and the mortal element
Forbid the beautiful intent,
And, like the unborn butterfly,
It feels the wings, and wants the sky.
But perilous is the lofty mood
Which cannot yoke with lowly good.
Right life, for me, is life that wends
By lowly ways to lofty ends.
I well perceive, at length, that haste
T'ward heaven itself is only waste;
And thus I dread the impatient spur
Of aught that speaks too plain of Her.
There's little here that story tells;
But music talks of nothing else.
Therefore, when music breathes, I say,
(And urge my task,) Away, away!
Thou art the voice of one I knew,
But what thou say'st is not yet true;
Thou art the voice of her I loved,
And I would not be vainly moved.
So that which did from death set free
All things, now dons death's mockery,
And takes its place with things that are
But little noted. Do not mar
For me your peace! My health is high.
The proud possession of mine eye
Departed, I am much like one
Who had by haughty custom grown
To think gilt rooms, and spacious grounds,
Horses, and carriages, and hounds,
Fine linen, and an eider bed
As much his need as daily bread,
And honour of men as much or more.
Till, strange misfortune smiting sore,
His pride all goes to pay his debts,
A lodging anywhere he gets,
And takes his family thereto
Weeping, and other relics few,
Allow'd, by them that seize his pelf,
As precious only to himself.
Yet the sun shines; the country green
Has many riches, poorly seen
From blazon'd coaches; grace at meat
Goes well with thrift in what they eat;
And there's amends for much bereft
In better thanks for much that's left!
Jane is not fair, yet pleases well
The eye in which no others dwell;
And features somewhat plainly set,
And homely manners leave her yet
The crowning boon and most express
Of Heaven's inventive tenderness,
A woman. But I do her wrong,
Letting the world's eyes guide my tongue!
She has a handsomeness that pays
No homage to the hourly gaze,
And dwells not on the arch'd brow's height
And lids which softly lodge the light,
Nor in the pure field of the cheek
Flow'rs, though the soul be still to seek;
But shows as fits that solemn place
Whereof the window is the face:
Blankness and leaden outlines mark
What time the Church within is dark;
Yet view it on a Festal night,
Or some occasion else for light,
And each ungainly line is seen
A special character to mean
Of Saint or Prophet, and the whole
Blank window is a living scroll.
For hours, the clock upon the shelf,
Has all the talking to itself;
But to and fro her needle runs
Twice, while the clock is ticking once;
And, when a wife is well in reach,
Not silence separates, but speech;
And I, contented, read, or smoke,
And idly think, or idly stroke
The winking cat, or watch the fire,
In social peace that does not tire;
Until, at easeful end of day,
She moves, and puts her work away,
And, saying ‘How cold 'tis,’ or ‘How warm,’
Or something else as little harm,
Comes, used to finding, kindly press'd,
A woman's welcome to my breast,
With all the great advantage clear
Of none else having been so near.
But sometimes, (how shall I deny!)
There falls, with her thus fondly by,
Dejection, and a chilling shade.
Remember'd pleasures, as they fade,
Salute me, and colossal grow,
Like foot-prints in the thawing snow.
I feel oppress'd beyond my force
With foolish envy and remorse.
I love this woman, but I might
Have loved some else with more delight;
And strange it seems of God that He
Should make a vain capacity.
Such times of ignorant relapse,
'Tis well she does not talk, perhaps.
The dream, the discontent, the doubt,
To some injustice flaming out,
Were't else, might leave us both to moan
A kind tradition overthrown,
And dawning promise once more dead
In the pernicious lowlihead
Of not aspiring to be fair.
And what am I, that I should dare
Dispute with God, who moulds one clay
To honour and shame, and wills to pay
With equal wages them that delve
About His vines one hour or twelve!
From Lady Clitheroe To Mary Churchill
I've dreadful news, my Sister dear!
Frederick has married, as we hear,
Oh, such a girl! This fact we get
From Mr. Barton, whom we met
At Abury once. He used to know,
At Race and Hunt, Lord Clitheroe,
And writes that he ‘has seen Fred Graham,
‘Commander of the 'Wolf,'—the same
‘The Mess call'd Joseph,—with his Wife
‘Under his arm.’ He ‘lays his life,
‘The fellow married her for love,
‘For there was nothing else to move.
‘H. is her Shibboleth. 'Tis said
‘Her Mother was a Kitchen-Maid.’
Poor Fred! What will Honoria say?
She thought so highly of him. Pray
Tell it her gently. I've no right,
I know you hold, to trust my sight;
But Frederick's state could not be hid!
And Felix, coming when he did,
Was lucky; for Honoria, too,
Was half in love. How warm she grew
On ‘worldliness,’ when once I said
I fancied that, in ladies, Fred
Had tastes much better than his means!
His hand was worthy of a Queen's,
Said she, and actually shed tears
The night he left us for two years,
And sobb'd, when ask'd the cause to tell,
That ‘Frederick look'd so miserable.’
He did look very dull, no doubt,
But such things girls don't cry about.
What weathercocks men always prove!
You're quite right not to fall in love.
I never did, and, truth to tell,
I don't think it respectable.
The man can't understand it, too.
He likes to be in love with you,
But scarce knows how, if you love him,
Poor fellow. When 'tis woman's whim
To serve her husband night and day,
The kind soul lets her have her way!
So, if you wed, as soon you should,
Be selfish for your husband's good.
Happy the men who relegate
Their pleasures, vanities, and state
To us. Their nature seems to be
To enjoy themselves by deputy,
For, seeking their own benefit,
Dear, what a mess they make of it!
A man will work his bones away,
If but his wife will only play;
He does not mind how much he's teased,
So that his plague looks always pleased;
And never thanks her, while he lives,
For anything, but what he gives!
'Tis hard to manage men, we hear!
Believe me, nothing's easier, Dear.
The most important step by far
Is finding what their colours are.
The next is, not to let them know
The reason why they love us so.
The indolent droop of a blue shawl,
Or gray silk's fluctuating fall,
Covers the multitude of sins
In me. Your husband, Love, might wince
At azure, and be wild at slate,
And yet do well with chocolate.
Of course you'd let him fancy he
Adored you for your piety.
From Jane To Her Mother
Dear Mother, as you write, I see
How glad and thankful I should be
For such a husband. Yet to tell
The truth, I am so miserable!
How could he—I remember, though,
He never said he loved me! No,
He is so right that all seems wrong
I've done and thought my whole life long!
I'm grown so dull and dead with fear
That Yes and No, when he is near,
Is all I have to say. He's quite
Unlike what most would call polite,
And yet, when first I saw him come
To tea in Aunt's fine drawing-room,
He made me feel so common! Oh,
How dreadful if he thinks me so!
It's no use trying to behave
To him. His eye, so kind and grave,
Sees through and through me! Could not you,
Without his knowing that I knew,
Ask him to scold me now and then?
Mother, it's such a weary strain
The way he has of treating me
As if 'twas something fine to be
A woman; and appearing not
To notice any faults I've got!
I know he knows I'm plain, and small,
Stupid, and ignorant, and all
Awkward and mean; and, by degrees,
I see a beauty which he sees,
When often he looks strange awhile,
Then recollects me with a smile.
I wish he had that fancied Wife,
With me for Maid, now! all my life
To dress her out for him, and make
Her looks the lovelier for his sake;
To have her rate me till I cried;
Then see her seated by his side,
And driven off proudly to the Ball;
Then to stay up for her, whilst all
The servants were asleep; and hear
At dawn the carriage rolling near,
And let them in; and hear her laugh,
And boast, he said that none was half
So beautiful, and that the Queen,
Who danced with him the first, had seen
And noticed her, and ask'd who was
That lady in the golden gauze?
And then to go to bed, and lie
In a sort of heavenly jealousy,
Until 'twas broad day, and I guess'd
She slept, nor knew how she was bless'd.
Pray burn this letter. I would not
Complain, but for the fear I've got
Of going wild, as we hear tell
Of people shut up in a cell,
With no one there to talk to. He
Must never know he is loved by me
The most; he'd think himself to blame;
And I should almost die for shame.
If being good would serve instead
Of being graceful, ah, then, Fred—
But I, myself, I never could
See what's in women's being good;
For all their goodness is to do
Just what their nature tells them to.
Now, when a man would do what's right,
He has to try with all his might.
Though true and kind in deed and word,
Fred's not a vessel of the Lord.
But I have hopes of him; for, oh,
How can we ever surely know
But that the very darkest place
May be the scene of saving grace!
‘How did I feel?’ The little wight
Fill'd me, unfatherly, with fright!
So grim it gazed, and, out of the sky,
There came, minute, remote, the cry,
Piercing, of original pain.
I put the wonder back to Jane,
And her delight seem'd dash'd, that I,
Of strangers still by nature shy,
Was not familiar quite so soon
With her small friend of many a moon.
But, when the new-made Mother smiled,
She seem'd herself a little child,
Dwelling at large beyond the law
By which, till then, I judged and saw;
And that fond glow which she felt stir
For it, suffused my heart for her;
To whom, from the weak babe, and thence
To me, an influent innocence,
Happy, reparative of life,
Came, and she was indeed my wife,
As there, lovely with love she lay,
Brightly contented all the day
To hug her sleepy little boy,
In the reciprocated joy
Of touch, the childish sense of love,
Ever inquisitive to prove
Its strange possession, and to know
If the eye's report be really so.
From Jane To Mrs. Graham
Dear Mother,—such if you'll allow,
In love, not law, I'll call you now,—
I hope you're well. I write to say
Frederick has got, besides his pay,
A good appointment in the Docks;
Also to thank you for the frocks
And shoes for Baby. I, (D.V.,)
Shall soon be strong. Fred goes to sea
No more. I am so glad; because,
Though kinder husband never was,
He seems still kinder to become
The more he stays with me at home.
When we are parted, I see plain
He's dull till he gets used again
To marriage. Do not tell him, though;
I would not have him know I know,
For all the world.
I try to mind
All your advice; but sometimes find
I do not well see how. I thought
To take it about dress; so bought
A gay new bonnet, gown, and shawl;
But Frederick was not pleased at all;
For, though he smiled, and said, ‘How smart!’
I feel, you know, what's in his heart.
But I shall learn! I fancied long
That care in dress was very wrong,
Till Frederick, in his startling way,
When I began to blame, one day,
The Admiral's Wife, because we hear
She spends two hours, or something near,
In dressing, took her part, and said
How all things deck themselves that wed;
How birds and plants grow fine to please
Each other in their marriages;
And how (which certainly is true—
It never struck me—did it you?)
Dress was, at first, Heaven's ordinance,
And has much Scripture countenance.
For Eliezer, we are told,
Adorn'd with jewels and with gold
Rebecca. In the Psalms, again,
How the King's Daughter dress'd! And, then,
The Good Wife in the Proverbs, she
Made herself clothes of tapestry,
Purple and silk: and there's much more
I had not thought about before!
But Fred's so clever! Do you know,
Since Baby came, he loves me so!
I'm really useful, now, to Fred;
And none could do so well instead.
It's nice to fancy, if I died,
He'd miss me from the Darling's side!
Also, there's something now, you see,
On which we talk, and quite agree;
On which, without pride too, I can
Hope I'm as wise as any man.
I should be happy now, if quite
Sure that in one thing Fred was right.
But, though I trust his prayers are said,
Because he goes so late to bed,
I doubt his Calling. Glad to find
A text adapted to his mind,—
That where St. Paul, in Man and Wife,
Allows a little worldly life,—
He smiled, and said that he knew all
Such things as that without St. Paul!
And once he said, when I with pain
Had got him just to read Romaine,
‘Men's creeds should not their hopes condemn.
‘Who wait for heaven to come to them
‘Are little like to go to heaven,
‘If logic's not the devil's leaven!’
I cried at such a wicked joke,
And he, surprised, went out to smoke.
But to judge him is not for me,
Who myself sin so dreadfully
As half to doubt if I should care
To go to heaven, and he not there.
He must be right; and I dare say
I shall soon understand his way.
To other things, once strange, I've grown
Accustom'd, nay, to like. I own
'Twas long before I got well used
To sit, while Frederick read or mused
For hours, and scarcely spoke. When he
For all that, held the door to me,
Pick'd up my handkerchief, and rose
To set my chair, with other shows
Of honour, such as men, 'tis true,
To sweethearts and fine ladies do,
It almost seem'd an unkind jest;
But now I like these ways the best.
They somehow make me gentle and good;
And I don't mind his quiet mood.
If Frederick does seem dull awhile,
There's Baby. You should see him smile!
I'm pretty and nice to him, sweet Pet,
And he will learn no better yet:
Indeed, now little Johnny makes
A busier time of it, and takes
Our thoughts off one another more,
I'm happy as need be, I'm sure!
From Felix To Honoria
Let me, Beloved, while gratitude
Is garrulous with coming good,
Or ere the tongue of happiness
Be silenced by your soft caress,
Relate how, musing here of you,
The Court Of Love
With timerous hert and trembling hand of drede,
Of cunning naked, bare of eloquence,
Unto the flour of port in womanhede
I write, as he that non intelligence
Of metres hath, ne floures of sentence;
Sauf that me list my writing to convey,
In that I can to please her hygh nobley.
The blosmes fresshe of Tullius garden soote
Present thaim not, my mater for to borne:
Poemes of Virgil taken here no rote,
Ne crafte of Galfrid may not here sojorne:
Why nam I cunning? O well may I morne,
For lak of science that I can-not write
Unto the princes of my life a-right
No termes digne unto her excellence,
So is she sprong of noble stirpe and high:
A world of honour and of reverence
There is in her, this wil I testifie.
Calliope, thou sister wise and sly,
And thou, Minerva, guyde me with thy grace,
That langage rude my mater not deface.
Thy suger-dropes swete of Elicon
Distill in me, thou gentle Muse, I pray;
And thee, Melpomene, I calle anon,
Of ignoraunce the mist to chace away;
And give me grace so for to write and sey,
That she, my lady, of her worthinesse,
Accepte in gree this litel short tretesse,
That is entitled thus, 'The Court of Love.'
And ye that ben metriciens me excuse,
I you besech, for Venus sake above;
For what I mene in this ye need not muse:
And if so be my lady it refuse
For lak of ornat speche, I wold be wo,
That I presume to her to writen so.
But myn entent and all my besy cure
Is for to write this tretesse, as I can,
Unto my lady, stable, true, and sure,
Feithfull and kind, sith first that she began
Me to accept in service as her man:
To her be all the plesure of this boke,
That, whan her like, she may it rede and loke.
When I was yong, at eighteen yere of age,
Lusty and light, desirous of pleasaunce,
Approching on full sadde and ripe corage,
Love arted me to do myn observaunce
To his astate, and doon him obeysaunce,
Commaunding me the Court of Love to see,
A lite beside the mount of Citharee,
There Citherea goddesse was and quene
Honoured highly for her majestee;
And eke her sone, the mighty god, I wene,
Cupid the blind, that for his dignitee
A thousand lovers worship on their knee;
There was I bid, on pain of death, t'apere,
By Mercury, the winged messengere.
So than I went by straunge and fer contrees,
Enquiring ay what costes to it drew,
The Court of Love: and thiderward, as bees,
At last I sey the peple gan pursue:
Anon, me thought, som wight was there that knew
Where that the court was holden, ferre or ny,
And after thaim ful fast I gan me hy.
Anone as I theim overtook, I said,
'Hail, frendes! whider purpose ye to wend?'
'Forsooth,' quod oon that answered lich a maid,
'To Loves Court now go we, gentill frend.'
'Where is that place,' quod I, 'my felowe hend?'
'At Citheron, sir,' seid he, 'without dowte,
The King of Love, and all his noble rowte,
Dwelling within a castell ryally.'
So than apace I jorned forth among,
And as he seid, so fond I there truly.
For I beheld the towres high and strong,
And high pinácles, large of hight and long,
With plate of gold bespred on every side,
And presious stones, the stone-werk for to hide.
No saphir ind, no rubè riche of price,
There lakked than, nor emeraud so grene,
Baleis Turkeis, ne thing to my devise,
That may the castell maken for to shene:
All was as bright as sterres in winter been;
And Phebus shoon, to make his pees agayn,
For trespas doon to high estates tweyn,
Venus and Mars, the god and goddesse clere,
Whan he theim found in armes cheined fast:
Venus was then full sad of herte and chere.
But Phebus bemes, streight as is the mast,
Upon the castell ginneth he to cast,
To plese the lady, princesse of that place,
In signe he loketh aftir Loves grace.
For there nis god in heven or helle, y-wis,
But he hath ben right soget unto Love:
Jove, Pluto, or what-so-ever he is,
Ne creature in erth, or yet above;
Of thise the révers may no wight approve.
But furthermore, the castell to descry,
Yet saw I never non so large and high.
For unto heven it streccheth, I suppose,
Within and out depeynted wonderly,
With many a thousand daisy, rede as rose,
And white also, this saw I verily:
But what tho daises might do signify,
Can I not tell, sauf that the quenes flour
Alceste it was that kept there her sojour;
Which under Venus lady was and quene,
And Admete king and soverain of that place,
To whom obeyed the ladies gode ninetene,
With many a thowsand other, bright of face.
And yong men fele came forth with lusty pace,
And aged eke, their homage to dispose;
But what thay were, I could not well disclose.
Yet ner and ner furth in I gan me dresse
Into an halle of noble apparaile,
With arras spred and cloth of gold, I gesse,
And other silk of esier availe:
Under the cloth of their estate, saunz faile,
The king and quene ther sat, as I beheld:
It passed joye of Helisee the feld.
There saintes have their comming and resort,
To seen the king so ryally beseyn,
In purple clad, and eke the quene in sort:
And on their hedes saw I crownes tweyn,
With stones fret, so that it was no payn,
Withouten mete and drink, to stand and see
The kinges honour and the ryaltee.
And for to trete of states with the king,
That been of councell chief, and with the quene,
The king had Daunger ner to him standing,
The Quene of Love, Disdain, and that was seen:
For by the feith I shall to god, I wene,
Was never straunger [non] in her degree
Than was the quene in casting of her ee.
And as I stood perceiving her apart,
And eke the bemes shyning of her yen,
Me thought thay were shapen lich a dart,
Sherp and persing, smale, and streight as lyne.
And all her here, it shoon as gold so fyne,
Dishevel, crisp, down hinging at her bak
A yarde in length: and soothly than I spak:—
'O bright Regina, who made thee so fair?
Who made thy colour vermelet and white?
Where woneth that god? how fer above the eyr?
Greet was his craft, and greet was his delyt.
Now marvel I nothing that ye do hight
The Quene of Love, and occupy the place
Of Citharee: now, sweet lady, thy grace.'
In mewet spak I, so that nought astert,
By no condicion, word that might be herd;
B[ut] in myn inward thought I gan advert,
And oft I seid, 'My wit is dulle and hard:'
For with her bewtee, thus, god wot, I ferd
As doth the man y-ravisshed with sight,
When I beheld her cristall yen so bright,
No respect having what was best to doon;
Till right anon, beholding here and there,
I spied a frend of myne, and that full soon,
A gentilwoman, was the chamberer
Unto the quene, that hote, as ye shall here,
Philobone, that lovëd all her life:
Whan she me sey, she led me furth as blyfe;
And me demaunded how and in what wise
I thider com, and what myne erand was?
'To seen the court,' quod I, 'and all the guyse;
And eke to sue for pardon and for grace,
And mercy ask for all my greet trespace,
That I non erst com to the Court of Love:
Foryeve me this, ye goddes all above!'
'That is well seid,' quod Philobone, 'in-dede:
But were ye not assomoned to apere
By Mercury? For that is all my drede.'
'Yes, gentil fair,' quod I, 'now am I here;
Ye, yit what tho, though that be true, my dere?'
'Of your free will ye shuld have come unsent:
For ye did not, I deme ye will be shent.
For ye that reign in youth and lustinesse,
Pampired with ese, and jolif in your age,
Your dewtee is, as fer as I can gesse,
To Loves Court to dressen your viage,
As sone as Nature maketh you so sage,
That ye may know a woman from a swan,
Or whan your foot is growen half a span.
But sith that ye, by wilful necligence,
This eighteen yere have kept yourself at large,
The gretter is your trespace and offence,
And in your nek ye moot bere all the charge:
For better were ye ben withouten barge,
Amiddë see, in tempest and in rain,
Than byden here, receiving woo and pain,
That ordeined is for such as thaim absent
Fro Loves Court by yeres long and fele.
I ley my lyf ye shall full soon repent;
For Love will reyve your colour, lust, and hele:
Eke ye must bait on many an hevy mele:
No force, y-wis, I stired you long agoon
To draw to court,' quod litell Philobon.
'Ye shall well see how rough and angry face
The King of Love will shew, when ye him see;
By myn advyse kneel down and ask him grace,
Eschewing perell and adversitee;
For well I wot it wol non other be,
Comfort is non, ne counsel to your ese;
Why will ye than the King of Love displese?'
'O mercy, god,' quod ich, 'I me repent,
Caitif and wrecche in hert, in wille, and thought!
And aftir this shall be myne hole entent
To serve and plese, how dere that love be bought:
Yit, sith I have myn own penaunce y-sought,
With humble spirit shall I it receive,
Though that the King of Love my life bereyve.
And though that fervent loves qualitè
In me did never worch truly, yit I
With all obeisaunce and humilitè,
And benign hert, shall serve him til I dye:
And he that Lord of might is, grete and highe,
Right as him list me chastice and correct,
And punish me, with trespace thus enfect.'
Thise wordes seid, she caught me by the lap,
And led me furth intill a temple round,
Large and wyde: and, as my blessed hap
And good avénture was, right sone I found
A tabernacle reised from the ground,
Where Venus sat, and Cupid by her syde;
Yet half for drede I gan my visage hyde.
And eft again I loked and beheld,
Seeing full sundry peple in the place,
And mister folk, and som that might not weld
Their limmes well, me thought a wonder cas;
The temple shoon with windows all of glas,
Bright as the day, with many a fair image;
And there I sey the fresh quene of Cartage,
Dido, that brent her bewtee for the love
Of fals Eneas; and the weymenting
Of hir, Anelida, true as turtill-dove,
To Arcite fals: and there was in peinting
Of many a prince, and many a doughty king,
Whose marterdom was shewed about the walles;
And how that fele for love had suffered falles.
But sore I was abasshed and astonied
Of all tho folk that there were in that tyde;
And than I asked where thay had [y-]woned:
'In dyvers courtes,' quod she, 'here besyde.'
In sondry clothing, mantil-wyse full wyde,
They were arrayed, and did their sacrifice
Unto the god and goddesse in their guyse.
'Lo! yonder folk,' quod she, 'that knele in blew,
They were the colour ay, and ever shall,
In sign they were, and ever will be trew
Withouten chaunge: and sothly, yonder all
That ben in blak, with morning cry and call
Unto the goddes, for their loves been
Som fer, som dede, som all to sherpe and kene.'
'Ye, than,' quod I, 'what doon thise prestes here,
Nonnes and hermits, freres, and all thoo
That sit in white, in russet, and in grene?'
'For-soth,' quod she, 'they wailen of their wo.'
'O mercy, lord! may thay so come and go
Freely to court, and have such libertee?'
'Ye, men of ech condicion and degree,
And women eke: for truly, there is non
Excepcion mad, ne never was ne may:
This court is ope and free for everichon,
The King of Love he will nat say thaim nay:
He taketh all, in poore or riche array,
That meekly sewe unto his excellence
With all their herte and all their reverence.'
And, walking thus about with Philobone,
I sey where cam a messenger in hy
Streight from the king, which let commaund anon,
Through-out the court to make an ho and cry:
'A! new-come folk, abyde! and wot ye why?
The kinges lust is for to seen you soon:
Com ner, let see! his will mot need be doon.'
Than gan I me present to-fore the king,
Trembling for fere, with visage pale of hew,
And many a lover with me was kneling,
Abasshed sore, till unto tyme thay knew
The sentence yeve of his entent full trew:
And at the last the king hath me behold
With stern visage, and seid, 'What doth this old,
Thus fer y-stope in yeres, come so late
Unto the court?' 'For-soth, my liege,' quod I,
'An hundred tyme I have ben at the gate
Afore this tyme, yit coud I never espy
Of myn acqueyntaunce any with mine y;
And shamefastnes away me gan to chace;
But now I me submit unto your grace.'
'Well! all is perdoned, with condicion
That thou be trew from hensforth to thy might,
And serven Love in thyn entencion:
Swere this, and than, as fer as it is right,
Thou shalt have grace here in my quenes sight.'
'Yis, by the feith I ow your crown, I swere,
Though Deth therfore me thirlith with his spere!'
And whan the king had seen us everichoon,
He let commaunde an officer in hy
To take our feith, and shew us, oon by oon,
The statuts of the court full besily.
Anon the book was leid before their y,
To rede and see what thing we must observe
In Loves Court, till that we dye and sterve.
And, for that I was lettred, there I red
The statuts hole of Loves Court and hall:
The first statut that on the boke was spred,
Was, To be true in thought and dedes all
Unto the King of Love, the Lord ryall;
And to the Quene, as feithful and as kind,
As I coud think with herte, and will and mind.
The secund statut, Secretly to kepe
Councell of love, nat blowing every-where
All that I know, and let it sink or flete;
It may not sown in every wightes ere:
Exyling slaunder ay for dred and fere,
And to my lady, which I love and serve,
Be true and kind, her grace for to deserve.
The thrid statut was clerely write also,
Withouten chaunge to live and dye the same,
Non other love to take, for wele ne wo,
For brind delyt, for ernest nor for game:
Without repent, for laughing or for grame,
To byden still in full perseveraunce:
Al this was hole the kinges ordinaunce.
The fourth statut, To purchace ever to here,
And stiren folk to love, and beten fyr
On Venus awter, here about and there,
And preche to thaim of love and hot desyr,
And tell how love will quyten well their hire:
This must be kept; and loth me to displese:
If love be wroth, passe forby is an ese.
The fifth statut, Not to be daungerous,
If that a thought wold reyve me of my slepe:
Nor of a sight to be over squeymous;
And so, verily, this statut was to kepe,
To turne and walowe in my bed and wepe,
When that my lady, of her crueltè,
Wold from her herte exylen all pitè.
The sixt statut, it was for me to use,
Alone to wander, voide of company,
And on my ladys bewtee for to muse,
And to think [it] no force to live or dye;
And eft again to think the remedy,
How to her grace I might anon attain,
And tell my wo unto my souverain.
The seventh statut was, To be pacient,
Whether my lady joyfull were or wroth;
For wordes glad or hevy, diligent,
Wheder that she me helden lefe or loth:
And hereupon I put was to myn oth,
Her for to serve, and lowly to obey,
Shewing my chere, ye, twenty sith a-day.
The eighth statut, to my rememb[e]raunce,
Was, To speke, and pray my lady dere,
With hourly labour and gret attendaunce,
Me for to love with all her herte entere,
And me desyre, and make me joyfull chere,
Right as she is, surmounting every faire,
Of bewtie well, and gentill debonaire.
The ninth statut, with lettres writ of gold,
This was the sentence, How that I and all
Shuld ever dred to be to over-bold
Her to displese; and truly, so I shall;
But ben content for thing[es] that may falle,
And meekly take her chastisement and yerd,
And to offende her ever ben aferd.
The tenth statut was, Egally discern
By-twene thy lady and thyn abilitee,
And think, thy-self art never like to yern,
By right, her mercy, nor of equitee,
But of her grace and womanly pitee:
For though thy-self be noble in thy strene,
A thowsand-fold more nobill is thy quene,
Thy lyves lady, and thy souverayn,
That hath thyn herte all hole in governaunce.
Thou mayst no wyse hit taken to disdayn,
To put thee humbly at her ordinaunce,
And give her free the rein of her plesaunce;
For libertee is thing that women loke,
And truly, els the mater is a-croke.
The eleventh statut, Thy signes for to con
With y and finger, and with smyles soft,
And low to cough, and alway for to shon,
For dred of spyes, for to winken oft:
But secretly to bring a sigh a-loft,
And eke beware of over-moch resort;
For that, paraventure, spilleth al thy sport.
The twelfth statut remember to observe:
For al the pain thow hast for love and wo,
All is to lite her mercy to deserve,
Thow must then think, where-ever thou ryde or go;
And mortall woundes suffer thow also,
All for her sake, and thinke it well beset
Upon thy love, for it may be no bet.
The thirteenth statut, Whylom is to thinke,
What thing may best thy lady lyke and plese,
And in thyn hertes botom let it sinke:
Som thing devise, and take [it] for thyn ese,
And send it her, that may her herte apese:
Some hert, or ring, or lettre, or device,
Or precious stone; but spare not for no price.
The fourteenth statut eke thou shalt assay
Fermly to kepe the most part of thy lyfe:
Wish that thy lady in thyne armes lay,
And nightly dreme, thow hast thy hertes wyfe
Swetely in armes, straining her as blyfe:
And whan thou seest it is but fantasy,
See that thow sing not over merily,
For to moche joye hath oft a wofull end.
It longith eke, this statut for to hold,
To deme thy lady evermore thy frend,
And think thyself in no wyse a cocold.
In every thing she doth but as she shold:
Construe the best, beleve no tales newe,
For many a lie is told, that semeth full trewe.
But think that she, so bounteous and fair,
Coud not be fals: imagine this algate;
And think that tonges wikke wold her appair,
Slaundering her name and worshipfull estat,
And lovers true to setten at debat:
And though thow seest a faut right at thyne y,
Excuse it blyve, and glose it pretily.
The fifteenth statut, Use to swere and stare,
And counterfet a lesing hardely,
To save thy ladys honour every-where,
And put thyself to fight [for her] boldly:
Sey she is good, virtuous, and gostly,
Clere of entent, and herte, and thought and wille;
And argue not, for reson ne for skille,
Agayn thy ladys plesir ne entent,
For love wil not be countrepleted, indede:
Sey as she seith, than shalt thou not be shent,
The crow is whyte; ye, truly, so I rede:
And ay what thing that she thee will forbede,
Eschew all that, and give her sovereintee,
Her appetyt folow in all degree.
The sixteenth statut, kepe it if thow may:—
Seven sith at night thy lady for to plese,
And seven at midnight, seven at morow-day;
And drink a cawdell erly for thyn ese.
Do this, and kepe thyn hede from all disese,
And win the garland here of lovers all,
That ever come in court, or ever shall.
Ful few, think I, this statut hold and kepe;
But truly, this my reson giveth me fele,
That som lovers shuld rather fall aslepe,
Than take on hand to plese so oft and wele.
There lay non oth to this statut a-dele,
But kepe who might, as gave him his corage:
Now get this garland, lusty folk of age.
Now win who may, ye lusty folk of youth,
This garland fresh, of floures rede and whyte,
Purpill and blewe, and colours ful uncouth,
And I shal croune him king of all delyt!
In al the court there was not, to my sight,
A lover trew, that he ne was adred,
When he expresse hath herd the statut red.
The seventeenth statut, Whan age approchith on,
And lust is leid, and all the fire is queint,
As freshly than thou shalt begin to fon,
And dote in love, and all her image paint
In rémembraunce, til thou begin to faint,
As in the first seson thyn hert began:
And her desire, though thou ne may ne can
Perform thy living actuell, and lust;
Regester this in thy rememb[e]raunce:
Eke when thou mayst not kepe thy thing from rust,
Yit speke and talk of plesaunt daliaunce;
For that shall make thyn hert rejoise and daunce.
And when thou mayst no more the game assay,
The statut bit thee pray for hem that may.
The eighteenth statut, hoolly to commend,
To plese thy lady, is, That thou eschewe
With sluttishness thy-self for to offend;
Be jolif, fresh, and fete, with thinges newe,
Courtly with maner, this is all thy due,
Gentill of port, and loving clenlinesse;
This is the thing that lyketh thy maistresse.
And not to wander lich a dulled ass,
Ragged and torn, disgysed in array,
Ribaud in speche, or out of mesure pass,
Thy bound exceding; think on this alway:
For women been of tender hertes ay,
And lightly set their plesire in a place;
Whan they misthink, they lightly let it passe.
The nineteenth statut, Mete and drink forgete:
Ech other day, see that thou fast for love,
For in the court they live withouten mete,
Sauf such as cometh from Venus all above;
They take non heed, in pain of greet reprove,
Of mete and drink, for that is all in vain;
Only they live by sight of their soverain.
The twentieth statut, last of everichoon,
Enroll it in thyn hertes privitee;
To wring and wail, to turn, and sigh and grone,
When that thy lady absent is from thee;
And eke renew the wordes [all] that she
Bitween you twain hath seid, and all the chere
That thee hath mad thy lyves lady dere.
And see thyn herte in quiet ne in rest
Sojorn, to tyme thou seen thy lady eft;
But wher she won by south, or est, or west,
With all thy force, now see it be not left:
Be diligent, till tyme thy lyfe be reft,
In that thou mayst, thy lady for to see;
This statut was of old antiquitee.
An officer of high auctoritee,
Cleped Rigour, made us swere anon:
He nas corrupt with parcialitee,
Favour, prayer, ne gold that cherely shoon;
'Ye shall,' quod he, 'now sweren here echoon,
Yong and old, to kepe, in that ye may,
The statuts truly, all, aftir this day.'
O god, thought I, hard is to make this oth!
But to my pouer shall I thaim observe;
In all this world nas mater half so loth,
To swere for all; for though my body sterve,
I have no might the hole for to reserve.
But herkin now the cace how it befell:
After my oth was mad, the trouth to tell,
I turned leves, loking on this boke,
Where other statuts were of women shene;
And right furthwith Rigour on me gan loke
Full angrily, and seid unto the quene
I traitour was, and charged me let been:
'There may no man,' quod he, 'the statut[s] know,
That long to woman, hy degree ne low.
In secret wyse thay kepten been full close,
They sowne echon to libertie, my frend;
Plesaunt thay be, and to their own purpose;
There wot no wight of thaim, but god and fend,
Ne naught shall wit, unto the worldes end.
The quene hath yeve me charge, in pain to dye,
Never to rede ne seen thaim with myn ye.
For men shall not so nere of councell ben,
With womanhode, ne knowen of her gyse,
Ne what they think, ne of their wit th'engyn;
I me report to Salamon the wyse,
And mighty Sampson, which begyled thryes
With Dalida was: he wot that, in a throw,
There may no man statut of women knowe.
For it paravénture may right so befall,
That they be bound by nature to disceive,
And spinne, and wepe, and sugre strewe on gall,
The hert of man to ravissh and to reyve,
And whet their tong as sharp as swerd or gleyve:
It may betyde, this is their ordinaunce;
So must they lowly doon the observaunce,
And kepe the statut yeven thaim of kind,
Or such as love hath yeve hem in their lyfe.
Men may not wete why turneth every wind,
Nor waxen wyse, nor ben inquisityf
To know secret of maid, widow, or wyfe;
For they their statutes have to thaim reserved,
And never man to know thaim hath deserved.
Now dress you furth, the god of Love you gyde!'
Quod Rigour than, 'and seek the temple bright
Of Cither[e]a, goddess here besyde;
Beseche her, by [the] influence and might
Of al her vertue, you to teche a-right,
How for to serve your ladies, and to plese,
Ye that ben sped, and set your hert in ese.
And ye that ben unpurveyed, pray her eke
Comfort you soon with grace and destinee,
That ye may set your hert there ye may lyke,
In suche a place, that it to love may be
Honour and worship, and felicitee
To you for ay. Now goth, by one assent.'
'Graunt mercy, sir!' quod we, and furth we went
Devoutly, soft and esy pace, to see
Venus the goddes image, all of gold:
And there we founde a thousand on their knee,
Sum freshe and feire, som dedely to behold,
In sondry mantils new, and som were old,
Som painted were with flames rede as fire,
Outward to shew their inward hoot desire:
With dolefull chere, full fele in their complaint
Cried 'Lady Venus, rewe upon our sore!
Receive our billes, with teres all bedreint;
We may not wepe, there is no more in store;
But wo and pain us frettith more and more:
Thou blisful planet, lovers sterre so shene,
Have rowth on us, that sigh and carefull been;
And ponish, Lady, grevously, we pray,
The false untrew with counterfet plesaunce,
That made their oth, be trew to live or dey,
With chere assured, and with countenaunce;
And falsly now thay foten loves daunce,
Barein of rewth, untrue of that they seid,
Now that their lust and plesire is alleyd.'
Yet eft again, a thousand milion,
Rejoysing, love, leding their life in blis:
They seid:—'Venus, redresse of all division,
Goddes eterne, thy name y-heried is!
By loves bond is knit all thing, y-wis,
Best unto best, the erth to water wan,
Bird unto bird, and woman unto man;
This is the lyfe of joye that we ben in,
Resembling lyfe of hevenly paradyse;
Love is exyler ay of vice and sin;
Love maketh hertes lusty to devyse;
Honour and grace have thay, in every wyse,
That been to loves law obedient;
Love makith folk benigne and diligent;
Ay stering theim to drede[n] vice and shame:
In their degree it maketh thaim honorable;
And swete it is of love [to] bere the name,
So that his love be feithfull, true, and stable:
Love prunith him, to semen amiable;
Love hath no faut, there it is exercysed,
But sole with theim that have all love dispised.
Honour to thee, celestiall and clere
Goddes of love, and to thy celsitude,
That yevest us light so fer down from thy spere,
Persing our hertes with thy pulcritude!
Comparison non of similitude
May to thy grace be mad in no degree,
That hast us set with love in unitee.
Gret cause have we to praise thy name and thee,
For [that] through thee we live in joye and blisse.
Blessed be thou, most souverain to see!
Thy holy court of gladness may not misse:
A thousand sith we may rejoise in this,
That we ben thyn with harte and all y-fere,
Enflamed with thy grace, and hevinly fere.'
Musing of tho that spakin in this wyse,
I me bethought in my rememb[e]raunce
Myne orison right goodly to devyse,
And plesauntly, with hartes obeisaunce,
Beseech the goddes voiden my grevaunce;
For I loved eke, sauf that I wist nat where;
Yet down I set, and seid as ye shall here.
'Fairest of all that ever were or be!
Lucerne and light to pensif crëature!
Myn hole affiaunce, and my lady free,
My goddes bright, my fortune and my ure,
I yeve and yeld my hart to thee full sure,
Humbly beseching, lady, of thy grace
Me to bestowe into som blessed place.
And here I vow me feithfull, true, and kind,
Without offence of mutabilitee,
Humbly to serve, whyl I have wit and mind,
Myn hole affiaunce, and my lady free!
In thilkë place, there ye me sign to be:
And, sith this thing of newe is yeve me, ay
To love and serve, needly must I obey.
Be merciable with thy fire of grace,
And fix myne hert there bewtie is and routh,
For hote I love, determine in no place,
Sauf only this, by god and by my trouth,
Trowbled I was with slomber, slepe, and slouth
This other night, and in a visioun
I sey a woman romen up and down,
Of mene stature, and seemly to behold,
Lusty and fresh, demure of countynaunce,
Yong and wel shap, with here [that] shoon as gold,
With yen as cristall, farced with plesaunce;
And she gan stir myne harte a lite to daunce;
But sodenly she vanissh gan right there:
Thus I may sey, I love and wot not where.
For what she is, ne her dwelling I not,
And yet I fele that love distraineth me:
Might ich her know, that wold I fain, god wot,
Serve and obey with all benignitee.
And if that other be my destinee,
So that no wyse I shall her never see,
Than graunt me her that best may lyken me,
With glad rejoyse to live in parfit hele,
Devoide of wrath, repent, or variaunce;
And able me to do that may be wele
Unto my lady, with hertes hy plesaunce:
And, mighty goddes! through thy purviaunce
My wit, my thought, my lust and love so gyde,
That to thyne honour I may me provyde
To set myne herte in place there I may lyke,
And gladly serve with all affeccioun.
Gret is the pain which at myn hert doth stik,
Till I be sped by thyn eleccioun:
Help, lady goddes! that possessioun
I might of her have, that in all my lyfe
I clepen shall my quene and hertes wife.
And in the Court of Love to dwell for ay
My wille it is, and don thee sacrifice:
Daily with Diane eke to fight and fray,
And holden werre, as might well me suffice:
That goddes chaste I kepen in no wyse
To serve; a fig for all her chastitee!
Her lawe is for religiositee.'
And thus gan finish preyer, lawde, and preise,
Which that I yove to Venus on my knee,
And in myne hert to ponder and to peise,
I gave anon hir image fressh bewtie;
'Heil to that figure sweet! and heil to thee,
Cupide,' quod I, and rose and yede my way;
And in the temple as I yede I sey
A shryne sormownting all in stones riche,
Of which the force was plesaunce to myn y,
With diamant or saphire; never liche
I have non seyn, ne wrought so wonderly.
So whan I met with Philobone, in hy
I gan demaund, 'Who[s] is this sepulture?'
'Forsoth,' quod she, 'a tender creature
Is shryned there, and Pitè is her name.
She saw an egle wreke him on a fly,
And pluk his wing, and eke him, in his game,
And tender herte of that hath made her dy:
Eke she wold wepe, and morn right pitously
To seen a lover suffre gret destresse.
In all the court nas non that, as I gesse,
That coude a lover half so well availe,
Ne of his wo the torment or the rage
Aslaken, for he was sure, withouten faile,
That of his grief she coud the hete aswage.
In sted of Pitè, spedeth hot corage
The maters all of court, now she is dede;
I me report in this to womanhede.
For weile and wepe, and crye, and speke, and pray,—
Women wold not have pitè on thy plaint;
Ne by that mene to ese thyn hart convey,
But thee receiven for their own talent:
And sey, that Pitè causith thee, in consent
Of rewth, to take thy service and thy pain
In that thow mayst, to plese thy souverain.
But this is councell, keep it secretly;'
Quod she, 'I nold, for all the world abowt,
The Quene of Love it wist; and wit ye why?
For if by me this matter springen out,
In court no lenger shuld I, owt of dowt,
Dwellen, but shame in all my life endry:
Now kepe it close,' quod she, 'this hardely.
Well, all is well! Now shall ye seen,' she seid,
'The feirest lady under son that is:
Come on with me, demene you liche a maid,
With shamefast dred, for ye shall spede, y-wis,
With her that is the mir[th] and joy and blis:
But sumwhat straunge and sad of her demene
She is, be ware your countenaunce be sene,
Nor over light, ne recheless, ne to bold,
Ne malapert, ne rinning with your tong;
For she will you abeisen and behold,
And you demaund, why ye were hens so long
Out of this court, without resort among:
And Rosiall her name is hote aright,
Whose harte as yet [is] yeven to no wight.
And ye also ben, as I understond,
With love but light avaunced, by your word;
Might ye, by hap, your fredom maken bond,
And fall in grace with her, and wele accord,
Well might ye thank the god of Love and lord;
For she that ye sawe in your dreme appere,
To love suche one, what are ye than the nere?
Yit wot ye what? as my rememb[e]raunce
Me yevith now, ye fayn, where that ye sey
That ye with love had never acqueintaunce,
Sauf in your dreme right late this other day:
Why, yis, parde! my life, that durst I lay,
That ye were caught upon an heth, when I
Saw you complain, and sigh full pitously;
Within an erber, and a garden fair
With floures growe, and herbes vertuous,
Of which the savour swete was and the eyr,
There were your-self full hoot and amorous:
Y-wis, ye ben to nice and daungerous;
A! wold ye now repent, and love som new?'—
'Nay, by my trouth,' I seid, 'I never knew
The goodly wight, whos I shall be for ay:
Guyde me the lord that love hath made and me.'
But furth we went in-till a chambre gay,
There was Rosiall, womanly to see,
Whose stremes sotell-persing of her ee
Myn hart gan thrill for bewtie in the stound:
'Alas,' quod I, 'who hath me yeve this wound?'
And than I dred to speke, till at the last
I gret the lady reverently and wele,
Whan that my sigh was gon and over-past;
And down on knees full humbly gan I knele,
Beseching her my fervent wo to kele,
For there I took full purpose in my mind,
Unto her grace my painfull hart to bind.
For if I shall all fully her discryve,
Her hede was round, by compace of nature,
Her here as gold,—she passed all on-lyve,—
And lily forhede had this crëature,
With lovelich browes, flawe, of colour pure,
Bytwene the which was mene disseveraunce
From every brow, to shewe[n] a distaunce.
Her nose directed streight, and even as lyne,
With fourm and shap therto convenient,
In which the goddes milk-whyt path doth shine;
And eke her yen ben bright and orient
As is the smaragde, unto my juggement,
Or yet thise sterres hevenly, smale and bright;
Her visage is of lovely rede and whyte.
Her mouth is short, and shit in litell space,
Flaming somdele, not over-rede, I mene,
With pregnant lippes, and thik to kiss, percas;
(For lippes thin, not fat, but ever lene,
They serve of naught, they be not worth a bene;
For if the basse ben full, there is delyt,
Maximian truly thus doth he wryte.)
But to my purpose:—I sey, whyte as snow
Ben all her teeth, and in order thay stond
Of oon stature; and eke hir breth, I trow,
Surmounteth alle odours that ever I fond
In sweetnes; and her body, face, and hond
Ben sharply slender, so that from the hede
Unto the fote, all is but womanhede.
I hold my pees of other thinges hid:—
Here shall my soul, and not my tong, bewray:—
But how she was arrayed, if ye me bid,
That shall I well discover you and say:
A bend of gold and silk, full fressh and gay;
With here in tresse[s], browdered full well,
Right smothly kept, and shyning every-del.
About her nek a flour of fressh devyse
With rubies set, that lusty were to sene;
And she in gown was, light and somer-wyse,
Shapen full wele, the colour was of grene,
With aureat seint about her sydes clene,
With dyvers stones, precious and riche:—
Thus was she rayed, yet saugh I never her liche.
For if that Jove had [but] this lady seyn,
Tho Calixto ne [yet] Alcmenia,
Thay never hadden in his armes leyn;
Ne he had loved the faire Europa;
Ye, ne yet Dane ne Antiopa!
For al their bewtie stood in Rosiall;
She semed lich a thing celestiall
In bowntè, favor, port, and semliness,
Plesaunt of figure, mirrour of delyt,
Gracious to sene, and rote of gentilness,
With angel visage, lusty rede and white:
There was not lak, sauf daunger had a lite
This goodly fressh in rule and governaunce;
And somdel straunge she was, for her plesaunce.
And truly sone I took my leve and went,
Whan she had me enquyred what I was;
For more and more impressen gan the dent
Of Loves dart, whyl I beheld her face;
And eft again I com to seken grace,
And up I put my bill, with sentence clere
That folwith aftir; rede and ye shall here.
'O ye [the] fressh, of [all] bewtie the rote,
That nature hath fourmed so wele and made
Princesse and Quene! and ye that may do bote
Of all my langour with your wordes glad!
Ye wounded me, ye made me wo-bestad;
Of grace redress my mortall grief, as ye
Of all myne harm the verrey causer be.
Now am I caught, and unwar sodenly,
With persant stremes of your yën clere,
Subject to ben, and serven you meekly,
And all your man, y-wis, my lady dere,
Abiding grace, of which I you requere,
That merciles ye cause me not to sterve;
But guerdon me, liche as I may deserve.
For, by my troth, the dayes of my breth
I am and will be youre in wille and hert,
Pacient and meek, for you to suffre deth
If it require; now rewe upon my smert;
And this I swere, I never shall out-stert
From Loves Court for none adversitee,
So ye wold rewe on my distresse and me.
My destinee, my fate, and ure I bliss,
That have me set to ben obedient
Only to you, the flour of all, y-wis:
I trust to Venus never to repent;
For ever redy, glad, and diligent
Ye shall me finde in service to your grace,
Till deth my lyfe out of my body race.
Humble unto your excellence so digne,
Enforcing ay my wittes and delyt
To serve and plese with glad herte and benigne,
And ben as Troilus, [old] Troyes knight,
Or Antony for Cleopatre bright,
And never you me thinkes to reney:
This shall I kepe unto myne ending-day.
Enprent my speche in your memorial
Sadly, my princess, salve of all my sore!
And think that, for I wold becomen thrall,
And ben your own, as I have seyd before,
Ye must of pity cherissh more and more
Your man, and tender aftir his desert,
And yive him corage for to ben expert.
For where that oon hath set his herte on fire,
And findeth nether refut ne plesaunce,
Ne word of comfort, deth will quyte his hire.
Allas! that there is none allegeaunce
Of all their wo! allas, the gret grevaunce
To love unloved! But ye, my Lady dere,
In other wyse may govern this matere.'
'Truly, gramercy, frend, of your good will,
And of your profer in your humble wyse!
But for your service, take and kepe it still.
And where ye say, I ought you well cheryse,
And of your gref the remedy devyse,
I know not why: I nam acqueinted well
With you, ne wot not sothly where ye dwell.'
'In art of love I wryte, and songes make,
That may be song in honour of the King
And Quene of Love; and than I undertake,
He that is sad shall than full mery sing.
And daunger[o]us not ben in every thing
Beseche I you, but seen my will and rede,
And let your aunswer put me out of drede.'
'What is your name? reherse it here, I pray,
Of whens and where, of what condicion
That ye ben of? Let see, com of and say!
Fain wold I know your disposicion:—
Ye have put on your old entencion;
But what ye mene to servë me I noot,
Sauf that ye say ye love me wonder hoot.'
'My name? alas, my hert, why [make it straunge?]
Philogenet I cald am fer and nere,
Of Cambrige clerk, that never think to chaunge
Fro you that with your hevenly stremes clere
Ravissh myne herte and gost and all in-fere:
This is the first, I write my bill for grace,
Me think, I see som mercy in your face.
And what I mene, by god that al hath wrought,
My bill, that maketh finall mencion,
That ye ben, lady, in myne inward thought
Of all myne hert without offencion,
That I best love, and have, sith I begon
To draw to court. Lo, than! what might I say?
I yeld me here, [lo!] unto your nobley.
And if that I offend, or wilfully
By pompe of hart your precept disobey,
Or doon again your will unskillfully,
Or greven you, for ernest or for play,
Correct ye me right sharply than, I pray,
As it is sene unto your womanhede,
And rewe on me, or ellis I nam but dede.'
'Nay, god forbede to feffe you so with grace,
And for a worde of sugred eloquence,
To have compassion in so litell space!
Than were it tyme that som of us were hens!
Ye shall not find in me suche insolence.
Ay? what is this? may ye not suffer sight?
How may ye loke upon the candill-light,
That clere[r] is and hotter than myn y?
And yet ye seid, the bemes perse and frete:—
How shall ye than the candel-[l]ight endry?
For wel wot ye, that hath the sharper hete.
And there ye bid me you correct and bete,
If ye offend,—nay, that may not be doon:
There come but few that speden here so soon.
Withdraw your y, withdraw from presens eke:
Hurt not yourself, through foly, with a loke;
I wold be sory so to make you seke:
A woman shuld be ware eke whom she toke:
Ye beth a clark:—go serchen [in] my boke,
If any women ben so light to win:
Nay, byde a whyl, though ye were all my kin.
So soon ye may not win myne harte, in trouth
The gyse of court will seen your stedfastness,
And as ye don, to have upon you rewth.
Your own desert, and lowly gentilness,
That will reward you joy for heviness;
And though ye waxen pale, and grene and dede,
Ye must it use a while, withouten drede,
And it accept, and grucchen in no wyse;
But where as ye me hastily desyre
To been to love, me think, ye be not wyse.
Cese of your language! cese, I you requyre!
For he that hath this twenty yere ben here
May not obtayn; than marveile I that ye
Be now so bold, of love to trete with me.'
'Ah! mercy, hart, my lady and my love,
My rightwyse princesse and my lyves guyde!
Now may I playn to Venus all above,
That rewthles ye me give these woundes wyde!
What have I don? why may it not betyde,
That for my trouth I may received be?
Alas! your daunger and your crueltè!
In wofull hour I got was, welaway!
In wofull hour [y-]fostred and y-fed,
In wofull hour y-born, that I ne may
My supplicacion swetely have y-sped!
The frosty grave and cold must be my bedde,
Without ye list your grace and mercy shewe,
Deth with his axe so faste on me doth hewe.
So greet disese and in so litell whyle,
So litell joy, that felte I never yet;
And at my wo Fortune ginneth to smyle,
That never erst I felt so harde a fit:
Confounded ben my spirits and my wit,
Till that my lady take me to her cure,
Which I love best of erthely crëature.
But that I lyke, that may I not com by;
Of that I playn, that have I habondaunce;
Sorrow and thought, thay sit me wounder ny;
Me is withhold that might be my plesaunce:
Yet turne again, my worldly suffisaunce!
O lady bright! and save your feithfull true,
And, er I die, yet on[e]s upon me rewe.'
With that I fell in sounde, and dede as stone,
With colour slain, and wan as assh[es] pale;
And by the hand she caught me up anon,
'Aryse,' quod she, 'what? have ye dronken dwale?
Why slepen ye? it is no nightertale.'
'Now mercy, swete,' quod I, y-wis affrayed:
'What thing,' quod she, 'hath mad you so dismayed?
Now wot I well that ye a lover be,
Your hewe is witnesse in this thing,' she seid:
'If ye were secret, [ye] might know,' quod she,
'Curteise and kind, all this shuld be allayed:
And now, myn herte! all that I have misseid,
I shall amend, and set your harte in ese.'
'That word it is,' quod I, 'that doth me plese.'
'But this I charge, that ye the statuts kepe,
And breke thaim not for sloth nor ignoraunce.'
With that she gan to smyle and laughen depe.
'Y-wis,' quod I, 'I will do your plesaunce;
The sixteenth statut doth me grete grevaunce,
But ye must that relesse or modifie.'
'I graunt,' quod she, 'and so I will truly.'
And softly than her colour gan appeare,
As rose so rede, through-out her visage all,
Wherefore me think it is according here,
That she of right be cleped Rosiall.
Thus have I won, with wordes grete and small,
Some goodly word of hir that I love best,
And trust she shall yit set myne harte in rest.
'Goth on,' she seid to Philobone, 'and take
This man with you, and lede him all abowt
Within the court, and shew him, for my sake,
What lovers dwell withinne, and all the rowte
Of officers; for he is, out of dowte,
A straunger yit:'—'Come on,' quod Philobone,
'Philogenet, with me now must ye gon.'
And stalking soft with esy pace, I saw
About the king [ther] stonden environ,
Attendaunce, Diligence, and their felaw
Fortherer, Esperaunce, and many oon;
Dred-to-offend there stood, and not aloon;
For there was eke the cruell adversair,
The lovers fo, that cleped is Dispair,
Which unto me spak angrely and fell,
And said, my lady me deceiven shall:
'Trowest thow,' quod she, 'that all that she did tell,
Is true? Nay, nay, but under hony gall!
Thy birth and hers, [they] be nothing egall:
Cast of thyn hart, for all her wordes whyte,
For in good faith she lovith thee but a lyte.
And eek remember, thyn habilite
May not compare with hir, this well thow wot.'
Ye, than cam Hope and said, 'My frend, let be!
Beleve him not: Dispair, he ginneth dote.'
'Alas,' quod I, 'here is both cold and hot:
The tone me biddeth love, the toder nay;
Thus wot I not what me is best to say.
But well wot I, my lady graunted me,
Truly to be my woundes remedy;
Her gentilness may not infected be
With dobleness, thus trust I till I dy.'
So cast I void Dispaires company,
And taken Hope to councell and to frend.
'Ye, kepe that wele,' quod Philobone, 'in mind.'
And there besyde, within a bay-window,
Stood oon in grene, full large of brede and length,
His berd as blak as fethers of the crow;
His name was Lust, of wounder might and strength;
And with Delyt to argue there he thenkth,
For this was all his [hool] opinion,
That love was sin! and so he hath begon
To reson fast, and legge auctoritè:
'Nay,' quod Delyt, 'love is a vertue clere,
And from the soule his progress holdeth he:
Blind appetyt of lust doth often stere,
And that is sin: for reson lakketh there,
For thow [dost] think thy neigbours wyfe to win:
Yit think it well that love may not be sin;
For god and seint, they love right verely,
Void of all sin and vice: this knowe I wele,
Affeccion of flessh is sin, truly;
But verray love is vertue, as I fele,
For love may not thy freil desire akele:
For [verray] love is love withouten sin.'
'Now stint,' quoth Lust, 'thow spekest not worth a pin.'
And there I left thaim in their arguing,
Roming ferther in the castell wyde,
And in a corner Lier stood talking
Of lesings fast, with Flatery there besyde;
He seid that women were attire of pryde,
And men were founde of nature variaunt,
And coud be false, and shewen beau semblaunt.
Than Flatery bespake and seid, y-wis:
'See, so she goth on patens faire and fete,
Hit doth right wele: what prety man is this
That rometh here? Now truly, drink ne mete
Nede I not have; myne hart for joye doth bete
Him to behold, so is he goodly fressh:
It semeth for love his harte is tender nessh.'
This is the court of lusty folk and glad,
And wel becometh their habit and array:
O why be som so sorry and so sad,
Complaining thus in blak and whyte and gray?
Freres they ben, and monkes, in good fay:
Alas, for rewth! greet dole it is to seen,
To see thaim thus bewaile and sory been.
See how they cry and wring their handes whyte,
For they so sone went to religion!
And eke the nonnes, with vaile and wimple plight,
There thought that they ben in confusion:
'Alas,' thay sayn, 'we fayn perfeccion,
In clothes wide, and lak our libertè;
But all the sin mote on our frendes be.
For, Venus wot, we wold as fayn as ye,
That ben attired here and wel besene,
Desiren man, and love in our degree,
Ferme and feithfull, right as wold the quene:
Our frendes wikke, in tender youth and grene,
Ayenst our will made us religious;
That is the cause we morne and wailen thus.'
Than seid the monks and freres in the tyde,
'Wel may we curse our abbeys and our place,
Our statuts sharp, to sing in copes wyde,
Chastly to kepe us out of loves grace,
And never to fele comfort ne solace;
Yet suffre we the hete of loves fire,
And after than other haply we desire.
O Fortune cursed, why now and wherefore
Hast thow,' they seid, 'beraft us libertè,
Sith nature yave us instrument in store,
And appetyt to love and lovers be?
Why mot we suffer suche adversitè,
Diane to serve, and Venus to refuse?
Ful often sith this matier doth us muse.
We serve and honour, sore ayenst our will,
Of chastitè the goddes and the quene;
Us leffer were with Venus byden still,
And have reward for love, and soget been
Unto thise women courtly, fressh, and shene.
Fortune, we curse thy whele of variaunce!
There we were wele, thou revest our plesaunce.'
Thus leve I thaim, with voice of pleint and care,
In raging wo crying ful pitously;
And as I yede, full naked and full bare
Some I behold, looking dispitously,
On povertè that dedely cast their y;
And 'Welaway!' they cried, and were not fain,
For they ne might their glad desire attain.
For lak of richesse worldely and of gode,
They banne and curse, and wepe, and sein, 'Alas,
That poverte hath us hent that whylom stode
At hartis ese, and free and in good case!
But now we dar not shew our-self in place,
Ne us embolde to duelle in company,
There-as our hart wold love right faithfully.'
And yet againward shryked every nonne,
The prang of love so straineth thaim to cry:
'Now wo the tyme,' quod thay, 'that we be boun!
This hateful ordre nyse will don us dy!
We sigh and sobbe, and bleden inwardly,
Freting our-self with thought and hard complaint,
That ney for love we waxen wode and faint.'
And as I stood beholding here and there,
I was war of a sort full languisshing,
Savage and wild of loking and of chere,
Their mantels and their clothës ay tering;
And oft thay were of nature complaining,
For they their members lakked, fote and hand,
With visage wry and blind, I understand.
They lakked shap, and beautie to preferre
Theim-self in love: and seid, that god and kind
Hath forged thaim to worshippen the sterre,
Venus the bright, and leften all behind
His other werkes clene and out of mind:
'For other have their full shape and bewtee,
And we,' quod they, 'ben in deformitè.'
And nye to thaim there was a company,
That have the susters waried and misseid;
I mene, the three of fatall destinè,
That be our werdes; and sone, in a brayd,
Out gan they cry as they had been affrayd,
'We curse,' quod thay, 'that ever hath nature
Y-formed us, this wofull lyfe t'endure!'
And there he was contrite, and gan repent,
Confessing hole the wound that Citherè
Hath with the dart of hot desire him sent,
And how that he to love must subjet be:
Than held he all his skornes vanitè,
And seid, that lovers lede a blisful lyfe,
Yong men and old, and widow, maid and wyfe.
'Bereve me, goddesse,' quod he, '[of] thy might,
My skornes all and skoffes, that I have
No power forth, to mokken any wight,
That in thy service dwell: for I did rave:
This know I well right now, so god me save,
And I shal be the chief post of thy feith,
And love uphold, the révers who-so seith.'
Dissemble stood not fer from him in trouth,
With party mantill, party hood and hose;
And said, he had upon his lady rowth,
And thus he wound him in, and gan to glose
Of his entent full doble, I suppose:
And al the world, he seid, he loved it wele;
But ay, me thoughte, he loved her nere a dele.
Eek Shamefastness was there, as I took hede,
That blusshed rede, and durst nat ben a-knowe
She lover was, for thereof had she drede;
She stood and hing her visage down alowe;
But suche a sight it was to sene, I trow,
As of these roses rody on their stalk:
There cowd no wight her spy to speke or talk
In loves art, so gan she to abasshe,
Ne durst not utter all her privitè:
Many a stripe and many a grevous lasshe
She gave to thaim that wolden loveres be,
And hindered sore the simpill comonaltè,
That in no wyse durst grace and mercy crave;
For were not she, they need but ask and have;
Where if they now approchin for to speke,
Than Shamefastness returnith thaim again:
Thay think, if we our secret councell breke,
Our ladies will have scorn on us, certain,
And [per]aventure thinken greet disdain:
Thus Shamefastness may bringin in Dispeir,
Whan she is dede, the toder will be heir.
Com forth, Avaunter! now I ring thy bell!
I spyed him sone; to god I make a-vowe,
He loked blak as fendes doth in hell:—
'The first,' quod he, 'that ever [I] did wowe,
Within a word she com, I wot not how,
So that in armes was my lady free;
And so hath ben a thousand mo than she.
In Englond, Bretain, Spain, and Pycardie,
Arteys, and Fraunce, and up in hy Holand,
In Burgoyne, Naples, and [in] Italy,
Naverne, and Grece, and up in hethen land,
Was never woman yit that wold withstand
To ben at myn commaundement, whan I wold:
I lakked neither silver, coin, ne gold.
And there I met with this estate and that;
And here I broched her, and here, I trow:
Lo! there goth oon of myne; and wot ye what?
Yon fressh attired have I leyd full low;
And such oon yonder eke right well I know:
I kept the statut whan we lay y-fere;
And yet yon same hath made me right good chere.'
Thus hath Avaunter blowen every-where
Al that he knowith, and more, a thousand-fold;
His auncetrye of kin was to Lière,
For firste he makith promise for to hold
His ladies councell, and it not unfold;
Wherfore, the secret when he doth unshit,
Than lyeth he, that all the world may wit.
For falsing so his promise and behest,
I wounder sore he hath such fantasie;
He lakketh wit, I trowe, or is a best,
That can no bet him-self with reson gy.
By myn advice, Love shal be contrarie
To his availe, and him eke dishonoure,
So that in court he shall no more sojoure.
'Take hede,' quod she, this litell Philobone,
'Where Envy rokketh in the corner yond,
And sitteth dirk; and ye shall see anone
His lenë bodie, fading face and hond;
Him-self he fretteth, as I understond;
Witnesse of Ovid Methamorphosose;
The lovers fo he is, I wil not glose.
For where a lover thinketh him promote,
Envy will grucch, repyning at his wele;
Hit swelleth sore about his hartes rote,
That in no wyse he can not live in hele;
And if the feithfull to his lady stele,
Envy will noise and ring it round aboute,
And sey moche worse than don is, out of dowte.'
And Prevy Thought, rejoysing of him-self,
Stood not fer thens in habit mervelous;
'Yon is,' thought [I], 'som spirit or some elf,
His sotill image is so curious:
How is,' quod I, 'that he is shaded thus
With yonder cloth, I not of what colour?'
And nere I went, and gan to lere and pore,
And frayned him [a] question full hard.
'What is,' quod I, 'the thing thou lovest best?
Or what is boot unto thy paines hard?
Me think, thow livest here in grete unrest;
Thow wandrest ay from south to est and west,
And est to north; as fer as I can see,
There is no place in court may holden thee.
Whom folowest thow? where is thy harte y-set?
But my demaunde asoile, I thee require.'
'Me thought,' quod he, 'no crëature may let
Me to ben here, and where-as I desire:
For where-as absence hath don out the fire,
My mery thought it kindleth yet again,
That bodily, me think, with my souverain
I stand and speke, and laugh, and kisse, and halse,
So that my thought comforteth me full oft:
I think, god wot, though all the world be false,
I will be trewe; I think also how soft
My lady is in speche, and this on-loft
Bringeth myn hart to joye and [greet] gladnesse;
This prevey thought alayeth myne hevinesse.
And what I thinke, or where to be, no man
In all this erth can tell, y-wis, but I:
And eke there nis no swallow swift, ne swan
So wight of wing, ne half [so] yern can fly;
For I can been, and that right sodenly,
In heven, in helle, in paradise, and here,
And with my lady, whan I will desire.
I am of councell ferre and wyde, I wot,
With lord and lady, and their previtè
I wot it all; but be it cold or hot,
They shall not speke without licence of me,
I mene, in suche as sesonable be;
For first the thing is thought within the hert,
Ere any word out from the mouth astert.'
And with that word Thought bad farewell and yede:
Eke furth went I to seen the courtes gyse:
And at the dore cam in, so god me spede,
Twey courteours of age and of assyse
Liche high, and brode, and, as I me advyse,
The Golden Love, and Leden Love thay hight:
The ton was sad, the toder glad and light.
. . .
'Yis! draw your hart, with all your force and might,
To lustiness, and been as ye have seid;
And think that I no drop of favour hight,
Ne never had to your desire obeyd,
Till sodenly, me thought, me was affrayed,
To seen you wax so dede of countenaunce;
And Pitè bad me don you some plasaunce.
Out of her shryne she roos from deth to lyve,
And in myne ere full prevely she spak,
'Doth not your servaunt hens away to dryve,
Rosiall,' quod she; and than myn harte [it] brak,
For tender reuth: and where I found moch lak
In your persoune, than I my-self bethought;
And seid, 'This is the man myne harte hath sought.''
'Gramercy, Pitè! might I but suffice
To yeve the lawde unto thy shryne of gold,
God wot, I wold; for sith that thou did rise
From deth to lyve for me, I am behold
To thanken you a thousand tymes told,
And eke my lady Rosiall the shene,
Which hath in comfort set myn harte, I wene.
And here I make myn protestacion,
And depely swere, as [to] myn power, to been
Feithfull, devoid of variacion,
And her forbere in anger or in tene,
And serviceable to my worldes quene,
With al my reson and intelligence,
To don her honour high and reverence.'
I had not spoke so sone the word, but she,
My souverain, did thank me hartily,
And seid, 'Abyde, ye shall dwell still with me
Till seson come of May; for than, truly,
The King of Love and all his company
Shall hold his fest full ryally and well:'
And there I bode till that the seson fell.
On May-day, whan the lark began to ryse,
To matens went the lusty nightingale
Within a temple shapen hawthorn-wise;
He might not slepe in all the nightertale,
But 'Domine labia,' gan he crye and gale,
'My lippes open, Lord of Love, I crye,
And let my mouth thy preising now bewrye.'
The eagle sang 'Venite, bodies all,
And let us joye to love that is our helth.'
And to the deske anon they gan to fall,
And who come late, he pressed in by stelth:
You Can't out smart the playa
Hey, YOU I see you everywhere
You go and eveything you do
Here you are married
to one, But sleeping with another
It's like you are a dog in heat
But you can't out smart me
Iknew you before you knew yourself
I know the hairs on your head
Your every thought before you
Hey, YOU that turning the lights off
So you can do your dirty deeds
in the dark. Remember I walked
the earth thousand of years ago
So I know you.
You can't out smart the playa
Cause I SEE YOU, When you
think no one else is looking
Hey, YOU the one that is
lying, cheating and stealing.
Thinking no one is looking
So you think you in the clear
I GOT A SECRET I SEE YOU.
I'M ALWAYS LOOKING
SO YOU CAN'T OUT SMART THE PLAYA
I Should Lie In The Sun And Melt Into The Grass
I should lie in the sun and melt into the grass.
I listen to the bikers throttling up like chain-saws.
I sit here urgently trying not to pollute time.
A poem's got one foot on shore and one in the boat.
Let Atlantis rise or sink as it will. I can wait.
Even when it's calm, my heart is an idling storm
and every third thought is a voodoo doll
as it sees itself on the inside
behind the eyelid of a visionary eclipse.
Nothing to worry about. I'm not going to put
the eyes of the telescope out for looking at Lady Godiva.
Look at me tracking myself all over this paper,
mouse and bird letters in the snow at the base of a juniper.
How human it is to forgo yourself for a future that doesn't exist.
God, I wish there were more fireflies in my life than street signs.
Do you see the lack of meaning in how things are understood?
Thought will get you as far as a frog on a lily pad
but once you get there it's easy to see it's the lily that shines
in a whole other realm of language
that everyone understands but no one can speak.
I watch the honeysuckle burn the gate I came through.
I note the blue eye shadow of the damselfly
applying herself like a cosmetic pencil to the heavy petals
of the wild roses tangled in the fallen birch.
What a shock it would be if I were to take off my lifemask
and you were to discover me infinitely closer to you
like a dimension you hadn't detected in your awareness
than the light is to what you see when
you're sitting up in bed alone in the dark at three in the morning.
What a world, hey? What do you make of it?
The marvel and the horror and the mystery
and the way destiny manifestly unrolls like a lottery
for every living thing on a planet that occasionally plays
Russian roulette with the asteroids, and our tiny part in it all,
this mere speck of nothingness that can embody
in its formless spaces within, the superclustering of galaxies?
And the pain and the anger and the sorrow and the fear
and the way things change and disappear
as you look for the forms of your expectations everywhere
and everything's either an approximation or consolation
of what you can see so clearly, it burns the air?
I should lie down in the sun and melt into the grass,
but forgotten among buildings here, I am unbound
and not even the dead are as free as I am right now.
The whole universe is one big solid insight
where inanimate things are just another mode of motion
sitting in the room like Latin, dogpaddling in space and time,
and I'm tucked under your eyelids like a loveletter
you weren't expecting in a language that could read you
like any one of the seventy-two scholars of the Septuagint.
I've been listening to you for lightyears like leaves
listen for the wind and the rain and the moonlight
and what you have felt about being alive
to say hello and sing farewell, has been my feeling,
and when you have wept at the intransigence of angels
and the generosity of their expansive interventions,
I have been humbled by the eyes of my own exaltations.
And my feet swept out from under me
like an undertow of shadows on the moon.
Sister Lunacy, who can stand in the light
of these intensities and immensities for long
this vertigo of stars and skulls, bells and scars
without reeling in the delirium of simply being here
to witness them as if they somehow depended on us
to embody them in our hearts and minds and voids
as if they were no different from us than we were,
all waves of awareness the wind blows up on the ocean.
The imagination transforms everything in to us.
The stars reek of the eyes that have gazed up at them
like pyres and telescopes and censers, it's
in the hair of a comet like the smell of a lover,
it's what makes the meteorites as kissable
as the head of a snake to the lips of a gentle enemy.
Sister Lunacy, my heartfelt muse, my dark-side dakini,
what have you been dancing for all these years?
Have you been pearldiving among the castanets
for a moonrise in the mouth of a seashell
that could sing to you like the ocean you're lost upon?
You're the station every seeker gets to
on a pilgrimage he doesn't know he's taking
where he damns the consequences and blessings alike
and enters into the spiritual life as a rebel of compassion
as he addresses himself to what's arrayed before him
as if there were only one voice between himself and another
like a bridge that flows, like a star
that doesn't drown in your eye like a firefly.
And if there were anything I could ever say I was
it would have to be this just as it is, this
endlessness I keep being poured out into
as if my heart were the only waterclock I could live by
and disembodied space the only medium
that could accommodate my shapeshifting adaptations
like goldfish coming to the surface to feed on the stars.
Sister Lunacy, the moon reaches down to the roots of the river reeds
and the catfish thrive among the wild rice in the shallows,
and eyes in the darkness high overhead, as if
someone shattered a mirror into a billion bits of awareness
see you standing on your barren precipice
and long to know what it is you're thinking.
In order to understand you must become the thing itself.
You must abdicate your own presence to be
remotely at peace with the world, it's a strawdog anyway,
and it burns too fast to be much of a lighthouse.
And o my darkness, there are so many skins you have yet to shed
like the moon trying on a wardrobe of water
laying her gown across the lake like an early frost of sequins.
I shall come to you at first as a premonition
as lightly as a cloud touches the mountain, an aberrant insight,
a synchronistic intuition of our simultaneity,
and in your breath my breath shall be an atmosphere
and in your eye my eye shall lavish the most intimate of stars,
and in your blood my blood shall be the poppy and the rose.
Sister Lunacy, even after the house has burnt to the ground
my passion stands like a blackened doorway in the rain
and though I look at you through a broken window,
the moon is whole, and the sky is not torn or bruised.
Lightning Hits The Horns Of The Morning Snail
Lightning hits the horns of the morning snail
like the tines of a tuning fork
and the larkspur sees in the ashes of the holy one,
a tiny urn, no bigger than a cigar butt,
a deep connection to the stars
at the root of its ultramarine towers,
the ugly and despised become luminously beautiful
by what they've been touched by. Same
with candles, night, the human spirit, a poem
and the stars and planets
that ride the film of our eyes across the sky
or slide across the poppies of blood that bloom
on the other side of our eyelids in the sunshine
like blue sunspots and serpentine rainbows
on the deft wings of the houseflies aspiring
to penetrate the heights and mysteries of being
as if they approached God like an ineffable windowpane,
and the black mirrors of the oil slicks
that eclipse our faith in our transformative power
to change things. Two petals of violet cosmos,
two eyelids of a new way of looking at things,
swaying ethereally in the wind
as if they were keeping time
to a faint music they can hear
way back somewhere in their mind's eye, fall
and stick themselves to the back of a snail
inching its way along a garden path in metric
through a crosswalk of rococo shadows,
and who would have believed
something so low and slow could fly
if they hadn't seen it with their own eyes?
Show me anything your eyes have ever been deprived of,
however ugly, however visually tantalizing,
inside our out, even if you can count more than the usual three,
and I'll show you someone who hasn't learned
how to be grateful for the generosity
of the black hole they're living in
like one of the darlings of light.
Clarity isn't just a matter
of straightening out the wavelengths in your line of sight
and then looking upon everything you see
as if it were flatlining in parallel event horizons
everywhere you looked for signs of life
and came upon death, and mistook it for peace.
It isn't just a matter of contemplating sundials
in erratically disciplined Zen gardens
until you come to understand how to use the shadows
on behalf of your own spiritual insight
as readily as you've mastered your weapons of light.
No one's ever been purified by a holy war.
Not even the warrior minstrel of the forlorn hope.
You can exhaust a whole new generation of third eyes
trying to make it all one out of a lot of little separate pieces
that reflect the whole in every part
of your shattered chandeliers and mirrors,
that long pilgrimage, that fire walk of shining splinters
that dazzle you into believing it's skip to my lou my darling
all the way down a Milky Way of stars
from here like a fingerling of light
to there like a wild salmon of oceanic enlightenment.
Beauty isn't an essence you can extract from the ore
of who you are as a human like an existential alchemist
trying to distill the stars from the medium they're shining in
as if you were pulling a sword from a philosopher's stone.
All the shining spiritual metals, copper, silver, mercury, gold,
unless they're alloyed with the darker elements of earth,
are too soft for combat. Merlin relies
on the iron forge in his own blood to work his magic.
He knows a holy war is just an exorcism
on crusade against a seance. A calling
of the dead to the dead. Not the work
of the living spirit that resides
in the human divinity of everyone of us
like a birthright of shining
that's as indefensible and unassailable
as time and space. Clarity doesn't try to part the heavens
like a mansion into single rooms for every afterlife
that goes into exile looking for an excellence within itself
that knows how to keep a promise to the earth.
Knowing how to fall is half the art of rising.
Learning how to get up off
your knees, your prayer rugs, tatami mats
and all those flying carpets
that don't fly straight in any direction
with compassion for the human being you are
as you see yourself looking at you
through everyone else's eyes,
and hear creation being said within you
like the fleeting meanings of life
that shadow the life of meaning
as fast as it's being spoken
in the mother-tongue of everyone
who can look upon a morning snail
and hear how a grubby little buddha
of a sticky sacred syllable
that crosses your path in the morning
is saying you into existence twenty four seven
the way everything else is each other
in the wholly imaginable beauty
of a creative language that isn't
a tongue-tied stranger to anyone.
Look at any grain of dirt on whatever path you're on
and light it up with the shining
from the oil lamps of your own eyes
and you'll see how easy it is to enlighten
what's under your feet like the billions of stars
that spontaneously followed suit like wildflowers
once you got the first one lit and realized
in whatever direction you search and seek
the spirit isn't looking for the right road of thorns
to cut its feet on, or lacerate its knees on a holy stairwell.
Put a pair of cosmic wings on a morning snail
and the whole earth turns into a landing strip
of green boughs in blossom, even
when the fireflies take over the nightshift
like microcosmic demonic nightwatchmen.
Go ask the bees if you don't believe me.
They can read the petals of the secret starmaps
that bloom like love notes and shared recipes
for honey that tastes like a solar flare
transformed by the transactions of a spiritual atmosphere
that pearls this grain of nacreous earth
as surely as the air that breathes us does,
into auroral arrays of beauty and compassion.
If you can't love the veils, how are you ever
going to learn to love the face behind them
that smiles back at you in a likeness of yourself,
all eyes, and stars, flowers and nocturnal metaphors
for what you're looking at?
A morning snail with two petals of cosmos for wings,
with flashy grains of dirt on its back, each
a world within a world in its own right,
rising chromatically over their event horizons
as a sign of a significance of their own
as poignant as the silicates and stars they're reborn from,
delivering the mail at its own pace
as if its wings were two loveletters
addressed to itself by the wind personally
each sealed with a kiss
like two complementary eyes
you must look into deeply if you want to see
how the hourglass flowers in your gazing
like larkspur and shapeshifting desert stars.
If you don't want to live your whole life
like a scar looking for a wound you can believe in.
Even a morning snail, if you've got the eyes for it,
can make a trail of the silver veil it leaves in its wake
like a smeared mirror on the path to enlightenment.
If you only love the light at moonrise,
and despise what's fallen into the dirt
like so many windfalls of
demons, stars, snails, angels, apples and humans before it,
your life is not adjusted to the time-zone you're living in
and your heart keeps missing a beat
you go endlessly wandering over the earth to look for
through the gardens on the moon
and the starfields above
when everywhere and always
it's been right under your feet all the time
like a snail path shining like the Milky Way
on the garden walkway through
the blue and white stars of the larkspur
like lightning in the morning
that flashes from your own eyes.
You Were The Intimacy
You were the intimacy
of the things I loved
that were so impossibly far away
I could never reach out and touch them
except by touching you.
In the long silence of these past thirty-seven years
I have never been able to look at people again
the way I used to see them before I met you.
There's a fear in the way I love them
that I learned
from living your absence.
A deep black wounded space within
that has sadly outgrown the stars
like October outlives its fireflies.
And every threshold I've crossed ever since
has turned into a long road
with a precipice at the end of my spinal cord
swaying like the first night I met you
on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
and you said
the only way
to overcome your fear of falling
is to have the courage to jump.
And I laughed and said
staring into the gorge
and the thin silver water down below
what's to fear
if you know how to fall toward paradise?
And you knew right away
I was your kind of challenge.
And I knew you wanted
to sword-dance with razorblades
you laid out like the Tarot
later back at your place
as if you wanted to convince yourself
you were still silly enough to believe in tomorrow.
The candle beside the cards on the floor
didn't turn out to be
enough of a lighthouse
to warn us of the approaching storm.
We were sincere in the darkness
for a little while
astounded by the expert innocence
of our mindless flesh.
You shone like the sun at midnight
and I came undone like Icarus
to prove I was falling
like a spent star
into the singularity
of a whole new universe
where everything that didn't happen in this one
came uncannily true in the next
for both of us
as if we were at last worthy
in each others' arms
of our own happiness.
When happiness is brave
And when it's afraid
there's nothing sadder
than a gift that was never opened.
Joy is a warrior that risked hoping
there was nothing left dying for.
Sorrow comes up with a million reasons.
The only way of life
is not making a way of life.
not making a way of life
One day you just get off the road
and start taking the long way home through the starfields.
You stop looking in the mirror
to see if you still have eyes.
For years after your death
no matter what I looked at
I always saw the same thing.
The black clarity
of your existential absence
staring me in the face
without turning me into stone
because that would have been mercy.
Try how I might
I could never quite
shut the lid on your coffin
that you were buried in me for good
or that my blood burned
like the infernal red
of an emergency exit
to show me the way out
of heaven and hell
by falling on them both
like a two-edged sword
that killed me deeper into life
than your death ever did.
Either life's unfair
or I'm not man enough
to live up to your suicide
but I remember how I used to love
feeling the weight
of the nightstream of your hair
as it poured through my hand
like a landscape that could feel
for the first time in a long time
water running in the dry creekbeds of its lifelines.
Things woke up.
And I saw the flowers
among the thorns
that had been guarding them
like the secret names of God
you had to know
to get past the burning angels
through the gates
of your sad return to Eden alone.
The eloquence of your flesh
when you walked on the earth
as if your heart danced to your blood
like an old song we both knew
now a broken harp of bone,
a wounded guitar,
someone laid down for good.
A prophetic skull
without a future
anyone can foretell.
The full moon going down
like a spare penny
into a dry wishing well.
Me looking at the dark hills
like the contours of your corpse laid out
under a collapsed tent
as they wheeled you into the ambulance
to spend your first vast impossibly long night in the morgue
among the dead
who don't catch their breath
or break their bodies like bread
alone in the stillness
that can't distinguish one death from another.
However I wept for you
all the hard bitter baffled tears
all the sweet radiant wellsprings
that washed the dust like stars
off the wings of the birds
that had laboured to carry the souls of the dead
far to the west
when I remembered
how blessed I really was
that things had been
so beautifully dangerous for awhile.
And all the dark fathomless watersheds of lucidity
I drowned in like a eye in a grail
looking for butterflies in a suicide note.
All the black pearls
the diamond skulls
the eclipsed chalices
all the precious jewels of my grieving
that death hoarded underground
nothing in the end
but nameless water
frozen between the cracks
of a gravestone as old as the moon.
I remember how I loved your ice-blue eyes
and how they burned with an Arctic clarity
you had to dress warmly for
if you didn't want to suffer from frost-bite
but there's more nightshade in them now
when I look into them like tundral flowers
and the light turns hurtful and eerie
when I recall how the melting snow
washed itself clean of itself
all those years ago
when we didn't know
what all this meant.
It's of little relevance
that we once loved each other
the way we did
and once you've exhausted
the meaning of signs
like galaxies expanding
ever more deeply into space
What does it look like from Mars?
Your death was a koan
not a fortune-cookie
and the koan broke me
like a man it couldn't understand
There is no scar for you.
You will always be
this open wound inside of me.
When I look at the stars
I can't dissociate beauty from absurdity.
I cherish their clarity
as something that can't be
contaminated by my eyes
when they're nothing
but two black holes in space
a snake-bite of the light
in the middle of my face
like a colon without the following:
the kind of faith
that makes what little is left
so incommensurably greater than what's been lost.
I can see the blue morning glory in the garden
as if moonlight had turned to skin
just to feel what it's like to flower
but I can't forget the frost
that fell like your death over all of it
when I went so numb
space turned into glass
and time pulled the blind down on the window.
I closed my eyes like a mirror
content to let the stars make sense
of their own reflections.
I gave up on directions
and burned my starmaps
and followed who I was
without caring what I became.
Absolutes of ice
spread like cataracts
over the relativities of the river
that went on flowing
as if nothing had changed
and my life was still a dream without eyelids.
A ghost would be easier to deal with
than the fact
that you don't exist anymore
except as bare bones
denuded of the world
like yarrow sticks
thrown before the Book of Changes.
But then I expect
you'd exorcise yourself
at a suggestion of the night
that the stars would be so much brighter
if you only blew out the candleflame.
You'd do it just to see
if things got better.
You'd leave me in the dark again
staring at the stars
like white ink
on a black loveletter
you left unsigned
as you disappeared into death
like your last breath on a cold windowpane.
I've long since forgiven you my solitude.
I've long since forgiven you
the severity of the wisdom
that hardened my eyes
like diamonds in the darkness
that could cut through anything
except my attachment to you.
I have forgiven you
for the way I have grown through suffering
how much I owe your death
and the terrible eyeless abyss that followed it
like an enlightened insight
into the impersonal nature of compassion.
I have forgiven you
the way I am spontaneously compelled
to love a world that is so estranged from me
I feel like water on the moon
trying to imagine what it must be like
to fall like rain on the intimate earth
with a reasonable expectation
of coming up flowers
that weren't destined
to be laid on your grave.
I've gone grey gathering them up
and bringing them to you
like bouquets of paints and brushes
that are ready at hand
should you ever wish
to pick them up again
and show me what the world looks like
without a body for a picture-frame
as you play the part of the upstart genius
who lived the black farce of creative pain
like the agony of the wick
burning at the stake like a heretic
between the flesh of the wax
and the spiritual aspirations of the candleflame
thrusting spears into space at the stars
as if the only way you could ever know God
if you ever met up
was by the scars.
The Undying One - Canto IV
'TIS done--the night has pass'd away;
And, basking in the sunny day,
The laughing fountain's waters bear
No record of each burning tear;--
The silent echoes give no sound
Of shriek or moan; and nothing round
Can tell what breaking hearts have been
So lately in that quiet scene.
But ere the evening falls again,
Many a step o'er mount and glen
Shall hurry far and wide, to seek
Her of the pallid brow and cheek.
Proud is the eye of the bridegroom lord!
He hath girt him round with a trusty sword,
And the horse that hath borne him to battle for years,
Gladly his angry summons hears.
His red nostrils snuffing the morning air,
Nothing he heeds their heavy care,
But waits till his high curving neck shall be freed,
To bound o'er the hills with an arrow's speed.
He is gone--full swiftly he dashes by--
And many a bright and beautiful eye
Follows the rider's form;--and dreams
Of pleasant walks by the dancing streams,
Of moonlight whisperings in the grove,
Of looks of ardour, and vows of love,
Fill those young hearts: and they wonder why
Visions so happy should make them sigh:
And more they wonder, that any one
Of the numberless forms their eyes have known,
Should have stolen a heart which Carlos woo'd
By the fount, and the lone wood's solitude.
Oh! love--real love! intoxicating dream
Of beauty and of happiness! how vain
Are our aspirings after thee, which seem
To bring thee near us!--doubt and causeless pain,
And jealousies, and most unconstant sighs
For something fairer than this world supplies;
And fondness which doth end in faint disgust;
And airy hopes that crumble down to dust ;--
These are not love,--though these too oft impart
A false excitement to the swelling heart.
To look upon the fairy one, who stands
Before you, with her young hair's shining bands,
And rosy lips half parted;--and to muse,
Not on the features which you now peruse,
Not on the blushing bride,--but look beyond
Unto the aged wife, nor feel less fond:
To feel, that while thy arm can strike them dead,
No breathing soul shall harm that gentle head:
To know, that none with fierce and sudden strife
Shall tear thee from her, save with loss of life:
To keep thee but to one, and let that one
Be to thy home what warmth is to the sun;
To gaze, and find no change, when time hath made
Youth's dazzling beauty darken into shade,
But fondly--firmly--cling to her, nor fear
The fading touch of each declining year:--
This is true love, when it hath found a rest
In the deep home of manhood's faithful breast.
To worship silently at some heart's shrine,
And feel, but paint not, all its fire in thine:
To pray for that heart's hopes, when thine are gone,
Nor let its after coldness chill thine own:
To hold that one, with every fault, more dear
Than all who whisper fondness in thine ear:
To joy thee in his joy, and silently
Meet the upbraiding of his angry eye:
To bear unshrinking all the blows of fate,
Save that which leaves thy sorrow desolate:
Nor deem that woe, which thou canst feel is still
Borne with him, and for him; through every ill
To smile on him,--nor weep, save when apart,
God, and God only; looks into thy heart:
To keep unchanged thy calm, pure, quiet love,
If he, inconstant, doth a new one prove;
To love all round him as a part of him,
Ev'n her he worships:--though thine eye be dim
With weeping for thyself--to pray that not
One cloud may darken o'er their earthly lot:
With the affection of true hearts, to see
His happiness, which doth not hang on thee :--
Oh! this is woman's love--its joy--its pain;
And this--it hath been felt--and felt in vain.
They are dancing again, by the misty veil
Of the star-lit sky and the moonlight pale.
Laughing and murmuring voices rise
With their gladsome tones, to the peaceful skies:
And no one voice hath a sadder tone
For the sake of her whose form is gone,
Though her step was light in the dance, and her brow
Fairer than any which gleam there now.
Yet after the dance is done, and faint
Each languid limb on the turf is thrown,
Their gathering voices strive to paint
The stranger-heart that Linda won.
And still, as his wasted form, pale brow,
And mournful looks to their thoughts appear;
With his deep, sad voice, they wonder how
He hath pleaded his tale in Linda's ear.
And some dream wildly of wizard bower
Which hath tempted those fair young feet to stray:
And some of the sweet and charmed power
Which lies in the moonlight's holy ray:
And some who love--oh! they fondly feel,
In the hopeful heart of the promised bride,
That her soul may be bound in the woe or weal
Of the stranger by the fountain's side:
And none be able to know, or tell,
How such a love in her young heart grew--
Till the charm have bound their souls as well,
And the flame burn bright in their bosoms too.
They travel fast--the bridegroom lord,
With his prancing steed and his trusty sword;
And the brother-tyrant by his side,
With marble brow and heart of pride.
But vainly they follow o'er vale and hill,
Through the tufted heath, or the cool clear rill;
That mournful pair are far before,
Where the bleak sands lie, and the billows roar.
Far from the smiling land of her birth,
Her early home on the boundless earth,
Hath Linda, with tears, resolved to go,
For her mother's son is her deadly foe.
Stern as he was when she watch'd each look,
And obey'd ere he spoke--oh! how shall he brook
That her heart hath swerved, and her vows are naught
For the sake of the love which a stranger brought?
Oh! far may her white foot seek, and reach,
A home on Erin's shingled beach!
Where Miriam dwelt--in their bless'd land
Of the free warm heart, and the open hand;
Where no hypocrite sneer their wrath disguises,
But the sword springs out as the heart's blood rises;
There hath she chosen her home to be:
And their bark bounds over the foaming sea.
Silently watching by Isbal's side,
Sadly she looks on the curling tide;
And, gloomily as it roams o'er all,
His eye is a guide where hers shall fall.
Sudden a light shot o'er that eye,
And a quivering through him came;
And Linda, though she knows not why,
Clings trembling to his frame.
Hurriedly he spoke,
As the deep flush broke
O'er his face:
'There is a vessel--would it were a wreck!--
I know it by the flag; and on that deck
Are forms my soul can trace.
Though yet I see them not, I know
That, could we meet, a bitter woe
Were thine, their power beneath:
Though yet I hear them not, I feel
Each voice would tear the polish'd steel
From out its idle sheath.
Curse on the sails, whose lagging speed
Doth leave us in our hour of need!
Is there no wind in heaven?
They come--oh! Linda, cling to me:
Come closer yet: more strength will be
To love and vengeance given!'
Vain wrath! Young Linda gazes on the sight
Which thus hath conjured up a desperate fight;
And, in the distance she doth spy a sail,
With its flag fluttering gently on the gale,
White, calm, and peaceful:--strange in truth it seems,
That such a sight hath power to wake such dreams.
Yet doth she shudder, as with vehement force
He clasps her round, and views the vessel's course.
It nears--it nears--and through the signal glass,
The distant forms of crew and captain pass.--
'Tis they! 'tis they! Her brother's haughty form,
Proudly erect, defies the coming storm:
And, seated near him, in his mantle clad,
With brow almost as haughty, but more sad,
Is he who woo'd her heart, when love was yet
A dream--which those who wake, strive vainly to forget!
She sees them, but all unconscious they,
Who tracks them thus on their distant way.
They hail the vessel, then turn to gaze
Upon the sunset's parting rays;
And veering in their course, they sever,
Careless if they should part for ever!
But Isbal hath fix'd his straining sight
On the gleamy look of her canvas white,
And with impatient glance on high
Chides the full sails that hide the sky;
And yearns, till that distant land be won,
For spirits' wings to bear him on.
Bounds the light ship on her foamy track,
With her crimson pennant floating back:
Onward impell'd by the steady gales,
That are firmly pressing the swelling sails.
On she goes, and the waves are dashing
Under her stern, and under her prow;
Oh! pleasant the sound of the waters splashing
To those who the heat of the desert know.
On she goes--and the light is breaking
In a narrow streak o'er the distant sea;
And the shouts confused of the crew are waking
The silent air with an echo free.
On she goes--and the moon hath risen--
The holy moon that her veil doth shroud;
And like a mournful face from prison,
She looketh out of her watery cloud.
Graceful as earth's most gentle daughters,
That good ship sails through the gleaming spray--
Like a beautiful dream on the darken'd waters,
Till she anchors in Killala bay.
Erin!--be hush'd, my lyre! Oh! thou,
With ardent mind and eager brow;
With heart and harp together strung,
The hero's soul, the poet's tongue;
Who shall attempt the chorded shell
Which thou hast breathed upon so well?
Or who shall seek that land to praise,
Nor seem to echo back thy lays?
That land, 'the land that bore thee;' never
Shall aught thy name from Erin's sever--
Nor dream of Erin's beauty be,
That doth not also breathe of thee.
And if perchance, in after years,
Some other harp shall wake our tears;
Or, with a burst of glorious song,
Bear our rapt souls in dreams along:
The songs they sing, the lays they pour,
Shall bring us back thy genius--Moore!
Oh! yes--by all that others feel,
When from thy lip the low words steal:
By many an unregarded sigh
The winds have caught in passing by:
By wild far dreams of light divine,
That come not, save to souls like thine:
By the heart-swelling thou hast wrought:
By thy deep melody of thought:
By tear, and song, and ardour won--
The harp of Erin is thine own!
A storm is in the sky; a storm on earth;
And terror pale hath hush'd the voice of mirth.
And strong determination gleams forth now
From the deep lines of many a careless brow.
A storm is on the sea; a storm in heaven;
And wildly on the vessel's course is driven.
Forth rushes lightning from the lurid skies,
And ere the pilot's lips can pray,--he dies!
Aghast they stand;--the blacken'd corse lies there,
Sickening their helpless hearts with deep despair:
While Isbal waves his vainly lifted hand,
And shouts in deafen'd ears his proud command:
'Each to his post! Myself will take the helm,
Though lightnings dart, and billows overwhelm.
Why dream ye thus? Is death so dreadful then
To shrinking things that boast the name of men?
Will ye be daunted that one soul hath gone
Ere he had time to say, 'I go alone!'
Struggle for life! for soon the yawning tide,
Which howls and dashes o'er the good ship's side,
Shall come to claim its prey:--each to his post,
And strain and labour, or the ship is lost!'
Alarm, and shame, and wonder fill their hearts;
And then his fiery speech some warmth imparts.
All hands aboard with silent strength obey,
And the strain'd vessel ploughs her labour'd way.
A bark--a bark comes tossing o'er the wave,
(On the dark face of heaven, more darkly seen)
Right on the vessel's course,--while ev'n the brave
Shudder for breath;--what doth the helmsman mean?
Onward she comes--by raging wave and wind
Helplessly driven with a meteor's speed:
Almost she touches:--is the helmsman blind,
That of such danger he doth take no heed?
Well doth he know that ship, whose eye hath watch'd
All the long day; and now doth glaring stand,
His only fear that heaven perchance hath snatch'd
His deep revenge from out his desperate hand.
She comes!--a shock--a hollow whiffing sound--
A wail that o'er the troubled waters went
Of many howling voices;--a harsh sound
Of the keel grating o'er that bark's descent;
And all was over!--Oh! in those few words
How much of agony, and hope, and fear,
And yearnings after life, and treasured hoards
Of young hearts' feelings, cease and disappear!
All--all was over! what, we may not know;
But, looking back, in our own breasts we feel
Much perish'd, with the separate all of those
Who sank beneath that vessel's grating keel.
And with them perish'd Linda's brother stern,
And the young bridegroom in his hour of youth:
And Linda feels her brain and bosom burn--
Oh! it had madden'd her to know the truth!
The murderous truth, that he she loved--for whom
And for whose love she broke her plighted troth,
With strong and ruthless hand prepared the doom,
Which sickens her to dream upon--for both.
But as it was, she gazed into his face,
And round upon the black and empty space,
And then with shudderings cold she bow'd her head,
And gazed upon the waters.--
Have the dead
Power to rise? She sees a single form
All impotently struggling with the storm,
And tossing high his arm, as if to crave
A rescue from his comrades' watery grave.
Oh! save him!--save him! Swift a rope is thrown,
And on the deck, with an exhausted groan,
The half-drown'd wretch is laid. With greedy glare
Doth Isbal watch him for a moment there;
And then with faded glance draws calmly back,
And seems to watch the vessel's furrow'd track.
Meanwhile full many a rough but hearty grasp
Greets the lone stranger; but his hand the clasp
Returns not--and their words of welcome seem
Spoken to one who hears not, but doth dream.
Wistfully gazing up into their eyes,
As though he understood them not--awhile
All motionless he stands; then to the skies,
Then on the sea, with a most bitter smile.
And thus he spoke, but whom he loved, or why,
Is in His book who suffer'd them to die:--
'It was a pleasant dream--possessing thee,
Albeit thy stay was very short on earth:
And still my hopes and heart are blessing thee,
Thou of the glad bright eyes and voice of mirth.
It was a pleasant dream--but thou art gone,
By many a billow cover'd from my sight:
Thou'lt come no more to cheer me when alone--
Thy lips are mute--thine eyes no more are bright.
Oh! thou in whom my life was all bound up,
What is that life without thee? Long ere now
I deem'd that I had drain'd pale sorrow's cup--
Alas! I had not seen death on thy brow.
'Oft, when with boding fears I've sat to watch
For thy dear coming, with dim weary gaze,
Or wander'd out thine eye's first glance to catch,
Fancy hath painted them with fading rays.
I've dream'd of danger and of death; and when
Thine answering look hath met my anxious eye;
When I have clasp'd thee to my heart again--
That heart's full joy hath strain'd to agony.
But it hath come at last--the long dark day,
The cheerless absence which hath no return;
And what is left to me? where lies thy clay--
There--there, beloved, doth my beacon burn!'
Wildly he gazed upon the green deep wave,
As if he sought a spot to be his grave;
Then turning him where Isbal stood aside,
'My curse upon thee, helmsman!' loud he cried.
He leapt--the waters closed, and murmur'd o'er:
The heart that beat to suffer--felt no more.
And Isbal started, and young Linda wept;
And the heavens brighten'd, and the loud winds slept.
The cold pale moon began once more to shine,
And the tall vessel sped athwart the brine.
'Tis deep blue midnight--many a star
Is twinkling in the heavens afar.
The autumn winds are blowing keen
The straight and steady masts between;
And motionless the vessel lies,
As she were traced upon the skies.
Within that anchor'd ship are some
Fond simple hearts who dream of home;
And murmuring in their sleep, they hear
Far distant voices whispering near.
Within that anchor'd ship are many
Whose careless dreams (if they have any)
Bring back some lightly-utter'd jest,
To brighten o'er their lonely rest.
Within that anchor'd ship are none
Who sleep not, save the watch--and one
Who may not rest--who dares not dream;
And he--whence glows that sudden beam
That shot along his pallid brow?
Again--again--'tis brighter now--
Awake! awake! 'tis danger--death!--
The flames are round, above, beneath;
Fire! on the lonely waste of sea--
Fire! where no human help can be!
Wild, breathless, and aghast, the crew
Crowd the scorch'd deck. A busy few,
With the rude instinct that doth make
Man struggle for existence' sake,
Lower the boats:--one after one
Those frail light barks are landward gone,
Ere Isbal from his vision'd trance
Is roused.--What meets his hurried glance?
Half burnt, half drown'd, around him dying,
Are wretches on the waters lying.
He gazes on all with shivering start--
''Tis the curse--'tis the curse of that broken heart!'
He hails the last boat--'Oh! not for my life
Do I ask you to brave the element's strife;
But for her who is dearer than life'--in vain!
A hoarse voice answers him again:
'When thou wert helmsman, the ship went down,
And the heavens look'd out with an angry frown.
How know we who or what thou art,
A man in form, but a fiend in heart!
Thou didst not shudder, nor quail, nor shrink,
When we heard the waves their death-sob drink;
Though brave men held their breath, to see
Their fellows die so suddenly!
The wrath of Heaven is on thy head,
And a cry is come up from the early dead--
It hath wrought on us this awful sign;
And we will not perish for thee or thine!'
It was over now!--and alone they stood
In that fiery ship, on the glowing flood;
With a woman's love, and a woman's fear,
She clung to that bosom, now doubly dear;
And she look'd up into his death-like face,
From the eager clasp of his firm embrace,
With a strange wild smile, which seem'd to say,
'Let us die together.' He turn'd away,
And he gazed far out on the lonely sea,
Where the billows are raging desperately;
He gazed far out to the utmost verge,
But the sickening sound of the booming surge,
And the dashing waves, with their ceaseless strife,
Coursing each other like things of life--
And a howl through the lighted firmament,
As the boat, and the boat's crew downward went--
Sounds of sorrow, and sights of fear,
Were all which struck on his eye and ear.
He look'd around him:--the fiery blaze
Mocking the pale moon's quiet rays;
The red flames licking the top-mast high,
As if climbing to reach the cool clear sky;
And the waters which came with a hissing,
On the side of the burning ship to dash;
The fire-tinged sails, and the lonely deck,
Which must soon be a black and helpless wreck;
The perishing fragments of all which lay
So proudly bright at the close of day;
And the memory of that grating sound,
When the keel pass'd over the wretches drown'd:
These, and the thoughts such scenes impart,
Were all that struck on his eye and heart.
All--was it all? Was there no pale form,
Shining amid the element's storm,
With her lip compress'd, and her dark eye proud,
While the flames rose high, and the blast blew loud?
Feeling that now no earthly power
Could sever their hearts for one short hour,
And careless of death, because she knew
That where he sank, she must perish too!
He look'd on her, and his heart grew sick,
And his filmy glance was dull and thick,
As wildly earnest he gazed once more
From the rolling sea to the distant shore.
A wild light shot o'er his gloomy brow;
'Oh! Heaven, dear Linda, is with us now!
Amid these scenes of fear and dread,
Thy Isbal, still secure, might tread:
The floating wave would bear him on
To live--but he would live alone.
Oh! by the love thou bear'st me still,
Though to me thou owest all earthly ill;
By the hours, and days, and years of bliss
Which made thy dreams, ere life sank to this;
By the hope that hath been, and that still may be,
Plunge into the waves, beloved, with me.'
Wildly she gazes, and shrouds her eyes
From the dark confusion of sea and skies.
Oh! woman's heart! to die by his side
Less fearful seems than to stem that tide;
Those roaring, raging, horrible waves,
Which are rolling o'er her shipmates' graves.
Onward--onward--and Isbal draws
His labour'd breath with a gasping pause;
The curse is light
On his soul that night;
For a heart is beating against his breast,
Where his lonely thoughts have found sweet rest,
And a calm delight.
Onward--onward--she faints not yet--
Though her cheek be cold, and her long hair wet;
And Isbal yearns,
As her fond eye turns
To search for hope in his eager face;
For land, and a mossy resting-place,
Where nothing burns.
Onward--onward--for weary miles
Through the lone chill waters, where nothing smiles,
And the light hath shrunk--
And the wave hath drunk
The last dull, cheerless, ruddy gleam,
And naught remains but an awful dream
Of the good ship sunk.
Onward--onward--in darkness now,
And the dew is standing on Isbal's brow;
And his soul is wrung,
As the arms which clung
Confidingly, droop in their beauty there
On the nervous strength of his shoulder bare,
Where her long hair hung.
Onward--onward--he hears once more
Murmurs and sounds from the blessed shore.
He heedeth not
His long dark lot,
But strains that form in a long embrace,
And tenderly kisses her cold pale face,
And his toil is forgot.
'Thou'rt saved, my Linda! See, the land is won--
The pleasant land where we may live alone:
The deep firm land, where we may stand and gaze
Upon the ocean in its stormiest days.
Linda, my beautiful! oh, blessed be
That day of well-remember'd agony
Which stamp'd the brand of darkness on my brow--
Since I have lived, beloved, to save thee now.'
He hath lifted her and laid her down,
And taken her soft hand in his own,
And wrung the brine from out her hair,
And raised its weight from her bosom fair,
Its cold damp weight, that her breath may come
Free from its pure and lovely home.
He hath press'd his cheek close, close to hers,
To feel when the first pulsation stirs,
And now he watches with patient love
Till that fainting form begin to move.
Long may he watch. Oh! never more
By the rolling sea, or the pleasant shore,
Shall her mournful voice with its gentle sigh
Whisper soft words of melody.
Never, oh! never more, her form
With faithful step, through sun and storm,
Shall follow him from land to land
Or like his guardian spirit stand.
Long may he watch for that head to rise,
For the gentle glance of those waking eyes:
Cold and pale as she lieth now--
With her weary limbs, and her faded brow,
So must she lie for evermore--
She hath pass'd her trials, and reach'd the shore!
Ah! who shall tell their agonized despair,
Who, after watchful nights of ceaseless prayer,
And days of toil, and hours of bitter tears,
And agony that does the work of years--
Stand by the bed of death with whirling brain,
And feel they toil'd, and loved, and pray'd, in vain.
Sadly and fearfully they shrink from those
Whose looks confirm the story of their woes,
And seek with visionary words to buoy
Their spirits up with prophecies of joy:
Ev'n while their blanch'd lips quiver in their dread,
The faint tongue murmurs, 'No, they are not dead!'
And yet we feel they are. So Isbal stood
By the deep, rolling, and eternal flood;
And so he sought some comfort to impart
With a fond falsehood to his conscious heart;
And still repeated, 'Lo, she breathes! she stirs!'
When his own breath had waved a tress of hers.
The oft repeated echo died away
Of those vain words; and as the ocean spray
With its light snow-shower drenches her again,
His lip gives forth uncertain sounds of pain.
In his wrung heart he seeks to guess
When perish'd so much of loveliness;
And in Fancy's dream her arms again
Cling, as they clung around him then.
Which of the mountain waves that rose,
Bade her meek eyes for ever close?
Was it her corpse that he bore for miles,
When he gladly dreamt of her grateful smiles?
Or did her white feet touch the shore,
Ere her spirit departed for evermore?
With a straining force his deep thoughts dwell
On each murmur that rose 'mid the ocean's swell.
Was it, when feebly her young arms sank,
That the dashing waters her spirit drank,
And her breath pass'd out on the billows high
With a faint and an unremember'd sigh?
But no--for long after he spoke to cheer,
And her sweet voice answer'd in his ear.
Was it when darkness fell around,
And the red ship sank with a gurgling sound--
That her angel soul to its haven past
On the unseen wings of the midnight blast?
Did she yearn for the far land hopelessly,
As her stiff limbs shrank from the foaming sea:
Or did she yield her up to death,
With a weary moan, and a gasping breath?
Vainly he searches his tortured brain
For a farewell word, or a sigh of pain;
Silently as he bore her on,
Her soul from its gentle frame hath gone,
And never on earth shall his heart discover
The moment her love and her life were over;
Only this much shall the lost one know--
Where she hath departed, he may not go!
With sternly folded arms, and indrawn breath,
He stands and gazes on that form of death.
The deep--the sickening certainty is there,
The doom eternal of his long despair.
O'er the dim wave he flung his desperate arm,
Forgetful in his anguish of the charm
That bound his life. With effort wild and vain
He plunges headlong in the treacherous main;
While the lone sea, with melancholy sound,
Returns him groaning to the mossy ground.
Again he leaps the tide-wash'd bank, which late
He deem'd a shelter from the storms of fate:
The dashing waters yield, and then divide;
But still he sinks not in the whelming tide.
Proudly he stemm'd the billows, when his arms
Bore the faint burden of his Linda's charms:
Proudly he gazed upon the waters high,
Whose strength contain'd no power to bid him die:
But now he curses, with a bitter voice,
The ocean, which doth triumph and rejoice,
As the green billows, heaving in the day,
Greedily roar around that lifeless clay.
Hark! the wild howl that echoes through the land,
As his foot spurns the smooth and glittering sand.
That wave its floating weight on shore hath thrown;
And 'the Undying One' is left alone.
Annus Mirabilis, The Year Of Wonders, 1666
In thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Crouching at home and cruel when abroad:
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our King they courted, and our merchants awed.
Trade, which, like blood, should circularly flow,
Stopp'd in their channels, found its freedom lost:
Thither the wealth of all the world did go,
And seem'd but shipwreck'd on so base a coast.
For them alone the heavens had kindly heat;
In eastern quarries ripening precious dew:
For them the Idumaean balm did sweat,
And in hot Ceylon spicy forests grew.
The sun but seem'd the labourer of the year;
Each waxing moon supplied her watery store,
To swell those tides, which from the line did bear
Their brimful vessels to the Belgian shore.
Thus mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the riches of the world from far;
Yet stoop'd to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:
And this may prove our second Punic war.
What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
(But they more diligent, and we more strong)
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
For they would grow too powerful, were it long.
Behold two nations, then, engaged so far
That each seven years the fit must shake each land:
Where France will side to weaken us by war,
Who only can his vast designs withstand.
See how he feeds the Iberian with delays,
To render us his timely friendship vain:
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.
Such deep designs of empire does he lay
O'er them, whose cause he seems to take in hand;
And prudently would make them lords at sea,
To whom with ease he can give laws by land.
This saw our King; and long within his breast
His pensive counsels balanced to and fro:
He grieved the land he freed should be oppress'd,
And he less for it than usurpers do.
His generous mind the fair ideas drew
Of fame and honour, which in dangers lay;
Where wealth, like fruit on precipices, grew,
Not to be gather'd but by birds of prey.
The loss and gain each fatally were great;
And still his subjects call'd aloud for war;
But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set,
Each, other's poise and counterbalance are.
He first survey'd the charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain;
Yet judged, like vapours that from limbecks rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.
At length resolved to assert the watery ball,
He in himself did whole Armadoes bring:
Him aged seamen might their master call,
And choose for general, were he not their king.
It seems as every ship their sovereign knows,
His awful summons they so soon obey;
So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to pasture follow through the sea.
To see this fleet upon the ocean move,
Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies;
And heaven, as if there wanted lights above,
For tapers made two glaring comets rise.
Whether they unctuous exhalations are,
Fired by the sun, or seeming so alone:
Or each some more remote and slippery star,
Which loses footing when to mortals shown.
Or one, that bright companion of the sun,
Whose glorious aspect seal'd our new-born king;
And now a round of greater years begun,
New influence from his walks of light did bring.
Victorious York did first with famed success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place:
Thus Heaven our monarch's fortune did confess,
Beginning conquest from his royal race.
But since it was decreed, auspicious King,
In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main,
Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,
And therefore doom'd that Lawson should be slain.
Lawson amongst the foremost met his fate,
Whom sea-green Sirens from the rocks lament;
Thus as an offering for the Grecian state,
He first was kill'd who first to battle went.
Their chief blown up in air, not waves, expired,
To which his pride presumed to give the law:
The Dutch confess'd Heaven present, and retired,
And all was Britain the wide ocean saw.
To nearest ports their shatter'd ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay awed:
So reverently men quit the open air,
When thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.
And now approach'd their fleet from India, fraught
With all the riches of the rising sun:
And precious sand from southern climates brought,
The fatal regions where the war begun.
Like hunted castors, conscious of their store,
Their waylaid wealth to Norway's coasts they bring:
There first the north's cold bosom spices bore,
And winter brooded on the eastern spring.
By the rich scent we found our perfumed prey,
Which, flank'd with rocks, did close in covert lie;
And round about their murdering cannon lay,
At once to threaten and invite the eye.
Fiercer than cannon, and than rocks more hard,
The English undertake the unequal war:
Seven ships alone, by which the port is barr'd,
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.
These fight like husbands, but like lovers those:
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy:
And to such height their frantic passion grows,
That what both love, both hazard to destroy.
Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball,
And now their odours arm'd against them fly:
Some preciously by shatter'd porcelain fall,
And some by aromatic splinters die.
And though by tempests of the prize bereft,
In Heaven's inclemency some ease we find:
Our foes we vanquish'd by our valour left,
And only yielded to the seas and wind.
Nor wholly lost we so deserved a prey;
For storms repenting part of it restored:
Which, as a tribute from the Baltic sea,
The British ocean sent her mighty lord.
Go, mortals, now; and vex yourselves in vain
For wealth, which so uncertainly must come:
When what was brought so far, and with such pain,
Was only kept to lose it nearer home.
The son, who twice three months on th' ocean tost,
Prepared to tell what he had pass'd before,
Now sees in English ships the Holland coast,
And parents' arms in vain stretch'd from the shore.
This careful husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn;
Who on their fingers learn'd to tell the day
On which their father promised to return.
Such are the proud designs of human kind,
And so we suffer shipwreck every where!
Alas, what port can such a pilot find,
Who in the night of fate must blindly steer!
The undistinguish'd seeds of good and ill,
Heaven, in his bosom, from our knowledge hides:
And draws them in contempt of human skill,
Which oft for friends mistaken foes provides.
Let Munster's prelate ever be accurst,
In whom we seek the German faith in vain:
Alas, that he should teach the English first,
That fraud and avarice in the Church could reign!
Happy, who never trust a stranger's will,
Whose friendship's in his interest understood!
Since money given but tempts him to be ill,
When power is too remote to make him good.
Till now, alone the mighty nations strove;
The rest, at gaze, without the lists did stand:
And threatening France, placed like a painted Jove,
Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.
That eunuch guardian of rich Holland's trade,
Who envies us what he wants power to enjoy;
Whose noiseful valour does no foe invade,
And weak assistance will his friends destroy.
Offended that we fought without his leave,
He takes this time his secret hate to show:
Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive,
As one that neither seeks nor shuns his foe.
With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite:
France as their tyrant, Denmark as their slave,
But when with one three nations join to fight,
They silently confess that one more brave.
Lewis had chased the English from his shore;
But Charles the French as subjects does invite:
Would Heaven for each some Solomon restore,
Who, by their mercy, may decide their right!
Were subjects so but only by their choice,
And not from birth did forced dominion take,
Our prince alone would have the public voice;
And all his neighbours' realms would deserts make.
He without fear a dangerous war pursues,
Which without rashness he began before:
As honour made him first the danger choose,
So still he makes it good on virtue's score.
The doubled charge his subjects' love supplies,
Who, in that bounty, to themselves are kind:
So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,
And in his plenty their abundance find.
With equal power he does two chiefs create,
Two such as each seem'd worthiest when alone;
Each able to sustain a nation's fate,
Since both had found a greater in their own.
Both great in courage, conduct, and in fame,
Yet neither envious of the other's praise;
Their duty, faith, and interest too the same,
Like mighty partners equally they raise.
The prince long time had courted fortune's love,
But once possess'd, did absolutely reign:
Thus with their Amazons the heroes strove,
And conquer'd first those beauties they would gain.
The Duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain,
That Carthage, which he ruin'd, rise once more;
And shook aloft the fasces of the main,
To fright those slaves with what they felt before.
Together to the watery camp they haste,
Whom matrons passing to their children show:
Infants' first vows for them to heaven are cast,
And future people bless them as they go.
With them no riotous pomp, nor Asian train,
To infect a navy with their gaudy fears;
To make slow fights, and victories but vain:
But war severely like itself appears.
Diffusive of themselves, where'er they pass,
They make that warmth in others they expect;
Their valour works like bodies on a glass,
And does its image on their men project.
Our fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,
In number, and a famed commander, bold:
The narrow seas can scarce their navy bear,
Or crowded vessels can their soldiers hold.
The Duke, less numerous, but in courage more,
On wings of all the winds to combat flies:
His murdering guns a loud defiance roar,
And bloody crosses on his flag-staffs rise.
Both furl their sails, and strip them for the fight;
Their folded sheets dismiss the useless air:
The Elean plains could boast no nobler sight,
When struggling champions did their bodies bare.
Borne each by other in a distant line,
The sea-built forts in dreadful order move:
So vast the noise, as if not fleets did join,
But lands unfix'd, and floating nations strove.
Now pass'd, on either side they nimbly tack;
Both strive to intercept and guide the wind:
And, in its eye, more closely they come back,
To finish all the deaths they left behind.
On high-raised decks the haughty Belgians ride,
Beneath whose shade our humble frigates go:
Such port the elephant bears, and so defied
By the rhinoceros, her unequal foe.
And as the build, so different is the fight;
Their mounting shot is on our sails design'd:
Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.
Our dreaded admiral from far they threat,
Whose batter'd rigging their whole war receives:
All bare, like some old oak which tempests beat,
He stands, and sees below his scatter'd leaves.
Heroes of old, when wounded, shelter sought;
But he who meets all danger with disdain,
Even in their face his ship to anchor brought,
And steeple-high stood propt upon the main.
At this excess of courage, all amazed,
The foremost of his foes awhile withdraw:
With such respect in enter'd Rome they gazed,
Who on high chairs the god-like fathers saw.
And now, as where Patroclus' body lay,
Here Trojan chiefs advanced, and there the Greek
Ours o'er the Duke their pious wings display,
And theirs the noblest spoils of Britain seek.
Meantime his busy mariners he hastes,
His shatter'd sails with rigging to restore;
And willing pines ascend his broken masts,
Whose lofty heads rise higher than before.
Straight to the Dutch he turns his dreadful prow,
More fierce the important quarrel to decide:
Like swans, in long array his vessels show,
Whose crests advancing do the waves divide.
They charge, recharge, and all along the sea
They drive, and squander the huge Belgian fleet;
Berkeley alone, who nearest danger lay,
Did a like fate with lost Creusa meet.
The night comes on, we eager to pursue
The combat still, and they ashamed to leave:
Till the last streaks of dying day withdrew,
And doubtful moonlight did our rage deceive.
In the English fleet each ship resounds with joy,
And loud applause of their great leader's fame:
In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy,
And, slumbering, smile at the imagined flame.
Not so the Holland fleet, who, tired and done,
Stretch'd on their decks like weary oxen lie;
Faint sweats all down their mighty members run;
Vast bulks which little souls but ill supply.
In dreams they fearful precipices tread:
Or, shipwreck'd, labour to some distant shore:
Or in dark churches walk among the dead;
They wake with horror, and dare sleep no more.
The morn they look on with unwilling eyes,
Till from their main-top joyful news they hear
Of ships, which by their mould bring new supplies,
And in their colours Belgian lions bear.
Our watchful general had discern'd from far
This mighty succour, which made glad the foe:
He sigh'd, but, like a father of the war,
His face spake hope, while deep his sorrows flow.
His wounded men he first sends off to shore,
Never till now unwilling to obey:
They, not their wounds, but want of strength deplore,
And think them happy who with him can stay.
Then to the rest, Rejoice, said he, to-day;
In you the fortune of Great Britain lies:
Among so brave a people, you are they
Whom Heaven has chose to fight for such a prize.
If number English courages could quell,
We should at first have shunn'd, not met, our foes,
Whose numerous sails the fearful only tell:
Courage from hearts and not from numbers grows.
He said, nor needed more to say: with haste
To their known stations cheerfully they go;
And all at once, disdaining to be last,
Solicit every gale to meet the foe.
Nor did the encouraged Belgians long delay,
But bold in others, not themselves, they stood:
So thick, our navy scarce could steer their way,
But seem'd to wander in a moving wood.
Our little fleet was now engaged so far,
That, like the sword-fish in the whale, they fought:
The combat only seem'd a civil war,
Till through their bowels we our passage wrought.
Never had valour, no not ours, before
Done aught like this upon the land or main,
Where not to be o'ercome was to do more
Than all the conquests former kings did gain.
The mighty ghosts of our great Harries rose,
And armed Edwards look'd with anxious eyes,
To see this fleet among unequal foes,
By which fate promised them their Charles should rise.
Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear,
And raking chase-guns through our sterns they send:
Close by their fire ships, like jackals appear
Who on their lions for the prey attend.
Silent in smoke of cannon they come on:
Such vapours once did fiery Cacus hide:
In these the height of pleased revenge is shown,
Who burn contented by another's side.
Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Deceived themselves, or to preserve some friend,
Two grappling AEtnas on the ocean meet,
And English fires with Belgian flames contend.
85 Now at each tack our little fleet grows less;
And like maim'd fowl, swim lagging on the main:
Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess,
While they lose cheaper than the English gain.
Have you not seen, when, whistled from the fist,
Some falcon stoops at what her eye design'd,
And, with her eagerness the quarry miss'd,
Straight flies at check, and clips it down the wind.
The dastard crow that to the wood made wing,
And sees the groves no shelter can afford,
With her loud caws her craven kind does bring,
Who, safe in numbers, cuff the noble bird.
Among the Dutch thus Albemarle did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdain'd to fly;
Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
Like falling Caesar, decently to die.
Yet pity did his manly spirit move,
To see those perish who so well had fought;
And generously with his despair he strove,
Resolved to live till he their safety wrought.
Let other muses write his prosperous fate,
Of conquer'd nations tell, and kings restored;
But mine shall sing of his eclipsed estate,
Which, like the sun's, more wonders does afford.
He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs:
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.
His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
And following smoke obscured them from the foe:
Thus Israel safe from the Egyptian's pride,
By flaming pillars, and by clouds did go.
Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our courages did theirs subdue:
So Xenophon once led that famed retreat,
Which first the Asian empire overthrew.
The foe approach'd; and one for his bold sin
Was sunk; as he that touch'd the ark was slain:
The wild waves master'd him and suck'd him in,
And smiling eddies dimpled on the main.
This seen, the rest at awful distance stood:
As if they had been there as servants set
To stay, or to go on, as he thought good,
And not pursue, but wait on his retreat.
So Lybian huntsmen, on some sandy plain,
From shady coverts roused, the lion chase:
The kingly beast roars out with loud disdain,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place.
But if some one approach to dare his force,
He swings his tail, and swiftly turns him round;
With one paw seizes on his trembling horse,
And with the other tears him to the ground.
Amidst these toils succeeds the balmy night;
Now hissing waters the quench'd guns restore;
And weary waves, withdrawing from the fight,
Lie lull'd and panting on the silent shore:
The moon shone clear on the becalmed flood,
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play,
Upon the deck our careful general stood,
And deeply mused on the succeeding day.
That happy sun, said he, will rise again,
Who twice victorious did our navy see:
And I alone must view him rise in vain,
Without one ray of all his star for me.
Yet like an English general will I die,
And all the ocean make my spacious grave:
Women and cowards on the land may lie;
The sea's a tomb that's proper for the brave.
Restless he pass'd the remnant of the night,
Till the fresh air proclaimed the morning nigh:
And burning ships, the martyrs of the fight,
With paler fires beheld the eastern sky.
But now, his stores of ammunition spent,
His naked valour is his only guard;
Rare thunders are from his dumb cannon sent,
And solitary guns are scarcely heard.
Thus far had fortune power, here forced to stay,
Nor longer durst with virtue be at strife:
This as a ransom Albemarle did pay,
For all the glories of so great a life.
For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Whose waving streamers the glad general knows:
With full spread sails his eager navy steers,
And every ship in swift proportion grows.
The anxious prince had heard the cannon long,
And from that length of time dire omens drew
Of English overmatch'd, and Dutch too strong,
Who never fought three days, but to pursue.
Then, as an eagle, who, with pious care
Was beating widely on the wing for prey,
To her now silent eyrie does repair,
And finds her callow infants forced away:
Stung with her love, she stoops upon the plain,
The broken air loud whistling as she flies:
She stops and listens, and shoots forth again,
And guides her pinions by her young ones' cries.
With such kind passion hastes the prince to fight,
And spreads his flying canvas to the sound;
Him, whom no danger, were he there, could fright,
Now absent every little noise can wound.
As in a drought the thirsty creatures cry,
And gape upon the gather'd clouds for rain,
And first the martlet meets it in the sky,
And with wet wings joys all the feather'd train.
With such glad hearts did our despairing men
Salute the appearance of the prince's fleet;
And each ambitiously would claim the ken,
That with first eyes did distant safety meet.
The Dutch, who came like greedy hinds before,
To reap the harvest their ripe ears did yield,
Now look like those, when rolling thunders roar,
And sheets of lightning blast the standing field.
Full in the prince's passage, hills of sand,
And dangerous flats in secret ambush lay;
Where the false tides skim o'er the cover'd land,
And seamen with dissembled depths betray.
The wily Dutch, who, like fallen angels, fear'd
This new Messiah's coming, there did wait,
And round the verge their braving vessels steer'd,
To tempt his courage with so fair a bait.
But he, unmoved, contemns their idle threat,
Secure of fame whene'er he please to fight:
His cold experience tempers all his heat,
And inbred worth doth boasting valour slight.
Heroic virtue did his actions guide,
And he the substance, not the appearance chose
To rescue one such friend he took more pride,
Than to destroy whole thousands of such foes.
But when approach'd, in strict embraces bound,
Rupert and Albemarle together grow;
He joys to have his friend in safety found,
Which he to none but to that friend would owe.
The cheerful soldiers, with new stores supplied,
Now long to execute their spleenful will;
And, in revenge for those three days they tried,
Wish one, like Joshua's, when the sun stood still.
Thus reinforced, against the adverse fleet,
Still doubling ours, brave Rupert leads the way:
With the first blushes of the morn they meet,
And bring night back upon the new-born day.
His presence soon blows up the kindling fight,
And his loud guns speak thick like angry men:
It seem'd as slaughter had been breathed all night,
And Death new pointed his dull dart again.
The Dutch too well his mighty conduct knew,
And matchless courage since the former fight;
Whose navy like a stiff-stretch'd cord did show,
Till he bore in and bent them into flight.
The wind he shares, while half their fleet offends
His open side, and high above him shows:
Upon the rest at pleasure he descends,
And doubly harm'd he double harms bestows.
Behind the general mends his weary pace,
And sullenly to his revenge he sails:
So glides some trodden serpent on the grass,
And long behind his wounded volume trails.
The increasing sound is borne to either shore,
And for their stakes the throwing nations fear:
Their passions double with the cannons' roar,
And with warm wishes each man combats there.
Plied thick and close as when the fight begun,
Their huge unwieldy navy wastes away;
So sicken waning moons too near the sun,
And blunt their crescents on the edge of day.
And now reduced on equal terms to fight,
Their ships like wasted patrimonies show;
Where the thin scattering trees admit the light,
And shun each other's shadows as they grow.
The warlike prince had sever'd from the rest
Two giant ships, the pride of all the main;
Which with his one so vigorously he prest,
And flew so home they could not rise again.
Already batter'd, by his lee they lay,
In rain upon the passing winds they call:
The passing winds through their torn canvas play,
And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall.
Their open'd sides receive a gloomy light,
Dreadful as day let into shades below:
Without, grim Death rides barefaced in their sight,
And urges entering billows as they flow.
When one dire shot, the last they could supply,
Close by the board the prince's mainmast bore:
All three now helpless by each other lie,
And this offends not, and those fear no more.
So have I seen some fearful hare maintain
A course, till tired before the dog she lay:
Who, stretch'd behind her, pants upon the plain,
Past power to kill, as she to get away.
With his loll'd tongue he faintly licks his prey;
His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies;
She trembling creeps upon the ground away,
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.
The prince unjustly does his stars accuse,
Which hinder'd him to push his fortune on;
For what they to his courage did refuse,
By mortal valour never must be done.
This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tatter'd fleet to follow home;
Proud to have so got off with equal stakes,
Where 'twas a triumph not to be o'ercome.
The general's force, as kept alive by fight,
Now not opposed, no longer can pursue:
Lasting till heaven had done his courage right;
When he had conquer'd he his weakness knew.
He casts a frown on the departing foe,
And sighs to see him quit the watery field:
His stern fix'd eyes no satisfaction show,
For all the glories which the fight did yield.
Though, as when fiends did miracles avow,
He stands confess'd e'en by the boastful Dutch:
He only does his conquest disavow,
And thinks too little what they found too much.
Return'd, he with the fleet resolved to stay;
No tender thoughts of home his heart divide;
Domestic joys and cares he puts away;
For realms are households which the great must guide.
As those who unripe veins in mines explore,
On the rich bed again the warm turf lay,
Till time digests the yet imperfect ore,
And know it will be gold another day:
So looks our monarch on this early fight,
Th' essay and rudiments of great success;
Which all-maturing time must bring to light,
While he, like Heaven, does each day's labour bless.
Heaven ended not the first or second day,
Yet each was perfect to the work design'd;
God and king's work, when they their work survey,
A passive aptness in all subjects find.
In burden'd vessels first, with speedy care,
His plenteous stores do seasoned timber send;
Thither the brawny carpenters repair,
And as the surgeons of maim'd ships attend.
With cord and canvas from rich Hamburgh sent,
His navy's molted wings he imps once more:
Tall Norway fir, their masts in battle spent,
And English oak, sprung leaks and planks restore.
All hands employ'd, the royal work grows warm:
Like labouring bees on a long summer's day,
Some sound the trumpet for the rest to swarm.
And some on bells of tasted lilies play.
With gluey wax some new foundations lay
Of virgin-combs, which from the roof are hung:
Some arm'd, within doors upon duty stay,
Or tend the sick, or educate the young.
So here some pick out bullets from the sides,
Some drive old oakum through each seam and rift:
Their left hand does the calking-iron guide,
The rattling mallet with the right they lift.
With boiling pitch another near at hand,
From friendly Sweden brought, the seams instops:
Which well paid o'er, the salt sea waves withstand,
And shakes them from the rising beak in drops.
Some the gall'd ropes with dauby marline bind,
Or sear-cloth masts with strong tarpaulin coats:
To try new shrouds one mounts into the wind,
And one below their ease or stiffness notes.
Our careful monarch stands in person by,
His new-cast cannons' firmness to explore:
The strength of big-corn'd powder loves to try,
And ball and cartridge sorts for every bore.
Each day brings fresh supplies of arms and men,
And ships which all last winter were abroad;
And such as fitted since the fight had been,
Or, new from stocks, were fallen into the road.
The goodly London in her gallant trim
(The Phoenix daughter of the vanish'd old).
Like a rich bride does to the ocean swim,
And on her shadow rides in floating gold.
Her flag aloft spread ruffling to the wind,
And sanguine streamers seem the flood to fire;
The weaver, charm'd with what his loom design'd,
Goes on to sea, and knows not to retire.
With roomy decks, her guns of mighty strength,
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves;
Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length,
She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.
This martial present, piously design'd,
The loyal city give their best-loved King:
And with a bounty ample as the wind,
Built, fitted, and maintain'd, to aid him bring.
By viewing Nature, Nature's handmaid, Art,
Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow:
Thus fishes first to shipping did impart,
Their tail the rudder, and their head the prow.
Some log perhaps upon the waters swam,
An useless drift, which, rudely cut within,
And, hollow'd, first a floating trough became,
And cross some rivulet passage did begin.
In shipping such as this, the Irish kern,
And untaught Indian, on the stream did glide:
Ere sharp-keel'd boats to stem the flood did learn,
Or fin-like oars did spread from either side.
Add but a sail, and Saturn so appear'd,
When from lost empire he to exile went,
And with the golden age to Tiber steer'd,
Where coin and commerce first he did invent.
Rude as their ships was navigation then;
No useful compass or meridian known;
Coasting, they kept the land within their ken,
And knew no North but when the Pole-star shone.
Of all who since have used the open sea,
Than the bold English none more fame have won:
Beyond the year, and out of heaven's high way,
They make discoveries where they see no sun.
But what so long in vain, and yet unknown,
By poor mankind's benighted wit is sought,
Shall in this age to Britain first be shown,
And hence be to admiring nations taught.
The ebbs of tides and their mysterious flow,
We, as art's elements, shall understand,
And as by line upon the ocean go,
Whose paths shall be familiar as the land.
Instructed ships shall sail to quick commerce,
By which remotest regions are allied;
Which makes one city of the universe,
Where some may gain, and all may be supplied.
Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
And view the ocean leaning on the sky:
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry.
This I foretell from your auspicious care,
Who great in search of God and nature grow;
Who best your wise Creator's praise declare,
Since best to praise his works is best to know.
O truly royal! who behold the law
And rule of beings in your Maker's mind:
And thence, like limbecks, rich ideas draw,
To fit the levell'd use of human-kind.
But first the toils of war we must endure,
And from the injurious Dutch redeem the seas.
War makes the valiant of his right secure,
And gives up fraud to be chastised with ease.
Already were the Belgians on our coast,
Whose fleet more mighty every day became
By late success, which they did falsely boast,
And now by first appearing seem'd to claim.
Designing, subtle, diligent, and close,
They knew to manage war with wise delay:
Yet all those arts their vanity did cross,
And by their pride their prudence did betray.
Nor stay'd the English long; but, well supplied,
Appear as numerous as the insulting foe:
The combat now by courage must be tried,
And the success the braver nation show.
There was the Plymouth squadron now come in,
Which in the Straits last winter was abroad;
Which twice on Biscay's working bay had been,
And on the midland sea the French had awed.
Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Famed for his action on the Smyrna fleet:
And Holmes, whose name shall live in epic song,
While music numbers, or while verse has feet.
Holmes, the Achates of the general's fight;
Who first bewitch'd our eyes with Guinea gold;
As once old Cato in the Roman sight
The tempting fruits of Afric did unfold.
With him went Spragge, as bountiful as brave,
Whom his high courage to command had brought:
Harman, who did the twice-fired Harry save,
And in his burning ship undaunted fought.
Young Hollis, on a Muse by Mars begot,
Born, Caesar-like, to write and act great deeds:
Impatient to revenge his fatal shot,
His right hand doubly to his left succeeds.
Thousands were there in darker fame that dwell,
Whose deeds some nobler poem shall adorn:
And, though to me unknown, they sure fought well
Whom Rupert led, and who were British born.
Of every size an hundred fighting sail:
So vast the navy now at anchor rides,
That underneath it the press'd waters fail,
And with its weight it shoulders off the tides.
Now anchors weigh'd, the seamen shout so shrill,
That heaven and earth and the wide ocean rings:
A breeze from westward waits their sails to fill,
And rests in those high beds his downy wings.
The wary Dutch this gathering storm foresaw,
And durst not bide it on the English coast:
Behind their treacherous shallows they withdraw,
And there lay snares to catch the British host.
So the false spider, when her nets are spread,
Deep ambush'd in her silent den does lie:
And feels far off the trembling of her thread,
Whose filmy cord should bind the struggling fly.
Then if at last she find him fast beset,
She issues forth and runs along her loom:
She joys to touch the captive in her net,
And drags the little wretch in triumph home.
The Belgians hoped, that, with disorder'd haste,
Our deep-cut keels upon the sands might run:
Or, if with caution leisurely were past,
Their numerous gross might charge us one by one.
But with a fore-wind pushing them above,
And swelling tide that heaved them from below,
O'er the blind flats our warlike squadrons move,
And with spread sails to welcome battle go.
It seem'd as there the British Neptune stood,
With all his hosts of waters at command.
Beneath them to submit the officious flood;
And with his trident shoved them off the sand.
To the pale foes they suddenly draw near,
And summon them to unexpected fight:
They start like murderers when ghosts appear,
And draw their curtains in the dead of night.
Now van to van the foremost squadrons meet,
The midmost battles hastening up behind,
Who view far off the storm of falling sleet,
And hear their thunder rattling in the wind.
187 At length the adverse admirals appear;
The two bold champions of each country's right:
Their eyes describe the lists as they come near,
And draw the lines of death before they fight.
The distance judged for shot of every size,
The linstocks touch, the ponderous ball expires:
The vigorous seaman every port-hole plies,
And adds his heart to every gun he fires!
Fierce was the fight on the proud Belgians' side,
For honour, which they seldom sought before!
But now they by their own vain boasts were tied,
And forced at least in show to prize it more.
But sharp remembrance on the English part,
And shame of being match'd by such a foe,
Rouse conscious virtue up in every heart,
And seeming to be stronger makes them so.
Nor long the Belgians could that fleet sustain,
Which did two generals' fates, and Caesar's bear:
Each several ship a victory did gain,
As Rupert or as Albemarle were there.
Their batter'd admiral too soon withdrew,
Unthank'd by ours for his unfinish'd fight;
But he the minds of his Dutch masters knew,
Who call'd that Providence which we call'd flight.
Never did men more joyfully obey,
Or sooner understood the sign to fly:
With such alacrity they bore away,
As if to praise them all the States stood by.
O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Thy monument inscribed such praise shall wear,
As Varro, timely flying, once did meet,
Because he did not of his Rome despair.
Behold that navy, which a while before,
Provoked the tardy English close to fight,
Now draw their beaten vessels close to shore,
As larks lie, dared, to shun the hobby's flight.
Whoe'er would English monuments survey,
In other records may our courage know:
But let them hide the story of this day,
Whose fame was blemish'd by too base a foe.
Or if too busily they will inquire
Into a victory which we disdain;
Then let them know the Belgians did retire
Before the patron saint of injured Spain.
Repenting England this revengeful day
To Philip's manes did an offering bring:
England, which first by leading them astray,
Hatch'd up rebellion to destroy her King.
Our fathers bent their baneful industry,
To check a, monarchy that slowly grew;
But did not France or Holland's fate foresee,
Whose rising power to swift dominion flew.
In fortune's empire blindly thus we go,
And wander after pathless destiny;
Whose dark resorts since prudence cannot know,
In vain it would provide for what shall be.
But whate'er English to the bless'd shall go,
And the fourth Harry or first Orange meet;
Find him disowning of a Bourbon foe,
And him detesting a Batavian fleet.
Now on their coasts our conquering navy rides,
Waylays their merchants, and their land besets:
Each day new wealth without their care provides;
They lie asleep with prizes in their nets.
So, close behind some promontory lie
The huge leviathans to attend their prey;
And give no chase, but swallow in the fry,
Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.
Nor was this all: in ports and roads remote,
Destructive fires among whole fleets we send:
Triumphant flames upon the water float,
And out-bound ships at home their voyage end.
Those various squadrons variously design'd,
Each vessel freighted with a several load,
Each squadron waiting for a several wind,
All find but one, to burn them in the road.
Some bound for Guinea, golden sand to find,
Bore all the gauds the simple natives wear;
Some for the pride of Turkish courts design'd,
For folded turbans finest Holland bear.
Some English wool, vex'd in a Belgian loom,
And into cloth of spungy softness made,
Did into France, or colder Denmark, doom,
To ruin with worse ware our staple trade.
Our greedy seamen rummage every hold,
Smile on the booty of each wealthier chest;
And, as the priests who with their gods make bold,
Take what they like, and sacrifice the rest.
But ah! how insincere are all our joys!
Which, sent from heaven, like lightning make no stay;
Their palling taste the journey's length destroys,
Or grief, sent post, o'ertakes them on the way.
Swell'd with our late successes on the foe,
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross,
We urge an unseen fate to lay us low,
And feed their envious eyes with English loss.
Each element His dread command obeys,
Who makes or ruins with a smile or frown;
Who, as by one he did our nation raise,
So now he with another pulls us down.
Yet London, empress of the northern clime,
By an high fate thou greatly didst expire;
Great as the world's, which, at the death of time
Must fall, and rise a nobler frame by fire!
As when some dire usurper Heaven provides,
To scourge his country with a lawless sway;
His birth perhaps some petty village hides,
And sets his cradle out of fortune's way.
Till fully ripe his swelling fate breaks out,
And hurries him to mighty mischiefs on:
His prince, surprised at first, no ill could doubt,
And wants the power to meet it when 'tis known.
Such was the rise of this prodigious fire,
Which, in mean buildings first obscurely bred,
From thence did soon to open streets aspire,
And straight to palaces and temples spread.
The diligence of trades and noiseful gain,
And luxury more late, asleep were laid:
All was the night's; and in her silent reign
No sound the rest of nature did invade.
In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,
Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose;
And first few scattering sparks about were blown,
Big with the flames that to our ruin rose.
Then in some close-pent room it crept along,
And, smouldering as it went, in silence fed;
Till the infant monster, with devouring strong,
Walk'd boldly upright with exalted head.
Now like some rich or mighty murderer,
Too great for prison, which he breaks with gold;
Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear,
And dares the world to tax him with the old:
So 'scapes the insulting fire his narrow jail,
And makes small outlets into open air:
There the fierce winds his tender force assail,
And beat him downward to his first repair.
The winds, like crafty courtesans, withheld
His flames from burning, but to blow them more:
And every fresh attempt he is repell'd
With faint denials weaker than before.
And now no longer letted of his prey,
He leaps up at it with enraged desire:
O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey,
And nods at every house his threatening fire.
The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,
With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice:
About the fire into a dance they bend,
And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice.
Our guardian angel saw them where they sate
Above the palace of our slumbering king:
He sigh'd, abandoning his charge to fate,
And, drooping, oft look'd back upon the wing.
At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Call'd up some waking lover to the sight;
And long it was ere he the rest could raise,
Whose heavy eyelids yet were full of night.
The next to danger, hot pursued by fate,
Half-clothed, half-naked, hastily retire:
And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late,
For helpless infants left amidst the fire.
227Their cries soon waken all the dwellers near;
Now murmuring noises rise in every street:
The more remote run stumbling with their fear,
And in the dark men jostle as they meet.
So weary bees in little cells repose;
But if night-robbers lift the well-stored hive,
An humming through their waxen city grows,
And out upon each other's wings they drive.
Now streets grow throng'd and busy as by day:
Some run for buckets to the hallow'd quire:
Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play;
And some more bold mount ladders to the fire.
In vain: for from the east a Belgian wind
His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent;
The flames impell'd soon left their foes behind,
And forward with a wanton fury went.
A quay of fire ran all along the shore,
And lighten'd all the river with a blaze:
The waken'd tides began again to roar,
And wondering fish in shining waters gaze.
Old father Thames raised up his reverend head,
But fear'd the fate of Simois would return:
Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed,
And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
The fire, meantime, walks in a broader gross;
To either hand his wings he opens wide:
He wades the streets, and straight he reaches cross,
And plays his longing flames on the other side.
At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take;
Now with long necks from side to side they feed:
At length, grown strong, their mother-fire forsake,
And a new colony of flames succeed.
To every nobler portion of the town
The curling billows roll their restless tide:
In parties now they straggle up and down,
As armies, unopposed, for prey divide.
One mighty squadron with a side-wind sped,
Through narrow lanes his cumber'd fire does haste,
By powerful charms of gold and silver led,
The Lombard bankers and the 'Change to waste.
Another backward to the Tower would go,
And slowly eats his way against the wind:
But the main body of the marching foe
Against the imperial palace is design'd.
Now day appears, and with the day the King,
Whose early care had robb'd him of his rest:
Far off the cracks of falling houses ring,
And shrieks of subjects pierce his tender breast.
239 Near as he draws, thick harbingers of smoke
With gloomy pillars cover all the place;
Whose little intervals of night are broke
By sparks, that drive against his sacred face.
More than his guards, his sorrows made him known,
And pious tears, which down his cheeks did shower;
The wretched in his grief forgot their own;
So much the pity of a king has power.
He wept the flames of what he loved so well,
And what so well had merited his love:
For never prince in grace did more excel,
Or royal city more in duty strove.
Nor with an idle care did he behold:
Subjects may grieve, but monarchs must redress;
He cheers the fearful, and commends the bold,
And makes despairers hope for good success.
Himself directs what first is to be done,
And orders all the succours which they bring,
The helpful and the good about him run,
And form an army worthy such a king.
He sees the dire contagion spread so fast,
That, where it seizes, all relief is vain:
And therefore must unwillingly lay waste
That country, which would else the foe maintain.
The powder blows up all before the fire:
The amazed flames stand gather'd on a heap;
And from the precipice's brink retire,
Afraid to venture on so large a leap.
Thus fighting fires a while themselves consume,
But straight, like Turks forced on to win or die,
They first lay tender bridges of their fume,
And o'er the breach in unctuous vapours fly.
Part stay for passage, till a gust of wind
Ships o'er their forces in a shining sheet:
Part creeping under ground their journey blind,
And climbing from below their fellows meet.
Thus to some desert plain, or old woodside,
Dire night-hags come from far to dance their round;
And o'er broad rivers on their fiends they ride,
Or sweep in clouds above the blasted ground.
No help avails: for hydra-like, the fire
Lifts up his hundred heads to aim his way;
And scarce the wealthy can one half retire,
Before he rushes in to share the prey.
The rich grow suppliant, and the poor grow proud;
Those offer mighty gain, and these ask more:
So void of pity is the ignoble crowd,
When others' ruin may increase their store.
As those who live by shores with joy behold
Some wealthy vessel split or stranded nigh;
And from the rocks leap down for shipwreck'd gold,
And seek the tempests which the others fly:
So these but wait the owners' last despair,
And what's permitted to the flames invade;
Even from their jaws they hungry morsels tear,
And on their backs the spoils of Vulcan lade.
The days were all in this lost labour spent;
And when the weary king gave place to night,
His beams he to his royal brother lent,
And so shone still in his reflective light.
Night came, but without darkness or repose,--
A dismal picture of the general doom,
Where souls, distracted when the trumpet blows,
And half unready, with their bodies come.
Those who have homes, when home they do repair,
To a last lodging call their wandering friends:
Their short uneasy sleeps are broke with care,
To look how near their own destruction tends.
Those who have none, sit round where once it was,
And with full eyes each wonted room require;
Haunting the yet warm ashes of the place,
As murder'd men walk where they did expire.
Some stir up coals, and watch the vestal fire,
Others in vain from sight of ruin run;
And, while through burning labyrinths they retire,
With loathing eyes repeat what they would shun.
The most in fields like herded beasts lie down,
To dews obnoxious on the grassy floor;
And while their babes in sleep their sorrows drown,
Sad parents watch the remnants of their store.
While by the motion of the flames they guess
What streets are burning now, and what are near;
An infant waking to the paps would press,
And meets, instead of milk, a falling tear.
No thought can ease them but their sovereign's care,
Whose praise the afflicted as their comfort sing:
Even those whom want might drive to just despair,
Think life a blessing under such a king.
Meantime he sadly suffers in their grief,
Out-weeps an hermit, and out-prays a saint:
All the long night he studies their relief,
How they may be supplied, and he may want.
O God, said he, thou patron of my days,
Guide of my youth in exile and distress!
Who me, unfriended, brought'st by wondrous ways,
The kingdom of my fathers to possess:
Be thou my judge, with what unwearied care
I since have labour'd for my people's good;
To bind the bruises of a civil war,
And stop the issues of their wasting blood.
Thou who hast taught me to forgive the ill,
And recompense, as friends, the good misled;
If mercy be a precept of thy will,
Return that mercy on thy servant's head.
Or if my heedless youth has stepp'd astray,
Too soon forgetful of thy gracious hand;
On me alone thy just displeasure lay,
But take thy judgments from this mourning land.
We all have sinn'd, and thou hast laid us low,
As humble earth from whence at first we came:
Like flying shades before the clouds we show,
And shrink like parchment in consuming flame.
O let it be enough what thou hast done;
When spotted Deaths ran arm'd through every street,
With poison'd darts which not the good could shun,
The speedy could out-fly, or valiant meet.
The living few, and frequent funerals then,
Proclaim'd thy wrath on this forsaken place;
And now those few who are return'd again,
Thy searching judgments to their dwellings trace.
O pass not, Lord, an absolute decree,
Or bind thy sentence unconditional!
But in thy sentence our remorse foresee,
And in that foresight this thy doom recall.
Thy threatenings, Lord, as thine thou mayst revoke:
But if immutable and fix'd they stand,
Continue still thyself to give the stroke,
And let not foreign foes oppress thy land.
The Eternal heard, and from the heavenly quire
Chose out the cherub with the flaming sword;
And bade him swiftly drive the approaching fire
From where our naval magazines were stored.
The blessed minister his wings display'd,
And like a shooting star he cleft the night:
He charged the flames, and those that disobey'd
He lash'd to duty with his sword of light.
The fugitive flames chastised went forth to prey
On pious structures, by our fathers rear'd;
By which to heaven they did affect the way,
Ere faith in churchmen without works was heard.
The wanting orphans saw, with watery eyes,
Their founder's charity in dust laid low;
And sent to God their ever-answered cries,
For He protects the poor, who made them so.
Nor could thy fabric, Paul's, defend thee long,
Though thou wert sacred to thy Maker's praise:
Though made immortal by a poet's song;
And poets' songs the Theban walls could raise.
The daring flames peep'd in, and saw from far
The awful beauties of the sacred quire:
But since it was profaned by civil war,
Heaven thought it fit to have it purged by fire.
Now down the narrow streets it swiftly came,
And widely opening did on both sides prey:
This benefit we sadly owe the flame,
If only ruin must enlarge our way.
And now four days the sun had seen our woes:
Four nights the moon beheld the incessant fire:
It seem'd as if the stars more sickly rose,
And farther from the feverish north retire.
In th' empyrean heaven, the bless'd abode,
The Thrones and the Dominions prostrate lie,
Not daring to behold their angry God;
And a hush'd silence damps the tuneful sky.
At length the Almighty cast a pitying eye,
And mercy softly touch'd his melting breast:
He saw the town's one half in rubbish lie,
And eager flames drive on to storm the rest.
An hollow crystal pyramid he takes,
In firmamental waters dipt above;
Of it a broad extinguisher he makes,
And hoods the flames that to their quarry drove.
282 The vanquish'd fires withdraw from every place,
Or, full with feeding, sink into a sleep:
Each household genius shows again his face,
And from the hearths the little Lares creep.
Our King this more than natural change beholds;
With sober joy his heart and eyes abound:
To the All-good his lifted hands he folds,
And thanks him low on his redeemed ground.
As when sharp frosts had long constrain'd the earth,
A kindly thaw unlocks it with mild rain;
And first the tender blade peeps up to birth,
And straight the green fields laugh with promised grain:
By such degrees the spreading gladness grew
In every heart which fear had froze before:
The standing streets with so much joy they view,
That with less grief the perish'd they deplore.
The father of the people open'd wide
His stores, and all the poor with plenty fed:
Thus God's anointed God's own place supplied,
And fill'd the empty with his daily bread.
This royal bounty brought its own reward,
And in their minds so deep did print the sense,
That if their ruins sadly they regard,
'Tis but with fear the sight might drive him thence.
But so may he live long, that town to sway,
Which by his auspice they will nobler make,
As he will hatch their ashes by his stay,
And not their humble ruins now forsake.
They have not lost their loyalty by fire;
Nor is their courage or their wealth so low,
That from his wars they poorly would retire,
Or beg the pity of a vanquish'd foe.
Not with more constancy the Jews of old,
By Cyrus from rewarded exile sent,
Their royal city did in dust behold,
Or with more vigour to rebuild it went.
The utmost malice of their stars is past,
And two dire comets, which have scourged the town,
In their own plague and fire have breathed the last,
Or dimly in their sinking sockets frown.
Now frequent trines the happier lights among,
And high-raised Jove, from his dark prison freed,
Those weights took off that on his planet hung,
Will gloriously the new-laid work succeed.
Methinks already from this chemic flame,
I see a city of more precious mould:
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
With silver paved, and all divine with gold.
Already labouring with a mighty fate,
She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow,
And seems to have renew'd her charter's date,
Which Heaven will to the death of time allow.
More great than human now, and more august,
Now deified she from her fires does rise:
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And opening into larger parts she flies.
Before, she like some shepherdess did show,
Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.
Now, like a maiden queen, she will behold,
From her high turrets, hourly suitors come;
The East with incense, and the West with gold,
Will stand, like suppliants, to receive her doom!
The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train;
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
With longing eyes to meet her face again.
The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,
The glory of their towns no more shall boast;
And Seine, that would with Belgian rivers join,
Shall find her lustre stain'd, and traffic lost.
The venturous merchant who design'd more far,
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charm'd with the splendour of this northern star,
Shall here unlade him, and depart no more.
Our powerful navy shall no longer meet,
The wealth of France or Holland to invade;
The beauty of this town without a fleet,
From all the world shall vindicate her trade.
And while this famed emporium we prepare,
The British ocean shall such triumphs boast,
That those, who now disdain our trade to share,
Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast.
Already we have conquer'd half the war,
And the less dangerous part is left behind:
Our trouble now is but to make them dare,
And not so great to vanquish as to find.
Thus to the Eastern wealth through storms we go,
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more;
A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the spicy shore.
You Ask Me If I Miss The Place
you ask me if i miss
home, and i did not answer you
i go out the door and see
a line of corn growing
along the field
that i plowed
the rooster cocks
a long call
and up there
When all others are gone
They that abstain from hurting
when others lash out
with words and deeds that sting
that do not bring about
pain, when tempted to do so,
who refrain, unmoved when circumstance
demands action and is slow
in judgement and remembrance;
they are true in their brotherhood
as stewards and disciples of the Lord
and their graces are sometimes misunderstood
but sincerity is etched into every deed and word:
and these people stand alone,
true to their core, when all others are gone.
When darkness stretched out through the universe
When darkness and nothing but a void
stretched out through the universe
God created stars, planets
and this place called earth
and man He created in his own image
as a conscious being, with choices to make,
a life to live and his own actions to take
but men vainly followed a deceitful being
started own undertakings to conquer one another,
to live only for pleasure, disregarding one another
falling into darkness
erecting idols from dead material things
and a time came where the wicked
were so oppressing other men,
and men were challenging God
with water falling from the sky
flowing up from the depths of the earth
He wiped the earth clear
but for the few, that knew Him
who tried to turn away from sin.
The Universe In You
It's just a thing with you
A spacious place
Black with white
Years of tears, emotion
Held like so... inside
And then it hit me
Though I saw it coming
The thinking in your thinking
The feeling in your feeling
Touched by a boy's
Restless young erection
Arms are open
Eyes are wide
What was out there
Is now in you
You drink it in
Scratched the skin
Bit the hand that hits
You had your way
Wanting some of everything
Thinking it would shine
Touched this stone
And what'd you find?
A fiery red
And glowing world
Intoxicating... to a girl
In the atmosphere
But it's just changing times
And a few crazy people
and count the cost
You don't fall in love by chance
It's a decision
made over time
Should you take a risk
and start to climb
the steepest hill
only to find
you've been left behind?
Choosing to love
is risking a lot
and trying to change
and to give all you've got
But don't pretend
it comes out of the blue
You take a chance
and see it through
and if it's refused
what can you do?
Lick your wounds
Buy your booze
You won't get drunk by accident
Don't blame him
for refusing your bid
He didn't decide to love
Learn the lesson
Take the blows
You didn't fall in love by chance
Play the sad songs
Sing the blues
You don't fall in love by chance
When Intentions Meant Are Not Mentioned
Can we share thoughts without speaking?
And how can that be validated?
If neither of us are near,
To appreciate what we hear?
No emotion I've known to feel,
Has ever been exchanged.
To have someone understand,
From the outside to the inside.
Knowing what is felt,
Can love be shared and said is there,
But not expressed at all?
Can a broken heart be spared despair?
To not process pain,
Before any tears begin to fall?
And if those tears should fall from eyes,
Could alibis stop what is shown?
Empathy sent from distances given,
Isn't empathy whispered or a hug to convince.
Can we share thoughts without speaking?
And how can that be validated?
If neither of us are near to appreciate this...
Or witness a difference made.
When intentions meant are not mentioned...
Can relationships mend to save?
You Must Come Out of Disguise
I know my willingness to assist you,
Comes as a surprise.
But I've noticed your list of repeated indignities,
Needs a fresher delivery.
And you must come out of disguise.
If you insist upon using the same list,
You must approach those of 'lowlife' you depict...
With an undeniable,
If you choose what you say to stick.
They've grown accustomed to your capabilities.
And they believe you have yet to expose,
The depth of your sleaze.
They feel there is more you have yet to show.
I'd like to offer some suggestions...
Since your lack of commitment is in question.
You've infuriated the people with a periodic tease.
Their expectations have grown.
And like them I too believe...
Those who create and bait animosities,
Should not deliver them just to leave.
Your ability to deceive should be given proper credit.
Every aspect of it was from your mind as conceived.
I know my willingness to assist you,
Comes as a surprise.
But I've noticed your list of repeated indignities,
Needs a fresher delivery.
And you must come out of disguise.
On a wing and a prayer
has had a bad press
as some sort of moral metaphor
for a man who challenged
and/or the gods
and failed, in a narrow-minded view
A young man’s ambition
and perhaps devotion
drew him towards the heavens
and science had not developed very far
so how was he to know
except by experiment
I’d like to think that as he dropped
out of a cloudless Greek sky
out of mythology
out of Breughel’s painting
out of Auden’s mindfulness
he was caught before the third and last bobbing up
by a bevy of compassionate mermaids
and returned gently to land
to live again perhaps under
an assumed name
while the mermaids sang to each other his story
across the seven seas
who whispered it to men
in the off-shore breeze
as a moral story telling how
heartfelt prayer always reaches heaven
there to be taken into account
but science is dodgy, make sure
you get it right and
it will be your servant
and when one day with heaven’s consent
you build a better vehicle to ‘conquer’ space
though how untrue a phrase
perhaps Apollo would be
a safer name since Icarus Two
somehow doesn’t have that ring about it.