The sunsets fall and the sunsets fade,
But still I walk this shadowy land;
And grapple the dark and only the dark
In my search for a loving hand.
For it's here a still, deep woodland lies,
With spurs of pine and sheaves of fern;
But I wander wild, and wail like a child
For a face that will never return!
And it's here a mighty water flows,
With drifts of wind and wimpled waves;
But the darling head of a dear one dead
Is hidden beneath its caves.
One Can Wait Forever/ For the Ideal Poem That Will Never Come
One can wait forever for the ideal poem
That will never come-
And write down the lines
That come as they come
Irrelevant, incidental, momentary
As one's own feeling of oneself is.
Like the breeze of these instants,
Like the shadows of the leaves
As they trace their motions
On the sun- touched ground,
Like all which is passing
Without any real evidence of its moment's remembrance
As dying as oneself is
Empty And Broken Hearted
You'll always be in my heart
From now to eternity
My thoughts will be on you
Ever since I left I felt empty
Something was missing
my body doesn't feel the same
Pieces of me are gone
that will never return again
the tears I cry will only ripple within your name
I'm like a vase
with no water and no love
I miss the days that went by
and the days that will never be once more
With out you is like being on a drained out subway train
Wanting to stay on but wanting off at the same time
Or a scary rollercoaster wanting to get on but last time
You thought it nearly killed you so you want to
Stay away and yet if that one person asked you you'd ride it again
Sitting here wondering if your breathing or not
Is like the echoing in my brain between the two canon walls
Just becoming more and more of a fade in the wind
That fills the space that holds nothing
My heart was once crammed to the top and
Poring out to others
I held it so high once
Then April 11 came along
In that team of seconds
My heart went from high up in the air
Felling my hole entire body with love to
Dragging on the ground bleeding and in pain
Bare drained traumatized and unfilled with love
In the Morning of Life
In the morning of life, when its cares are unknown,
And its pleasures in all their new lustre begin,
When we live in a bright-beaming world of our own,
And the light that surrounds us is all from within;
Oh 'tis not, believe me, in that happy time
We can love, as in hours of less transport we may; --
Of our smiles, of our hopes, 'tis the gay sunny prime,
But affection is truest when these fade away.
When we see the first glory of youth pass us by,
Like a leaf on the stream that will never return,
When our cup, which had sparkled with pleasure so high,
First tastes of the other, the dark-flowing urn;
Then, then in the time when affection holds sway
With a depth and a tenderness joy never knew;
Love, nursed among pleasures, is faithless as they,
But the love born of Sorrow, like Sorrow, is true.
In climes full of sunshine, though splendid the flowers,
Their sighs have no freshness, their odour no worth;
'Tis the cloud and the mist of our own Isle of showers
That call the rich spirit of fragrancy forth.
So it is not 'mid splendour, prosperity, mirth,
That the depth of Love's generous spirit appears;
To the sunshine of smiles it may first owe its birth,
But the soul of its sweetness is drawn out by tears.
An Autumn Mood
Pile the pyre, light the fire-there is fuel enough and to spare;
You have fire enough and to spare with your madness and gladness;
Burn the old year-it is dead, and dead, and done.
There is something under the sun that I cannot bear:
I cannot bear this sadness under the sun,
I cannot bear this sun upon all this sadness.
Here on this prophecy, here on this leafless log,
Log upon log, and leafless on leafless, I sit.
Yes, Beauty, I see thee; yes, I see, but I will not rejoice.
Down, down, wild heart! down, down, thou hungry dog
That dost but leap and gaze with a want thou canst not utter!
Down, down! I know the ill, but where is the cure?
Moor and stubble and mist, stubble and mist and moor,
Here, on the turf that will feel the snows, a vanishing flutter
Of bells that are ringing farewells,
And overhead, from a branch that will soon be bare,
Is it a falling leaf that disturbs my blood like a voice?
Or is it an autumn bird that answers the evening light?
The evening light on stubble and moor and mist,
And pallid woods, and the pale sweet hamlets of dying men.
Oh, autumn bird! I also will speak as I list.
Oh, woods! oh, fields! oh, trees! oh, hill and glen!
You who have seen my glory, you who wist
How I have walked the mornings of delight-
Myself a morning, summer'd through and lit
With light and summer as the sunny dew
With sun: you saw me then-
You see me now; oh, hear my heart and answer it.
Where is the Nevermore and the land of the Yesterdays?
Where are Youth and Joy, the dew and the honey-dew,
The day of the rose, and the night of the nightingale?
Where are the sights and the sounds that shall ne'er and shall e'er
Once more I have cried my cry, once more in vain
I have listen'd; once more, for a moment, the ancient pain
Is less, though I know that the year is dead and done.
Once more I bear
Under the sun the sadness, over the sadness the sun.
Bear? I have borne, I shall bear. But what is a man
That his soul should be seen and heard in the trees and flow'rs of the field?
Have I tinctured them mortal? or doth their mortality yield
Me like a fragrance of autumn? Ah! passion of Eve,
Ah! Eve of my passion,-which is it that aches to complain?
Oh, old old Minstrelsy, oh, wafty winds of Romaunt,
Blow me your harps. My sick soul cannot weave
These gossamers of feeling that remain
To any string whereon its ill may grieve.
Blow me your harps-harp, wind-harp, dulcimer,
And mandolin, and each string'd woe
Of the sweet olden world, and let them blow
By me, as in sea-streams the sea-gods see
The streaming, streaming hair
Of drownèd girls, and every sorrowy sin
O' the sea.
And so let them blow out the din
Of daylight, and blow in,
With legendary song
Of buried maids,
The evening shades.
And when the thronging harps, and all
The murmurings of wild wind-harps,
And shimmer of dim dulcimer,
And thrill of trill'd citerne,
And plaint of quaint bataunt, and throb of long
Long silent mandolin,
And every other sound that grieves,
Hath dropt into its colour on the leaves,
In the silence let me hear
The round and heavy tear
Of orchards fall.
And as I listen let the air unseen
Be stirr'd with words;
Let the ripe husk of what is gape open and shed
What has been;
Through click of gates and the games
Of the living village at play,
Let me hear forgotten names
Of ancient day.
Down like a drop of rain from the evening sky
Let somewhat be said;
Up from the pool, like a bubble, let something reply,
In the tongue of the dead.
Through the swallows that fly their last
Round the grey spire of the past,
In the faded elms by the height,
Let the last hour of light
Strike, and the yellow chimes
Forget and remember
A dream of other times.
And above let the rocks be warm with the mystical day that is not
To-day or to-morrow;
And from the nest in the rock let me hear the croon
Of orphan-doves that yearn
For the wings that will never return.
And below the rocks, on the grassy slopes and scarps,
Let the tender flowering flame of the exquisite crocus of sorrow
Sadden the green of the grass to the pathos of gentle September.
And below the slopes and scarps, where the strangled rill
Blackens to rot,
Let the unrest of the troublous hour
Blossom on through the night, and the running flow'r
O' the fatuous fire flicker, and flicker, and flare,
Through the aimless dark of disaster, the aimless light of despair.
And meantime, let the serious evening star
Contemplative, enlarge her slow pale-brow'd
Regard, until she shake
With tears, and sudden, snatch a hasty cloud
To hide whate'er in those pure realms afar
Is likest human sadness: and, full-soon,
Let night begin to slake
The west; and many-headed darkness peer
From every copse and brake;
While from a cottage nigh,
Where the poor candle of dull Poverty
May barely serve to show
Her stony privilege of woe,
Or if, like her, it try
To leave the cabin'd precincts of its lot,
Steals trembling forth to struggle and expire;
A milkless babe that shall not see the morn
Starves to the fretted ear,
With lullaby and lullaby,
And rocking shadow to and fro
Athwart the lattice low;
And from yon western ridge, black as the bier
Of day, let a faint, far-off horn,
Mourning across the ravish'd fields forlorn,
Sound like a streak of sunset seen through the grief of the moon.
And, further yet, from the slant of the seaward plain,
The bleating and lowing of many-voicèd flocks and herds,
Forced from their fields, mix on the morning breeze
With sob of seas,
Till the long-rising wind be high,
And, from the distant main,
A gale sweep up the vale, and on the gale a wail
Of shipwreck fill and fail,
Fail and fill, fill and fail, like a sinking, sinking sail
In the rain!
But ere all this to us let the dim smoke rise!
To us from the nearest field, from the nearest pyre
Of stubbled corn, let the dim smoke rise; and let
The fire that loosens the stubble corn
Loose the soul like smoke, and let tears in the eyes
Confuse the passionate sense till the heart forget
Whether we be the world, or whether the fading world be
 Death And Life
DEATH AND LIFE
Poet: Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar
50 Poems & Criticism
2 Gratitude; Again
3 The Wheel of Death
4 Free from worry
6 A puzzle
7 The Truth
8 Forms of Death
11 A Pair
12 The Opposite
15 A desire
17 The Philosophy of Life
21 A Prayer
22 A Mirage
23 A Vow
24 The Call of Conquest
25 A Call
26 One Day
28 A Wish
29 As Desired
31 Healthy Vision
34 The Philosophy of Death
35 An Invitation
36 To The Fairy of Death
37 A Request
38 The Mode of Death
39 A Comparison
40 The Difference
41 The End
42 A Blow
44 A Proclamation
45 I Bow Thee
46 Good Bye
48 An Ascetic
49 The Last Will
1 The Motif of Death in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar —
An Assessment /
Dr. D. C. Chambial, Maranda (H.P.)
2 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception': A Dialectical Study
Mrs. Purnima Ray, Burdwan (W.B.)
3 Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's 'Death-Perception: Life- Perception': An analysis
Dr. (mrs.) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V., (Visakhapatnam) (A.P.)
4 'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar
Dr. D. Murali Manohar, Hyderabad (A.P.)
5 Revealing Reflections On Death And Life
Dr. Atma Ram
6 Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death
Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi
Death is imminent,
Life is so desired!
There's such a semblance
Between life and death!
Beauty to life
Endless — vast!
Life - art - efficiency
Embellishment - adornment!
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death - tension
 Gratitude; Again
Death's made life
Transformed this world,
into a pleasant heaven,
the meaning of love,
into higher beings
than immortal god!
 The Wheel of Death
The wheel of death
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!
This earth rocks horribly!
This wheel of death
Life and death,
Earth and sky!
 Free from Worry
when every moment is free
from the dread of death.
It is ill-ominous
to talk about
the fear of death,
for this reason.
To know the mystery
not only difficult
merges into five-elements
not to return;
to revive again,
and know the mystery.
When there's no self
death — a puzzle
A wonderful puzzle!
All efforts futile —
the meaning of death;
it's very intricate difficult
 A Puzzle
Not worth living;
In quest of new
On an unknown path;
But where? ?
A pitch dark night,
 The Truth
If there were no death,
God wouldn't have any existence,
would have never reconciled
with his fate!
God - a symbol,
God - a proof
of man's helplessness
of readiness after death.
The whole philosophy
of hell and heaven
is an imagination.
at each moment
is afraid of death, and
horripilant again and again!
He knows —
'death is imminent'!
So, his each step
is frought with suspicion.
Not only this
he is also
of the so called
he takes refuge
for eternal peace in death!
he sings the long song -
'Ram nam satya hai! '
(God's name is the only TRUTH)
O, birth and death
save for his cruel-amusing act!
[1 God, dispensing death in Indian mythology.]
 Forms of Death
Be death natural
conclusion is the same -
end of a conscious life,
to change into a senselessness
to sleep for good
palpitation of heart!
Both are the so called
writs of Providence,
the script of fate: invisible, indelible.
an act of terminating life
or destruction of the ferocious
in self or social defense,
but, a murder.
Though the end, the same
True death or untimely death.
as an adversary.
accept not defeat,
not a bit
think of God
in an answer to the question,
The mystery of death
to be unmasked... revealed
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth,
The other extreme end!
Birth - a shore
Death - an opposite bank;
Why a jubilation?
Birth - death
One / well shaped;
The other / completely invisible!
Destruction: an assault!
Birth - initiation
Death - an earthly end!
Birth: yes, a being,
Death: ah! a non-being!
Birth: a new dawn,
Death: a horrendous night!
 A Pair
Sandy desert spread
like the dying lamp-flame
at he verge of death!
growing trees -
a resting place... life giving
 The Oppsite
Life: a jubilation
Death: the last breath
A melody / a cry!
Pious action / loud lamentation!
Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning-evening are one.
Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one.
the true wisdom,
the real knowledge,
every other consideration
is in vain.
What makes you so sad?
Why do you lose your wits?
Life - very precious; true
Death - eternal, why do you rue
[1 A detached saintly statement.]
 A Desire
May all children and young live!
Heart-rending is untimely death!
over and over again
to consider this idea true?
A blind faith
an irrational faith!
Life / blends in five-elements,
the end / of a creation,
the end / of a person,
there be an eternal fusion.
Neither there is any Hell,
nor there is any Heaven,
this manifest world is the only truth.
Death — a truth,
Life — a truth!
 The Philosophy Of Life
External motion —
Internal motion —
The transporter of life-motion
Ceaseless controller —
as long as
life is in flux
History will be created by
Nev er there be catastrophe;
Life ever be full of melody,
Every particle be in motion.
To fuse is
To lose internal motion.
Struggles and strifes
lead to life,
to be inactive,
an indication - of the approaching death,
to stop - the end of life.
Life: only a flux
is to be alive!
an established trait
of the lifeless.
Life has a thrill, a throb,
a continuous palpitation in the live hearts!
To stop —
invitation to ill-ominous death,
The only 'mool-mantra'1
to prove life!
[1 Key principle.]
Wish for life —
Eternal and strongest,
The final truth
About every life
Yes, end is certainly,
But / it is also true -
impatient passion for
Immortality and youth
Will never wane,
Man's queer valour
Longs for melody,
Not for tears!
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya1; he will be!
[1 victorious over death.]
isn't a proof of
like death - an exit.
Which is natural
in adopting it
without any specificity,
to be 'a human being.'
human glory only when
there is perfect peace of mind -
when we give
a new meaning to life,
in pitch dark
to a world full of lights.
Know the mysteries of life,
Talk to the moon and stars.
be the motive of our living,
let's devour materialistic hurdles
at every step.
life may be
dedicated to death.
the least difference of opinion.
This life is successful
this life is rare.
Blessed is the Earth!
 A Prayer
not for immortality,
I long for
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
of human mind and body.
This desired boon
not from any god.
Self-achieved by self-efforts
not by any prayer.
Body free from pain
mind free from torture.
we live for
 A Mirage
Self-willed and ambitious
runs after money
at the cost of life.
at this queer, dirty intention!
If there is life / money must flow in,
If there is life / pleasure must dog in!
Shattered and disorderly life
malady-stricken / frustrated wounded life
eager to fall into
Blind, perplexed, ignorant
Construes money to be supreme
thinks pleasure all in all!
He'll spoil / the precious life,
and will lose life / the gift of God!
 A Vow
have descended in
the formidable duel of
life and death!
being soldiers of
an immortal army of life,
will not be surrounded
by the deceitful trick of
May be vanquished,
but, will never admit the supremacy
of death a bit,
won't let our right
be snatched away!
The triumphant-call will echo
till the last breath
life-strength will fight
till the last edge of hope / effort!
 The Call Of Conquest
The whole world sleeps -
in the dead of night?
It's heard -
in the house hard by
death has suddenly charged,
it's true —
someone has died.
The sharp dagger
has once again
touched the man!
with ambrosial heart-felt condolences,
may this man
live again and again!
Let life-drum sound
biers be laid!
[1 Emissary of Yam / God dispensing death in Indian
 A Call
They who sing Alakh1
who sing the sweet beloved song
of new life
Singers of Sohar2
Players of life-song
on every string of the violin of heart
Strike by stretching!
into the live sea
Stir the stupor!
[1 A word urging inspiration.
2 An auspicious song sung at the birth of a child.]
 One Day
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
life will be victorious!
of dead death
will surround / frighten;
have faith in
the sun's strength / firmness
every particle of it!
Let's floodlight around!
life will be triumphant!
who are the artisans of life
should talk only
the meaningfulness of life,
about the essence of life!
strike back at it,
sing the glory of life,
strike a severe blow at
 A Wish
let there be
no existence of death-serpent
in the garden of life,
let human self
not be terrorized
of death scare!
let every person
without any doubt,
let his each moment be
Let a lover of life
play with life,
and live life fully
As long as
the lamps burnt on
even in rains!
with firm faith in
With a wish to live
wait for death!
why should it take
End the illusion,
Bend the kaal-chakar1!
Associate with life!
Give up this stupor!
[1 Cycle of death / time]
 Healthy Vision
by thinking self
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
When face to face
with the end
Should remain ignorant of it
we call it
I sing the songs
about the triumph of life
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of life-bud
of the dearest thing!
again and again!
The sounds that echo
in the sky of the graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
hoisted the red flags,
on every house, in every village,
in every town,
of life, new life!
In every locality, at every cross,
here, there -
the demon of death
won't be able to carry out
his terrorist, fatal, men-devouring
on entering into the body,
an unvanquished doota1
within the body
in invisible places!
where from he comes now!
[1 Emissary. 2 Lord of death.]
 The Philosophy of Death
When a certainty,
O, tell death -
'Come; when you please.'
At this time
Let's sing and dance!
Play on varied musical instruments!
Let's end this silence;
 An Invitation
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot;
away... far away
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,
for a change in life!
I don't acknowledge
I'll challenge them!
Just, let me jump
into the hell-pond!
Just, let me mingle
with the huge crowd of
[1 According to Indian mythology an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings.]
 To The Fairy of Death
O death, come
I am ready!
I am helpless.
You'll come —
Like a clever girl.
Your this game
Come, o death
That of the book of life
Thou art the end!
Thou art the good news
O death, come
I've bedecked myself,
 A Request
it hardly matters
if you are feminine,
I can befriend you!
Why do you feel shy?
be my comrade!
If not a cohabiter
be my neighbour!
You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
and one day
all at once
make me accompany you
to the land of the dead!
taunting and teasing!
 The Mode of Death
Death might be overtaking
might be out from the body
A dreaming man
What does he know?
Ask those living
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
 A Comparison
the difference lies only in the 'I'
(the first vowel sound)
Shiva has three eyes,
Shava is blind!
A great imbroglio!
[1Shava — a dead body.]
 The Distance
Gave a sweet pain
How strange the coincidence
That the last farewell
O, the first love!
On the disappearing path,
With a wish -
Never to be fulfilled,
Sometime with a true physical touch
Never to be distanced!
I go -
Go with memory,
Go with pain!
 The End
Where is it now?
Where is it now?
Everything stood still
The running, jumping, the liquid river water
Everything frozen —
Like blood in veins!
All bones of body
Crackle with pain,
Who'll press them
Till the dying breath?
While none is around!
Now there is no flutter
Only a stasis,
Now life -
A fatigued filament;
 A Blow
kept you alive -
your living but decayed corpse!
Carry it silently, helplessly!
burnt the wishes
in a flaming furnace,
and filled every moment of life
with unbearable pain!
Never became a loved one;
never became a murderer!
O, never snatched the right to live -
though the doubt was unmasked,
When kept alive
I'll burn in the hell-fire
bear all by
Early or late
in an eternal sleep have to fall,
dust unto dust!
Then, why to weep?
will fly away!
Why you try so hard,
sing hymns every morn and eve,
nothing is in your control
you bow in every temple,
one day from the body
will fly away,
will fly away!
It is preordained that
in the lap of death
It is preordained that
will be lost
in the pitch dark
of the death!
It is preordained that
renouncing name and fair form
will be reduced
 A Proclamation
the world -
Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps!
Sleeps in an eternal sleep!
is to happen
Why do you weep?
that is one's own,
one has no right
over it too,
hearth - wealth
that is one's own
has no essence!
You've no claim
silent - stoic
severing all relations
new and old!
has to experience
why to fear it?
O immortal death!
You may consider me
accept you from body and mind!
on the comfortable
I lose my identity
by fusing with the particles
of this soil!
I sow a new life!
As I have accepted life
I do accept you!
I go from this world!
I go from this
lovely home, lovely world!
for good... for good!
 I Bow Thee
O the springs of the world
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
O, the high waves of the sea!
wings of illusion,
Profuse with love
The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
 Good Bye!
Beaten by fate,
In the game of life,
Tortured by dears,
Hurt on heart,
With a bowed head
Go for good —
Do not light the memory-lamp!
 An Ascetic
To overcome death
one more Siddharth1 — an ascetic
has set out!
Who at each step
trampled the elusive moves of
in any vyuha2
tied his noose hard
He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day —
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,
by making it a stupa3
1 initial name of Buddha.2 phlanx, the war movement arrangement of an army to surround or capture the enemy. 3 a Buddhistic tope/sacred spot.
 The Last Will
Never be disinterested!
Bear a blow
Never lose temper.
Let the last act be
free from rituals
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!
Life after death
when none has known
when none has seen...
All established systems:
To follow them - not desired!
O never be a blind-follower,
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge.
good faith and good feelings!
on the renunciation of body?
a sign of perfection,
a successful stage
Why to bewail?
The end of life —
Why to bewail?
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life,
Take the last salute!
One who has finished one's duty/karma.
THE MOTIF OF DEATH
N THE IPOETRY OF MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR:
– Dr. D. C. Chambial
Life is poised between the two antipodal points of birth and death. Where there is birth, there is death. Where one begins the other ends. Birth is welcome and rejoiced. Death is considered terrible and is, therefore, mourned. Enmeshed in the enigma of existence man has been trying since time immemorial to dive into the mysteries of life and death. All metaphysical systems of world are the outcome of man’s endeavour to find truth in this regard. In the modern age of science man has toiled hard to lay bare the mystery of death. However, it still remains beyond the domain of science. Where the domain of science ends, the domain of metaphysics begins.What is outside the physical world is left for the philosophy to explain. Mahendra Bhatnagar has, in his book, 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception', tried to perceive the mystery of life and death. In this paper my endeavour shall be to explore Mahendra Bhatnagar’s views about death.
In order to answer the question: What is death? The poet has nothing to say different from the commonly held notion about it that death is ‘an earthly end’ and compares it to ‘a horrendous night’ (‘Life - Death’: 22) . What the poet calls ‘a horrendous night’ is the state of existence after death. However, this ‘horrendous night’ begins with death. As the one side of a coin cannot be severed from the other, similarly, birth and death are also integral and cannot be separated: ‘an unbreakable string / tied to birth’ (Ibid.) The poet declares the Vedic truth: ‘Death - a truth’ (Reality’: 32) . It is also the truth of existence. Where there is life, there is death.
Man, ever since he began to speculate and meditate about the fate of life after its termination on this terra firma, has found death an enigma to explore. It was, and still is, an enigma for him.
There is a lot about death that one wants to know: what is death? What happens to the individual on death? If body is the dwelling of soul, as the Hinduism and most of the other world religions maintain, then, what happens to the soul on and after death? What would happen if there were no death? Etc. The poet also believes in this arcane nature of death and states: ‘Death? / A question-mark! ’ (Contemplation: 10) . He, once again, repeats this mystery of death in his poem, ‘Conclusion’, with the same words and is staunch in his faith that man is ever engaged in unraveling and unmasking the secrets about death. He says though ‘death’, at present, is ‘a question-mark’, but a day will certainly come when ‘The mystery of death / to be unmasked... revealed’ (‘Conclusion’: 20)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet, opens his discourse about death and tells the readers about its imminence. He says: ‘Death is imminent / Unavoidable’ (Gratitude’: 2) . It is very much intone with the Hindu philosophy that states: ‘Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityu...’ (the Ghagvadgita: II,27) . He further expounds that death which is the end of life on the earth ‘... is certainly / Unavoidable! ’ (Experimenting’: 38) . The fact that whosoever has life and is born on this earth is bound to decay or die. An individual’s life is limited. One cannot go beyond this limit. None can abjure the verity that one day this life on earth has to come to an end. There is no way out. The poet sings:
One day from the body
will fly away,
Will fly away!
Here the poet, with the help of the symbol of a bird, tries to explain that one day JIVA or PRANA will have to forsake this body. It cannot live in for good. This body is subject to the laws of destructibility and transience.
Death has never been a welcome. The very origin of death, according to Christianity, is cruel, for it is the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God: they disobeyed the God, ate the forbidden fruit and the God, in turn, not only expelled them out of Eden but also inflicted death on them. Death has been with man since his first disobedience and the original sin. The poet calls death a cruel wheel that spares no one:
the wheel of death
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!
This earth rocks horribly!
invisibly / Silently
This wheel of death.
(‘The Wheel of Death’: 6) .
This wheel always goes on like the wheel of time and one and all fall prey to it without any distinction.
The termination of life from the physical body is termed as death. Death is death whatever be its kind or form. The philosopher poet, Dr. Mahendra also declares that ‘Though the end, the same death! ’ (‘Forms of Death’: 18) . Nonetheless, he differentiates and recognizes two kinds of death: one, natural or accidental death; two, the unnatural or suicide or murder. In this regard the poet writes: ‘Death natural / or accidental /... / end of a conscious life’ (Ibid.) These both kinds of death, natural and accidental, are so called because they are the ‘writs of Providence’ (Ibid.) But, about the second kind, ‘suicide / or / murder’, the poet says that it ‘isn’t death, but, a murder.’ (ibid.) Thus, the poet acknowledges two kinds of death with clear difference.
The poet is of the view that one should not fear death. While living one should be free from its fear. Living constantly under the fear of death will make the individual a coward and one will not be able to accomplish anything in one’s life. Thus the whole objective of life and living will be defeated. One is supposed to live and, while living, do such acts that are helpful for the progress of humanity. With this motive in mind, the poet says that ‘Fearing death / will make / living futile! / weight heavy / dry onerous / pleasureless heart.’ (Free From Worry’: 8) . Under the constant fear of death, life loses its meaning. In order to make life meaningful one has to be free from the fear of death. So, the philosopher poet says:
when every moment is free
from the dread of death. (Ibid.)
The poet seems to echo what the Hindu philosophy says:
v'kksP; kuUo'kkspLRoa izKkoknkaÜp Hkk'klsA
xrklwuxrklawÜp ukuq'kkspfUr if.Mrk%AA
What should not be worried about you should not worry say the wise
Whether one lives or dies does not bother the pundit.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,11) .
The poet, in his poem ‘The Philosophy of Death’ (72) posits:
When a certainty,
O, tell death —
‘Come; when you please.’
There is no need either to nourish any doubt about death or fear it; it is imminent. In another poem, he says:
It is preordained that
in the lap of death
× × ×
in the pitch dark
of the death! (‘Preordained’: 96)
and then talks about the destruction of the body after death by consigning it to fire: ‘fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ’ (Ibid.) The JIVA forsakes body; body becomes dead because it is senseless to all external stimuli of the physical world, and finally the body joins the five elements - fire, earth, water, air, and sky, the PANCH BHUTA — out of which it had taken shape.
All this happens, the poet argues, when body becomes unsuitable for the soul as it’s dwelling. Then the soul leaves it and looks for a new one that is befitting for it, the poet says:
Not worth living;
In quest of new.’ (‘A Puzzle’: 12)
as if the soul unfolds the secret of its leaving the body, that is death, to the poet. The poet’s philosophy seems to echo the Vedic philosophy:
oklkafl th.kkZfu; Fkk fogk; uokfu x`g~.kkfr ujkss•ijkf.kA
rFkk 'kjhjkf.k fogk; th.kkZU; kfu la; fr uokfu nsghAA
As a man discards the old and worn out clothes,
Likewise the soul discards old body and enters new one.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,22) .
In the absence of death there would have no God nor the need for any such supreme divinity. The poet continues his argument that ‘If there were no death, / God wouldn’t have any existence’ (‘The truth’: 14) . It means that in the absence of death man would have thought himself to be the Supreme Being and the God were to be something non-existent. It is the existence of death that makes human being inferior to God and man needs some super power to attribute to that power all the enigmas of physical and metaphysical existence that are beyond the human ken. In the absence of death, even ‘The whole philosophy / hell and heaven’ (Ibid.) would have become redundant. But, there is death that necessitates the existence of God, before whose will the man bows. Therefore, the man realizes the ultimate truth that ‘Ram nam satya hai / (God’s name is the only TRUTH) ’ (Ibid.) In other words, the poet contends that only God is the Reality.
It is not that death has made the existence of God feasible but it also has a purpose. The poet maintains that death is not without purpose. It also has its utilitarian value and makes life not only useful but also beautiful for existence on this earth. He posits:
Death’s made life very beautiful,
Transforms this world, in fact,
Into a pleasant heaven,
We learnt the meaning of love,
Transformed man into higher beings
Than immortal god!
(‘Gratitude; Again’: 4)
Whatever man tries to achieve in life and art is also death’s gift to him; so, the poet firmly holds:
Beauty to life
Endless - vast!
Life - art - efficiency
Embellishment - adornment!
It is a fact that death has some objective. But, the poet not only encourages the mankind to shed the fear of death but also suggests to betittle death by finding a purpose of living because:
who are the artisans of life
should talk only about life
the meaningfulness of life.
about the essence of life.
His panacea for belittling death is:
strike back at it. (Ibid.)
But, how can we strike back at death? The poet has himself answered this question successfully in the poem itself that it can be done by discovering ‘the meaningfulness of life’ and by singing ‘the glory of life’ (Ibid.) The ‘meaningfulness of life’ suggests a purposeful life so that he is remembered even after he is dead.
Death is imminent. It cannot be avoided. It is the fate of all living beings on this earth. It can only be relegated to pettiness. Then there is no need to fear death: ‘let human self / not be terrorized / of death care’ (‘A Wish’: 58) . The living ones should always be ready to welcome death. There is no alternative to it. Therefore, the poet has debunked death of all its power and fear and and welcomes death to
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot
away... far away
(‘An Invitation’: 74) .
perhaps, like the persona in Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘The Chariot’1
To conclude our discussion, we can say that the poet comes out with some very concrete suggestions to tear off the hitherto much significance attached to death. He does not believe in any type of ritual, because these do not form part of the eternal truth; these have been devised and followed by the survivors. He exhorts the mankind: ‘Let the last act be / free from rituals’ (‘The Last Will’: 110) . What is more important. in order to find the ultimate truth, to unmask the enigma of death shrouded in the mystery, is to approach the hitherto unsolved riddle of death single-mindedly. For this he suggests: ‘let mind be set / only on the mystery deyond death! ’ (Ibid.) He also consoles those who are left behind wailing and bemoaning in these words: ‘End - / a sign of perfection, / a successful stage / why to bewail’ and should
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life
(‘Kritkarma’: 112) .
It is ‘the meaning of life’ that has not been found yet and the quest for which is ever going on like the journey of life as propounded by Aurobindo Ghose2. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet and philosopher, has very deeply studied and experienced, in his imagination, the concept of death and has made some very radical observations that make him stand all alone as a sedate thinker in the contemporary poetry.
(1) In the Dickinson’s poem, Death is one of the occupants in the chariot. Death asks the poetess / persona to accompany him. The opening lines of the poem are:
Because I could not stop for death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
In Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poem, the poet / persona invites Death to take him / her with himself, because he is not afraid of death and ready to go with him.
(2) In his poem, ‘Is This the End? ’, Aurobindo Ghose says that death does not put an end to the journey or quest of life. The poet refers to soul that is immortal and continues its journey ceaselessly. It goes on even after the goal has been achieved. The last two stanzas of them poem, that have relevance to the argument in the present article, are:
The Immortal in the mortal is his name!
An artist Godhead here
Ever remoulds himself in dimmer shapes,
Unwilling the cease.
Till all is done for which the stars were made,
Till the heart discovers God
And the soul knows itself. And even then
There is no end.
— Mrs. Purnima Ray
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s ‘Death-Perception: Life-Perception’ is a collection of fifty beautiful poems translated from original Hindi into English by Dr. D.C.Chambial. The poet, and the translator are already well-known figures in the literary arena, both in India and abroad. The Appendix 1&2 published in this book help us to know their achievements in detail. In short, their bio-notes are as follows -
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a leading Professor of Hindi Language and Literature, guides scholars, has several published books, and received many awards. His major poetry-collections include ‘Forty Poems’ translated by Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, and Prof. L.S.Sharma, ‘After The Forty Poems’ translated by Dr. Ramsevak Singh Yadav, Prof. Vareendra Kumar Varma, and Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, ‘Exuberance and other poems’, translated by Dr. Ravinandan Sinha, and ‘Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Poetry’ translated by Dr. H.C.Gupta.
Dr. D.C.Chambial is a Professor of English, a widely published Indo-English poet and critic, has several published books, poetry collections, and on criticism, and edits an international journal ‘Poetcrit’. At the outset the translator in his note makes clear to us the most important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry, which we have to recho in our discussion from time to time in our own way. And we will see that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are deep, intense in feeling, suggestive and thought-provoking.
The title of this present collection is very important. One should notice that ‘Death-Perception’ comes first, then ‘Life Perception’. The ‘Death-theme’ is a very common and universal one, but the fact is that we sometimes are aware of it, and sometimes not. Most of us know that it is inevitable and certain, and we are eager to know more about it, and want to escape from its clutches, but we do not know how to do it. It is here the utility of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems on this subject. He explores all the possible ways with his extraordinary creative spirit, and he succeeds to satisfy our quench for the thirst of knowledge of this kind.
Poet Mahendra points us to see the fact that we are standing on the backbone of ‘Death’, so that our desire for life is being stirred again and again:
Death is imminent,
Life is so desired!
Although we get scared by it every now and then, yet it is acceptable, and for that ‘life’ itself is grateful to ‘Death’:
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death-tension
Because Death’s contributions to Life are unnumbered:
Death’s made life
Transformed this world,
Into a pleasant heaven,
the meaning of love...
and the most important achievement of ‘Death’ is that it
Into higher beings
than immortal god!
This poet has seen ‘Death’ in the best possible ways, yet
he admits the impossibility to define it:
All efforts futile -
the meaning of death;
it’s very intricate difficult
He does not ignore its dark sides:
The wheel of death
He defines finely in a word:
.. A wonderful puzzle!
Poet Mahendra can establish a truth that man’s all philosophy including the idea of God revolves round ‘Death’:
If there were no death,
God wouldn’t have any existence,
would have never reconciled
with his fate!
For he is always led by this fact:
... ‘Death is imminent’!
So his idea of God is nothing but:
... a proof
of man’s helplessness
of readiness after death...
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar equates the relation between Life and death through a fine imagery:
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth..
So he rightly poses the stoic question:
why a jubilation?
He can justify what he says regarding this by a logical fallacy:
Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning - evening are one.
Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one...
It seems that he wants to say as one cannot detach death from life, similarly life cannot be detached from death:
Over and over again
Like the ancient Greek philosophers the poet says:
... this manifest world is the only truth...
Yet he confirms:
Death - a truth
Life - a truth
The poet gives us the key-principle to overcome death:
... Every time
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya; he will be!
At the same time he makes us aware of meaningfulness of life:
isn’t a proof of
and his ‘meaningfulness’ finds its expression in humanistic approach to life:
be the motive of our living,
let’s devour materialistic hurdles
on every step.
Let’s acquire / such capabilities,
life may be
dedicated to death...
So in ‘Prayer’ poet Bhatnagar does not want any ascetic attainment, but leads the mankind in time of need:
not for immortality,
I long for
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
of human mind and body...
He shows us where ‘death’ takes place:
Shattered and disorderly life
Malady-stricken / Frustrated wounded life
eager to fall into
and the victory of life over death:
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
Like a Miltonic hero the poet discloses the way:
If death destroys us
strike back at it,
sing the glory of life,
strike a severe blow at
Here also revolution takes place, one has to utter these words:
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,
for a change in life!
It is only then we can realise what he says:
With a wish to live
wait for death!
He does not want the Epicurean way of living be termed as ‘true-living’:
Live / by thinking self
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
should it / be termed / true living?
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar sings paean of life, but there is something more special in his singing:
about the triumph of life
Like post-Tagorean Bengali surrealistic poet Jibanananda Das he admires the wealth of life:
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of thru life-bud
of the dearest thing!
I sing again and again!
One may compare the words ‘again and again’ quoted above with Jibananada’s abar asiba phire (I will come again) . The words which poet Bhatnagar used are different, but the total effect is the same:
The sounds that echo
in the sky of graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
of my life sentiments!
of my life - adorations!
Here he establishes one truth that poets from ages to ages sing life in there unique ways.
Perhaps for that reason poet Bhatnagar can romanticize ‘Death’:
(1) You’ll come —
Like a clever girl.
your this game
(2) You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
One should notice that the poet attaches feminity to a beautiful object.
Poet Bhatnagar’s creativity finds its fullest expression when he uses the word ‘passing away’ instead of ‘death’:
Death might be overtaking
might be out from the body
A dreaming man
Yes, the dreaming people are active and creative, they dream before turning themselves into creativity, as Lord Vishnu sleeps and dreams before the creation of the Universe; they do not know the word ‘death’ while engrossing in their way of life. The last lines of this poem makes us thoughtful, leave us in a whirlpool of suggestions:
What does he know?
Ask those living
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
It seems that poet Bhatnagar accepts indirectly the will of God behind death:
It is preordained that
in the lap of death
So he says to himself and at the same time to us to renounce all earthly attachments:
Do not light the memory-lamp!
He does not forget to remind us the most precious things of life, and he puts all this so masterly in the tongue of a dying-person:
O the springs of the world
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
O, the high waves of the sea!
In a way, he values most the Nature surrounding us, as
Mrityunjaya in Rabindranath Tagore’s short-story ‘The Hidden Treasure’ exclaimed: “I want sunlight, air, sky’’ etc. wanting to live.
For he knows that ultimate truth is, he makes a goodbye to an illusory world behind him:
wings of illusion,
Profuse with love
The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
‘An Ascetic’ is an important poem, in the sense that the poet gives here a message to the strife - torn world we are living in:
He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day -
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,
Preserve this / heritage /
by making it a stupa.
The suggestion is if we sing songs of life, then there should be no hankering after life-killing desires and efforts; again the poet’s spirituality lies in humanity, and man’s religion in his ‘Kritakarma’. The poem ‘The Last Will’ can be seen as his consolation for us as well as a clarion call:
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!
× × × ×
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge..
Here he gives more emphasis on ‘mind’ which controls all body-organs, and on ‘knowledge’, the purest of all things in the world, as we find in The Srimat Bhagavat Gita.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is, no doubt, an avant-garde Indian poet. Dr. D.C.Chambial excellent rendition extends the readership of
Dr. Bhatnagar’s philosophy and poetic ability. Dr. Chambial has done his job well, for his transcreation has retained all the literary qualities of the original poems - e.g. ‘the economy of linguistic expressions’, lucidity etc.
An Analytical Study
— Dr (Mrs) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V.
DEATH PERCEPTION - LIFE PERCEPTION is a sensitively rendered volume of 50 poems, originally written in Hindi. The poems retain their natural flavour to a great extent, thanks to the versatility of the well-known poet of national and international fame Dr D.C. Chambial. As the title indicates the mysterious entity of death and the magical polarity called life occupy the mind and art of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar. The theme of death and life has ever been source of deep contemplation often verging on to obsession for creative writers from times immemorial. Yet it never lost its freshness and vigour due to the mystery that surrounds it, the magnetism it generates and the manifold wonder it evokes. Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry bears witness to all the above observations.
Dr Chambial kept the translation as close as the linguistic boundaries between the original Hindi and the foreign English languages have allowed. Praise is to him, who, despite the language constrictions was able to carry and convey the poetic preoccupations of the well¬ known Hindi Poet with life and death.
The volume begins with a difference. In the first poem ‘Gratitude’, the poet gleans a reason to be grateful to death. It certainly is a new perception. The poet says: “Death’s given / Man / Life-art¬efficiency / Such / Embellishment - adornment.” According to the poet, it is death that makes life beautiful and therefore desirable. Death’s imminence makes life all the more attractive. So, he offers “Gratitude / To death / Life’s gratitude.” The fact that death equals all is mourned in a poem entitled ‘The Wheel of Death / Time’. Death tramps the white radiance of life. Death is relentless, inexorable: “Before it! Stability has! No existence! Its motion! Always controls! Life and death! Earth and sky.”
Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are not for those who seek the romantic, who look for the sensational. They do not jingle either. There is evidently a deep contemplation, a firm conviction in his poems. Written in free verse, some of the lines remain clearly etched in the reader’s mind. Lines such as: “Invisibly / Silently / Continuously moves / This wheel of death / Uninterrupted... unchanged! ” make a mark because in spite of simple terminology the poet has used memorable imagery. When he captions a poem as ‘Wheel of Time’ (kaal chakra) , the poet is using a native metaphor. In the cultures of India, time is compared to a wheel, a wheel that is conceptualized with the elements of birth-growth (life) - death that repeat themselves ceaselessly. It is a cyclic process that is inevitable and unavoidable. So, says the poet why grieve over death and spoil one’s peace of mind? —“Life! only meaningful, / When every moment is free / From the dread of death.” Despite the scientific advancement, death is a ‘wonderful puzzle’ for the poet. He sees death as a conundrum in poems such as ‘Contemplation’ and ‘A Puzzle’. It is the fear of death that urges man to take “refuge! In God! For eternal peace..” Yet the poet firmly believes that man’s invincibility will make him see “The mystery of death / To be unmasked... revealed / Sure... some day” in ‘Conclusion’.
. In poems such as ‘Life-Death’ and ‘The Opposite’ the dividing line between the polarities of life and death are brought to focus. To the poet they are not separate but intrinsically interconnected. One cannot be without the other. They are the beginning and end of a unique cycle. Why then are feelings generated by then different? questions the poet. “Birth: Why a jubilation? / Death: Pain...? Why? ” the ironical fact however is, “Wail on birth! Wail on death! Birth-death are one.” (‘Equal’) According to the poet it is futile to think of Hell or Heaven. Suffice to know that “This manifest world the only truth / Death - a truth, / Life - a truth! ” The common everyday thought of life and death attains a special significance in the poems of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar because of the complexity of human emotion and intellectual activity. Although the theme of death is glaring enough, we are especially made to take notice of it due to the rhythm the poet used. It successfully indicates the relative value of his individualized perception. For example in a poem entitled ‘The Philosophy of life’ the poet says that life is “ External motion / Physical vibration / Internal motion - / Life. Real death is to lose ‘internal’ motion, the spiritual death. Now we know where the ‘fuse’ lies. The poetic thought continues on to ‘Excelsior’. If - “Struggles and strifes / lead to life” then “to be inactive” is “an indication - of the approaching death, / to stop - the end of life.”
Here is a rediscovery of the Vedic observation that our life is a pilgrimage and that man is an eternal traveler on the move. Life is an adventure. There is no resting on the journey and there is no end to it either. In the Aitereya Brhmana there is hymn, which ends with the refrain: ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’ which means “Hence O traveler, march along, march along.” One finds an echo in “Excelsior.... excelsior! ”
Now that we do not have a key to the puzzle of death, why not we unravel the ‘mysteries of life’, which in turn equips us with the ability ‘to talk to the moon and to the stars’ thus achieving ‘meaningfulness’ of life. In other words, the poet exhorts us to keep in touch with the unseen presence of the cosmic power by its physical manifestation in various forms of nature. True, nature is our guide, friend, and philosopher. It gives according to the poet “Perfect peace of mind /... a new meaning to life.”
‘A Prayer’ is an insightful poem on the secret of leading a happy life. In the poet’s opinion happy life is an outcome of self achievement. He says: “We live for / 125 years” only when we have a “Body free from pain / Mind free from torture.” So that we live as much for ‘ourselves’ as of ‘others’ because according to the Indian thought the whole world is a family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The foregone thought is entirely in opposition with the feeling that “Blind, perplexed, ignorant / Man... construes money to be supreme / Thinks pleasure all in all.” (‘A Mirage’) In ‘A Vow’ the poet depicts death as an adversary whom we the human race fight like soldiers because life is too precious to lose to “a deceitful trick of / Any adversary! ”
. ‘A Call’ is a unique poem in which the poet uses a number of sensory images to celebrate the carnival of life. In a Tagore-like lyricism, the poet hails the singers of Alakh and Sohar who play on ‘every string of the violin of heart’. Their songs are mainly meant for the ‘mentally vanquished’, to awaken those whose life turned into ‘stupor’. A number of poems expound the value attached to life, a rare gift. Poems such as ‘One day’, ‘Proved’, A Healthy Vision’, and ‘Compatibility’ sing of Shanti (peace) , victory, glory and pleasure of life. He envisages life wherein all will laugh and be merry. Death is compared to a terrorist in the poem ‘Dreadful’ who “remote controls” life - “By hiding / In invisible places.”
In ‘The Philosophy of Death’, ‘An Invitation’, ‘To the Fairy of Death ‘ and’ A Request’ there is a new challenge, a new welcome to a hail-fellow-well-met attitude to death. There is neither fear nor fascination towards humanity’s foe i.e. death. But one finds camaraderie, bonhomie, open, and candid. Death is treated as a friend, “a clever girl”, “a cohabiter” and “a neighbour.” Thus, we witness a metamorphosis in the poet’s notion of death as it passes from the stage of being the fearful and the awe-inspiring to that of a much¬-awaited welcome guest. Finally an agreeable compromise is reached. Peace at last! The pilgrim realizes his futile fencing with an invincible enemy. What cannot be cured must be endured. This endurance is not born of frustration but out of wise realization. that makes a world of difference.
In ‘Comparison’ the poet juxtaposes Shiva, the three-eyed Godhead with shava, the lifeless body. A single vowel shift from ‘i’ to ‘a’ brings in an irreplaceable difference in consciousness i.e. from spandana to jada. ‘ A Blow’ shows the futility of involvement because says the poet: “Early or late / all / in an eternal sleep have to fall / dust unto dust! ” thus after being enlightened that every one “One day / renouncing name and fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ” (‘Preordained’) , the poet proclaims in ‘Proclamation’: “0 Death / I do accept you.../ I go / For good... for good / I go! ”
Now there is loveliness all around. Nothing but peace remains. Not, that which is a result of impotent stupor but the peace one arrives at after experiencing the vicissitudes of life, like the pe
- quotes about writers
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Ask The Lonely
Just ask the lonely
When you feel
That you can make it all alone
Remember no one is big enough
To go it all alone
Just ask the lonely
They know the hurting pain
Of losing the love
You can never regain
Just ask the lonely
The young and foolish
Who laugh at love and slowly run away
Confident and sure that fate
Will bring another love their way
But ask the lonely
How vainly a heart can yearn
For losing a love
That will never return
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Theyll tell you a story of sadness
A story too hard to believe
Theyll tell you
The lonliest one is me
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Just ask the lonely
Ask me, Im the lonliest one of all
Come to my land to feel her warmth.
Come to my land to hear her myriad voices.
Come to my land to see her many magical colours.
Africa the shape changer, the chameleon,
Africa, different things to different people
Never ever dull or commonplace.
Merge with her, become one with her
Feel her joys and her sorrows
Feed on her abundances and
Weep at her devastation and famine.
She is the mother of mankind
The cradle of civilisation.
A multi-layered lady, feel her deep rhythms
Her primordial throb as vital as a heart beat.
Hear her sound images vibrating.
Smell her odours, from the seashore
To the deserts, to the lush green rain forests,
To the high snow capped mountain ranges.
She is a wanton, fickle, ever changing mistress.
She will seduce you, draw you in and
Enslave you forever. The call of Africa is
A siren’s call, savannah lore lei.
She has bartered for the souls of mankind
Since the world evolved and time began.
The promise of land, the lure of precious
Metals and gems, the domination of the beasts,
The beckoning of vast uninhabited spaces.
Man has come to conquer her, make her his.
Instead she enters your blood like a fever,
A sickness that will never leave,
No matter how far you travel from her,
And no matter how you try to leave her behind,
Wherever you roam, she will forever more
Call to you to return to her embrace.
This Africa is life; she is the alpha and omega,
This is my Africa
- quotes about Africa
- quotes about snow
- quotes about seduction
- quotes about evolution
- quotes about illness
- quotes about animals
- quotes about desert
- quotes about colors
- quotes about travel
Maybe it is because of the fog
that I caress you,
because all around me are fog,
dissolved shapes, things lacking
precision or definition,
things that turn into some vague
something without dimension.
I caress you, coin.
Nightfall in December
and you here in my hand, you,
precisely contoured, you, hard
with your body of fine silver.
with a number that cannot be conquered
by doubt or by fog
and with a face
that will never doubt,
face of an ancient queen, looking at me.
Your Other Face
I saw your other face
I saw your other expression
That I never had before
Face that will never be showed for me
Because there’s only somebody else
Can make your face like that
Face that show not for me
But for other people I don’t know
I hate to see it, I become jealous
Like I don’t have you completely
Like you have thousand other faces
That I never see, that you hide from me
Like I’m out of the circle and you become distant
Do I have those faces too?
Face that only show for me
Face that comes out because of me
Face that only show when there’s nobody else but me
I will keep it as mine
I will never share to anyone
Face that only for me
So I can have part of you
That nobody else has ever known or seen
Winter came and would not leave
It’s been too long since I have felt
This darkness knows only 1 weave
An ice so hard, it cannot melt
It’s all that fills my hollow soul
A soul stripped bare like winter’s heart
A half that will never be whole,
Yet lives for that one missing part
My days are empty in my wake
Deserted of all need or meaning
A cold routine I cannot break
Too numb, too late, my heart is weeping
At night I lie alone in bed
With only Silence by my side
For long ago have we been wed
His frozen arms enclose his bride
I gave up waiting for a sign
I can no longer show my rage
My sanity is on the line,
Yet I embrace this dead-cold cage
And so I sit thinking of love
The irony none can comprehend
I relish my eternal winter
And pray for summer once again.
Asking Myself Why
I sat down to write a letter
to an old friend of mine,
someone I had not seen
for thirty or forty years.
Only realizing as I put pen to paper
how the years had flown by,
though it only seem like yesterday
we had met on the street
and had a long chat together.
I realized then to my regret
that I did not know if
they were alive or dead.
If they were gone,
yet another thread to my past
had disappeared forever.
A curtain of sadness fell over me
as my memories re-enacted
moments from so long ago,
moments that will never return.
My pen hovered above the paper
and no words could I write
as my mind clouded with memories
of friends I had let go.
It's so easy to say see you later,
when half the time we never do.
Then comes today like now
and you realise there maybe no later.
Those friends of yesterday maybe gone
and only reside within your memories.
Tears glazed my eyes
and I gave a silent sigh.
I wondered how may more times
will I ask myself why
in the passing of time.
Why I just sat and let them go.
25 February 2012
II. The Quest Of Silence
Secreta Silvarum: Prelude
Oh yon, when Holda leaves her hill
of winter, on the quest of June,
black oaks with emerald lamplets thrill
that flicker forth to her magic tune.
At dawn the forest shivers whist
and all the hidden glades awake;
then sunshine gems the milk-white mist
and the soft-swaying branches make
along its edge a woven sound
of legends that allure and flit
and horns wound towards the enchanted ground
where, in the light moon-vapours lit,
all night, while the black woods in mass,
serried, forbid with goblin fear,
fay-revels gleam o'er the pale grass
till shrill-throats ring the matins near.
Oh there, oh there in the sweet o' the year,
adventurous in the witching green,
last feal of the errant spear,
to seek the eyes of lost Undine
clear blue above the blue cold stream
that lingers till her plaint be done,
oh, and perchance from that sad dream
to woo her, laughing, to the sun
and that glad blue that seems to flow
far up, where dipping branches lift
sidelong their soft-throng'd frondage slow
and slow the thin cloud-fleecelets drift.
Oh, there to drowse the summer thro'
deep in some odorous twilit lair,
swoon'd in delight of golden dew
within the sylvan witches hair;
the while on half-veil'd eyes to feel
the yellow sunshafts broken dim,
and seldom waftures moth-like steal
and settle, on the bare-flung limb:
or under royal autumn, pall'd
in smouldering magnificence,
to feel the olden heart enthrall'd
in wisdoms of forgotten sense,
and mad desire and pain that fill'd
red August's heart of throbbing bloom
in one grave hour of knowledge still'd
where glory ponders o'er its doom:
and, when the boughs are sombre lace
and silence chisels silver rime,
o'er some old hearth, with dim-lit face,
to dream the vanish'd forest prime,
the springtime's sweet and June's delight,
more precious now that hard winds chill
the dews that made their mornings bright,
and Holda sleeps beneath her hill.
What tho' the outer day be brazen rude
not here the innocence of morn is fled:
this green unbroken dusk attests it wed
with freshness, where the shadowy breasts are nude,
hers guess'd, whose looks, felt dewy-cool, elude —
save this reproach that smiles on foolish dread:
wood-word, grave gladness in its heart, unsaid,
knoweth the guarded name of Quietude.
Nor start, if satyr-shapes across the path
tumble; it is but children: lo, the wrath
couchant, heraldic, of her beasts that pierce
with ivory single horn whate'er misplaced
outrageous nears, or whinny of the fierce
Centaur, or mailed miscreant unchaste.
O friendly shades, where anciently I grew!
me entering at dawn a child ye knew,
all little welcoming leaves, and jealous wove
your roof of lucid emerald above,
that scarce therethro' the envious sun might stray,
save smiling dusk or, lure for idle play,
such glancing finger your chance whim allows,
all that long forenoon of the tuneful boughs;
which growing on, the myriad small noise
and flitting of the wood-life's busy joys,
thro' tenuous weft of sound, had left, divined,
the impending threat of silence, clear, behind:
and, noon now past, that hush descended large
in the wood's heart, and caught me in its marge
of luminous foreboding widely flung;
so hourlong I have stray'd, and tho' among
the glimpsing lures of all green aisles delays
that revelation of its wondrous gaze,
yet am I glad to wander, glad to seek
and find not, so the gather'd tufts bespeak,
naked, reclined, its friendly neighbourhood —
as in this hollow of the rarer wood
where, listening, in the cool glen-shade, with me,
white-bloom'd and quiet, stands a single tree;
rich spilth of gold is on the eastward rise;
westward the violet gloom eludes mine eyes.
This is the house of Pan, not whom blind craze
and babbling wood-wits tell, where bare flints blaze,
noon-tide terrific with the single shout,
but whom behind each bole sly-peering out
the traveller knows, but turning, disappear'd
with chuckle of laughter in his thicket-beard,
and rustle of scurrying faun-feet where the ground
each autumn deeper feels its yellow mound.
Onward: and lo, at length, the secret glade,
soft-gleaming grey, what time the grey trunks fade
in the white vapours o'er its further rim.
'Tis no more time to linger: now more dim
the woods are throng'd to ward the haunted spot
where, as I turn my homeward face, I wot
the nymphs of twilight have resumed, unheard,
their glimmering dance upon the glimmering sward.
The point of noon is past, outside: light is asleep;
brooding upon its perfect hour: the woods are deep
and solemn, fill'd with unseen presences of light
that glint, allure, and hide them; ever yet more bright
(it seems) the turn of a path will show them: nay, but rest;
seek not, and think not; dream, and know not; this is best:
the hour is full; be lost: whispering, the woods are bent,
This is the only revelation; be content.
The forest has its horrors, as the sea:
and ye that enter from the staling lea
into the early freshness kept around
the waiting trunks that watch its rarer bound,
after the glistening song that, sprinkled, leaves
an innocence upon the glancing leaves;
O ye that dream to find the morning yet
secret and chaste, beside her mirror set,
some glimmering source o'ershadow'd, where the light
is coolness felt, whom filter'd glints invite
thro' the slow-shifting green transparency;
O ye that hearken towards pale mystery
a rustle of hidden pinions, and obey
the beckoning of each little leaf asway:
return, return, or e'er to warn you back
the shadow bend along your rearward track
longer and longer from the brooding west;
return, and evening shall bosom your rest
in the warm gloom that wraps the blazing hearth:
there hear from wither'd lips long wean'd of mirth
the tale that lulls old watches; — How they rode,
brave-glittering once, where the brave morning glow'd
along the forest-edges, and were lost
for ever, where the crossing trunks are most;
and, far beyond the dim arcades of song,
where moon-mist weaves a dancing elfin throng,
and far beyond the luring glades that brood
around a maiden thought of Quietude,
the savage realm begins, of lonely dread,
black branches from the fetid marish bred
that lurks to trap the loyal careless foot,
and gaping trunks protrude a snaky root
o'er slinking paths that centre, where beneath
a sudden rock on the short blasted heath,
bare-set, a cavern lurks and holds within
its womb, obscene with some corroding sin,
coil'd on itself and stirring, a squat shade
before the entrance rusts a broken blade.
The forest hides its horrors, as the sea.
No emerald spring, no royal autumn-red,
no glint of morn or sullen vanquish'd day
might venture against this obscene horror's sway
blackly from the witch-blasted branches shed.
No silver bells around the bridle-head
ripple, and on no quest the pennons play:
the path's romance is shuddering disarray,
or eaten by the marsh: the knights are dead.
The Lady of the Forest was a tale:
of the white unicorns that round her sleep
gamboll'd, no turf retains a print; and man,
rare traveller, feels, athwart the knitted bale
watching, now lord of loathly deaths that creep,
maliciously the senile leer of Pan.
Fire in the heavens, and fire along the hills,
and fire made solid in the flinty stone,
thick-mass'd or scatter'd pebble, fire that fills
the breathless hour that lives in fire alone.
This valley, long ago the patient bed
of floods that carv'd its antient amplitude,
in stillness of the Egyptian crypt outspread,
endures to drown in noon-days tyrant mood.
Behind the veil of burning silence bound,
vast life's innumerous busy littleness
is hush'd in vague-conjectured blur of sound
that dulls the brain with slumbrous weight, unless
some dazzling puncture let the stridence throng
in the cicada's torture-point of song.
Peace dwells in blessing o'er a place
folded within the hills to keep
and under dark boughs seawind-frayd:
and the kind slopes where soothings creep,
in the gold light or the green shade,
wear evermore the ancient face
of silence, and the eyes of sleep;
because they are listening evermore
unto the seawinds what they tell
to the wise, nodding, indifferent trees
high on the ridge that guard the dell,
of wars on many a far grey shore
and how the shores decay and fade
before the obstinate old seas:
and all their triumphing is made
a tale that dwindles with the eves,
while the soft dusk lingers, delay'd,
and drifts between the indolent leaves.
A gray and dusty daylight flows
athwart the shatter'd traceries,
pale absence of the ruin'd rose.
Here once, on labour-harden'd knees,
beneath the kindly vaulted gloom
that gather'd them in quickening ease,
they saw the rose of heaven bloom,
alone, in heights of musky air,
with many an angel's painted plume.
So, shadowing forth their dim-felt prayer,
the daedal glass compell'd to grace
the outer days indifferent stare,
where now its disenhallow'd face
beholds the petal-ribs enclose
nought, in their web of shatter'd lace,
save this pale absence of the rose.
Breaking the desert's tawny level ring
three columns, an oasis; but no shade
falls from the curl'd acanthus-leaves; no spring
bubbles soft laughter for its leaning maid.
The cell is waste: where once the god abode
a burning desolation furls its wing:
enter, and lo! once more, the hopeless road
world-wide, the tawny desert's level ring.
Before she pass'd behind the glacier wall
that hides her white eternal sorceries
the northern witch, in clinging ermine pall,
cast one last look along the shallow seas,
a look that held them in its numbing thrall
and melted onward to the sandy leas
where our lorn city lives its lingering fall
and wistful summer shrinks in scant-clad trees.
Hence came one greyness over grass and stone:
the silent-lapping waters fade and tone
into the air and into them the land;
and all along our stagnant waterways
a drown'd and dusky gleaming sleeps, unbann'd,
the lurking twilight of her vanish'd gaze.
Out of no quarter of the charted sky
flung in the bitter wind intolerably,
abrupt, the trump that sings behind the end
exults alone. Here grass is none to bend:
the stony plain blackens with rapid night
that best reveals the land's inflicted blight
since in the smitten hero-hand the sword
broke, and the hope the long-dumb folk adored,
and over all the north a tragic flare
told Valhall perish'd and the void's despair
to dwell as erst, all disinhabited,
a vault above the heart its hungering led.
The strident clangour cuts; but space is whole,
inert, absorb'd in dead regret. Here, sole,
on the bare uplands, stands, vast thro' the gloom
staring, to mark an irretrievable doom,
the stranger stone, sphinx-couchant, thunder-hurl'd
from red star-ruin o'er the elder world.
This night is not of gentle draperies
or cluster'd banners where the star-breaths roam,
nor hangs above the torch a lurching dome
of purple shade that slips with phantom ease;
but, on our apathy encroaching, these,
stable, whose smooth defiance none hath clomb,
basalt and jade, a patience of the gnome,
polish'd and shadow-brimm'd transparencies.
Far, where our oubliette is shut, above,
we guess the ample lids that never move
beneath her brows, each massive arch inert
hung high-contemptuous o'er the blatant wars
we deem'd well waged for her, who may avert
some Janus-face that smiles on hidden stars.
Lightning: and, momently, the silhouette,
flat on the far horizon, comes and goes
of that night-haunting city; minaret,
dome, spire, all sharp while yet the levin glows.
Day knows it not; whether fierce noon-tide fuse
earth's rim with sky in throbbing haze, or clear
gray softness tinge afresh the enamell'd hues
of mead and stream, it shows no tipping spear.
Night builds it: now upon the marbled plain
a blur, discern'd lurking, ever more nigh;
now close against the walls that hem my reign
a leaguer-town, threatening my scope of sky.
So late I saw it; in a misty moon
it bulk'd, all dusky and transparent, dumb
as ever, fast in some prodigious swoon:
its battlements deserted — who might come?
— ay, one! his eyes, 'neath the high turban's plume,
watch'd mine, intent, behind the breast-high stone:
his face drew mine across the milky gloom:
a sudden moonbeam show'd it me, my own!
ONE! an iron core, shock'd and dispers'd
in throbs of sound that ebb across the bay:
I shudder: the one clang smites disarray
thro' all my sense, that starts awake, inhears'd
in the whole lifeless world: and some accurs'd
miasma steals, resumed from all decay,
where the dead tide lies flat round the green quay,
hinting what self-fordone despairs it nurs'd.
The corpse of time is stark upon the night:
my soul is coffin'd, staring, grave-bedight,
upon some dance of death that reels and feasts
around its living tomb, with vampire grin,
inverted sacraments of Satan's priests —
and, mask'd no more, the maniac face of sin.
There is a far-off thrill that troubles me:
a faint thin ripple of shadow, momently,
dies out across my lucid icy cell.
I am betrayed by winter to the spell
of morbid sleep, that somewhere rolls its waves
insidiously, gather'd from unblest graves,
to creep above each distant crumbled mole.
When that assault is full against my soul,
I must go down, thro' chapels black with mould,
past ruin'd doors, whose arches, ridged with gold,
catch, in their grooves, a gloom more blackly dript,
some stairway winding hours-long towards the crypt
where panic night lies stricken 'neath the curse
exuding from the dense enormous hearse
of some old vampire-god, whose bulk, within,
lies gross and festering in his shroud of sin.
Leszko The Bastard
``Why do I bid the rising gale
To waft me from your shore?
Why hail I, as the vultures hail,
The scent of far-off gore?
Why wear I with defiant pride
The Paynim's badge and gear,
Though I am vowed to Christ that died,
And fain would staunch the gaping side
That felt the sceptic spear?
And why doth one in whom there runs
The blood of Sclavic sires and sons,
In those but find a foe,
That onward march with sword and flame,
To vindicate the Sclavic name,
From the fringe of Arctic snows,
To the cradle of the rose,
Where the Sweet Waters flow?
Strange! But 'twere stranger yet if I,
When Turk and Tartar splinters fly,
Lagged far behind the van.
While the wind dallies with my sail,
Listen! and you shall hear my tale;
Then marvel, if you can!
``Nothing but snow! A white waste world,
Far as eye reached, or voice could call!
Motion within itself slept furled;
The earth was dead, and Heaven its pall!
Now nothing lived except the wind,
That, moaning round with restless mind,
Seemed like uncoffined ghost to flit
O'er vacant tracts, that it might find
Some kindred thing to speak with it.
Nothing to break the white expanse!
No far, no near, no high, no low!
Nothing to stop the wandering glance!
One smooth monotony of snow!
I lifted the latch, and I shivered in;
My mother stood by the larch-log blaze,
My mother, stately, and tall, and thin,
With the shapely head and the soft white skin,
And the sweetly-sorrowing gaze.
She was younger than you, aye, you who stand
In matron prime by your household fire,
A happy wife in a happy land,
And with all your heart's desire.
But though bred, like you, from the proud and brave,
Her hair was blanched and her voice was grave.
If you knew what it is to be born a slave,
And to feel a despot's ire!
``She turned her round from the hearth like one
That hath waited long, and said,
`Come hither, and sit by me, my son!
For somehow to-night doth remembrance run
Back to the days that are dead.
And you are tall and stalwart now,
And coming manhood o'er your brow
Its shadow 'gins to shed.
Sit by me close!' and as I sate
Close, close as I could sit,
She took my hand and placed it flat
On hers, and fondled it.
Then with the same soft palm she brushed
My wind-tossed locks apart,
And, kissing my bared temples, hushed
The flow of love that else had gushed,
Love-loosened, from my heart.
```Listen! you often have questioned why
Here 'neath this pale Siberian sky,
You scarcely live, I slowly die.
That we dwell on, but exiles here,
In regions barren, sunless, drear,
And have no more the power to fly
To brighter lands and bluer sky,
Than some poor bird whom man's caprice
Hath tethered by a clanking chain,
And leaves upon its perch in pain
To pine for, ne'er to find release,-
This do you know, and still have known
Since first I taught your mouth to frame
The syllables of Poland's name,
Even before my own.
But how could I to childhood's ears,
Or boyhood's, tell the tale of tears
That links me with the bygone years?-
Tale steeped in rapture, drenched with woe,
A tale of wrong, and loss, and love,
That opens in the heavens above,
And ends in worse than hell below?-
A tale I only could impart
To mind mature and full-grown heart;
A tale to fill your larger life
With hissing waters of distress
And overflowing bitterness,
And set you with yourself at strife?
But you must hear it now. The down
Of manhood fringes lip and cheek;
Your temples take a richer brown,
And on your forehead buds the crown
Of kingly thought that yet will speak.
Listen! and let no faintest word
Of all I utter fall unheard
Upon your ear or heart!
'Twill wring your youth, but nerve it too:-
And what have I now left to do,
But unveil tyranny to view,
And wing the avenging dart?
```So like to you! The same blue eye,
Same lavish locks, same forehead high,
But of a manlier majesty!
His limbs, like yours, were straight and strong,
Yet supple as the bough in bud;
For tyrants cannot tame the blood,
Or noble lineage lose, through wrong
Its heritage of hardihood.
And maybe since his years were more,
And partly that you needs must bear
In every filial vein and pore
With his pure strain the base alloy
Of that in you which is my share,
Though you are tall and comely, boy!
Yet he was taller, comelier.
In days that now but live in song,
When Rurik's hinds felt Poland's heel,
And Poland's horsemen, cased in steel,
To Volo's plain were wont to throng,
A hundred thousand manes in strength,
And vowed, if Heaven let fall the sky,
To uphold it on their lance's length
As 'twere a silken canopy;
His sires were there in gallant trim,
Haught of mien and hard of limb-
Visors up and foreheads gashed,
Swords that poised, and swooped, and flashed,
Like the wings of the flaming Cherubim!
And when Imperial vultures tore
With banded beaks Sarmatia's breast,
And wallowed in Sarmatia's gore,
His fathers by their fathers swore
Ne'er to recede nor rest,
Till they had pushed the watchful points
Of vengeance in between the joints
Of armour dear to tyrants pricked
Of conscience never hushed nor tricked,
And made them feel what they inflict.
Vow sternly kept, but kept in vain!
For ninety hoping, hopeless years,
Poland hath known no couch save pain,
No mate except the dull cold chain,
Hath felt the lash, and fed on jeers,
While Heaven, it seems, no longer hears
The wail of prayers, the drip of tears,
Or the voices of the slain.
Thrice have her sons, despite their gyves,
Essayed to sell their worthless lives
At least against the price
Of ruin on their gaolers brought;
But each brave stroke hath come to nought,
And blood, and wounds, and death, have brought,
Only fresh bootless sacrifice.
No blow was struck they did not share,
No banner raised, but straight they flew
For one more tussle with despair;
And ever as they fought, they fell,
Waxing still fewer and more few,
Till only one remained to tell
How they had passed away, and dare
With front erect and unquelled stare
Those earthly ministers of hell.
One only of that kindred band-
Like some last column gazing lone
Across the bare and brackish sand,
In a depopulated land,
Telling of times and temples flown!
```He loved me. Love in every clime,
Through all vicissitudes of time,
Is life's climacteric and prime.
Matched against it, all boons that bless,
All joys we chase, all good we prize,
All that of tender and sublime
Expands the heart and fills the eyes,
Tastes pitiful and savourless.
It glorifies the common air,
It clothes with light the mountains bare,
And shows the heavens all shining there.
It lifts our feet from off the ground,
It lets us walk along the skies;
It makes the daily silence sound
With transcendental harmonies.
It rules the seasons. Linnets sing
As loud in winter as in spring,
When hearts are leal, and love is king.
Bathed in its light, the distance glows
With all the colours of the rose.
Its vivid gaze blends far and near
In one delicious atmosphere,
Projects the future from the past,
And hugs the faith, without a fear,
Since love is all, that all will last.
The peevish voice of doubt grows dumb;
The demons of dejection flee;
And even sordid cares become
But a divine anxiety.
Hope sails no more in far-off skies,
But makes its nest upon the ground;
And happiness, coy wing that flies
Too oft when mortal yearning woos,
At love's sweet summons circling round,
Sits on the nearest bough, and coos.
```Yes! such is love in every land,
If blest or curst, enslaved or free.
But how can they whose chainless hand
May stretch towards all they dream or see,
Whose lungs exult, whose lives expand,
In air of bracing liberty,
Feel love's delirium like to those
Who, of all other bliss bereft,
And cooped from each hale wind that blows,
Fondle, amid a world of foes,
The solitary friend that's left?
Through whatso regions freemen roam,
They find a hearth, they make a home.
Their unfenced energies embrace
All realms of thought, all fields of space,
At each fresh step fresh prospects find,
Larger than any left behind,
And mount with still rewarded stress
From happiness to happiness.
E'en love itself for such can bring
To life's tuned lyre but one more string,
Or but with fingers subtly straying
Among the chords, and softly playing,
Make more harmonious everything.
But when to him whose hopes are bound
Within a dismal prison round,
Whose thoughts, suspected, must not soar
Beyond his straitened dungeon floor,
Who may not speak, nor groan, nor sigh,
Nor lend sharp agony a vent,
Lest those should hear him who are nigh,
And catch, perchance, in passing by,
Contagion from his discontent;
Who dwells an exile in his home,
And cannot rest and may not roam;
Whom even hope doth not delude;
Who vainly lives, in vain would die,
And, hemmed in close, alike would fly,
Society and solitude;-
Oh! when to such as he love brings
Message of heaven upon its wings,
It fills his heart, it floods his brain,
Riots in every pulse and vein,
And turns to paradise his pain.
Body, and soul, and sense conspire
To feed the rising, rushing fire.
The passions which are wont to share
Love's empire o'er distracted man,
Denied their outlet, in him fan
The exclusive fury of desire.
As one who faints of thirst, he takes
Swiftly what should be slowly quaffed,
With ravenous lips his fever slakes,
Then dies, delirious, of the draught!
```He loved me. Do you ask if I
His love returned? Go, ask the sky
If it in vain pours sun and shower
On herb and leaf, on tree and flower.
Go, ask of echo if it wakes
When voice in lonely places calls;
Ask of the silence if it takes
The sound of plashing waterfalls:
Ask the parched plains if they refuse
The solace of descending dews;
Ask the unrippled lake that lies
Under faint fleecy clouds that flit,
If it reflects with tender eyes
The heavenly forms that gaze on it;
But ask not me if I returned
The love with which his being burned.
His passion such, in any heart
It straight had worked its counterpart,
Woke its own echo, roused a tone
In perfect concert with its own,
And made, the instant that it shone,
Mirror of what it gazed upon.
```We loved, as few have loved before,
'Chance none; and lo! the hour drew nigh
To ratify the vows we swore
One night beneath the sky,
Before the solemn altar-rails
O'er which He hangs, pierced through with nails,
Who for our sins did die.
Oh! why is woman doomed to bear
The love, or lust, she cannot share;
And hear from alien lips the sighs
She fain herself would waken ne'er,
Save within kindred hearts and eyes?
Never by word, nor glance, nor e'en
That barren courtesy we give
Unto well nigh all things that live,
Did his detested rival glean
That I another's homage should
Not greet, as evil is by good.
But, had my heart been free as air,
Fickle as wind, as quick to take
Impression as some limpid lake
That every wanton breath can stir,
How had it ruffled been by one
Who wore the livery of the brood
By whom, with hands in blood imbrued,
Thrice had my country been undone?
But I, nor free, nor false, nor light,
Bound both to Poland, and to him
Who yearned for Poland's wrongs to fight,
Had rather torn been limb from limb,
Than share with such love's last delight!
I answered softly, not in scorn;
For in what guise soe'er it come,
Because of gentle longings born,
Love should leave indignation dumb.
But he was, like his shifty race,
Disloyal, cunning, vengeful, base,
And when he heard the lips of fate,
Love in him straightway turned to hate,
Even before my face!
He menaced me with vengeance dire.
He knew my lover, brother, sire,
All rebels to the core.
And in the rush of lustful ire,
By his schismatic saints he swore,
That ruin, exile, death, should fall
With speedy stroke upon them all,
Unless I fed his foul desire.
I knew it was no idle boast;
He had the power to fetter, slay,
Abetted by a servile host,
Perjured, suborned by bribes to say
Whatever falsehood pleased him most.
Yet then I bridled not my scorn,
But poured upon his dastard head
All that by woman can be said,
When she confronts, before her eyes,
Creature created to despise,
And, since of manlier weapons shorn,
Can only wish him dead.
``Beware!'' he croaked, with passion hoarse,
``Within your patriot arms shall lie,
Repelled or welcomed, none but I;
And what you now to love deny,
You yet shall yield to fear or force.''
With scorn yet fiercer than at first
I flashed, and bade him work his worst.
``Before to-morrow's sun hath set,''
He answered, ``I shall pay the debt
Of vengeance, never baffled yet.
Think not to foil me or to fly!
I ever do the thing I would.''
Then laughing loud, he went; and I
Hated the ground where late he stood.
```The Night lay encamped in the summer sky,
And the burning stars kept watch;
All were asleep upon earth save I,
Who had waited the hour and lifted the latch,
And crept out noiselessly.
The air was as silent as love or death,
Except for the beat of my quickened breath,
And once the lonely belated wail
Of an answered nightingale.
I dared not quicken my steps, for fear
The silence should listening be, and hear.
Slowly, stealthily, foot by foot.
Girding my garments tightly round,
Lest they should touch and tell the ground,
I threaded the laurel-walk and passed
On to the latchet-gate, and put
My hand on the creaking key, aghast
Lest the first stage of flight should prove the last.
Through! and out in the meadows beyond,
With the cooling grass-dews round my feet,
Which would tell the tale of my journey fond,
But too late to hinder its purpose sweet;
Over the narrow and swaying planks
That span the neck of the marish pool
Where the tall spear-lilies close their ranks,
And the water-hens nestle safe and cool.
Then into the gloomy, darksome wood
Where the trunks seemed ghosts, and the big boughs stood
As though they would block my way.
Woman's love is stronger than woman's fright,
And though dogged by dread, yet I faced that night
What I ne'er had faced by day.
O the blessëd break, and the blank without,
From each grinning bole and each staring leaf!
I clutched my temples, and gave a shout;
It was mad, but it brought relief.
And then with a saner fear I stopped
To know if my foolish cry was heard.
But, like to a stream where a stone is dropped,
The silence was only a moment stirred,
And stillness closed over the hazard word.
```I was there! in the garden where first I lent
My ear to the trembling music of love,
And my soul succumbed to its blandishment.
I was there! I could smell the syringa's scent
And the lilac plumes that loomed dark above,
But, like to the heart that keeps alway
True to its friends, when friends betray,
Was lending the night that hid from view
Its delicate tufts and tender hue,
Odours sweeter than e'en by day.
The laburnum tassels brushed my cheek,
And the tangled clematis clutched my hair;
But I hurried along; though my limbs were weak,
I was strengthened by despair.
A moment more, and I should be
Hard by the window where he slept.
How should I wake him? how should flee,
If another o'erheard my voice? I crept
Softly, silently, over the sward.
The walls were dark, and the windows barred,
All saving-Yes, 'twas he! 'twas he!
Leaning out of his casement, lowly
Singing a love-song, sweetly, slowly,
That he first had sung to me.
He saw me not. He was gazing free
Across the dark, mysterious air,
At the shining stars, at the solemn sky,
At the unattainable far and fair,
The infinite something around, above,
With which, when alone, we identify
The finite thing we love.
I stood, and listened, and drank each note
Of love that came from the yearning throat,
As it rose, as it fell, as it floated and died;
And then with that courage that oft will spring,
When we have not time to think,
And impulse whispers the blessëd thing
From which resolve would shrink,
I with the song replied.
```One instant, and the echoed song,
The night, the dark, the heavens bare,
And all that was of far and fair,
And all that was of sweet and strong,
Seemed gathered into one embrace,
And showered their magic on my face.
His arms were round me, and his breath
As close to mine as life to death.
He murmured things I could not hear,
For I was deaf with bliss and fear.
Dumb, too; in vain I strove to speak;
I could but lean on breast and cheek,
And prove my passion wildly weak.
He drew me in. I still was dumb,
Panting for words that would not come,
But only tears instead, and sobs,
And broken syllables, and throbs,
With which hearts beat, whom rapture robs
Of all save love's delirium.
``Why hast thou come?'' I heard him say.
``There is no hour of night or day,
The coming of thy worshipped feet
Would not make richer or more sweet.
O come! come! come! Yes, come alway!
Nay, never come, love! rather, stay!
I must or miss you, or not meet;
Absence is long, and presence fleet.
And I am dead, when thou away!
But why to-night, and here?'' I saw
Love's brightness overcast by awe;
And terror in his face o'ercame
The terror in my weakened frame;
Till listening to his voice, I caught
Contagion from his steadier thought,
And found at length the words I sought.
With rapid lips I told him all,
What had befallen-might befall-
The hateful lust, the lustful hate,
The threats of one who, well he knew,
If false in love, in wrath was true,
And our impending fate.
``'Twas this alone I came to tell,
And, Leszko! now 'tis told, farewell!''
I murmured with a faltering tongue.
Round me his arms he tightly flung,
And ``Never!'' cried. ``Thy faith shall foil
The base assassins of our soil.
By the harmonious orbs that shine,
To-night, within that dome divine,
What thou hast promised me, must be mine!
Before to-morrow's sun can sink,
May deeds be done I would not name,
And vengeance wreaked I dare not think.
If thus you went, 'twere vain you came!
To-night is ours, and, seized, will be
Ours, ours, through all eternity.
The dawn shall find us kneeling where
Passion is purified by prayer;
And hands of patriot priest shall bless
And bind our premature caress.
If we are parted then, we part,
One, one in body, breast, and heart.
Hate, lust, and tyranny, in vain
Will strive to snap the cherished chain
That we around ourselves have bound.
Vanda! my love! my wife! my more!
If more be in love's language found,
Let them not baulk the troth we swore!
Wed me with bonds not fiends can sever,
And be thou mine-if once-for ever!''
The winds of the morn began to stir,
And the stars began to pale;
We could feel the chill of the moving air,
And the lifting of the veil
That covers the face of the shrinking night,
Its dreams, its dangers, its delight.
We started up. We listened, heard
The pipe of an awaking bird;
Another-then another still-
Louder and longer, and more shrill,
Till every copse began to fill
With music piercing bitter, fell,
The discord of our forced farewell.
We clung one moment, panted, kissed,
Then bravely rending us, he cried-
``Back through the curling morning mist,
Vanda! my love! my life! my bride!
A few brief hours, and side by side
Before Heaven's altar we shall stand,
As now in heart, then one in hand,
Then-be the future blest or curst-
Let Poland's tyrants wreak their worst!
One-one more kiss!''
```We leaned, to give
The richest of all boons that live,
But paused, half given!. . .We each had heard
A sound that was no waking bird,
Nor stealthy footfall of the night,
Scudding the unseen tracks of flight.
The noise of human voices broke
Upon our ears; the words they spoke
Came nearer and more near.
We clung in silence; 'twas too late
To more than bide the feet of fate,
And face them without fear.
Loudest among them I could trace
The voice I hated most on earth;
Another moment, and his face,
Lit with vindictiveness and mirth,
Was gazing on our checked embrace.
His myrmidons were at his heel:
I did not shrink, I did not reel,
But closer clung, to make him feel
I loathed him and his alien race.
I know no more. Unarmed we stood.
I heard the clank of ordered steel,
Then suddenly a blinding hood
Over my head was flung, and I,
Powerless to struggle, see, or cry,
Felt myself wrenched from arms that fain
Had fenced my freedom, but in vain,
And, doubtful did he live or die,
Borne through the chilly morning air,
Bound, stifled, cooped with dumb despair!'
``She paused, and strove for breath, as though
The mere remembrance of that hour,
Though fled and faded long ago,
Retained the never-dying power
To choke and stifle her again,
And leave her dumb and dark, as then.
But mute no less I sate; and she
The horror in my stare could see,
The speechless, open-mouthed suspense,
That kept me gazing there, to know
If I had heard the worst from woe,
Or if I must prepare my sense
For outrage deeper, more intense,
And from extremity of wrong
Become invulnerably strong.
`O no!' she cried, for swift she guessed
The hell of anguish in my breast;
`O no! not that! My boy! thou art
The child of love and not of hate,
Memento of my only mate!
The birth of heart convulsed on heart
With rapture pure and passionate!
Though never more upon my breast
His breast did beat, his head did rest;
Though I no more beheld his eye
Beaming above me like the sky
When all is bright and all is high,
And by which gazed on, one is blest;
Though ne'er again his touch, his breath,
Was blent with mine, to make me feel
That something betwixt life and death,
When the converging senses reel,
And, through devotedness divine,
Joy knows not what it suffereth;-
No other hand has soiled the shrine;
And, Leszko lost! though lost, yet mine,
My senses, as my soul, kept thine!'
``She saw the shadow quit my brow;
But, as it crept away, the light
Seemed to desert her temples now.
The hand she had imprisoned tight
In hers, while travelling wildly back
To passion's bourne o'er sorrow's track,
She loosed, and half let go. `Hast heard,
Hast drunk, hast understood, each word,'
Slowly she asked, `my lips have said?
Ours was no sanctioned marriage-bed.
No priestly blessing, altar's rite,
Confirmed the nuptials of that night.
Leszko! thou art-'
``'Twas not her tongue
That paused upon the bitter word,
But that before the name I heard
I shrink not from, my arms I flung
Around her sainted neck and showered
The love with which my soul was stirred.
I kissed her knees, her hands devoured,
I hushed her mouth, I sealed her eyes,
With kisses blent with broken cries,
Such as from baffled lips arise
When bursting hearts are overpowered
With sense of sublime sacrifice.
`Mother!' I cried, `I'd sooner be
The child of love, and him, and thee,
Than bear or boast the tightest ties
Altars can knit or priests devise!
If love, faith, country cannot bind
Two souls through love already blent,
Where among mortals shall we find
Solemnity or Sacrament?
And were aught wanting to complete
In face of God's just judgment-seat,
Thy snapped-off love and life,
The tyrant's outrage, years of wrong,
Have weaved thee wedlock doubly strong,
And made thee more than wife!'
``She smoothed my hair, caressed my brow;
Consoling tears coursed down her cheek,
Furrowed by sorrow's barren plough:
She stroked my hand, she strove to speak:
`Yes, Leszko! Holier bond was ne'er
Sanctioned by heaven or sealed by prayer.
Let others deem that formal vows
Breathed between kneeling spouse and spouse,
Can sanctify a link where each
Is but the slave of ordered speech;
Where vanity, ambition, greed,
Are the base instincts that precede
The purest of the passions, sent
Life's desolate low steps to lead
Up to the star-thronged firmament;
Let others fancy, if they will,
That pomp, and compliment, and smile,
Are sacramental bonds, though guile
And calculating coldness fill
The hollows of the heart the while;
Let those, too, scorn me who have knelt
In fancied faithfulness, and sworn
The eternal troth they thought they felt,
But, soon as they were left to mourn
One to whose flesh their flesh they vowed
Not more in marriage-sheet than shroud,
After a few short trappings worn
To silence the censorious crowd,
Have let their facile feelings melt
Unto some second fancy, nursed
In the same lap where burned the first!
Let them!-Nor pomp nor pandars gave
Me unto him! 'Twas love alone
Anointed us; and not the grave,
Not life, not death, shall e'er deprave
The body that remains his own.
Not mine a fault for which to crave
By Heaven or mortal to be shriven.
If I a suppliant need to be
To any, 'tis, my boy, to thee!
And I by thee am all forgiven!
```Yet-yet-that night of shining joy
Its shadow flings athwart thy life;
I am not, I can ne'er be wife,
And thou art no one's son, our boy!
His name I gave thee, and despite
Their jugglery of wrong and right,
It shall thou bear, whate'er betide.
But who can give thee aught beside?
Bastard thou art! and thou canst claim,
It boots not what thy blood, thy fame,
Thy father's features, manly age,
Only a bastard's heritage.
But, Leszko! who would care to boast
All that the rightful covet most;
Who, who would wish to clutch and hold
Honour, or rank, or lands, or gold,
When lands, and gold, and rank, but be
A brighter badge of slavery?
They who have nothing may excuse
Submission to the tyrant's beck;
Too bare and beggared to refuse
Unsavoury morsel from the hand
That plants the heel upon the neck
Of their assassinated land.
But they who yet have aught to lose,
Base must they be if they can use
What still is left to them, to deck
The mourning of their country's wreck.
Be sure thy sire doth not retain
What would but aggravate his pain.
Of me, of love, when dispossessed,
How would he care to keep the rest?
Robbed of my arms, his arms would find
But emptiness in all behind,
Vacuous air and moaning wind.
Who tore me from him, must have torn
With it long since the worldly dregs
Easy resigned by him who begs
That death at least to him be kind,
And bans the day that he was born!
```Nay, ask not if he lives. I know
Nothing, since that cold dawn of woe.
Once more I had to hear, and bear,
The vengeful menace, lustful prayer,
Of one who sued, but would not spare.
He threatened he would blazen wide
That which he dared to call my shame.
Guess how I answered! I defied,
Exulted, and with patriot pride
Told him that I myself to fame
Would trumpet forth the deed that I
Had done to foil the treachery
Already hatching, and by whom!
He cursed me. That was his reply.
But mine, alas! had sealed my doom.
```'Twas over, quick. I saw no more
Familiar face, or roof, or floor,
Or anything I knew before.
My eyes were bandaged, limbs were bound,
As through rough distance on we wound,
Aware but of the unseen ground
We traversed ever, day and night.
At length they gave me back my sight;
And lo! there stretched before, around,
The desert steppe, inhuman, bare,
That answered me with stare for stare.
I gazed around me for some face,
Some answering look, some kindred guise,
Some woe that I might recognize
Even in this desert place.
But none of all I saw, I knew;
And never one among them threw
A pitying glance on me.
So desolate it seemed, I should
Have thankful been if there had stood
Before me even he
Who thuswise had my ruin wrought.
I vow to you, his face I sought,
Among the convoy, early, late.
No face, no fiend, my exiled fate
Could now or better make or worse:
And it to me relief had brought
Could I have seen him, but to hate,
And greeted, but to curse!
```A mute and melancholy band,
For days and weeks we journeyed on,
Across a bare and level land,
On which the fierce sun ever shone,
But whence all life and growth were gone,
Utterly, as from salt-steeped strand.
Dawn after dawn, the steppe stretched round:
It seemed to have no halt, no end,
Centre, circumference, nor bound,
No sight, no shade, no scent, no sound;
But ever we appeared to wend
Into eternal exile, doomed
To make the endless track we trod,
Now over sand, now scanty sod,
Where nought save blight and canker bloomed.
Though on we gasped, no goal was gained;
Further we went, further remained,
As when thought struggles after God:
Save that, instead, we seemed to go
Towards infinity of woe.
Many we were, but each alone.
We durst not with each other speak,
And but exchanged a tear or groan.
The strong might not assist the weak,
And to be child or woman gave
No privilege or power, save
To suffer more and be more brave.
So wretched were we, we could bless
A lighter load of wretchedness;
And when at last the cruel sun
Began to pity us, and leave
In sleep our pain a short reprieve,
We almost felt our griefs were done.
We knew not they had scarce begun.
Into another land we passed,
Drearier and deader than the last,
That knows no future and no past,
But only one fixed present!-land
Where nothing waxeth more or less,
Nothing is born and nothing dies,
And where, 'neath never-changing skies,
E'en frozen time itself doth stand
Immutable and motionless!
A land of snow and snow-fed wind,
Which freeze the blood, congeal the mind,
And harden man against mankind:
Region of death that is not dead,
But ever on its icy bed
Lies dying, and must ever lie,
Forbid to live, forbid to die!
```And, as its doom, such too seemed mine,
The doom of deathlessness in death.
In vain I used to pray and pine
The greedy cold would suck my breath,
And leave my empty husk to bleach
On the untrodden waste of white,
And draw the prowling jackal's screech,
Or give the wolf one foul delight.
```One night, as, prostrate in despair
At each unanswered tear and prayer,
I blasphemed God, and wildly sware
That if at least He would not give
Me death, I would no longer live,
But would myself the torture end,
That had nor change, nor hope, nor friend,
Sudden I started, gave a cry;
I seemed as changed to flesh from stone:
Oh! joy! I was no more alone.
And then for worlds I would not die!
'Twas thou! 'twas thou! my babe! my boy!
In joylessness my more than joy!
My more than heaven 'mid more than hell!
Weeping, upon my knees I fell,
And prayed forgiveness for my sin.
What now to me or cold or heat,
My shivering head, my burning feet,
Hunger or ache? I held within
The memory of that midnight sweet.
I had no thought for things without:
Sensation, suffering, struggle, doubt,
Each sense wherewith we feel, hear, see,
Was concentrated inwardly.
My aim was how to feed the root
That in the silence 'gan to shoot,
And pulsed with promise of the fruit.
Sometimes, in fresh access of woe,
Hope veered, and longed that thou and I
Lay underneath the snug, warm snow,
Together, and with none to know;
But swung back ever, true and high,
From desperation's gusty strife,-
Pointing from love and set towards life!
```You lived!'. . .`O mother!' here I cried,
`Tell me no more! I cannot bear
The tale of love, and grief, and pride.
Is't not enough that now we share
Pride, love, and exile, side by side?
And, let what will of wrong betide,
No wrong my youth, at least, shall tear,
From your soft hand and silvery hair!'
```What, Leszko! Leszko's son!' she said,
Her voice was grave, her tears were fled:
`Think you I told this tale of woe,
To stir your love for me, I know,
Will hold you living, haunt you dead?
Not quit my side, luxurious boy!
Share anguish that is almost joy,
To shrink from pain without alloy!
By all my hopes of husband fled,
My interrupted marriage-bed,
I charge you, bid you, not to cling,
To me, to love, to anything!
Not leave me! What is this I hear?
The mawkish kiss, the vapid tear,
Not flashing eye and springing spear!'
She pushed me off. `It cannot be
His patriot seed and mine I see.
Thou art some changeling! Go, then, go!
And hunt the lynx across the snow,
And when the blue-eyed scyllas blow,
Gather thereof a dainty bunch,
To woo some daughter of the foe,
While jackals and hyenas crunch
Thy country's flesh and bones, and bloom
No flowers, of all Spring used to know,
Save such as mourn o'er Poland's tomb!
For Poland, I from him was torn,
For Poland, he from me! But thou-
Thou, thou forsooth, must cling on now,
Like infant that, from threatened hurt
Flies whimpering, to thy mother's skirt,
Dead unto duty as to scorn!
Bastard, indeed, thou doubly wert,
And both are shamed that thou wast born!'
``I knelt me down; towards the ground
I bowed my head in lowly guise.
I did not dare to raise my eyes,
But when at last my voice I found,
`Mother!' I cried, `I am not base,
Nor bastard, and his blood is mine;
But gazing on thy holy face,
I all forgot a woe, a wrong,
Sadder, more sacred, e'en than thine.
But now thy strength hath made me strong,
And in my features thou shalt trace,
And in my soul, that I belong
Unto a noble name and race.'
I stood up straight. There was no sign
Of melting in my voice or gaze.
`When shall I go?' I said, `The ways
Are not more ready stretched than I
To start at once, to run, to fly,
Whither thy sharp reproaches point.
Mother, farewell! In every joint
I feel the blood of Poland stir.
She is my mother! I for her
Can lonely live, will lonely die.'
```Kneel then once more!' she said. I knelt,
But this time with unbending brow.
Her face fawned towards me, and I felt
Her lips upon me, tender now.
She took the cross from off her breast,
Passed its cord softly o'er my head:
`I have no sword to give,' she said,
`But you will find one 'mong the dead
That now lie thick-though baffled, blest-
Among the forests where, once more,
Poland renews the hopeless strife,
And liberates with lavish gore,
Awhile, the fever of its life.
Listen! There shortly start from hence
Two fresh battalions of the foe,
For Poland bound. They doubtless go
To aid their kindred's violence.
You must march with them o'er the snow.
Nay, start not! must their colours wear,
Aye, boy! must false allegiance swear
To their detested Pontiff-Czar!
Such perjuries, I tell thee, are
Not heard at Heaven's just judgment-bar.
And if thy lips abhor the lie,
Poland absolves thee-so do I!'
``The hour had come, and face to face
We stood, my mother, there, and I.
We did not fondle nor embrace;
She did not weep, I did not sigh.
I wore the trappings of the race
That battens upon Poland's heart;
So, well I knew that uncaressed,
Unfolded to her craving breast,
I from her must depart.
`Have you the cross?' she asked. I laid
My hand where 'gainst my heart it lay,
But did not speak. `Both night and day,
Brood on it, as a constant maid
Broods on the face that cannot fade,
When he who loves her is away!
It was the one dumb thing on earth
That spoke to me; the only one,
Dead, that was eloquent of birth;
So have I given it thee, my son!
I have no gift of his, no toy,
No trinket, trifle, leaf, nor flower,
Naught to remind me of my joy.
But it was on my breast that hour,
That night, when it, and it alone,
Was 'twixt his bosom and my own.
Go, now! And I will nightly pray
The Queen of Poland, we may meet,
When bitter has been turned to sweet,
And earthly dark to heavenly day!'
I bent. She raised her hands to bless;
And then I went without caress,
And left her to her loneliness.
``Why tell the rest? Too well you know,
Ah! you, free child of Freedom's shore,
That spurred our hopes, but lent no blow
In aid of all our wasted gore,
How Poland, maddened, rose once more,
And blindly struck at friend and foe.
Why should I tell-the tale, too long!-
Of the weak writhing 'gainst the strong,
Pricked by reiterated wrong?
The orphaned pillows, rifled roofs,
The sudden rush of trampling hoofs,
The reeking village, blazing town;
The perjured charge, the traitor's mesh,
The virgin's lacerated flesh;
The wail of childhood, helpless fair,
Frenzy itself had stopped to spare;
Priests at the altar stricken down,
Mingling their blood with that of Christ,
While sacrificing, sacrificed;
Chaste spouses of the cloister, weaned
From earth, and from Earth's passions screened,
Shrieking beneath the clutch of fiend,
And outraged, less from lust than hate,
In refuges inviolate.-
Enough! Had Hell broke loose, and sent
Its demons forth, on man to vent
The tortures God's maligners feign
Heaven vents on them, they would in vain
Have striven to paragon the pain
Poland's oppressors knew to wreak
Upon the sensitive and weak,
When we, the strong, their strength defied,
And Freedom, foiling despots, died.
``I was too late. 'Twas nearly o'er;
But straight I sloughed the garb I wore,
And joined one last determined band,
Who to the border forests clung
That sever from the Tartar's hand
That share of our partitioned land
Which owns a rule more just and bland,
Keeping at least its creed and tongue.
We did not think with fate to cope;
No! vengeance was our only hope,
And vengeance to me came.
We were pursued by one who gave
No mercy or to faint or brave:
I heard, and knew his name.
'Twas he, whose lust had torn apart
For ever loving heart from heart,
As far as hatred can.
We lay in ambush; they were caught,
And could not fly, so mercy sought.
We slew them, to a man!
He fell to me! One thrust I made,
And at my feet I saw him laid:
I sucked the blood from off my blade:
Christ! it was sweet! aye, sweeter far
Than the smile of home, than the kiss of maid,
Or the glow of the evening star!
``It was the last blow struck. We fled
Across the frontier, each as best
A gap could gain, and left the dead
To stock the unclean raven's nest.
Exile once more, though all the earth
Henceforth lay open to my tread,
All save the one that gave me birth,
I saw no goal except the one
Where, sitting mute in deepest dearth,
The mother waited for the son.
But how? I donned the pedlar's pack,
And started on the trackless track,
Day after day, league after league,
Fatigue slow-linked with slow fatigue,
But ever getting nearer back
Unto the larch-log fire where she
Sat patiently, awaiting me.
And there was yet another sight
Behind, to spur my flagging tread:
The foe, the fiend, I felled in fight,
And gloated over, dead!
Could I have borne his hated head,
And laid it at my mother's feet!
The very thought fresh vigour gave,
And made my final footsteps fleet.
I raved. You deem that still I rave.
What think you that they found? Her grave.
``Back, back across the cruel waste,
Her tomb behind, my life before;-
An ebbing wave that raced and raced,
But ne'er could hope to find a shore,
Not e'en a rock 'gainst which to break:
A vista of unending ache,
Trod and endured for no one's sake!
Rather than live without some end,
Such misery fresh woe will make,
And woo misfortune for a friend.
And I, since it was vain to hope
That I could find, where'er I ran,
Solace or happiness, began
For further wretchedness to grope.
Now other object had I none,
From rise of day to set of sun,
Except to seek my sire;
Though well I knew I should not find,
Or finding, curse the fate unkind
That baulked not my desire.
And fate was ruthless to the last.
Five years of bootless search had passed,
And still I sought. But when on fire,
Her roofs delirious Paris saw,
I found him stretched on sordid straw.
He had not fought for crowd or law:
Sooth, had he wished, he could not draw
A sword from scabbard now, nor lift
His body from its borrowed bed.
His brackish life was ebbing swift.
He who had eaten beggar's bread,
And known each sad and sordid shift
That just sustains the exile's tread,
Needed no more the stranger's gift.
I knelt me down beside his head,
And breathed her name into his ear.
There came no start, no word, no tear:
His brain was deaf; he did not know
The difference now 'twixt joy and woe,
'Twixt love and hate, 'twixt friend and foe,
'Twixt me and any other! Vain
My years of search and sought-for pain.
Yet not quite vain. Upon his breast
A silver locket hung; and when
I stretched my hand to it, he pressed
'Gainst it his own, nor loosed again,
Until he passed away to rest.
I took it when his grasp grew cold,
And lo! it was my mother's face!
Not as I knew her, blanched and old,
But in the glow of youth and grace,
With eyes of heaven and hair of gold,
And all the passion of her race.
I wear it and its rusted chain.
I put her cross there in its place:
The iron cross; yes, cross indeed!
And iron, too! the fitting meed
Of those who for wronged Poland bleed,
And ever bleed in vain!
``Rise quick, ye winds! Race swift, ye waves!
And bear me where blue Danube rolls,
Past Orsova's loud-foaming caves,
On 'twixt armed hosts of rival slaves,
To scatter among Euxine shoals.
Now, do you ask why hence I fly
To join the Moslem camp, and hurl
My poor weak life, foredoomed to die,
On those who Freedom's flag unfurl
For Christian boor and Sclavic churl?-
Out on the sacrilegious lie!
Robbers, assassins, liars, slaves!
Whose feet are fresh from outraged graves!
Let those among you, dupes, or worse,
Sucklings of falsehood, or its nurse,
Believe that Russian arms can bear
To others aught except a share
In chains themselves consent to wear!
Let them! But I! Did Tartar swords
Storm hell, and Turkish steel defend,
I would the infernal Cause befriend
Against the worse than demon hordes
Who to the damned would bring fresh curse,
And enter Hell, to make it worse!''
The Plea Of The Midsummer Fairies
'Twas in that mellow season of the year
When the hot sun singes the yellow leaves
Till they be gold,—and with a broader sphere
The Moon looks down on Ceres and her sheaves;
When more abundantly the spider weaves,
And the cold wind breathes from a chillier clime;—
That forth I fared, on one of those still eves,
Touch'd with the dewy sadness of the time,
To think how the bright months had spent their prime,
So that, wherever I address'd my way,
I seem'd to track the melancholy feet
Of him that is the Father of Decay,
And spoils at once the sour weed and the sweet;—
Wherefore regretfully I made retreat
To some unwasted regions of my brain,
Charm'd with the light of summer and the heat,
And bade that bounteous season bloom again,
And sprout fresh flowers in mine own domain.
It was a shady and sequester'd scene,
Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,
Planted with his own laurels evergreen,
And roses that for endless summer blow;
And there were fountain springs to overflow
Their marble basins,—and cool green arcades
Of tall o'erarching sycamores, to throw
Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades,—
With timid coneys cropping the green blades.
And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,
Argent and gold; and some of Tyrian skin,
Some crimson-barr'd;—and ever at a wish
They rose obsequious till the wave grew thin
As glass upon their backs, and then dived in,
Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom;
Whilst others with fresh hues row'd forth to win
My changeable regard,—for so we doom
Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.
And there were many birds of many dyes,
From tree to tree still faring to and fro,
And stately peacocks with their splendid eyes,
And gorgeous pheasants with their golden glow,
Like Iris just bedabbled in her bow,
Beside some vocalists, without a name,
That oft on fairy errands come and go,
With accents magical;—and all were tame,
And peckled at my hand where'er I came.
And for my sylvan company, in lieu
Of Pampinea with her lively peers,
Sate Queen Titania with her pretty crew,
All in their liveries quaint, with elfin gears,
For she was gracious to my childish years,
And made me free of her enchanted round;
Wherefore this dreamy scene she still endears,
And plants her court upon a verdant mound,
Fenced with umbrageous woods and groves profound.
'Ah me,' she cries, 'was ever moonlight seen
So clear and tender for our midnight trips?
Go some one forth, and with a trump convene
My lieges all!'—Away the goblin skips
A pace or two apart, and deftly strips
The ruddy skin from a sweet rose's cheek,
Then blows the shuddering leaf between his lips,
Making it utter forth a shrill small shriek,
Like a fray'd bird in the gray owlet's beak.
And lo! upon my fix'd delighted ken
Appear'd the loyal Fays.—Some by degrees
Crept from the primrose buds that open'd then,
Ana some from bell-shaped blossoms like the bees,
Some from the dewy meads, and rushy leas,
Flew up like chafers when the rustics pass;
Some from the rivers, others from tall trees
Dropp'd, like shed blossoms, silent to the grass,
Spirits and elfins small, of every class.
Peri and Pixy, and quaint Puck the Antic,
Brought Robin Goodfellow, that merry swain;
And stealthy Mab, queen of old realms romantic,
Came too, from distance, in her tiny wain,
Fresh dripping from a cloud—some bloomy rain,
Then circling the bright Moon, had wash'd her car,
And still bedew'd it with a various stain:
Lastly came Ariel, shooting from a star,
Who bears all fairy embassies afar.
But Oberon, that night elsewhere exiled,
Was absent, whether some distemper'd spleen
Kept him and his fair mate unreconciled,
Or warfare with the Gnome (whose race had been
Sometime obnoxious), kept him from his queen,
And made her now peruse the starry skies
Prophetical, with such an absent mien;
Howbeit, the tears stole often to her eyes,
And oft the Moon was incensed with her sighs—
Which made the elves sport drearily, and soon
Their hushing dances languish'd to a stand,
Like midnight leaves, when, as the Zephyrs swoon,
All on their drooping stems they sink unfann'd,—
So into silence droop'd the fairy band,
To see their empress dear so pale and still,
Crowding her softly round on either hand,
As pale as frosty snowdrops, and as chill,
To whom the sceptred dame reveals her ill.
'Alas,' quoth she, 'ye know our fairy lives
Are leased upon the fickle faith of men;
Not measured out against Fate's mortal knives,
Like human gosamers,—we perish when
We fade and are forgot in worldly kens—
Though poesy has thus prolong'd our date,
Thanks be to the sweet Bard's auspicious pen
That rescued us so long!—howbeit of late
I feel some dark misgivings of our fate.'
'And this dull day my melancholy sleep
Hath been so thronged with images of woe,
That even now I cannot choose but weep
To think this was some sad prophetic show
Of future horror to befall us so,
Of mortal wreck and uttermost distress,
Yea, our poor empire's fall and overthrow,
For this was my long vision's dreadful stress,
And when I waked my trouble was not less.'
'Whenever to the clouds I tried to seek,
Such leaden weight dragg'd these Icarian wings,
My faithless wand was wavering and weak,
And slimy toads had trespass'd in our rings—
The birds refused to sing for me—all things
Disown'd their old allegiance to our spells;
The rude bees prick'd me with their rebel stings;
And, when I pass'd, the valley-lily's bells
Rang out, methought, most melancholy knells.'
'And ever on the faint and flagging air
A doleful spirit with a dreary note
Cried in my fearful ear, 'Prepare! prepare!'
Which soon I knew came from a raven's throat,
Perch'd on a cypress-bough not far remote,—
A cursed bird, too crafty to be shot,
That alway cometh with his soot-black coat
To make hearts dreary:—for he is a blot
Upon the book of life, as well ye wot!—'
'Wherefore some while I bribed him to be mute,
With bitter acorns stuffing his foul maw,
Which barely I appeased, when some fresh bruit
Startled me all aheap!—and soon I saw
The horridest shape that ever raised my awe,—
A monstrous giant, very huge and tall,
Such as in elder times, devoid of law,
With wicked might grieved the primeval ball,
And this was sure the deadliest of them all!'
'Gaunt was he as a wolf of Languedoc,
With bloody jaws, and frost upon his crown
So from his barren poll one hoary lock
Over his wrinkled front fell far adown,
Well nigh to where his frosty brows did frown
Like jagged icicles at cottage eaves;
And for his coronal he wore some brown
And bristled ears gather'd from Ceres' sheaves,
Entwined with certain sere and russet leaves.'
'And lo! upon a mast rear'd far aloft,
He bore a very bright and crescent blade,
The which he waved so dreadfully, and oft,
In meditative spite, that, sore dismay'd,
I crept into an acorn-cup for shade;
Meanwhile the horrid effigy went by:
I trow his look was dreadful, for it made
The trembling birds betake them to the sky,
For every leaf was lifted by his sigh.'
'And ever, as he sigh'd, his foggy breath
Blurr'd out the landscape like a flight of smoke:
Thence knew I this was either dreary Death
Or Time, who leads all creatures to his stroke.
Ah wretched me!'—Here, even as she spoke,
The melancholy Shape came gliding in,
And lean'd his back against an antique oak,
Folding his wings, that were so fine and thin,
They scarce were seen against the Dryad's skin.
Then what a fear seized all the little rout!
Look how a flock of panick'd sheep will stare—
And huddle close—and start—and wheel about,
Watching the roaming mongrel here and there,—
So did that sudden Apparition scare
All close aheap those small affrighted things;
Nor sought they now the safety of the air,
As if some leaden spell withheld their wings;
But who can fly that ancientest of Kings?
Whom now the Queen, with a forestalling tear
And previous sigh, beginneth to entreat,
Bidding him spare, for love, her lieges dear:
'Alas!' quoth she, 'is there no nodding wheat
Ripe for thy crooked weapon, and more meet,—
Or wither'd leaves to ravish from the tree,—
Or crumbling battlements for thy defeat?
Think but what vaunting monuments there be
Builded in spite and mockery of thee.'
'O fret away the fabric walls of Fame,
And grind down marble Cæsars with the dust:
Make tombs inscriptionless—raze each high name,
And waste old armors of renown with rust:
Do all of this, and thy revenge is just:
Make such decays the trophies of thy prime,
And check Ambition's overweening lust,
That dares exterminating war with Time,—
But we are guiltless of that lofty crime.'
'Frail feeble spirits!—the children of a dream!
Leased on the sufferance of fickle men,
Like motes dependent on the sunny beam,
Living but in the sun's indulgent ken,
And when that light withdraws, withdrawing then;—
So do we flutter in the glance of youth
And fervid fancy,—and so perish when
The eye of faith grows aged;—in sad truth,
Feeling thy sway, O Time! though not thy tooth!'
'Where be those old divinities forlorn,
That dwelt in trees, or haunted in a stream?
Alas! their memories are dimm'd and torn,
Like the remainder tatters of a dream:
So will it fare with our poor thrones, I deem;—
For us the same dark trench Oblivion delves,
That holds the wastes of every human scheme.
O spare us then,—and these our pretty elves,—
We soon, alas! shall perish of ourselves!'
Now as she ended, with a sigh, to name
Those old Olympians, scatter'd by the whirl
Of Fortune's giddy wheel and brought to shame,
Methought a scornful and malignant curl
Show'd on the lips of that malicious churl,
To think what noble havocs he had made;
So that I fear'd he all at once would hurl
The harmless fairies into endless shade,—
Howbeit he stopp'd awhile to whet his blade.
Pity it was to hear the elfins' wail
Rise up in concert from their mingled dread,
Pity it was to see them, all so pale,
Gaze on the grass as for a dying bed;—
But Puck was seated on a spider's thread,
That hung between two branches of a briar,
And 'gan to swing and gambol, heels o'er head,
Like any Southwark tumbler on a wire,
For him no present grief could long inspire.
Meanwhile the Queen with many piteous drops,
Falling like tiny sparks full fast and free,
Bedews a pathway from her throne;—and stops
Before the foot of her arch enemy,
And with her little arms enfolds his knee,
That shows more grisly from that fair embrace;
But she will ne'er depart. 'Alas!' quoth she,
'My painful fingers I will here enlace
Till I have gain'd your pity for our race.'
'What have we ever done to earn this grudge,
And hate—(if not too humble for thy hating?)—
Look o'er our labors and our lives, and judge
If there be any ills of our creating;
For we are very kindly creatures, dating
With nature's charities still sweet and bland:—
O think this murder worthy of debating!'
Herewith she makes a signal with her hand,
To beckon some one from the Fairy band.
Anon I saw one of those elfin things,
Clad all in white like any chorister,
Come fluttering forth on his melodious wings,
That made soft music at each little stir,
But something louder than a bee's demur
Before he lights upon a bunch of broom,
And thus 'gan he with Saturn to confer,—
And O his voice was sweet, touch'd with the gloom
Of that sad theme that argued of his doom!
Quoth he, 'We make all melodies our care,
That no false discords may offend the Sun,
Music's great master—tuning everywhere
All pastoral sounds and melodies, each one
Duly to place and season, so that none
May harshly interfere. We rouse at morn
The shrill sweet lark; and when the day is done,
Hush silent pauses for the bird forlorn,
That singeth with her breast against a thorn.'
'We gather in loud choirs the twittering race,
That make a chorus with their single note;
And tend on new-fledged birds in every place,
That duly they may get their tunes by rote;
And oft, like echoes, answering remote,
We hide in thickets from the feather'd throng,
And strain in rivalship each throbbing throat,
Singing in shrill responses all day long,
Whilst the glad truant listens to our song.'
'Wherefore, great King of Years, as thou dost love
The raining music from a morning cloud,
When vanish'd larks are carolling above,
To wake Apollo with their pipings loud;—
If ever thou hast heard in leafy shroud
The sweet and plaintive Sappho of the dell,
Show thy sweet mercy on this little crowd,
And we will muffle up the sheepfold bell
Whene'er thou listenest to Philomel.'
Then Saturn thus;—'Sweet is the merry lark,
That carols in man's ear so clear and strong;
And youth must love to listen in the dark
That tuneful elegy of Tereus' wrong;
But I have heard that ancient strain too long,
For sweet is sweet but when a little strange,
And I grow weary for some newer song;
For wherefore had I wings, unless to range
Through all things mutable, from change to change?'
'But would'st thou hear the melodies of Time,
Listen when sleep and drowsy darkness roll
Over hush'd cities, and the midnight chime
Sounds from their hundred clocks, and deep bells toll
Like a last knell over the dead world's soul,
Saying, 'Time shall be final of all things,
Whose late, last voice must elegize the whole,'—
O then I clap aloft my brave broad wings,
And make the wide air tremble while it rings!'
Then next a fair Eve-Fay made meek address,
Saying, 'We be the handmaids of the Spring;
In sign whereof, May, the quaint broideress,
Hath wrought her samplers on our gauzy wing.
We tend upon buds birth and blossoming,
And count the leafy tributes that they owe—
As, so much to the earth—so much to fling
In showers to the brook—so much to go
In whirlwinds to the clouds that made them grow.'
'The pastoral cowslips are our little pets,
And daisy stars, whose firmament is green;
Pansies, and those veil'd nuns, meek violets,
Sighing to that warm world from which they screen;
And golden daffodils, pluck'd for May's Queen;
And lonely harebells, quaking on the heath;
And Hyacinth, long since a fair youth seen,
Whose tuneful voice, turn'd fragrance in his breath,
Kiss'd by sad Zephyr, guilty of his death.'
'The widow'd primrose weeping to the moon
And saffron crocus in whose chalice bright
A cool libation hoarded for the noon
Is kept—and she that purifies the light,
The virgin lily, faithful to her white,
Whereon Eve wept in Eden for her shame;
And the most dainty rose, Aurora's spright,
Our every godchild, by whatever name—
Spares us our lives, for we did nurse the same!'
Then that old Mower stamp'd his heel, and struck
His hurtful scythe against the harmless ground,
Saying, 'Ye foolish imps, when am I stuck
With gaudy buds, or like a wooer crown'd
With flow'ry chaplets, save when they are found
Withered?—Whenever have I pluck'd a rose,
Except to scatter its vain leaves around?
For so all gloss of beauty I oppose,
And bring decay on every flow'r that blows.'
'Or when am I so wroth as when I view
The wanton pride of Summer;—how she decks
The birthday world with blossoms ever-new,
As if Time had not lived, and heap'd great wrecks
Of years on years?—O then I bravely vex
And catch the gay Months in their gaudy plight,
And slay them with the wreaths about their necks,
Like foolish heifers in the holy rite,
And raise great trophies to my ancient might.'
Then saith another, 'We are kindly things,
And like her offspring nestle with the dove,—
Witness these hearts embroidered on our wings,
To show our constant patronage of love:—
We sit at even, in sweet bow'rs above
Lovers, and shake rich odors on the air,
To mingle with their sighs; and still remove
The startling owl, and bid the bat forbear
Their privacy, and haunt some other where.'
'And we are near the mother when she sits
Beside her infant in its wicker bed;
And we are in the fairy scene that flits
Across its tender brain: sweet dreams we shed,
And whilst the tender little soul is fled,
Away, to sport with our young elves, the while
We touch the dimpled cheek with roses red,
And tickle the soft lips until they smile,
So that their careful parents they beguile.'
'O then, if ever thou hast breathed a vow
At Love's dear portal, or at pale moon-rise
Crush'd the dear curl on a regardful brow,
That did not frown thee from thy honey prize—
If ever thy sweet son sat on thy thighs,
And wooed thee from thy careful thoughts within
To watch the harmless beauty of his eyes,
Or glad thy fingers on his smooth soft skin,
For Love's dear sake, let us thy pity win!'
Then Saturn fiercely thus:—'What joy have I
In tender babes, that have devour'd mine own,
Whenever to the light I heard them cry,
Till foolish Rhea cheated me with stone?
Whereon, till now, is my great hunger shown,
In monstrous dint of my enormous tooth;
And—but the peopled world is too full grown
For hunger's edge—I would consume all youth
At one great meal, without delay or ruth!'
'For I am well nigh crazed and wild to hear
How boastful fathers taunt me with their breed,
Saying, 'We shall not die nor disappear,
But, in these other selves, ourselves succeed
Ev'n as ripe flowers pass into their seed
Only to be renew'd from prime to prime,'
All of which boastings I am forced to read,
Besides a thousand challenges to Time,
Which bragging lovers have compiled in rhyme.'
'Wherefore, when they are sweetly met o' nights,
There will I steal and with my hurried hand
Startle them suddenly from their delights
Before the next encounter hath been plann'd,
Ravishing hours in little minutes spann'd;
But when they say farewell, and grieve apart,
Then like a leaden statue I will stand,
Meanwhile their many tears encrust my dart,
And with a ragged edge cut heart from heart.'
Then next a merry Woodsman, clad in green,
Step vanward from his mates, that idly stood
Each at his proper ease, as they had been
Nursed in the liberty of old Shérwood,
And wore the livery of Robin Hood,
Who wont in forest shades to dine and sup,—
So came this chief right frankly, and made good
His haunch against his axe, and thus spoke up,
Doffing his cap, which was an acorn's cup:—
'We be small foresters and gay, who tend
On trees, and all their furniture of green,
Training the young boughs airily to bend,
And show blue snatches of the sky between;—
Or knit more close intricacies, to screen
Birds' crafty dwellings, as may hide them best,
But most the timid blackbird's—she that, seen,
Will bear black poisonous berries to her nest,
Lest man should cage the darlings of her breast.'
'We bend each tree in proper attitude,
And founting willows train in silvery falls;
We frame all shady roofs and arches rude,
And verdant aisles leading to Dryads' halls,
Or deep recesses where the Echo calls;—
We shape all plumy trees against the sky,
And carve tall elms' Corinthian capitals,—
When sometimes, as our tiny hatchets ply,
Men say, the tapping woodpecker is nigh.'
'Sometimes we scoop the squirrel's hollow cell,
And sometimes carve quaint letters on trees' rind,
That haply some lone musing wight may spell
Dainty Aminta,—Gentle Rosalind,—
Or chastest Laura,—sweetly call'd to mind
In sylvan solitudes, ere he lies down;—
And sometimes we enrich gray stems with twined
And vagrant ivy,—or rich moss, whose brown
Burns into gold as the warm sun goes down.'
'And, lastly, for mirth's sake and Christmas cheer,
We bear the seedling berries, for increase,
To graft the Druid oaks, from year to year,
Careful that mistletoe may never cease;—
Wherefore, if thou dost prize the shady peace
Of sombre forests, or to see light break
Through sylvan cloisters, and in spring release
Thy spirit amongst leaves from careful ake,
Spare us our lives for the Green Dryad's sake.'
Then Saturn, with a frown:—'Go forth, and fell
Oak for your coffins, and thenceforth lay by
Your axes for the rust, and bid farewell
To all sweet birds, and the blue peeps of sky
Through tangled branches, for ye shall not spy
The next green generation of the tree;
But hence with the dead leaves, whene'e they fly,—
Which in the bleak air I would rather see,
Than flights of the most tuneful birds that be.'
'For I dislike all prime, and verdant pets,
Ivy except, that on the aged wall
Prays with its worm-like roots, and daily frets
The crumbled tower it seems to league withal,
King-like, worn down by its own coronal:—
Neither in forest haunts love I to won,
Before the golden plumage 'gins to fall,
And leaves the brown bleak limbs with few leaves on,
Or bare—like Nature in her skeleton.'
'For then sit I amongst the crooked boughs,
Wooing dull Memory with kindred sighs;
And there in rustling nuptials we espouse,
Smit by the sadness in each other's eyes;—
But Hope must have green bowers and blue skies,
And must be courted with the gauds of Spring;
Whilst Youth leans god-like on her lap, and cries,
'What shall we always do, but love and sing?'—
And Time is reckon'd a discarded thing.'
Here in my dream it made me fret to see
How Puck, the antic, all this dreary while
Had blithely jested with calamity,
With mis-timed mirth mocking the doleful style
Of his sad comrades, till it raised my bile
To see him so reflect their grief aside,
Turning their solemn looks to have a smile—
Like a straight stick shown crooked in the tide;—
But soon a novel advocate I spied.
Quoth he—'We teach all natures to fulfil
Their fore-appointed crafts, and instincts meet,—
The bee's sweet alchemy,—the spider's skill,—
The pismire's care to garner up his wheat,—
And rustic masonry to swallows fleet,—
The lapwing's cunning to preserve her nest,—
But most, that lesser pelican, the sweet
And shrilly ruddock, with its bleeding breast,
Its tender pity of poor babes distrest.'
'Sometimes we cast our shapes, and in sleek skins
Delve with the timid mole, that aptly delves
From our example; so the spider spins,
And eke the silk-worm, pattern'd by ourselves:
Sometimes we travail on the summer shelves
Of early bees, and busy toils commence,
Watch'd of wise men, that know not we are elves,
But gaze and marvel at our stretch of sense,
And praise our human-like intelligence.'
'Wherefore, by thy delight in that old tale,
And plaintive dirges the late robins sing,
What time the leaves are scatter'd by the gale,
Mindful of that old forest burying;—
As thou dost love to watch each tiny thing,
For whom our craft most curiously contrives,
If thou hast caught a bee upon the wing,
To take his honey-bag,—spare us our lives,
And we will pay the ransom in full hives.'
'Now by my glass,' quoth Time, 'ye do offend
In teaching the brown bees that careful lore,
And frugal ants, whose millions would have end,
But they lay up for need a timely store,
And travail with the seasons evermore;
Whereas Great Mammoth long hath pass'd away,
And none but I can tell what hide he wore;
Whilst purblind men, the creatures of a day,
In riddling wonder his great bones survey.'
Then came an elf, right beauteous to behold,
Whose coat was like a brooklet that the sun
Hath all embroider'd with its crooked gold,
It was so quaintly wrought and overrun
With spangled traceries,—most meet for one
That was a warden of the pearly streams;—
And as he stept out of the shadows dun,
His jewels sparkled in the pale moon's gleams,
And shot into the air their pointed beams.
Quoth he,—'We bear the gold and silver keys
Of bubbling springs and fountains, that below
Course thro' the veiny earth,—which when they freeze
Into hard crysolites, we bid to flow,
Creeping like subtle snakes, when, as they go,
We guide their windings to melodious falls,
At whose soft murmurings, so sweet and low,
Poets have tuned their smoothest madrigals,
To sing to ladies in their banquet-halls.'
'And when the hot sun with his steadfast heat
Parches the river god,—whose dusty urn
Drips miserly, till soon his crystal feet
Against his pebbly floor wax faint and burn
And languid fish, unpoised, grow sick and yearn,—
Then scoop we hollows in some sandy nook,
And little channels dig, wherein we turn
The thread-worn rivulet, that all forsook
The Naiad-lily, pining for her brook.'
'Wherefore, by thy delight in cool green meads,
With living sapphires daintily inlaid,—
In all soft songs of waters and their reeds,—
And all reflections in a streamlet made,
Haply of thy own love, that, disarray'd,
Kills the fair lily with a livelier white,—
By silver trouts upspringing from green shade,
And winking stars reduplicate at night,
Spare us, poor ministers to such delight.'
Howbeit his pleading and his gentle looks
Moved not the spiteful Shade:—Quoth he, 'Your taste
Shoots wide of mine, for I despise the brooks
And slavish rivulets that run to waste
In noontide sweats, or, like poor vassals, haste
To swell the vast dominion of the sea,
In whose great presence I am held disgraced,
And neighbor'd with a king that rivals me
In ancient might and hoary majesty.'
'Whereas I ruled in Chaos, and still keep
The awful secrets of that ancient dearth,
Before the briny fountains of the deep
Brimm'd up the hollow cavities of earth;—
I saw each trickling Sea-God at his birth,
Each pearly Naiad with her oozy locks,
And infant Titans of enormous girth,
Whose huge young feet yet stumbled on the rocks,
Stunning the early world with frequent shocks.'
'Where now is Titan, with his cumbrous brood,
That scared the world?—By this sharp scythe they fell,
And half the sky was curdled with their blood:
So have all primal giants sigh'd farewell.
No wardens now by sedgy fountains dwell,
Nor pearly Naiads. All their days are done
That strove with Time, untimely, to excel;
Wherefore I razed their progenies, and none
But my great shadow intercepts the sun!'
Then saith the timid Fay—'Oh, mighty Time!
Well hast thou wrought the cruel Titans' fall,
For they were stain'd with many a bloody crime:
Great giants work great wrongs,—but we are small,
For love goes lowly;—but Oppression's tall,
And with surpassing strides goes foremost still
Where love indeed can hardly reach at all;
Like a poor dwarf o'erburthen'd with good will,
That labors to efface the tracks of ill.—'
'Man even strives with Man, but we eschew
The guilty feud, and all fierce strifes abhor;
Nay, we are gentle as the sweet heaven's dew,
Beside the red and horrid drops of war,
Weeping the cruel hates men battle for,
Which worldly bosoms nourish in our spite:
For in the gentle breast we ne'er withdraw,
But only when all love hath taken flight,
And youth's warm gracious heart is hardened quite.'
'So are our gentle natures intertwined
With sweet humanities, and closely knit
In kindly sympathy with human kind.
Witness how we befriend, with elfin wit,
All hopeless maids and lovers,—nor omit
Magical succors unto hearts forlorn:—
We charm man's life, and do not perish it;—
So judge us by the helps we showed this morn,
To one who held his wretched days in scorn.'
''Twas nigh sweet Amwell;—for the Queen had task'd
Our skill to-day amidst the silver Lea,
Whereon the noontide sun had not yet bask'd,
Wherefore some patient man we thought to see,
Planted in moss-grown rushes to the knee,
Beside the cloudy margin cold and dim;—
Howbeit no patient fisherman was he
That cast his sudden shadow from the brim,
Making us leave our toils to gaze on him.'
'His face was ashy pale, and leaden care
Had sunk the levell'd arches of his brow,
Once bridges for his joyous thoughts to fare
Over those melancholy springs and slow,
That from his piteous eyes began to flow,
And fell anon into the chilly stream;
Which, as his mimick'd image show'd below,
Wrinkled his face with many a needless seam,
Making grief sadder in its own esteem.'
'And lo! upon the air we saw him stretch
His passionate arms; and, in a wayward strain,
He 'gan to elegize that fellow wretch
That with mute gestures answer'd him again,
Saying, 'Poor slave, how long wilt thou remain
Life's sad weak captive in a prison strong,
Hoping with tears to rust away thy chain,
In bitter servitude to worldly wrong?—
Thou wear'st that mortal livery too long!''
'This, with more spleenful speeches and some tears,
When he had spent upon the imaged wave,
Speedily I convened my elfin peers
Under the lily-cups, that we might save
This woeful mortal from a wilful grave
By shrewd diversions of his mind's regret,
Seeing he was mere Melancholy's slave,
That sank wherever a dark cloud he met,
And straight was tangled in her secret net.'
'Therefore, as still he watch'd the water's flow,
Daintily we transform'd, and with bright fins
Came glancing through the gloom; some from below
Rose like dim fancies when a dream begins,
Snatching the light upon their purple skins;
Then under the broad leaves made slow retire:
One like a golden galley bravely wins
Its radiant course,—another glows like fire,—
Making that wayward man our pranks admire.'
'And so he banish'd thought, and quite forgot
All contemplation of that wretched face;
And so we wiled him from that lonely spot
Along the river's brink; till, by heaven's grace,
He met a gentle haunter of the place,
Full of sweet wisdom gather'd from the brooks,
Who there discuss'd his melancholy case
With wholesome texts learned from kind nature's books,
Meanwhile he newly trimm'd his lines and hooks.'
Herewith the Fairy ceased. Quoth Ariel now—
'Let me remember how I saved a man,
Whose fatal noose was fastened on a bough,
Intended to abridge his sad life's span;
For haply I was by when he began
His stern soliloquy in life dispraise,
And overheard his melancholy plan,
How he had made a vow to end his days,
And therefore follow'd him in all his ways.'
'Through brake and tangled copse, for much he loathed
All populous haunts, and roam'd in forests rude,
To hide himself from man. But I had clothed
My delicate limbs with plumes, and still pursued,
Where only foxes and wild cats intrude,
Till we were come beside an ancient tree
Late blasted by a storm. Here he renew'd
His loud complaints,—choosing that spot to be
The scene of his last horrid tragedy.'
'It was a wild and melancholy glen,
Made gloomy by tall firs and cypress dark,
Whose roots, like any bones of buried men,
Push'd through the rotten sod for fear's remark;
A hundred horrid stems, jagged and stark,
Wrestled with crooked arms in hideous fray,
Besides sleek ashes with their dappled bark,
Like crafty serpents climbing for a prey,
With many blasted oaks moss-grown and gray.'
'But here upon his final desperate clause
Suddenly I pronounced so sweet a strain,
Like a pang'd nightingale, it made him pause,
Till half the frenzy of his grief was slain,
The sad remainder oozing from his brain
In timely ecstasies of healing tears,
Which through his ardent eyes began to drain;—
Meanwhile the deadly Fates unclosed their shears:—
So pity me and all my fated peers!'
Thus Ariel ended, and was some time hush'd:
When with the hoary shape a fresh tongue pleads,
And red as rose the gentle Fairy blush'd
To read the records of her own good deeds:—
'It chanced,' quoth she, 'in seeking through the meads
For honied cowslips, sweetest in the morn,
Whilst yet the buds were hung with dewy beads.'
And Echo answered to the huntsman's horn,
We found a babe left in the swaths forlorn.
'A little, sorrowful, deserted thing,
Begot of love, and yet no love begetting;
Guiltless of shame, and yet for shame to wring;
And too soon banish'd from a mother's petting,
To churlish nurture and the wide world's fretting,
For alien pity and unnatural care;—
Alas! to see how the cold dew kept wetting
His childish coats, and dabbled all his hair,
Like gossamers across his forehead fair.'
'His pretty pouting mouth, witless of speech,
Lay half-way open like a rose-lipp'd shell;
And his young cheek was softer than a peach,
Whereon his tears, for roundness, could not dwell,
But quickly roll'd themselves to pearls, and fell,
Some on the grass, and some against his hand,
Or haply wander'd to the dimpled well,
Which love beside his mouth had sweetly plann'd,
Yet not for tears, but mirth and smilings bland.'
'Pity it was to see those frequent tears
Falling regardless from his friendless eyes;
There was such beauty in those twin blue spheres,
As any mother's heart might leap to prize;
Blue were they, like the zenith of the skies
Softened betwixt two clouds, both clear and mild;—
Just touched with thought, and yet not over wise,
They show'd the gentle spirit of a child,
Not yet by care or any craft defiled.'
'Pity it was to see the ardent sun
Scorching his helpless limbs—it shone so warm;
For kindly shade or shelter he had none,
Nor mother's gentle breast, come fair or storm.
Meanwhile I bade my pitying mates transform
Like grasshoppers, and then, with shrilly cries,
All round the infant noisily we swarm,
Haply some passing rustic to advise—
Whilst providential Heaven our care espies.'
'And sends full soon a tender-hearted hind,
Who, wond'ring at our loud unusual note,
Strays curiously aside, and so doth find
The orphan child laid in the grass remote,
And laps the foundling in his russet coat,
Who thence was nurtured in his kindly cot:—
But how he prosper'd let proud London quote,
How wise, how rich, and how renown'd he got,
And chief of all her citizens, I wot.'
'Witness his goodly vessels on the Thames,
Whose holds were fraught with costly merchandise,—
Jewels from Ind, and pearls for courtly dames,
And gorgeous silks that Samarcand supplies:
Witness that Royal Bourse he bade arise,
The mart of merchants from the East and West:
Whose slender summit, pointing to the skies,
Still bears, in token of his grateful breast,
The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest—'
'The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest,
That all the summer, with a tuneful wing,
Makes merry chirpings in its grassy nest,
Inspirited with dew to leap and sing:—
So let us also live, eternal King!
Partakers of the green and pleasant earth:—
Pity it is to slay the meanest thing,
That, like a mote, shines in the smile of mirth:—
Enough there is of joy's decrease and dearth!'
'Enough of pleasure, and delight, and beauty,
Perish'd and gone, and hasting to decay;—
Enough to sadden even thee, whose duty
Or spite it is to havoc and to slay:
Too many a lovely race razed quite away,
Hath left large gaps in life and human loving;—
Here then begin thy cruel war to stay,
And spare fresh sighs, and tears, and groans, reproving
Thy desolating hand for our removing.'
Now here I heard a shrill and sudden cry,
And, looking up, I saw the antic Puck
Grappling with Time, who clutch'd him like a fly,
Victim of his own sport,—the jester's luck!
He, whilst his fellows grieved, poor wight, had stuck
His freakish gauds upon the Ancient's brow,
And now his ear, and now his beard, would pluck;
Whereas the angry churl had snatched him now,
Crying, 'Thou impish mischief, who art thou?'
'Alas!' quoth Puck, 'a little random elf,
Born in the sport of nature, like a weed,
For simple sweet enjoyment of myself,
But for no other purpose, worth, or need;
And yet withal of a most happy breed;
And there is Robin Goodfellow besides,
My partner dear in many a prankish deed
To make dame Laughter hold her jolly sides,
Like merry mummers twain on holy tides.'
''Tis we that bob the angler's idle cork,
Till e'en the patient man breathes half a curse;
We steal the morsel from the gossip's fork,
And curdling looks with secret straws disperse,
Or stop the sneezing chanter at mid verse:
And when an infant's beauty prospers ill,
We change, some mothers say, the child at nurse:
But any graver purpose to fulfil,
We have not wit enough, and scarce the will.'
'We never let the canker melancholy
To gather on our faces like a rust,
But glass our features with some change of folly,
Taking life's fabled miseries on trust,
But only sorrowing when sorrow must:
We ruminate no sage's solemn cud,
But own ourselves a pinch of lively dust
To frisk upon a wind,—whereas the flood
Of tears would turn us into heavy mud.'
'Beshrew those sad interpreters of nature,
Who gloze her lively universal law,
As if she had not form'd our cheerful feature
To be so tickled with the slightest straw!
So let them vex their mumbling mouths, and draw
The corners downward, like a wat'ry moon,
And deal in gusty sighs and rainy flaw—
We will not woo foul weather all too soon,
Or nurse November on the lap of June.'
'For ours are winging sprites, like any bird,
That shun all stagnant settlements of grief;
And even in our rest our hearts are stirr'd,
Like insects settled on a dancing leaf:—
This is our small philosophy in brief,
Which thus to teach hath set me all agape:
But dost thou relish it? O hoary chief!
Unclasp thy crooked fingers from my nape,
And I will show thee many a pleasant scrape.'
Then Saturn thus:—shaking his crooked blade
O'erhead, which made aloft a lightning flash
In all the fairies' eyes, dismally fray'd!
His ensuing voice came like the thunder crash—
Meanwhile the bolt shatters some pine or ash—
'Thou feeble, wanton, foolish, fickle thing!
Whom nought can frighten, sadden, or abash,—
To hope my solemn countenance to wring
To idiot smiles!—but I will prune thy wing!'
'Lo! this most awful handle of my scythe
Stood once a May-pole, with a flowery crown,
Which rustics danced around, and maidens blithe,
To wanton pipings;—but I pluck'd it down,
And robed the May Queen in a churchyard gown,
Turning her buds to rosemary and rue;
And all their merry minstrelsy did drown,
And laid each lusty leaper in the dew;—
So thou shalt fare—and every jovial crew!'
Here he lets go the struggling imp, to clutch.
His mortal engine with each grisly hand,
Which frights the elfin progeny so much,
They huddle in a heap, and trembling stand
All round Titania, like the queen bee's band,
With sighs and tears and very shrieks of woe!—
Meanwhile, some moving argument I plann'd,
To make the stern Shade merciful,—when lo!
He drops his fatal scythe without a blow!
For, just at need, a timely Apparition
Steps in between, to bear the awful brunt;
Making him change his horrible position,
To marvel at this comer, brave and blunt,
That dares Time's irresistible affront,
Whose strokes have scarr'd even the gods of old;—
Whereas this seem'd a mortal, at mere hunt
For coneys, lighted by the moonshine cold,
Or stalker of stray deer, stealthy and bold.
Who, turning to the small assembled fays,
Doffs to the lily queen his courteous cap,
And holds her beauty for a while in gaze,
With bright eyes kindling at this pleasant hap;
And thence upon the fair moon's silver map,
As if in question of this magic chance,
Laid like a dream upon the green earth's lap;
And then upon old Saturn turns askance,
Exclaiming, with a glad and kindly glance:—
'Oh, these be Fancy's revelers by night!
Stealthy companions of the downy moth—
Diana's motes, that flit in her pale light,
Shunners of sunbeams in diurnal sloth;—
These be the feasters on night's silver cloth;—
The gnat with shrilly trump is their convener,
Forth from their flowery chambers, nothing loth,
With lulling tunes to charm the air serener,
Or dance upon the grass to make it greener.'
'These be the pretty genii of the flow'rs,
Daintily fed with honey and pure dew—
Midsummer's phantoms in her dreaming hours,
King Oberon, and all his merry crew,
The darling puppets of romance's view;
Fairies, and sprites, and goblin elves we call them,
Famous for patronage of lovers true;—
No harm they act, neither shall harm befall them,
So do not thus with crabbed frowns appal them.'
O what a cry was Saturn's then!—it made
The fairies quake. 'What care I for their pranks,
However they may lovers choose to aid,
Or dance their roundelays on flow'ry banks?—
Long must they dance before they earn my thanks,—
So step aside, to some far safer spot,
Whilst with my hungry scythe I mow their ranks,
And leave them in the sun, like weeds, to rot,
And with the next day's sun to be forgot.'
Anon, he raised afresh his weapon keen;
But still the gracious Shade disarm'd his aim,
Stepping with brave alacrity between,
And made his sore arm powerless and tame.
His be perpetual glory, for the shame
Of hoary Saturn in that grand defeat!—
But I must tell how here Titania, came
With all her kneeling lieges, to entreat
His kindly succor, in sad tones, but sweet.
Saying, 'Thou seest a wretched queen before thee,
The fading power of a failing land,
Who for a kingdom kneeleth to implore thee,
Now menaced by this tyrant's spoiling hand;
No one but thee can hopefully withstand
That crooked blade, he longeth so to lift.
I pray thee blind him with his own vile sand,
Which only times all ruins by its drift,
Or prune his eagle wings that are so swift.'
'Or take him by that sole and grizzled tuft,
That hangs upon his bald and barren crown;
And we will sing to see him so rebuff'd,
And lend our little mights to pull him down,
And make brave sport of his malicious frown,
For all his boastful mockery o'er men.
For thou wast born, I know, for this renown,
By my most magical and inward ken,
That readeth ev'n at Fate's forestalling pen.'
'Nay, by the golden lustre of thine eye,
And by thy brow's most fair and ample span,
Thought's glorious palace, framed for fancies high,
And by thy cheek thus passionately wan,
I know the signs of an immortal man,—
Nature's chief darling, and illustrious mate,
Destined to foil old Death's oblivious plan,
And shine untarnish'd by the fogs of Fate,
Time's famous rival till the final date!'
'O shield us then from this usurping Time,
And we will visit thee in moonlight dreams;
And teach thee tunes, to wed unto thy rhyme,
And dance about thee in all midnight gleams,
Giving thee glimpses of our magic schemes,
Such as no mortal's eye hath ever seen;
And, for thy love to us in our extremes,
Will ever keep thy chaplet fresh and green,
Such as no poet's wreath hath ever been!'
'And we'll distil thee aromatic dews,
To charm thy sense, when there shall be no flow'rs;
And flavor'd syrups in thy drinks infuse,
And teach the nightingale to haunt thy bow'rs,
And with our games divert thy weariest hours,
With all that elfin wits can e'er devise.
And, this churl dead, there'll be no hasting hours
To rob thee of thy joys, as now joy flies':—
Here she was stopp'd by Saturn's furious cries.]
Whom, therefore, the kind Shade rebukes anew,
Saying, 'Thou haggard Sin, go forth, and scoop
Thy hollow coffin in some churchyard yew,
Or make th' autumnal flow'rs turn pale, and droop;
Or fell the bearded corn, till gleaners stoop
Under fat sheaves,—or blast the piny grove;—
But here thou shall not harm this pretty group,
Whose lives are not so frail and feebly wove,
But leased on Nature's loveliness and love.'
''Tis these that free the small entangled fly,
Caught in the venom'd spider's crafty snare;—
These be the petty surgeons that apply
The healing balsams to the wounded hare,
Bedded in bloody fern, no creature's care!—
These be providers for the orphan brood,
Whose tender mother hath been slain in air,
Quitting with gaping bill her darling's food,
Hard by the verge of her domestic wood.'
''Tis these befriend the timid trembling stag,
When, with a bursting heart beset with fears,
He feels his saving speed begin to flag;
For then they quench the fatal taint with tears,
And prompt fresh shifts in his alarum'd ears,
So piteously they view all bloody morts;
Or if the gunner, with his arms, appears,
Like noisy pyes and jays, with harsh reports,
They warn the wild fowl of his deadly sports.'
'For these are kindly ministers of nature,
To soothe all covert hurts and dumb distress;
Pretty they be, and very small of stature,—
For mercy still consorts with littleness;—
Wherefore the sum of good is still the less,
And mischief grossest in this world of wrong;—
So do these charitable dwarfs redress
The tenfold ravages of giants strong,
To whom great malice and great might belong.'
'Likewise to them are Poets much beholden
For secret favors in the midnight glooms;
Brave Spenser quaff'd out of their goblets golden,
And saw their tables spread of prompt mushrooms,
And heard their horns of honeysuckle blooms
Sounding upon the air most soothing soft,
Like humming bees busy about the brooms,—
And glanced this fair queen's witchery full oft,
And in her magic wain soar'd far aloft.'
'Nay I myself, though mortal, once was nursed
By fairy gossips, friendly at my birth,
And in my childish ear glib Mab rehearsed
Her breezy travels round our planet's girth,
Telling me wonders of the moon and earth;
My gramarye at her grave lap I conn'd,
Where Puck hath been convened to make me mirth;
I have had from Queen Titania tokens fond,
And toy'd with Oberon's permitted wand.'
'With figs and plums and Persian dates they fed me,
And delicate cates after my sunset meal,
And took me by my childish hand, and led me
By craggy rocks crested with keeps of steel,
Whose awful bases deep dark woods conceal,
Staining some dead lake with their verdant dyes.
And when the West sparkled at Phoebus' wheel,
With fairy euphrasy they purged mine eyes,
To let me see their cities in the skies.'
''Twas they first school'd my young imagination
To take its flights like any new-fledged bird,
And show'd the span of winged meditation
Stretch'd wider than things grossly seen or heard.
With sweet swift Ariel how I soar'd and stirr'd
The fragrant blooms of spiritual bow'rs!
'Twas they endear'd what I have still preferr'd,
Nature's blest attributes and balmy pow'rs,
Her hills and vales and brooks, sweet birds and flow'rs.'
'Wherefore with all true loyalty and duty
Will I regard them in my honoring rhyme,
With love for love, and homages to beauty,
And magic thoughts gather'd in night's cool clime,
With studious verse trancing the dragon Time,
Strong as old Merlin's necromantic spells;
So these dear monarchs of the summer's prime
Shall live unstartled by his dreadful yells,
Till shrill larks warn them to their flowery cells.'
Look how a poison'd man turns livid black,
Drugg'd with a cup of deadly hellebore,
That sets his horrid features all at rack,—
So seem'd these words into the ear to pour
Of ghastly Saturn, answering with a roar
Of mortal pain and spite and utmost rage,
Wherewith his grisly arm he raised once more,
And bade the cluster'd sinews all engage,
As if at one fell stroke to wreck an age.
Whereas the blade flash'd on the dinted ground,
Down through his steadfast foe, yet made no scar
On that immortal Shade, or death-like wound;
But Time was long benumb'd, and stood ajar,
And then with baffled rage took flight afar,
To weep his hurt in some Cimmerian gloom,
Or meaner fames (like mine) to mock and mar,
Or sharp his scythe for royal strokes of doom,
Whetting its edge on some old Cæsar's tomb.
Howbeit he vanish'd in the forest shade,
Distantly heard as if some grumbling pard,
And, like Nymph Echo, to a sound decay'd;—
Meanwhile the fays cluster'd the gracious Bard,
The darling centre of their dear regard:
Besides of sundry dances on the green,
Never was mortal man so brightly starr'd,
Or won such pretty homages, I ween.
'Nod to him, Elves!' cries the melodious queen.
'Nod to him, Elves, and flutter round about him,
And quite enclose him with your pretty crowd,
And touch him lovingly, for that, without him,
The silkworm now had spun our dreary shroud;—
But he hath all dispersed Death's tearful cloud,
And Time's dread effigy scared quite away:
Bow to him then, as though to me ye bow'd,
And his dear wishes prosper and obey
Wherever love and wit can find a way!'
''Noint him with fairy dews of magic savors,
Shaken from orient buds still pearly wet,
Roses and spicy pinks,—and, of all favors,
Plant in his walks the purple violet,
And meadow-sweet under the hedges set,
To mingle breaths with dainty eglantine
And honeysuckles sweet,—nor yet forget
Some pastoral flowery chaplets to entwine,
To vie the thoughts about his brow benign!'
'Let no wild things astonish him or fear him,
But tell them all how mild he is of heart,
Till e'en the timid hares go frankly near him,
And eke the dappled does, yet never start;
Nor shall their fawns into the thickets dart,
Nor wrens forsake their nests among the leaves,
Nor speckled thrushes flutter far apart;—
But bid the sacred swallow haunt his eaves,
To guard his roof from lightning and from thieves.'
'Or when he goes the nimble squirrel's visitor,
Let the brown hermit bring his hoarded nuts,
For, tell him, this is Nature's kind Inquisitor,—
Though man keeps cautious doors that conscience shuts,
For conscious wrong all curious quest rebuts,—
Nor yet shall bees uncase their jealous stings,
However he may watch their straw-built huts;—
So let him learn the crafts of all small things,
Which he will hint most aptly when he sings.'
Here she leaves off, and with a graceful hand
Waves thrice three splendid circles round his head;
Which, though deserted by the radiant wand,
Wears still the glory which her waving shed,
Such as erst crown'd the old Apostle's head,
To show the thoughts there harbor'd were divine,
And on immortal contemplations fed:—
Goodly it was to see that glory shine
Around a brow so lofty and benign!—
Goodly it was to see the elfin brood
Contend for kisses of his gentle hand,
That had their mortal enemy withstood,
And stay'd their lives, fast ebbing with the sand.
Long while this strife engaged the pretty band;
But now bold Chanticleer, from farm to farm,
Challenged the dawn creeping o'er eastern land,
And well the fairies knew that shrill alarm,
Which sounds the knell of every elfish charm.
And soon the rolling mist, that 'gan arise
From plashy mead and undiscover'd stream,
Earth's morning incense to the early skies,
Crept o'er the failing landscape of my dream.
Soon faded then the Phantom of my theme—
A shapeless shade, that fancy disavowed,
And shrank to nothing in the mist extreme,
Then flew Titania,—and her little crowd,
Like flocking linnets, vanished in a cloud.
In The Fall And When The Autumn Leaves
In the Autumn
When the beauty of the leaves begins to fall
One keeps on raking
Not to think about the beauty nature calls
One keeps on raking
Bagging leaves and wanting to get one and all,
One keeps on raking
Until their back is aching
In the Autumn
When the beauty of the leaves begins to fall
One keeps on raking
Not to think about the beauty nature calls
One keeps on raking
Bagging leaves and wanting to get one and all
One keeps on raking
Until their back is aching
One keeps raking
Until their back is aching
One keeps raking
Until their back is aching
In the Fall and when the Autumn leaves
Begin to lose their grip from trees
One keeps up raking
Until their back is aching
One keeps raking
Until their back is aching
The Tree Of Life
Walking alone in the midst of the trees
the wind there was blowing gently and
everything was moving it seemed except me.
The birds were twittering in the branches overhead
singing out their love for nature and whilst listening
didn't share in their praise but envied them instead.
I could feel something watching unsure of what I intended
and sense something telling them about me to take caution;
keep out of reach, fear and harm is perhaps what I represented.
But what was this thing or feeling that I was sensing?
Could it be the ceasing of the wind and the stillness that
was effected or the hours of darkness that were falling?
My presence and expanding awareness was perhaps the likely answer.
But there was also, I could sense, a general saline moisture in the air
reminding me of tears and the ocean, from which did the wind transfer?
I kept on walking slowly along following a path I could barely see
seeking some place where I could find my joy to rejoice in and so
nearing the edge of the forest had no idea where that place would be.
What lay ahead in the stretch of land seemed like mere desolation
so, after hesitating a little and pondering, began traversing that land
because there was much more to witness from direct observation.
That which I witnessed amidst the trees was only part of what there was to see
and as I continued making my way slowly forward along the land,
I stumbled on something and fell thinking how cruel nature was to me.
While laying there for some time propped up on elbows with head drooping down
could not help feeling the way I did and wishing the grass was much taller
so that I might bury my head in it and become one with the ground.
When one is alone and lonely one does often think of many things,
not necessarily depending on the state of mind or mood one is in;
calmness, quietude and reflection are the fruits that solitude brings.
People, it seems to me that, when they are running the risk
of being swept away by a strong and prevailing tide
that could drown them, always try to find a higher more secure ground.
But how high can they go and how long there can they abide?
This was almost the case with me for I was drowning in my own thought
and with the onset of darkness perhaps I was trying not to get caught.
Thus I ventured forth straight into the unknown it seemed.
How far and which way could or would I go was deemed
only by time which would tell if I reached my destination
with no one and nothing to guide me but my imagination.
Sitting up I realised, after looking about me, was a kind of day
in which everything seemed serene and beautiful with the sun
shedding its last warmth and light, the air gently blowing away
its freshness and sense of freedom, this day was almost done.
Yet the darkness still was falling and thought provoking
and bearing all of its weight there upon me.
Could it be that only when, under pressure experiencing,
does one look then at what is really to see?
For ere the sun and moon fully exchanged their places,
to govern the land and sea, in the majestic sky awe inspiring,
I saw looking up into those vast luminous starry spaces
there was still light that shone upon me which was much desiring.
The sun on the horizon was going down in a shimmering sea
of calm movement, shedding as it were its reserve flood of light
in my eyes, warmth on my body and actively seemed to guide me
as the path lying ahead was still unforeseen and nowhere in sight.
Heavenly light was enlightening my world before me and binding
my mind in a state of exalted wakefulness as if there was yet more to come.
Although we can only all go on until so far as our fate is allowing,
will we never see through our blindness what's awaiting us under the sun?
For every man, woman and child there is a story that will never be told
and so we can surely hit the target but, will we ever meet the mark?
The wrath wrought through the misinterpretation of nature's role of old
in our lives will have its share to account for our being in the dark.
The moon with its full glare of moonbeams was there starring at me
as I looked up into what was so much more to behold and happening;
the stars were sprinkling their light in the heavens and could also see,
they were holding me captive beyond comprehension and beckoning.
And I began feeling a sense of attraction rise somewhere from within,
responding to this outward magnitude of enchantment transfixed stood,
and closing my eyes experienced a tingling warmth from my waist begin
rising up my spine and reach into the crown of my head as if it should.
And to seemingly flow out above through the recesses and ends of my hair
as if embracing and reverentially acknowledging, on some deep inner level,
a magnificent presence, comforting and soothing, invisible yet somehow there.
With feelings of inexplicable security and overwhelming love I began to revel.
As if nothing else existing; a conscious knowing of Almighty Being
which was centred within and yet everywhere all around revealing.
A step beyond imagination with a higher faculty operating
it was a bewildering and profound experience of becoming.
Yet I was very young then not knowing what age now
and oftentimes I found myself yearning as if somehow
there could be an almighty Splendour such as He
so reassuring to know that He was always with me.
And whenever turning within humbly, sincerely addressing,
He would always receive motherly - like my love offering,
comfortingly remove my sorrow and feeling of separation
embracing me in His invisible bosom - friend like affiliation.
Through the simple sayings and stories old assimilated
of words the Lord Jesus Christ sometime said indicated
in daily living I would find encouragement and confirmation
of the truth my mind then grasping subtle as if in revelation.
A little was almost too much and yet so overwhelming
an ever present certainty the more one tries expressing
the use of words are near futile it seems
like memories of half forgotten dreams.
Many were the days that passed and very few were those amongst them
in which I began to find favour once more with that Old Friend and Gem.
Being as it were in life's quest, bedazzled by the apparently real, I saw my mind
which was caught as a fish in a net and offered freedom of a very limited kind
and even much less if one was not knowingly overcome; seeking release in
its strong captivating charm of illusory values and make believe ways within.
After many years and in a certain place behind some church
in a car park early in the twilight it happened so unexpectedly.
To my amazement, I saw a small tree growing in a little garden beside
the parking area, and as I got out of my car stretching my legs walking
towards it, and with eyes gazing at it, saw that this tree was alive and could see the sap
which was coursing through its trunk and boughs circulating around in it like blood
passing through the veins in a person’s body but of a transparent colour and so it was
that nobody else was there and everything for a long moment seemed very quiet and still.
Uncle Ned’s Tales: How The Flag Was Saved
‘TWAS a dismal winter's evening, fast without came down the snow,
But within, the cheerful fire cast a ruddy, genial glow
O'er our pleasant little parlor, that was then my mother's pride.
There she sat beside the glowing grate, my sister by her side;
And beyond, within the shadow, in a cosy little nook
Uncle Ned and I were sitting, and in whispering tones we spoke.
I was asking for a story he had promised me to tell,—
Of his comrade, old Dick Hilton, how he fought and how he fell;
And with eager voice I pressed him, till a mighty final cloud
Blew he slowly, then upon his breast his grisly head he bowed,
And, musing, stroked his gray mustache ere he began to speak,
Then brushed a tear that stole along his bronzed and furrowed cheek.
'Ah, no! I will not speak to-night of that sad tale,' he cried,
'Some other time I'll tell you, boy, about that splendid ride.
Your words have set me thinking of the many careless years
That comrade rode beside me, and have caused these bitter tears;
For I loved him, boy,—for twenty years we galloped rein to rein,—
In peace and war, through all that time, stanch comrades had we been.
As boys we rode together when our soldiering first began.
And in all those years I knew him for a true and trusty man.
One who never swerved from danger,—for he knew not how to fear,—
If grim Death arrayed his legions, Dick would charge him with a cheer.
He was happiest in a struggle or a wild and dangerous ride:
Every inch a trooper was he, and he cared for naught beside.
He was known for many a gallant deed: to-night I'll tell you one,
And no braver feat of arms was by a soldier ever done.
'Twas when we were young and fearless, for 'twas in our first campaign,
When we galloped through the orange groves and fields of sunny Spain.
Our wary old commander was retiring from the foe,
Who came pressing close upon us, with a proud, exulting show.
We could hear their taunting laughter, and within our very sight
Did they ride defiant round us,—ay, and dared us to the fight.
But brave old Picton heeded not, but held his backward track,
And smiling said the day would come to pay the Frenchmen back.
And come it did: one morning, long before the break of day,
We were standing to our arms, all ready for the coming fray.
Soon the sun poured down his glory on the hostile lines arrayed,
And his beams went flashing brightly back from many a burnished blade,
Soon to change its spotless luster for a reeking crimson stain,
In some heart, then throbbing proudly, that will never throb again.
When that sun has reached his zenith, life and pride will then have fled,
And his beams will mock in splendor o'er the ghastly heaps of dead.
Oh, 'tis sad to think how many—but I wander, lad, I fear;
And, though the moral's good, I guess the tale you'd rather hear.
Well, I said that we were ready, and the foe was ready, too;
Soon the fight was raging fiercely,—thick and fast the bullets flew,
With a bitter hiss of malice, as if hungry for the life
To be torn from manly bosoms in the maddening heat of strife.
Distant batteries were thundering, pouring grape and shell like rain,
And the cruel missiles hurtled with their load of death and pain,
Which they carried, like fell demons, to the heart of some brigade,
Where the sudden, awful stillness told the havoc they had made.
Thus the struggle raged till noon, and neither side could vantage show;
Then the tide of battle turned, and swept in favor of the foe!
Fiercer still the cannon thundered,—wilder screamed the grape and shell,—
Onward pressed the French battalions,—back the British masses fell!
Then, as on its prey devoted, fierce the hungered vulture swoops,
Swung the foeman's charging squadrons down upon our broken troops.
Victory hovered o'er their standard,—on they swept with maddened shout,
Spreading death and havoc round them, till retreat was changed to rout!
'Twas a saddening sight to witness; and, when Picton saw them fly,
Grief and shame were mixed and burning in the old commander's eye.
We were riding in his escort, close behind him, on a height
Which the fatal field commanded; thence we viewed the growing flight.
'But, my lad, I now must tell you something more about that hill,
And I'll try to make you see the spot as I can see it still.
Bight before us, o'er the battle-field, the fall was sheer and steep;
On our left the ground fell sloping, in a pleasant, grassy sweep,
Where the aides went dashing swiftly, bearing orders to and fro,
For by that sloping side alone they reached the plain below.
On our right—now pay attention, boy—a yawning fissure lay,
As if an earthquake's shock had split the mountain's side away.
And in the dismal gulf, far down, we heard the angry roar
Of a foaming mountain torrent, that, mayhap, the cleft had wore,
As it rushed for countless ages through its black and secret lair;
But no matter how 'twas formed, my lad, the yawning gulf was there.
And from the farther side a stone projected o'er the gorge,—
'Twas strange to see the massive rock just balanced on the verge;
It seemed as if an eagle's weight the ponderous mass of stone
Would topple from its giddy height, and send it crashing down.
It stretched far o'er the dark abyss; but, though 'twere footing good,
'Twas twenty feet or more from off the side on which we stood.
Beyond the cleft a gentle slope went down and joined the plain,—
Now, lad, back to where we halted, and again resume the rein.
I said our troops were routed. Far and near they broke and fled,
The grape-shot tearing through them, leaving lanes of mangled dead.
All order lost, they left the fight,—they threw their arms away,
And joined in one wild panic rout,—ah! 'twas a bitter day!
'But did I say that all was lost? Nay, one brave corps stood fast,
Determined they would never fly, but fight it to the last.
They barred the Frenchman from his prey, and his whole fury braved,—
One brief hour could they hold their ground, the army might be saved.
Fresh troops were hurrying to our aid,—we saw their glittering head,—
Ah, God! how those brave hearts were raked by the death-shower of lead!
But stand they did: they never flinched nor took one backward stride,
They sent their bayonets home, and then with stubborn courage died.
But few were left of that brave band when the dread hour had passed,
Still, faint and few, they held their flag above them to the last.
But now a cloud of horsemen, like a shadowy avalanche,
Sweeps down: as Picton sees them, e'en his cheek is seen to blanch.
They were not awed, that little band, but rallied once again,
And sent us back a farewell cheer. Then burst from reckless men
The anguished cry, ' God help them!' as we saw the feeble flash
Of their last defiant volley, when upon them with a crash
Burst the gleaming lines of riders,—one by one they disappear,
And the chargers' hoofs are trampling on the last of that brave square!
On swept the squadrons! Then we looked where last the band was seen:
A scarlet heap was all that marked the place where they had been!
Still forward spurred the horsemen, eager to complete the rout;
But our lines had been reformed now, and five thousand guns belched out
A reception to the squadrons,—rank on rank was piled that day
Every bullet hissed out ' Vengeance!' as it whistled on its way.
'And now it was, with maddened hearts, we saw a galling sight:
A French hussar was riding close beneath us on the right,—
He held a British standard! With insulting shout he stood,
And waved the flag,—its heavy folds drooped down with shame and blood,—
The blood of hearts unconquered: 'twas the flag of the stanch corps
That had fought to death beneath it,—it was heavy with their gore.
The foreign dog! I see him as he holds the standard down,
And makes his charger trample on its colors and its crown!
But his life soon paid the forfeit: with a cry of rage and pain,
Hilton dashes from the escort, like a tiger from his chain.
Nought he sees but that insulter; and he strikes his frightened horse
With his clenched hand, and spurs him, with a bitter-spoken curse,
Straight as bullet from a rifle—but, great Lord! he has not seen,
In his angry thirst for vengeance, the black gulf that lies between!
All our warning shouts unheeded, starkly on he headlong rides,
And lifts his horse, with bloody spurs deep buried in his sides.
God's mercy! does he see the gulf? Ha! now his purpose dawns
Upon our minds, as nearer still the rocky fissure yawns:
Where from the farther side the stone leans o'er the stream beneath,
He means to take the awful leap! Cold horror checks our breath,
And still and mute we watch him now: he nears the fearful place;
We hear him shout to cheer the horse, and keep the headlong pace.
Then comes a rush,—short strides,—a blow!—the horse bounds wildly on,
Springs high in air o'er the abyss, and lands upon the stone!
It trembles, topples 'neath their weight! it sinks! ha! bravely done!
Another spring,—they gain the side,—the ponderous rock is gone
With crashing roar, a thousand feet, down to the flood below,
And Hilton, heedless of its noise, is riding at the foe!
'The Frenchman stared in wonder: he was brave, and would not run,
'Twould merit but a coward's brand to turn and fly from one.
But still he shuddered at the glance from 'neath that knitted brow:
He knew 'twould be a death fight, but there was no shrinking now.
He pressed his horse to meet the shock: straight at him Hilton made,
And as they closed the Frenchman's cut fell harmless on his blade;
But scarce a moment's time had passed ere, spurring from the field,
A troop of cuirassiers closed round and called on him to yield.
One glance of scorn he threw them,—all his answer in a frown,—
And riding at their leader with one sweep he cut him down;
Then aimed at him who held the flag a cut of crushing might,
And split him to the very chin!—a horrid, ghastly sight!
He seized the standard from his hand; but now the Frenchmen close,
And that stout soldier, all alone, fights with a hundred foes!
They cut and cursed,—a dozen swords were whistling round his head;
He could not guard on every side,—from fifty wounds he bled.
His saber crashed through helm and blade, as though it were a mace;
He cut their steel cuirasses and he slashed them o'er the face.
One tall dragoon closed on him, but he wheeled his horse around,
And cloven through the helmet went the trooper to the ground.
But his saber blade was broken by the fury of the blow,
And he hurled the useless, bloody hilt against the nearest foe;
Then furled the colors round the pole, and, like a leveled lance,
He charged with that red standard through the bravest troops of France!
His horse, as lion-hearted, scarcely needed to be urged,
And steed and rider bit the dust before him as he charged.
Straight on he rode, and down they went, till he had cleared the ranks,
Then once again he loosed the rein and struck his horse's flanks.
A cheer broke from the French dragoons,—a loud, admiring shout!—
As off he rode, and o'er him shook the tattered colors out.
Still might they ride him down: they scorned to fire or to pursue,—
Brave hearts! they cheered him to our lines,—their army cheering, too!
And we—what did we do? you ask. Well, boy, we did not cheer,
Nor not one sound of welcome reached our hero comrade's ear;
But, as he rode along the ranks, each soldier's head was bare,—
Our hearts were far too full for cheers,—we welcomed him with prayer.
Ah, boy, we loved that dear old flag!—ay, loved it so, we cried
Like children, as we saw it wave in all its tattered pride!
No, boy, no cheers to greet him, though he played a noble part,—
We only prayed 'God bless him!' but that prayer came from the heart.
He knew we loved him for it,—he could see it in our tears,—
And such silent earnest love as that is better, boy, than cheers.
Next day we fought the Frenchman, and we drove him back, of course,
Though we lost some goodly soldiers, and old Picton lost a horse.
But there I've said enough: your mother's warning finger shook,—
Mind, never be a soldier, boy!—now let me have a smoke.'
The Undying One' - Canto I
MOONLIGHT is o'er the dim and heaving sea,--
Moonlight is on the mountain's frowning brow,
And by their silvery fountains merrily
The maids of Castaly are dancing now.
Young hearts, bright eyes, and rosy lips are there,
And fairy steps, and light and laughing voices,
Ringing like welcome music through the air--
A sound at which the untroubled heart rejoices.
But there are hearts o'er which that dancing measure
And there are ears to which the voice of pleasure
Still vainly calls !
There's not a scene on earth so full of lightness
That withering care
Sleeps not beneath the flowers, and turns their brightness
To dark despair!
Oh! Earth, dim Earth, thou canst not be our home;
Or wherefore look we still for joys to come?
The fairy steps are flown--the scene is still--
Nought mingles with the murmuring of the rill.
Nay, hush! it is a sound--a sigh--again!
It is a human voice--the voice of pain.
And beautiful is she, who sighs alone
Now that her young and playful mates are gone:
The dim moon, shining on her statue face,
Gives it a mournful and unearthly grace;
And she hath bent her gentle knee to earth;
And she hath raised her meek sad eyes to heaven--
As if in such a breast sin could have birth,
She clasps her hands, and sues to be forgiven.
Her prayer is over; but her anxious glance
Into the blue transparency of night
Seems as it fain would read the book of chance,
And fix the future hours, dark or bright.
A slow and heavy footstep strikes her ear--
What ails the gentle maiden?--Is it fear?
Lo! she hath lightly raised her from the ground,
And turn'd her small and stag-like head around;
Her pale cheek paler, and her lips apart,
Her bosom heaving o'er her beating heart:
And see, those thin white hands she raises now
To press the throbbing fever from her brow--
In vain--in vain! for never more shall rest
Find place in that young, fair, but erring breast!
He stands before her now--and who is he
Into whose outspread arms confidingly
She flings her fairy self?--Unlike the forms
That woo and win a woman's love--the storms
Of deep contending passions are not seen
Darkening the features where they once have been,
Nor the bright workings of a generous soul,
Of feelings half conceal'd, explain the whole.
But there is something words cannot express--
A gloomy, deep, and quiet fixedness;
A recklessness of all the blows of fate--
A brow untouch'd by love, undimm'd by hate--
As if, in all its stores of crime and care,
Earth held no suffering now for him to bear.
Yes--all is passionless--the hollow cheek
Those pale thin lips shall never wreathe with smiles;
Ev'n now, 'mid joy, unmoved and sad they speak
In spite of all his Linda's winning wiles.
Yet can we read, what all the rest denies,
That he hath feelings of a mortal birth,
In the wild sorrow of those dark bright eyes,
Bent on that form--his one dear link to earth.
He loves--and he is loved! then what avail
The scornful words which seek to brand with shame?
Or bitterer still, the wild and fearful tale
Which couples guilt and horror with that name?
What boots it that the few who know him shun
To speak or eat with that unworthy one?
Were all their words of scorn and malice proved,
It matters not--he loves and he is loved!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'Linda! my Linda!' thus the silence broke,
And slow and mournfully the stranger spoke,
'Seat we ourselves upon this mossy bed,
Where the glad airs of heaven wave o'er thy head,
And thou shalt hear the awful tale which ne'er
Hath yet been breathed, save once, to mortal ear.
And if, my Linda--nay, love, tremble not--
Thou shudder'st to partake so dark a lot--
Go--and be happy in forgetfulness,
And take--I'd bless thee if my tongue could bless,'
There was that sudden sinking of the tone
That lingers in our memory when alone,
And thrills the heart to think how deep the grief
Which sues no pity--looks for no relief.
Oh! deep, beyond the feeble power of tears,
Such scene will dwell within our souls for years;
And it will seem but yesterday we heard
The faltering pause--the calm but broken word;
Saw the averted head, where each blue vein
Swell'd in its agony of mental pain;
And heard the grief confess'd:--no, not confess'd,
But struggling burst convulsive from the breast!
'Isbal,' that gentle voice half-murmuring said,
As from his shoulder she upraised her head;
'Thou knowest I love thee. When I came to-night
I had resolved thy future, dark or bright,
Should still be mine--Beloved--so must it be,
For I have broke a fearful vow for thee.
This morning he who calls himself my brother
(Oh! can he be the child of my sweet mother?)
Pleaded once more for him--that hated friend
Whose bride I was to be; I could but bend
To the cold earth my faint and trembling knee,
And supplicate, with woman's agony,
That he would spare me--but an hour--a day--
I clasp'd my brother's knees--that brother said me nay!
He held a poinard to my shrinking heart,
And bade me breathe the vow--
Never in life or death from him to part
Who is--my husband now.
Isbal, we were betrothed; my lips in fear
Pronounced those words--but oh! my heart was here-
Here--in the calm cold moonlight by thy side,
Here--where the dark blue waters gently glide,
Here--in my childhood's haunts, now ev'n more dear.
Than in those happy days, for thou art near.
Yes--while the unheeded vow my faint lip spoke,
Recall'd the echo which thy tones awoke--
Thy image rose between me and the shrine;
Surely the vow before it breathed was thine.
To-morrow's sun proud Carlos claims his wife;
To-morrow's sun shall see my span of life
Devoted unto thee--thy tale can make
No lot I would not share for thy sweet sake;
No--Ere I hear it, let love's fond vow be--
To have no earth--no heaven--no hope but thee!
Now tell me all.'--Again that gentle head
With dewy eyes and flushing cheek is laid
Upon his arm; and with a thrill of pain
The broken thread is thus renew'd again:
'From the first hour I saw thee, on that night
When dancing in the moonbeam's chequer'd light
With those young laughing ones who now are gone,
By this same fountain which is murmuring on;
When my deep groan burst through the music's sound,
And that soft eye went glancing, startled, round--
From that sweet hour, when pity seem'd to move,
I loved thee--as the wretched only love.
Oft since, when in the darkness of my day
I sit, and dream my wretched life away;
In the deep silence of my night of tears,
When Memory wakes to mourn for vanish'd years;
Shunn'd--scorn'd--detested--friendless and alone,
I've thought of thee--and stifled back my groan!
I've come in daylight, and have flung me down
By the bright fountain's side,
Chased with dear thoughts of thee each gloomy frown,
And bless'd my promised bride.
I've come when stormy winds have howl'd around
Over the yielding flowers,
Bending their gentle heads unto the ground,
And thought of thee for hours.
I've come--my Linda knows that I have come
When the soft starlight told
That she had left her haughty brother's home,
And hearts, as dead and cold
As the chill waters of a moonless sea,
For the light dance and music's revelry.
With gay and loving maids; and I have watch'd
Till one by one those soft steps have departed,
And my young mournful Linda hath been snatch'd
To the sear bosom of the broken-hearted!
Linda, there is a land--a far dark land,
Where on this head the red avenging hand
Fell with its heaviest bolts--When watching by
The bitter cross of Him of Calvary
They stood who loved and did believe in Him,
I said, while all around grew dark and dim--'
'Isbal, dear Isbal!' shriek'd the affrighted maid,
'For that dear Saviour's sake--for him who said
He died for sinners--mock me not, I pray--
Oh! yet, beloved, those words of Death unsay!'
She hung upon his bosom, and look'd up
Into those dark wild eyes with grief and fear.
Alas! poor maiden, 'twas a bitter cup
To drink from hands which love had made so dear.
As a knell o'er the river
Flings its lingering tone,
Telling of joys for ever
Lost and gone:
As the murmuring sound
Of a slow deep stream,
Where the sullen shadows round
Reject each sunny beam:
So o'er the maiden's spirit, like a moan,
Falls the deep sameness of that strange calm tone.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'I tell thee centuries have pass'd away,
And that dark scene is still like yesterday;
The lurid clouds roll'd o'er each failing head,
The Godlike dying, and the guilty dead:
And awful signs were seen, and I was there--
Woman, I was--or wherefore my despair?
I'll whisper thee--* * * *
* * * * * *
Linda, my Linda! start not thus away--
My brain is 'wilder'd--what, love, did I say?
Forget the words--forget! Eternal God!
Is not this earth the same which then I trod?
Do not the stars gleam coldly from above,
Mocking the lips that dare to talk of love?
I know--I feel it cannot be forgot;
Yet, oh! forsake me not--forsake me not!
Didst thou not bid me tell thee all? oh! rest
Still on this worn and sad and guilty breast;
Whatever sins the eye of Heaven may see,
Its last faint throb alone will end its love for thee!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
I stood awhile, stifling my gasping breath,
Fearfully gazing on that scene of death:
Then with a shuddering groan of pain I shrouded
My straining eyes, and turn'd, a cowering worm,
To either side where grimly death had clouded
The image of his maker in man's form.
On one low cross a dark and fearful brow,
On which the dews of death are standing now,
Shows black despair:
And on the other, though the eye be dim,
And quivering anguish in each stiffening limb,
Mercy and hope are there!
Then rose the wailing sound of woman's woe
Appealing unto Heaven,
And sinners bow'd their heads, and bent them low,
And howl'd to be forgiven--
And I glanced madly round--One after one
They stole away, and I was left alone--
I--the Undying One, in that dim night!
Oh! words can never tell my soul's affright;
The sickening, thrilling, dark, and fainting fear
That rose within my breast:--I seem'd to hear
A thousand voices round; I could not pray,
But fled in solitary shame away.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Linda! thou wilt not think that after this
Dark hour of agony,
A day, a moment ev'n, of fever'd bliss
Could yet remain for me:
But so it was, a wild and sudden hope
Sprung in my heart--if that my life could cope
With sickness and with time, I yet might be
Happy through half an immortality.
I sat at festal boards, and quaff'd red wine,
And sang wild songs of merriment and mirth;
And bade young sparkling eyes around me shine,
And made a guilty paradise of earth.
I built me palaces, and loved to dwell
'Mongst all which most the eager heart rejoices;
Bright halls, where silvery fountains rose and fell,
And where were ringing light and cheerful voices;
Gay gardens where the bowery trees around
Their leafy branches spread,
And rosy flowers upon the mossy ground
Their honey'd perfume shed.
But yet the curse was on me; and it came
Tainting my life with pains like hell's dark flame.
The flowers withered:
One after one
Death's cold hand gathered,
Till all were gone:
And the eyes that were sparkling
With pleasure's ray,
Lay cold and darkling
Lonely and weeping
A few were left,
Of those who were sleeping
Too soon bereft ;
But they soon were lying
Beneath the sod--
And I, the Undying,
And the silvery fountains went murmuring on,
But the voices of music and pleasure were gone.
And I could not bear the banquet-room,
Reminding me ever of my doom;
When the purple goblet I tried to quaff,
In my ear there rang some forgotten laugh;
And when the lay I sought to pour,
Voices came round me which sang no more.
Yea! when I saw some lovely form,
I thought how soon it must feed the worm--
And shrank from the touch it left behind,
As if I were not of human kind;
Or that the thing I could not save
Were withering, then, in the cold dark grave.
I wandered through my halls
Is it my voice which calls
On the departed,
With that stern, sad tone?
Where are, beloved in vain,
Your countless numbers?
May you not wake again
From your dark slumbers?
Am I to be alone?
Oh! let but one return--
One fond one only;
Raise up the heavy urn,
Life is so lonely--
I ask no more of Heaven.
The mocking echoes round,
My words repeating
With their dim dreary sound,
Forbid our meeting--
I may not be forgiven!
Linda! my Linda! those, and those alone
Who have lived on, when more than life was gone;
And being yet young, look to the heavy years
Which are to come--a future all of tears--
Those only who have stood in some bright spot
With those beloved ones who shared their lot,
And stand again in that sweet fairy scene,
When those young forms are as they had not been;
When gazing wildly round, some fancied word
Strikes on the listening spirit, and it seems
As if again those gentle tones were heard
Which never more can sound except in dreams--
Those only who have started and awoke
In anguish'd pain,
And yearn'd (the gladsome vision being broke)
To dream again--
Can feel for me. It seem'd a little day
In which that generation pass'd away;
And others rose up round me, and they trod
In those same streets--upon the selfsame sod
They loved and were beloved: they ate--they laugh'd--
And the rich grape from ancient goblets quaff'd:
But I remain'd alone--a blighted thing,
Like one sere leaf amid the flowers of spring!
My sick worn heart refused to cling again
To dreams that pass away, and yearnings vain.
Thou canst not think how strange:--how horribly strange
It was to see all round me fade and change,
And I remain the same!--I sat within
My halls of light, a thing of care and sin;
The echoes gave me back the wild sad tone
Of every deep and solitary moan;
Fearful I gazed on the bright walls around,
And dash'd the mocking mirrors to the ground.
And when I wander'd through the desert crowd
Of all my fellow-men, I could have bow'd
And grovell'd in the dust to him who would
Have struck my breast, to slay me where I stood.
They shrank from me as from some venomous snake
Watchfully coil'd to spring from the dark brake
On the unwary. Fearful--fearful tales
Pass'd on from sire to son, link'd with my name,
With all the awful mystery which veils
A tale of guilt, and deepens its dark shame
They shrank from me, I say, as, gaunt and wild
I wander'd on through the long summer's day
And every mother snatch'd her cowering child
With horror from my solitary way!
I fled from land to land, a hunted wretch;
From land to land those tales pursued me still:
Across the wide bright sea there seem'd to stretch
A long dark cloud my fairest hopes to kill.
I grew a wanderer: from Afric's coast,
Where gaily dwelt the yet unfetter'd black,
To Iran, of her eager sons the boast,
I went along my dim and cheerless track.
O'er the blue Mediterranean, with its isles
And dancing waves, and wildly pleasing song,
By Lusitania's land of sun and smiles,
My joyless bark in darkness sail'd along!
On many a soil my wandering feet have trod,
And heard the voice of nations worship God.
Where the dim-minded Heathen raised his prayer
To some bright spirit dwelling in mid-air,
I have stood by, and cursed the stiffen'd knee
Which would not bow like him to Deity.
Where the proud Ghebir, still at morning hour,
Confess'd a God of glory and of power
In the red sun that roll'd above his head,
There have I been, and burning tear-drops shed.
Where the Mahometan, through ages gone,
In his dark faith hath blindly wander'd on;
Where the incredulous Jew, yet unforgiven,
Still vainly waits the crucified of Heaven;
Where the meek Christian raises to the skies
His clasping hands, and his adoring eyes,
And prays that God--the All-seeing God--will bless
His heart with purity of holiness;
Where rosy infancy in smiles was kneeling,
With murmuring, half-imperfect word, appealing
Unto the giver of all good--where joy
Its tearful thanks return'd, and bless'd the day
When should be tasted bliss which cannot cloy,
And tears in heaven's own light be dried away;
And where the frantic voice of love's despair
Sends forth its thrilling sound, half wail, half prayer;
In every temple, and at every shrine
I've stood and wish'd the darkest worship mine--
So I might see, howe'er the beam mistaking,
Some smile from Heaven upon a heart that's breaking!
''Twas on God's glad and holy sabbath day,
When the wide world kneels down at once to pray,--
When every valley, every mountain sod,
Sends its faint tribute to the mighty God,
And the low murmurings of the voiceless airs
Waft on the echo of a thousand prayers--
I stood on England's fresh and fairy ground.
All lay in dewy stillness far around,
Save the soft chiming of the village bell,
Which seem'd a tale of love and peace to tell.
I stood among the tombs--and saw the crowd
Of Christians enter in;
Each meek and humble head they gently bow'd,
And chased the thoughts of sin.
I watch'd them-one by one they onward pass'd
And from my sight were gone,
The welcome opening door received the last
And left me there alone.
The blood rush'd thickly to my panting heart,
And as I turn'd me sorrowing to depart,
An inward voice seem'd whispering--'Sinner, go!
And with those meek adorers bend thee low.'
I trembled--hesitated--reach'd the door
Through which the pious crowd had ceased to pour:
A sudden faintness came upon me there,
And the relaxing limb refused to bear.
I sank upon a stone, and laid my head
Above the happy and unconscious dead;
And when I rose again, the doors were closed!
In vain I then my fearful thoughts opposed;
Some busy devil whisper'd at my heart
And tempted me to evil.--'Shall the dart
Of pain and anguish (thus I wildly said,)
Fall only on my persecuted head?
Shall they kneel peaceful down, and I stand here
Oppress'd with horror's sick and fainting fear?
Forbid it, Powers of Hell!'--A lowly cot
Stood near that calm and consecrated spot:
I enter'd it:--the morning sunshine threw
Its warm bright beams upon the flowers that grew
Around it and within it--'twas a place
So peaceful and so bright, that you might trace
The tranquil feelings of the dwellers there;
There was no taint of shame, or crime, or care.
On a low humble couch was softly laid
A little slumberer, whose rosy head
Was guarded by a watch-dog; while I stood
In hesitating, half-repentant mood,
My glance still met his large, bright, watchful eye,
Wandering from me to that sweet sleeper nigh.
Yes, even to that dumb animal I seem'd
A thing of crime: the murderous death-light gleam'd
Beneath my brow; the noiseless step was mine;
I moved with conscious guilt, and his low whine
Responded to my sigh, whose echo fell
Heavily--as 'twere loth within that cot to dwell.
My inmost heart grew sick--I turn'd me where
The smouldering embers of a fire still were;.
With shuddering hand I snatch'd a brand whose light
Appear'd to burn unnaturally bright;
And then with desperate step I bore that torch
Unto the chapel's consecrated porch!
A moment more that edifice had fired
And all within in agony expired;
But, dimly swelling through my feverish soul,
A chorus as from heaven's bright chancel came,
Dash'd from my madden'd lips Guilt's venom'd bowl,
And quench'd in bitter tears my heart's wild flame.
The pealing organ, with the solemn sound
Of countless voices, fill'd the air around;
And, as I leant my almost bursting brow
On the cold walls, the words came sad and slow
To me, the exiled one, who might not share
The joyfulness of their prayer.
Sadly I watch'd till through the open door
The crowd of worshippers began to pour;
The hour was over--they had pray'd to Heaven,
And now return'd to peaceful homes forgiven;
While I--one 'wildering glance I gave around
Upon that sunny, consecrated ground;
The warbling birds, whose little songs of joy
The future and the past can ne'er alloy;
The rosy flowers, the warm and welcome breeze
Murmuring gently through the summer trees,
All--all to me was cursed--I could not die!
I stretch'd my yearning arms unto the sky,
I press'd my straining fingers on my brow,
(Nothing could cool its maddening pulses now,)
And flung me groaning by a tombstone there
To weep in my despair!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Long had I wept: a gentle sound of woe
Struck on my ear--I turn'd the cause to know.
I saw a young fair creature silently
Kneeling beside a stone,
A form as bright as man would wish to see,
Or woman wish to own;
And eyes, whose true expression should be gladness,
Beam'd forth in momentary tears of sadness,
Showing like sun-shine through a summer rain
How soon 'twill all be bright and clear again.
I loved her!--
* * * * * *
In truth she was a light and lovely thing,
Fair as the opening flower of early spring.
The deep rose crimson'd in her laughing cheek,
And her eyes seem'd without the tongue to speak;
Those dark blue glorious orbs!--oh! summer skies
Were nothing to the heaven of her eyes.
And then she had a witching art
To wile all sadness from the heart;
Wild as the half-tamed gazelle,
She bounded over hill and dell,
Breaking on you when alone
With her sweet and silvery tone,
Dancing to her gentle lute
With her light and fairy foot;
To our lone meeting-place
Stealing slow with gentle pace,
To hide among the feathery fern;
And, while waiting her return,
I wander'd up and down for hours--
She started from amid the flowers,
Wild, and fresh, and bright as they,
To wing again her sportive way.
'And she was good as she was fair;
Every morn and every even
Kneeling down in meekness there
To the Holy One of Heaven;
While those bright and soul-fraught eyes
With an angel's love seem'd burning,
All the radiance of blue skies
With an equal light returning.
The dream of guilt and misery
In that young soul had never enter'd;
Her hopes of Heaven--her love of me,
Were all in which her heart had centred:
Her longest grief, her deepest woe,
When by her mother's tomb she knelt,
Whom she had lost too young to know
How deep such loss is sometimes felt.
'It was not grief, but soft regret,
Such as, when one bright sun hath set
After a happy day, will come
Stealing within our heart's gay home,
Yet leaves a hope (that heart's best prize)
That even brighter ones may rise.
A tear, for hours of childhood wept;
A garland, wove for her who slept;
A prayer, that the pure soul would bless
Her child, and save from all distress;
A sigh, as clasp'd within her own
She held my hand beside that stone,
And told of many a virtue rare
That shone in her who slumber'd there--
Were all that clouded for a while
The brightness of her sunny smile.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
It was a mild sweet evening, such
As thou and I have sometimes felt
When the soul feels the scene so much
That even wither'd hearts must melt;
We sat beside that sacred place--
Her mother's tomb; her glorious head
Seem'd brightening with immortal grace,
As the impartial sun-light shed
Its beams alike on the cold grave,
Wandering o'er the unconscious clay,
And on the living eyes which gave
Back to those skies their borrow'd ray.
'Isbal, beloved!' 'twas thus my Edith spoke,
(And my worn heart almost to joy awoke
Beneath the thrill of that young silver tone
'Isbal, before thou call'st me all thine own,
I would that I might know the whole
Of what is gloomy in thy soul.
Nay, turn not on me those dark eyes
With such wild anguish and surprise.
In spite of every playful wile,
Thou know'st I never see thee smile;
And oft, when, laughing by thy side
Thou think'st that I am always gay,
Tears which are hanging scarcely dried
By thy fond kiss are wiped away.
And deem me not a child; for though
A gay and careless thing I be,
Since I have loved, I feel that, oh!
I could bear aught--do aught for thee!'
'What boots it to record each gentle tone
Of that young voice, when ev'n the tomb is gone
By which we sat and talk'd? that innocent voice,
So full of joy and hope, that to rejoice
Seem'd natural to those who caught the sound!
The rosy lips are moulder'd under ground:
And she is dead--the beautiful is dead!
The loving and the loved hath pass'd away,
And deep within her dark and narrow bed
All mutely lies what was but breathing clay.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Why did I tell the wildly horrible tale?--
Why did I trust the voice that told me she
Could bear to see beyond the lifted veil
A future life of hopeless misery?--
I told her all-- * * * *
There was a long deep pause.
I dared not raise my eyes to ask the cause,
But waited breathlessly to hear once more
The gentle tones which I had loved of yore.
Was that her voice?--oh God!--was that her cry?
Were hers those smother'd tones of agony?
Thus she spoke; while on my brow
The cold drops stood as they do now :--
'It is not that I could not bear
The worst of ills with thee to share:
It is not that thy future fate
Were all too dark and desolate:
Earth holds no pang--Hell shows no fear
I would not try at least to bear;
And if my heart too weak might be,
Oh! it would then have broke for thee!
No, not a pang one tear had cost
But this--to see thee, know thee, lost!'
'My parch'd lips strove for utterance--but no,
I could but listen still, with speechless woe:
I stretch'd my quivering arms--'Away! away!'
She cried, 'and let me humbly kneel, and pray
For pardon; if, indeed, such pardon be
For having dared to love--a thing like thee!'
'I wrung the drops from off my brow;
I sank before her, kneeling low
Where the departed slept.
I spoke to her of heaven's wrath
That clouded o'er my desert path,
I raised my voice and wept!
I told again my heart's dark dream,
The lighting of joy's fever'd beam,
The pain of living on;
When all of fair, and good, and bright;
Sank from my path like heaven's light
When the warm sun is gone.
But though 'twas pity shone within her eye,
'Twas mingled with such bitter agony,
My blood felt chill.
Her round arms cross'd upon her shrinking breast,
Her pale and quivering lip in fear compress'd
Of more than mortal ill,
She stood.--'My Edith!--mine!' I frantic cried;
'My Edith!--mine!' the sorrowing hills replied;
And the familiar sound so dear erewhile,
Brought to her lip a wild and ghastly smile.
Then gazing with one long, long look of love,
She lifted up her eyes to heaven above,
And turned them on me with a gush of tears:
Those drops renew'd my mingled hopes and fears.
'Edith!--oh! hear me!' With averted face
And outspread arms she shrank from my embrace.
'Away!--away!'--She bent her shuddering knee,
Bow'd her bright head--and Edith ceased to be!
She was so young, so full of life,
I linger'd o'er the mortal strife
That shook her frame, with hope--how vain!
Her spirit might return again.
Could she indeed be gone?--the love
Of my heart's inmost core!--I strove
Against the truth.--That thing of smiles,
With all her glad and artless wiles--
She, who one hour ago had been
The fairy of that magic scene!--
She, whose fond playful eye such brilliance shed,
That laughter-loving thing--could she be cold and dead?--
I buried her, and left her there;
And turn'd away in my despair.
'And Evening threw her shadows round
That beautiful and blessed ground,
And all the distant realms of light
Twinkled from out the dark blue night.
So calmly pure--so far away
From all Earth's sorrows and her crimes,
The gentle scene before me lay;
So like the world of olden times,
That those who gazed on it might swear
Nothing but peace could enter there.
And yet there lay ungrown, untrod,
The fresh and newly turned-up sod,
Which cover'd o'er as fair a form
As ever fed the noxious worm.
There, but an hour ago--yea, less,
The agony and bitterness
Of human feelings, wrought so high
We can but writhe awhile and die,
Troubled the peace around; and sent
Wild shrieks into the firmament.
How strange the earth, our earth, should share
So little in our crime or care!
The billows of the treacherous main
Gape for the wreck, and close again
With dancing smiles, as if the deep
Had whelm'd not with eternal sleep
Many and many a warm young heart
Which swell'd to meet, and bled to part.
The battle plain its verdant breast
Will show in bright and sunny rest,
Although its name is now a word
Through sobs, and moans, and wailing heard;
And many, mourn'd for from afar,
There died the writhing death of war.
Yea, ev'n the stream, by whose cool side
Lay those who thirsted for its tide,
Yearning for some young hand of yore,
Wont in bright hours with smiles to pour
The mantling wine for him whose blood
Is mixing with the glassy flood--
Ev'n that pure fountain gushes by
With all its former brilliancy;
Nor bears with it one tint to show
How crimson it began to flow.
And thus an echo takes the tone
Of agony: and when 'tis gone,
Air, earth, and sea forget the sound,
And all is still and silent round.
And thus upon each cherish'd grave
The sunbeams smile, the branches wave;
And all our tears for those who now are not,
Sink in the flowery turf--and are forgot!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
And I return'd again, and yet again,
To that remember'd scene of joy and pain:
And ev'n while sitting by the early tomb
Of her who had deserved a better doom,
Her laughing voice rang in my ear,
Her fairy step seem'd coming near,
Until I raised my heavy eyes:
Then on the lone and desert spot I bow'd,
And hid my groaning head, and wept aloud.'
The stranger paused--and Linda gently wept
For him who lived in pain--for her who slept;
And clung to him, as if she fear'd that fate
Would strike him there and leave her desolate.
He spoke--and deaf her ear to all below,
Save the deep magic of that voice of woe!
Canto the Second
Oh ye! who teach the ingenuous youth of nations,
Holland, France, England, Germany, or Spain,
I pray ye flog them upon all occasions,
It mends their morals, never mind the pain:
The best of mothers and of educations
In Juan's case were but employ'd in vain,
Since, in a way that's rather of the oddest, he
Became divested of his native modesty.
Had he but been placed at a public school,
In the third form, or even in the fourth,
His daily task had kept his fancy cool,
At least, had he been nurtured in the north;
Spain may prove an exception to the rule,
But then exceptions always prove its worth -—
A lad of sixteen causing a divorce
Puzzled his tutors very much, of course.
I can't say that it puzzles me at all,
If all things be consider'd: first, there was
His lady-mother, mathematical,
A—never mind; his tutor, an old ass;
A pretty woman (that's quite natural,
Or else the thing had hardly come to pass);
A husband rather old, not much in unity
With his young wife—a time, and opportunity.
Well—well, the world must turn upon its axis,
And all mankind turn with it, heads or tails,
And live and die, make love and pay our taxes,
And as the veering wind shifts, shift our sails;
The king commands us, and the doctor quacks us,
The priest instructs, and so our life exhales,
A little breath, love, wine, ambition, fame,
Fighting, devotion, dust,—perhaps a name.
I said that Juan had been sent to Cadiz -—
A pretty town, I recollect it well -—
'T is there the mart of the colonial trade is
(Or was, before Peru learn'd to rebel),
And such sweet girls—I mean, such graceful ladies,
Their very walk would make your bosom swell;
I can't describe it, though so much it strike,
Nor liken it—I never saw the like:
An Arab horse, a stately stag, a barb
New broke, a cameleopard, a gazelle,
No—none of these will do;—and then their garb!
Their veil and petticoat—Alas! to dwell
Upon such things would very near absorb
A canto—then their feet and ankles,—well,
Thank Heaven I've got no metaphor quite ready
(And so, my sober Muse—come, let's be steady -—
Chaste Muse!—well, if you must, you must)—the veil
Thrown back a moment with the glancing hand,
While the o'erpowering eye, that turns you pale,
Flashes into the heart:—All sunny land
Of love! when I forget you, may I fail
To—say my prayers—but never was there plann'd
A dress through which the eyes give such a volley,
Excepting the Venetian Fazzioli.
But to our tale: the Donna Inez sent
Her son to Cadiz only to embark;
To stay there had not answer'd her intent,
But why?—we leave the reader in the dark -—
'T was for a voyage that the young man was meant,
As if a Spanish ship were Noah's ark,
To wean him from the wickedness of earth,
And send him like a dove of promise forth.
Don Juan bade his valet pack his things
According to direction, then received
A lecture and some money: for four springs
He was to travel; and though Inez grieved
(As every kind of parting has its stings),
She hoped he would improve—perhaps believed:
A letter, too, she gave (he never read it)
Of good advice—and two or three of credit.
In the mean time, to pass her hours away,
Brave Inez now set up a Sunday school
For naughty children, who would rather play
(Like truant rogues) the devil, or the fool;
Infants of three years old were taught that day,
Dunces were whipt, or set upon a stool:
The great success of Juan's education,
Spurr'd her to teach another generation.
Juan embark'd—the ship got under way,
The wind was fair, the water passing rough:
A devil of a sea rolls in that bay,
As I, who've cross'd it oft, know well enough;
And, standing upon deck, the dashing spray
Flies in one's face, and makes it weather-tough:
And there he stood to take, and take again,
His first—perhaps his last—farewell of Spain.
I can't but say it is an awkward sight
To see one's native land receding through
The growing waters; it unmans one quite,
Especially when life is rather new:
I recollect Great Britain's coast looks white,
But almost every other country's blue,
When gazing on them, mystified by distance,
We enter on our nautical existence.
So Juan stood, bewilder'd on the deck:
The wind sung, cordage strain'd, and sailors swore,
And the ship creak'd, the town became a speck,
From which away so fair and fast they bore.
The best of remedies is a beef-steak
Against sea-sickness: try it, sir, before
You sneer, and I assure you this is true,
For I have found it answer—so may you.
Don Juan stood, and, gazing from the stern,
Beheld his native Spain receding far:
First partings form a lesson hard to learn,
Even nations feel this when they go to war;
There is a sort of unexprest concern,
A kind of shock that sets one's heart ajar:
At leaving even the most unpleasant people
And places, one keeps looking at the steeple.
But Juan had got many things to leave,
His mother, and a mistress, and no wife,
So that he had much better cause to grieve
Than many persons more advanced in life;
And if we now and then a sigh must heave
At quitting even those we quit in strife,
No doubt we weep for those the heart endears—
That is, till deeper griefs congeal our tears.
So Juan wept, as wept the captive Jews
By Babel's waters, still remembering Sion:
I'd weep,—but mine is not a weeping Muse,
And such light griefs are not a thing to die on;
Young men should travel, if but to amuse
Themselves; and the next time their servants tie on
Behind their carriages their new portmanteau,
Perhaps it may be lined with this my canto.
And Juan wept, and much he sigh'd and thought,
While his salt tears dropp'd into the salt sea,
"Sweets to the sweet" (I like so much to quote;
You must excuse this extract,—'t is where she,
The Queen of Denmark, for Ophelia brought
Flowers to the grave); and, sobbing often, he
Reflected on his present situation,
And seriously resolved on reformation.
"Farewell, my Spain! a long farewell!" he cried,
"Perhaps I may revisit thee no more,
But die, as many an exiled heart hath died,
Of its own thirst to see again thy shore:
Farewell, where Guadalquivir's waters glide!
Farewell, my mother! and, since all is o'er,
Farewell, too, dearest Julia!—(Here he drew
Her letter out again, and read it through.)
"And, oh! if e'er I should forget, I swear—
But that's impossible, and cannot be—
Sooner shall this blue ocean melt to air,
Sooner shall earth resolve itself to sea,
Than I resign thine image, oh, my fair!
Or think of any thing excepting thee;
A mind diseased no remedy can physic
(Here the ship gave a lurch, and he grew sea-sick).
"Sooner shall heaven kiss earth (here he fell sicker),
Oh, Julia! what is every other woe?
(For God's sake let me have a glass of liquor;
Pedro, Battista, help me down below.)
Julia, my love! (you rascal, Pedro, quicker)—
Oh, Julia! (this curst vessel pitches so)—
Belovéd Julia, hear me still beseeching!"
(Here he grew inarticulate with retching.)
He felt that chilling heaviness of heart,
Or rather stomach, which, alas! attends,
Beyond the best apothecary's art,
The loss of love, the treachery of friends,
Or death of those we dote on, when a part
Of us dies with them as each fond hope ends:
No doubt he would have been much more pathetic,
But the sea acted as a strong emetic.
Love's a capricious power: I've known it hold
Out through a fever caused by its own heat,
But be much puzzled by a cough and cold,
And find a quincy very hard to treat;
Against all noble maladies he's bold,
But vulgar illnesses don't like to meet,
Nor that a sneeze should interrupt his sigh,
Nor inflammations redden his blind eye.
But worst of all is nausea, or a pain
About the lower region of the bowels;
Love, who heroically breathes a vein,
Shrinks from the application of hot towels,
And purgatives are dangerous to his reign,
Sea-sickness death: his love was perfect, how else
Could Juan's passion, while the billows roar,
Resist his stomach, ne'er at sea before?
The ship, call'd the most holy "Trinidada,"
Was steering duly for the port Leghorn;
For there the Spanish family Moncada
Were settled long ere Juan's sire was born:
They were relations, and for them he had a
Letter of introduction, which the morn
Of his departure had been sent him by
His Spanish friends for those in Italy.
His suite consisted of three servants and
A tutor, the licentiate Pedrillo,
Who several languages did understand,
But now lay sick and speechless on his pillow,
And rocking in his hammock, long'd for land,
His headache being increased by every billow;
And the waves oozing through the port-hole made
His berth a little damp, and him afraid.
'T was not without some reason, for the wind
Increased at night, until it blew a gale;
And though 't was not much to a naval mind,
Some landsmen would have look'd a little pale,
For sailors are, in fact, a different kind:
At sunset they began to take in sail,
For the sky show'd it would come on to blow,
And carry away, perhaps, a mast or so.
At one o'clock the wind with sudden shift
Threw the ship right into the trough of the sea,
Which struck her aft, and made an awkward rift,
Started the stern-post, also shatter'd the
Whole of her stern-frame, and, ere she could lift
Herself from out her present jeopardy,
The rudder tore away: 't was time to sound
The pumps, and there were four feet water found.
One gang of people instantly was put
Upon the pumps and the remainder set
To get up part of the cargo, and what not;
But they could not come at the leak as yet;
At last they did get at it really, but
Still their salvation was an even bet:
The water rush'd through in a way quite puzzling,
While they thrust sheets, shirts, jackets, bales of muslin,
Into the opening; but all such ingredients
Would have been vain, and they must have gone down,
Despite of all their efforts and expedients,
But for the pumps: I'm glad to make them known
To all the brother tars who may have need hence,
For fifty tons of water were upthrown
By them per hour, and they had all been undone,
But for the maker, Mr. Mann, of London.
As day advanced the weather seem'd to abate,
And then the leak they reckon'd to reduce,
And keep the ship afloat, though three feet yet
Kept two hand and one chain-pump still in use.
The wind blew fresh again: as it grew late
A squall came on, and while some guns broke loose,
A gust—which all descriptive power transcends—
Laid with one blast the ship on her beam ends.
There she lay motionless, and seem'd upset;
The water left the hold, and wash'd the decks,
And made a scene men do not soon forget;
For they remember battles, fires, and wrecks,
Or any other thing that brings regret,
Or breaks their hopes, or hearts, or heads, or necks:
Thus drownings are much talk'd of by the divers,
And swimmers, who may chance to be survivors.
Immediately the masts were cut away,
Both main and mizen; first the mizen went,
The main-mast follow'd: but the ship still lay
Like a mere log, and baffled our intent.
Foremast and bowsprit were cut down, and they
Eased her at last (although we never meant
To part with all till every hope was blighted),
And then with violence the old ship righted.
It may be easily supposed, while this
Was going on, some people were unquiet,
That passengers would find it much amiss
To lose their lives, as well as spoil their diet;
That even the able seaman, deeming his
Days nearly o'er, might be disposed to riot,
As upon such occasions tars will ask
For grog, and sometimes drink rum from the cask.
There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms
As rum and true religion: thus it was,
Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms,
The high wind made the treble, and as bas
The hoarse harsh waves kept time; fright cured the qualms
Of all the luckless landsmen's sea-sick maws:
Strange sounds of wailing, blasphemy, devotion,
Clamour'd in chorus to the roaring ocean.
Perhaps more mischief had been done, but for
Our Juan, who, with sense beyond his years,
Got to the spirit-room, and stood before
It with a pair of pistols; and their fears,
As if Death were more dreadful by his door
Of fire than water, spite of oaths and tears,
Kept still aloof the crew, who, ere they sunk,
Thought it would be becoming to die drunk.
"Give us more grog," they cried, "for it will be
All one an hour hence." Juan answer'd, "No!
'T is true that death awaits both you and me,
But let us die like men, not sink below
Like brutes;"—and thus his dangerous post kept he,
And none liked to anticipate the blow;
And even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor,
Was for some rum a disappointed suitor.
The good old gentleman was quite aghast,
And made a loud and pious lamentation;
Repented all his sins, and made a last
Irrevocable vow of reformation;
Nothing should tempt him more (this peril past)
To quit his academic occupation,
In cloisters of the classic Salamanca,
To follow Juan's wake, like Sancho Panca.
But now there came a flash of hope once more;
Day broke, and the wind lull'd: the masts were gone,
The leak increased; shoals round her, but no shore,
The vessel swam, yet still she held her own.
They tried the pumps again, and though before
Their desperate efforts seem'd all useless grown,
A glimpse of sunshine set some hands to bale—
The stronger pump'd, the weaker thrumm'd a sail.
Under the vessel's keel the sail was past,
And for the moment it had some effect;
But with a leak, and not a stick of mast,
Nor rag of canvas, what could they expect?
But still 't is best to struggle to the last,
'T is never too late to be wholly wreck'd:
And though 't is true that man can only die once,
'T is not so pleasant in the Gulf of Lyons.
There winds and waves had hurl'd them, and from thence,
Without their will, they carried them away;
For they were forced with steering to dispense,
And never had as yet a quiet day
On which they might repose, or even commence
A jurymast or rudder, or could say
The ship would swim an hour, which, by good luck,
Still swam—though not exactly like a duck.
The wind, in fact, perhaps was rather less,
But the ship labour'd so, they scarce could hope
To weather out much longer; the distress
Was also great with which they had to cope
For want of water, and their solid mess
Was scant enough: in vain the telescope
Was used—nor sail nor shore appear'd in sight,
Nought but the heavy sea, and coming night.
Again the weather threaten'd,—again blew
A gale, and in the fore and after hold
Water appear'd; yet, though the people knew
All this, the most were patient, and some bold,
Until the chains and leathers were worn through
Of all our pumps:—a wreck complete she roll'd,
At mercy of the waves, whose mercies are
Like human beings during civil war.
Then came the carpenter, at last, with tears
In his rough eyes, and told the captain he
Could do no more: he was a man in years,
And long had voyaged through many a stormy sea,
And if he wept at length, they were not fears
That made his eyelids as a woman's be,
But he, poor fellow, had a wife and children,—
Two things for dying people quite bewildering.
The ship was evidently settling now
Fast by the head; and, all distinction gone,
Some went to prayers again, and made a vow
Of candles to their saints—but there were none
To pay them with; and some look'd o'er the bow;
Some hoisted out the boats; and there was one
That begg'd Pedrillo for an absolution,
Who told him to be damn'd—in his confusion.
Some lash'd them in their hammocks; some put on
Their best clothes, as if going to a fair;
Some cursed the day on which they saw the sun,
And gnash'd their teeth, and, howling, tore their hair;
And others went on as they had begun,
Getting the boats out, being well aware
That a tight boat will live in a rough sea,
Unless with breakers close beneath her lee.
The worst of all was, that in their condition,
Having been several days in great distress,
'T was difficult to get out such provision
As now might render their long suffering less:
Men, even when dying, dislike inanition;
Their stock was damaged by the weather's stress:
Two casks of biscuit and a keg of butter
Were all that could be thrown into the cutter.
But in the long-boat they contrived to stow
Some pounds of bread, though injured by the wet;
Water, a twenty-gallon cask or so;
Six flasks of wine; and they contrived to get
A portion of their beef up from below,
And with a piece of pork, moreover, met,
But scarce enough to serve them for a luncheon—
Then there was rum, eight gallons in a puncheon.
The other boats, the yawl and pinnace, had
Been stove in the beginning of the gale;
And the long-boat's condition was but bad,
As there were but two blankets for a sail,
And one oar for a mast, which a young lad
Threw in by good luck over the ship's rail;
And two boats could not hold, far less be stored,
To save one half the people then on board.
'T was twilight, and the sunless day went down
Over the waste of waters; like a veil,
Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown
Of one whose hate is mask'd but to assail,
Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,
And grimly darkled o'er the faces pale,
And the dim desolate deep: twelve days had Fear
Been their familiar, and now Death was here.
Some trial had been making at a raft,
With little hope in such a rolling sea,
A sort of thing at which one would have laugh'd,
If any laughter at such times could be,
Unless with people who too much have quaff'd,
And have a kind of wild and horrid glee,
Half epileptical and half hysterical:—
Their preservation would have been a miracle.
At half-past eight o'clock, booms, hencoops, spars,
And all things, for a chance, had been cast loose,
That still could keep afloat the struggling tars,
For yet they strove, although of no great use:
There was no light in heaven but a few stars,
The boats put off o'ercrowded with their crews;
She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port,
And, going down head foremost—sunk, in short.
Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell—
Then shriek'd the timid, and stood still the brave,
Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawn'd around her like a hell,
And down she suck'd with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he die.
And first one universal shriek there rush'd,
Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
Of echoing thunder; and then all was hush'd,
Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gush'd,
Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
The boats, as stated, had got off before,
And in them crowded several of the crew;
And yet their present hope was hardly more
Than what it had been, for so strong it blew
There was slight chance of reaching any shore;
And then they were too many, though so few—
Nine in the cutter, thirty in the boat,
Were counted in them when they got afloat.
All the rest perish'd; near two hundred souls
Had left their bodies; and what's worse, alas!
When over Catholics the ocean rolls,
They must wait several weeks before a mass
Takes off one peck of purgatorial coals,
Because, till people know what's come to pass,
They won't lay out their money on the dead—
It costs three francs for every mass that's said.
Juan got into the long-boat, and there
Contrived to help Pedrillo to a place;
It seem'd as if they had exchanged their care,
For Juan wore the magisterial face
Which courage gives, while poor Pedrillo's pair
Of eyes were crying for their owner's case:
Battista; though (a name call'd shortly Tita),
Was lost by getting at some aqua-vita.
Pedro, his valet, too, he tried to save,
But the same cause, conducive to his loss,
Left him so drunk, he jump'd into the wave
As o'er the cutter's edge he tried to cross,
And so he found a wine-and-watery grave;
They could not rescue him although so close,
Because the sea ran higher every minute,
And for the boat—the crew kept crowding in it.
A small old spaniel,—which had been Don Jose's,
His father's, whom he loved, as ye may think,
For on such things the memory reposes
With tenderness—stood howling on the brink,
Knowing (dogs have such intellectual noses!),
No doubt, the vessel was about to sink;
And Juan caught him up, and ere he stepp'd
Off, threw him in, then after him he leap'd.
He also stuff'd his money where he could
About his person, and Pedrillo's too,
Who let him do, in fact, whate'er he would,
Not knowing what himself to say, or do,
As every rising wave his dread renew'd;
But Juan, trusting they might still get through,
And deeming there were remedies for any ill,
Thus re-embark'd his tutor and his spaniel.
'T was a rough night, and blew so stiffly yet,
That the sail was becalm'd between the seas,
Though on the wave's high top too much to set,
They dared not take it in for all the breeze:
Each sea curl'd o'er the stern, and kept them wet,
And made them bale without a moment's ease,
So that themselves as well as hopes were damp'd,
And the poor little cutter quickly swamp'd.
Nine souls more went in her: the long-boat still
Kept above water, with an oar for mast,
Two blankets stitch'd together, answering ill
Instead of sail, were to the oar made fast:
Though every wave roll'd menacing to fill,
And present peril all before surpass'd,
They grieved for those who perish'd with the cutter,
And also for the biscuit-casks and butter.
The sun rose red and fiery, a sure sign
Of the continuance of the gale: to run
Before the sea until it should grow fine,
Was all that for the present could be done:
A few tea-spoonfuls of their rum and wine
Were served out to the people, who begun
To faint, and damaged bread wet through the bags,
And most of them had little clothes but rags.
They counted thirty, crowded in a space
Which left scarce room for motion or exertion;
They did their best to modify their case,
One half sate up, though numb'd with the immersion,
While t'other half were laid down in their place
At watch and watch; thus, shivering like the tertian
Ague in its cold fit, they fill'd their boat,
With nothing but the sky for a great coat.
'T is very certain the desire of life
Prolongs it: this is obvious to physicians,
When patients, neither plagued with friends nor wife,
Survive through very desperate conditions,
Because they still can hope, nor shines the knife
Nor shears of Atropos before their visions:
Despair of all recovery spoils longevity,
And makes men miseries miseries of alarming brevity.
'T is said that persons living on annuities
Are longer lived than others,—God knows why,
Unless to plague the grantors,—yet so true it is,
That some, I really think, do never die;
Of any creditors the worst a Jew it is,
And that's their mode of furnishing supply:
In my young days they lent me cash that way,
Which I found very troublesome to pay.
'T is thus with people in an open boat,
They live upon the love of life, and bear
More than can be believed, or even thought,
And stand like rocks the tempest's wear and tear;
And hardship still has been the sailor's lot,
Since Noah's ark went cruising here and there;
She had a curious crew as well as cargo,
Like the first old Greek privateer, the Argo.
But man is a carnivorous production,
And must have meals, at least one meal a day;
He cannot live, like woodcocks, upon suction,
But, like the shark and tiger, must have prey;
Although his anatomical construction
Bears vegetables, in a grumbling way,
Your labouring people think beyond all question,
Beef, veal, and mutton, better for digestion.
And thus it was with this our hapless crew;
For on the third day there came on a calm,
And though at first their strength it might renew,
And lying on their weariness like balm,
Lull'd them like turtles sleeping on the blue
Of ocean, when they woke they felt a qualm,
And fell all ravenously on their provision,
Instead of hoarding it with due precision.
The consequence was easily foreseen—
They ate up all they had, and drank their wine,
In spite of all remonstrances, and then
On what, in fact, next day were they to dine?
They hoped the wind would rise, these foolish men!
And carry them to shore; these hopes were fine,
But as they had but one oar, and that brittle,
It would have been more wise to save their victual.
The fourth day came, but not a breath of air,
And Ocean slumber'd like an unwean'd child:
The fifth day, and their boat lay floating there,
The sea and sky were blue, and clear, and mild—
With their one oar (I wish they had had a pair)
What could they do? and hunger's rage grew wild:
So Juan's spaniel, spite of his entreating,
Was kill'd and portion'd out for present eating.
On the sixth day they fed upon his hide,
And Juan, who had still refused, because
The creature was his father's dog that died,
Now feeling all the vulture in his jaws,
With some remorse received (though first denied)
As a great favour one of the fore-paws,
Which he divided with Pedrillo, who
Devour'd it, longing for the other too.
The seventh day, and no wind—the burning sun
Blister'd and scorch'd, and, stagnant on the sea,
They lay like carcasses; and hope was none,
Save in the breeze that came not; savagely
They glared upon each other—all was done,
Water, and wine, and food,—and you might see
The longings of the cannibal arise
(Although they spoke not) in their wolfish eyes.
At length one whisper'd his companion, who
Whisper'd another, and thus it went round,
And then into a hoarser murmur grew,
An ominous, and wild, and desperate sound;
And when his comrade's thought each sufferer knew,
'T was but his own, suppress'd till now, he found:
And out they spoke of lots for flesh and blood,
And who should die to be his fellow's food.
But ere they came to this, they that day shared
Some leathern caps, and what remain'd of shoes;
And then they look'd around them and despair'd,
And none to be the sacrifice would choose;
At length the lots were torn up, and prepared,
But of materials that much shock the Muse—
Having no paper, for the want of better,
They took by force from Juan Julia's letter.
The lots were made, and mark'd, and mix'd, and handed,
In silent horror, and their distribution
Lull'd even the savage hunger which demanded,
Like the Promethean vulture, this pollution;
None in particular had sought or plann'd it,
'T was nature gnaw'd them to this resolution,
By which none were permitted to be neuter—
And the lot fell on Juan's luckless tutor.
He but requested to be bled to death:
The surgeon had his instruments, and bled
Pedrillo, and so gently ebb'd his breath,
You hardly could perceive when he was dead.
He died as born, a Catholic in faith,
Like most in the belief in which they're bred,
And first a little crucifix he kiss'd,
And then held out his jugular and wrist.
The surgeon, as there was no other fee,
Had his first choice of morsels for his pains;
But being thirstiest at the moment, he
Preferr'd a draught from the fast-flowing veins:
Part was divided, part thrown in the sea,
And such things as the entrails and the brains
Regaled two sharks, who follow'd o'er the billow—
The sailors ate the rest of poor Pedrillo.
The sailors ate him, all save three or four,
Who were not quite so fond of animal food;
To these was added Juan, who, before
Refusing his own spaniel, hardly could
Feel now his appetite increased much more;
'T was not to be expected that he should,
Even in extremity of their disaster,
Dine with them on his pastor and his master.
'T was better that he did not; for, in fact,
The consequence was awful in the extreme;
For they, who were most ravenous in the act,
Went raging mad—Lord! how they did blaspheme!
And foam and roll, with strange convulsions rack'd,
Drinking salt water like a mountain-stream,
Tearing, and grinning, howling, screeching, swearing,
And, with hyaena-laughter, died despairing.
Their numbers were much thinn'd by this infliction,
And all the rest were thin enough, Heaven knows;
And some of them had lost their recollection,
Happier than they who still perceived their woes;
But others ponder'd on a new dissection,
As if not warn'd sufficiently by those
Who had already perish'd, suffering madly,
For having used their appetites so sadly.
And next they thought upon the master's mate,
As fattest; but he saved himself, because,
Besides being much averse from such a fate,
There were some other reasons: the first was,
He had been rather indisposed of late;
And that which chiefly proved his saving clause
Was a small present made to him at Cadiz,
By general subscription of the ladies.
Of poor Pedrillo something still remain'd,
But was used sparingly,—some were afraid,
And others still their appetites constrain'd,
Or but at times a little supper made;
All except Juan, who throughout abstain'd,
Chewing a piece of bamboo and some lead:
At length they caught two boobies and a noddy,
And then they left off eating the dead body.
And if Pedrillo's fate should shocking be,
Remember Ugolino condescends
To eat the head of his arch-enemy
The moment after he politely ends
His tale: if foes be food in hell, at sea
'T is surely fair to dine upon our friends,
When shipwreck's short allowance grows too scanty,
Without being much more horrible than Dante.
And the same night there fell a shower of rain,
For which their mouths gaped, like the cracks of earth
When dried to summer dust; till taught by pain
Men really know not what good water's worth;
If you had been in Turkey or in Spain,
Or with a famish'd boat's-crew had your berth,
Or in the desert heard the camel's bell,
You'd wish yourself where Truth is—in a well.
It pour'd down torrents, but they were no richer
Until they found a ragged piece of sheet,
Which served them as a sort of spongy pitcher,
And when they deem'd its moisture was complete
They wrung it out, and though a thirsty ditcher
Might not have thought the scanty draught so sweet
As a full pot of porter, to their thinking
They ne'er till now had known the joys of drinking.
And their baked lips, with many a bloody crack,
Suck'd in the moisture, which like nectar stream'd;
Their throats were ovens, their swoln tongues were black,
As the rich man's in hell, who vainly scream'd
To beg the beggar, who could not rain back
A drop of dew, when every drop had seem'd
To taste of heaven—If this be true, indeed
Some Christians have a comfortable creed.
There were two fathers in this ghastly crew,
And with them their two sons, of whom the one
Was more robust and hardy to the view,
But he died early; and when he was gone,
His nearest messmate told his sire, who threw
One glance at him, and said, "Heaven's will be done!
I can do nothing," and he saw him thrown
Into the deep without a tear or groan.
The other father had a weaklier child,
Of a soft cheek and aspect delicate;
But the boy bore up long, and with a mild
And patient spirit held aloof his fate;
Little he said, and now and then he smiled,
As if to win a part from off the weight
He saw increasing on his father's heart,
With the deep deadly thought that they must part.
And o'er him bent his sire, and never raised
His eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam
From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed,
And when the wish'd-for shower at length was come,
And the boy's eyes, which the dull film half glazed,
Brighten'd, and for a moment seem'd to roam,
He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain
Into his dying child's mouth—but in vain.
The boy expired—the father held the clay,
And look'd upon it long, and when at last
Death left no doubt, and the dead burthen lay
Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were past,
He watch'd it wistfully, until away
'T was borne by the rude wave wherein 't was cast;
Then he himself sunk down all dumb and shivering,
And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering.
Now overhead a rainbow, bursting through
The scattering clouds, shone, spanning the dark sea,
Resting its bright base on the quivering blue;
And all within its arch appear'd to be
Clearer than that without, and its wide hue
Wax'd broad and waving, like a banner free,
Then changed like to a bow that's bent, and then
Forsook the dim eyes of these shipwreck'd men.
It changed, of course; a heavenly chameleon,
The airy child of vapour and the sun,
Brought forth in purple, cradled in vermilion,
Baptized in molten gold, and swathed in dun,
Glittering like crescents o'er a Turk's pavilion,
And blending every colour into one,
Just like a black eye in a recent scuffle
(For sometimes we must box without the muffle).
Our shipwreck'd seamen thought it a good omen—
It is as well to think so, now and then;
'T was an old custom of the Greek and Roman,
And may become of great advantage when
Folks are discouraged; and most surely no men
Had greater need to nerve themselves again
Than these, and so this rainbow look'd like hope—
Quite a celestial kaleidoscope.
About this time a beautiful white bird,
Webfooted, not unlike a dove in size
And plumage (probably it might have err'd
Upon its course), pass'd oft before their eyes,
And tried to perch, although it saw and heard
The men within the boat, and in this guise
It came and went, and flutter'd round them till
Night fell: this seem'd a better omen still.
But in this case I also must remark,
'T was well this bird of promise did not perch,
Because the tackle of our shatter'd bark
Was not so safe for roosting as a church;
And had it been the dove from Noah's ark,
Returning there from her successful search,
Which in their way that moment chanced to fall,
They would have eat her, olive-branch and all.
With twilight it again came on to blow,
But not with violence; the stars shone out,
The boat made way; yet now they were so low,
They knew not where nor what they were about;
Some fancied they saw land, and some said "No!"
The frequent fog-banks gave them cause to doubt—
Some swore that they heard breakers, others guns,
And all mistook about the latter once.
As morning broke, the light wind died away,
When he who had the watch sung out and swore,
If 't was not land that rose with the sun's ray,
He wish'd that land he never might see more;
And the rest rubb'd their eyes and saw a bay,
Or thought they saw, and shaped their course for shore;
For shore it was, and gradually grew
Distinct, and high, and palpable to view.
And then of these some part burst into tears,
And others, looking with a stupid stare,
Could not yet separate their hopes from fears,
And seem'd as if they had no further care;
While a few pray'd (the first time for some years)—
And at the bottom of the boat three were
Asleep: they shook them by the hand and head,
And tried to awaken them, but found them dead.
The day before, fast sleeping on the water,
They found a turtle of the hawk's-bill kind,
And by good fortune, gliding softly, caught her,
Which yielded a day's life, and to their mind
Proved even still a more nutritious matter,
Because it left encouragement behind:
They thought that in such perils, more than chance
Had sent them this for their deliverance.
The land appear'd a high and rocky coast,
And higher grew the mountains as they drew,
Set by a current, toward it: they were lost
In various conjectures, for none knew
To what part of the earth they had been tost,
So changeable had been the winds that blew;
Some thought it was Mount Ætna, some the highlands,
Of Candia, Cyprus, Rhodes, or other islands.
Meantime the current, with a rising gale,
Still set them onwards to the welcome shore,
Like Charon's bark of spectres, dull and pale:
Their living freight was now reduced to four,
And three dead, whom their strength could not avail
To heave into the deep with those before,
Though the two sharks still follow'd them, and dash'd
The spray into their faces as they splash'd.
Famine, despair, cold, thirst, and heat, had done
Their work on them by turns, and thinn'd them to
Such things a mother had not known her son
Amidst the skeletons of that gaunt crew;
By night chill'd, by day scorch'd, thus one by one
They perish'd, until wither'd to these few,
But chiefly by a species of self-slaughter,
In washing down Pedrillo with salt water.
As they drew nigh the land, which now was seen
Unequal in its aspect here and there,
They felt the freshness of its growing green,
That waved in forest-tops, and smooth'd the air,
And fell upon their glazed eyes like a screen
From glistening waves, and skies so hot and bare—
Lovely seem'd any object that should sweep
Away the vast, salt, dread, eternal deep.
The shore look'd wild, without a trace of man,
And girt by formidable waves; but they
Were mad for land, and thus their course they ran,
Though right ahead the roaring breakers lay:
A reef between them also now began
To show its boiling surf and bounding spray,
But finding no place for their landing better,
They ran the boat for shore,—and overset her.
But in his native stream, the Guadalquivir,
Juan to lave his youthful limbs was wont;
And having learnt to swim in that sweet river,
Had often turn'd the art to some account:
A better swimmer you could scarce see ever,
He could, perhaps, have pass'd the Hellespont,
As once (a feat on which ourselves we prided)
Leander, Mr. Ekenhead, and I did.
So here, though faint, emaciated, and stark,
He buoy'd his boyish limbs, and strove to ply
With the quick wave, and gain, ere it was dark,
The beach which lay before him, high and dry:
The greatest danger here was from a shark,
That carried off his neighbour by the thigh;
As for the other two, they could not swim,
So nobody arrived on shore but him.
Nor yet had he arrived but for the oar,
Which, providentially for him, was wash'd
Just as his feeble arms could strike no more,
And the hard wave o'erwhelm'd him as 't was dash'd
Within his grasp; he clung to it, and sore
The waters beat while he thereto was lash'd;
At last, with swimming, wading, scrambling, he
Roll'd on the beach, half-senseless, from the sea:
There, breathless, with his digging nails he clung
Fast to the sand, lest the returning wave,
From whose reluctant roar his life he wrung,
Should suck him back to her insatiate grave:
And there he lay, full length, where he was flung,
Before the entrance of a cliff-worn cave,
With just enough of life to feel its pain,
And deem that it was saved, perhaps in vain.
With slow and staggering effort he arose,
But sunk again upon his bleeding knee
And quivering hand; and then he look'd for those
Who long had been his mates upon the sea;
But none of them appear'd to share his woes,
Save one, a corpse, from out the famish'd three,
Who died two days before, and now had found
An unknown barren beach for burial ground.
And as he gazed, his dizzy brain spun fast,
And down he sunk; and as he sunk, the sand
Swam round and round, and all his senses pass'd:
He fell upon his side, and his stretch'd hand
Droop'd dripping on the oar (their jurymast),
And, like a wither'd lily, on the land
His slender frame and pallid aspect lay,
As fair a thing as e'er was form'd of clay.
How long in his damp trance young Juan lay
He knew not, for the earth was gone for him,
And Time had nothing more of night nor day
For his congealing blood, and senses dim;
And how this heavy faintness pass'd away
He knew not, till each painful pulse and limb,
And tingling vein, seem'd throbbing back to life,
For Death, though vanquish'd, still retired with strife.
His eyes he open'd, shut, again unclosed,
For all was doubt and dizziness; he thought
He still was in the boat and had but dozed,
And felt again with his despair o'erwrought,
And wish'd it death in which he had reposed;
And then once more his feelings back were brought,
And slowly by his swimming eyes was seen
A lovely female face of seventeen.
'T was bending dose o'er his, and the small mouth
Seem'd almost prying into his for breath;
And chafing him, the soft warm hand of youth
Recall'd his answering spirits back from death;
And, bathing his chill temples, tried to soothe
Each pulse to animation, till beneath
Its gentle touch and trembling care, a sigh
To these kind efforts made a low reply.
Then was the cordial pour'd, and mantle flung
Around his scarce-clad limbs; and the fair arm
Raised higher the faint head which o'er it hung;
And her transparent cheek, all pure and warm,
Pillow'd his death-like forehead; then she wrung
His dewy curls, long drench'd by every storm;
And watch'd with eagerness each throb that drew
A sigh from his heaved bosom—and hers, too.
And lifting him with care into the cave,
The gentle girl and her attendant,—one
Young, yet her elder, and of brow less grave,
And more robust of figure,—then begun
To kindle fire, and as the new flames gave
Light to the rocks that roof'd them, which the sun
Had never seen, the maid, or whatsoe'er
She was, appear'd distinct, and tall, and fair.
Her brow was overhung with coins of gold,
That sparkled o'er the auburn of her hair—
Her clustering hair, whose longer locks were roll'd
In braids behind; and though her stature were
Even of the highest for a female mould,
They nearly reach'd her heel; and in her air
There was a something which bespoke command,
As one who was a lady in the land.
Her hair, I said, was auburn; but her eyes
Were black as death, their lashes the same hue,
Of downcast length, in whose silk shadow lies
Deepest attraction; for when to the view
Forth from its raven fringe the full glance flies,
Ne'er with such force the swiftest arrow flew;
'T is as the snake late coil'd, who pours his length,
And hurls at once his venom and his strength.
Her brow was white and low, her cheek's pure dye
Like twilight rosy still with the set sun;
Short upper lip—sweet lips! that make us sigh
Ever to have seen such; for she was one
Fit for the model of a statuary
(A race of mere impostors, when all's done—
I've seen much finer women, ripe and real,
Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal).
I'll tell you why I say so, for 't is just
One should not rail without a decent cause:
There was an Irish lady, to whose bust
I ne'er saw justice done, and yet she was
A frequent model; and if e'er she must
Yield to stern Time and Nature's wrinkling laws,
They will destroy a face which mortal thought
Ne'er compass'd, nor less mortal chisel wrought.
And such was she, the lady of the cave:
Her dress was very different from the Spanish,
Simpler, and yet of colours not so grave;
For, as you know, the Spanish women banish
Bright hues when out of doors, and yet, while wave
Around them (what I hope will never vanish)
The basquiña and the mantilla, they
Seem at the same time mystical and gay.
But with our damsel this was not the case:
Her dress was many-colour'd, finely spun;
Her locks curl'd negligently round her face,
But through them gold and gems profusely shone:
Her girdle sparkled, and the richest lace
Flow'd in her veil, and many a precious stone
Flash'd on her little hand; but, what was shocking,
Her small snow feet had slippers, but no stocking.
The other female's dress was not unlike,
But of inferior materials: she
Had not so many ornaments to strike,
Her hair had silver only, bound to be
Her dowry; and her veil, in form alike,
Was coarser; and her air, though firm, less free;
Her hair was thicker, but less long; her eyes
As black, but quicker, and of smaller size.
And these two tended him, and cheer'd him both
With food and raiment, and those soft attentions,
Which are (as I must own) of female growth,
And have ten thousand delicate inventions:
They made a most superior mess of broth,
A thing which poesy but seldom mentions,
But the best dish that e'er was cook'd since Homer's
Achilles ordered dinner for new comers.
I'll tell you who they were, this female pair,
Lest they should seem princesses in disguise;
Besides, I hate all mystery, and that air
Of clap-trap which your recent poets prize;
And so, in short, the girls they really were
They shall appear before your curious eyes,
Mistress and maid; the first was only daughter
Of an old man who lived upon the water.
A fisherman he had been in his youth,
And still a sort of fisherman was he;
But other speculations were, in sooth,
Added to his connection with the sea,
Perhaps not so respectable, in truth:
A little smuggling, and some piracy,
Left him, at last, the sole of many masters
Of an ill-gotten million of piastres.
A fisher, therefore, was he,—though of men,
Like Peter the Apostle,—and he fish'd
For wandering merchant-vessels, now and then,
And sometimes caught as many as he wish'd;
The cargoes he confiscated, and gain
He sought in the slave-market too, and dish'd
Full many a morsel for that Turkish trade,
By which, no doubt, a good deal may be made.
He was a Greek, and on his isle had built
(One of the wild and smaller Cyclades)
A very handsome house from out his guilt,
And there he lived exceedingly at ease;
Heaven knows what cash he got or blood he spilt,
A sad old fellow was he, if you please;
But this I know, it was a spacious building,
Full of barbaric carving, paint, and gilding.
He had an only daughter, call'd Haidée,
The greatest heiress of the Eastern Isles;
Besides, so very beautiful was she,
Her dowry was as nothing to her smiles:
Still in her teens, and like a lovely tree
She grew to womanhood, and between whiles
Rejected several suitors, just to learn
How to accept a better in his turn.
And walking out upon the beach, below
The cliff, towards sunset, on that day she found,
Insensible,—not dead, but nearly so,—
Don Juan, almost famish'd, and half drown'd;
But being naked, she was shock'd, you know,
Yet deem'd herself in common pity bound,
As far as in her lay, 'to take him in,
A stranger' dying, with so white a skin.
But taking him into her father's house
Was not exactly the best way to save,
But like conveying to the cat the mouse,
Or people in a trance into their grave;
Because the good old man had so much "nous,"
Unlike the honest Arab thieves so brave,
He would have hospitably cured the stranger,
And sold him instantly when out of danger.
And therefore, with her maid, she thought it best
(A virgin always on her maid relies)
To place him in the cave for present rest:
And when, at last, he open'd his black eyes,
Their charity increased about their guest;
And their compassion grew to such a size,
It open'd half the turnpike-gates to heaven
(St. Paul says, 't is the toll which must be given).
They made a fire,—but such a fire as they
Upon the moment could contrive with such
Materials as were cast up round the bay,—
Some broken planks, and oars, that to the touch
Were nearly tinder, since so long they lay,
A mast was almost crumbled to a crutch;
But, by God's grace, here wrecks were in such plenty,
That there was fuel to have furnish'd twenty.
He had a bed of furs, and a pelisse,
For Haidée stripped her sables off to make
His couch; and, that he might be more at ease,
And warm, in case by chance he should awake,
They also gave a petticoat apiece,
She and her maid—and promised by daybreak
To pay him a fresh visit, with a dish
For breakfast, of eggs, coffee, bread, and fish.
And thus they left him to his lone repose:
Juan slept like a top, or like the dead,
Who sleep at last, perhaps (God only knows),
Just for the present; and in his lull'd head
Not even a vision of his former woes
Throbb'd in accursed dreams, which sometimes spread
Unwelcome visions of our former years,
Till the eye, cheated, opens thick with tears.
Young Juan slept all dreamless:—but the maid,
Who smooth'd his pillow, as she left the den
Look'd back upon him, and a moment stay'd,
And turn'd, believing that he call'd again.
He slumber'd; yet she thought, at least she said
(The heart will slip, even as the tongue and pen),
He had pronounced her name—but she forgot
That at this moment Juan knew it not.
And pensive to her father's house she went,
Enjoining silence strict to Zoë, who
Better than her knew what, in fact, she meant,
She being wiser by a year or two:
A year or two's an age when rightly spent,
And Zoë spent hers, as most women do,
In gaining all that useful sort of knowledge
Which is acquired in Nature's good old college.
The morn broke, and found Juan slumbering still
Fast in his cave, and nothing clash'd upon
His rest; the rushing of the neighbouring rill,
And the young beams of the excluded sun,
Troubled him not, and he might sleep his fill;
And need he had of slumber yet, for none
Had suffer'd more—his hardships were comparative
To those related in my grand-dad's "Narrative."
Not so Haidée: she sadly toss'd and tumbled,
And started from her sleep, and, turning o'er
Dream'd of a thousand wrecks, o'er which she stumbled,
And handsome corpses strew'd upon the shore;
And woke her maid so early that she grumbled,
And call'd her father's old slaves up, who swore
In several oaths—Armenian, Turk, and Greek—
They knew not what to think of such a freak.
But up she got, and up she made them get,
With some pretence about the sun, that makes
Sweet skies just when he rises, or is set;
And 't is, no doubt, a sight to see when breaks
Bright Phoebus, while the mountains still are wet
With mist, and every bird with him awakes,
And night is flung off like a mourning suit
Worn for a husband,—or some other brute.
I say, the sun is a most glorious sight,
I've seen him rise full oft, indeed of late
I have sat up on purpose all the night,
Which hastens, as physicians say, one's fate;
And so all ye, who would be in the right
In health and purse, begin your day to date
From daybreak, and when coffin'd at fourscore,
Engrave upon the plate, you rose at four.
And Haidée met the morning face to face;
Her own was freshest, though a feverish flush
Had dyed it with the headlong blood, whose race
From heart to cheek is curb'd into a blush,
Like to a torrent which a mountain's base,
That overpowers some Alpine river's rush,
Checks to a lake, whose waves in circles spread;
Or the Red Sea—but the sea is not red.
And down the cliff the island virgin came,
And near the cave her quick light footsteps drew,
While the sun smiled on her with his first flame,
And young Aurora kiss'd her lips with dew,
Taking her for a sister; just the same
Mistake you would have made on seeing the two,
Although the mortal, quite as fresh and fair,
Had all the advantage, too, of not being air.
And when into the cavern Haidée stepp'd
All timidly, yet rapidly, she saw
That like an infant Juan sweetly slept;
And then she stopp'd, and stood as if in awe
(For sleep is awful), and on tiptoe crept
And wrapt him closer, lest the air, too raw,
Should reach his blood, then o'er him still as death
Bent with hush'd lips, that drank his scarce-drawn breath.
And thus like to an angel o'er the dying
Who die in righteousness, she lean'd; and there
All tranquilly the shipwreck'd boy was lying,
As o'er him the calm and stirless air:
But Zoë the meantime some eggs was frying,
Since, after all, no doubt the youthful pair
Must breakfast—and betimes, lest they should ask it,
She drew out her provision from the basket.
She knew that the best feelings must have victual,
And that a shipwreck'd youth would hungry be;
Besides, being less in love, she yawn'd a little,
And felt her veins chill'd by the neighbouring sea;
And so, she cook'd their breakfast to a tittle;
I can't say that she gave them any tea,
But there were eggs, fruit, coffee, bread, fish, honey,
With Scio wine,—and all for love, not money.
And Zoë, when the eggs were ready, and
The coffee made, would fain have waken'd Juan;
But Haidée stopp'd her with her quick small hand,
And without word, a sign her finger drew on
Her lip, which Zoë needs must understand;
And, the first breakfast spoilt, prepared a new one,
Because her mistress would not let her break
That sleep which seem'd as it would ne'er awake.
For still he lay, and on his thin worn cheek
A purple hectic play'd like dying day
On the snow-tops of distant hills; the streak
Of sufferance yet upon his forehead lay,
Where the blue veins look'd shadowy, shrunk, and weak;
And his black curls were dewy with the spray,
Which weigh'd upon them yet, all damp and salt,
Mix'd with the stony vapours of the vault.
And she bent o'er him, and he lay beneath,
Hush'd as the babe upon its mother's breast,
Droop'd as the willow when no winds can breathe,
Lull'd like the depth of ocean when at rest,
Fair as the crowning rose of the whole wreath,
Soft as the callow cygnet in its nest;
In short, he was a very pretty fellow,
Although his woes had turn'd him rather yellow.
He woke and gazed, and would have slept again,
But the fair face which met his eyes forbade
Those eyes to close, though weariness and pain
Had further sleep a further pleasure made;
For woman's face was never form'd in vain
For Juan, so that even when he pray'd
He turn'd from grisly saints, and martyrs hairy,
To the sweet portraits of the Virgin Mary.
And thus upon his elbow he arose,
And look'd upon the lady, in whose cheek
The pale contended with the purple rose,
As with an effort she began to speak;
Her eyes were eloquent, her words would pose,
Although she told him, in good modern Greek,
With an Ionian accent, low and sweet,
That he was faint, and must not talk, but eat.
Now Juan could not understand a word,
Being no Grecian; but he had an ear,
And her voice was the warble of a bird,
So soft, so sweet, so delicately clear,
That finer, simpler music ne'er was heard;
The sort of sound we echo with a tear,
Without knowing why—an overpowering tone,
Whence Melody descends as from a throne.
And Juan gazed as one who is awoke
By a distant organ, doubting if he be
Not yet a dreamer, till the spell is broke
By the watchman, or some such reality,
Or by one's early valet's curséd knock;
At least it is a heavy sound to me,
Who like a morning slumber—for the night
Shows stars and women in a better light.
And Juan, too, was help'd out from his dream,
Or sleep, or whatso'er it was, by feeling
A most prodigious appetite: the steam
Of Zoë's cookery no doubt was stealing
Upon his senses, and the kindling beam
Of the new fire, which Zoë kept up, kneeling
To stir her viands, made him quite awake
And long for food, but chiefly a beef-steak.
But beef is rare within these oxless isles;
Goat's flesh there is, no doubt, and kid, and mutton;
And, when a holiday upon them smiles,
A joint upon their barbarous spits they put on:
But this occurs but seldom, between whiles,
For some of these are rocks with scarce a hut on;
Others are fair and fertile, among which
This, though not large, was one of the most rich.
I say that beef is rare, and can't help thinking
That the old fable of the Minotaur—
From which our modern morals rightly shrinking
Condemn the royal lady's taste who wore
A cow's shape for a mask—was only (sinking
The allegory) a mere type, no more,
That Pasiphaë promoted breeding cattle,
To make the Cretans bloodier in battle.
For we all know that English people are
Fed upon beef—I won't say much of beer,
Because 't is liquor only, and being far
From this my subject, has no business here;
We know, too, they very fond of war,
A pleasure—like all pleasures—rather dear;
So were the Cretans—from which I infer
That beef and battles both were owing to her.
But to resume. The languid Juan raised
His head upon his elbow, and he saw
A sight on which he had not lately gazed,
As all his latter meals had been quite raw,
Three or four things, for which the Lord he praised,
And, feeling still the famish'd vulture gnaw,
He fell upon whate'er was offer'd, like
A priest, a shark, an alderman, or pike.
He ate, and he was well supplied: and she,
Who watch'd him like a mother, would have fed
Him past all bounds, because she smiled to see
Such appetite in one she had deem'd dead;
But Zoë, being older than Haidée,
Knew (by tradition, for she ne'er had read)
That famish'd people must be slowly nurst,
And fed by spoonfuls, else they always burst.
And so she took the liberty to state,
Rather by deeds than words, because the case
Was urgent, that the gentleman, whose fate
Had made her mistress quit her bed to trace
The sea-shore at this hour, must leave his plate,
Unless he wish'd to die upon the place—
She snatch'd it, and refused another morsel,
Saying, he had gorged enough to make a horse ill.
Next they—he being naked, save a tatter'd
Pair of scarce decent trowsers—went to work,
And in the fire his recent rags they scatterd,
And dress'd him, for the present, like a Turk,
Or Greek—that is, although it not much matter'd,
Omitting turban, slippers, pistols, dirk,—
They furnish'd him, entire, except some stitches,
With a clean shirt, and very spacious breeches.
And then fair Haidée tried her tongue at speaking,
But not a word could Juan comprehend,
Although he listen'd so that the young Greek in
Her earnestness would ne'er have made an end;
And, as he interrupted not, went eking
Her speech out to her protégé and friend,
Till pausing at the last her breath to take,
She saw he did not understand Romaic.
And then she had recourse to nods, and signs,
And smiles, and sparkles of the speaking eye,
And read (the only book she could) the lines
Of his fair face, and found, by sympathy,
The answer eloquent, where soul shines
And darts in one quick glance a long reply;
And thus in every look she saw exprest
A world of words, and things at which she guess'd.
And now, by dint of fingers and of eyes,
And words repeated after her, he took
A lesson in her tongue; but by surmise,
No doubt, less of her language than her look:
As he who studies fervently the skies
Turns oftener to the stars than to his book,
Thus Juan learn'd his alpha beta better
From Haidée's glance than any graven letter.
'T is pleasing to be school'd in a strange tongue
By female lips and eyes—that is, I mean,
When both the teacher and the taught are young,
As was the case, at least, where I have been;
They smile so when one's right, and when one's wrong
They smile still more, and then there intervene
Pressure of hands, perhaps even a chaste kiss;—
I learn'd the little that I know by this:
That is, some words of Spanish, Turk, and Greek,
Italian not at all, having no teachers;
Much English I cannot pretend to speak,
Learning that language chiefly from its preachers,
Barrow, South, Tillotson, whom every week
I study, also Blair, the highest reachers
Of eloquence in piety and prose—
I hate your poets, so read none of those.
As for the ladies, I have nought to say,
A wanderer from the British world of fashion,
Where I, like other "dogs, have had my day,"
Like other men, too, may have had my passion—
But that, like other things, has pass'd away,
And all her fools whom I could lay the lash on:
Foes, friends, men, women, now are nought to me
But dreams of what has been, no more to be.
Return we to Don Juan. He begun
To hear new words, and to repeat them; but
Some feelings, universal as the sun,
Were such as could not in his breast be shut
More than within the bosom of a nun:
He was in love,—as you would be, no doubt,
With a young benefactress,—so was she,
Just in the way we very often see.
And every day by daybreak—rather early
For Juan, who was somewhat fond of rest—
She came into the cave, but it was merely
To see her bird reposing in his nest;
And she would softly stir his locks so curly,
Without disturbing her yet slumbering guest,
Breathing all gently o'er his cheek and mouth,
As o'er a bed of roses the sweet south.
And every morn his colour freshlier came,
And every day help'd on his convalescence;
'T was well, because health in the human frame
Is pleasant, besides being true love's essence,
For health and idleness to passion's flame
Are oil and gunpowder; and some good lessons
Are also learnt from Ceres and from Bacchus,
Without whom Venus will not long attack us.
While Venus fills the heart (without heart really
Love, though good always, is not quite so good),
Ceres presents a plate of vermicelli,—
For love must be sustain'd like flesh and blood,—
While Bacchus pours out wine, or hands a jelly:
Eggs, oysters, too, are amatory food;
But who is their purveyor from above
Heaven knows,—it may be Neptune, Pan, or Jove.
When Juan woke he found some good things ready,
A bath, a breakfast, and the finest eyes
That ever made a youthful heart less steady,
Besides her maid's as pretty for their size;
But I have spoken of all this already—
And repetition's tiresome and unwise,—
Well—Juan, after bathing in the sea,
Came always back to coffee and Haidée.
Both were so young, and one so innocent,
That bathing pass'd for nothing; Juan seem'd
To her, as 'twere, the kind of being sent,
Of whom these two years she had nightly dream'd,
A something to be loved, a creature meant
To be her happiness, and whom she deem'd
To render happy; all who joy would win
Must share it,—Happiness was born a twin.
It was such pleasure to behold him, such
Enlargement of existence to partake
Nature with him, to thrill beneath his touch,
To watch him slumbering, and to see him wake:
To live with him forever were too much;
But then the thought of parting made her quake;
He was her own, her ocean-treasure, cast
Like a rich wreck—her first love, and her last.
And thus a moon roll'd on, and fair Haidée
Paid daily visits to her boy, and took
Such plentiful precautions, that still he
Remain'd unknown within his craggy nook;
At last her father's prows put out to sea
For certain merchantmen upon the look,
Not as of yore to carry off an Io,
But three Ragusan vessels, bound for Scio.
Then came her freedom, for she had no mother,
So that, her father being at sea, she was
Free as a married woman, or such other
Female, as where she likes may freely pass,
Without even the incumbrance of a brother,
The freest she that ever gazed on glass;
I speak of Christian lands in this comparison,
Where wives, at least, are seldom kept in garrison.
Now she prolong'd her visits and her talk
(For they must talk), and he had learnt to say
So much as to propose to take a walk,—
For little had he wander'd since the day
On which, like a young flower snapp'd from the stalk,
Drooping and dewy on the beach he lay,—
And thus they walk'd out in the afternoon,
And saw the sun set opposite the moon.
It was a wild and breaker-beaten coast,
With cliffs above, and a broad sandy shore,
Guarded by shoals and rocks as by an host,
With here and there a creek, whose aspect wore
A better welcome to the tempest-tost;
And rarely ceased the haughty billow's roar,
Save on the dead long summer days, which make
The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake.
And the small ripple spilt upon the beach
Scarcely o'erpass'd the cream of your champagne,
When o'er the brim the sparkling bumpers reach,
That spring-dew of the spirit! the heart's rain!
Few things surpass old wine; and they may preach
Who please,—the more because they preach in vain,—
Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,
Sermons and soda-water the day after.
Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
The best of life is but intoxication:
Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk
The hopes of all men, and of every nation;
Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk
Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion:
But to return,—Get very drunk; and when
You wake with headache, you shall see what then.
Ring for your valet—bid him quickly bring
Some hock and soda-water, then you'll know
A pleasure worthy Xerxes the great king;
For not the bless'd sherbet, sublimed with snow,
Nor the first sparkle of the desert-spring,
Nor Burgundy in all its sunset glow,
After long travel, ennui, love, or slaughter,
Vie with that draught of hock and soda-water.
The coast—I think it was the coast that
Was just describing—Yes, it was the coast—
Lay at this period quiet as the sky,
The sands untumbled, the blue waves untost,
And all was stillness, save the sea-bird's cry,
And dolphin's leap, and little billow crost
By some low rock or shelve, that made it fret
Against the boundary it scarcely wet.
And forth they wander'd, her sire being gone,
As I have said, upon an expedition;
And mother, brother, guardian, she had none,
Save Zoë, who, although with due precision
She waited on her lady with the sun,
Thought daily service was her only mission,
Bringing warm water, wreathing her long tresses,
And asking now and then for cast-off dresses.
It was the cooling hour, just when the rounded
Red sun sinks down behind the azure hill,
Which then seems as if the whole earth it bounded,
Circling all nature, hush'd, and dim, and still,
With the far mountain-crescent half surrounded
On one side, and the deep sea calm and chill
Upon the other, and the rosy sky,
With one star sparkling through it like an eye.
And thus they wander'd forth, and hand in hand,
Over the shining pebbles and the shells,
Glided along the smooth and harden'd sand,
And in the worn and wild receptacles
Work'd by the storms, yet work'd as it were plann'd,
In hollow halls, with sparry roofs and cells,
They turn'd to rest; and, each clasp'd by an arm,
Yielded to the deep twilight's purple charm.
They look'd up to the sky, whose floating glow
Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright;
They gazed upon the glittering sea below,
Whence the broad moon rose circling into sight;
They heard the wave's splash, and the wind so low,
And saw each other's dark eyes darting light
Into each other—and, beholding this,
Their lips drew near, and clung into a kiss;
A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth, and love,
And beauty, all concéntrating like rays
Into one focus, kindled from above;
Such kisses as belong to early days,
Where heart, and soul, and sense, in concert move,
And the blood's lava, and the pulse a blaze,
Each kiss a heart-quake,—for a kiss's strength,
I think, it must be reckon'd by its length.
By length I mean duration; theirs endured
Heaven knows how long—no doubt they never reckon'd;
And if they had, they could not have secured
The sum of their sensations to a second:
They had not spoken; but they felt allured,
As if their souls and lips each other beckon'd,
Which, being join'd, like swarming bees they clung—
Their hearts the flowers from whence the honey sprung.
They were alone, but not alone as they
Who shut in chambers think it loneliness;
The silent ocean, and the starlight bay,
The twilight glow which momently grew less,
The voiceless sands and dropping caves, that lay
Around them, made them to each other press,
As if there were no life beneath the sky
Save theirs, and that their life could never die.
They fear'd no eyes nor ears on that lone beach,
They felt no terrors from the night, they were
All in all to each other: though their speech
Was broken words, they thought a language there,—
And all the burning tongues the passions teach
Found in one sigh the best interpreter
Of nature's oracle—first love,—that all
Which Eve has left her daughters since her fall.
Haidée spoke not of scruples, ask'd no vows,
Nor offer'd any; she had never heard
Of plight and promises to be a spouse,
Or perils by a loving maid incurr'd;
She was all which pure ignorance allows,
And flew to her young mate like a young bird;
And, never having dreamt of falsehood, she
Had not one word to say of constancy.
She loved, and was belovéd—she adored,
And she was worshipp'd; after nature's fashion,
Their intense souls, into each other pour'd,
If souls could die, had perish'd in that passion,—
But by degrees their senses were restored,
Again to be o'ercome, again to dash on;
And, beating 'gainst his bosom, Haidée's heart
Felt as if never more to beat apart.
Alas! they were so young, so beautiful,
So lonely, loving, helpless, and the hour
Was that in which the heart is always full,
And, having o'er itself no further power,
Prompts deeds eternity can not annul,
But pays off moments in an endless shower
Of hell-fire—all prepared for people giving
Pleasure or pain to one another living.
Alas! for Juan and Haidée! they were
So loving and so lovely—till then never,
Excepting our first parents, such a pair
Had run the risk of being damn'd for ever;
And Haidée, being devout as well as fair,
Had, doubtless, heard about the Stygian river,
And hell and purgatory—but forgot
Just in the very crisis she should not.
They look upon each other, and their eyes
Gleam in the moonlight; and her white arm clasps
Round Juan's head, and his around her lies
Half buried in the tresses which it grasps;
She sits upon his knee, and drinks his sighs,
He hers, until they end in broken gasps;
And thus they form a group that's quite antique,
Half naked, loving, natural, and Greek.
And when those deep and burning moments pass'd,
And Juan sunk to sleep within her arms,
She slept not, but all tenderly, though fast,
Sustain'd his head upon her bosom's charms;
And now and then her eye to heaven is cast,
And then on the pale cheek her breast now warms,
Pillow'd on her o'erflowing heart, which pants
With all it granted, and with all it grants.
An infant when it gazes on a light,
A child the moment when it drains the breast,
A devotee when soars the Host in sight,
An Arab with a stranger for a guest,
A sailor when the prize has struck in fight,
A miser filling his most hoarded chest,
Feel rapture; but not such true joy are reaping
As they who watch o'er what they love while sleeping.
For there it lies so tranquil, so beloved,
All that it hath of life with us is living;
So gentle, stirless, helpless, and unmoved,
And all unconscious of the joy 't is giving;
All it hath felt, inflicted, pass'd, and proved,
Hush'd into depths beyond the watcher's diving:
There lies the thing we love with all its errors
And all its charms, like death without its terrors.
The lady watch'd her lover—and that hour
Of Love's, and Night's, and Ocean's solitude,
O'erflow'd her soul with their united power;
Amidst the barren sand and rocks so rude
She and her wave-worn love had made their bower,
Where nought upon their passion could intrude,
And all the stars that crowded the blue space
Saw nothing happier than her glowing face.
Alas! the love of women! it is known
To be a lovely and a fearful thing;
For all of theirs upon that die is thrown,
And if 't is lost, life hath no more to bring
To them but mockeries of the past alone,
And their revenge is as the tiger's spring,
Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet, as real
Torture is theirs, what they inflict they feel.
They are right; for man, to man so oft unjust,
Is always so to women; one sole bond
Awaits them, treachery is all their trust;
Taught to conceal, their bursting hearts despond
Over their idol, till some wealthier lust
Buys them in marriage—and what rests beyond?
A thankless husband, next a faithless lover,
Then dressing, nursing, praying, and all's over.
Some take a lover, some take drams or prayers,
Some mind their household, others dissipation,
Some run away, and but exchange their cares,
Losing the advantage of a virtuous station;
Few changes e'er can better their affairs,
Theirs being an unnatural situation,
From the dull palace to the dirty hovel:
Some play the devil, and then write a novel.
Haidée was Nature's bride, and knew not this;
Haidée was Passion's child, born where the sun
Showers triple light, and scorches even the kiss
Of his gazelle-eyed daughters; she was one
Made but to love, to feel that she was his
Who was her chosen: what was said or done
Elsewhere was nothing. She had naught to fear,
Hope, care, nor love, beyond, her heart beat here.
And oh! that quickening of the heart, that beat!
How much it costs us! yet each rising throb
Is in its cause as its effect so sweet,
That Wisdom, ever on the watch to rob
Joy of its alchymy, and to repeat
Fine truths; even Conscience, too, has a tough job
To make us understand each good old maxim,
So good—I wonder Castlereagh don't tax 'em.
And now 't was done—on the lone shore were plighted
Their hearts; the stars, their nuptial torches, shed
Beauty upon the beautiful they lighted:
Ocean their witness, and the cave their bed,
By their own feelings hallow'd and united,
Their priest was Solitude, and they were wed:
And they were happy, for to their young eyes
Each was an angel, and earth paradise.
Oh, Love! of whom great Cæsar was the suitor,
Titus the master, Antony the slave,
Horace, Catullus, scholars, Ovid tutor,
Sappho the sage blue-stocking, in whose grave
All those may leap who rather would be neuter
(Leucadia's rock still overlooks the wave)—
Oh, Love! thou art the very god of evil,
For, after all, we cannot call thee devil.
Thou mak'st the chaste connubial state precarious,
And jestest with the brows of mightiest men:
Cæsar and Pompey, Mahomet, Belisarius,
Have much employ'd the muse of history's pen;
Their lives and fortunes were extremely various,
Such worthies Time will never see again;
Yet to these four in three things the same luck holds,
They all were heroes, conquerors, and cuckolds.
Thou mak'st philosophers; there's Epicurus
And Aristippus, a material crew!
Who to immoral courses would allure us
By theories quite practicable too;
If only from the devil they would insure us,
How pleasant were the maxim (not quite new),
"Eat, drink, and love, what can the rest avail us?"
So said the royal sage Sardanapalus.
But Juan! had he quite forgotten Julia?
And should he have forgotten her so soon?
I can't but say it seems to me most truly
Perplexing question; but, no doubt, the moon
Does these things for us, and whenever newly
Strong palpitation rises, 't is her boon,
Else how the devil is it that fresh features
Have such a charm for us poor human creatures?
I hate inconstancy—I loathe, detest,
Abhor, condemn, abjure the mortal made
Of such quicksilver clay that in his breast
No permanent foundation can be laid;
Love, constant love, has been my constant guest,
And yet last night, being at a masquerade,
I saw the prettiest creature, fresh from Milan,
Which gave me some sensations like a villain.
But soon Philosophy came to my aid,
And whisper'd, "Think of every sacred tie!"
"I will, my dear Philosophy!" I said,
"But then her teeth, and then, oh, Heaven! her eye!
I'll just inquire if she be wife or maid,
Or neither—out of curiosity."
"Stop!" cried Philosophy, with air so Grecian
(Though she was masqued then as a fair Venetian);
"Stop!" so I stopp'd.—But to return: that which
Men call inconstancy is nothing more
Than admiration due where nature's rich
Profusion with young beauty covers o'er
Some favour'd object; and as in the niche
A lovely statue we almost adore,
This sort of adoration of the real
Is but a heightening of the "beau ideal."
'T is the perception of the beautiful,
A fine extension of the faculties,
Platonic, universal, wonderful,
Drawn from the stars, and filter'd through the skies,
Without which life would be extremely dull;
In short, it is the use of our own eyes,
With one or two small senses added, just
To hint that flesh is form'd of fiery dust.
Yet 't is a painful feeling, and unwilling,
For surely if we always could perceive
In the same object graces quite as killing
As when she rose upon us like an Eve,
'T would save us many a heartache, many a shilling
(For we must get them any how or grieve),
Whereas if one sole lady pleased for ever,
How pleasant for the heart as well as liver!
The heart is like the sky, a part of heaven,
But changes night and day, too, like the sky;
Now o'er it clouds and thunder must be driven,
And darkness and destruction as on high:
But when it hath been scorch'd, and pierced, and riven,
Its storms expire in water-drops; the eye
Pours forth at last the heart's blood turn'd to tears,
Which make the English climate of our years.
The liver is the lazaret of bile,
But very rarely executes its function,
For the first passion stays there such a while,
That all the rest creep in and form a junction,
Life knots of vipers on a dunghill's soil,—
Rage, fear, hate, jealousy, revenge, compunction,—
So that all mischiefs spring up from this entrail,
Like earthquakes from the hidden fire call'd "central,"
In the mean time, without proceeding more
In this anatomy, I've finish'd now
Two hundred and odd stanzas as before,
That being about the number I'll allow
Each canto of the twelve, or twenty-four;
And, laying down my pen, I make my bow,
Leaving Don Juan and Haidée to plead
For them and theirs with all who deign to read.
I build within the houses I will never live in (Nafaka)
the beds I sleep in I have never made
rains I drink I will never fall with
and the rains I fall in I never drank
the wind I breathe embracing the sides of the worls
what I want I can say no more
open for everything
for happiness and sorrow
good and evil
a cloud and a sun
what I say can embrace me no more
u kucama gradim koje stanovala nisam
u krevetu spavam koji pospremila nisam
kise pijem s kojima pasti nikad necu
s kisama padam koje nikad popila nisam
s vjetrom disem koji strane svijeta grli
sve sto hocu vise ne mogu da kazem
otvorena za sve
za srecu i patnje
za dobro i zlo
oblake i sunca
sve sto hocu vise ne moze da me zagrli