Because My Faltering Feet
Because my faltering feet may fail to dare
The first descendant of the steps of Hell
Give me the Word in time that triumphs there.
I too must pass into the misty hollow
Where all our living laughter stops: and hark!
The tiny stuffless voices of the dark
Have called me, called me, till I needs must follow:
Give me the Word and I'll attempt it well.
Say it's the little winking of an eye
Which in that issue is uncurtained quite;
A little sleep that helpsa moment by
Between the thin dawn and the large daylight.
Ah! tell me more than yet was hoped of men;
Swear that's true now, and I'll believe it then.
- quotes about words
- quotes about voice
- quotes about eyes
- quotes about life
- quotes about men
- quotes about seasons
- quotes about dance
- quotes about time
More Than I Was
Who am I?
When and where am I suppose to be me?
If it is not all about me...
Who is it about?
If you say I am not who or what I should be,
Who are you to tell me that?
And where were you when all I had was myself?
Who am I?
More than I was...
Before I let someone like you
Decide I wasn't good enough to be me.
And all that I am right now...
Allows me to see others for who they are!
I couldn't do that before when I listened to you,
Make decisions for me without my involvement!
I am involved now...
The Pennsylvania Pilgrim
I sing the Pilgrim of a softer clime
And milder speech than those brave men's who brought
To the ice and iron of our winter time
A will as firm, a creed as stern, and wrought
With one mailed hand, and with the other fought.
Simply, as fits my theme, in homely rhyme
I sing the blue-eyed German Spener taught,
Through whose veiled, mystic faith the Inward Light,
Steady and still, an easy brightness, shone,
Transfiguring all things in its radiance white.
The garland which his meekness never sought
I bring him; over fields of harvest sown
With seeds of blessing, now to ripeness grown,
I bid the sower pass before the reapers' sight.
The Pennsylvania Pilgrim
Never in tenderer quiet lapsed the day
From Pennsylvania's vales of spring away,
Where, forest-walled, the scattered hamlets lay
Along the wedded rivers. One long bar
Of purple cloud, on which the evening star
Shone like a jewel on a scimitar,
Held the sky's golden gateway. Through the deep
Hush of the woods a murmur seemed to creep,
The Schuylkill whispering in a voice of sleep.
All else was still. The oxen from their ploughs
Rested at last, and from their long day's browse
Came the dun files of Krisheim's home-bound cows.
And the young city, round whose virgin zone
The rivers like two mighty arms were thrown,
Marked by the smoke of evening fires alone,
Lay in the distance, lovely even then
With its fair women and its stately men
Gracing the forest court of William Penn,
Urban yet sylvan; in its rough-hewn frames
Of oak and pine the dryads held their claims,
And lent its streets their pleasant woodland names.
Anna Pastorius down the leafy lane
Looked city-ward, then stooped to prune again
Her vines and simples, with a sigh of pain.
For fast the streaks of ruddy sunset paled
In the oak clearing, and, as daylight failed,
Slow, overhead, the dusky night-birds sailed.
Again she looked: between green walls of shade,
With low-bent head as if with sorrow weighed,
Daniel Pastorius slowly came and said,
'God's peace be with thee, Anna!' Then he stood
Silent before her, wrestling with the mood
Of one who sees the evil and not good.
'What is it, my Pastorius?' As she spoke,
A slow, faint smile across his features broke,
Sadder than tears. 'Dear heart,' he said, 'our folk
'Are even as others. Yea, our goodliest Friends
Are frail; our elders have their selfish ends,
And few dare trust the Lord to make amends
'For duty's loss. So even our feeble word
For the dumb slaves the startled meeting heard
As if a stone its quiet waters stirred;
'And, as the clerk ceased reading, there began
A ripple of dissent which downward ran
In widening circles, as from man to man.
'Somewhat was said of running before sent,
Of tender fear that some their guide outwent,
Troublers of Israel. I was scarce intent
'On hearing, for behind the reverend row
Of gallery Friends, in dumb and piteous show,
I saw, methought, dark faces full of woe.
'And, in the spirit, I was taken where
They toiled and suffered; I was made aware
Of shame and wrath and anguish and despair!
'And while the meeting smothered our poor plea
With cautious phrase, a Voice there seemed to be,
As ye have done to these ye do to me!'
'So it all passed; and the old tithe went on
Of anise, mint, and cumin, till the sun
Set, leaving still the weightier work undone.
'Help, for the good man faileth! Who is strong,
If these be weak? Who shall rebuke the wrong,
If these consent? How long, O Lord! how long!'
He ceased; and, bound in spirit with the bound,
With folded arms, and eyes that sought the ground,
Walked musingly his little garden round.
About him, beaded with the falling dew,
Rare plants of power and herbs of healing grew,
Such as Van Helmont and Agrippa knew.
For, by the lore of Gorlitz' gentle sage,
With the mild mystics of his dreamy age
He read the herbal signs of nature's page,
As once he heard in sweet Von Merlau's' bowers
Fair as herself, in boyhood's happy hours,
The pious Spener read his creed in flowers.
'The dear Lord give us patience!' said his wife,
Touching with finger-tip an aloe, rife
With leaves sharp-pointed like an Aztec knife
Or Carib spear, a gift to William Penn
From the rare gardens of John Evelyn,
Brought from the Spanish Main by merchantmen.
'See this strange plant its steady purpose hold,
And, year by year, its patient leaves unfold,
Till the young eyes that watched it first are old.
'But some time, thou hast told me, there shall come
A sudden beauty, brightness, and perfume,
The century-moulded bud shall burst in bloom.
'So may the seed which hath been sown to-day
Grow with the years, and, after long delay,
Break into bloom, and God's eternal Yea!
'Answer at last the patient prayers of them
Who now, by faith alone, behold its stem
Crowned with the flowers of Freedom's diadem.
'Meanwhile, to feel and suffer, work and wait,
Remains for us. The wrong indeed is great,
But love and patience conquer soon or late.'
'Well hast thou said, my Anna!' Tenderer
Than youth's caress upon the head of her
Pastorius laid his hand. 'Shall we demur
'Because the vision tarrieth? In an hour
We dream not of, the slow-grown bud may flower,
And what was sown in weakness rise in power!'
Then through the vine-draped door whose legend read,
'Procul este profani!' Anna led
To where their child upon his little bed
Looked up and smiled. 'Dear heart,' she said, 'if we
Must bearers of a heavy burden be,
Our boy, God willing, yet the day shall see
'When from the gallery to the farthest seat,
Slave and slave-owner shall no longer meet,
But all sit equal at the Master's feet.'
On the stone hearth the blazing walnut block
Set the low walls a-glimmer, showed the cock
Rebuking Peter on the Van Wyck clock,
Shone on old tomes of law and physic, side
By side with Fox and Belimen, played at hide
And seek with Anna, midst her household pride
Of flaxen webs, and on the table, bare
Of costly cloth or silver cup, but where,
Tasting the fat shads of the Delaware,
The courtly Penn had praised the goodwife's cheer,
And quoted Horace o'er her home brewed beer,
Till even grave Pastorius smiled to hear.
In such a home, beside the Schuylkill's wave,
He dwelt in peace with God and man, and gave
Food to the poor and shelter to the slave.
For all too soon the New World's scandal shamed
The righteous code by Penn and Sidney framed,
And men withheld the human rights they claimed.
And slowly wealth and station sanction lent,
And hardened avarice, on its gains intent,
Stifled the inward whisper of dissent.
Yet all the while the burden rested sore
On tender hearts. At last Pastorius bore
Their warning message to the Church's door
In God's name; and the leaven of the word
Wrought ever after in the souls who heard,
And a dead conscience in its grave-clothes stirred
To troubled life, and urged the vain excuse
Of Hebrew custom, patriarchal use,
Good in itself if evil in abuse.
Gravely Pastorius listened, not the less
Discerning through the decent fig-leaf dress
Of the poor plea its shame of selfishness.
One Scripture rule, at least, was unforgot;
He hid the outcast, and betrayed him not;
And, when his prey the human hunter sought,
He scrupled not, while Anna's wise delay
And proffered cheer prolonged the master's stay,
To speed the black guest safely on his way.
Yet, who shall guess his bitter grief who lends
His life to some great cause, and finds his friends
Shame or betray it for their private ends?
How felt the Master when his chosen strove
In childish folly for their seats above;
And that fond mother, blinded by her love,
Besought him that her sons, beside his throne,
Might sit on either hand? Amidst his own
A stranger oft, companionless and lone,
God's priest and prophet stands. The martyr's pain
Is not alone from scourge and cell and chain;
Sharper the pang when, shouting in his train,
His weak disciples by their lives deny
The loud hosannas of their daily cry,
And make their echo of his truth a lie.
His forest home no hermit's cell he found,
Guests, motley-minded, drew his hearth around,
And held armed truce upon its neutral ground.
There Indian chiefs with battle-bows unstrung,
Strong, hero-limbed, like those whom Homer sung,
Pastorius fancied, when the world was young,
Came with their tawny women, lithe and tall,
Like bronzes in his friend Von Rodeck's hall,
Comely, if black, and not unpleasing all.
There hungry folk in homespun drab and gray
Drew round his board on Monthly Meeting day,
Genial, half merry in their friendly way.
Or, haply, pilgrims from the Fatherland,
Weak, timid, homesick, slow to understand
The New World's promise, sought his helping hand.
Or painful Kelpius from his hermit den
By Wissahickon, maddest of good men,
Dreamed o'er the Chiliast dreams of Petersen.
Deep in the woods, where the small river slid
Snake-like in shade, the Helmstadt Mystic hid,
Weird as a wizard, over arts forbid,
Reading the books of Daniel and of John,
And Behmen's Morning-Redness, through the Stone
Of Wisdom, vouchsafed to his eyes alone,
Whereby he read what man ne'er read before,
And saw the visions man shall see no more,
Till the great angel, striding sea and shore,
Shall bid all flesh await, on land or ships,
The warning trump of the Apocalypse,
Shattering the heavens before the dread eclipse.
Or meek-eyed Mennonist his bearded chin
Leaned o'er the gate; or Ranter, pure within,
Aired his perfection in a world of sin.
Or, talking of old home scenes, Op der Graaf
Teased the low back-log with his shodden staff,
Till the red embers broke into a laugh
And dance of flame, as if they fain would cheer
The rugged face, half tender, half austere,
Touched with the pathos of a homesick tear!
Or Sluyter, saintly familist, whose word
As law the Brethren of the Manor heard,
Announced the speedy terrors of the Lord,
And turned, like Lot at Sodom, from his race,
Above a wrecked world with complacent face
Riding secure upon his plank of grace!
Haply, from Finland's birchen groves exiled,
Manly in thought, in simple ways a child,
His white hair floating round his visage mild,
The Swedish pastor sought the Quaker's door,
Pleased from his neighbor's lips to hear once more
His long-disused and half-forgotten lore.
For both could baffle Babel's lingual curse,
And speak in Bion's Doric, and rehearse
Cleanthes' hymn or Virgil's sounding verse.
And oft Pastorius and the meek old man
Argued as Quaker and as Lutheran,
Ending in Christian love, as they began.
With lettered Lloyd on pleasant morns he strayed
Where Sommerhausen over vales of shade
Looked miles away, by every flower delayed,
Or song of bird, happy and free with one
Who loved, like him, to let his memory run
Over old fields of learning, and to sun
Himself in Plato's wise philosophies,
And dream with Philo over mysteries
Whereof the dreamer never finds the keys;
To touch all themes of thought, nor weakly stop
For doubt of truth, but let the buckets drop
Deep down and bring the hidden waters up
For there was freedom in that wakening time
Of tender souls; to differ was not crime;
The varying bells made up the perfect chime.
On lips unlike was laid the altar's coal,
The white, clear light, tradition-colored, stole
Through the stained oriel of each human soul.
Gathered from many sects, the Quaker brought
His old beliefs, adjusting to the thought
That moved his soul the creed his fathers taught.
One faith alone, so broad that all mankind
Within themselves its secret witness find,
The soul's communion with the Eternal Mind,
The Spirit's law, the Inward Rule and Guide,
Scholar and peasant, lord and serf, allied,
The polished Penn and Cromwell's Ironside.
As still in Hemskerck's Quaker Meeting, face
By face in Flemish detail, we may trace
How loose-mouthed boor and fine ancestral grace
Sat in close contrast,-the clipt-headed churl,
Broad market-dame, and simple serving-girl
By skirt of silk and periwig in curl
For soul touched soul; the spiritual treasure-trove
Made all men equal, none could rise above
Nor sink below that level of God's love.
So, with his rustic neighbors sitting down,
The homespun frock beside the scholar's gown,
Pastorius to the manners of the town
Added the freedom of the woods, and sought
The bookless wisdom by experience taught,
And learned to love his new-found home, while not
Forgetful of the old; the seasons went
Their rounds, and somewhat to his spirit lent
Of their own calm and measureless content.
Glad even to tears, he heard the robin sing
His song of welcome to the Western spring,
And bluebird borrowing from the sky his wing.
And when the miracle of autumn came,
And all the woods with many-colored flame
Of splendor, making summer's greenness tame,
Burned, unconsumed, a voice without a sound
Spake to him from each kindled bush around,
And made the strange, new landscape holy ground
And when the bitter north-wind, keen and swift,
Swept the white street and piled the dooryard drift,
He exercised, as Friends might say, his gift
Of verse, Dutch, English, Latin, like the hash
Of corn and beans in Indian succotash;
Dull, doubtless, but with here and there a flash
Of wit and fine conceit,-the good man's play
Of quiet fancies, meet to while away
The slow hours measuring off an idle day.
At evening, while his wife put on her look
Of love's endurance, from its niche he took
The written pages of his ponderous book.
And read, in half the languages of man,
His 'Rusca Apium,' which with bees began,
And through the gamut of creation ran.
Or, now and then, the missive of some friend
In gray Altorf or storied Nurnberg penned
Dropped in upon him like a guest to spend
The night beneath his roof-tree. Mystical
The fair Von Merlau spake as waters fall
And voices sound in dreams, and yet withal
Human and sweet, as if each far, low tone,
Over the roses of her gardens blown
Brought the warm sense of beauty all her own.
Wise Spener questioned what his friend could trace
Of spiritual influx or of saving grace
In the wild natures of the Indian race.
And learned Schurmberg, fain, at times, to look
From Talmud, Koran, Veds, and Pentateuch,
Sought out his pupil in his far-off nook,
To query with him of climatic change,
Of bird, beast, reptile, in his forest range,
Of flowers and fruits and simples new and strange.
And thus the Old and New World reached their hands
Across the water, and the friendly lands
Talked with each other from their severed strands.
Pastorius answered all: while seed and root
Sent from his new home grew to flower and fruit
Along the Rhine and at the Spessart's foot;
And, in return, the flowers his boyhood knew
Smiled at his door, the same in form and hue,
And on his vines the Rhenish clusters grew.
No idler he; whoever else might shirk,
He set his hand to every honest work,-
Farmer and teacher, court and meeting clerk.
Still on the town seal his device is found,
Grapes, flax, and thread-spool on a trefoil ground,
With 'Vinum, Linum et Textrinum' wound.
One house sufficed for gospel and for law,
Where Paul and Grotius, Scripture text and saw,
Assured the good, and held the rest in awe.
Whatever legal maze he wandered through,
He kept the Sermon on the Mount in view,
And justice always into mercy grew.
No whipping-post he needed, stocks, nor jail,
Nor ducking-stool; the orchard-thief grew pale
At his rebuke, the vixen ceased to rail,
The usurer's grasp released the forfeit land;
The slanderer faltered at the witness-stand,
And all men took his counsel for command.
Was it caressing air, the brooding love
Of tenderer skies than German land knew of,
Green calm below, blue quietness above,
Still flow of water, deep repose of wood
That, with a sense of loving Fatherhood
And childlike trust in the Eternal Good,
Softened all hearts, and dulled the edge of hate,
Hushed strife, and taught impatient zeal to wait
The slow assurance of the better state?
Who knows what goadings in their sterner way
O'er jagged ice, relieved by granite gray,
Blew round the men of Massachusetts Bay?
What hate of heresy the east-wind woke?
What hints of pitiless power and terror spoke
In waves that on their iron coast-line broke?
Be it as it may: within the Land of Penn
The sectary yielded to the citizen,
And peaceful dwelt the many-creeded men.
Peace brooded over all. No trumpet stung
The air to madness, and no steeple flung
Alarums down from bells at midnight rung.
The land slept well. The Indian from his face
Washed all his war-paint off, and in the place
Of battle-marches sped the peaceful chase,
Or wrought for wages at the white man's side,-
Giving to kindness what his native pride
And lazy freedom to all else denied.
And well the curious scholar loved the old
Traditions that his swarthy neighbors told
By wigwam-fires when nights were growing cold,
Discerned the fact round which their fancy drew
Its dreams, and held their childish faith more true
To God and man than half the creeds he knew.
The desert blossomed round him; wheat-fields rolled
Beneath the warm wind waves of green and gold;
The planted ear returned its hundred-fold.
Great clusters ripened in a warmer sun
Than that which by the Rhine stream shines upon
The purpling hillsides with low vines o'errun.
About each rustic porch the humming-bird
Tried with light bill, that scarce a petal stirred,
The Old World flowers to virgin soil transferred;
And the first-fruits of pear and apple, bending
The young boughs down, their gold and russet blending,
Made glad his heart, familiar odors lending
To the fresh fragrance of the birch and pine,
Life-everlasting, bay, and eglantine,
And all the subtle scents the woods combine.
Fair First-Day mornings, steeped in summer calm,
Warm, tender, restful, sweet with woodland balm,
Came to him, like some mother-hallowed psalm
To the tired grinder at the noisy wheel
Of labor, winding off from memory's reel
A golden thread of music. With no peal
Of bells to call them to the house of praise,
The scattered settlers through green forest-ways
Walked meeting-ward. In reverent amaze
The Indian trapper saw them, from the dim
Shade of the alders on the rivulet's rim,
Seek the Great Spirit's house to talk with Him.
There, through the gathered stillness multiplied
And made intense by sympathy, outside
The sparrows sang, and the gold-robin cried,
A-swing upon his elm. A faint perfume
Breathed through the open windows of the room
From locust-trees, heavy with clustered bloom.
Thither, perchance, sore-tried confessors came,
Whose fervor jail nor pillory could tame,
Proud of the cropped ears meant to be their shame,
Men who had eaten slavery's bitter bread
In Indian isles; pale women who had bled
Under the hangman's lash, and bravely said
God's message through their prison's iron bars;
And gray old soldier-converts, seamed with scars
From every stricken field of England's wars.
Lowly before the Unseen Presence knelt
Each waiting heart, till haply some one felt
On his moved lips the seal of silence melt.
Or, without spoken words, low breathings stole
Of a diviner life from soul to soul,
Baptizing in one tender thought the whole.
When shaken hands announced the meeting o'er,
The friendly group still lingered at the door,
Greeting, inquiring, sharing all the store
Of weekly tidings. Meanwhile youth and maid
Down the green vistas of the woodland strayed,
Whispered and smiled and oft their feet delayed.
Did the boy's whistle answer back the thrushes?
Did light girl laughter ripple through the bushes,
As brooks make merry over roots and rushes?
Unvexed the sweet air seemed. Without a wound
The ear of silence heard, and every sound
Its place in nature's fine accordance found.
And solemn meeting, summer sky and wood,
Old kindly faces, youth and maidenhood
Seemed, like God's new creation, very good!
And, greeting all with quiet smile and word,
Pastorius went his way. The unscared bird
Sang at his side; scarcely the squirrel stirred
At his hushed footstep on the mossy sod;
And, wheresoe'er the good man looked or trod,
He felt the peace of nature and of God.
His social life wore no ascetic form,
He loved all beauty, without fear of harm,
And in his veins his Teuton blood ran warm.
Strict to himself, of other men no spy,
He made his own no circuit-judge to try
The freer conscience of his neighbors by.
With love rebuking, by his life alone,
Gracious and sweet, the better way was shown,
The joy of one, who, seeking not his own,
And faithful to all scruples, finds at last
The thorns and shards of duty overpast,
And daily life, beyond his hope's forecast,
Pleasant and beautiful with sight and sound,
And flowers upspringing in its narrow round,
And all his days with quiet gladness crowned.
He sang not; but, if sometimes tempted strong,
He hummed what seemed like Altorf's Burschen-song;
His good wife smiled, and did not count it wrong.
For well he loved his boyhood's brother band;
His Memory, while he trod the New World's strand,
A double-ganger walked the Fatherland
If, when on frosty Christmas eves the light
Shone on his quiet hearth, he missed the sight
Of Yule-log, Tree, and Christ-child all in white;
And closed his eyes, and listened to the sweet
Old wait-songs sounding down his native street,
And watched again the dancers' mingling feet;
Yet not the less, when once the vision passed,
He held the plain and sober maxims fast
Of the dear Friends with whom his lot was cast.
Still all attuned to nature's melodies,
He loved the bird's song in his dooryard trees,
And the low hum of home-returning bees;
The blossomed flax, the tulip-trees in bloom
Down the long street, the beauty and perfume
Of apple-boughs, the mingling light and gloom
Of Sommerhausen's woodlands, woven through
With sun-threads; and the music the wind drew,
Mournful and sweet, from leaves it overblew.
And evermore, beneath this outward sense,
And through the common sequence of events,
He felt the guiding hand of Providence
Reach out of space. A Voice spake in his ear,
And to all other voices far and near
Died at that whisper, full of meanings clear.
The Light of Life shone round him; one by one
The wandering lights, that all-misleading run,
Went out like candles paling in the sun.
That Light he followed, step by step, where'er
It led, as in the vision of the seer
The wheels moved as the spirit in the clear
And terrible crystal moved, with all their eyes
Watching the living splendor sink or rise,
Its will their will, knowing no otherwise.
Within himself he found the law of right,
He walked by faith and not the letter's sight,
And read his Bible by the Inward Light.
And if sometimes the slaves of form and rule,
Frozen in their creeds like fish in winter's pool,
Tried the large tolerance of his liberal school,
His door was free to men of every name,
He welcomed all the seeking souls who came,
And no man's faith he made a cause of blame.
But best he loved in leisure hours to see
His own dear Friends sit by him knee to knee,
In social converse, genial, frank, and free.
There sometimes silence (it were hard to tell
Who owned it first) upon the circle fell,
Hushed Anna's busy wheel, and laid its spell
On the black boy who grimaced by the hearth,
To solemnize his shining face of mirth;
Only the old clock ticked amidst the dearth
Of sound; nor eye was raised nor hand was stirred
In that soul-sabbath, till at last some word
Of tender counsel or low prayer was heard.
Then guests, who lingered but farewell to say
And take love's message, went their homeward way;
So passed in peace the guileless Quaker's day.
His was the Christian's unsung Age of Gold,
A truer idyl than the bards have told
Of Arno's banks or Arcady of old.
Where still the Friends their place of burial keep,
And century-rooted mosses o'er it creep,
The Nurnberg scholar and his helpmeet sleep.
And Anna's aloe? If it flowered at last
In Bartram's garden, did John Woolman cast
A glance upon it as he meekly passed?
And did a secret sympathy possess
That tender soul, and for the slave's redress
Lend hope, strength, patience? It were vain to guess.
Nay, were the plant itself but mythical,
Set in the fresco of tradition's wall
Like Jotham's bramble, mattereth not at all.
Enough to know that, through the winter's frost
And summer's heat, no seed of truth is lost,
And every duty pays at last its cost.
For, ere Pastorius left the sun and air,
God sent the answer to his life-long prayer;
The child was born beside the Delaware,
Who, in the power a holy purpose lends,
Guided his people unto nobler ends,
And left them worthier of the name of Friends.
And to! the fulness of the time has come,
And over all the exile's Western home,
From sea to sea the flowers of freedom bloom!
And joy-bells ring, and silver trumpets blow;
But not for thee, Pastorius! Even so
The world forgets, but the wise angels know.
- quotes about slavery
- quotes about students
- quotes about elders
- quotes about language
- quotes about gr
- quotes about Bible
- quotes about gardens
- quotes about wisdom
- quotes about purple
More Than This
I woke up and the world outside was dark
All so quiet before the dawn
Opened up the door and walked outside
The ground was cold
I walked until I couldnt walk anymore
To a place Id never been
There was something stirring in the air
In front of me, I could see
More than this
More than this
So much more than this
There is something else there
When all that you had has all gone
And more than this
Feeling so connected
And Im all there
Right next to you
It started when I saw the ship go down
I saw them struggle in the sea
And suddenly the picture disappears
In front of me
Now were busy making all our busy plans
On foundations built to last
But nothing fades as fast as the future
And nothing clings like the past, until we can see
More than this
More than this
So much more than this
There is something out there
More than this
Its coming through
And more than this
I stand alone and so connected
And Im all there
Right next to you
Oh then its alright
When with every day another bit falls away
Oh but its still alright, alright, alright
And like words together we can make some sense
Much more than this
Way beyond imagination
Much more than this
Beyond the stars
With my head so full
So full of fractured pictures
And Im all there
Right next to you
So much more than this
There is something else there
When all that you had has all gone
And more than this
Feeling so connected
And Im all there right next to you
More than this
More than this
More than this
Much More Than You
Much more than greeny looks the sea in your eye,
Much more than salty are your eyes in its waves,
Much more than greeny are leaves floating on high
In green waves, green eyes searched the beauty of aves.
Much more than you means love to my eyes of keen,
Much more than love means the green of your sad tear,
Much more than sadness means the beauty of green,
Much more than green means your life for me, my dear.
Much More Than Love
Much more than green looks the sea in your twinkling eye,
Much more than salty are your eyes in the sea transgress,
Much more than greeny are leaves floating on waves to die,
In greeny waves, greeny eyes searched the beauty of loneliness.
Much more than you means your love to my eyes of keen,
Much more than love means the green of your sad tear,
Much more than sadness means the beauty of your green,
Much more than green means your life for me, my dear.
Dedicated to Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Hyper Chondriac Music
Your golden skies feed my role
In this forgotten space race under my control
Who's returned from the dead?
You wanted more than I was worth
You think I was scared yeah
And you needed proof
Who really cares anymore?
I don't love you and I never did
I don't love you and I never will
The First Approach Of The Sweet Spring
The first approach of the sweet spring
Returning here once more,--
The memory of the love that holds
In my fond heart such power,--
The thrush again his song assaying,--
The little rills o'er pebbles playing,
And sparkling as they fall,--
The memory recall
Of her on whom my heart's desire
Is, shall be, fixed till I expire.
With every season fresh and new
That love is more inspiring:
Her eyes, her face, all bright with joy,--
Her coming, her retiring,
Her faithful words, her winning ways,--
That sweet look, kindling up the blaze,
Of love, so gently still,
To wound, but not to kill,--
So that when most I weep and sigh,
So much the higher springs my joy.
Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair In The Moonlight
You scream, waking from a nightmare.
When I sleepwalk
into your room, and pick you up,
and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
as if clinging could save us. I think
I will never die, I think I exude
to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
my broken arms heal themselves around you.
I have heard you tell
the sun, don't go down, I have stood by
as you told the flower, don't grow old,
don't die. Little Maud,
I would blow the flame out of your silver cup,
I would suck the rot from your fingernail,
I would brush your sprouting hair of the dying light,
I would scrape the rust off your ivory bones,
I would help death escape through the little ribs of your body,
I would alchemize the ashes of your cradle back into wood,
I would let nothing of you go, ever,
feel the clothes fall asleep in their hands,
and hens scratch their spell across hatchet blades,
and rats walk away from the cultures of the plague,
and iron twists weapons toward the true north,
and grease refuses to slide in the machinery of progress,
and men feel as free on earth as fleas on the bodies of men,
and lovers no longer whisper to the presence beside them in the
dark, O corpse-to-be ...
And yet perhaps this is the reason you cry,
this the nightmare you wake screaming from:
in the pre-trembling of a house that falls.
In a restaurant once, everyone
quietly eating, you clambered up
on my lap: to all
the mouthfuls rising toward
all the mouths, at the top of your voice
your one word, caca! caca! caca!
and each spoonful
stopped, a moment, in midair, in its withering
you cling because
I, like you, only sooner
than you, will go down
the path of vanished alphabets,
to the other side of the darkness,
like the shoes left behind,
like the adjectives in the halting speech
of old men,
which once could call up the lost nouns.
And you yourself,
some impossible Tuesday
in the year Two Thousand and Nine, will walk out
among the black stones
of the field, in the rain,
and the stones saying
over their one word, ci-gît, ci-gît, ci-gît,
and the raindrops
hitting you on the fontanel
over and over, and you standing there
unable to let them in.
If one day it happens
you find yourself with someone you love
in a café at one end
of the Pont Mirabeau, at the zinc bar
where white wine stands in upward opening glasses,
and if you commit then, as we did, the error
one day all this will only be memory,
as you stand
at this end of the bridge which arcs,
from love, you think, into enduring love,
learn to reach deeper
into the sorrows
to come to touch
the almost imaginary bones
under the face, to hear under the laughter
the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
which tells you, here,
here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones.
The still undanced cadence of vanishing.
In the light the moon
sends back, I can see in your eyes
the hand that waved once
in my father's eyes, a tiny kite
wobbling far up in the twilight of his last look:
and the angel
of all mortal things lets go the string.
Back you go, into your crib.
The last blackbird lights up his gold wings: farewell.
Your eyes close inside your head,
in sleep. Already
in your dreams the hours begin to sing.
Little sleep's-head sprouting hair in the moonlight,
when I come back
we will go out together,
we will walk out together among
the ten thousand things,
each scratched too late with such knowledge, the wages
of dying is love.
The Hand In The Dark
How calm the spangled city spread below!
How cool the night! How fair the starry skies!
How sweet the dewy breezes! But I know
What, under all their seeming beauty, lies.
That million-fibred heart, alive, is wrung
With every grief that human creatures fear.
Could its dumb anguish find a fitting tongue
The very dead within their graves would hear.
It calls me from my rest, that voiceless wail
Of Lazarus at the gate — my kith and kin
Whose cruise and cake, and staff and beacon, fail —
The famished crowd, that cannot enter in.
How can I take my ease amid this pain,
These pangs, these tears, these crimes, that never cease?
While homeless children cry for bread in vain
How can I eat? How can I sleep in peace?
Poor comrades of the fight, that have no place!
Brothers and sisters, born to want and wrong.
Born weak and maimed, to run a hopeless race,
Lost at the start, against the hale and strong!
Poor scapegoats of the wilderness, that fast
For those who feast! And, ah, poor feasters too!
They also thirst and hunger at the last.
And this is Life — and all the Race can do.
Vain, vain the listening ear, the questioning gaze.
Shoreless, unplumbed, the ether-ocean lies
Above these roofs, beyond the smoke and haze —
The Infinite — alive with watching eyes.
To see our orb of sorrow whirling there —
The tiny swarm of struggling things, that curse
Their subject province, and yet calmly dare
To claim the kingship of the Universe.
Dread cloud of witnesses to earth's disgrace!
Earth is my trust — I am afraid to look
Those still and stern accusers in the face,
And haste to hide in my familiar nook.
My little nook — where is it? Have I none?
I grow confused betwixt the sea and shore.
I had some lamps to guide me — one by one
They flashed and failed, and now I have no more.
Where am I? Oh, where am I? I can feel —
To feel my torment — but I cannot see,
I cannot hear. My brain begins to reel,
My heart to faint. Almighty, speak to me!
Help me! Or, in Thy pity, take me hence
While feeling heart and thinking brain are whole,
Or give me any rag of carnal sense,
So it suffice to wrap my naked soul!
* * * * *
No word. No sign. Yet something in the air
Soothes, like a cool hand on a fevered brow.
Replenished, from the ashes of despair
I rise renewed. Belovèd, where art thou?
She sleeps. She stirs. She hears the lightest fall
Of foot familiar with her chamber floor.
Her spirit answers to my spirit's call:
Come home! Come home! And I am saved once more.
Bringing no leaf of hope, alone and late,
Spent and wing-weary, famished for a crumb,
The wandering dove heads back to nest and mate.
My Love and Comforter, I come! I come!
Here is the welcome threshold of my ark,
My island-home amid the trackless flood.
Her hand shuts out the Silence and the Dark;
Her pulse thrills life into my fainting blood.
She draws me down upon that couch of bliss,
Her faithful arms, her tender mother-breast;
I clasp her close, those sweetest lips I kiss,
And, at long last, I have my hour of rest.
* * * * *
Thou, too, my love, hast wandered far and wide,
And hast come home, where all thy wanderings cease.
The door is shut. Thy mate is at thy side.
Here is thy long-sought pillow. Sleep in peace.
Heed not the patter of the weeping eaves,
The groan of branches bending to the rain,
The sad tap-tapping of dead autumn leaves,
Like ghostly fingers, on the window-pane.
The wind-borne echoings, from east and west,
Of weeping woe and wailing agony;
All night they cry round thy beleaguered nest,
But fear them not, for thou art safe with me.
Let the sad world spin on, a trail of shame
Amongst the myriad worlds. Whate'er befalls,
The great God knows that we are not to blame.
Our world is here, within our chamber walls.
In this asylum, secret and apart,
Whereof we keep the one and only key,
Rest thee, poor tired heart, upon my heart,
As all my weary being rests in thee.
Good-night! Good-night! Sleep deep and well, my bride.
The fight goes on, but we have won release.
Our wounds are healed, our tears are shed and dried.
Let the storms rage — they cannot break our peace.
* * * * *
Peace — is it peace? What is that form of fear
That looms ahead? What distillation sours
The joy of life when thou, alive, art near,
And nought seems wanting to the perfect hours?
What chills my passion when I love thee most,
And dims my eyes, and veils thy face, and slips,
An unseen shadow, like a creeping ghost,
Betwixt my hungering kisses and thy lips?
What, amid richest plenty, starves me thus?
What is it steals my soul's content, and thine —
That sits a guest at marriage-feast with us,
And mixes poison with the food and wine?
* * * * *
A vision comes. A graveyard, all alone,
A small green mound, a withered funeral wreath;
Love's last drear symbol of a graven stone,
And Life and I but worthless dust beneath.
There weep the dews, and winds of winter blow;
The soft breeze rustles in the bending grass;
The cold rain falls there, and the drifting snow.
But tears fall not, nor lover's footsteps pass.
Bees hum all day amid the young spring leaves;
The rooks call loudly from the elm-tree bough;
The sparrows twitter in the old church eaves;
But no voice cries for me, or calls me, now.
Bright beams of morning compass me about;
The stars shine o'er me, and the pale moonlight;
But I, that lit and warmed thee, am gone out
Like a burnt candle, in eternal night.
Earth to the earth upon this churchyard slope,
Ashes to ashes, nothing to the nought;
No tryst between us, and no star of hope
To light the path so passionately sought.
And still the sands between thy fingers run —
Desires, delights, ambitions, days and years,
Rich hours of life for thee, though mine are done —
Too full for vain regrets, too brief for tears.
I have lost all, but thou dost hold and save,
Adding new treasure to thy rifled store;
While weeds grow long on the deserted grave
Where sleeps thy mate who may be thine no more.
* * * * *
This is the fate I fear, the ghost I see,
The dream I dream at night, the thought I dread —
That thus 't'will be someday with thee and me,
Thou fain to live while I am doubly dead.
Thou still defiant of our common foe,
I vanquished quite — the once-resplendent crown
Of all thy joys become a dragging woe,
To be lopped off lest it should weigh thee down.
I, once thy sap of life, a wasteful drain
On thy green vigour, like a rotten branch;
I, once thy health, a paralysing pain,
A bleeding wound, that thou must haste to stanch.
Because the dead are dead — the past is gone;
Because dear life is sweet and time is brief,
And some must fall, and some must still press on,
Nor waste scant strength in unavailing grief.
* * * * *
I blame thee not. I know what must be must.
Nor shall I suffer when apart from thee.
I shall not care, when I am mouldering dust,
That once quick love is in the grave with me.
Cast me away — thou knowest I shall not fret;
Take thy due joys — I shall not bear the cost.
I, that am thus forgotten, shall forget,
Nor shed one tear for all that I have lost.
Not then the sting of death, the day of dole,
When corpse of love lies under funeral pall;
'Tis now I wear the sackcloth on my soul,
Bereaved and lonely, while possessed of all.
* * * * *
If thou wert dead, belovèd, should I turn
Deaf heart to memory when of thee she spake?
Should I, when this pure fire had ceased to burn,
Seek other hearths for sordid comfort's sake?
No, no! Yet I am mortal, I am weak,
And any fire is warm in wintry cold.
Alas! alas! The fateful years will wreak
Their own stern will on ours, when all is told.
Tell us, 0 Thou that canst behold us grope,
Whole-souled, incessant, through these realms unknown
For but one touch of a substantial hope,
How can we keep our dear selves for our own?
Whence did we come? And is it there we go?
We look behind — night hides our place of birth;
The blank ahead hides Heaven, for aught we know;
But what is Heaven to us, whose home is Earth?
Flesh may be gross — the husk that holds the seed;
Jewels of gold worth more than common bread;
But we are flesh, and common bread our need.
Angels in glory, we should still be dead.
What is the infinite Universe to him
Who has no home? Eternal Future seems,
Like the eternal Past, unreal and dim,
The airy region of a poet's dreams.
What spirit-essence, howsoe'er divine,
Can our lost selves restore from dusty grave?
Her mortal mind and body — hers and mine —
Make all the joys I know, and all I crave.
No fair romance of transcendental bliss,
No tale of palms and crowns, my dull heart stirs,
That only hungers for a woman's kiss,
And asks no life that is not one with hers.
No such Hereafter do I ask to see;
No such pale hope my sinking soul exalts;
I want no sexless angel — only thee,
My human love, with all thy human faults.
Just as thou art — not beautiful or wise,
But prone to simple sins and sad unrest —
With thy warm lips and arms, and thy sweet eyes,
Sweeter for tears they weep upon my breast.
Just as thou art, with thy soft household ways,
Thy noble failures and thy poor success,
Thy love that fits me for my strenuous days;
A mortal woman — neither more nor less.
* * * * *
And thou must pass, with these too rapid hours,
To that great deep wherefrom we both were brought;
Thy sentient flesh must turn to grass and flowers,
To birds and beasts, to dust — to air — to nought.
I know the parable. The great oaks grow
To their vast stature from an acorn grain,
And mightiest man was once an embryo.
But how can nothing bring thee forth again?
And is the new oak tree the old oak tree?
And is the son the father? And would'st thou,
If thou could'st rise from nothing, be to me
The precious self that satisfies me now?
Words! Words! A tale — a fairy legend, drawn
From lore of babes, that men must cast away;
Faith of the primal dreamer and the dawn,
Eluding vision in the light of day.
Here in our little island-home we bide
Our few brief years — the years that we possess.
Beyond, the Infinite on every side
Holds what no man may know, though all may guess.
We may remain — a lasting miracle. Ay, well we may. Our island-home is rife
With marvels greater than the tongue can tell,
And all things teem and travail with new life.
We may awake, ineffably alive,
Divinely perfect, in some higher sphere:
But still not we shall wake — the we who strive,
Who love and learn, who joy and suffer, here.
What then our hope, if any hope there be?
A something vague and formless and unknown,
That some strange beings, yet unborn, shall see.
Alas! And all we cry for is our own.
Only to be ourselves — not cast abroad
In space and time, for either bliss or woe;
Only to keep the treasures we have stored.
And they must pass away. And we must go.
How can we bear it? How can we submit?
Like a wild beast imprisoned, in our pain
We rave and rage for some way out of it,
And bruise and bleed against the bars in vain.
All, all is dark. Beyond our birth and death —
At either end — the same unyielding door.
We live, we love, while we draw human breath;
And then we die. And then? We know no more.
* * * * *
Ah, but look up, above these roofs and spires,
To where the stars shine down like watching eyes.
Conceive the tumult of those spinning fires!
Behold the vastness of those midnight skies!
And count the value of this speck of earth
Amid the countless Whole; and measure Man —
That on this speck but yesterday had birth,
And claims all God — with the prodigious plan.
Man, but a phase of planetary change,
That once was not, and will give place anon
To other forms, more beautiful and strange —
To pass in turn — till Earth herself is gone.
Earth, that is next to nothing in the sum
Of things created — a brief mote in space,
With all her aeons past and yet to come.
How we miscalculate our size — our place!
Yet are we men — details of the design,
Set to our course, like circling sun and star;
Mortal, infinitesimal, yet divine
Of that divine which made us what we are.
And yet this world, this microscopic ball,
This cast-up grain of sand upon the shore,
This trivial shred and atom of the ALL,
Is still our Trust, that we must answer for.
A lighthouse in the Infinite, with lamps
That we must trim and feed until we die;
A lonely outpost of the unseen camps
That we must keep, although we know not why.
The workman and the soldier have the word;
Theirs to obey, and not to question. Thus
We stand to orders that we never heard,
Bound to our little part. Enough for us.
The warm sap runs; the tender leaves unfold;
Ant helps his brother ant; birds build and sing;
The patient earthworm aids the pregnant mould
To fruit in autumn and to bud in spring.
Not less am I in wisdom and in will
Than ants and worms. I am full-furnished too
My arduous errand hither to fulfil.
I know my work, and what a man can do.
Maker of all! Enough that Thou hast given
This tempered mind, this brain without a flaw.
Enough for me to strive, as I have striven,
To make them serve their purpose and Thy law.
* * * * *
But, oh, my soul's companion! Thee I seek
For daily courage to support my lot.
In thee hath Nature made me strong or weak.
My human comforter, forsake me not!
My nobler self, in whom I live my best,
Strengthen me! Raise me! Lead me to the last!
Lay thy dear head upon my throbbing breast,
Give me thy hands, that I may hold thee fast!
Come close — come closer! Let me feel thy heart,
Thy pulsing heart, thy breathing lips, on mine.
0 love, let only death and graveyard part —
If they must part — my flesh and soul from thine!
Be thou my purer eyes, my keener ears,
My finer conscience, clean and unafraid,
Till these few, swift, inexorable years
Have borne us both beyond the reach of aid.
My rod and staff upon this lonely way,
My beacon-lamp till need of light is past;
Till the great Shadow, lengthening day by day,
Spreads over all and quenches us at last.
The Pleasures of Hope
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering bills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky ?
Why do those clifts of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near ?—
'T is distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to survey
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way;
Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been,
And every form, that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.
What potent spirit guides the raptured eye
To pierce the shades of dim futurity ?
Can Wisdom lend, with all her heavenly power,
The pledge of Joy's anticipated hour ?
Ah, no! she darkly sees the fate of man—
Her dim horizon bounded to a span;
Or, if she hold an image to the view,
'T is Nature pictured too severely true.
With thee, sweet Hope! resides the heavenly light,
That pours remotest rapture on the sight:
Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play.
Waked by thy touch, I see the sister band,
On tiptoe watching, staft at thy command
And fly where'er thy mandate bids them steer,
To Pleasure's path or Glory's bright career.
Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say,
When Man and Nature mourned their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below ;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car ;
When Peace and Mercy, banished from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again ;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, lingered still behind.
Thus, while Elijah's burning wheels prepare
From Carmel's heights to sweep the fields of air,
The prophet's mantle, ere his fight began,
Dropt on the world—a sacred gift to man.
Auspicious Hope ! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe ;
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour,
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bower ;
There, as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring
What viewless forms th' Æolian organ play,
And sweep the furrowed lines of anxious thought away.
Angel of life! thy glittering wings explore
Earth's loneliest bounds, and Ocean's wildest shore
Lo! to the wintry winds the pilot yields
His bark careering o'er unfathomed fields ;
Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,
With meteor-standard to the winds unfurled,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world !
Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles,
On Behring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles:
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow,
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow ;
And waft, across the waves' tumultuous roar,
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore.
Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm,
Sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form !
Rocks, waves, and winds, the shattered bark delay ;
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
But Hope can here her moonlight vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep:
Swift as yon streamer lights the starry pole,
Her visions warm the watchman's pensive soul ;
His native hills that rise in happier climes,
The grot that heard his song of other times,
His cottage home, his bark of slender sail,
His glassy lake, and broomwood-blossomed vale,
Rush on his thought ; he sweeps before the wind,
Treads the loved shore he sighed to leave behind .
Meets at each step a friend's familiar face,
And flies at last to Helen's long embrace,
Wipes from her cheek the rapture-speaking tear !
And clasps, with many a sigh, his children dear !
While, long neglected, but at length caressed,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest,
Points to the master's eyes (where'er they roam)
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home.
Friend of the brave ! in peril's darkest hour,
Intrepid Virtue looks to thee for power ;
To thee the heart its trembling homage yields,
On stormy floods, and carnage-covered fields,
When front to front the bannered hosts combine,
Halt ere they close, and form the dreadful line.
When all is still on Death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil !
As rings his glittering tube, he lifts on high
The dauntless brow and spirit-speaking eye,
Hails in his heart the triumph yet to come,
And hears thy stormy music in the drum !
And such thy strength inspiring aid that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore—
In horrid climes; where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'T was his to mourn Misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourged by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn and search again
The famished haunts of solitary men ;
Whose race, unyielding as their native storm,
Know not a trace of Nature but the form
Yet at thy call, the hardy tar pursued,
Pale, but intrepid, sad, but unsubdued,
Pierced the deep woods, and hailing from afar
The moon's pale planet and the northern star,
Paused at each dreary cry, unheard before ;
Hyænas in the wild, and mermaids on the shore ;
Till, led by thee o'er many a cliff sublime,
He found a warmer world, a milder clime
A home to rest, a shelter to defend,
Peace and repose, a Briton and a friend !
Congenial Hope ! thy passion-kindling power,
How bright, how strong, in youth's untroubled hour!
On you proud height, with Genius hand in hand
I see thee 'light and wave thy golden wand.
"Go, child of Heaven ! (thy winged words pro-claim)
'T is thine to search the boundless fields of fame !
Lo ! Newton, priest of Nature ; shines afar ;
Scans the wide world, and numbers every star !
Wilt thou, with him, mysterious rites apply,
And watch the shrine with wonder-beaming eye !
Yes thou shalt mark, with magic art profound,
The speed of light, the circling march of sound :
With Franklin grasp the lightning's fiery wing,
Or yield the lyre of Heaven another string
“The Swedish sage admires, in yonder bowers,
His winged insects, and his rosy flowers ;
Calls from their woodland haunts the savage train,
With sounding horn, and counts them on the plain—
So once, at Heaven's command, the wanderers came
To Eden's shade, and heard their various name.
"Far from the world, in yen sequestered clime,
Slow pass the sons of Wisdom, more sublime;
Calm as the fields of Heaven, his sapient eye
The loved Athenian lifts to realms on high,
Admiring Plato, on his spotless page,
Stamps the bright dictates of the Father sage:
'Shall Nature bound to Earth's diurnal span
The fire of God ; th' immortal soul of man?'
"Turn, child of Heaven ; thy rapture-lightened eye
To Wisdom's walks, the sacred Nine are nigh:
Hark ! from bright spires that gild the Delphian height,
From streams that wander in eternal light,
Ranged on their hill, Harmonia's daughters swell
The mingling tones of horn, and harp and shell.
Deep from his vaults the Loxian murmurs flow,
And Pythia's awful organ peals below.
"Beloved of Heaven ! the smiling Muse shall shed
Her moonlight halo on thy beauteous head .
Shall swell thy heart to rapture unconfined,
And breathe a holy madness o'er thy mind.
I see thee roam her guardian power beneath,
And talk with spirits en the midnight heath ;
Enquire of guilty wanderers whence they came,
And ask each blood-stained form his earthly name
Then weave in rapid verse the deeds they tell,
And read the trembling world the tales of hell.
"When Venus, throned in clouds of rosy hue,
Flings from her golden urn the vesper dew,
And bids fond man her glimmering noon employ,
Sacred to love, and walks of tender joy ;
A milder mood the goddess shall recall,
And soft as dew thy tones of music fall ;
While Beauty's deeply-pictured smiles impart
A pang more dear than pleasure to the heart—
Warm as thy sighs shall flow the Lesbian strain,
And plead in Beauty's ear, nor plead in vain.
"Or wilt thou Orphean hymns more sacred deem,
And steep thy song in Mercy's mellow stream ;
To pensive drops the radiant eye beguile—
For Beauty's tears are lovelier than her smile ;
On Nature's throbbing anguish pour relief,
And teach impassioned souls the joy of grief?
" Yes ; to thy tongue shall seraph words be given,
And power on earth to plead the cause of Heaven:
The proud, the cold untroubled heart of stone,
That never mused on sorrow but its own,
Unlocks a generous store at thy command,
Like Horeb's rocks beneath the prophet's hand.
The living lumber of his kindred earth,
Charmed into soul, receives a second birth,
Feels thy dread power another heart afford,
Whose passion-touched harmonious strings accord
True as the circling spheres to Nature's plan ;
And man ; the brother, lives the friend of man.
"Bright as the pillar rose at Heaven' s command,
When Israel marched along the desert land,
Blazed through the night on lonely wilds afar,
And told the path—a never-setting star:
So, heavenly genius, in thy course divine,
Hope is thy star, her light is ever thine."
Propitious Power ! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy ;
When doomed to Poverty's sequestered dell,
The wedded pair of love and virtue dwell,
Unpitied by the world, unknown to fame
Their woes, their wishes, and their hearts the same—
Oh, there, prophetic Hope ! thy smile bestow,
And chase the pangs that worth should never know—
There, as the parent deals his scanty store
To friendless babes, and weeps to give no more,
Tell, that his manly race shall yet assuage
Their father's wrongs, and shield his latter age.
What through for him no Hybla sweets distil,
Nor bloomy vices wave purple on the hill ;
Tell, that when silent years have passed away,
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses gray,
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build,
And deck with fairer flowers his little field,
And call from Heaven propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath .
Tell, that while Love's spontaneous smile endears,
The days of peace, the sabbath of his years,
Health shall prolong to many a festive hour
The social pleasures of his humble bower.
Lo ! at the couch where infant beauty sleeps,
Her silent watch the mournful mother keeps ;
She, while the lovely babe unconscious lies,
Smiles on her slumbering child with pensive eyes,
And weaves a song of melancholy joy—
Sleep, image of thy father, sleep, my boy ;
No lingering hour of sorrow shall be thine ;
No sigh that rends thy father's heart and mine ;
Bright as his manly sire the son shall be
In form and soul ; but, ah ! more blest than he !
Thy fame, thy worth, thy filial love at last,
Shall soothe his aching heart for all the past—
With many a smile my solitude repay,
And chase the world's ungenerous scorn away.
"And say, when summoned from the world and thee,
I lay my head beneath the willow tree,
Wilt thou, sweet mourner ! at my stone appear,
And soothe my parted spirit lingering near ?
Oh, wilt thou come at evening hour to shed
The tears of Memory o'er my narrow bed.
With aching temples on thy hand reclined,
Muse on the last farewell I leave behind,
Breathe a deep sigh to winds that murmur low
And think on all my love, and all my woe?"
So speaks affection, ere the infant eye
Can look regard, or brighten in reply ;
But when a cherub lip hath learnt to claim
A mother's ear by that endearing name ;
Soon as the playful innocent can prove
A tear of pity, or a smile of love,
Or cons his murmuring task beneath her care;
Or lisps with holy look his evening prayer,
Or gazing, mutely pensive sits to hear
The mournful ballad warbled in his ear ;
How fondly looks admiring Hope the while,
At every artless tear, and every smile ;
How glows the joyous parent to descry
A guileless bosom, true to sympathy !
Where is the troubled heart consigned to share
Tumultuous toils, or solitary care,
Unblest by visionary thoughts that stray
To count the joys of Fortune's better day!
Lo, nature, life, and liberty relume
The dim-eyed tenant of the dungeon gloom,
A long-lost friend, or hapless child restored,
Smiles at its blazing hearth and social board ;
Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,
And virtue triumphs o'er remembered woe.
Chide not his peace, proud Reason ; nor destroy
The shadowy forms of uncreated joy,
That urge the lingering tide of life, and pour
Spontaneous slumber on his midnight hour.
Hark ! the wild maniac sings, to chide the gale
That wafts so slow her lover's distant sail .
She, sad spectatress, on the wintry shore,
Watched the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,
Knew the pale form, and, shrieking in amaze,
Clasped her cold hands ; and fixed her maddening gaze:
Poor widowed wretch ! 't was there she wept in vain,
Till Memory fled her agonizing brain;--
But Mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe,
Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow ;
Warm oil her heart the joys of Fancy beam,
And aimless Hope delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climbed the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots burn
To hail the bark that never can return ;
And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep.
And, mark the wretch, whose wanderings never knew
Thie world's regard, that soothes, though half untrue;
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
But found not pity when it erred no more.
Yon friendless man, at whose dejected eye
Th' unfeeling proud one looks—and passes by,
Condemned on Penury's barren path to roam,
Scorned by thie world, and left without a home—
Even he, at evening, should he chance to stray
Down by the hamlet's hawthorn-scented way,
Where, round the cot's romantic glade, are seen
The blossomed bean-field, and the sloping green,
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while—
Oh ! that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly form
Health in the breeze, and shelter in the storm !
There should my hand no stinted boon assign
To wretched hearts with sorrow such as mine !—
That generous wish can soothe unpitied care,
And Hope half mingles with the poor man' s prayer.
Hope ! when I mourn, with sympathizing mind ;
The wrongs of fate, the woes of human kind,
Thy blissful omens bid my spirit see
The boundless fields of rapture yet to be ;
I watch the wheels of Nature's mazy plan,
And learn the future by the past of man.
Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time,
And rule the spacious world from clime to clime ;
Thy handmaid arts shall every wild explore,
Trace every wave, and culture every shore.
On Erie's banks, where tigers steal along,
And the dread Indian chants a dismal song,
Where human fiends on midnight errands walk,
And bathe in brains the murderous tomahawk,
There shall the flocks on thymy pasture stray,
And shepherds dance at Summer's opening day ;
Each wandering genius of the lonely glen
Shall start to view the glittering haunts of men,
And silent watch, on woodland heights around,
The village curfew as it tolls profound.
In Libyan groves ; where damned rites are done,
That bathe the rocks in blood, and veil the sun,
Truth shall arrest the murderous arm profane,
Wild Obi flies—the veil is rent in twain.
Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home ;
Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade th' unfathomed darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair.—
Hark ! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks thie image back that Heaven bestowed !
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.
Oh ! sacred Truth ! thy triumph ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn ;
Tumultous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man !
Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,--
Oh ! Heaven ! he cried, my bleeding country save !—
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave ?
Yet; though destruction sweep those lovehy plains,
Rise ; fellow-men ! our country yet remains !
By that dread name, we wave the sword on high !
And swear for her to live !—with her to die !
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few ; but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow ; a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze ; but dreadful as the storm ;
Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death,—the watchword and reply ;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm ;
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm !—
In vain ; alas ! in vain, ye gallant few !
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;—
Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a cnme ;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe !
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career;--
Hope; for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked—as Kosciusxo fell !
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there ;
Tumultuous Murder shook the midnight air—
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below ;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way,
Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay !
Hark ; as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call !
Earth shook-red meteors flashed along the sky,
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry !
Oh ! righteous Heaven ; ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save ?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance ! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God ;
That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron ear
Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar ?
Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
Of blood stained Pharaoh left thcir trembling coast ;
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heaved an ocean on their march below ?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead !
Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled !
Friends of the world ! restore your swords to man,
Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van !
Yet for Sarmatia's tears of blood atone,
And make her arm puissant as your own !
Oh ! once again to Freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell—the Bruce of Bannockburn!
Yes ! thy proud lords, unpitied land ! shall see
That man bath yet a soul—and dare be free !
A little while, along thy saddening plains,
This starless night of Desolation reigns ;
Truth shall restore the light by Nature given,
And, like Prometheus, bring the fire of Heaven !
Prone to the dust Oppression shall be hurled,
Her name her nature, withered from the world !
Ye that the rising morn invidious mark,
And hate the light—because your deeds are dark
Ye that expanding truth invidious view,
And think, or wish, the song of Hope untrue ;
Perhaps your little hands presume to span
The march of Genius and the powers of man ;
Perhaps ye watch, at Pride's unhallowed shrine,
Her victims, newly slain, and thus divine :—
“ Here shall tiny triumph, Genius, cease, and here
Truth, Science, Virtue, close your short career.”
Tyrants ! in vain ye trace the wizard ring ;
In vain ye limit Mind's unwearied spring:
What ! can ye lull the winged winds asleep,
Arrest the rolling world, or chain the deep ?
No !—the wild wave contemns your sceptred hand :
It rolled not back when Canute gave command !
Man ! can thy doom no brighter soul allow ?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature's brow ?
Shall war's polluted banner ne'er be furled ?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world ?
What ! are thou triumphs, sacred Truth, belied ?
Why then hath Plato lived—or Sidney died ?
Ye fond adorers of departed fame,
Who warm at Scipio's worth, or Tully's name !
Ye that, in fancied vision, can admire
The sword of Brutus, and the Theban lyre !
Rapt in historic ardor, who adore
Each classic haunt, and well remembered shore,
Where Valor tuned, amidst her chosen throng,
The Thiracian trumpet, and the Spartan song ;
Or, wandering thence, behold the later charms
Of England's glory, and Helvetia's arms !
See Roman fire in Hampden's bosom swell,
And fate and freedom in the shaft of Tell !
Say, ye fond zealots to the worth of yore,
Hath Valor left the world—to live no more ?
No more shall Brutus bid a tyrant die,
And sternly smile with vengeance in his eye ?
Hampden no more, when suffering Freedom calls,
Encounter Fate, and triumph as he falls ?
Nor Tell disclose, through peril and alarm,
The might that slumbers in a peasant's arm ?
Yes ! in that generous cause, for ever strong,
The patriot's virtue and the poet's song,
Still, as the tide of ages rolls away,
Shall charm the world, unconscious of decay.
Yes ! there are hearts, prophetic Hope may trust,
That slumber yet in uncreated dust,
Ordained to fire th' adoring sons of earth,
With every charm of wisdom and of worth ;
Ordained to light, with intellectual day,
The mazy wheels of nature as they play,
Or, warm with Fancy's energy, to glow
And rival all but Shakspeare's name below.
And say, supernal Powers who deeply scan
Heaven's dark decrees, unfathomed yet by man,
When shall the world call down, to cleanse her shame,
That embryo spirit, yet without a name—
That friend of Nature, whose avenging hands
Shall burst the Libyan's adamantine bands ?
Who, sternly marking on his native soil
The blood,the tears, the anguish, and the toil,
Shall bid each righteous heart exult, to see
Peace to the slave, and vengeance on the free !
Yet, yet, degraded men ! th' expected day
That breaks your bitter cup, is far away ;
Trade, wealth, and fashion, ask you still to bleed,
And holy men give Scripture for the deed .
Scourged, and debased, no Briton stoops to save
A wretch, a coward ; yes, because a slave !—
Eternal Nature when thy giant hand
Had heaved the floods, and fixed the trembling land,
When life sprang startling at thy plastic call,
Endless her forms, auiol man the lord of all !
Say, was that lordly form inspired by thee,
To wear eternal chains and bow the knee ?
Was man ordained the slave of man to toil,
Yoked with the brutes, and fettered to the soil .
Weighed in a tyrant's balance witli his gold ?
No !—Nature stamped us in a heavenly mould !
She bade no wretch his thankless labor urge,
Nor, trembling, take the pittance and the scourge !
No homeless Libyan, on the stormy deep,
To call upon his country's name, and weep !—
Lo ! once in triumph, on his boundless plain,
The quivered chief of Congo loved to reign ;
With fires proportioned to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and lightning in his eye ;
Scoured with wild feet his sun illumined zone,
The spear, the lion, and the woods, his own !
Or led the combat, bold without a plan,
An artless savage, but a fearless man !
The plunderer came !—alas ! no glory smiles
For Congo's chief, on yonder Indian Isles ;
Forever fallen ! no son of Nature now,
With Freedom chartered on his manly I brow !
Faint, bleeding, bound, he weeps the night away,
And when the sea-wind wafts the dewless daiy,
Starts, with a bursting heart ; for evermore
To curse the sun that lights their guilty shore !
The shrill horn blew ; at that alarum knell
His guardian angel took a last farewell !
That funeral dirge to darkness hath resigned
The fiery grandeur of a generous mind !
Poor fettered man ! I bear thee whispering how
Unhallowed vows to Guilt, the child of Woe,
Friendless thy heart ; and canst thou harbor there
A wish but death—a passion but despair ?
The widowed Indian, when her lord expires,
Mounts the dread pile, and braves thie funeral fires.
So falls the heart at Thraldom's bitter sigh!
So Virtue dies, the spouse of Liberty !
But not to Libya's barren climes alone,
To Chili, or the wild Siberian zone,
Belong the wretched heart and haggard eye,
Degraded worth, and poor misfortune's sigh !
Ye orient realms, where Ganges' waters run !
Prolific fields ! dominions of the sun !
How long your tribes have trembled and obeyed !
How long was Timour's iron sceptre swayed,
Whouse marshalled hosts, the lions of the plain,
From Scythia's northern mountains to the main,
Raged o'er your plundered shrines and altars bare,
With blazing torch and gory scymetar,—
Stunned with the cries of death each gentle gale
And bathed in blood the verdure of the vale !
Yet could no pangs the immortal spirit tame,
When Brama's children perished for his name ;
The martyrsm led beneath avenging power,
And braved the tyrant in his torturing hour !
When Europe sought your subject realms to gain,
And stretched her giant sceptre o'er the main,
Taught her proud barks the winding way to shape,
And braved the stormy Spirit of the Cape ;
Children of Brama ! then was Mercy nigh
To wash the stain of blood's eternal dye ?
Did Peace descend, to triumph and to save,
When freeborn Britons crossed the Indian wave ?
Ah, no !—to more than Rome's ambition true,
The Nurse of Freedom gave it not to you !
She the bold route of Europe's guilt began,
And, in the march of nations, led the van !
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
And plunder piled from kingdoms not their own,
Degenerate trade ! thy minions could despise
The heart-born anguish of a thousand cries ;
Could lock, with impious hands, their store,
While famished nations died along the shore:
Could mock the groans of felhow-men, and bear
The curse of kingdoms peopled with despair ;
Could stamp disgrace on man's polluted name,
And barter, with their gold, eternal shame !
But hark ! as bowed to earth the Bramin kneels
From heavenly climes propitious thunder peals !
Of India's fate her guardian spirits tell,
Prophetic murmurs breathing on the shell
And solemn sound that awe the listening mind
Roll on the azure paths of every wind.
“ Foes of mankind ! (her guardian spirits say;)
Revolving ages bring the bitter day,
When Heaven's unerring arm shall fall on you,
And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew ;
Nine times have Brama's wheels of lightning hurled
His awful presence o'er the alarmed world ;
Nine times hath Guilt, through all his giant frame,
Convulsive trembled , as the Mighty came;
Nine times hath suffering Mercy spared in vain—
But Heaven shall burst her starry gates again !
He comes ! dread Brama shakes the sunless sky
With murmuring wrath , and thunders from on high,
Heaven's fiery horse, beneath his warrior form,
Paws the light clouds, and gallops on the storm !
Wide waves his flickering sword ; his bright arms glow
Like summer suns and light the world below !
Earth, and her trembling isles in Ocean's bed,
Are shook ; and Nature rocks beneath his tread !
"To pour redress on India's injured realm,
The oppressor to dethrone ; the proud to whelm ;
To chase destruction from her plundered shore
With arts and arms that triumphed once before,
The tenth Avatar comes ! at Heaven's command
Shall Seriswatte wave her hallowed wand !
And Camdeo bright, and Ganesa sublime ,
Shall bless with joy their own propitious clime !—
Come, Heavenly Powers ! primeval peace restore !
Love !—Mercy !—Wisdom !—rule for evermore!"
The Child Of The Islands - Summer
FOR Summer followeth with its store of joy;
That, too, can bring thee only new delight;
Its sultry hours can work thee no annoy,
Veiled from thy head shall be its glowing might.
Sweet fruits shall tempt thy thirsty appetite;
Thy languid limbs on cushioned down shall sink;
Or rest on fern-grown tufts, by streamlets bright,
Where the large-throated deer come down to drink,
And cluster gently round the cool refreshing brink.
There, as the flakèd light, with changeful ray
(From where the unseen glory hotly glows)
Through the green branches maketh pleasant way,
And on the turf a chequered radiance throws,
Thou'lt lean, and watch those kingly-antlered brows--
The lustrous beauty of their glances shy,
As following still the pace their leader goes,
(Who seems afraid to halt--ashamed to fly,)
Rapid, yet stately too, the lovely herd troop by.
This is the time of shadow and of flowers,
When roads gleam white for many a winding mile;
When gentle breezes fan the lazy hours,
And balmy rest o'erpays the time of toil;
When purple hues and shifting beams beguile
The tedious sameness of the heath-grown moor;
When the old grandsire sees with placid smile
The sunburnt children frolic round his door,
And trellised roses deck the cottage of the poor.
The time of pleasant evenings! when the moon
Riseth companioned by a single star,
And rivals e'en the brilliant summer noon
In the clear radiance which she pours afar;
No stormy winds her hour of peace to mar,
Or stir the fleecy clouds which melt away
Beneath the wheels of her illumined car;
While many a river trembles in her ray,
And silver gleam the sands round many an ocean bay!
Oh, then the heart lies hushed, afraid to beat,
In the deep absence of all other sound;
And home is sought with loth and lingering feet,
As though that shining tract of fairy ground,
Once left and lost, might never more be found!
And happy seems the life that gipsies lead,
Who make their rest where mossy banks abound,
In nooks where unplucked wild-flowers shed their seed;
A canvass-spreading tent the only roof they need!
Wild Nomades of our civilised calm land!
Whose Eastern origin is still betrayed
By the swart beauty of the slender hand,--
Eyes flashing forth from over-arching shade,--
And supple limbs, for active movement made;
How oft, beguiled by you, the maiden looks
For love her fancy ne'er before pourtrayed,
And, slighting village swains and shepherd-crooks,
Dreams of proud youths, dark spells, and wondrous magic books!
Lo! in the confines of a dungeon cell,
(Sore weary of its silence and its gloom!)
One of this race: who yet deserveth well
The close imprisonment which is her doom:
Lawless she was, ere infancy's first bloom
Left the round outline of her sunny cheek;
Vagrant, and prowling Thief;--no chance, no room
To bring that wild heart to obedience meek;
Therefore th' avenging law its punishment must wreak.
She lies, crouched up upon her pallet bed,
Her slight limbs starting in unquiet sleep;
And oft she turns her feverish, restless head,
Moans, frets, and murmurs, or begins to weep:
Anon, a calmer hour of slumber deep
Sinks on her lids; some happier thought hath come;
Some jubilee unknown she thinks to keep,
With liberated steps, that wander home
Once more with gipsy tribes a gipsy life to roam.
But no, her pale lips quiver as they moan:
What whisper they? A name, and nothing more:
But with such passionate tenderness of tone,
As shews how much those lips that name adore.
She dreams of one who shall her loss deplore
With the unbridled anguish of despair!
Whose forest-wanderings by her side are o'er,
But to whose heart one braid of her black hair
Were worth the world's best throne, and all its treasures rare.
The shadow of his eyes is on her soul--
His passionate eyes, that held her in such love!
Which love she answered, scorning all control
Of reasoning thoughts, which tranquil bosoms move.
No lengthened courtship it was his to prove,
(Gleaning capricious smiles by fits and starts)
Nor feared her simple faith lest he should rove:
Rapid and subtle as the flame that darts
To meet its fellow flame, shot passion through their hearts.
And though no holy priest that union blessed,
By gipsy laws and customs made his bride;
The love her looks avowed, in words confessed,
She shared his tent, she wandered by his side,
His glance her morning star, his will her guide.
Animal beauty and intelligence
Were her sole gifts,--his heart they satisfied,--
Himself could claim no higher, better sense,
So loved her with a love, wild, passionate, intense!
And oft, where flowers lay spangled round about,
And to the dying twilight incense shed,
They sat to watch heaven's glittering stars come out,
Her cheek down-leaning on his cherished head--
That head upon her heart's soft pillow laid
In fulness of content; and such deep spell
Of loving silence, that the word first said
With startling sweetness on their senses fell,
Like silver coins dropped down a many-fathomed well.
Look! her brows darken with a sudden frown--
She dreams of Rescue by his angry aid--
She dreams he strikes the Law's vile minions down,
And bears her swiftly to the wild-wood shade!
There, where their bower of bliss at first was made,
Safe in his sheltering arms once more she sleeps:
Ah, happy dream! She wakes; amazed, afraid,
Like a young panther from her couch she leaps,
Gazes bewildered round, then madly shrieks and weeps!
For, far above her head, the prison-bars
Mock her with narrow sections of that sky
She knew so wide, and blue, and full of stars,
When gazing upward through the branches high
Of the free forest! Is she, then, to die?
Where is he--where--the strong-armed and the brave,
Who in that vision answered her wild cry?
Where is he--where--the lover who should save
And snatch her from her fate--an ignominious grave?
Oh, pity her, all sinful though she be,
While thus the transient dreams of freedom rise,
Contrasted with her waking destiny!
Scorn is for devils; soft compassion lies
In angel-hearts, and beams from angel-eyes.
Pity her! Never more, with wild embrace,
Those flexile arms shall clasp him ere she dies;
Never the fierce sad beauty of her face
Be lit with gentler hope, or love's triumphant grace!
Lonely she perishes; like some wild bird
That strains its wing against opposing wires;
Her heart's tumultuous panting may be heard,
While to the thought of rescue she aspires;
Then, of its own deep strength, it faints and tires:
The frenzy of her mood begins to cease;
Her varying pulse with fluttering stroke expires,
And the sick weariness that is not peace
Creeps slowly through her blood, and promises release.
Alas, dark shadows, press not on her so!
Stand off, and let her hear the linnet sing!
Crumble, ye walls, that sunshine may come through
Each crevice of your ruins! Rise, clear spring,
Bubbling from hidden fountain-depths, and bring
Water, the death-thirst of her pain to slake!
Come from the forest, breeze with wandering wing!
There, dwelt a heart would perish for her sake,--
Oh, save her! No! Death stands prepared his prey to take.
But, because youth and health are very strong,
And all her veins were full of freshest life,
The deadly struggle must continue long
Ere the free heart lie still, that was so rife
With passion's mad excess. The gaoler's wife
Bends, with revolted pity on her brow,
To watch the working of that fearful strife,
Till the last quivering spark is out. And now
All's dark, all's cold, all's lost, that loved and mourned below.
She could not live in prison--could not breathe
The dull pollution of its stagnant air,--
She, that at dewy morn was wont to wreathe
The wild-briar roses, singing, in her hair,--
She died, heart-stifled, in that felon-lair!
No penitence; no anchor that held fast
To soothing meditation and meek prayer,
But a wild struggle, even to the last--
In death-distorted woe her marble features cast!
And none lament for her, save only him
Who choking back proud thoughts and words irate,
With tangled locks, and glances changed and dim,
Bows low to one who keeps the prison-gate,
Pleading to see her; asking of her fate;
Which, when he learns, with fierce and bitter cries
(Howling in savage grief for his young mate)
He curseth all, and all alike defies;--
Despair and fury blent, forth flashing from worn eyes!
With vulgar terror struck, they deem him wild--
Fit only for the chains which madmen clank.
But soon he weepeth, like a little child!
And many a day, by many a sunny bank,
Or forest-pond, close fringed with rushes dank,
He wails, his clenched hands on his eyelids prest;
Or by lone hedges, where the grass grows rank,
Stretched prone, as travellers deem, in idle rest,
Mourns for that murdered girl, the dove of his wild nest.
Little recks he, of Law and Law's constraint,
Reared in ill-governed sense of Liberty!
At times he bows his head, heart-stricken, faint;
Anon--in strange delirious agony--
He dreams her yet in living jeopardy!
His arm is raised,--his panting breast upheaves,--
Ah! what avails his youth's wild energy?
What strength can lift the withering autumn leaves,
Light as they drifting lie on her for whom he grieves!
Her SPRING had ripened into Summer fruit;
And, if that fruit was poison, whose the blame?
Not hers, whose young defying lips are mute--
Though hers the agony, though hers the shame--
But theirs, the careless crowd, who went and came,
And came and went again, and never thought
How best such wandering spirits to reclaim;
How earnest minds the base have trained and taught,
As shaping tools vile forms have into beauty wrought.
The land that lies a blank and barren waste
We drain, we till, we sow, with cheerful hope:
Plodding and patient, looking yet to taste
Reward in harvest, willingly we cope
With thorns that stay the plough on plain and slope,
And nipping frosts, and summer heats that broil.
Till all is done that lies within the scope
Of man's invention, to improve that soil,
Earnest we yet speed on, unceasing in our toil.
But for the SOUL that lieth unreclaimed,
Choked with the growth of rankest weeds and tares,
No man puts forth his hand, and none are blamed;
Though plenteous harvest might repay his cares,
Though he might 'welcome angels, unawares.'
The earth he delves, and clears from every weed,
But leaves the human heart to sinful snares;
The earth he sows with costly, precious seed,
But lets the human heart lie barren at its need.
Once I beheld (and, to my latest hour,
That sight unfaded in my heart I hold)
A bright example of the mighty power
One human mind, by earnest will controlled,
Can wield o'er other minds--the base and bold,
Steeped in low vice, and warped in conscious wrong;
Or weaker wanderers from the Shepherd's fold,
Who, sinning with averted faces, long
To turn again to God, with psalm and angel-song.
I saw one man, armed simply with God's Word,
Enter the souls of many fellow-men,
And pierce them sharply as a two-edged sword,
While conscience echoed back his words again;
Till, even as showers of fertilising rain
Sink through the bosom of the valley clod,
So their hearts opened to the wholesome pain,
And hundreds knelt upon the flowery sod,
One good man's earnest prayer the link 'twixt them and God.
That amphitheatre of awe-struck heads
Is still before me: there the Mother bows,
And o'er her slumbering infant meekly sheds
Unusual tears. There, knitting his dark brows,
The penitent blasphemer utters vows
Of holy import. There, the kindly man,
Whose one weak vice went near to bid him lose
All he most valued when his life began,
Abjures the evil course which erst he blindly ran.
There, with pale eyelids heavily weighed down
By a new sense of overcoming shame,
A youthful Magdalen, whose arm is thrown
Round a young sister who deserves no blame;
(As though like innocence she now would claim,
Absolved by a pure God!) And, near her, sighs
The Father who refused to speak her name:
Her penitence is written in her eyes--
Will he not, too, forgive, and bless her, ere she rise?
Renounce her not, grieved Father! Heaven shall make
Room for her entrance with the undefiled.
Upbraid her not, sad Mother! for the sake
Of days when she was yet thy spotless child.
Be gentle with her, oh, thou sister mild!
And thou, good brother! though by shame opprest;
For many a day, amid temptations wild,
Madly indulged, and sinfully carest,
She yearned to weep and die upon thy honest breast.
Lost Innocence!--that sunrise of clear youth,
Whose lovely light no morning can restore;
When, robed in radiance of unsullied truth,
Her soul no garment of concealment wore,
But roamed its paradise of fancies o'er
In perfect purity of thought--is past!
But He who bid the guilty 'sin no more'
A gleam of mercy round her feet shall cast,
And guide the pilgrim back to heaven's 'strait Gate' at last.
By that poor lost one, kneel a happier group,
Children of sinners, christened free from sin;
Smiling, their curled and shining heads they stoop,
Awed, but yet fearless; confident to win
Blessings of God; while early they begin
(The Samuels of the Temple) thus to wait
HIS audible voice, whose Presence they are in,
And formally, from this auspicious date,
Themselves, and their young lives, to HIM to dedicate.
While, mingling with those glad and careless brows,
And ruddy cheeks, embrowned with honest toil;
Kneels the pale artisan (who only knows
Of Luxury--how best its glittering spoil,
Midst whirring wheels, and dust, and heat, and oil,
For richer men's enjoyment to prepare);
And ill-fed labourers of a fertile soil,
Whose drunkenness was Lethe to their care,--
All met, for one good hope, one blessing, and one prayer!
I will not cavil with the man who sneers
At priestly labours, as the work of hell;
I will not pause to contradict strange fears
Of where the influence ends, begun so well;
One only thought remained with me to dwell,
For ever with remembrance of that scene,
When I beheld hearts beat and bosoms swell,
And that melodious voice and eye serene
Govern the kneeling crowd, as he their God had been.
I thought, in my own secret soul, if thus,
(By the strong sympathy that knits mankind)
A power untried exists in each of us,
By which a fellow-creature's wavering mind
To good or evil deeds may be inclined;
Shall not an awful questioning be made,
(And we, perchance, no fitting answer find!)
'Whom hast THOU sought to rescue, or persuade?
Whom roused from sinful sloth? whom comforted, afraid?'
For whom employed,--e'en from thy useless birth,--
The buried Talent at thy Lord's command?
Unprofitable servant of the earth!
Though here men fawned on thee, and licked thy hand
For golden wealth, and power, and tracts of land;
When the Eternal Balance justly weighs,
Above thee, in the ranks of heaven, shall stand,
Some wretch obscure, who through unnoticed days,
Taught a poor village school to sing their Maker's praise.
A mournful memory in my bosom stirs!
A recollection of the lovely isle
Where, in the purple shadow of thy firs
Parkhurst! and gloomy in the summer smile,
Stands the CHILD'S PRISON: (since we must defile
So blest a refuge, with so curst a name)
The home of those whose former home was vile;
Who, dogged, sullen, scoffing, hither came,
Tender in growth and years, but long confirmed in shame.
Alas! what inmates may inhabit there?
Those to whose infant days a parent's roof,
In lieu of a protection, was a snare;
Those from whose minds instruction held aloof,
No hope, no effort made in their behoof;
Whose lips familiar were with blasphemy,
And words obscene that mocked at all reproof,
But never uttered prayer to the Most High,
Or learned one gentle hymn, His name to glorify.
Th' Untaught, Uncared-for, 'neath whose stolid look
The Scriptures might have lain, a block of wood,
Hewn to the shape and semblance of a book,
For any thing they knew in it of good,
Or any text they heard or understood.
THESE are your Prisoned Children! Germs of Men,
Vicious, and false, and violent of mood,
Such as strange carelessness first rears, and then
Would crush the sting out by a death of pain!
But skilful hands have drawn the arrow's barb
From the unfestered wound which Time shall heal!
And though 'tis mournful, in their prison garb,
To see them trooping to their silent meal;
And though, among them, many brows reveal
Sorrow too bitter for such childish hearts;
Yet the most pitiful (if just) must feel
(E'en while the tear of forced compassion starts)
That blessed is the hope their suffering imparts!
The Saved are there, who would have been the Lost;
The Checked in crime, who might have been the Doomed;
The wildbriar buds, whose tangled path was crost
By nightshade poison trailing where they bloomed!
The Wrecked, round whom the threatening surges boomed,
Borne in this Life-boat far from peril's stress;
The Sheltered, o'er whose heads the thunder loomed;
Convicts (convicted of much helplessness
Exiles, whom Mercy guides through guilt's dark wilderness.
I saw One sitting in that Island Prison
Whose day in solitude was going down,
E'en as in solitude its light had risen!
His little savage sullen face, bent down,
From all kind words, with an averted frown--
A world of dumb defiance in his scowl!
Or, looking up, with gaze that seemed to own,
'I scorn the smiting of your forced control;
My body scourge or slay, you shall not bend my soul!'
But one was weeping--weeping bitter tears!
Of softer mould his erring heart was made;
And, when the sound of coming steps he hears
Advancing to his lone cell's cheerless shade,
He turns, half welcoming and half afraid,
Trustful of pity, willing to be saved;
Stepping half way to meet the proffered aid;
Thankful for blessings kind and counsel grave;
Strange to this new sad life, but patient, calm, and brave.
Brave! for what courage must it not require
In a child's heart, to bear those dreadful hours?
Think how WE find the weary spirit tire,
How the soul sinks with faint and flagging powers,
Pent in, in these indulgent lives of ours,
By one monotonous day of winter's rain!
Woe for the prisoned boy, who sadly cowers,
In his blank cell, for days of dreary pain,
Pining for human looks and human tones in vain.
Nor let it be forgot, for these young spirits,
(Although by gross and vulgar sin defiled,)
How differently judged were their demerits,
Were each a noble's or a gentle's child.
Are there no sons at college, 'sadly wild?'
No children, wayward, difficult to rear?
Are THEY cast off by Love? No, gleaming mild
Through the salt drops of many a bitter tear,
The rainbow of your hope shines out of all your fear!
For they are YOUNG, you say; and this green stem
With shoots of good shall soon be grafted in:
Meanwhile, how much is FROLIC, done by them,
Which, in the poor, is punishable SIN?
Nor mark I this, a useless sigh to win,
(They lose their ground, who falsely, lightly chide,)
But to note down how much your faith you pin
Upon the worth of that, to them supplied--
Revealed Religion's light, and Education's guide.
Yea, for yourselves and sons, ye trusted it,
And knew no reed it was you leaned upon;
Therefore, whoso denies that benefit
To meaner men in ignorance chained down,
From each this true reproach hath justly won:--
'Oh, selfish heart! that owned the healing sure,
Yet would not help to save MY erring son!'
They cry to you, 'PREVENT!'--You cannot cure,
The ills that, once incurred, these little ones endure!
The criminal is in the felon's dock:
Fearful and stupified behold him stand!
While to his trial cold spectators flock,
And lawyers grave, and judges of the land.
At first he grasps the rail with nervous hand,
Hearing the case which learnedly they state,
With what attention ignorance can command:
Then, weary of such arguing of his fate,
Torpid and dull he sinks, throughout the long debate.
Vapid, incomprehensible to him
The skilful pleader's cross-examining wit;
His sullen ear receives, confused and dim,
The shouts of laughter at some brilliant hit,
When a shrewd witness leaves the Biter bit.
He shrinks not while the facts that must prevail
Against his life, unconscious friends admit;
Though Death is trembling in the adverse scale,
He recks no more than if he heard the autumn gale.
Oh, Eloquence, a moving thing art thou!
Tradition tells us many a mournful story
Of scaffold-sentenced men, with noble brow,
Condemned to die in youth, or weak and hoary,
Whose words survived in long-remembered glory!
But eloquence of words the power hath not
(Nor even their fate, who perished gaunt and gory)
To move my spirit like his abject lot,
Who stands there, like a dog, new-sentenced to be shot!
Look, now! Attention wakes, with sudden start,
The brutish mind which late so dull hath been!
Quick grows the heavy beating at his heart!
The solemn pause which rests the busy scene,
He knows, though ignorant, what that must mean--
The Verdict! With the Jury rests his chance!
And his lack-lustre eye grows strangely keen,
Watching with wistful, pleading, dreadful glance,
Their consultation cease, their foreman slow advance.
His home, his hopes, his life, are in that word!
His ties! (for think ye not that he hath ties?)
Alas! Affection makes its pleading heard
Long after better sense of duty dies,
Midst all that Vice can do to brutalise.
Hark to the verdict--'Guilty!'--All are foes!
Oh, what a sight for good, compassionate eyes,
That haggard man; as, stupified with woes,
Forth from the felon's dock, a wretch condemned he goes!
A wretch condemned, but not at heart subdued.
Rebellious, reckless, are the thoughts which come
Intruding on his sentenced solitude:--
Savage defiance! gnawing thoughts of home!
Plots to escape even now his threatened doom!
Sense of desertion, persecution!--all
Choke up the fount of grief, and bid the foam
Stand on his gnashing lips when tears should fall,
And mock the exhorting tones which for repentance call!
For if one half the pity and the pains,
The charity, and visiting, and talk,
Had been bestowed upon that wretch in chains,
While he had yet a better path to walk,
Life's flower might still have bloomed upon its stalk!
He might not now stand there, condemned for crime,
(Helpless the horror of his fate to balk!)
Nor heard the sullen bell, with funeral chime,
Summon him harshly forth, to die before his time!
CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! thou, whose cradle-bed
Was hallowed still with night and morning prayer!
Thou, whose first thoughts were reverently led
To heaven, and taught betimes to anchor there!
Thou, who wert reared with fond peculiar care,
In happiest leisure, and in holiest light!
Wilt THOU not feed the lamp whose lustre rare
Can break the darkness of this fearful night,
Midst dim bewild'ring paths to guide faint steps aright?
Wilt thou not help to educate the poor?
They will learn something, whether taught or no;
The Mind's low dwelling hath an open door,
Whence, wandering still uneasy, to and fro,
It gathers that it should, or should not, know.
Oh, train the fluttering of that restless wing!
Guide the intelligence that worketh woe!
So shall the Summer answer to the Spring,
And a well-guided youth an age of duty bring.
Thus,--freed from the oppressive pang which chokes
A young warm heart that pities men in vain,--
Thou'lt roam beneath thy Windsor's spreading oaks,
And see Life's course before thee, clear and plain,
And how to spare, and how to conquer, pain:
Or, greeting fair Etona's merry groups,
Thou'lt think, not only for this noble train,
The dovelike wing of Science brooding stoops,
But shadows many a head that else obscurely droops!
Glad shalt thou roam beneath those oaks, fair Boy!
While round thy conscious feet the earth's cold dust
Reflects a sunshine from the Poor Man's joy!
There dream of England's Glory: nor distrust
Thy cheering hopes, for men who seek to thrust
Cold counsel on thy young, inspired heart;
Pleading that, though 'tis politic and just
To fill each studded port and loaded mart,
Utopian are the schemes free knowledge to impart!
Yet shalt thou dream of England's commerce, too;
And the tall spreading trees,--which, branching round,
Thy footsteps to their covert coolness woo,--
Cast visionary shadows on the ground
Of floating ships for distant stations bound.
Unheard shall be the wild-bird's song! Instead,
Hoarsely the roar of fancied waves shall sound;
And o'er the shining sands thy soul shall tread,
With Albion's snowy cliffs high beetling o'er thy head!
Or Thought, in her strange chaos, shall display
That proudest sight reserved for English eyes--
The building ship--which soon shall cleave its way
Through the blue waters, 'neath the open skies.
The stately oak is felled, and low it lies,
Denuded of its lovely branches--bare
Of e'en the bark that wrapped its giant size
Roughly defying all the storms of air,
One fragment of its gnarled and knotted strength to tear.
Out of its swelling girth are aptly hewn
The timbers fitted for the massive frame;
By perfect rule and measurement foreshewn,
Plank after plank, each answering to the same,
The work goes on--a thing without a name--
Huge as a house, and heavy as a rock,
Enough the boldest looker-on to tame,
Standing up-gazing at that monstrous block,
Whose grand proportions seem his narrow sense to mock.
And ceaseless, hammering, shouting, pigmy forms
Work, crawl, and clatter on her bulging sides:
Are those the beings, who, in Heaven's wild storms,
Shall move that mass against opposing tides?
One, tread her decks, with proud impetuous strides?
Others, through yawning port-holes point the gun,--
Scattering the foe her glorious strength derides,
And shouting 'Victory' for a sea-fight won?
Oh, magic rule of MIND, by which such works are done!
But, first, the Launch must send our ship afloat:
Assembled thousands wait the glorious sight:
Gay-coloured streamers deck each tiny boat,
And glistening oars reflect a restless light:
Till some fair form, with smiles and blushes bright,
And active hand (though delicate it seem)
Advances to perform the 'Christening Rite;'
The fragile crystal breaks, with shivering gleam,
And the grand mass comes forth, swift gliding, like a dream.
Now give her MASTS and SAILS!--those spreading wings
Whose power shall save from many a dangerous coast!
Her ROPES, with all their bolts, and blocks, and rings;
Her glorious FLAG, no foe shall dare to brave
Who sees it come careering o'er the wave!
Give her, the HEARTS of OAK, who, marshalled all,
Within her creaking ribs when tempests rave
And the fierce billows beat that echoing walls
Fearless and calm obey the Boatswain's mustering call.
Give her, those giant ANCHORS, whose deep plunge
Into the startled bosom of the Sea,
Shall give the eager sailor leave to lounge
In port awhile, with reckless liberty.
Soon shall his changeful heart impatiently,
For their unmooring and upheaving long;
For 'Sailing-orders' which shall set him free;
While his old messmates, linked in brawny throng,
Coil up the Cable's length--huge, intricate, and strong!)
Give her, her CAPTAIN! who, from that day forth,
With her loved beauty all his speech shall fill;
And all her wanderings, East, West, South, and North,
Narrate,--with various chance of good and ill,--
As though she lived, and acted of free will.
Yet, let no lip with mocking smile be curled ;--
These are the souls, that man with dauntless skill,
Our Wooden Walls; whose Meteor-flag, unfurled,
Bids England 'hold her own' against th' united world!
Dear Island-Home!--and is the boast so strange
Which bids thee claim the Empire of the Sea?
O'er the blue waters as we fearless range,
Seem not the waves familiar friends to be?
We knew them in the Country of the Free!
And now they follow us with playful race,
Back rolling to that land of liberty,
And dashing round her rocks with rough embrace,
Like an old shaggy dog that licks its Master's face.
Yea, and a Watch-dog too, if there be need!
A low determined growl, when danger lowers,
Shall, from the gloomy port-holes, grimly speed,
To rouse our Heroes, and our armed Powers.
Let the land-circled nations keep their towers,
Their well-scanned passports, and their guards secure,--
We'll trust this floating, changeful wall of ours,
And, long as ocean-waves and rocks endure,
So long, dear Island-Home, we'll hold thy freedom sure!
Back to our ship! She breasts the surging tide;
The fair breeze freshens in the flowing sheet!
With deafening cheers the landsmen see her glide,
And hearts, that watch her progress, wildly beat.
Oh! where and when shall all the many meet,
Who part to-day? That secret none may sound!
But slowly falls the tread of homeward feet;
And, in the evening, with a sigh goes round,
That brief, but thrilling toast, 'Health to the Outward-Bound!'
Health to the Outward-Bound! How many go
Whose homeward voyage never shall be made!
Who but that drear Sea-Burial shall know,
Which bids the corse the shifting flood invade!
No grave--no stone beneath the cypress-shade,
Where mourning friends may gather round and weep,
Whose distant wretchedness is yet delayed:
Orphans at home a jubilee may keep,
While Messmates' hands commit a Father to the deep!
Some, whom the cry of 'FIRE!' doth overtake
On the wide desert of the lonely seas,
Their vague escape in open boats shall make;
To suffer quenchless thirst, and parched disease,
And hunger-pangs the DEATH-LOT shall appease.
Some, crashing wrecked in one stupendous shock,
Endure more helpless rapid fate than these,
And vainly clinging to the foam-washed block,
Die, drifted like weak weeds from off the slippery rock.
Some, scarcely parted twice a cable's length
From those who on the firm earth safely stand,
Shall madly watch the strained united strength
And cheers and wavings of the gallant band,
Who launch their life-boat with determined hand.
Ah! none shall live, that zealous aid to thank;
The wild surge whirls the life-boat back to land,--
The hazy distance suddenly grows blank,--
In that last labouring plunge the fated vessel sank!
And some shall plough their homeward track in vain,
Dying, it may be, within sight of shore:
While others, (dreariest horror of the main!)
Are vaguely 'lost' and never heard of more.
Ah, me! how many now such fate deplore,
As hisfor whom Grief's wild and piercing cry
Followed, e'er yet lamenting tears were o'er,
Shed for his brother; doomed, like him, to die
In youth,--but not like him without one kinsman nigh!
Peace to thy woeful heart, thou grey-haired sire;
Each, had he lived, his duty would have done:
Towards gallant deeds unwearied to aspire,
Was thine own heritage to either son.
Yet thou hast wept,--like him whose race is run,--
Who rose a happy Father when the day
Through morning clouds, with misty radiance shone;
But when at eve his ship got under way,
Left his unburied son in wild Algoa Bay!
His generous son, who risked his own young life
Hoping another from that doom to save;
And battled nobly with the water's strife,
E'er the green billows were his floating grave.
Nor died alone, beneath the whelming wave;
Others,--less known perhaps,--not cherished less
By those who for their presence vainly crave,--
Sank struggling down in utter weariness,
Lost in that wild dark night of terrible distress.
Oh, hearts have perished, neither faint nor few,
Whose names have left no echo save at home;
With many a gallant ship, whose fearless crew
Set sail with cheerful hope their course to roam!
Buried 'neath many a fathom's shifting foam,--
By the rude rocks of many a distant shore,--
Their visionary smiles at midnight come
To those whose waking eyes their loss deplore,--
Dreaming of their return, who shall return no more!
CHILD OF THE ISLANDS! some such saddening tales,
Thou, in thine infancy, perchance shalt hear;
Linked with the names a Nation still bewails,
And warrior-deeds to England's glory dear.
Ah! let them not fall lightly on thine ear!
Though Death calmed down that anguish, long ago,
The record is not ended; year by year
Recurring instances of loss and woe
Shall bid thee, for like grief, a like compassion show!
Neglect not, Thou, the sons of men who bled
To do good service in the former time;
Slight not some veteran father of the Dead,
Whose noble boys have perished in their prime.
Accept not selfishly, the love sublime
And loyalty which in such souls hath burned.
What though it be thy right; the lack, a crime?
Yet should no honest heart by thine be spurned--
True service paid with smiles, and thanks, is cheaply earned.
Keep Thou the reverence of a youthful heart
To Age and Merit in thy native land;
Nor deem CONDITION sets thee far apart:
ABOVE, but not ALOOF, a Prince should stand:
Still near enough, to stretch the friendly hand
To those whose names had never reached the throne,
But for great deeds, performed in small command:
Since thus the gallant wearers first were known,
Hallow those names; although not Royal like thine own.
And let thy Smile be like the Summer Sun,
Whose radiance is not kept for garden-flowers,
But sends its genial beams to rest upon
The meanest blushing bud in way-side bowers.
Earth's Principalities, and Thrones, and Powers,
If Heaven's true Delegates on Earth they be,
Should copy Heaven; which giveth fertile Showers,
The Dew, the Warmth, the Balm, the Breezes free,
Not to one Class alone,--but all Humanity!
Idylls of the King: The Last Tournament (excerpt)
Dagonet, the fool, whom Gawain in his mood
Had made mock-knight of Arthur's Table Round,
At Camelot, high above the yellowing woods,
Danced like a wither'd leaf before the hall.
And toward him from the hall, with harp in hand,
And from the crown thereof a carcanet
Of ruby swaying to and fro, the prize
Of Tristram in the jousts of yesterday,
Came Tristram, saying, "Why skip ye so, Sir Fool?"
For Arthur and Sir Lancelot riding once
Far down beneath a winding wall of rock
Heard a child wail. A stump of oak half-dead.
From roots like some black coil of carven snakes,
Clutch'd at the crag, and started thro' mid air
Bearing an eagle's nest: and thro' the tree
Rush'd ever a rainy wind, and thro' the wind
Pierced ever a child's cry: and crag and tree
Scaling, Sir Lancelot from the perilous nest,
This ruby necklace thrice around her neck,
And all unscarr'd from beak or talon, brought
A maiden babe; which Arthur pitying took,
Then gave it to his Queen to rear: the Queen
But coldly acquiescing, in her white arms
Received, and after loved it tenderly,
And named it Nestling; so forgot herself
A moment, and her cares; till that young life
Being smitten in mid heaven with mortal cold
Past from her; and in time the carcanet
Vext her with plaintive memories of the child:
So she, delivering it to Arthur, said,
"Take thou the jewels of this dead innocence,
And make them, an thou wilt, a tourney-prize."
To whom the King, "Peace to thine eagle-borne
Dead nestling, and this honour after death,
Following thy will! but, O my Queen, I muse
Why ye not wear on arm, or neck, or zone
Those diamonds that I rescued from the tarn,
And Lancelot won, methought, for thee to wear."
"Would rather you had let them fall," she cried,
"Plunge and be lost--ill-fated as they were,
A bitterness to me!--ye look amazed,
Not knowing they were lost as soon as given--
Slid from my hands, when I was leaning out
Above the river--that unhappy child
Past in her barge: but rosier luck will go
With these rich jewels, seeing that they came
Not from the skeleton of a brother-slayer,
But the sweet body of a maiden babe.
Perchance--who knows?--the purest of thy knights
May win them for the purest of my maids."
She ended, and the cry of a great jousts
With trumpet-blowings ran on all the ways
From Camelot in among the faded fields
To furthest towers; and everywhere the knights
Arm'd for a day of glory before the King.
But on the hither side of that loud morn
Into the hall stagger'd, his visage ribb'd
From ear to ear with dogwhip-weals, his nose
Bridge-broken, one eye out, and one hand off,
And one with shatter'd fingers dangling lame,
A churl, to whom indignantly the King,
"My churl, for whom Christ died, what evil beast
Hath drawn his claws athwart thy face? or fiend?
Man was it who marr'd heaven's image in thee thus?"
Then, sputtering thro' the hedge of splinter'd teeth,
Yet strangers to the tongue, and with blunt stump
Pitch-blacken'd sawing the air, said the maim'd churl,
"He took them and he drave them to his tower--
Some hold he was a table-knight of thine--
A hundred goodly ones--the Red Knight, he--
Lord, I was tending swine, and the Red Knight
Brake in upon me and drave them to his tower;
And when I cal'd upon thy name as one
That doest right by gentle and by churl,
Maim'd me and maul'd, and would outright have slain,
Save that he aware me to a message, saying,
'Tell thou the King and all his liars, that I
Have founded my Round Table in the North,
And whatsoever his own knights have sworn
My knights have sworn the counter to it--and say
My tower is full of harlots, like his court,
But mine are worthier, seeing they profess
To be none other than themselves--and say
My knights are all adulterers like his own,
But mine are truer, seeing they profess
To be none other; and say his hour is come,
The heathen are upon him, his long lance
Broken, and his Excalibur a straw.' "
Then Arthur turn'd to Kay the seneschal,
"Take thou my churl, and tend him curiously
Like a king's heir, till all his hurts be whole.
The heathen--but that ever-climbing wave,
Hurl'd back again so often in empty foam,
Hath lain for years at rest--and renegades,
Thieves, bandits, leavings of confusion, whom
The wholesome realm is purged of otherwhere,
Friends, thro' your manhood and your fealty,--now
Make their last head like Satan in the North.
My younger knights, new-made, in whom your flower
Waits to be solid fruit of golden deeds,
Move with me toward their quelling, which achieved,
The loneliest ways are safe from shore to shore.
But thou, Sir Lancelot, sitting in my place
Enchair'd to-morrow, arbitrate the field;
For wherefore shouldst thou care to mingle with it
Only to yield my Queen her own again?
Speak, Lancelot, thou art silent: is it well?"
Thereto Sir Lancelot answer'd, "It is well:
Yet better if the King abide, and leave
The leading of his younger knights to me.
Else, for the King has will'd it, it is well."
Then Arthur rose and Lancelot follow'd him,
And while they stood without the doors, the King
Turn'd to him saying, "Is it then so well?
Or mine the blame that oft I seem as he
Of whom was written, 'A sound is in his ears'?
The foot that loiters, bidden go,--the glance
That only seems half-loyal to command,--
A manner somewhat fall'n from reverence--
Or have I dream'd the bearing of our knights
Tells of a manhood ever less and lower?
Or whence the fear lest this my realm, uprear'd,
By noble deeds at one with noble vows,
From flat confusion and brute violence,s
Reel back into the beast, and be no more?"
He spoke, and taking all his younger knights,
Down the slope city rode, and sharply turn'd
North by the gate. In her high bower the Queen,
Working a tapestry, lifted up her head,
Watch'd her lord pass, and knew not that she sigh'd.
Then ran across her memory the strange rhyme
Of bygone Merlin, "Where is he who knows?
From the great deep to the great deep he goes."
But when the morning of a tournament,
By these in earnest those in mockery call'd
The Tournament of the Dead Innocence,
Brake with a wet wind blowing, Lancelot,
Round whose sick head all night, like birds of prey,
The words of Arthur flying shriek'd, arose,
And down a streetway hung with folds of pure
White samite, and by fountains running wine,
Where children sat in white with cups of gold,
Moved to the lists, and there, with slow sad steps
Ascending, fill'd his double-dragon'd chair.
He glanced and saw the stately galleries,
Dame, damsel, each thro' worship of their Queen
White-robed in honour of the stainless child,
And some with scatter'd jewels, like a bank
Of maiden snow mingled with sparks of fire.
He look'd but once, and vail'd his eyes again.
The sudden trumpet sounded as in a dream
To ears but half-awaked, then one low roll
Of Autumn thunder, and the jousts began:
And ever the wind blew, and yellowing leaf
And gloom and gleam, and shower and shorn plume
Went down it. Sighing weariedly, as one
Who sits and gazes on a faded fire,
When all the goodlier guests are past away,
Sat their great umpire, looking o'er the lists.
He saw the laws that ruled the tournament
Broken, but spake not; once, a knight cast down
Before his throne of arbitration cursed
The dead babe and the follies of the King;
And once the laces of a helmet crack'd,
And show'd him, like a vermin in its hole,
Modred, a narrow face: anon he heard
The voice that billow'd round the barriers roar
An ocean-sounding welcome to one knight,
But newly-enter'd, taller than the rest,
And armour'd all in forest green, whereon
There tript a hundred tiny silver deer,
And wearing but a holly-spray for crest,
With ever-scattering berries, and on shield
A spear, a harp, a bugle--Tristram--late
From overseas in Brittany return'd,
And marriage with a princess of that realm,
Isolt the White--Sir Tristram of the Woods--
Whom Lancelot knew, had held sometime with pain
His own against him, and now yearn'd to shake
The burthen off his heart in one full shock
With Tristram ev'n to death: his strong hands gript
And dinted the gilt dragons right and left,
Until he groan'd for wrath--so many of those,
That ware their ladies' colours on the casque,
Drew from before Sir Tristram to the bounds,
And there with gibes and flickering mockeries
Stood, while he mutter'd, "Craven crests! O shame!
What faith have these in whom they sware to love?
The glory of our Round Table is no more."
So Tristram won, and Lancelot gave, the gems,
Not speaking other word than "Hast thou won?
Art thou the purest, brother? See, the hand
Wherewith thou takest this, is red!" to whom
Tristram, half plagued by Lancelot's languorous mood,
Made answer, "Ay, but wherefore toss me this
Like a dry bone cast to some hungry hound?
Let be thy fair Queen's fantasy. Strength of heart
And might of limb, but mainly use and skill,
Are winners in this pastime of our King.
My hand--belike the lance hath dript upon it--
No blood of mine, I trow; but O chief knight,
Right arm of Arthur in the battlefield,
Great brother, thou nor I have made the world;
Be happy in thy fair Queen as I in mine."
And Tristram round the gallery made his horse
Caracole; then bow'd his homage, bluntly saying,
"Fair damsels, each to him who worships each
Sole Queen of Beauty and of love, behold
This day my Queen of Beauty is not here."
And most of these were mute, some anger'd, one
Murmuring, "All courtesy is dead," and one
"The glory of our Round Table is no more."
Then fell thick rain, plume droopt and mantle clung,
And pettish cries awoke, and the wan day
Went glooming down in wet and weariness:
But under her black brows a swarthy one
Laugh'd shrilly, crying, "Praise the patient saints,
Our one white day of Innocence hath past,
Tho' somewhat draggled at the skirt. So be it.
The snowdrop only, flowering thro' the year,
Would make the world as blank as Winter-tide.
Come--let us gladden their sad eyes, our Queen's
And Lancelot's, at this night's solemnity
With all the kindlier colours of the field."
So dame and damsel glitter'd at the feast
Variously gay: for he that tells the tale
Liken'd them, saying, as when an hour of cold
Falls on the mountain in midsummer snows,
And all the purple slopes of mountain flowers
Pass under white, till the warm hour returns
With veer of wind, and all are flowers again;
So dame and damsel cast the simple white,
And glowing in all colours, the live grass,
Rose-campion, bluebell, kingcup, poppy, glanced
About the revels, and with mirth so loud
Beyond all use, that, half-amazed, the Queen,
And wroth at Tristram and the lawless jousts,
Brake up their sports, then slowly to her bower
Parted, and in her bosom pain was lord.
And little Dagonet on the morrow morn,
High over all the yellowing Autumn-tide,
Danced like a wither'd leaf before the hall.
Then Tristram saying, "Why skip ye so, Sir Fool?"
Wheel'd round on either heel, Dagonet replied,
"Belike for lack of wiser company;
Or being fool, and seeing too much wit
Makes the world rotten, why, belike I skip
To know myself the wisest knight of all."
"Ay, fool," said Tristram, "but 'tis eating dry
To dance without a catch, a roundelay
To dance to." Then he twangled on his harp,
And while he twangled little Dagonet stood
Quiet as any water-sodden log
Stay'd in the wandering warble of a brook;
But when the twangling ended, skipt again;
And being ask'd, "Why skipt ye not, Sir Fool?"
Made answer, "I had liefer twenty years
Skip to the broken music of my brains
Than any broken music thou canst make."
Then Tristram, waiting for the quip to come,
"Good now, what music have I broken, fool?"
And little Dagonet, skipping, "Arthur, the King's;
For when thou playest that air with Queen Isolt,
Thou makest broken music with thy bride,
Her daintier namesake down in Brittany--
And so thou breakest Arthur's music, too."
"Save for that broken music in thy brains,
Sir Fool," said Tristram, "I would break thy head.
Fool, I came late, the heathen wars were o'er,
The life had flown, we sware but by the shell--
I am but a fool to reason with a fool--
Come, thou art crabb'd and sour: but lean me down,
Sir Dagonet, one of thy long asses' ears,
And harken if my music be not true.
"`Free love--free field--we love but while we may:
The woods are hush'd, their music is no more:
The leaf is dead, the yearning past away:
New leaf, new life--the days of frost are o'er:
New life, new love, to suit the newer day:
New loves are sweet as those that went before:
Free love--free field--we love but while we may.'
"Ye might have moved slow-measure to my tune,
Not stood stockstill. I made it in the woods,
And heard it ring as true as tested gold."
But Dagonet with one foot poised in his hand,
"Friend, did ye mark that fountain yesterday
Made to run wine?--but this had run itself
All out like a long life to a sour end--
And them that round it sat with golden cups
To hand the wine to whosoever came--
The twelve small damosels white as Innocence,
In honour of poor Innocence the babe,
Who left the gems which Innocence the Queen
Lent to the King, and Innocence the King
Gave for a prize--and one of those white slips
Handed her cup and piped, the pretty one,
'Drink, drink, Sir Fool,' and thereupon I drank,
Spat--pish--the cup was gold, the draught was mud."
And Tristram, "Was it muddier than thy gibes?
Is all the laughter gone dead out of thee?--
Not marking how the knighthood mock thee, fool--
'Fear God: honour the King--his one true knight--
Sole follower of the vows'--for here be they
Who knew thee swine enow before I came,
Smuttier than blasted grain: but when the King
Had made thee fool, thy vanity so shot up
It frighted all free fool from out thy heart;
Which left thee less than fool, and less than swine,
A naked aught--yet swine I hold thee still,
For I have flung thee pearls and find thee swine."
And little Dagonet mincing with his feet,
"Knight, an ye fling those rubies round my neck
In lieu of hers, I'll hold thou hast some touch
Of music, since I care not for thy pearls.
Swine? I have wallow'd, I have wash'd--the world
Is flesh and shadow--I have had my day.
The dirty nurse, Experience, in her kind
Hath foul'd me--an I wallow'd, then I wash'd--
I have had my day and my philosophies--
And thank the Lord I am King Arthur's fool.
Swine, say ye? swine, goats, asses, rams and geese
Troop'd round a Paynim harper once, who thrumm'd
On such a wire as musically as thou
Some such fine song--but never a king's fool."
And Tristram, "Then were swine, goats, asses, geese
The wiser fools, seeing thy Paynim bard
Had such a mastery of his mystery
That he could harp his wife up out of hell."
Then Dagonet, turning on the ball of his foot,
"And whither harp'st thou thine? down! and thyself
Down! and two more: a helpful harper thou,
That harpest downward! dost thou know the star
We call the harp of Arthur up in heaven?"
And Tristram, "Ay, Sir Fool, for when our King
Was victor wellnigh day by day, the knights,
Glorying in each new glory, set his name
High on all hills, and in the signs of heaven."
And Dagonet answer'd, "Ay, and when the land
Was freed, and the Queen false, ye set yourself
To babble about him, all to show your wit--
And whether he were King by courtesy,
Or King by right--and so went harping down
The black king's highway, got so far, and grew
So witty that we play'd at ducks and drakes
With Arthur's vows on the great lake of fire.
Tuwhoo! do ye see it? do ye see the star?"
"Nay, fool," said Tristram, "not in open day."
And Dagonet, "Nay, nor will: I see it and hear.
It makes a silent music up in heaven,
And I, and Arthur and the angels hear,
And then we skip." "Lo, fool," he said, "ye talk
Fool's treason: is the King thy brother fool?"
Then little Dagonet clapt his hands and shrill'd,
"Ay, ay, my brother fool, the king of fools!
Conceits himself as God that he can make
Figs out of thistles, silk from bristles, milk
From burning spurge, honey from hornet-combs
And men from beasts--Long live the king of fools!"
And down the city Dagonet danced away;
But thro' the slowly-mellowing avenues
And solitary passes of the wood
Rode Tristram toward Lyonnesse and the west.
Before him fled the face of Queen Isolt
With ruby-circled neck, but evermore
Past, as a rustle or twitter in the wood
Made dull his inner, keen his outer eye
For all that walk'd, or crept, or perch'd, or flew.
Anon the face, as, when a gust hath blown,
Unruffling waters re-collect the shape
Of one that in them sees himself, return'd;
But at the slot or fewmets of a deer,
Or ev'n a fall'n feather, vanish'd again.
So on for all that day from lawn to lawn
Thro' many a league-long bower he rode. At length
A lodge of intertwisted beechen-boughs
Furze-cramm'd, and bracken-rooft, the which himself
Built for a summer day with Queen Isolt
Against a shower, dark in the golden grove
Appearing, sent his fancy back to where
She lived a moon in that low lodge with him:
Till Mark her lord had past, the Cornish King,
With six or seven, when Tristram was away,
And snatch'd her thence; yet dreading worse than shame
Her warrior Tristram, spake not any word,
But bode his hour, devising wretchedness.
And now that desert lodge to Tristram lookt
So sweet, that halting, in he past, and sank
Down on a drift of foliage random-blown;
But could not rest for musing how to smoothe
And sleek his marriage over to the Queen.
Perchance in lone Tintagil far from all
The tonguesters of the court she had not heard.
But then what folly had sent him overseas
After she left him lonely here? a name?
Was it the name of one in Brittany,
Isolt, the daughter of the King? "Isolt
Of the white hands" they call'd her: the sweet name
Allured him first, and then the maid herself,
Who served him well with those white hands of hers,
And loved him well, until himself had thought
He loved her also, wedded easily,
But left her all as easily, and return'd.
The black-blue Irish hair and Irish eyes
Had drawn him home--what marvel? then he laid
His brows upon the drifted leaf and dream'd.
He seem'd to pace the strand of Brittany
Between Isolt of Britain and his bride,
And show'd them both the ruby-chain, and both
Began to struggle for it, till his Queen
Graspt it so hard, that all her hand was red.
Then cried the Breton, "Look, her hand is red!
These be no rubies, this is frozen blood,
And melts within her hand--her hand is hot
With ill desires, but this I gave thee, look,
Is all as cool and white as any flower."
Follow'd a rush of eagle's wings, and then
A whimpering of the spirit of the child,
Because the twain had spoil'd her carcanet.
He dream'd; but Arthur with a hundred spears
Rode far, till o'er the illimitable reed,
And many a glancing plash and sallowy isle,
The wide-wing'd sunset of the misty marsh
Glared on a huge machicolated tower
That stood with open doors, where out was roll'd
A roar of riot, as from men secure
Amid their marshes, ruffians at their ease
Among their harlot-brides, an evil song.
"Lo there," said one of Arthur's youth, for there,
High on a grim dead tree before the tower,
A goodly brother of the Table Round
Swung by the neck: and on the boughs a shield
Showing a shower of blood in a field noir,
And therebeside a horn, inflamed the knights
At that dishonour done the gilded spur,
Till each would clash the shield, and blow the horn.
But Arthur waved them back. Alone he rode.
Then at the dry harsh roar of the great horn,
That sent the face of all the marsh aloft
An ever upward-rushing storm and cloud
Of shriek and plume, the Red Knight heard, and all,
Even to tipmost lance and topmost helm
In blood-red armour sallying, howl'd to the King,
"The teeth of Hell flay bare and gnash thee flat!
Lo! art thou not that eunuch-hearted King
Who fain had clipt free manhood from the world--
The woman-worshipper? Yea, God's curse, and I!
Slain was the brother of my paramour
By a knight of thine, and I that heard her whine
And snivel, being eunuch-hearted too,
Sware by the scorpion-worm that twists in hell,
And stings itself to everlasting death,
To hang whatever knight of thine I fought
And tumbled. Art thou King?--Look to thy life!"
He ended: Arthur knew the voice; the face
Wellnigh was helmet-hidden, and the name
Went wandering somewhere darkling in his mind.
And Arthur deign'd not use of word or sword,
But let the drunkard, as he stretch'd from horse
To strike him, overbalancing his bulk,
Down from the causeway heavily to the swamp
Fall, as the crest of some slow-arching wave,
Heard in dead night along that table-shore,
Drops flat, and after the great waters break
Whitening for half a league, and thin themselves,
Far over sands marbled with moon and cloud,
From less and less to nothing; thus he fell
Head-heavy; then the knights, who watch'd him, roar'd
And shouted and leapt down upon the fall'n;
There trampled out his face from being known,
And sank his head in mire, and slimed themselves:
Nor heard the King for their own cries, but sprang
Thro' open doors, and swording right and left
Men, women, on their sodden faces, hurl'd
The tables over and the wines, and slew
Till all the rafters rang with woman-yells,
And all the pavement stream'd with massacre:
Then, echoing yell with yell, they fired the tower,
Which half that autumn night, like the live North,
Red-pulsing up thro' Alioth and Alcor,
Made all above it, and a hundred meres
About it, as the water Moab saw
Come round by the East, and out beyond them flush'd
The long low dune, and lazy-plunging sea.
So all the ways were safe from shore to shore,
But in the heart of Arthur pain was lord.
Then, out of Tristram waking, the red dream
Fled with a shout, and that low lodge return'd,
Mid-forest, and the wind among the boughs.
He whistled his good warhorse left to graze
Among the forest greens, vaulted upon him,
And rode beneath an ever-showering leaf,
Till one lone woman, weeping near a cross,
Stay'd him. "Why weep ye?" "Lord," she said, "my man
Hath left me or is dead"; whereon he thought--
"What, if she hate me now? I would not this.
What, if she love me still? I would not that.
I know not what I would"--but said to her,
"Yet weep not thou, lest, if thy mate return,
He find thy favour changed and love thee not"--
Then pressing day by day thro' Lyonnesse
Last in a roky hollow, belling, heard
The hounds of Mark, and felt the goodly hounds
Yelp at his heart, but turning, past and gain'd
Tintagil, half in sea, and high on land,
A crown of towers. Down in a casement sat,
A low sea-sunset glorying round her hair
And glossy-throated grace, Isolt the Queen.
And when she heard the feet of Tristram grind
The spiring stone that scaled about her tower,
Flush'd, started, met him at the doors, and there
Belted his body with her white embrace,
Crying aloud, "Not Mark--not Mark, my soul!
The footstep flutter'd me at first: not he:
Catlike thro' his own castle steals my Mark,
But warrior-wise thou stridest thro' his halls
Who hates thee, as I him--ev'n to the death.
My soul, I felt my hatred for my Mark
Quicken within me, and knew that thou wert nigh."
To whom Sir Tristram smiling, "I am here.
Let be thy Mark, seeing he is not thine."
And drawing somewhat backward she replied,
"Can he be wrong'd who is not ev'n his own,
But save for dread of thee had beaten me,
Scratch'd, bitten, blinded, marr'd me somehow--Mark?
What rights are his that dare not strike for them?
Not lift a hand--not, tho' he found me thus!
But harken! have ye met him? hence he went
To-day for three days' hunting--as he said--
And so returns belike within an hour.
Mark's way, my soul!--but eat not thou with Mark,
Because he hates thee even more than fears;
Nor drink: and when thou passest any wood
Close vizor, lest an arrow from the bush
Should leave me all alone with Mark and hell.
My God, the measure of my hate for Mark
Is as the measure of my love for thee.''
So, pluck'd one way by hate and one by love,
Drain'd of her force, again she sat, and spake
To Tristram, as he knelt before her, saying,
"O hunter, and O blower of the horn,
Harper, and thou hast been a rover too,
For, ere I mated with my shambling king,
Ye twain had fallen out about the bride
Of one--his name is out of me--the prize,
If prize she were--(what marvel--she could see)
Thine, friend; and ever since my craven seeks
To wreck thee villainously: but, O Sir Knight,
What dame or damsel have ye kneel'd to last?"
And Tristram, "Last to my Queen Paramount,
Here now to my Queen Paramount of love
And loveliness--ay, lovelier than when first
Her light feet fell on our rough Lyonnesse,
Sailing from Ireland." Softly laugh'd Isolt;
"Flatter me not, for hath not our great Queen
My dole of beauty trebled?" and he said,
"Her beauty is her beauty, and thine thine,
And thine is more to me--soft, gracious, kind--
Save when thy Mark is kindled on thy lips
Most gracious; but she, haughty ev'n to him,
Lancelot; for I have seen him wan enow
To make one doubt if ever the great Queen
Have yielded him her love."
To whom Isolt,
"Ah then, false hunter and false harper, thou
Who brakest thro' the scruple of my bond,
Calling me thy white hind, and saying to me
That Guinevere had sinn'd against the highest,
And I--misyoked with such a want of man--
That I could hardly sin against the lowest."
He answer'd, "O my soul, be comforted!
If this be sweet, to sin in leading-strings,
If here be comfort, and if ours be sin,
Crown'd warrant had we for the crowning sin
That made us happy: but how ye greet me--fear
And fault and doubt--no word of that fond tale--
Thy deep heart-yearnings, thy sweet memories
Of Tristram in that year he was away."
And, saddening on the sudden, spake Isolt,
"I had forgotten all in my strong joy
To see thee--yearnings?--ay! for, hour by hour,
Here in the never-ended afternoon,
O sweeter than all memories of thee,
Deeper than any yearnings after thee
Seem'd those far-rolling, westward-smiling seas,
Watch'd from this tower. Isolt of Britain dash'd
Before Isolt of Brittany on the strand,
Would that have chill'd her bride-kiss? Wedded her?
Fought in her father's battles? wounded there?
The King was all fulfill'd with gratefulness,
And she, my namesake of the hands, that heal'd
Thy hurt and heart with unguent and caress--
Well--can I wish her any huger wrong
Than having known thee? her too hast thou left
To pine and waste in those sweet memories.
O were I not my Mark's, by whom all men
Are noble, I should hate thee more than love."
And Tristram, fondling her light hands, replied,
"Grace, Queen, for being loved: she loved me well.
Did I love her? the name at least I loved.
Isolt?--I fought his battles, for Isolt!
The night was dark; the true star set. Isolt!
The name was ruler of the dark--Isolt?
Care not for her! patient, and prayerful, meek,
Pale-blooded, she will yield herself to God."
And Isolt answer'd, "Yea, and why not I?
Mine is the larger need, who am not meek,
Pale-blooded, prayerful. Let me tell thee now.
Here one black, mute midsummer night I sat,
Lonely, but musing on thee, wondering where,
Murmuring a light song I had heard thee sing,
And once or twice I spake thy name aloud.
Then flash'd a levin-brand; and near me stood,
In fuming sulphur blue and green, a fiend--
Mark's way to steal behind one in the dark--
For there was Mark: 'He has wedded her,' he said,
Not said, but hiss'd it: then this crown of towers
So shook to such a roar of all the sky,
That here in utter dark I swoon'd away,
And woke again in utter dark, and cried,
'I will flee hence and give myself to God'--
And thou wert lying in thy new leman's arms."
Then Tristram, ever dallying with her hand,
"May God be with thee, sweet, when old and gray,
And past desire!" a saying that anger'd her.'
"`May God be with thee, sweet, when thou art old,
And sweet no more to me!' I need Him now.
For when had Lancelot utter'd aught so gross
Ev'n to the swineherd's malkin in the mast?
The greater man, the greater courtesy.
Far other was the Tristram, Arthur's knight!
But thou, thro' ever harrying thy wild beasts--
Save that to touch a harp, tilt with a lance
Becomes thee well--art grown wild beast thyself.
How darest thou, if lover, push me even
In fancy from thy side, and set me far
In the gray distance, half a life away,
Her to be loved no more? Unsay it, unswear!
Flatter me rather, seeing me so weak,
Broken with Mark and hate and solitude,
Thy marriage and mine own, that I should suck
Lies like sweet wines: lie to me: I believe.
Will ye not lie? not swear, as there ye kneel,
And solemnly as when ye sware to him
The man of men, our King--My God, the power
Was once in vows when men believed the King!
They lied not then, who sware, and thro' their vows
The King prevailing made his realm:--I say,
Swear to me thou wilt love me ev'n when old,
Gray-hair'd, and past desire, and in despair."
Then Tristram, pacing moodily up and down,
"Vows! did you keep the vow you made to Mark
More than I mine? Lied, say ye? Nay, but learnt,
The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself--
My knighthood taught me this--ay, being snapt--
We run more counter to the soul thereof
Than had we never sworn. I swear no more.
I swore to the great King, and am forsworn.
For once--ev'n to the height--I honour'd him.
'Man, is he man at all?' methought, when first
I rode from our rough Lyonnesse, and beheld
That victor of the Pagan throned in hall--
His hair, a sun that ray'd from off a brow
Like hillsnow high in heaven, the steel-blue eyes,
The golden beard that clothed his lips with light--
Moreover, that weird legend of his birth,
With Merlin's mystic babble about his end
Amazed me; then his foot was on a stool
Shaped as a dragon; he seem'd to me no man,
But Michaël trampling Satan; so I sware,
Being amazed: but this went by--The vows!
O ay--the wholesome madness of an hour--
They served their use, their time; for every knight
Believed himself a greater than himself,
And every follower eyed him as a God;
Till he, being lifted up beyond himself,
Did mightier deeds than elsewise he had done,
And so the realm was made; but then their vows--
First mainly thro' that sullying of our Queen--
Began to gall the knighthood, asking whence
Had Arthur right to bind them to himself?
Dropt down from heaven? wash'd up from out the deep?
They fail'd to trace him thro' the flesh and blood
Of our old kings: whence then? a doubtful lord
To bind them by inviolable vows,
Which flesh and blood perforce would violate:
For feel this arm of mine--the tide within
Red with free chase and heather-scented air,
Pulsing full man; can Arthur make me pure
As any maiden child? lock up my tongue
From uttering freely what I freely hear?
Bind me to one? The wide world laughs at it.
And worldling of the world am I, and know
The ptarmigan that whitens ere his hour
Woos his own end; we are not angels here
Nor shall be: vows--I am woodman of the woods,
And hear the garnet-headed yaffingale
Mock them: my soul, we love but while we may;
And therefore is my love so large for thee,
Seeing it is not bounded save by love."
Here ending, he moved toward her, and she said,
"Good: an I turn'd away my love for thee
To some one thrice as courteous as thyself--
For courtesy wins woman all as well
As valour may, but he that closes both
Is perfect, he is Lancelot--taller indeed,
Rosier and comelier, thou--but say I loved
This knightliest of all knights, and cast thee back
Thine own small saw, 'We love but while we may,'
Well then, what answer?" He that while she spake,
Mindful of what he brought to adorn her with,
The jewels, had let one finger lightly touch
The warm white apple of her throat, replied,
"Press this a little closer, sweet, until--
Come, I am hunger'd and half-anger'd--meat,
Wine, wine--and I will love thee to the death,
And out beyond into the dream to come."
So then, when both were brought to full accord,
She rose, and set before him all he will'd;
And after these had comforted the blood
With meats and wines, and satiated their hearts--
Now talking of their woodland paradise,
The deer, the dews, the fern, the founts, the lawns;
Now mocking at the much ungainliness,
And craven shifts, and long crane legs of Mark--
Then Tristram laughing caught the harp, and sang:
"Ay, ay, O ay--the winds that bend the brier!
A star in heaven, a star within the mere!
Ay, ay, O ay--a star was my desire,
And one was far apart, and one was near:
Ay, ay, O ay--the winds that bow the grass!
And one was water and one star was fire,
And one will ever shine and one will pass.
Ay, ay, O ay--the winds that move the mere."
Then in the light's last glimmer Tristram show'd
And swung the ruby carcanet. She cried,
"The collar of some Order, which our King
Hath newly founded, all for thee, my soul,
For thee, to yield thee grace beyond thy peers."
"Not so, my Queen," he said, "but the red fruit
Grown on a magic oak-tree in mid-heaven,
And won by Tristram as a tourney-prize,
And hither brought by Tristram for his last
Love-offering and peace-offering unto thee."
He spoke, he turn'd, then, flinging round her neck,
Claspt it, and cried "Thine Order, O my Queen!"
But, while he bow'd to kiss the jewell'd throat,
Out of the dark, just as the lips had touch'd,
Behind him rose a shadow and a shriek--
"Mark's way," said Mark, and clove him thro' the brain.
That night came Arthur home, and while he climb'd,
All in a death-dumb autumn-dripping gloom,
The stairway to the hall, and look'd and saw
The great Queen's bower was dark,--about his feet
A voice clung sobbing till he question'd it,
"What art thou?" and the voice about his feet
Sent up an answer, sobbing, "I am thy fool,
And I shall never make thee smile again."
Men faer Snake more than Women
The men fear snake more than women
A man walking with his wife
Come across the snake on path near home
The man and his wife suddenly stopped
The man whined and the woman unfleappabled
The man whined people of that home
Is there snake soother-healer there?
Snake! My God!
Has it bitten you
No! my God
It wants to bite meeee!
let it bite you first
And you‘ll be told
Yes or No
For More Than Fifteen Years
For more than fifteen years he intensely hated life.
For more than fifteen years he intensely hated his parents.
He intensely hated his parents for giving him abuse hell life.
He intensely hated his parents for subjecting him to abuse hell life.
A hell life that no mortal child or man should suffer through live.
A hell life that he a mortal soul could but suffer through die live.
So much of the best of thee could not survive that broken bitter life.
Important parts of thee did not could not survive that broken bitter life.
Only love can restore renew those lost parts of thee.
Only love can restore renew that lost heart of thee.
So many of us are but puzzle pieces of men women we should be.
That is parents crime across generations unabated abuse misuse.
The circle of repetitive violence abuse can be is broken in thee.
You will set all your children and all their offspring free.
You will free generations unborn yet to be.
I saw more than a dozen of the bomb of bombs being loaded
I saw more than a dozen
of the bomb of bombs being loaded
from pallets out of a big Hercules aircraft
shining in yellow copper intensity
with the lead tips looking strangely cold
into the bomb bays
of Buccaneer bombers
at Rooikop air force base
and with other special force soldiers
was doing guard duty that night
and still wonder if the bombs were only atomic,
or were they hydrogen, maybe neutron
or a newer generation of something even worse?
While a bit of rain was drizzling down
every piece of metal gleamed
under bright lights
and in my heart
I could already feel the country’s,
the world’s death rattle
as the Third World War
was about to start
and no Sassoon, Wilfred Owen
or even Alun Lewis
could have felt like this
being caught as a citizen force soldier
at the whim of politicians
who have the power
to obliterate millions, even billions of lives
while being only mere men.
[Reference: A War Poem by Christopher van Wyk.]
More Than Life (The Street Leads You To Me)
On and off like echoes, Needs are
Down and Up like life, wishes can be
Worst and worthy like death, time is
Good but dull as distance, my life can be
What I want is more than laughter
The pain that comes at the moment
And goes tomorrow when you are near
The sun on your face lights up my heart’s darkness
The touch on your fingers comforts my soul and I know
What I want is more than laughter
Standing alone thinking of these words
Shame of this life felt by this body of mine
Shows me the bottom of needs I have
Sheared my fears off my face and I knew that
What I wanted was more than laughter
No meaning of this breath I breathe
No reason to live if I’m always afraid of the dark
No cause of the charisma if I’m lonely
Now and then I feel the air and breathe since
What I want is more than laughter
Tears fall but love fills in
Light leads but love lays in my soul
End dies in the eyes of today’s love
When you tell that you love me then I knew
What I want is more than laughter
What I want is you to notice me tonight
What I want is a smile on your face today and forever
What I want is you to hold me just tonight
What I want is the air I breathe holding on our fate
What I want is you to love me endlessly
The Holy Cross That Jesus Bore …
The Holy Cross set mankind free
From mortal sins of every kind,
When Jesus died upon this tree,
And paid price with His precious blood!
The flaying and abuses hurled
Left gashes deep upon His back,
With burning pain, no man can bear,
And yet, our living God does care!
And every time that Jesus fell
Reminds the weight of mankind’s sins
Became more than, He could carry,
Trudging His way to Calvary!
The nails we drove into His Hands
Were sins that God for man forbade;
Excruciating pain, they caused
As bones were broken with blood-spurt!
The crown of thorns were sins of mine
Like jealousy, ego and pride,
And vanity of kings futile,
That pierced His scalp and drew out blood!
Those desperate moments of Christ
As ebbing life and untold pain
Upon Him seized, were caused by sins
That we repeatedly commit.
Each dropp of bloody sweat that fell
From brow of head of Jesus Christ,
As shock and pain engulfed His mind
That witnessed ruthlessness of men!
The words of wisdom, Jesus spoke
Despite His sorrow-afilled heart
Are exemplary and so strange
Revealing love of God boundless.
The Holy Cross has set us free
From punishments for sins truly;
Repent, we must for each folly,
And enter Heaven’s life jolly!
Forgive us Lord for sins galore;
That we commit so stupidly,
Although we know that You detest
And fail so many times Your test.
O God of love and rod so stern!
We thank You for sending Your Son,
Who saved us all from fire of hell
‘Spare us, O Lord; Spare thy people! ’
Copyright by Dr John Celes 3-20-2009
The Angel In The House. Book II. Canto XI.
I Platonic Love
Right art thou who wouldst rather be
A doorkeeper in Love's fair house,
Than lead the wretched revelry
Where fools at swinish troughs carouse.
But do not boast of being least;
And if to kiss thy Mistress' skirt
Amaze thy brain, scorn not the Priest
Whom greater honours do not hurt.
Stand off and gaze, if more than this
Be more than thou canst understand,
Revering him whose power of bliss,
Angelic, dares to seize her hand,
Or whose seraphic love makes flight
To the apprehension of her lips;
And think, the sun of such delight
From thine own darkness takes eclipse.
And, wouldst thou to the same aspire,
This is the art thou must employ,
Live greatly; so shalt thou acquire
Unknown capacities of joy.
II A Demonstration
Nature, with endless being rife,
Parts each thing into ‘him’ and ‘her,’
And, in the arithmetic of life,
The smallest unit is a pair;
And thus, oh, strange, sweet half of me,
If I confess a loftier flame,
If more I love high Heaven than thee,
I more than love thee, thee I am;
And, if the world's not built of lies,
Nor all a cheat the Gospel tells,
If that which from the dead shall rise
Be I indeed, not something else,
There's no position more secure
In reason or in faith than this,
That those conditions must endure,
Which, wanting, I myself should miss.
III The Symbol
As if I chafed the sparks from glass,
And said, ‘It lightens,’ hitherto
The songs I've made of love may pass
For all but for proportion true;
But likeness and proportion both
Now fail, as if a child in glee,
Catching the flakes of the salt froth,
Cried, ‘Look, my mother, here's the sea.’
Yet, by the help of what's so weak,
But not diverse, to those who know,
And only unto those I speak,
May far-inferring fancy show
Love's living sea by coasts uncurb'd,
Its depth, its mystery, and its might,
Its indignation if disturb'd,
The glittering peace of its delight.
IV Constancy rewarded
I vow'd unvarying faith, and she,
To whom in full I pay that vow,
Rewards me with variety
Which men who change can never know.
Life smitten with a feverish chill,
The brain too tired to understand,
In apathy of heart and will,
I took the woman from the hand
Of him who stood for God, and heard
Of Christ, and of the Church his Bride;
The Feast, by presence of the Lord
And his first Wonder, beautified;
The mystic sense to Christian men;
The bonds in innocency made,
And gravely to be enter'd then
For children, godliness, and aid,
And honour'd, and kept free from smirch;
And how a man must love his wife
No less than Christ did love His Church,
If need be, giving her his life;
And, vowing then the mutual vow,
The tongue spoke, but intention slept.
'Tis well for us Heaven asks not how
We take this oath, but how 'tis kept.
O, bold seal of a bashful bond,
Which makes the marriage-day to be,
To those before it and beyond,
An iceberg in an Indian sea!
‘Now, while she's changing,’ said the Dean,
‘Her bridal for her travelling dress,
‘I'll preach allegiance to your queen!
‘Preaching's the thing which I profess;
‘And one more minute's mine! You know
‘I've paid my girl a father's debt,
‘And this last charge is all I owe.
‘She's your's; but I love more than yet
‘You can; such fondness only wakes
‘When time has raised the heart above
‘The prejudice of youth, which makes
‘Beauty conditional to love.
‘Prepare to meet the weak alarms
‘Of novel nearness: recollect
‘The eye which magnifies her charms
‘Is microscopic for defect.
‘Fear comes at first; but soon, rejoiced,
‘You'll find your strong and tender loves,
‘Like holy rocks by Druids poised,
‘The least force shakes, but none removes.
‘Her strength is your esteem; beware
‘Of finding fault; her will's unnerv'd
‘By blame; from you 'twould be despair;
‘But praise that is not quite deserv'd
‘Will all her noble nature move
‘To make your utmost wishes true.
‘Yet think, while mending thus your Love,
‘Of matching her ideal too!
‘The death of nuptial joy is sloth:
‘To keep your mistress in your wife,
‘Keep to the very height your oath,
‘And honour her with arduous life.
‘Lastly, no personal reverence doff.
‘Life's all externals unto those
‘Who pluck the blushing petals off,
‘To find the secret of the rose.—
‘How long she's tarrying! Green's Hotel
‘I'm sure you'll like. The charge is fair,
‘The wines good. I remember well
‘I stay'd once, with her Mother, there.
‘A tender conscience of her vow
‘That Mother had! She's so like her!’
But Mrs. Fife, much flurried, now
Whisper'd, ‘Miss Honor's ready, Sir.’
Whirl'd off at last, for speech I sought,
To keep shy Love in countenance;
But, whilst I vainly tax'd my thought,
Her voice deliver'd mine from trance:
‘Look, is not this a pretty shawl,
‘Aunt's parting gift.’ ‘She's always kind,’
‘The new wing spoils Sir John's old Hall:
‘You'll see it, if you pull the blind.’
I drew the silk: in heaven the night
Was dawning; lovely Venus shone,
In languishment of tearful light,
Swathed by the red breath of the sun.
The Faltering Knight
It knocks me can in, this ere game uv life,
A bloke gets born, grows up, looks round fer fun,
Dreams dilly dreams, then wakes to find a wife
An' fambly round 'im - all 'is young days done.
An', gazin' back, sees in 'is youth a man
Scarce reckernised. It fair knocks in me can!
Ther's me. I never seemed to mark no change
As I mooched on through life frum year to year;
An' yet, at times it seems to me dead strange
That me, uv old, is me, 'oo's sittin' 'ere.
Per'aps it ain't. 'E was a crook young coot,
While I'm a sturdy farmer, growin' froot.
But, all the same, 'e wouldn't back an' fill,
An' argue with 'imself, an' 'esitate,
Once 'e 'ad seen the way. 'E'd find the will
To go an' do the thing 'e 'ad to, straight.
That's 'ow I was; an' now-Ar, strike a light!
Life gits so mixed I can't git nothin' right.
But wot's the use? A bloke 'as got to own,
When once 'e 'as responsibility,
Ther's certin games is better left alone
Wot might be done if 'e was only free.
Ther's certin things - Oh, wot's the flamin' good?
A 'usband alwiz gits misun'erstood!
It's no use hintin'. If yeh want it straight,
Me an' me wife ain't seenin' eye to eye:
All ain't been peace an' 'armony uv late,
An' clouds is comin' up in our clear sky.
I ain't to blame, an' yet, no more's Doreen.
It's jist 'ard Fate 'as shoved 'is oar between.
All marrid blokes will understand me well.
I ain't addressin' no remarks to those
'0o've learnt but 'arf uv life. The things I tell
Is fer the ears uv fellermen that knows:
Them symperthetic 'usbands 'oo 'ave 'eard
The fog-'orn soundin' in the wifely word.
Fer when stern jooty grips a 'usband's 'eart
(That's me) an' eggs 'im on to start a scene
That's like to tear two 'appy lives apart,
In spite uv all 'er carin' (That's Doreen)
Why, there you 'ave a story that would make
A bonzer movie - with a bit uv fake.
But 'ere's the plot. When my pal, Ginger Mick,
Chucked in 'is alley in this war we won,
'E left things tangled; fer 'e went too quick
Fer makin' last requests uv anyone.
'E jist sez to the world, when last 'e spoke,
'Look after Rose!' . . . 'E was a trustful bloke.
Rose lives in Spadgers Lane. She lived, them days,
Fer Mick's returnin'. When 'e never came,
If she lost 'old, an' took to careless ways,
Well, I ain't sayin' she was much to blame.
An' I don't worry, till I 'ear she's took,
Or thinks uv takin' on to ways that's crook.
Although I'm vegetatin' on a farm,
I gets a city whisper now an' then.
An' when I 'ear she's like to come to 'arm
Amongst a push uv naughty spieler men,
I gets the wind up. This is all I see:
Mick was my cobber; so it's up to me.
That's all I see, quite clear, with my two eyes.
But marrid blokes will understand once more,
When I remarks that marrid blokes is wise
'Oo 'ave the sense to take a squint through four.
Four eyes is needed in reviewin' plans -
Their vision's broader than a single man's.
But when them four eyes sees two ways at once
Gets crossed - Ar, well, ther's things in marrid life
For which a hint's enough fer any dunce.
Ther's certin things between a man an' wife
That can't be quite - But take this fer a fack:
Don't start things uv a mornin'. It ain't tack.
That was me first bad break. I should 'ave seen
The supper things washed up, an' 'elped a bit,
An' then 'ave broke it gently to Doreen,
Promiscus, like I jist 'ad thought uv it.
But I done worse. I blurts wot I'd to say
Upon the mornin' uv a washin' day!
There's gumption fer yeh. eight years I been hitched
Eight years uv trainin', an' I fall down flat!
Like some poor, love-sick softy 'oo gets switched
Fer tellin' 'sweetie' 'e don't like 'er 'at,
When she's jist come frum 'avin' rows no end
About it's trimmin' with 'er dearest friend.
I owns me ta'tic's crook. But, all the same,
Ther' weren't no need fer certin things she said.
Wantin' to do good acts don't call fer blame,
Even on tackless 'usban's, eight years wed.
A bloke 'oo jist suggests a 'armless plan
Don't need remindin' 'e's a marrid man.
'Struth! Don't I know it? Can I well ferget
While I still 'ave two 'ealthy ears to 'ark?
Not that she torks an' mags a lot; but yet
Ther's somethin' in 'er choice uv a remark
That gets there, worse than yappin' all day long,
An' makes me pure intentions look dead wrong.
It seems it ain't right fer a marrid bloke
To rescue maids. I starts to answer back;
But got took up before I 'ardly spoke,
An' innercent designs is painted black.
I calls attention to the knights uv old;
But tin knights an' romance iist leaves 'er cold.
I read 'er meanin' plain in 'er cool eye.
Aw, strike! I ain't admirin' Rose!… Wot?… Me!
But when 'er look sez 'Rats!' where's the reply
A man can give, an' keep 'is dignity?
It can't be done. When they git on that lay,
Wise coves adjourns the meet, an' fades away.
That's wot I done. I gits out uv the 'ouse
All dignified. An', jist to show 'er 'ow
Reel unconcerned I am, I starts to rouse
Me neighbour, Wally Free, about 'is cow
Wot's got in to me cabbages, an' et
Close on a row uv 'em. I'll shoot 'er yet!
(A batchelor 'e is, this Wally Free
A soljer bloke that come this way last year
An' took the little farm nex' door to me.)
When I gets mad, 'e grins frum ear to ear,
An' sez, 'Cool orf,' 'e sez. 'It's plain your wool
'As been pulled 'ard this mornin'.' 'E's a fool!
If 'e don't mend that fence . . . Ar, wot's the good?
I lets 'im go, an' sneaks be'ind the shed,
An' sits there broodin' on a pile uv wood…
Ther's certin things she might 'ave left unsaid.
Ther' wasn't nothin' fer to make 'er go
An' dig up chance remarks uv years ago.
Me problem's this: Either I 'urts Doreen,
By doin' things with which she don't agree,
Or lets Rose slide, an' treats me cobber mean
Ole Ginger Mick, 'oo 'ad no friend but me.
I ain't a ringtail; but, by gum, it's tough.
I loves me wife too much to treat 'er rough.
If I was single . . . 'Struth! 'Oo wants to be?
Fool batchelors can larf their silly larf,
An' kid theirselves they got a pull on me.
I'm out uv sorts, that's all; an' more than 'arf
Inclined to give some coot a crack, right now
Fer pref'rince, some insultin' single cow!
Imagine me being here now this very moment just as I am slipping through my own disembodied awareness like a silver dolphin alone in a sea of shadows on the moon on the eyeless side of the mirror. And you. Just as you are. Doing the very same thing because it's in everybody's nature to swim through themselves as if they were shoreless, looking for islands in the mindstream among the stars. To be free. To delight in the mystery of exploring themselves like a new medium they discover they have an unknown talent for beathing life into. Beyond reality, beyond delusion, beyond enlightenment and ignorance the knowable human divinity of pure sentience omnipresently at home with itself like the homeless everywhere. Everywhere within yourself even at midnight can't you see the aura of the gold in the ore that dreams of being dug up? Or how the fireflies are always trying to get your attention like tiny lighthouses off the coast of continents that have already run aground like mountains? Or gone down with Mu and Atlantis? How many lost civilizations are waiting in the overgrown jungles of yourself for you to let the dead use your voice to decipher their ghosts at a seance of whispering hieroglyphs? If the one word the wise never use is complete then you're a fool to think there's an end of you in sight. But that shouldn't discourage you from looking.
And isn't that what we were born for? To see and be happy. To attain a transformative insight into the tragic innocence of seeing itself that let's the witness go free to delight in its eyes without accounting for anything? Even if you're trying to wash your reflection off your face like a deathmask in a mirage in a desert of stars. Even if you're scooping up the moon to drink from your hands like a lifeboat in the rain. Even if you've crawled into one of the wormholes of space like a prophet in the belly of a snake whispering in Eve's ear things that weren't meant to be heard by anyone other than yourself. Even if you're the most fucked-up, twisted, mutated, incontravertible perversion of yourself, a black dwarf that ate its own children after it had starved them to death by keeping its light to itself. Even if you're dropping breadcrumbs like asteroids everywhere you go or threading the eye in the needle like a spider in a labyrinth to figure a way out of yourself like genetically inherited dice. You're still not a victim of gravity. Whatever excruciating transformations you must undergo like the sea enduring its own weather. Nothing can get you down. Nothing can bring you up. Because the whole universe in all ten directions is wired to surround-sound listening to itself like an old recording of what it had to say at the beginning of things before it discovered its voice. But it's not a Big Bang when nothing's come into existence yet to compare it to. It's not the sound of one hand clapping or the crash of a tree in a forest when there's no one there to hear it. And even if you're holding on to your religion like a superstitious grudge against the world. And it may be hard at first to discover the universe God the Zeitgeist the Cosmic Id whatever you want to call it never had a motive from the very first that wasn't invasively human. But that's just you being godlessly unconvinced of your own existence. That's just you trying to believe in your own inconceivability like an established fact. That's just you trying to spread your angel wings over the earthly turbulence of learning to fly on your own.
So what if you're a dead civilization before you're seventeen? That doesn't make you any less intriguing than the living ones. It's the tragic heroes we remember the most not the ghosts of the bookends who lived to the end of their long and boring biographies wholesome as twelve grain bread. So what if you're gnawing on yourself like a bitter black crust of starwheat? You're still shining. You're still breaking yourself into loaves and fishes. Some people are bright and light with stars in their eyes and smiles that can only be measured in lightyears. And some are dark and deep as Solomon's mines hiding their wealth from the graverobbers in gnostic caves of black matter no one's thief enough to enter. Here's a Zen koan I just made up specifically for you. If a thief stole the moon from your window would your window miss it? If you ever find an answer that doesn't let you in on the know as immediately as your mind. Let it go. It wasn't meant for you.
You get up every morning and you open your eyes like storefronts and informers and for all that appeared and disappeared in plain view before and through them have you ever heard them complain that anything was ever missing from the seeing? Whatever you're looking at. Awake or dreaming. Whose light is cast over everything and then withdrawn like day and night? When it's gone. Stars. When it's here. Flowers. When you fail at finding happiness you discover peace as a way of consoling yourself. When you fall a god or two shy of perfection you master an earthly excellence that's out of reach of the angels. Cornerstones and quicksand. Everything here stands solidly on the unsubstantiated reality of everything else. The defeated don't stand like shadows in the victor's light. An eclipse isn't midnight on the sun when the clock strikes Cinderella with a pendulum like an executioner's ax. You can call it praying if you like but from here it looks like swanning on the block for betraying yourself.
Or is it Chicken Little when the sky's falling in all around her like Leonid meteor showers? Did you raise a false alarm? Did you let the world down? Have your zeniths caught up to their nadirs like snakes with their tails in their mouths? Zero. Forever. Did it become inconceivably unholy to tempt yourself with the earth's believable fruits because they fall back on their dark roots like pregnant rain to climb up the waterslide again like clear fountains everyone can drink from like clouds and birds that pass without a trace? Is that blood or lipstick on the mirror? Was your last loveletter a suicide note full of agitated compassion for what you'd done to everyone else by killing them into life with your absence or were you just kidding when you said life was too hard for the living and what's the point of swimming when the lifeboats are full of the dead?
It's too late for the Mayan calendar to do the Mayans any good. And Nostradamus' worst guess on a bad seeing day is just another unenlightened truism at the wrong end of a telescope looking for signs of intelligent life. And maybe we'll destroy ourselves out of hate and ignorance long before we get any answers that might have prevented the onslaught of doom like a prophetic skull that had spoken. Everything is broken. Fractious. Raptors in rapture they've made a comeback at last like Nazis in the Black Forest. Like Dante in a dark wood. Like children all over the planet tonight turning into young men and women who remember war like the scar of a childhood Caesarian that marked them for life like that which has been rent asunder. Like an olive tree by lightning without thunder. Or the Israeli airforce. A flash of insight without wondering what they've seen that makes them want to kill themselves in a holy war of mirrors vying for perfection of the reflection of a God that escapes detection like a cosmic Houdini whatever chains straightjackets or suicide vests or religions you want to dress him up in.
So why are you crying like a broken teacup you couldn't pour the ocean into? Is your mind too big for your skull? Look at how the trees bag all the stars in the sky into the tiniest dropp of water and throw a hobo branch over their shoulders like a jolly swagman down under and walk away with the spoils of the victors like a windfall at their feet. You say you've lost your purpose for living. But here's one that's as purposeful as evolution. Begin. Anywhere. Now. Like a crowning achievement that returns to transcendence by getting over itself.
When misdirection comes to its senses where are you that isn't always here and now? Because there is no other place to be. If you make goodness the standard of life then you'll end up practising an occult alchemy looking for a philosopher's stone to turn maggots into butterflies with the wormy afterlives of people obscenely out of touch with themselves. Knowledge feeds on ignorance and true wisdom doesn't acknowledge the difference. Great enlightenment doesn't maintain a teacher. You want to be a star. You want to rise and shine. As well you should. But remember this. The darkness is a star's best feature. And beauty and meaning and art don't mean anything to anyone with a heart if they haven't lived through their own passionate annihilation. You won't find a phoenix in an urn on a mantle. You want to burn? You've got to learn to eat your own ashes sometimes.