I'd planned to be Heathcliff's Cathy,
Lady Brett, Nicole or Dominique or Scarlett O'Hara.
I hadn't planned to be folding up the laundry
In uncombed hair and last night's smudged mascara,
An expert on buying Fritos, cleaning the cat box,
Finding lost sneakers, playing hide and seek.
And other things unknown to Heathcliff's
Cathy, Scarlett, Lady Brett, and Dominique.
Why am I never running through the heather?
Why am I never used by Howard Roark?
Why am I never going to Pamplona
Instead of Philadelphia and Newark?
How did I ever wind up with an Irving
When what I'd always had in mind was Rhett,
Or someone more appropriate to
Cathy, Dominique, Nicole, or Lady Brett?
I saw myself as heedless, heartless, headstrong,
An untamed woman searching for her mate.
And there he is -- with charcoal, fork, and apron,
Prepared to broil some hot dogs on the grate.
I haven't wrecked his life or his digestion
With unrequited love or jealous wrath.
He Doesn't know that secretly
I'm Scarlett, Dominique, Nicole, or Brett, or Cathy.
Why am I never cracking up in Zurich?
Why am I never languishing on moors?
Why am I never spoiled by faithful servants
Instead of spraying ant spray on the floors?
The tricycles are cluttering my foyer,
The Pop Tart crumbs are sprinkled on my soul.
And every year it's harder to be
Cathy, Dominique, Brett, Scarlett, and Nicole.
- quotes about cooking
- quotes about women
- quotes about cleaning
- quotes about heart
- quotes about dogs
- quotes about time
- quotes about wind
- quotes about intellect
- quotes about love
Fading Lady Night
Ive had desert visions
When the moon is shining bright
The end of the rainbow promise
Almost in my sight
Sat with my back against cold stone
Waiting for the morning light
And all the things Ive seen in dreams
Have kept me up all night
Always reaching to the sky
Soft hard stone
Im sitting here and thinking
Bout all the centuries its known
Got a feeling someones near
Listening to the east wind moan
You know theres no one here
But I just dont feel alone
Fading lady light
Always here with me
Singing your song in the wind at night
You know Ive never felt so free
Youre my reality
Dont you fade away from me
The wind it paints your face
As it stirs the shifting sand
Nightmare creatures closing in
They leave at your command
If only you were beside me now
Maybe I would understand
And I could leave my dreams for life
To live the dream we planned
Treat me to your insights.
Your thoughts with wit,
I must say
If not for you...
I would not feel as much encouraged,
Had not your comments
Made more sense and cleared my view!
Treat me to your insights.
Your thoughts with wit,
I just can not sit knowing you are right...
And knowing I had perhaps been wrong,
By not accepting a reflection of me,
I see that clearly now...
And as I write,
High on a consciousness
I am blessed with that excites.
Thank you Scarlett for your 'wit treats'.
They have provided a wider vision,
For a mind like mine
That feeds to nourish
This mental appetite that loves to bite on wit!
Lay Lady Lay
Lay lady lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Lay lady lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Stay lady stay
Stay while the night is still ahead
Stay lady stay
Heavens ? fills our head
Whatever colors you have in your mind
I show them to you and you see them shine
Stay lady stay
Stay with your man a while
Till the break of day
Then youre gonna see him smile
His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean
And youre the best thing hes ever seen
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When hes standing over you
Lay lady lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Stay lady stay
Were gonna build the whole night ahead
I long to see you in the morning light
I long to reach for you all night
Lay lady lay
The Lady Wore Black
On a lonely walk this morning
A light mist in the air
Dark clouds laughing at me in silence
Casting shadows through my hair
In the distance I saw a woman
Dressed in black with eyes of grey
She wore her pain like a shackled spirit
Eternal life was her debt to pay
The lady wore black
Its the sign of the prisoners lives
The lady wore black
See the years through the tears in her eyes
The lady wore black
Her mystic power calls to me
The lady wore black
Her love can set me free
The wind song whispered a warning
Telling me to beware
Of the quiet shadowed woman
And of the sadness I would share
We sat together for sometime together in silence
Never speaking in words
Of all her thoughts she spoke with her eyes
And I listened remembering all I heard
The lady wore black
Its the sign of the prisoners lives
The lady wore black
See the years through the tears in her eyes
The lady wore black
Her mystic power calls to me
The lady wore black
Her love can set me free
The words she spoke were of forgotten lives
And of all knowledge gained
Memries I had and didnt know why
With a smile she explained
I should have listened to the winds cold warning
And walked the other way
I touched her soul and now I bear her sentence
But for her love Ill gladly pay
The lady wore black
Its the sign of the prisoners lives
The lady wore black
See the years through the tears in her eyes
The lady wore black
Her mystic power calls to me
The lady wore black
Her love can set me free
Composed and lyrics by valo
Your pain aint love
Cant you see hes the heartless
Your pain is not love
Hes taking it too far
Dont you know it is wrong
Youre the one for me lady
Youre the one
If youd only see in my heart
Youd know know all is not lost
Your time is running out
And you still havent made up your mind
Cant you see hes the heartless
And youre one of a kind
Hes the heartless
You cant you see hes the heartless
Your pain wont ever be love
It doesnt matter how hard you try
To you all is lost
Hes the heartless
The Challenge: A Court Ballad
To one fair lady out of Court,
And two fair ladies in,
Who think the Turk and Pope a sport,
And wit and love no sin!
Come, these soft lines, with nothing stiff in,
To Bellenden, Lepell, and Griffin.
With a fa, la, la.
What passes in the dark third row,
And what behind the scene,
Couches and crippled chairs I know,
And garrets hung with green;
I know the swing of sinful hack,
Where many damsels cry alack.
With a fa, la, la.
Then why to Courts should I repair,
Where's such ado with Townsend?
To hear each mortal stamp and swear,
And every speech with 'Zounds' end;
To hear them rail at honest Sunderland,
And rashly blame the realm of Blunderland.
With a fa, la, la.
Alas! like Schutz I cannot pun,
Like Grafton court the Germans;
Tell Pickenbourg how slim she's grown,
Like Meadows run to sermons;
To court ambitious men may roam,
But I and Marlbro' stay at home.
With a fa, la, la.
In truth, by what I can discern,
Of courtiers, 'twixt you three,
Some wit you have, and more may learn
From Court, than Gay or Me:
Perhaps, in time, you'll leave high diet,
To sup with us on milk and quiet.
With a fa, la, la.
At Leicester Fields, a house full nigh,
With door all painted green,
(A Milliner, I mean);
There may you meet us three to three,
For Gay can well make two of Me.
With a fa, la, la.
But should you catch the prudish itch,
And each become a coward,
Bring sometimes with you lady Rich,
And sometimes mistress Howard;
For virgins, to keep chaste, must go
Abroad with such as are not so.
With a fa, la, la.
And thus, fair maids, my ballad ends;
God send the king safe landing;
And make all honest ladies friends
To armies that are standing;
Preserve the limits of those nations,
And take off ladies' limitations.
With a fa, la, la.
The Hound of Heaven
I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
From those strong feet that followed, followed after
But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest me.
I pleaded, outlaw--wise by many a hearted casement,
curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
For though I knew His love who followe d,
Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
I should have nought beside.
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
The pale ports of the moon.
I said to Dawn --- be sudden, to Eve --- be soon,
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover.
Float thy vague veil about me lest He see.
I tempted all His servitors but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him, their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue,
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind,
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue,
Or whether, thunder-driven,
They clanged His chariot thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn of their feet,
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat:
Nought shelters thee who wilt not shelter Me.
I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of Man or Maid.
But still within the little childrens' eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me.
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair,
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature's
Share with me, said I, your delicate fellowship.
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning with our Lady Mother's vagrant tresses,
Banqueting with her in her wind walled palace,
Underneath her azured dai:s,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice, lucent weeping out of the dayspring.
So it was done.
I in their delicate fellowship was one.
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies,
I knew all the swift importings on the wilful face of skies,
I knew how the clouds arise,
Spume d of the wild sea-snortings.
All that's born or dies,
Rose and drooped with,
Made them shapers of mine own moods, or wailful, or Divine.
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the Even,
when she lit her glimmering tapers round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
and its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.
Against the red throb of its sunset heart,
I laid my own to beat
And share commingling heat.
But not by that, by that was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know what each other says,
these things and I; In sound I speak,
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor step-dame, cannot slake my drouth.
Let her, if she would owe me
Drop yon blue-bosomed veil of sky
And show me the breasts o' her tenderness.
Never did any milk of hers once bless my thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, with unperturbe d pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
And past those noise d feet, a Voice comes yet more fleet:
Lo, nought contentst thee who content'st nought Me.
Naked, I wait thy Love's uplifted stroke. My harness, piece by piece,
thou'st hewn from me
And smitten me to my knee,
I am defenceless, utterly.
I slept methinks, and awoke.
And slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours,
and pulled my life upon me.
Grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o' the mounded years--
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst like sunstarts on a stream.
Yeah, faileth now even dream the dreamer
and the lute, the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies in whose blossomy twist,
I swung the Earth, a trinket at my wrist,
Have yielded, cords of all too weak account,
For Earth, with heavy grief so overplussed.
Ah! is thy Love indeed a weed,
albeit an Amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must, Designer Infinite,
Ah! must thou char the wood 'ere thou canst limn with it ?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust.
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver upon the sighful branches of my
Such is. What is to be ?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind ?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds,
Yet ever and anon, a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity.
Those shaken mists a space unsettle,
Then round the half-glimpse d turrets, slowly wash again.
But not 'ere Him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal; Cypress crowned.
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether Man's Heart or Life it be that yield thee harvest,
Must thy harvest fields be dunged with rotten death ?
Now of that long pursuit,
Comes at hand the bruit.
That Voice is round me like a bursting Sea:
And is thy Earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.
Strange, piteous, futile thing;
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of Naught (He said).
And human love needs human meriting ---
How hast thou merited,
Of all Man's clotted clay, the dingiest clot.
Alack! Thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save me, save only me?
All which I took from thee, I did'st but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms.
All which thy childs mistake fancies as lost,
I have stored for thee at Home.
Rise, clasp my hand, and come.
Halts by me that Footfall.
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.
To Prudence Crandall
Heaven bless thee, noble lady, in thy purpose good and high!
Give knowledge to the thirsting mind, light to the asking eye;
Unseal the intellectual page, for those from whom dark pride,
With tyrant and unholy hands, would fain its treasures hide.
Still bear thou up unyielding ‘gainst persecution's shock,
Gentle as woman's self, yet firm, and moveless as a rock;
A thousand spirits yield to thee their gushing sympathies,
The blessing of a thousand hearts around thy pathway lies.
A Virtuous Woman
I belong to my lover and my lover belongs to me,
With self-assured words to bind this love forever!
For she's my treasure.
My fair Lady,
You need a royal pampering on this love from my heart;
And pure love is everything on this muse,
With self-assured words from your heart to bind this love!
A virtuous woman is a crown of the husband,
And like an architectural digest to view at times;
For true love is all about this unity that we share,
So flourish yourself like the flowers of love to satisfy me always.
Sincerity with the muse of your love,
A virtuous woman is a crown of the husband;
And you are my fair lady on this love,
But let your words of peace bath my mind always.
Old lady lost in the city
In the middle of a cold, cold night
It was fourteen below and the wind start to blow
There wasnt a boy scout in sight
Pull down the shades cause hes comin
Turn out the lights cause hes here
Runnin hard down the street
Through the snow and the sleet
On the coldest night of the year
Beware, beware, beware of the naked man
Old lady head up toward broad street
Shufflin uptown against the wind
She had started to cry-wiped a tear from her eye
And looked back to see where she had been
Old lady stand on the corner
With a purse in her hand
She does not know but in a minute or so
She will be robbed by a naked man
Old lady lean against a lamppost
Starin down at the ground on which she stand
She look up and scream
For the lamplights beam
There stood the famous naked man
He say, they found out about my sister
And kicked me out of the navy,
They would have strung me up if they could.
I tried to explain that we were both of us lazy
And were doing the best we could.
He faked to the left and he faked to the right
And he snatched the purse fromere hand
Someone stop me, he cried,
As he faded from sight,
Wont nobody help a naked man?
Wont nobody help a naked man?
Sticky Summer Weather
This song appears on two albums, and was first released on the take me to tomorrow album, and has also been released on the country roads collection album.
Sticky summer weather always pains me
Its like living beneath a blanket I cant breathe
The days are like an oven the nights forever
Nothing to do not much else to see
Then again, I cant stand the thought of winter
Aint got a fire theres nobody to keep me warm
The night is grey and my coffee tastes so bitter
My memoreis go raging back to storm
Seems like twenty years ago in the springtime
The rain was sweet the wind was cool and clean
I had a girl she was a lady I could talk to
Now its almost like shes never been
Ive been a long time looking for rainbows
Trying to find a way to believe tomorrow
There was a time I think when I remember dreaming
There was a reason I cant find it now
As I recall it almost made my life worth living
It must be hiding like the sun behind a cloud
Ive been a long time looking for rainbows
Trying to find a way to believe tomorrow
Sticky summer weather always pains me
Its like living beneath a blanket I cant breathe
The days are like an oven the nights forever
Nothing to do not much else to see
Like spending a long time looking for rainbows
Words and music by john denver
I have returned.
I have returned to carry out,
the task I had to leave undone.
You will soon that Jacks about.
I’m Jack the Rippers great grandson.
I was reborn to continue
my campaign started long ago.
Although you can’t believe it’s true.
That show how little that you know.
I’ll rid the streets of prostitutes
who try to lead good men astray
Reducing them to lustful beasts.
These women are my lawful prey.
To prove that I am really Jack.
I will leave my usual clue
at the site of each attack.
In the same way I used to do.
I’ll take some little souvenir
to add to my collection
A kidney or perhaps an ear
As I did in days long gone.
I will select them carefully
The women who I’ve come to kill.
I know police will hunt for me
which adds a little to the thrill.
I slew my first victim today.
In Whitechapel would you believe.
You can rely that what I say
is no more than I can achieve.
There is no doubt that fear will reign
amongst the ladies of the night
As I renew my old campaign.
I am still Jack I strike at night.
I am not just some copy cat
who seeks to emulate my deeds
You can be very sure of that.
This is a warning all should heed.
My name is Jack and I am back.
Despite modern technology
I will be just as hard to track.
If Lady Luck still favours me.
http: // blog.myspace.com/poeticpiers
Of Moral Standards
Let people talk high and of moral standards
They are like cowards and very weak form inward
They can cheat and at the same time enjoy the position
It is very easy for them to switch over from one to another transition
When it comes to praise the woman
All are same in case you talk about man
They may think at first from sex point of view
Then attempt seriously as if it is warranted and due
That does not confine to one beautiful lady
They may always want some change in look and body
Their mind may roam all over for easy pry
They go in for hunt and desperately try
Animals go for such greed but restrict to their main partner
They no very well that she has to surrender sooner or later
The grip will be tightened and lust is compensated
But in case of human being it is well thought over and equated
Only beautiful body may attract their attention
In friend circles too it may find vulgar mention
Every organ is discussed at full length as if newly discovered
The sarcastically comments and overtures are simply murmured
We live in and prefer dual role
Easily loose balance and respond to beautiful call
Have whatever is easily within grip and enjoy
As aim has been restricted to take control with joy
Publicly we never allow our minds to be read
We are over cautious and morally completely dead
How we create public perception is the only concern?
We know nothing that what will be fate when it takes ugly turn?
It is not the game of nature to change
Some of the things may come naturally with age
We can’t completely change as per the seasons
Nature has some cycles but we have no such reasons
If any one admits it of being outspoken
It may be taken as good gesture or of some token
No may admit lapses in open platform
But it is good if done so before being warned
Homage To Sextus Propertius - IV
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION WITH
Tell me the truths which you hear of our constant young lady,
And may the bought yoke of a mistress lie with
equitable weight on your shoulders;
For I am swelled up with inane pleasurabilities
and deceived by your reference
To things which you think I would like to believe.
No messenger should come wholly empty,
and a slave should fear plausibilities;
Much conversation is as good as having a home.
Out with it, tell it to me, all of it, from the beginning,
I guzzle with outstretched ears.
Thus? She wept into uncombed hair,
And you saw it.
Vast waters flowed from her eyes ?
You, you Lygdamus
Saw her stretched on her bed,
was no glimpse in a mirror;
No gawds on her snowy hands, no orfevrerie,
Sad garment draped on her slender arms.
Her escritoires lay shut by the bed-feet.
Sadness hung over the house, and the desolated female attendants
Were desolated because she had told them her dreams.
She was veiled in the midst of that place,
Damp woolly handkerchiefs were stuffed into her undryable eyes,
And a querulous noise responded to our solicitous reprobations.
For which things you will get a reward from me, Lygdamus?
To say many things is equal to having a home.
And the other woman 'has not enticed me
by her pretty manners,
'She has caught me with herbaceous poison,
she twiddles the spiked wheel of a rhombus,
'She stews puffed frogs, snake's bones, the moulted
'She stews puffed frogs, snake's bones, the moulted
feathers of screech owls,
'She binds me with ravvles of shrouds.
Black spiders spin in her bedl
'Let her lovers snore at her in the morning!
May the gout cramp up her feet!
'Does he like me to sleep here alone,
'Will he say nasty things at my funeral?'
And you expect me to believe this
after twelve months of discomfort ?
Ariosto. Orlando Furioso, Canto X, 91-99
Ruggiero, to amaze the British host,
And wake more wonder in their wondering ranks,
The bridle of his winged courser loosed,
And clapped his spurs into the creature's flanks;
High in the air, even to the topmost banks
Of crudded cloud, uprose the flying horse,
And now above the Welsh, and now the Manx,
And now across the sea he shaped his course,
Till gleaming far below lay Erin's emerald shores.
There round Hibernia's fabled realm he coasted,
Where the old saint had left the holy cave,
Sought for the famous virtue that it boasted
To purge the sinful visitor and save.
Thence back returning over land and wave,
Ruggiero came where the blue currents flow,
The shores of Lesser Brittany to lave,
And, looking down while sailing to and fro,
He saw Angelica chained to the rock below.
'Twas on the Island of Complaint -- well named,
For there to that inhospitable shore,
A savage people, cruel and untamed,
Brought the rich prize of many a hateful war.
To feed a monster that bestead them sore,
They of fair ladies those that loveliest shone,
Of tender maidens they the tenderest bore,
And, drowned in tears and making piteous moan,
Left for that ravening beast, chained on the rocks alone.
Thither transported by enchanter's art,
Angelica from dreams most innocent
(As the tale mentioned in another part)
Awoke, the victim for that sad event.
Beauty so rare, nor birth so excellent,
Nor tears that make sweet Beauty lovelier still,
Could turn that people from their harsh intent.
Alas, what temper is conceived so ill
But, Pity moving not, Love's soft enthralment will?
On the cold granite at the ocean's rim
These folk had chained her fast and gone their way;
Fresh in the softness of each delicate limb
The pity of their bruising violence lay.
Over her beauty, from the eye of day
To hide its pleading charms, no veil was thrown.
Only the fragments of the salt sea-spray
Rose from the churning of the waves, wind-blown,
To dash upon a whiteness creamier than their own.
Carved out of candid marble without flaw,
Or alabaster blemishless and rare,
Ruggiero might have fancied what he saw,
For statue-like it seemed, and fastened there
By craft of cunningest artificer;
Save in the wistful eyes Ruggiero thought
A teardrop gleamed, and with the rippling hair
The ocean breezes played as if they sought
In its loose depths to hide that which her hand might not.
Pity and wonder and awakening love
Strove in the bosom of the Moorish Knight.
Down from his soaring in the skies above
He urged the tenor of his courser's flight.
Fairer with every foot of lessening height
Shone the sweet prisoner. With tightening reins
He drew more nigh, and gently as he might:
"O lady, worthy only of the chains
With which his bounden slaves the God of Love constrains,
"And least for this or any ill designed,
Oh, what unnatural and perverted race
Could the sweet flesh with flushing stricture bind,
And leave to suffer in this cold embrace
That the warm arms so hunger to replace?"
Into the damsel's cheeks such color flew
As by the alchemy of ancient days
If whitest ivory should take the hue
Of coral where it blooms deep in the liquid blue.
Nor yet so tightly drawn the cruel chains
Clasped the slim ankles and the wounded hands,
But with soft, cringing attitudes in vain
She strove to shield her from that ardent glance.
So, clinging to the walls of some old manse,
The rose-vine strives to shield her tender flowers,
When the rude wind, as autumn weeks advance,
Beats on the walls and whirls about the towers
And spills at every blast her pride in piteous showers.
And first for choking sobs she might not speak,
And then, "Alas!" she cried, "ah, woe is me!"
And more had said in accents faint and weak,
Pleading for succor and sweet liberty.
But hark! across the wide ways of the sea
Rose of a sudden such a fierce affray
That any but the brave had turned to flee.
Ruggiero, turning, looked. To his dismay,
Lo, where the monster came to claim his quivering prey!
This yarn is a fabric woven of several earlier warped works, lightly laced together with additional braided tales of human frailty. The looms were purling frantically... Some pearls may be found wonting, hanging loose, dangling free within a fuzzy flight of fancy... These untethered strands may be fastened, or be forgotten, or be hidden by the readers in the corners of their minds... Some may end up in stitches, others all torn up or ripped apart, others may just say ‘made of hole cloth', ‘sew what' or ‘I don't seam to get the needle point'... This wanton web is yours to spin...
Some have said that such strange things ‘have Never happened in our Land', such quaint things ‘could Never happen in our Land'', such murky things ‘will Never happen in our Land''... and this may be true... such is the gossamer that veils the human mind... and thus ensues the title of this Fantasy...
An ancient man named Peter Pan, disguised but from the past,
With feathered cap and tunic wrap and sabre's sailed his last.
Though fully grown, on dust he's flown and perched upon a mast
Atop the Walls around the sprawls, unvisited and vast -
And all the while with bitter smile he's watching us aghast.
As day begins, a spindle spins, it weaves a wanton web;
Like puckered prunes, like midday moons, like yesterday's celebs,
We scrape and grope, we seldom hope - he's watching while we ebb:
The organ grinder preaches fine on Sunday afternoons -
He quotes from books but overlooks the Secrets Carved in Runes:
'You've tried and toyed, but can't avoid or shun the pale monsoons,
It's sink or swim as echoed dim in swinging door saloons'.
The laughingstocks are flinging rocks at ball-and-chained baboons.
While ghetto boys are looting toys preparing for their doom
And Mademoiselles are weaving shells on tapestries with looms,
Cathedral cats and rafter rats are peering in the room,
Where ragged strangers stoop for change, for coppers in the gloom,
Whose thoughts are more upon the doors of crypts in Christmas bloom,
And gold doubloons and silver spoons that tempt beyond the tomb.
Mid Uzi shots from vacant lots, that strike and ricochet
A painted girl with flaxen curl (named Wendy) 's on her way
To tantalise with half-clad thighs, to trick again today;
And indiscreet upon the street she gives her pride away
To any guy who's passing by with time and cash to pay.
(In concert halls beyond the Walls, unjaded girls ballet,
With flowered thoughts of Camelot and dreams of cabarets.)
The alley ways within the maze are paved with rats and mice.
Evangelists with moneyed fists collect the sacrifice
From losers scorned and rubes reborn, and promise paradise,
While in the back they cook some crack, inhale, and roll the dice.
A bum called Boe has stubbed his toe, he's stumbled in the gutter;
With broken neck, he looks a wreck, the sparrows all aflutter,
The passers-by, they close an eye, and turn their heads and mutter:
'Let's pray for rains to wash the lanes, to clear away the clutter.'
A river slows neath mountain snows, and leaves begin to shudder.
Though rip-off shops and crooked cops are paid not once but thrice,
The painted girl with flaxen curl is paring down her price
And loosely tempts cold hands unkempt to touch the merchandise.
A crazy guy cries 'where am I', a schizo titters twice,
And double quick a lunatic affects a fight with lice.
The jungle teems, a siren screams, the air is filled with meth.
The Reverent Priest and nuns unleash the Holy Shibboleth.
And Righteous Jane who is insane, as well as Sister Beth,
While telling tales to no avail of everlasting death,
At least imbue Hagg Avenue with whisky on their breath.
The Reverent Priest combats the Beast, they're kneeling down to prey,
To fight the truth with fang and tooth, to toil for yesterday,
To etch their mark within the dark, to paint their résumé
On shrouds and sheets which then completes the devil's dossier.
Old Dan, he's drunk and in a funk, all mired in the mud.
A Monk begins to wash Dan's sins, and asks 'How are you, Bud? '
'I'm feeling pain and crying rain till soon there is a flood.
And no god's there who seems to care I'm always coughing blood.'
The Monk, he turns, Dan's words he spurns and lets the bible thud.
Well, Banjo Boy, he will annoy with jangled rhymes that fray:
'The clanging bells of carousels lead blind men's minds astray
To rings of gold they'll never hold in fingers made of clay.
But crest and crown will crumble down, when withered roots decay.'
Now, Railroad Bob has lost his job, he's got no place for working,
His wife, she cries with desperate eyes, their baby's head's a' jerking.
The union man don't give a damn, Big Brother lies a' lurking,
The boss' in cabs are picking scabs, they count their money, smirking.
A pregnant lass with eyes of glass has never learned to cope.
Once set adrift her fall was swift, she slid a slipp'ry slope -
She casts the Curse, the Holy Verse, and shoots a shot of dope,
And stalks discreet Asylum Street her daily horoscope -
The stray was struck by random truck which was her only hope.
Well, Banjo Boy, with little joy, he strums her life entire:
'The wayward waif was never safe; her stars were dark and dire.
Born midst the rues and avenues where lack and want aspire
Where no one heeds the childish needs that little ones require;
Where faith survives in tempest lives, a swirl within the briar,
Infinity grinds as time unwinds, until the winds expire.
Her last caprice? The final peace that no one could deny her -
Whipped by the flood, stray beads of blood are spattered on the spire;
Though beads of sweat are cool and wet, cold clotted blood is dryer.'
Though broken there, she's fled the snare with dying thoughts serene.
And now she's dead, the rumours spread: her age? a sweet 16,
With child, unwed, her soul dyed red, her body so unclean.
A place is sought where she can rot, avoiding churchyard scenes,
In limey pits, as well befits, behind forbidding screens;
And all the while a dirge is styled on tattered tambourines
Which echo through the human zoo in valleys of the Queens.
Without rejoice, in hissing voice, near soil that's seldom trod
'In pious role, God bless my soul', was mouthed with mitred nod,
Neath scarlet trim with black, and grim, behind a robed facade -
'She'll burn in hell and sulphur smell', spat Priest and man of god.
Well, angels sweet with cloven feet, they sing in girl's attire,
But Banjo Boy, he's playing coy while chanting in the choir:
'The clueless search within the church to find what they desire,
But near the nave or gravelled grave, there is no Rectifier.'
And when he's through, without ado, he stacks some stones nearby her.
A sodden dreg with wooden leg is dancing for a dime,
To sacred psalms and other balms, all ticking with the time.
He's 22, he's almost through, he's melted in his prime,
His bane is firm, the canker worm dissolves his brain to slime.
With slanted scales and twisted jails, his life's his only crime.
The eyes behind the head inclined reflect a universe
Of shanty towns and kings in crowns and parties in a hearse,
Of heaping mounds of coffee grounds and pennies in a purse,
Of heart attacks in shoddy shacks, of motion in reverse,
Of reasons why pale kids must die, quite trite and curtly terse,
Of puppet people at the steeple, kneeling down averse,
Of tinkle tones and megaphones with empty words and worse,
Of life's begin' in utter sin and other things perverse,
Of lewd taboos and residues contained within the Curse,
While poets blind, in gallows' rind, carve epitaphs in verse.
Bob walks the streets and begs for eats or little jobs for trying
'The answer's no, you ought to know, no use for you applying,
And don't be sad, it aint that bad, it's soon your time for dying.'
The air is thick, his baby's sick, the cries are multiplying.
The backyard blight is hid from sight, it's covered up and bland,
The beggar clump beside the dump has pencil box in hand.
With sightless eyes upon the skies he's lying there unmanned,
With no relief and bitter grief too dark to understand.
The backyard blight is hid from sight, it's covered up and bland,
And Robin Hood and Brother Hood lie buried in the sand.
While all night queens carve figurines in gelatine and jade,
Behind a door and on the floor a deal is finally made;
The painted girl with flaxen curl has plied again her trade
And now the care within her stare has turned a darker shade.
Her lack of guile and parting smile are cutting like a blade.
Some boys with cheek play hide and seek within a house condemned
Their faces gaunt reflecting want that's hard to comprehend.
With no excuse an old recluse is waiting to descend.
His eyes despair behind the stair, he's never had a friend
To talk about his hidden doubt of how the world will end -
To die alone on empty throne and other Fates impend.
And soon the boys chase phantom joys and, presto when they're gone,
The old recluse, with nimble noose and facial features drawn,
No longer waits upon the Fates but yawns his final yawn
- Like Tinker Bell, he spins a spell, in fairy dust chiffon -
With twisted brow, he's tranquil now, he's floating like a swan
And as he fades from life's charades, the night awaits the dawn.
A boomerang with ebon fang is soaring through the air
To pierce and breach the heart of each and then is called despair.
And as it grows it will oppose and fester everywhere.
And yet the crop that's at the top will still be unaware.
A lad is stopped by roving cops, who shoot in disregard.
His face is black, he's on his back, a breeze is breathing hard,
He bleeds and dies, his mama cries, the screaming sky is scarred,
The sheriff and his squad at hand are laughing in the yard.
Bob's wife's in town, she's broken down, she's ranting with a fury,
Their baby coughs, the doctor scoffs, the snow is all a' flurry,
Their life of sin has done them in, they skirmish, scrimp and scurry.
It's getting late, Bob's tempting fate, his choices cruel and blurry,
His midnight dreams are filled with screams, he knows he needs to hurry -
He chooses gas, they breathe their last, there's no more cause to worry.
Per protocols near ivied walls arrayed in sage festoons,
The Countess quips, while giving tips, to crimson caped buffoons:
'To rise from mass to upper class, like twirly bird tycoons,
You stretch the treat you always eat, with tiny tablespoons'
A learned leach begins to teach (with songs upon a liar) :
'Within the thrall of Satan's call to yield to dim desire
Lie wicked lies that tantalize the flesh and blood Vampire;
Abiding souls with self-control in everyday Hellfire
Will rest assured, when once interred, in afterlife Empire'.
The words, they weave the make believe, while slugs in salt expire,
Baptised in tears and rampant fears, all mirrored in the mire.
It's getting hot on private yachts, though far from desert plains -
'Well, come to think, we'll have a drink', Sir Captain Hook ordains.
Beyond the blame and pit of shame, outside the Walled domains,
They pet their pups and raise their cups, take sips of pale champagnes
To touch the tips of languid lips with pearls of purple rains.
Well, Gypsy Guy would rather die than hunker down in chains,
Be ridden south with bit in mouth, or heed the hold of reins;
The ones that plot are in a spot, the boss man he complains:
'The gypsy soul, I can't control, my patience wears and wanes;
They will not cede to common greed, one only way remains,
In boxcar bins, with violins we'll freight them out in trains,
And in the bogs, they'll die like dogs, and everybody gains.'
Arrayed in shawls with crystal balls, and gazing at the moons,
Wiled women tease with melodies and spooky loony tunes
While making toasts to holey ghosts on rainy day lagoons:
'Well, here's to you and others too, embedded in the dunes,
Avoid the stares, avoid the snares, avoid the veiled typhoons
And fend your way as every day, 'gainst heavy heeled dragoons.'
The birds of pray are on their way, in every beak the Word
(Of ptomaine tomes by gnarly gnomes) whose meaning is obscured;
They roost aloof on every roof, obscene but always herd,
To tell the tale of Jonah's whale and other rhymes absurd -
With shifty eyes, they're giving whys for living life deferred.
While jackals lean, hyenas mean, and hungry crocodiles
Feast in the lounge and never scrounge, lambs languish in the aisle.
The naive dare to say 'unfair, let's try to reconcile.
We'll all relax and weigh the facts, let justice spin the dial.'
With jaundiced monks and minds pre-shrunk, the jury is compiled.
The Rulers meet, First Ladies greet, the Kings appear in style.
Before the Court, their sins are short, they're swept into a pile;
With diatribes and petty bribes, the jurors are beguiled.
The Herd entreats, the Shepherd bleats the verdict of the trial:
'You have no face. Stay in your place, stay in the Rank and File.
And wait instead, for when you're dead, for riches after while';
Aristocrats add caveats while sailing down the Nile:
'If Minds are mugged or simply drugged with philtres in a vial,
Then few indeed will fail to feed the Pharaoh's Crocodile.'
The wordsmiths spin, the bankers grin and politicians smile,
The riff and raff, they never laugh, they mark a martyred mile.
The rituals are finished, all, here comes the Reverent Priest.
He leads the crowds beneath the clouds, and there the flock is fleeced
With crossing signs and bloody wines and consecrated yeast,
'The last are first, the rich are cursed.' (The leached remain the least.)
His step is gay without dismay before his evening feast;
He thanks the Lord for room and board and bows to Eden East;
He doesn't sigh or wonder why the sins have not decreased.
The sinking sun is now undone, the sky is fading red.
A spider black hides in a crack and spins a silken thread
And babes will soon collapse and swoon, on curbs they call a bed;
With vacant eyes they fantasize and dream of gingerbread,
And then are freed, though still in need, from anguish of the dead.
While midnight bats are gnawing gnats and feasting free unseen,
A toddler's fed from garbage sheds an elegant cuisine.
Along the trails in distant dales a lonesome wolverine
Feigns appetite on fogy nights and days of crystalline.
The circus gongs excite the throngs in nighttime Never Land -
They swarm to see the destiny of Freaks at their command,
While Acrobats step pitapat across the shifting sands
And Lady Fat adores her cat and oozes charm unplanned.
The Dwarfs in suits, so small and cute when marching with the band,
Ask crimson Clowns with painted frowns, to lend a mutant hand,
While Tamers' whips with withered tips, throughout the winter land,
Lure minds entranced through hoops enhanced with flames of fires fanned.
White Elephants in big-top tents sell black tusk contraband
To Sycophants in regiments who overflow the stands,
But No One sees anomalies, and No One understands.
At night's demise, the dither dies, the lonely Crowd disbands,
Down dead-end streets the Horde retreats, their threadbare rags in strands,
And Janes and Joes reweave their woes, for thoughts of change are banned.
The Monk of Mock has fled the flock caught knocking up a tween
(She brought to light the special rite he thought to leave unseen) .
With profaned eyes they agonise, their souls no more serene
And at the shrine the flutes of wine are filled with kerosene
By men unkempt who once had dreamt but now can dream no more
Except when bellowed bellies belch an ever growing roar,
Which churns the seas and stirs a breeze that mercy can't ignore,
And in the night, though filled with fright, they try to end the War.
The slow and quick are hurling bricks and fight with clubs of rage
To break the chains and cleanse the stains of life within a cage,
But yield to stings of armoured things that crush in every age.
At crack of dawn, a broken pawn, in pools of blood and fire,
He washes wounds, in blood festooned - the waves flow nigh and nigher;
The ghetto towns are burning down - the flames grow high and higher -
And in their wake, a golden snake is rising from the pyre,
Her knees are bare, consumed in prayer, applauded by the Friar.
And soon it's clear the end is near - while magpie birds conspire,
The lowly worm is made to squirm while dangling from a wire.
The line was crossed, the battle lost, the losers can't deny,
The residues are far and few, though smoke pervades the sky.
The cool wind's cruel, a cutting tool, the vanquished ask it 'Why? ',
And bittersweet, from Easy Street, the Pashas' puffed reply:
'The rules are set, so don't forget, the rabble will comply;
The grapes of wrath may make you laugh, the day you are to die.'
The down and out, they knock about beneath the barren skies
Where homeward bound, without a sound, a wretched raven flies.
Beyond the Walls, the morning calls the newborn sun to rise,
And Peter Pan, a broken man, he tilts his head and cries.
Cool, inaccessible air
Is floating in velvety blackness shot with steel-blue lights,
But no breath stirs the heat
Leaning its ponderous bulk upon the Ghetto
And most on Hester street…
Nosing in the body's overflow,
Like a beast pressing its great steaming belly close,
Covering all avenues of air…
The heat in Hester street,
Heaped like a dray
With the garbage of the world.
Bodies dangle from the fire escapes
Or sprawl over the stoops…
Upturned faces glimmer pallidly -
Herring-yellow faces, spotted as with a mold,
And moist faces of girls
Like dank white lilies,
And infants' faces with open parched mouths that suck at the air
as at empty teats.
Young women pass in groups,
Converging to the forums and meeting halls,
Surging indomitable, slow
Through the gross underbrush of heat.
Their heads are uncovered to the stars,
And they call to the young men and to one another
With a free camaraderie.
Only their eyes are ancient and alone…
The street crawls undulant,
Like a river addled
With its hot tide of flesh
That ever thickens.
Heavy surges of flesh
Break over the pavements,
Clavering like a surf -
Flesh of this abiding
Brood of those ancient mothers who saw the dawn break over Egypt…
And turned their cakes upon the dry hot stones
And went on
Till the gold of the Egyptians fell down off their arms…
Fasting and athirst…
And yet on…
Did they vision - with those eyes darkly clear,
That looked the sun in the face and were not blinded -
Across the centuries
The march of their enduring flesh?
Did they hear -
Under the molten silence
Of the desert like a stopped wheel -
(And the scorpions tick-ticking on the sand…
The infinite procession of those feet?
I room at Sodos' - in the little green room that was Bennie's -
And her old father and her mother,
Who is not so old and wears her own hair.
Old Sodos no longer makes saddles.
He has forgotten how.
He has forgotten most things - even Bennie who stays away
and sends wine on holidays -
And he does not like Sadie's mother
Who hides God's candles,
Whose young pagan breath puts out the light -
That should burn always,
Like Aaron's before the Lord.
Time spins like a crazy dial in his brain,
And night by night
I see the love-gesture of his arm
In its green-greasy coat-sleeve
Circling the Book,
And the candles gleaming starkly
On the blotched-paper whiteness of his face,
Like a miswritten psalm…
Night by night
I hear his lifted praise,
Like a broken whinnying
Before the Lord's shut gate.
Sadie dresses in black.
She has black-wet hair full of cold lights
And a fine-drawn face, too white.
All day the power machines
Drone in her ears…
All day the fine dust flies
Till throats are parched and itch
And the heat - like a kept corpse -
Fouls to the last corner.
Then - when needles move more slowly on the cloth
And sweaty fingers slacken
And hair falls in damp wisps over the eyes -
Sped by some power within,
Sadie quivers like a rod…
A thin black piston flying,
One with her machine.
She - who stabs the piece-work with her bitter eye
And bids the girls: 'Slow down -
You'll have him cutting us again!'
She - fiery static atom,
Held in place by the fierce pressure all about -
Speeds up the driven wheels
And biting steel - that twice
Has nipped her to the bone.
Nights, she reads
Those books that have most unset thought,
New-poured and malleable,
To which her thought
Leaps fusing at white heat,
Or spits her fire out in some dim manger of a hall,
Or at a protest meeting on the Square,
Her lit eyes kindling the mob…
Or dances madly at a festival.
Each dawn finds her a little whiter,
Though up and keyed to the long day,
Alert, yet weary… like a bird
That all night long has beat about a light.
The Gentile lover, that she charms and shrews,
Is one more pebble in the pack
For Sadie's mother,
Who greets him with her narrowed eyes
That hold some welcome back.
'What's to be done?' she'll say,
'When Sadie wants she takes…
Better than Bennie with his Christian woman…
A man is not so like,
If they should fight,
To call her Jew…'
Yet when she lies in bed
And the soft babble of their talk comes to her
And the silences…
I know she never sleeps
Till the keen draught blowing up the empty hall
Edges through her transom
And she hears his foot on the first stairs.
Sarah and Anna live on the floor above.
Sarah is swarthy and ill-dressed.
Life for her has no ritual.
She would break an ideal like an egg for the winged thing at the core.
Her mind is hard and brilliant and cutting like an acetylene torch.
If any impurities drift there, they must be burnt up as in a clear flame.
It is droll that she should work in a pants factory.
- Yet where else… tousled and collar awry at her olive throat.
Besides her hands are unkempt.
With English… and everything… there is so little time.
She reads without bias -
Doubting clamorously -
Psychology, plays, science, philosophies -
Those giant flowers that have bloomed and withered, scattering their seed…
- And out of this young forcing soil what growth may come -
what amazing blossomings.
Anna is different.
One is always aware of Anna, and the young men turn their heads
to look at her.
She has the appeal of a folk-song
And her cheap clothes are always in rhythm.
When the strike was on she gave half her pay.
She would give anything - save the praise that is hers
And the love of her lyric body.
But Sarah's desire covets nothing apart.
She would share all things…
Even her lover.
The sturdy Ghetto children
March by the parade,
Waving their toy flags,
Prancing to the bugles -
Shaking little fire sticks
At the night -
The old blinking night -
Swerving out of the way,
Wrapped in her darkness like a shawl.
But a small girl
Her braided head,
Shiny as a black-bird's
In the gleam of the torch-light,
Is poised as for flight.
Her eyes have the glow
Of darkened lights.
She stammers in Yiddish,
But I do not understand,
And there flits across her face
As of a drawn blind.
I give her an orange,
Large and golden,
And she looks at it blankly.
I take her little cold hand and try to draw her to me,
But she is stiff…
Like a doll…
Suddenly she darts through the crowd
Like a little white panic
Blown along the night -
Away from the terror of oncoming feet…
And drums rattling like curses in red roaring mouths…
And torches spluttering silver fire
And lights that nose out hiding-places…
To the night -
Squatting like a hunchback
Under the curved stoop -
The old mammy-night
That has outlived beauty and knows the ways of fear -
The night - wide-opening crooked and comforting arms,
Hiding her as in a voluminous skirt.
The sturdy Ghetto children
March by the parade,
Waving their toy flags,
Prancing to the bugles,
But I see a white frock
And eyes like hooded lights
Out of the shadow of pogroms
Calicoes and furs,
Pocket-books and scarfs,
Razor strops and knives
(Patterns in check…
Olive hands and russet head,
Pickles red and coppery,
Green pickles, brown pickles,
(Patterns in tapestry…
Coral beads, blue beads,
Beads of pearl and amber,
Gewgaws, beauty pins -
Bijoutry for chits -
Darting rays of violet,
Amethyst and jade…
All the colors out to play,
(Patterns in stained glass
Shivered into bits!)
Nooses of gay ribbon
Tugging at one's sleeve,
Dainty little garters
Hanging out their sign…
Here a pout of frilly things -
There a sonsy feather…
(White beards, black beards
Like knots in the weave…
And ah, the little babies -
Shiny black-eyed babies -
(Half a million pink toes
Baskets full of babies
Like grapes on a vine.
Mothers waddling in and out,
Making all things right -
Picking up the slipped threads
In Grand street at night -
Grand street like a great bazaar,
Crowded like a float,
Bulging like a crazy quilt
Stretched on a line.
But nearer seen
This litter of the East
Takes on a garbled majesty.
The herded stalls
In dissolute array…
The glitter and the jumbled finery
And strangely juxtaposed
Cans, paper, rags
And colors decomposing,
Faded like old hair,
With flashes of barbaric hues
And eyes of mystery…
Like an ancient tapestry of motley weave
Upon the open wall of this new land.
Here, a tawny-headed girl…
Lemons in a greenish broth
And a huge earthen bowl
By a bronzed merchant
With a tall black lamb's wool cap upon his head…
He has no glance for her.
His thrifty eyes
Bend - glittering, intent
Their hoarded looks
Upon his merchandise,
As though it were some splendid cloth
Or sumptuous raiment
Stitched in gold and red…
He seldom talks
Save of the goods he spreads -
The meager cotton with its dismal flower -
But with his skinny hands
That hover like two hawks
Above some luscious meat,
He fingers lovingly each calico,
As though it were a gorgeous shawl,
Or costly vesture
Wrought in silken thread,
Or strange bright carpet
Made for sandaled feet…
Here an old grey scholar stands.
His brooding eyes -
That hold long vistas without end
Of caravans and trees and roads,
And cities dwindling in remembrance -
Bend mostly on his tapes and thread.
What if they tweak his beard -
These raw young seed of Israel
Who have no backward vision in their eyes -
And mock him as he sways
Above the sunken arches of his feet -
They find no peg to hang their taunts upon.
His soul is like a rock
That bears a front worn smooth
By the coarse friction of the sea,
And, unperturbed, he keeps his bitter peace.
What if a rigid arm and stuffed blue shape,
Backed by a nickel star
Does prod him on,
Taking his proud patience for humility…
All gutters are as one
To that old race that has been thrust
From off the curbstones of the world…
And he smiles with the pale irony
Of one who holds
The wisdom of the Talmud stored away
In his mind's lavender.
But this young trader,
Born to trade as to a caul,
Peddles the notions of the hour.
The gestures of the craft are his
And all the lore
As when to hold, withdraw, persuade, advance…
And be it gum or flags,
Or clean-all or the newest thing in tags,
Demand goes to him as the bee to flower.
And he - appraising
All who come and go
With his amazing
Slight-of-mind and glance
And nimble thought
And nature balanced like the scales at nought -
Looks Westward where the trade-lights glow,
And sees his vision rise -
A tape-ruled vision,
Circumscribed in stone -
Some fifty stories to the skies.
As I sit in my little fifth-floor room -
Save for bed and chair,
And coppery stains
Left by seeping rains
On the low ceiling
And green plaster walls,
Where when night falls
Come out of their holes,
And roaches, sepia-brown, consort…
I hear bells pealing
Out of the gray church at Rutgers street,
Holding its high-flung cross above the Ghetto,
And, one floor down across the court,
The parrot screaming:
The parrot frowsy-white,
On its iron bar.
A little old woman,
With a wig of smooth black hair
Gummed about her shrunken brows,
Comes sometimes on the fire escape.
An old stooped mother,
The left shoulder low
With that uneven droopiness that women know
Who have suckled many young…
Yet I have seen no other than the parrot there.
I watch her mornings as she shakes her rugs
Feebly, with futile reach
And fingers without clutch.
Her thews are slack
And curved the ruined back
And flesh empurpled like old meat,
Yet each conspires
To feed those guttering fires
With which her eyes are quick.
On Friday nights
Her candles signal
Infinite fine rays
To other windows,
Coupling other lights,
Linking the tenements
Like an endless prayer.
She seems less lonely than the bird
That day by day about the dismal house
Screams out his frenzied word…
That night by night -
If a dog yelps
Or a cat yawls
Or a sick child whines,
Or a door screaks on its hinges,
Or a man and woman fight -
Sends his cry above the huddled roofs:
In this dingy cafe
The old men sit muffled in woollens.
Everything is faded, shabby, colorless, old…
The chairs, loose-jointed,
Creaking like old bones -
The tables, the waiters, the walls,
Whose mottled plaster
Blends in one tone with the old flesh.
Young life and young thought are alike barred,
And no unheralded noises jolt old nerves,
And old wheezy breaths
Pass around old thoughts, dry as snuff,
And there is no divergence and no friction
Because life is flattened and ground as by many mills.
And it is here the Committee -
Sweet-breathed and smooth of skin
And supple of spine and knee,
With shining unpouched eyes
And the blood, high-powered,
Leaping in flexible arteries -
The insolent, young, enthusiastic, undiscriminating Committee,
Who would placard tombstones
And scatter leaflets even in graves,
Comes trampling with sacrilegious feet!
The old men turn stiffly,
Mumbling to each other.
They are gentle and torpid and busy with eating.
But one lifts a face of clayish pallor,
There is a dull fury in his eyes, like little rusty grates.
He rises slowly,
Trembling in his many swathings like an awakened mummy,
Ridiculous yet terrible.
- And the Committee flings him a waste glance,
Dropping a leaflet by his plate.
A lone fire flickers in the dusty eyes.
The lips chant inaudibly.
The warped shrunken body straightens like a tree.
And he curses…
With uplifted arms and perished fingers,
So centuries ago
The old men cursed Acosta,
When they, prophetic, heard upon their sepulchres
Those feet that may not halt nor turn aside for ancient things.
Here in this room, bare like a barn,
Egos gesture one to the other -
Naked, unformed, unwinged
Egos out of the shell,
Examining, searching, devouring -
Avid alike for the flower or the dung…
(Having no dainty antennae for the touch and withdrawal -
Only the open maw…
Expanding in the mean egg…
Little squat tailors with unkempt faces,
Pale as lard,
Fur-makers, factory-hands, shop-workers,
News-boys with battling eyes
And bodies yet vibrant with the momentum of long runs,
Here and there a woman…
Words, words, words,
Pattering like hail,
Like hail falling without aim…
Screaming each other down.
One motions perpetually,
Waving arms like overgrowths.
He has burning eyes and a cough
And a thin voice piping
Like a flute among trombones.
One, red-bearded, rearing
A welter of maimed face bashed in from some old wound,
Garbles Max Stirner.
His words knock each other like little wooden blocks.
No one heeds him,
And a lank boy with hair over his eyes
Pounds upon the table.
- He is chairman.
Egos yet in the primer,
Chanting grand arias…
Stunning with sound…
Half-heard like rain on pools…
Greater than harmonies…
- Gleaning out of it all
Passion, bewilderment, pain…
Egos yearning with the world-old want in their eyes -
Hurt hot eyes that do not sleep enough…
Striving with infinite effort,
Frustrate yet ever pursuing
The great white Liberty,
Trailing her dissolving glory over each hard-won barricade -
Only to fade anew…
Egos crying out of unkempt deeps
And waving their dreams like flags -
Winged and glorious…
A gas jet throws a stunted flame,
Vaguely illumining the groping faces.
And through the uncurtained window
Falls the waste light of stars,
As cold as wise men's eyes…
Indifferent great stars,
At the secret meeting in this shut-in room,
Bare as a manger.
Lights go out
And the stark trunks of the factories
Melt into the drawn darkness,
Sheathing like a seamless garment.
And mothers take home their babies,
Waxen and delicately curled,
Like little potted flowers closed under the stars.
Lights go out
And the young men shut their eyes,
But life turns in them…
Life in the cramped ova
Tearing and rending asunder its living cells…
Wars, arts, discoveries, rebellions, travails, immolations,
Pent in the shut flesh.
And the young men twist on their beds in languor and dizziness
Their eyes - heavy and dimmed
With dust of long oblivions in the gray pulp behind -
Staring as through a choked glass.
And they gaze at the moon - throwing off a faint heat -
The moon, blond and burning, creeping to their cots
Softly, as on naked feet…
Lolling on the coverlet… like a woman offering her white body.
Nude glory of the moon!
That leaps like an athlete on the bosoms of the young girls stripped
of their linens;
Stroking their breasts that are smooth and cool as mother-of-pearl
Till the nipples tingle and burn as though little lips plucked at them.
They shudder and grow faint.
And their ears are filled as with a delirious rhapsody,
That Life, like a drunken player,
Strikes out of their clear white bodies
As out of ivory keys.
Lights go out…
And the great lovers linger in little groups, still passionately debating,
Or one may walk in silence, listening only to the still summons of Life -
Life making the great Demand…
Calling its new Christs…
Till tears come, blurring the stars
That grow tender and comforting like the eyes of comrades;
And the moon rolls behind the Battery
Like a word molten out of the mouth of God.
Lights go out…
And colors rush together,
Fusing and floating away…
Pale worn gold like the settings of old jewels…
Mauves, exquisite, tremulous, and luminous purples
And burning spires in aureoles of light
Like shimmering auras.
They are covering up the pushcarts…
Now all have gone save an old man with mirrors -
Little oval mirrors like tiny pools.
He shuffles up a darkened street
And the moon burnishes his mirrors till they shine like phosphorus…
The moon like a skull,
Staring out of eyeless sockets at the old men trundling home the pushcarts.
A sallow dawn is in the sky
As I enter my little green room.
Sadie's light is still burning…
Without, the frail moon
Worn to a silvery tissue,
Throws a faint glamour on the roofs,
And down the shadowy spires
Lights tip-toe out…
Softly as when lovers close street doors.
Out of the Battery
A little wind
Stirs idly - as an arm
Trails over a boat's side in dalliance -
Rippling the smooth dead surface of the heat,
And Hester street,
Like a forlorn woman over-born
By many babies at her teats,
Turns on her trampled bed to meet the day.
Startling, vigorous life,
That squirms under my touch,
And baffles me when I try to examine it,
Or hurls me back without apology.
Leaving my ego ruffled and preening itself.
Screaming in provocative assertion,
Or out of the black and clotted gutters,
Piping in silvery thin
Of children's laughter,
Or clinging over the pushcarts
Like a litter of tiny bells
Or the jingle of silver coins,
Perpetually changing hands,
Or like the Jordan somberly
Swirling in tumultuous uncharted tides,
Electric currents of life,
Throwing off thoughts like sparks,
Making unknown circuits,
Or out of spent particles stirring
Feeble contortions in old faiths
Passing before the new.
Long nights argued away
In meeting halls
Back of interminable stairways -
In Roumanian wine-shops
And little Russian tea-rooms…
Feet echoing through deserted streets
In the soft darkness before dawn…
Brows aching, throbbing, burning -
Life leaping in the shaken flesh
Like flame at an asbestos curtain.
Stoops and façades,
Jostling, pushing, contriving,
Seething as in a great vat…
Bartering, changing, extorting,
Dreaming, debating, aspiring,
Life of the Ghetto…
Strong flux of life,
Like a bitter wine
Out of the bloody stills of the world…
Out of the Passion eternal.
The Coming Of Arthur
Leodogran, the King of Cameliard,
Had one fair daughter, and none other child;
And she was the fairest of all flesh on earth,
Guinevere, and in her his one delight.
For many a petty king ere Arthur came
Ruled in this isle, and ever waging war
Each upon other, wasted all the land;
And still from time to time the heathen host
Swarmed overseas, and harried what was left.
And so there grew great tracts of wilderness,
Wherein the beast was ever more and more,
But man was less and less, till Arthur came.
For first Aurelius lived and fought and died,
And after him King Uther fought and died,
But either failed to make the kingdom one.
And after these King Arthur for a space,
And through the puissance of his Table Round,
Drew all their petty princedoms under him.
Their king and head, and made a realm, and reigned.
And thus the land of Cameliard was waste,
Thick with wet woods, and many a beast therein,
And none or few to scare or chase the beast;
So that wild dog, and wolf and boar and bear
Came night and day, and rooted in the fields,
And wallowed in the gardens of the King.
And ever and anon the wolf would steal
The children and devour, but now and then,
Her own brood lost or dead, lent her fierce teat
To human sucklings; and the children, housed
In her foul den, there at their meat would growl,
And mock their foster mother on four feet,
Till, straightened, they grew up to wolf-like men,
Worse than the wolves. And King Leodogran
Groaned for the Roman legions here again,
And Csar's eagle: then his brother king,
Urien, assailed him: last a heathen horde,
Reddening the sun with smoke and earth with blood,
And on the spike that split the mother's heart
Spitting the child, brake on him, till, amazed,
He knew not whither he should turn for aid.
But--for he heard of Arthur newly crowned,
Though not without an uproar made by those
Who cried, `He is not Uther's son'--the King
Sent to him, saying, `Arise, and help us thou!
For here between the man and beast we die.'
And Arthur yet had done no deed of arms,
But heard the call, and came: and Guinevere
Stood by the castle walls to watch him pass;
But since he neither wore on helm or shield
The golden symbol of his kinglihood,
But rode a simple knight among his knights,
And many of these in richer arms than he,
She saw him not, or marked not, if she saw,
One among many, though his face was bare.
But Arthur, looking downward as he past,
Felt the light of her eyes into his life
Smite on the sudden, yet rode on, and pitched
His tents beside the forest. Then he drave
The heathen; after, slew the beast, and felled
The forest, letting in the sun, and made
Broad pathways for the hunter and the knight
And so returned.
For while he lingered there,
A doubt that ever smouldered in the hearts
Of those great Lords and Barons of his realm
Flashed forth and into war: for most of these,
Colleaguing with a score of petty kings,
Made head against him, crying, `Who is he
That he should rule us? who hath proven him
King Uther's son? for lo! we look at him,
And find nor face nor bearing, limbs nor voice,
Are like to those of Uther whom we knew.
This is the son of Gorlos, not the King;
This is the son of Anton, not the King.'
And Arthur, passing thence to battle, felt
Travail, and throes and agonies of the life,
Desiring to be joined with Guinevere;
And thinking as he rode, `Her father said
That there between the man and beast they die.
Shall I not lift her from this land of beasts
Up to my throne, and side by side with me?
What happiness to reign a lonely king,
Vext--O ye stars that shudder over me,
O earth that soundest hollow under me,
Vext with waste dreams? for saving I be joined
To her that is the fairest under heaven,
I seem as nothing in the mighty world,
And cannot will my will, nor work my work
Wholly, nor make myself in mine own realm
Victor and lord. But were I joined with her,
Then might we live together as one life,
And reigning with one will in everything
Have power on this dark land to lighten it,
And power on this dead world to make it live.'
Thereafter--as he speaks who tells the tale--
When Arthur reached a field-of-battle bright
With pitched pavilions of his foe, the world
Was all so clear about him, that he saw
The smallest rock far on the faintest hill,
And even in high day the morning star.
So when the King had set his banner broad,
At once from either side, with trumpet-blast,
And shouts, and clarions shrilling unto blood,
The long-lanced battle let their horses run.
And now the Barons and the kings prevailed,
And now the King, as here and there that war
Went swaying; but the Powers who walk the world
Made lightnings and great thunders over him,
And dazed all eyes, till Arthur by main might,
And mightier of his hands with every blow,
And leading all his knighthood threw the kings
Cardos, Urien, Cradlemont of Wales,
Claudias, and Clariance of Northumberland,
The King Brandagoras of Latangor,
With Anguisant of Erin, Morganore,
And Lot of Orkney. Then, before a voice
As dreadful as the shout of one who sees
To one who sins, and deems himself alone
And all the world asleep, they swerved and brake
Flying, and Arthur called to stay the brands
That hacked among the flyers, `Ho! they yield!'
So like a painted battle the war stood
Silenced, the living quiet as the dead,
And in the heart of Arthur joy was lord.
He laughed upon his warrior whom he loved
And honoured most. `Thou dost not doubt me King,
So well thine arm hath wrought for me today.'
`Sir and my liege,' he cried, `the fire of God
Descends upon thee in the battle-field:
I know thee for my King!' Whereat the two,
For each had warded either in the fight,
Sware on the field of death a deathless love.
And Arthur said, `Man's word is God in man:
Let chance what will, I trust thee to the death.'
Then quickly from the foughten field he sent
Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere,
His new-made knights, to King Leodogran,
Saying, `If I in aught have served thee well,
Give me thy daughter Guinevere to wife.'
Whom when he heard, Leodogran in heart
Debating--`How should I that am a king,
However much he holp me at my need,
Give my one daughter saving to a king,
And a king's son?'--lifted his voice, and called
A hoary man, his chamberlain, to whom
He trusted all things, and of him required
His counsel: `Knowest thou aught of Arthur's birth?'
Then spake the hoary chamberlain and said,
`Sir King, there be but two old men that know:
And each is twice as old as I; and one
Is Merlin, the wise man that ever served
King Uther through his magic art; and one
Is Merlin's master (so they call him) Bleys,
Who taught him magic, but the scholar ran
Before the master, and so far, that Bleys,
Laid magic by, and sat him down, and wrote
All things and whatsoever Merlin did
In one great annal-book, where after-years
Will learn the secret of our Arthur's birth.'
To whom the King Leodogran replied,
`O friend, had I been holpen half as well
By this King Arthur as by thee today,
Then beast and man had had their share of me:
But summon here before us yet once more
Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere.'
Then, when they came before him, the King said,
`I have seen the cuckoo chased by lesser fowl,
And reason in the chase: but wherefore now
Do these your lords stir up the heat of war,
Some calling Arthur born of Gorlos,
Others of Anton? Tell me, ye yourselves,
Hold ye this Arthur for King Uther's son?'
And Ulfius and Brastias answered, `Ay.'
Then Bedivere, the first of all his knights
Knighted by Arthur at his crowning, spake--
For bold in heart and act and word was he,
Whenever slander breathed against the King--
`Sir, there be many rumours on this head:
For there be those who hate him in their hearts,
Call him baseborn, and since his ways are sweet,
And theirs are bestial, hold him less than man:
And there be those who deem him more than man,
And dream he dropt from heaven: but my belief
In all this matter--so ye care to learn--
Sir, for ye know that in King Uther's time
The prince and warrior Gorlos, he that held
Tintagil castle by the Cornish sea,
Was wedded with a winsome wife, Ygerne:
And daughters had she borne him,--one whereof,
Lot's wife, the Queen of Orkney, Bellicent,
Hath ever like a loyal sister cleaved
To Arthur,--but a son she had not borne.
And Uther cast upon her eyes of love:
But she, a stainless wife to Gorlos,
So loathed the bright dishonour of his love,
That Gorlos and King Uther went to war:
And overthrown was Gorlos and slain.
Then Uther in his wrath and heat besieged
Ygerne within Tintagil, where her men,
Seeing the mighty swarm about their walls,
Left her and fled, and Uther entered in,
And there was none to call to but himself.
So, compassed by the power of the King,
Enforced was she to wed him in her tears,
And with a shameful swiftness: afterward,
Not many moons, King Uther died himself,
Moaning and wailing for an heir to rule
After him, lest the realm should go to wrack.
And that same night, the night of the new year,
By reason of the bitterness and grief
That vext his mother, all before his time
Was Arthur born, and all as soon as born
Delivered at a secret postern-gate
To Merlin, to be holden far apart
Until his hour should come; because the lords
Of that fierce day were as the lords of this,
Wild beasts, and surely would have torn the child
Piecemeal among them, had they known; for each
But sought to rule for his own self and hand,
And many hated Uther for the sake
Of Gorlos. Wherefore Merlin took the child,
And gave him to Sir Anton, an old knight
And ancient friend of Uther; and his wife
Nursed the young prince, and reared him with her own;
And no man knew. And ever since the lords
Have foughten like wild beasts among themselves,
So that the realm has gone to wrack: but now,
This year, when Merlin (for his hour had come)
Brought Arthur forth, and set him in the hall,
Proclaiming, "Here is Uther's heir, your king,"
A hundred voices cried, "Away with him!
No king of ours! a son of Gorlos he,
Or else the child of Anton, and no king,
Or else baseborn." Yet Merlin through his craft,
And while the people clamoured for a king,
Had Arthur crowned; but after, the great lords
Banded, and so brake out in open war.'
Then while the King debated with himself
If Arthur were the child of shamefulness,
Or born the son of Gorlos, after death,
Or Uther's son, and born before his time,
Or whether there were truth in anything
Said by these three, there came to Cameliard,
With Gawain and young Modred, her two sons,
Lot's wife, the Queen of Orkney, Bellicent;
Whom as he could, not as he would, the King
Made feast for, saying, as they sat at meat,
`A doubtful throne is ice on summer seas.
Ye come from Arthur's court. Victor his men
Report him! Yea, but ye--think ye this king--
So many those that hate him, and so strong,
So few his knights, however brave they be--
Hath body enow to hold his foemen down?'
`O King,' she cried, `and I will tell thee: few,
Few, but all brave, all of one mind with him;
For I was near him when the savage yells
Of Uther's peerage died, and Arthur sat
Crowned on the das, and his warriors cried,
"Be thou the king, and we will work thy will
Who love thee." Then the King in low deep tones,
And simple words of great authority,
Bound them by so strait vows to his own self,
That when they rose, knighted from kneeling, some
Were pale as at the passing of a ghost,
Some flushed, and others dazed, as one who wakes
Half-blinded at the coming of a light.
`But when he spake and cheered his Table Round
With large, divine, and comfortable words,
Beyond my tongue to tell thee--I beheld
From eye to eye through all their Order flash
A momentary likeness of the King:
And ere it left their faces, through the cross
And those around it and the Crucified,
Down from the casement over Arthur, smote
Flame-colour, vert and azure, in three rays,
One falling upon each of three fair queens,
Who stood in silence near his throne, the friends
Of Arthur, gazing on him, tall, with bright
Sweet faces, who will help him at his need.
`And there I saw mage Merlin, whose vast wit
And hundred winters are but as the hands
Of loyal vassals toiling for their liege.
`And near him stood the Lady of the Lake,
Who knows a subtler magic than his own--
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful.
She gave the King his huge cross-hilted sword,
Whereby to drive the heathen out: a mist
Of incense curled about her, and her face
Wellnigh was hidden in the minster gloom;
But there was heard among the holy hymns
A voice as of the waters, for she dwells
Down in a deep; calm, whatsoever storms
May shake the world, and when the surface rolls,
Hath power to walk the waters like our Lord.
`There likewise I beheld Excalibur
Before him at his crowning borne, the sword
That rose from out the bosom of the lake,
And Arthur rowed across and took it--rich
With jewels, elfin Urim, on the hilt,
Bewildering heart and eye--the blade so bright
That men are blinded by it--on one side,
Graven in the oldest tongue of all this world,
"Take me," but turn the blade and ye shall see,
And written in the speech ye speak yourself,
"Cast me away!" And sad was Arthur's face
Taking it, but old Merlin counselled him,
"Take thou and strike! the time to cast away
Is yet far-off." So this great brand the king
Took, and by this will beat his foemen down.'
Thereat Leodogran rejoiced, but thought
To sift his doubtings to the last, and asked,
Fixing full eyes of question on her face,
`The swallow and the swift are near akin,
But thou art closer to this noble prince,
Being his own dear sister;' and she said,
`Daughter of Gorlos and Ygerne am I;'
`And therefore Arthur's sister?' asked the King.
She answered, `These be secret things,' and signed
To those two sons to pass, and let them be.
And Gawain went, and breaking into song
Sprang out, and followed by his flying hair
Ran like a colt, and leapt at all he saw:
But Modred laid his ear beside the doors,
And there half-heard; the same that afterward
Struck for the throne, and striking found his doom.
And then the Queen made answer, `What know I?
For dark my mother was in eyes and hair,
And dark in hair and eyes am I; and dark
Was Gorlos, yea and dark was Uther too,
Wellnigh to blackness; but this King is fair
Beyond the race of Britons and of men.
Moreover, always in my mind I hear
A cry from out the dawning of my life,
A mother weeping, and I hear her say,
"O that ye had some brother, pretty one,
To guard thee on the rough ways of the world."'
`Ay,' said the King, `and hear ye such a cry?
But when did Arthur chance upon thee first?'
`O King!' she cried, `and I will tell thee true:
He found me first when yet a little maid:
Beaten I had been for a little fault
Whereof I was not guilty; and out I ran
And flung myself down on a bank of heath,
And hated this fair world and all therein,
And wept, and wished that I were dead; and he--
I know not whether of himself he came,
Or brought by Merlin, who, they say, can walk
Unseen at pleasure--he was at my side,
And spake sweet words, and comforted my heart,
And dried my tears, being a child with me.
And many a time he came, and evermore
As I grew greater grew with me; and sad
At times he seemed, and sad with him was I,
Stern too at times, and then I loved him not,
But sweet again, and then I loved him well.
And now of late I see him less and less,
But those first days had golden hours for me,
For then I surely thought he would be king.
`But let me tell thee now another tale:
For Bleys, our Merlin's master, as they say,
Died but of late, and sent his cry to me,
To hear him speak before he left his life.
Shrunk like a fairy changeling lay the mage;
And when I entered told me that himself
And Merlin ever served about the King,
Uther, before he died; and on the night
When Uther in Tintagil past away
Moaning and wailing for an heir, the two
Left the still King, and passing forth to breathe,
Then from the castle gateway by the chasm
Descending through the dismal night--a night
In which the bounds of heaven and earth were lost--
Beheld, so high upon the dreary deeps
It seemed in heaven, a ship, the shape thereof
A dragon winged, and all from stern to stern
Bright with a shining people on the decks,
And gone as soon as seen. And then the two
Dropt to the cove, and watched the great sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:
And down the wave and in the flame was borne
A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet,
Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried "The King!
Here is an heir for Uther!" And the fringe
Of that great breaker, sweeping up the strand,
Lashed at the wizard as he spake the word,
And all at once all round him rose in fire,
So that the child and he were clothed in fire.
And presently thereafter followed calm,
Free sky and stars: "And this the same child," he said,
"Is he who reigns; nor could I part in peace
Till this were told." And saying this the seer
Went through the strait and dreadful pass of death,
Not ever to be questioned any more
Save on the further side; but when I met
Merlin, and asked him if these things were truth--
The shining dragon and the naked child
Descending in the glory of the seas--
He laughed as is his wont, and answered me
In riddling triplets of old time, and said:
`"Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky!
A young man will be wiser by and by;
An old man's wit may wander ere he die.
Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea!
And truth is this to me, and that to thee;
And truth or clothed or naked let it be.
Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows:
Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?
From the great deep to the great deep he goes."
`So Merlin riddling angered me; but thou
Fear not to give this King thy only child,
Guinevere: so great bards of him will sing
Hereafter; and dark sayings from of old
Ranging and ringing through the minds of men,
And echoed by old folk beside their fires
For comfort after their wage-work is done,
Speak of the King; and Merlin in our time
Hath spoken also, not in jest, and sworn
Though men may wound him that he will not die,
But pass, again to come; and then or now
Utterly smite the heathen underfoot,
Till these and all men hail him for their king.'
She spake and King Leodogran rejoiced,
But musing, `Shall I answer yea or nay?'
Doubted, and drowsed, nodded and slept, and saw,
Dreaming, a slope of land that ever grew,
Field after field, up to a height, the peak
Haze-hidden, and thereon a phantom king,
Now looming, and now lost; and on the slope
The sword rose, the hind fell, the herd was driven,
Fire glimpsed; and all the land from roof and rick,
In drifts of smoke before a rolling wind,
Streamed to the peak, and mingled with the haze
And made it thicker; while the phantom king
Sent out at times a voice; and here or there
Stood one who pointed toward the voice, the rest
Slew on and burnt, crying, `No king of ours,
No son of Uther, and no king of ours;'
Till with a wink his dream was changed, the haze
Descended, and the solid earth became
As nothing, but the King stood out in heaven,
Crowned. And Leodogran awoke, and sent
Ulfius, and Brastias and Bedivere,
Back to the court of Arthur answering yea.
Then Arthur charged his warrior whom he loved
And honoured most, Sir Lancelot, to ride forth
And bring the Queen;--and watched him from the gates:
And Lancelot past away among the flowers,
(For then was latter April) and returned
Among the flowers, in May, with Guinevere.
To whom arrived, by Dubric the high saint,
Chief of the church in Britain, and before
The stateliest of her altar-shrines, the King
That morn was married, while in stainless white,
The fair beginners of a nobler time,
And glorying in their vows and him, his knights
Stood around him, and rejoicing in his joy.
Far shone the fields of May through open door,
The sacred altar blossomed white with May,
The Sun of May descended on their King,
They gazed on all earth's beauty in their Queen,
Rolled incense, and there past along the hymns
A voice as of the waters, while the two
Sware at the shrine of Christ a deathless love:
And Arthur said, `Behold, thy doom is mine.
Let chance what will, I love thee to the death!'
To whom the Queen replied with drooping eyes,
`King and my lord, I love thee to the death!'
And holy Dubric spread his hands and spake,
`Reign ye, and live and love, and make the world
Other, and may thy Queen be one with thee,
And all this Order of thy Table Round
Fulfil the boundless purpose of their King!'
So Dubric said; but when they left the shrine
Great Lords from Rome before the portal stood,
In scornful stillness gazing as they past;
Then while they paced a city all on fire
With sun and cloth of gold, the trumpets blew,
And Arthur's knighthood sang before the King:--
`Blow, trumpet, for the world is white with May;
Blow trumpet, the long night hath rolled away!
Blow through the living world--"Let the King reign."
`Shall Rome or Heathen rule in Arthur's realm?
Flash brand and lance, fall battleaxe upon helm,
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.
`Strike for the King and live! his knights have heard
That God hath told the King a secret word.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.
`Blow trumpet! he will lift us from the dust.
Blow trumpet! live the strength and die the lust!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.
`Strike for the King and die! and if thou diest,
The King is King, and ever wills the highest.
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.
`Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his May!
Blow, for our Sun is mightier day by day!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.
`The King will follow Christ, and we the King
In whom high God hath breathed a secret thing.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.'
So sang the knighthood, moving to their hall.
There at the banquet those great Lords from Rome,
The slowly-fading mistress of the world,
Strode in, and claimed their tribute as of yore.
But Arthur spake, `Behold, for these have sworn
To wage my wars, and worship me their King;
The old order changeth, yielding place to new;
And we that fight for our fair father Christ,
Seeing that ye be grown too weak and old
To drive the heathen from your Roman wall,
No tribute will we pay:' so those great lords
Drew back in wrath, and Arthur strove with Rome.
And Arthur and his knighthood for a space
Were all one will, and through that strength the King
Drew in the petty princedoms under him,
Fought, and in twelve great battles overcame
The heathen hordes, and made a realm and reigned.
This is the story of one man’s soul.
The paths are stony and passion is blind,
And feet must bleed ere the light we find.
The cypher is writ on Life’s mighty scroll,
And the key is in each man’s mind.
But who read aright, ye have won release,
Ye have touched the joy in the heart of Peace.
THERE’S a bend of the river on Glenbar run
Which the wild duck haunt at the set of sun,
And the song of the waters is softened so
That scarcely its current is heard to flow;
And the blackfish hide by the shady bank
’Neath the sunken logs where the reeds are rank,
And the halcyon’s mail is an azure gleam
O’er the shifting shoals of the silver bream,
And the magpies chatter their idle whim,
And the wagtails flitter along the brim,
And tiny martins with breasts of snow
Keep fluttering restlessly to and fro,
And the weeping willows have framed the scene
With the trailing fall of their curtains green,
And the grass grows lush on the level leas
’Neath the low gnarled boughs of the apple trees,
Where the drowsy cattle dream away
The noon-tide hours of the summer day.
There’s a shady nook by the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer.
So faint are the marks of the bridle track,
From the old slip-rails on the ridge’s back,
That few can follow the lines I know—
But I ride with the shadows of long ago!
I am gaunt and gray, I am old and worn,
But my heart goes back to a radiant morn
When someone waited and watched for me
In the friendly shade of that grand old tree.
The winter of Memory brings again
The summer rapture of passionate pain,
And she comes to me with the morning grace
On her sun-gold hair and her lily face,
And her blue eyes soft with the dreamy light
She stole from the stars of the Southern night,
And her slender form like a springtide flower
That sprang from the earth in a magic hour,
With the trembling smile and the tender tone
And the welcome glance—that were mine alone.
And we sit once more as we sat of old
When the future lay in a haze of gold—
In the fairy days when the gods have lent
To our lips the silence of heart’s content.
Ah! those were the days of youth’s perfect spring,
When each wandering wind had a song to sing,
When the touch of care and the shade of woe
Were but empty words we could never know
As we rode ’neath the gum and the box trees high,
And our idle laughter went floating by,
As we rode o’er the leagues of the billowy plain
Where the grass grew green ’neath the summer rain,
And over the hills in the range’s heart
To the fern-decked glen where the waters dart,
And we railed at time and the laggard year
Ere a bride would be mistress of Bendemeer.
Now the old-time feud that was first begun
When the Gordons settled on Glenbar run,
It had passed away, it was buried deep
In the quiet graves where our fathers sleep,
And sweet Mary Gordon was left alone
In the quaint old station of rough-hewn stone,
The maiden whom lovers sought near and far—
The stately lily of old Glenbar.
Our kinsfolk had hated, from year to year,
Since the first Loraine came to Bendemeer
They have passed where none can cavil and strive;
How could she and I keep the feud alive!
I, James Loraine, who were better dead
Than harm one hair of her gentle head!
So we made the bond that would bind, one day,
Glenbar and Bendemeer for aye.
For at last, though it left me with saddened face,
I was master of all in my father’s place.
Of the gray old dwelling, rambling and wide,
With the homestead paddocks on either side,
And the deep verandahs and porches tall
Where the vine climbs high on the trellised wall,
Where the pine and cypress their dark crowns rear
O’er the garden—the glory of Bendemeer—
From whence you can dream o’er the tranquil scene
Of the scattered sheep on the lucerne green,
And the mighty plain in the sunlight spread,
With the brown hawk motionless overhead,
And the stockmen’s cottages clustering still
On the gentle slope of the station hill,
And the woolshed gray on the swelling rise
Where the creek winds blue ’neath the bluer skies.
And here in the days when our hearts were light
We lived life joyously day and night.
For the friend of my soul, who was dear to me
As no friend hath been or again can be,
Was Oliver Douglas. In cloud or shine
My heart was his and his heart was mine,
And we lived like brothers from year to year,
And toiled for the honour of Bendemeer,
And my life moved on thro’ a golden haze
The splendid glamour of fortunate days.
What more to a man can the high God send
Than the fairest maid and the firmest friend!
I have read in some poet how Friendship may
Stand strong as a tower in the darkest day,
When the lips of Love that were quick to vow
Have failed ’neath the frown upon Fortune’s brow.
What a friend was he, without fear or guile,
With his careless ways and his ready smile,
With the voice to cheer, and the eye to praise,
And the heart to toil through the hardest days!
How he won all hearts, were they high or low,
By the easy charm that I envied so!
For they say in jest I am true to race—
The dark Loraines of the haughty face—
Awkward, and shy, and unbending when
I am full of love for my fellow-men.
But I caught at the sunshine he flung about—
The man to whom all my heart went out.
Ah! how oft at dusk ’neath the evening star
Have we reined our horses at old Glenbar,
And sat in the quaint familiar room
Made sweet with the scent of the jasmine bloom,
Where my soul first saw in her dreamy eyes
The lights of the gateways of Paradise!
How we lingered over our hopes and fears
As we planned the course of the coming years
Whilst Oliver chatted with easy flow
To Margaret Bruce with the hair of snow—
The proud old dame of a proud old race
Who lived for the child with her sister’s face.
O the joyous days! O the morning air!
When the blood was young and the world was air!
When from Tara and Westmere and Boradaile,
And from Snowdon Hills and from Lilyvale,
And from Tallaran and the plains of Scar
All sent down their horses to old Glenbar.
From many a station for miles away
Came the happy faces on racing day,
Came the big bush buggies fast rolling in
With the four-in-hands and the merry din.
And if strife was keen in those days of old
’Twas for love of sport, not for lust of gold;
For then each man rode as a man should ride
With his honour at stake and the station’s pride,
When every racehorse was sent to race
And each run had a crack for the steeplechase.
And I see the last timber loom big and bare
As we held the field with a length to spare,
And Douglas crashed past me on Charioteer,
The big gray gelding from Bendemeer.
But I rode the bay with the tiny star
That had carried the Lily of old Glenbar.
And I rode for all that I cared for most
And I collared the gray ere he passed the post.
Ah! how gaily and lightly our pulses beat
As the night went out to the trip of feet!
And though all men sought her with hope and praise
It was I she loved—with my awkward ways—
It was I she loved in the golden days!
The drought came down upon Bendemeer,
And the grass grew yellow, and scant, and sere,
And the lucerne paddocks were eaten brown,
And half the trees on the run cut down,
And we toiled all day ’midst the dying sheep,
The tottering frames that could scarcely creep,
And the dead by scores lay over the plain,
But God seemed deaf—for He sent no rain.
And whilst Hope stood sounding her funeral knells
Who had heart to talk about wedding bells?
And the drought held on for a three-year span,
And I woke one morning a ruined man.
Yet Fate smote harder—a deadlier blow—
For on old Glenbar there was word to go.
For the mortgage hung over Glenbar run,
And their stock were dead and their credit done,
And the bank foreclosed. We were cast aside
From the homes where our fathers had lived and died.
So we said good-bye—ah! the bitter end—
At the trysting place on the river bend.
But the ground lay sullen and bare below,
And most of the river had ceased to flow,
And the springs of Hope in our souls were dried,
And in silence we stood there side by side,
And a leaden fear held my brain and heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.
O sweet is the dawn of Love’s perfect spring,
When the white arms clasp and the soft lips cling;
But fierce is the passion that fires the blood
When Love stands baulked in its summer flood!
In her dark-ringed eyes shone the sad unrest
That spoke in the heave of her troubled breast,
And her face was white as the chiselled stone,
And her lips pressed madly against my own,
And her heart beat wildly against my heart,
And we strove to go, but we could not part.
But these were the words she said to me—
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee.”
’TWAS a long last look and a mute farewell
To the homes where our fathers had loved to dwell,
And our faces turned to the wild north-west,
And we rode away on a roving quest.
But our hearts were young and we cheered the way
With the golden dreams of a coming day,
When Fate should lead ’neath a happier star
Back to Bendemeer and to old Glenbar.
And a vision rose of one bearded and brown,
A wanderer hasting to Melbourne town,
To the faithful eyes now with sorrow dim
That had suffered and waited and watched for him.
For the new home lay midst the city’s roar
And the Station’s calm would be her’s no more;
And from Douglas’ lips came the story strange
Of the wondrous wealth in a northern range.
The weeks grew months and the months were spent,
As we overlanded a continent—
A thousand miles over scrub and plain
In the sun’s fierce glare and the tropic rain.
But we laughed at hardships to undergo
As we smoked in the ring of the campfire’s glow
And we pushed ahead till, in tracks grown blind,
The last station fence had been left behind;
And the land of the mighty runs spread wide,
Unfenced and virgin on every side,
Where you move—a ship that has lost the strand—
O’er the grassy ocean of one man’s land,
Where a score of beasts or a mile the less
Are of little count in the wilderness,
But men count their grass and cattle instead
By the hundred miles and the thousand head.
I have seen the plains lying baked and bare
When drought and famine hold revel there,
And the cattle sink where the rotting shoals
Of the fish float dead in the waterholes.
I have seen the plains when the flood brings down
The leagues of its waters, sullen and brown,
When only the tops of the swaying trees
Mark the creek that wound thro’ the level leas,
And all is a sea to the straining eyes
Save some lonely hut on a distant rise.
I have seen the plains in the mad delight
Of the racing flames in their crimson flight,
When the whip of the wind will not stay or spare,
And woe to the rider who lingers there!
But, O! the plains when their beauty burst
On our wondering eyes as we crossed them first!
When the sun shone bright and a soft wind blew,
And the sky was clear with a fairy hue,
And afar, like an isle in a sea of mist,
Rose a mountain-cap, as of amethyst.
And the big-horned cattle, knee-deep in grass,
Wheeled scattered legions to watch us pass,
As we drifted onward from group to group,
And swift as a bolt came the wild hawk’s swoop
When the brown quail whirled ’neath our horses’ feet,
Or the bronzewing1 broke from his ground retreat;
And the lazy bustard on laggard wing
Out of easy gunshot was loitering;
And for miles around us, at daylight’s close,
The little flock pigeons in coveys rose,
And the squadrons flew, with a gathering force,
Till an army darkened the watercourse.
Thus we crossed the plains to their utmost rim,
To the timbered belts round the mountains grim,
Chain upon chain, to the north and west,
Rose the swelling ridge and the purple crest,
And the gorges hid from the light of God
Where the foot of a white man had never trod.
There’s a tiny flat where the grass grows green,
Like a bay it lies two dark hills between.
And a stream comes down through a narrow cleft:
Here the camp was fixed and the horses left.
’Twas the last sweet grass, and no man could ride
O’er the beetling fastness on either side.
Thence into the heart of the hills we bore,
Rich with ironstone masses and copper ore,
And once or twice in the gorges old
We found a trace of the colour of gold.
In a deep ravine, walled by rugged heights,
Through the toiling days and the restless nights
I felt, ’neath the spell of that gloomy place,
That a change had come o’er my comrade’s face;
Felt, rather than saw, as it seemed to me,
That all was not quite as it used to be;
The laughter and jest, and the glance and tone,
Were not of the man that I once had known,
And it seemed to me that he shunned to hear
Of Mary and Glenbar and Bendemeer.
And there rose a sense I could not define,
Like a widening stream ’twixt his soul and mine.
Then the light of the Past like a star shone out,
And I turned in scorn from my evil doubt.
But the passions that rule since the world began
Were working there in the heart of man,
And a breast that had guarded its secret well
Was burning then with the fires of hell.
’Tis the old, old tale of a woman’s face
More strong than the shadow of foul disgrace.
The old mad lust for the mastery
To pluck the flower that is not for thee.
For the dreamy light of a woman’s eyes
It can lead on to hell or to paradise.
Ah! little I dreamt in the days now done
That the eyes I loved were as dear to one
Whose heart had been eaten with jealous pride
Through the years of our brotherhood, side by side!
For once it chanced as I moved alone
That I stumbled and fell on the ironstone—
A stumble that might have been made in blood,
For a bullet hummed where my feet had stood.
And I turned and saw from my vantage place
The look that was written across his face.
“He had fired at a bird but too low by half,”
And he turned it off with an awkward laugh.
For as yet no shadow of what might be
The power ’neath the surface had come to me.
Yet a shadow crossed, and it left behind
A doubt that rankled within my mind;
And for weeks we played at the duel hard
Of an open candour but secret guard;
And the seeds of discord were subtly sown
When the fever seized me and struck me down;
And days there were when the blood coursed free,
To be followed by morrows of misery.
But the fever heightened, and day by day
I could feel the cords of my life give way.
And my strength went out like an ebbing sea,
Yet daily he tended and cared for me.
It may be some touch of the days of old
Made his hand draw back, made his heart cry “Hold.”
But I saw in his eyes, with all anguish dumb,
That he waited and hoped for the end to come.
Then I lost the power to move hand and head,
And at last I lay in a trance as dead,
Awake yet a-dream, for a day and night
Then I woke with a start—and the moon shone bright
But the tent and the tools and the guns were gone,
And all save the blanket I lay upon!
Not a sound came down from the mountains lone
Where the shadows huge by the moon were thrown.
In the gloomy gorge not a soul was near,
And I called his name with a bitter fear.
But no answer came to my feeble cry—
And I knew he had left me alone to die.
They speak the truth and they judge me well,
Who call me “the Man who has been in Hell.”
Though the sky be clear and the sun shine bright,
Men have walked on earth through that awful night,
Whose ears have heard and whose eyes have seen
The infernal shades, like the Florentine,
When the veil is rent and we see unroll
The heights and depths of the human soul;
And with whitened locks and with pallid cheek
Have known and felt what we may not speak.
My life had gone out like a brief light’s breath
Had no help come into that fight with death,
But the hands of Fate that are swift and strange
Brought a people down from the Western range,
Brought a wild black tribe down the gorges dark
Who had seen the prints of an unknown mark,
And quickly around me were clustering
Dark faces and spears in a bristling ring;
And I lay there still in a helpless shrift
With a silent prayer that the end be swift.
But a man spoke forth with a threatening spear
That I was the God of the mountains drear,
And accursed be he and his kin and wife,
Who should lay a hand on a sacred life!
So they succoured me. And I lay as a king
Who has dusky daughters to fetch and bring,
Boughs to shelter, and water and food,
And berries to temper the burning blood.
And they made me a shade from the tropic sun
Till the fire of the fever its course had run.
And at last new life, after weeks of pain,
Came stealing gently through every vein;
And I moved with the tribe, but I pondered long
Why Douglas had worked me this bitter wrong.
For as yet no word of the truth was told,
And I held that the motive was lust of gold.
We moved for the plain, and we passed between
The walls of the flat where the camp had been.
No sign of a horse in that grassy bay,
And Oliver Douglas was far away
Across the plains where the red sun dips,
A sin on his soul and a lie on his lips.
But, O! the joy when I found and knelt
By a full revolver and cartridge belt
Marked with his name, and a mark of the mind
In whose guilty haste they were left behind,
To be sacred things till the morn should rise
When men pay in full for their treacheries.
These gave me power and a stronger claim.
They called me, “The Lord of the Thunder and Flame.”
But they watched me close with a sleepless care:
Three years in the mountains still found me there.
But I learnt by heart all the gorges old,
And I found the granite and found the gold:
Wealth beyond dreams—to a savage man
As wild as the myalls with whom he ran!
Ah, God! Could ever my lot have been
To have lived and loved in a different scene,
To have seen love shine like a splendid star
In the eyes of the Lily of old Glenbar?
Five years had passed, and another year,
Since we turned our horses from Bendemeer.
And a bushman, wrinkled, and aged, and brown,
Had worked his passage to Melbourne town.
Let it matter not through what evil stress
He had battled out of the wilderness,
For the joy that was thrilling him through and through
With a secret music that no man knew—
The last sweet words that she said to me:
“Whatever the fate of the years may be,
Hope and my heart will wait for thee!”
Why do you tremble, and sob, and stare,
Old Margaret Bruce with the snowy hair,
And chatter of ghosts of the past to me?
I am here to claim what you hold in fee.
Give me back my own! I have done no wrong.
For the eyes I love I have suffered long.
Now the toil is over—the fierce unrest,
And the lily shall lie on the broad leaf’s breast.
And the heart that was faithful, and strong, and true,
Shall learn what the love of a man can do.
For the future calls both to her and me.
Thither Eden lies—and I hold the key.
Cease, woman, cease! I am waiting here
For a bride to be mistress of Bendemeer.
“Let be the past and this formless dread!
I am James Loraine who was long since dead.
Give me welcome now! Shall all things be vain
To the dead man come to his own again?
Have you naught of comfort for such as I?
The past is dead—let its memories die!
I am changed and worn, I am tired and old,
But I bring the secret of countless gold.
But a wish of hers, but a word of thine,
And Bendemeer and Glenbar are mine.
Bid her come to me that her eyes may see!
Bid her come to me! Bid her come to me!
Then Margaret faced me with words of lead:—
“Peace, peace, Loraine!—the poor child is dead.
Married and dead! You are parted far,
Dear friend, from the Lily of old Glenbar.
The Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands,
They have passed long since to the Douglas hands.
She had waited long, she had waited true,
She had knelt in her sorrow and wept for you.
When he came, at last, with a grave, sad face
To tell the tale of your resting place.
His were the hands—they were clasped in ours—
That had soothed and tended your dying hours;
That had dug the grave and had piled the stone
In the dim blue range where you slept alone.
And he spoke your word in his own sad pain,
‘Not to mourn for you—we should meet again
But whatever the fate of the years might send,
The friend of your soul—let him be her friend. ’
But the starlight died in her eyes that day,
And with roses white on her cheeks she lay,
And the summer faded and came again
Ere her shadow rose from its bed of pain.
But he came and went with an anxious air
As one consecrated to watch and care,
And from oversea came the call of race
To title and wealth and an ancient place,
And when Bendemeer and Glenbar were sold,
They were his for the sake of the days of old.
And he pressed his claim till she came to see
That their lives could be lived to your memory.
She was wedded here. She lies buried far.
The ocean divides her from old Glenbar.”
Married, and dead! Is it all a dream,
To melt away on the morning beam?
Some passing horror of night whose power
Still haunts the brain in its waking hour?
Can these trembling lips and these stony eyes,
And this heart grown numb in its agonies,
Be a man indeed? Do I see and hear?
Or roam a shade through some realm of fear?
“And of him?” I cried. “Shall no vengeance find
These soft lying lips and this double mind?
There are human snakes who have lived too long!”
But she said: “Loraine, let God judge the wrong.
For the man you seek—he is oversea
With ten thousand miles ’twixt his face and thee.”
In the fevered night when the gas-lamps flare,
And the human river sweeps here and there,
By terrace and church, and long lines of street,
And by dim-lit parks where the shadows meet,
I am drifting down with the human flood:
The poison of madness is in my blood.
Are there hearts as bitter and dead as mine
Where the faces throng in the moving line—
Numb with the chill of a black despair
That no man guesses or wants to share?
Unto each man once shall the gage be thrown:
He must fight the fight with his soul alone,
When all ways are barred and he stands at bay
Face to face with truth in the naked day.
I have fought the fight with my soul alone.
I have won my laurel—a heart of stone.
O never again when the white stars shine
Shall the eyes I love look their love in mine!
And never again when the soft winds blow
Shall we ride by the river, or whisper low
By the shady nook ’neath the old tree where
The track comes winding from Bendemeer!
And no bridal bells for our joy shall ring
When Nature wakes to the voice of Spring.
And no tiny hands with a touch divine
Shall link for ever her soul and mine!
She is dead! My lily! My shy bush flower!
The summer has fled where she bloomed an hour.
Do her sweet eyes shine from some lonely star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar?
Mine is selfish grief, mine is selfish pain;
But her sorrow is seared on my heart and brain.
What she heard, I hear; what she saw, I see;
What she felt is bare as a page to me
Shall such evil thrive? Shall she droop and die
And the man who loved her stand idly by?
Let God right the wrong! Will he give the dead
The sunshine and grace of the summers fled?
Has He solace here for the silent tears
Of the hopeless days, of the wasted years?
Let God right the wrong! He is deaf and blind
To the griefs and passions that shake mankind!
Who has eyes to see, let him use his sight:
Wrong is not righted, but might is right.
Then be might my right and my hate the rod,
And my hand in anger the hand of God
And the power is gold, which no power can bend—
I have learnt the means—I can see the end
To my mountains then: there to toil and wait.
I have lived for love: I can live for hate.
Till the power be mine, till the way be sure,
I can face the future and still endure.
With a wild fire flaming through all my blood
I have called to Evil “Be thou my Good!”
Love has patient been: love was strong and true;
But the heart of hate can be patient too
Can be strong to suffer and calm to wait,
But swift to strike in the hour of Fate—
To strike at the heart that has wrought her dole,
To strike at the man who has killed my soul!
THE mountains swarm like a human hive,
The picks are swinging in many a drive,
The axe is ringing on many a tree,
And the blast of a charge thunders sullenly;
And the growing heaps of the dull gray stone
And the tents of men stud the hillside lone,
And the moan of the windlass comes again,
With an eerie sound like a soul in pain.
And across the plains, lying baked and brown,
Where the long teams creep till the sun goes down,
Comes the curse, and the whip like a pistol crack,
As the bullocks strain on the burning track.
Soon the battery’s thunder will rend the sky
From the gorge where he left me alone to die.
They have felt the stir in the cities south,
And the “Comrade Field” is in every mouth,
And northward rushes the wave of greed,
For the whole world knows of “The Devil’s Lead.”
“Four jewelled walls—there are millions there!”
But one man’s hand is on every share—
One who knows the mountains from crest to glen,
A hater of women and feared of men,
Who has heart for nothing save gold and gain.
A power to be reckoned with—James Loraine!
As a miser handles and counts his gold,
So I hoard my hate with a joy untold.
Let the weaklings sink ’neath their dumb despair!
Shall I spare the coward who did not spare
O, the joy of hate! O, the liquid fire!
When the strong soul throbs to one fierce desire!
So I thirst for life as a hound for blood,
And woe to the hunters who cross my mood!
To strike hard and home! Then to watch him die
And to soothe his death with my memory!
This were joy indeed, worth a few years’ breath!
This were joy indeed, though the price were death!
Then what holds my heart, and what stays my hand,
Who can cross at will to the motherland?
’Tis a voice that floats through my dreams at night,
And a white hand ringed with a fairy light,
From the world unseen, that has drawn anear,
A tremulous whisper—“At Bendemeer.”
I had planned the end in the mountains grim,
Where the dream of wealth would be lure to him.
Bound fast to a tree in some gloomy glen
Where no cry can reach to the ears of men,
And shot with the bullet he meant for me—
I have dug it out of the hardwood tree.
Then to loose his cords and to let him lie
With his false face turned to the smiling sky,
With his dying grip—in a death of shame—
On the pistol butt that still bears his name!
A fool I have been from my mother’s breast,
A fool who acted and thought for the best,
Made way for others and stood aside
And saw knaves feasted and deified.
With an open heart I have striven to do
“To men as ye would they would do to you.”
And what have I gained by the Christian rule?
A smile and a sneer at the trusting fool!
And the generous wish to be fair and just
Has been deemed but weakness and self-distrust.
Now these things are over. My soul is free.
I will deal with men as they deal with me.
For I care not whither my purpose tend,
Let Hell find the means so I gain the end
And no guile too subtle or dark shall prove;
I have done with scruple, and done with love.
The thud of the stampers all night and day
Is loud in the gorge where the campfire lay.
From the big hotel where the lights shine long
Comes the broken snatch of a drinking song.
For the roofs go up as the shafts go down
In the fever and rush of a mining town.
I sit in my office with busy pen,
The saddest and richest of mining men.
I have sat like a spider and spun and spun
Till I hold the mortgage on many a run.
I have land and houses and shares and gold,
My stock increase by the thousandfold.
I am feared and courted with flattering breath
And all that I live for is one man’s death.
I have worked his ruin. I hold his fate.
I have woven a web round the man I hate.
I have crossed his schemes, I have won the fight,
For tools can be willing when gold is bright.
And the deeds of mortgage are in their hands
Over Bendemeer and the Glenbar lands.
As I sleep at last on my bed of care
Comes the white hand floating upon the air,
And a woman’s whisper is in my ear,
“The man that you hate is at Bendemeer.”
The last crimson streak in the West was dead,
And the white stars broke through the blue o’erhead,
And the hornèd moon like a sceptre pale
Cast its thin blue ray on the old sliprail,
As I crossed Glenbar by the big tree where
The track goes winding to Bendemeer.
All the plain lay silent and silver-gray
Like a shroud for a bride on her bridal day.
I could feel the menace and the hand of Fate
As I stood once more at the garden gate.
With a passionate heart for a while I stood,
For the past came back like a rushing flood,
Then I moved the latch and I crept within—
A thief in the silence who fears his sin.
Like funeral plumes for some giant king
Rise the dark pine-crowns, and their shadows cling
Purple and solemn to path and lawn,
Like the shadow of murder that waits the dawn.
And the morepork’s call from the timbered knoll
Seems the hoot of fiends for a dead man’s soul.
I am creeping slow down the well-known way,
All round me is ruin and slow decay,
By the weed-choked beds and the paths o’ergrown,
And rank grass seeding on lawns unmown,
And a low fence matted with running vine,
In the home of my fathers that once was mine.
The old rambling pile and verandahs wide,
Like an isle half lost in some dim gray tide,
Seems to welcome me, seems to feel and know
That a ghost is here from the Long Ago!
And my fingers close, whilst my blood is flame,
Round the pistol-butt that still bears his name.
Creep, creep to the west where the ground is bare,
For a dim light shines from a window there.
I have toiled for this thro’ the gloomy past.
I have prayed for this—’tis my hour at last!
Hear, God of the Just, whilst I own Thy might
Who hast given this man to my hands this night!
Here I kneel and pray. Be my hand the rod,
Be my hand in anger the hand of God!
Where the fold of the curtain falls, half drawn,
By the windows, wide to the western lawn,
From the shadows vague of the outer gloom
I have slipped—a shadow—within the room.
In the shaded light, on the low white bed,
I can see his face . . . he is lying . . . dead
The hand of Time has not marred its grace,
Though the lines are deep on the well-known face.
And the brow is placid and white and chill
With the peace that comes when the heart is still.
And the lamplight falls on the golden hair
Of a weeping child who is kneeling there.
O human vengeance and human hate!
See, thine altars scattered and desolate!
Poor paltry things of a passing breath,
Ye are silent here in the halls of Death!
Be his soul at rest. Though his sin was deep,
Yet bitter the harvest he lived to reap.
He has suffered long, he has worn the chain
Of a life’s remorse in his heart and brain.
He has known the terror of hidden sin
When the soul stands bare to the judge within.
Be his heart at rest in the peace divine!
Be Thy mercy, Lord, on his soul . . . and mine!
For the child looks up with her mother’s face,
With the sungold hair and the lily’s grace.
From the lashes wet with their pearly dew
Shine the dark-blue depths of the eyes I knew,
The sweet eyes soft with the dreamy light
And the mystic spell of the southern night.
They have left me this—’tis the bond of Fate—
The woman I love and the man I hate!
Through the windows wide blows the gentle breeze,
And the wind-harp sighs in the shadowy trees,
And I see the rise of a splendid star
O’er the bend of the river on old Glenbar!
'O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
Our thoughts as boundless, and our soul's as free
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home!
These are our realms, no limits to their sway-
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
Ours the wild life in tumult still to range
From toil to rest, and joy in every change.
Oh, who can tell? not thou, luxurious slave!
Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave;
Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease!
whom slumber soothes not - pleasure cannot please -
Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide,
The exulting sense - the pulse's maddening play,
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way?
That for itself can woo the approaching fight,
And turn what some deem danger to delight;
That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal,
And where the feebler faint can only feel -
Feel - to the rising bosom's inmost core,
Its hope awaken and Its spirit soar?
No dread of death if with us die our foes -
Save that it seems even duller than repose:
Come when it will - we snatch the life of life -
When lost - what recks it but disease or strife?
Let him who crawls enamour'd of decay,
Cling to his couch, and sicken years away:
Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied head;
Ours - the fresh turf; and not the feverish bed.
While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul,
Ours with one pang - one bound - escapes control.
His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave,
And they who loath'd his life may gild his grave:
Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed,
When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead.
For us, even banquets fond regret supply
In the red cup that crowns our memory;
And the brief epitaph in danger's day,
When those who win at length divide the prey,
And cry, Remembrance saddening o'er each brow,
How had the brave who fell exulted now!'
Such were the notes that from the Pirate's isle
Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while:
Such were the sounds that thrill'd the rocks along,
And unto ears as rugged seem'd a song!
In scatter'd groups upon the golden sand,
They game-carouse-converse-or whet the brand:
Select the arms-to each his blade assign,
And careless eye the blood that dims its shine.
Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar,
While others straggling muse along the shore:
For the wild bird the busy springes set,
Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net:
Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies
With all the 'thirsting eve of Enterprise:
Tell o'er the tales of many a night of toil,
And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil:
No matter where-- their chief's allotment this;
Theirs, to believe no prey nor plan amiss.
But who that CHIEF? his name on every shore
Is famed and fear'd - they ask and know no more.
With these he mingles not but to command;
Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand.
Ne'er seasons he with mirth their jovial mess
But they forgive his silence for success.
Ne'er for his lip the purpling cup they fill,
That goblet passes him untasted still -
And for his fare - the rudest of his crew
Would that, in turn, have pass'd untasted too;
Earth's coarsest bread, the garden's homeliest roots,
And scarce the summer luxury of fruits,
His short repast in humbleness supply
With all a hermit's board would scarce deny.
But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense,
His mind seems nourish'd by that abstinence.
'Steer to that shore! ' - they sail. 'Do this!' - 'tis done:
'Now form and follow me!' - the spoil is won.
Thus prompt his accents and his actions still,
And all obey and few inquire his will;
So To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye
Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.
'A sail! - sail! ' -a promised prize to Hope!
Her nation - flag - how speaks the telescope?
No prize, alas! but yet a welcome sail:
The blood-red signal glitters in the gale.
Yes - she is ours - a home - returning bark -
Blow fair thou breeze! - she anchors ere the dark.
Already doubled is the cape - our bay
Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray.
How gloriously her gallant course she goes!
Her white wings flying - never from her foes-
She walks the waters like a thing of life,
And seems to dare the elements to strife.
Who would not brave the battle-fire, the wreck,
To move the monarch of her peopled deck?
Hoarse o'er her side the rustling cable rings;
The sails are furl'd; and anchoring round she swings;
And gathering loiterers on the land discern
Her boat descending from the latticed stem.
'Tis mann'd-the oars keep concert to the strand,
Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand.
Hail to the welcome shout! - the friendly speech!
When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach;
The smile, the question, and the quick reply,
And the heart's promise of festivity!
The tidings spread, and gathering grows the crowd;
The hum of voices, and the laughter loud,
And woman's gentler anxious tone is heard -
Friends', husbands', lovers' names in each dear word:
'Oh! are they safe? we ask not of success -
But shall we see them? will their accents bless?
From where the battle roars, the billows chafe
They doubtless boldly did - but who are safe?
Here let them haste to gladden and surprise,
And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes!'
'Where is our chief? for him we bear report -
And doubt that joy - which hails our coming short;
Yet thus sincere, 'tis cheering, though so brief;
But, Juan! instant guide us to our chief:
Our greeting paid, we'll feast on our return,
And all shall hear what each may wish to learn.'
Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way,
To where his watch-tower beetles o'er the bay,
By bushy brake, and wild flowers blossoming,
And freshness breathing from each silver spring,
Whose scatter'd streams from granite basins burst,
Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst;
From crag to cliff they mount - Near yonder cave,
What lonely straggler looks along the wave?
In pensive posture leaning on the brand,
Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand?
'Tis he 'tis Conrad - here, as wont, alone;
On - Juan! - on - and make our purpose known.
The bark he views - and tell him we would greet
His ear with tidings he must quickly meet:
We dare not yet approach-thou know'st his mood
When strange or uninvited steps intrude.'
Him Juan sought, and told of their intent;-
He spake not, but a sign express'd assent.
These Juan calls - they come - to their salute
He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute.
'These letters, Chief, are from the Greek - the spy,
Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh:
Whate'er his tidings, we can well report,
Much that' - 'Peace, peace! ' - he cuts their prating short.
Wondering they turn, abash'd, while each to each
Conjecture whispers in his muttering speech:
They watch his glance with many a stealing look
To gather how that eye the tidings took;
But, this as if he guess'd, with head aside,
Perchance from some emotion, doubt, or pride,
He read the scroll - 'My tablets, Juan' hark -
Where is Gonsalvo?'
'In the anchor'd bark'
'There let him stay - to him this order bear -
Back to your duty - for my course prepare:
Myself this enterprise to-night will share.'
'To-night, Lord Conrad!'
'Ay! at set of sun:
The breeze will freshen when the day is done.
My corslet, cloak - one hour and we are gone.
Sling on thy bugle - see that free from rust
My carbine-lock springs worthy of my trust.
Be the edge sharpen'd of my boarding-brand,
And give its guard more room to fit my hand.
This let the armourer with speed dispose
Last time, it more fatigued my arm than foes:
Mark that the signal-gun be duly fired,
To tell us when the hour of stay's expired.'
They make obeisance, and retire in haste,
Too soon to seek again the watery waste:
Yet they repine not - so that Conrad guides;
And who dare question aught that he decides?
That man of loneliness and mystery
Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh;
Whose name appals the fiercest of his crew,
And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue;
Still sways their souls with that commanding art
That dazzles, leads, yet chills the vulgar heart.
What is that spell, that thus his lawless train
Confess and envy, yet oppose in vain?
What should it be, that thus their faith can bind?
The power of Thought - the magic of the Mind!
Link'd with success, assumed and kept with skill,
That moulds another's weakness to its will;
Wields with their hands, but, still to these unknown,
Makes even their mightiest deeds appear his own
Such hath it been shall be - beneath the sun
The many still must labour for the one!
'Tis Nature's doom - but let the wretch who toils
Accuse not, hate not him who wears the spoils.
Oh! if he knew the weight of splendid chains,
How light the balance of his humbler pains!
Unlike the heroes of each ancient race,
Demons in act, but Gods at least in face,
In Conrad's form seems little to admire,
Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire:
Robust but not Herculean - to the sight
No giant frame sets forth his common height;
Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again,
Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men;
They gaze and marvel how - and still confess
That thus it is, but why they cannot guess.
Sun-bumt his cheek, his forehead high and pale
The sable curls in wild profusion veil;
And oft perforce his rising lip reveals
The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals
Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien'
Still seems there something he would not have seen
His features' deepening lines and varying hue
At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view,
As if within that murkiness of mind
Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined
Such might it be - that none could truly tell -
Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell.
There breathe but few whose aspect might defy
The full encounter of his searching eye;
He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek
To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek
At once the observer's purpose to espy,
And on himself roll back his scrutiny,
Lest he to Conrad rather should betray
Some secret thought, than drag that chief's to day.
There was a laughing Devil in his sneer,
That raised emotions both of rage and fear;
And where his frown of hatred darkly fell,
Hope withering fled, and Mercy sigh'd farewell!
Slight are the outward signs of evil thought,
Within-within-'twas there the spirit wrought!
Love shows all changes-Hate, Ambition, Guile,
Betray no further than the bitter smile;
The lip's least curl, the lightest paleness thrown
Along the govern'd aspect, speak alone
Of deeper passions; and to judge their mien,
He, who would see, must be himself unseen.
Then-with the hurried tread, the upward eye,
The clenched hand, the pause of agony,
That listens, starting, lest the step too near
Approach intrusive on that mood of fear;
Then-with each feature working from the heart,
With feelings, loosed to strengthen-not depart,
That rise, convulse, contend-that freeze, or glow
Flush in the' cheek, or damp upon the brow;
Then, Stranger! if thou canst, and tremblest not
Behold his soul-the rest that soothes his lot!
Mark how that lone and blighted bosom sears
The scathing thought of execrated years!
Behold-but who hath seen, or e'er shall see,
Man as himself-the secret spirit free?
Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent
To lead the guilty-guilt's worse instrument-
His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven
Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven
Warp'd by the world in Disappointment's school,
In words too wise, in conduct there a fool;
Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop,
Doom'd by his very virtues for a dupe,
He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill,
And not the traitors who betray'd him still;
Nor deem'd that gifts bestow'd on better men
Had left him joy, and means to give again
Fear'd, shunn'd, belied, ere youth had lost her force,
He hated man too much to feel remorse,
And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call,
To pay the injuries of some on all.
He knew himself a villain-but he deem'd
The rest no better than the thing he seem'd
And scorn'd'the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loath'd him, crouch'd and dreaded too.
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affection and from all contempt;
His name could sadden, and his acts surprise;
But they that fear'd him dared not to despise;
Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake
The slumbering venom of the folded snake:
The first may turn, but not avenge the blow;
The last expires, but leaves no living foe;
Fast to the doom'd offender's form it clings,
And he may crush-not conquer-still it stings!
None are all evil-quickening round his heart
One softer feeling would not yet depart
Oft could he sneer at others as beguiled
By passions worthy of a fool or child;
Yet 'gainst that passion vainly still he strove,
And even in him it asks the name of Love!
Yes, it was love-unchangeable-unchanged,
Felt but for one from whom he never ranged;
Though fairest captives daily met his eye,
He shunn'd, nor sought, but coldly pass'd them by;
Though many a beauty droop'd in prison'd bower,
None ever sooth'd his most unguarded hour.
Yes-it was Love-if thoughts of tenderness
Tried in temptation, strengthen'd by distress
Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime,
And yet-oh more than all! untired by time;
Which nor defeated hope, nor baffled wile,
Could render sullen were she near to smile,
Nor rage could fire, nor sickness fret to vent
On her one murmur of his discontent;
Which still would meet with joy, with calmness part,
Lest that his look of grief should reach her heart;
Which nought removed, nor menaced to remove-
If there be love in mortals-this was love!
He was a villain-ay, reproaches shower
On him-but not the passion, nor its power,
Which only proved, all other virtues gone,
Not guilt itself could quench this loveliest one!
He paused a moment-till his hastening men
Pass'd the first winding downward to the glen.
'Strange tidings!-many a peril have I pass'd
Nor know I why this next appears the last!
Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear
Nor shall my followers find me falter here.
'Tis rash to meet, but surer death to wait
Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate;
And, if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile,
We'll furnish mourners for our funeral pile.
Ay, let them slumber-peaceful be their dreams!
Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams
As kindle high to-flight (but blow, thou breeze!)
To warm these slow avengers of the sea
Now to Medora-Oh! my sinking heart,
Long may her own be lighter than thou art!
Yet was I brave-mean boast where all are brave!
Ev'n insects sting for aught they seek to save.
This common courage which with brutes we share
That owes its' deadliest efforts to despair,
Small merit claims-but 'twas my nobler hope
To teach my few with numbers still to cope;
Long have I led them-not to vainly bleed:
No medium now-we perish or succeed;
So let it be-it irks not me to die;
But thus to urge them whence they cannot fly.
My lot hath long had little of my care,
But chafes my pride thus baffled in the snare:
Is this my skill? my craft? to set at last
Hope, power, and life upon a single cast?
Oh' Fate!-accuse thy folly, not thy fate!
She may redeem thee still, not yet too late.'
Thus with himself communion held he, till
He reach'd the summit of his towercrown'd hill:
There at the portal paused-or wild and soft
He heard those accents never heard too oft
Through the high lattice far yet sweet they rung,
And these the notes his bird of beauty sung:
'Deep in my soul that tender secret dwells,
Lonely and lost to light for evermore,
Save when to thine my heart responsive swells,
Then trembles into silence as before
'There, in its centre' a sepulchral lamp
Burns the slow flame, eternal, but unseen;
Which not the darkness of despair can damp,
Though vain its ray as it had never been.
'Remember me-Oh! pass not thou my grave
Without one thought whose relics there recline
The only pang my bosom dare not brave
Must be to find forgetfulness in thine.
'My fondest, faintest, latest accents hear-
Grief for the dead not virtue can reprove;
Then give me all I ever ask'd-a tear,
The first-last-sole reward of so much love!'
He pass'd the portal, cross'd the corridor,
And reach'd the chamber as the strain gave o'er:
'My own Medora! sure thy song is sad-'
'In Conrad's absence wouldst thou have it glad?
Without thine ear to listen to my lay,
Still must my song my thoughts, my soul betray:
Still must each action to my bosom suit,
My heart unhush'd, although my lips were mute!
Oh! many a night on this lone couch reclined,
My dreaming fear with storms hath wing'd the wind,
And deem'd the breath that faintly fann'd thy sail
The murmuring prelude of the ruder gale;
Though soft, it seem'd the low prophetic dirge,
That mourn'd thee floating on the savage surge;
Still would I rise to rouse the beacon fire,
Lest spies less true should let the blaze expire;
And many a restless hour outwatch'd each star,
And morning came-and still thou wert afar.
Oh! how the chill blast on my bosom blew,
And day broke dreary on my troubled view,
And still I gazed and gazed-and not a prow
Was granted to my tears, my truth, my vow!
At length 'twas noon-I hail'd and blest the mast
That met my sight-it near'd-Alas! it pass'd!
Another came-Oh God! 'twas thine at last!
Would that those days were over! wilt thou ne'er,
My Conrad! learn the joys of peace to share?
Sure thou hast more than wealth, and many a home
As bright as this invites us not to roam:
Thou know'st it is not peril that I fear,
I only tremble when thou art not here;
Then not for mine, but that far dearer life,
Which flies from love and languishes for strife-
How strange that heart, to me so tender still,
Should war with nature and its better will!'
'Yea, strange indeed-that heart hath long been changed;
Worm-like 'twas trampled, adder-like avenged,
Without one hope on earth beyond thy love,
And scarce a glimpse of mercy from above.
Yet the same feeling which thou dost condemn,
My very love to thee is hate to them,
So closely mingling here, that disentwined,
I cease to love thee when I love mankind:
Yet dread not this - the proof of all the past
Assures the future that my love will last;
But - oh, Medora! nerve thy gentler heart;
This hour again-but not for long-we part.'
'This hour we part-my heart foreboded this:
Thus ever fade my fairy dreams of bliss.
This hour-it cannot be-this hour away!
Yon bark hath hardly anchor'd in the bay:
Her consort still is absent, and her crew
Have need of rest before they toil anew:
My love! thou mock'st my weakness; and wouldst steel
My breast before the time when it must feel;
But trifle now no more with my distress,
Such mirth hath less of play than bitterness.
Be silent, Conrad! -dearest! come and share
The feast these hands delighted to prepare;
Light toil! to cull and dress thy frugal fare!
See, I have pluck'd the fruit that promised best,
And where not sure, perplex'd, but pleased, I guess'd
At such as seem'd the fairest; thrice the hill
My steps have wound to try the coolest rill;
Yes! thy sherbet tonight will sweetly flow,
See how it sparkles in its vase of snow!
The grapes' gay juice thy bosom never cheers;
Thou more than Moslem when the cup appears:
Think not I mean to chide-for I rejoice
What others deem a penance is thy choice.
But come, the board is spread; our silver lamp
Is trimm'd, and heeds not the sirocco's damp:
Then shall my handmaids while the time along,
And join with me the dance, or wake the song;
Or my guitar, which still thou lov'st to hear'
Shall soothe or lull-or, should it vex thine ear
We'll turn the' tale, by Ariosto told,
Of fair Olympia loved and left of old.
Why, thou wert worse than he who broke his vow
To that lost damsel, shouldst thou leave me now;
Or even that traitor chief-I've seen thee smile,
When the dear sky show'd Ariadne's Isle,
Which I have pointed from these cliffs the while:
And thus half sportive, half in fear, I said,
Lest time should rake that doubt to more than dread,
Thus Conrad, too, win quit me for the main;
And he deceived me-for he came again!'
'Again, again-and oft again-my love!
If there be life below, and hope above,
He will return-but now, the moments bring
The time of parting with redoubled wing:
The why, the where - what boots it now to tell?
Since all must end in that wild word - farewell!
Yet would I fain-did time allow disclose-
Fear not-these are no formidable foes
And here shall watch a more than wonted guard,
For sudden siege and long defence prepared:
Nor be thou lonely, though thy lord 's away,
Our matrons and thy handmaids with thee stay;
And this thy comfort-that, when next we meet,
Security shall make repose more sweet.
List!-'tis the bugle! '-Juan shrilly blew-
'One kiss-one more-another-Oh! Adieu!'
She rose-she sprung-she clung to his embrace,
Till his heart heaved beneath her hidden face:
He dared not raise to his that deep-blue eye,
Which downcast droop'd in tearless agony.
Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms,
In all the wildness of dishevell'd charms;
Scarce beat that bosom where his image dwelt
So full-that feeling seem'd almost Unfelt!
Hark-peals the thunder of the signal-gun
It told 'twas sunset, and he cursed that sun.
Again-again-that form he madly press'd,
Which mutely clasp'd, imploringly caress'd!
And tottering to the couch his bride he bore,
One moment gazed, as if to gaze no more;
Felt that for him earth held but her alone,
Kiss'd her cold forehead-turn'd-is Conrad gone?
'And is he gone?' on sudden solitude
How oft that fearful question will intrude
'Twas but an instant past, and here he stood!
And now '-without the portal's porch she rush'd,
And then at length her tears in freedom gush'd;
Big, bright, and fast, unknown to her they fell;
But still her lips refused to send-'Farewell!'
For in that word-that fatal word-howe'er
We promise, hope, believe, there breathes despair.
O'er every feature of that still, pale face,
Had sorrow fix'd what time can ne'er erase:
The tender blue of that large loving eye
Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy,
Till-Oh? how far!-it caught a glimpse of him,
And then it flow'd, and phrensied seem'd to swim
Through those' long, dark, and glistening lashes dew'd
With drops of sadness oft to be renew'd.
'He's gone! '-against her heart that hand is driven,
Convulsed and quick-then gently raised to heaven:
She look'd and saw the heaving of the main;
The white sail set she dared not look again;
But turn'd with sickening soul within the gate
'It is no dream - and I am desolate!'
From crag to crag descending, swiftly sped
Stern Conrad down, nor once he turn'd his head;
But shrunk whene'er the windings of his way
Forced on his eye what he would not survey,
His lone but lovely dwelling on the steep,
That hail'd him first when homeward from the deep
And she-the dim and melancholy star,
Whose ray of beauty reach'd him from afar
On her he must not gaze, he must not think,
There he might rest-but on Destruction's brink:
Yet once almost he stopp'd, and nearly gave
His fate to chance, his projects to the wave:
But no-it must not be-a worthy chief
May melt, but not betray to woman's grief.
He sees his bark, he notes how fair the wind,
And sternly gathers all his might of mind:
Again he hurries on-and as he hears
The dang of tumult vibrate on his ears,
The busy sounds, the bustle of the shore,
The shout, the signal, and the dashing oar;
As marks his eye the seaboy on the mast,
The anchors rise, the sails unfurling fast,
The waving kerchiefs of the crowd that urge
That mute adieu to those who stem the surge;
And more than all, his blood-red flag aloft,
He marvell'd how his heart could seem so soft.
Fire in his glance, and wildness in his breast
He feels of all his former self possest;
He bounds - he flies-until his footsteps reach
The verge where ends the cliff, begins the beach,
There checks his speed; but pauses less to breathe
The breezy freshness of the deep beneath,
Than there his wonted statelier step renew;
Nor rush, disturb'd by haste, to vulgar view:
For well had Conrad learn'd to curb the crowd,
By arts that veil and oft preserve the proud;
His was the lofty port, the distant mien,
That seems to shun the sight-and awes if seen:
The solemn aspect, and the high-born eye,
That checks low mirth, but lacks not courtesy;
All these he wielded to command assent:
But where he wish'd to win, so well unbent
That kindness cancell'd fear in those who heard,
And others' gifts show'd mean beside his word,
When echo'd to the heart as from his own
His deep yet tender melody of tone:
But such was foreign to his wonted mood,
He cared not what he soften'd, but subdued:
The evil passions of his youth had made
Him value less who loved-than what obey'd.
Around him mustering ranged his ready guard,
Before him Juan stands - 'Are all prepared?'
They are - nay more - embark'd: the boats
Waits but my Chief-'
My sword, and my capote.'
Soon firmly girded on, and lightly slung,
His belt and cloak were o'er his shoulders flung:
'Call Pedro here!' He comes - and Conrad bends,
With all the courtesy he deign'd his friends;
'Receive these tablets, and peruse with care,
Words of high trust and truth are graven there;
Double the guard, and when Anselmo's bark
Arrives, let him alike these orders mark:
In three days (serve the breeze) the sun shall shine
On our return - till then all peace be thine!'
This said, his brother Pirate's hand he wrung,
Then to his boat with haughty gesture sprung.
Flash'd the dipt oars, and sparkling with the stroke,
Around the waves' phosphoric brightness broke;
They gain the vessel - on the deck he stands, -
Shrieks the shrill whistle, ply the busy hands -
He marks how well the ship her helm obeys,
How gallant all her crew, and deigns to praise.
His eyes of pride to young Gonsalvo turn -
Why doth he start, and inly seem to mourn?
Alas! those eyes beheld his rocky tower
And live a moment o'er the parting hour;
She - his Medora - did she mark the prow?
Ah! never loved he half so much as now!
But much must yet be done ere dawn of day -
Again he mans himself and turns away;
Down to the cabin with Gonsalvo bends,
And there unfolds his plan, his means, and ends;
Before them burns the lamp, and spreads the chart,
And all that speaks and aids the naval art;
They to the midnight watch protract debate;
To anxious eyes what hour is ever late?
Meantime, the steady breeze serenely blew,
And fast and falcon-like the vessel flew;
Pass'd the high headlands of each clustering isle,
To gain their port - long - long ere morning smile:
And soon the night-glass through the narrow bay
Discovers where the Pacha's galleys lay.
Count they each sail, and mark how there supine
The lights in vain o'er heedless Moslem shine.
Secure, unnoted, Conrad's prow pass'd by,
And anchor'd where his ambush meant to lie;
Screen'd from espial by the jutting cape,
That rears on high its rude fantastic shape.
Then rose his band to duty - not from sleep -
Equipp'd for deeds alike on land or deep;
While lean'd their leader o'er the fretting flood,
And calmly talk'd-and yet he talk'd of blood!
CANTO THE SECOND
'Conoscestci dubiosi desiri?'~Dante
IN Coron's bay floats many a galley light,
Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright
For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night:
A feast for promised triumph yet to come,
When he shall drag the fetter'd Rovers home;
This hath he sworn by Allah and his sword,
And faithful to his firman and his word,
His summon'd prows collect along the coast,
And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast;
Already shared the captives and the prize,
Though far the distant foe they thus despise
'Tis but to sail - no doubt to-morrow's Sun
Will see the Pirates bound, their haven won!
Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will,
Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill.
Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek
To flesh their glowing valour on the Greek;
How well such deed becomes the turban'd brave -
To bare the sabre's edge before a slave!
Infest his dwelling - but forbear to slay,
Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day,
And do not deign to smite because they may!
Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow,
To keep in practice for the coming foe.
Revel and rout the evening hours beguile,
And they who wish to wear a head must smile
For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer,
And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.
High in his hall reclines the turban'd Seyd;
Around-the bearded chiefs he came to lead.
Removed the banquet, and the last pilaff -
Forbidden draughts, 'tis said, he dared to quaff,
Though to the rest the sober berry's juice
The slaves bear round for rigid Moslems' use;
The long chibouque's dissolving cloud supply,
While dance the Almas to wild minstrelsy.
The rising morn will view the chiefs embark;
But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark:
And revellers may more securely sleep
On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep:
Feast there who can - nor combat till they must,
And less to conquest than to Korans trust:
And yet the numbers crowded in his host
Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast.
With cautious reverence from the outer gate
Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait,
Bows his bent head, his hand salutes the floor,
Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore:
'A captive Dervise, from the Pirate's nest
Escaped, is here - himself would tell the rest.'
He took the sign from Seyd's assenting eye,
And led the holy man in silence nigh.
His arms were folded on his dark-green vest,
His step was feeble, and his look deprest;
Yet worn he seem'd of hardship more than years,
And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears.
Vow'd to his God - his sable locks he wore,
And these his lofty cap rose proudly o'er:
Around his form his loose long robe was thrown
And wrapt 'a breast bestow'd on heaven alone;
Submissive, yet with self-possession mann'd,
He calmly, met the curious eyes that scann d;
And question of his coming fain would seek,
Before the Pacha's will allow'd to speak.
Whence com'st thou, Dervise?'
'From the outlaw's den,
A fugitive -'
'Thy capture where and when?'
From Scalanova's port to Scio's isle,
The Saick was bound; but Allah did not smile
Upon our course - the Moslem merchant's gains
The Rovers won; our limbs have worn their chains.
I had no death to fear, nor wealth to boast
Beyond the wandering freedom which I lost;
At length a fisher's humble boat by night
Afforded hope, and offer'd chance of flight;
I seized the hour, and find my safety here -
With thee - most mighty Pacha! who can fear?'
'How speed the outlaws? stand they well prepared,
Their plunder'd wealth, and robber's rock, to guard?
Dream they of this our preparation, doom'd
To view with fire their scorpion nest consumed?'
'Pacha! the fetter'd captive's mourning eye,
That weeps for flight, but ill can play the spy;
I only heard the reckless waters roar
Those waves that would not bear me from the shore;
I only mark'd the glorious sun and sky,
Too bright, too blue, or my captivity;
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers
Must break my chain before it dried my tears.
This may'st thou judge, at least, from my escape,
They little deem of aught in peril's shape;
Else vainly had I pray'd or sought the chance
That leads me here - if eyed with vigilance
The careless guard that did not see me fly
May watch as idly when thy power is nigh.
Pacha! my limbs are faint - and nature craves
Food for my hunger, rest from tossing waves:
Permit my absence - peace be with thee! Peace
With all around! - now grant repose - release.'
'Stay, Dervise! I have more to question - stay,
I do command thee - sit - dost hear? - obey!
More I must ask, and food the slaves shall bring
Thou shalt not pine where all are banqueting:
The supper done - prepare thee to reply,
Clearly and full -I love not mystery.'
'Twere vain to guess what shook the pious man,
Who look'd not lovingly on that Divan;
Nor show'd high relish for the banquet prest,
And less respect for every fellow guest.
'Twas but a moment's peevish hectic pass'd
Along his cheek, and tranquillised as fast:
He sate him down in silence, and his look
Resumed the calmness which before forsook:
This feast was usher'd in, but sumptuous fare
He shunn'd as if some poison mingled there.
For one so long condemn'd to toil and fast,
Methinks he strangely spares the rich re-past.
'What ails thee, Dervise? eat - dost thou suppose
This feast a Christian's? or my friends thy foes?
Why dost thou shun the salt? that sacred pledge,
Which once partaken, blunts the sabre's edge,
Makes ev'n contending tribes in peace unite,
And hated hosts seem brethren to the sight!'
'Salt seasons dainties-and my food is still
The humblest root, my drink the simplest rill;
And my stern vow and order's laws oppose
To break or mingle bread with friends or foes;
It may seem strange - if there be aught to dread,
That peril rests upon my single head;
But for thy sway - nay more - thy Sultan's throne,
I taste nor bread nor banquet - save alone;
Infringed our order's rule, the Prophet's rage
To Mecca's dome might bar my pilgrimage.'
'Well - as thou wilt - ascetic as thou art -
One question answer; then in peace depart.
How many ? - Ha! it cannot sure be day?
What star - what sun is bursting on the bay?
It shines a lake of fire ! - away - away!
Ho! treachery! my guards! my scimitar!
The galleys feed the flames - and I afar!
Accursed Dervise! - these thy tidings - thou
Some villain spy-seize cleave him - slay him now!'
Up rose the Dervise with that burst of light,
Nor less his change of form appall'd the sight:
Up rose that Dervise - not in saintly garb,
But like a warrior bounding on his barb,
Dash'd his high cap, and tore his robe away -
Shone his mail'd breast, and flash'd his sabre's ray!
His dose but glittering casque, and sable plume,
More glittering eye, and black brow's sabler gloom,
Glared on the Moslems' eyes some Afrit sprite,
Whose demon death-blow left no hope for fight.
The wild confusion, and the swarthy glow
Of flames on high, and torches from below;
The shriek of terror, and the mingling yell -
For swords began to dash' and shouts to swell -
Flung o'er that spot of earth the air of hell!
Distracted, to and fro, the flying slaves
Behold but bloody shore and fiery waves;
Nought heeded they the Pacha's angry cry,
They seize that Dervise!-seize on Zatanai!
He saw their terror-check'd the first dispair
That urged him but to stand and perish there,
Since far too early and too well obey'd,
The flame was kindled ere the signal made;
He saw their terror - from his baldric drew
-His bugle-brief the blast-but shrilly blew;
'Tis answered-' Well ye speed, my gallant crew!
Why did I doubt their quickness of career?
And deem design had left me single here?'
Sweeps his long arm-that sabre's whirling sway
Sheds fast atonement for its first delay;
Completes his fury what their fear begun,
And makes the many basely quail to one.
The cloven turbans o'er the chamber spread,
And scarce an arm dare rise to guard its head:
Even Seyd, convulsed, o'erwhelm'd, with rage surprise,
Retreats before him, though he still defies.
No craven he - and yet he dreads the blow,
So much Confusion magnifies his foe!
His blazing galleys still distract his sight,
He tore his beard, and foaming fled the fight;
For now the pirates pass'd the Haram gate,
And burst within - and it were death to wait
Where wild Amazement shrieking - kneeling throws
The sword aside - in vain the blood o'erflows!
The Corsairs pouring, haste to where within
Invited Conrad's bugle, and the din
Of groaning victims, and wild cries for life,
Proclaim'd how well he did the work of strife.
They shout to find him grim and lonely there,
A glutted tiger mangling in his lair!
But short their greeting, shorter his reply
'Tis well but Seyd escapes, and he must die-
Much hath been done, but more remains to do -
Their galleys blaze - why not their city too?'
Quick at the word they seized him each a torch'
And fire the dome from minaret to porch.
A stern delight was fix'd in Conrad's eye,
But sudden sunk - for on his ear the cry
Of women struck, and like a deadly knell
Knock'd at that heart unmoved by battle's yell.
'Oh! burst the Haram - wrong not on your lives
One female form remember - we have wives.
On them such outrage Vengeance will repay;
Man is our foe, and such 'tis ours to slay:
But still we spared - must spare the weaker prey.
Oh! I forgot - but Heaven will not forgive
If at my word the helpless cease to live;
Follow who will - I go - we yet have time
Our souls to lighten of at least a crime.'
He climbs the crackling stair, he bursts the door,
Nor feels his feet glow scorching with the floor;
His breath choked gasping with the volumed smoke,
But still from room to room his way he broke.
They search - they find - they save: with lusty arms
Each bears a prize of unregarded charms;
Calm their loud fears; sustain their sinking frames
With all the care defenceless beauty claims
So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood,
And check the very hands with gore imbrued.
But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey
From reeking pile and combat's wreck away -
Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed?
The Haram queen - but still the slave of Seyd!
Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare,
Few words to re-assure the trembling fair
For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war,
The foe before retiring, fast and far,
With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued,
First slowlier fled - then rallied - then withstood.
This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few?
Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew,
And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes
The ruin wrought by panic and surprise.
Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry -
Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die!
And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell,
The tide of triumph ebbs that flow'd too well -
When wrath returns to renovated strife,
And those who fought for conquest strike for life
Conrad beheld the danger - he beheld
His followers faint by freshening foes repell'd:
'One effort - one - to break the circling host!'
They form - unite - charge - waver - all is lost!
Within a narrower ring compress'd, beset,
Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet -
Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more,
Hemm'd in, cut off, cleft down, and trampled o'er,
But each strikes singly, silently, and home,
And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome,
His last faint quittance rendering with his breath,
Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
But first, ere came the rallying host to blows,
And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose,
Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed,
Safe in the dome of one who held their creed,
By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd
And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd:
And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare
Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair
Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy
That smooth'd his accents, soften'd in his eye:
'Twas strange-that robber thus with gore bedew'd
Seem'd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood.
The Pacha woo'd as if he deem'd the slave
Must seem delighted with the heart he gave
The Corsair vow'd protection, soothed affright
As if his homage were a woman's right.
'The wish is wrong-nay, worse for female - vain:
Yet much I long to view that chief again;
If but to thank for, what my fear forget,
The life my loving lord remember'd not!'
And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,
But gather'd breathing from the happier dead;
Far from his band, and battling with a host
That deem right dearly won the field he lost,
Fell'd - bleeding - baffled of the death he sought,
And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought;
Preserved to linger and to live in vain,
While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain,
And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again -
But drop for drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye
Would doom him ever dying - ne'er to die!
Can this be he? triumphant late she saw
When his red hand's wild gesture waved a law!
'Tis he indeed - disarm'd but undeprest,
His sole regret the life he still possest;
His wounds too slight, though taken with that will,
Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could kill.
Oh were there none, of all the many given,
To send his soul - he scarcely ask'd to heaven?
Must he alone of all retain his breath,
Who more than all had striven and struck for death?
He deeply felt - what mortal hearts must feel,
When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel,
For crimes committed, and the victor's threat
Of lingering tortures to repay the debt -
He deeply, darkly felt; but evil pride
That led to perpetrate, now serves to hide.
Still in his stern and self-collected mien
A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen
Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound,
But few that saw - so calmly gazed around:
Though the far shouting of the distant crowd,
Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud,
The better warriors who beheld him near,
Insulted not the foe who taught them fear;
And the grim guards that to his durance led,
In silence eyed him with a secret dread
The Leech was sent-but not in mercy - there,
To note how much the life yet left could bear;
He found enough to load with heaviest chain,
And promise feeling for the wrench of pain;
To-morrow - yea - tomorrow's evening gun
Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun'
And rising with the wonted blush of morn
Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne.
Of torments this the longest and the worst,
Which adds all other agony to thirst,
That day by day death still forbears to slake,
While famish'd vultures flit around the stake.
'Oh! Water - water! ' smiling Hate denies
The victim's prayer, for if he drinks he dies.
This was his doom; - the Leech, the guard were gone,
And left proud Conrad fetter'd and alone.
'Twere vain to paint to what his feelings grew -
It even were doubtful if their victim knew.
There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
When all its elements convulsed, combined,
Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force,
And gnashing with impenitent Remorse -
That juggling fiend, who never spake before
But cries 'I warn'd thee!' when the deed is o'er.
Vain voice! the spirit burning but unbent
May writhe, rebel - the weak alone repent!
Even in that lonely hour when most it feels,
And, to itself; all, all that self reveals,-
No single passion, and no ruling thought
That leaves the rest, as once, unseen, unsought,
But the wild prospect when the soul reviews,
All rushing through their thousand avenues -
Ambition's dreams expiring, love's regret,
Endanger'd glory, life itself beset;
The joy untasted, the contempt or hate
'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate
The hopeless' past, the hasting future driven
Too quickly on to guess of hell or heaven;
Deeds, thoughts, and words, perhaps remember'd not
So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot;
Things light or lovely in their acted time,
But now to stern reflection each a crime;
The withering sense of evil unreveal'd,
Not cankering less because the more con ceal'd -
All, in a word, from which all eyes must start,
That opening sepulchre - the naked heart
Bares with its buried woes, till Pride awake,
To snatch the mirror from the soul-and break.
Ay, Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all -
All - all - before - beyond - the deadliest fall.
Each hath some fear, and he who least betrays,
The only hypocrite deserving praise:
Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and flies;
But he who looks on death-and silent dies.
So steel'd by pondering o'er his far career,
He half-way meets him should he menace near!
In the high chamber of his highest tower
Sate Conrad, fetter'd in the Pacha's power.
His palace perish'd in the flame - this fort
Contain'd at once his captive and his court.
Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame,
His foe, if vanquish'd, had but shared the same:-
Alone he sate-in solitude had scann'd
His guilty bosom, but that breast he mann'd:
One thought alone he could not - dared not meet -
'Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet?'
Then - only then - his clanking hands he raised,
And strain'd with rage the chain on which he gazed
But soon he found, or feign'd, or dream'd relief,
And smiled in self-derision of his grief,
'And now come torture when it will - or may,
More need of rest to nerve me for the day!'
This said, with languor to his mat he crept,
And, whatsoe'er his visions, quickly slept
'Twas hardly midnight when that fray begun,
For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done:
And Havoc loathes so much the waste of time,
She scarce had left an uncommitted crime.
One hour beheld him since the tide he stemm'd -
Disguised, discover'd, conquering, ta'en, condemn'd -
A chief on land, an outlaw on the deep
Destroying, saving, prison'd, and asleep!
He slept in calmest seeming, for his breath
Was hush'd so deep - Ah! happy if in death!
He slept - Who o'er his placid slumber bends?
His foes are gone, and here he hath no friends;
Is it some seraph sent to grant him grace?
No, 'tis an earthly form with heavenly face!
Its white arm raised a lamp - yet gently hid,
Lest the ray flash abruptly on the lid
Of that closed eye, which opens but to pain,
And once unclosed - but once may close again
That form, with eye so dark, and cheek so fair,
And auburn waves of gemm'd and braided hair;
With shape of fairy lightness - naked foot,
That shines like snow, and falls on earth as mute -
Through guards and dunnest night how came it there?
Ah! rather ask what will not woman dare?
Whom youth and pity lead like thee, Gulnare!
She could not sleep - and while the Pacha's rest
In muttering dreams yet saw his pirate-guest
She left his side - his signet-ring she bore
Which oft in sport adorn'd her hand before -
And with it, scarcely question'd, won her way
Through drowsy guards that must that sign obey.
Worn out with toil, and tired with changing blows
Their eyes had' envied Conrad his repose;
And chill and nodding at the turret door,
They stretch their listless limbs, and watch no more;
Just raised their heads to hail the signet-ring,
Nor ask or what or who the sign may bring.
She gazed in wonder, 'Can he calmly sleep,
While other eyes his fall or ravage weep?
And mine in restlessness are wandering here -
What sudden spell hath made this man so dear?
True-'tis to him my life, and more, I owe,
And me and mine he spared from worse than woe:
'Tis late to think - but soft, his slumber breaks -
How heavily he sighs! - he starts - awakes!'
He raised his head, and dazzled with the light,
His eye seem'd dubious if it saw aright:
He moved his hand - the grating of his chain
Too harshly told him that he lived again.
'What is that form? if not a shape of air,
Methinks, my jailor's face shows wondrous fair!'
'Pirate! thou know'st me not-but I am one,
Grateful for deeds thou hast too rarely done;
Look on me - and remember her, thy hand
Snatch'd from the flames, and thy more fearful band.
I come through darkness and I scarce know why -
Yet not to hurt - I would not see thee die'
'If so, kind lady! thine the only eye
That would not here in that gay hope delight:
Theirs is the chance - and let them use their right.
But still I thank their courtesy or thine,
That would confess me at so fair a shrine!'
Strange though it seem - yet with extremest grief
Is link'd a mirth - it doth not bring relief -
That playfulness of Sorrow ne'er beguiles,
And smiles in bitterness - but still it smiles;
And sometimes with the wisest and the best,
Till even the scaffold echoes with their jest!
Yet not the joy to which it seems akin -
It may deceive all hearts, save that within.
Whate'er it was that flash'd on Conrad, now
A laughing wildness half unbent his brow
And these his accents had a sound of mirth,
As if the last he could enjoy on earth;
Yet 'gainst his nature - for through that short life,
Few thoughts had he to spare from gloom and strife.
'Corsair! thy doom is named - but I have power
To soothe the Pacha in his weaker hour.
Thee would I spare - nay more - would save thee now,
But this - time - hope - nor even thy strength allow;
But all I can, I will: at least, delay
The sentence that remits thee scarce a day.
More now were ruin - even thyself were loth
The vain attempt should bring but doom to both.'
'Yes! loth indeed:- my soul is nerved to all,
Or fall'n too low to fear a further fall:
Tempt not thyself with peril - me with hope
Of flight from foes with whom I could not cope:
Unfit to vanquish, shall I meanly fly,
The one of all my band that would not die?
Yet there is one to whom my memory clings,
Till to these eyes her own wild softness springs.
My sole resources in the path I trod
Were these - my bark, my sword, my love, my God!
The last I left in youth! - he leaves me now -
And Man but works his will to lay me low.
I have no thought to mock his throne with prayer
Wrung from the coward crouching of despair;
It is enough - I breathe, and I can bear.
My sword is shaken from the worthless hand
That might have better kept so true a brand;
My bark is sunk or captive - but my love -
For her in sooth my voice would mount above:
Oh! she is all that still to earth can bind -
And this will break a heart so more than kind,
And blight a form - till thine appear'd, Gulnare!
Mine eye ne'er ask'd if others were as fair.'
'Thou lov'st another then? - but what to me
Is this - 'tis nothing - nothing e'er can be:
But yet - thou lov'st - and - Oh! I envy those
Whose hearts on hearts as faithful can repose,
Who never feel the void-the wandering thought
That sighs o'er vision~such as mine hath wrought.'
'Lady methought thy love was his, for whom
This arm redeem'd thee from a fiery tomb.
'My love stern Seyd's! Oh - No - No - not my love -
Yet much this heart, that strives no more, once strove
To meet his passion but it would not be.
I felt - I feel - love dwells with - with the free.
I am a slave, a favour'd slave at best,
To share his splendour, and seem very blest!
Oft must my soul the question undergo,
Of -' Dost thou love?' and burn to answer, 'No!'
Oh! hard it is that fondness to sustain,
And struggle not to feel averse in vain;
But harder still the heart's recoil to bear,
And hide from one - perhaps another there.
He takes the hand I give not, nor withhold -
Its pulse nor check'd, nor quicken'd-calmly cold:
And when resign'd, it drops a lifeless weight
From one I never loved enough to hate.
No warmth these lips return by his imprest,
And chill'd remembrance shudders o'er the rest.
Yes - had lever proved that passion's zeal,
The change to hatred were at least to feel:
But still he goes unmourn'd, returns unsought,
And oft when present - absent from my thought.
Or when reflection comes - and come it must -
I fear that henceforth 'twill but bring disgust;
I am his slave - but, in despite of pride,
'Twere worse than bondage to become his bride.
Oh! that this dotage of his breast would cease:
Or seek another and give mine release,
But yesterday - I could have said, to peace!
Yes, if unwonted fondness now I feign,
Remember captive! 'tis to break thy chain;
Repay the life that to thy hand I owe
To give thee back to all endear'd below,
Who share such love as I can never know.
Farewell, morn breaks, and I must now away:
'Twill cost me dear - but dread no death to-day!'
She press'd his fetter'd fingers to her heart,
And bow'd her head, and turn'd her to de part,
And noiseless as a lovely dream is gone.
And was she here? and is he now alone?
What gem hath dropp'd and sparkles o'er his chain?
The tear most sacred, shed for others' pain,
That starts at once - bright - pure - from Pity's mine
Already polish'd by the hand divine!
Oh! too convincing - deangerously dear -
In woman's eye the unanswerable tear
That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
To save, subdue at once her spear and shield:
Avoid it - Virtue ebbs and Wisdom errs,
Too fondly gazing on that grief of hers!
What lost a world, and bade a hero fly?
The timid tear in Cleopatra's eye.
Yet be the soft triumvir's fault forgiven;
By this - how many lose not earth - but heaven!
Consign their souls to man's eternal foe,
And seal their own to spare some wanton's woe!
'Tis morn, and o'er his alter'd features play
The beams - without the hope of yester-day.
What shall he be ere night? perchance a thing
O'er which the raven flaps her funeral wing
By his closed eye unheeded and unfelt;
While sets that sun, and dews of evening melt,
Chin wet, and misty round each stiffen'd limb,
Refreshing earth - reviving all but him!
CANTO THE THIRD
'Come vedi - ancor non m'abbandona'~Dante
Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,
Along Morea's hills the setting sun;
Not, as in Northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light!
O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows.
On old Ægina's rock and Idra's isle,
The god of gladness sheds his parting smile;
O'er his own regions lingering, loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast the mountain shadows kiss
Thy glorious gulf; unconquer'd Salamis!
Their azure arches through the long expanse
More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance,
And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;
Tm, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.
On such an eve, his palest beam he cast,
When - Athens! here thy Wisest look'd his last.
How watch'd thy better sons his farewell ray,
That closed their murder'd sage's latest day!
Not yet - not yet - Sol pauses on the hill -
The precious hour of parting lingers still;
But sad his light to agonising eyes,
And dark the mountain's once delightful dyes:
Gloom o'er the lovely land he seem'd to pour,
The land, where Phoebus never frown'd before;
But ere he sank below Cithæron's head,
The cup of woe was quaff'd - the spirit fled
The soul of him who scorn'd to fear or fly -
Who lived and died, as none can live or die!
But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain,
The queen of night asserts her silent reign.
No murky vapour, herald of the storm,
Hides her fair face, nor girds her glowing form:
With cornice glimmering as the moon-beams play,
There the white column greets her grateful ray,
And, bright around with quivering beams beset,
Her emblem sparkles o'er the minaret:
The groves of olive scatter'd dark and wide
Where meek Cephisus pours his scanty tide,
The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque,
The gleaming turret of the gay kiosk,
And, dun and sombre 'mid the holy calm,
Near Theseus' fane yon solitary palm,
All tinged with varied hues arrest the eye -
And dull were his that pass'd them heedless by.
Again the Ægean, heard no more afar,
Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war;
Again his waves in milder tints unfold
Their long array of sapphire and of gold,
Mix'd with the shades of many a distant isle,
That frown - where gentler ocean seems to smile.
Not now my theme-why turn my thoughts to thee?
Oh! who can look along thy native sea.
Nor dwell upon thy name, whate'er the tale
So much its magic must o'er all prevail?
Who that beheld that Sun upon thee set,
Fair Athens! could thine evening face for get?
Not he - whose heart nor time nor distance frees,
Spell-bound within the clustering Cyclades!
Nor seems this homage foreign to its strain,
His Corsair's isle was once thine own domain -
Would that with freedom it were thine again!
The Sun hath sunk - and, darker than the night,
Sinks with its beam upon the beacon height
Medora's heart - the third day's come and gone -
With it he comes not - sends not - faithless one!
The wind was fair though light; and storms were none. 70
Last eve Anselmo's bark return'd, and yet
His only tidings that they had not met!
Though wild, as now, far different were the tale
Had Conrad waited for that single sail.
The night-breeze freshens - she that day had pass'd
In watching all that Hope proclaim'd a mast;
Sadly she sate on high - Impatience bore
At last her footsteps to the midnight shore,
And there she wander'd, heedless of the spray
That dash'd her garments oft, and warn'd away:
She saw not, felt not this - nor dared depart,
Nor deem'd it cold - her chill was at her heart;
Till grew such certainty from that suspense
His very sight had shock'd from life or sense!
It came at last - a sad and shatter'd boat,
Whose inmates first beheld whom first they sought;
Some bleeding - all most wretched - these the few -
Scarce knew they how escaped - this all they knew.
In silence, darkling, each appear'd to wait
His fellow's mournful guess at Conrad's fate:
Something they would have said; but seem'd to fear
To trust their accents to Medora's ear.
She saw at once, yet sunk not - trembled not -
Beneath that grief, that loneliness of lot;
Within that meek fair form were feelings high,
That deem'd not, till they found, their energy
While yet was Hope they soften'd, flutter'd wept -
All lost - that softness died not - but it slept;
And o'er its slumber rose that Strength which said,
'With nothing left to love, there's nought to dread.'
'Tis more than nature's; like the burning 'night