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Seeking the Best and Freshest Poontang They Could Get

Loose poontang was all over the place.
Some was sold but most was given away.

The sailors would dock upon these shores...
Many years ago!
Seeking the best and freshest poontang they could get.
And leaving the townspeople with resources...
Some hoarded and most adored for the ease,
This abundance left them...
To feed their sleazy greedy needs!

The critics wished to address,
The freshness of the poontang.
Disclaiming this did not represent...
Images they declared misunderstood when presented.
They wanted it to be widely known...
They are of the self righteous kind!
At least the wanted this kept charaded.

But no one would deny,
The poontang kept their manicured pretentions...
From taking an economic nose dive.
And those who came to taste and marvel the poontang agreed...
This adventure was no different than casinos.
And perhaps legalizing this mischief,
Would increase their incomes and not have their dollars bleed.

And so it was!
Poontang began to lift low spirits.
Thus providing another rewritten chapter...
To raise the stakes.
And erase the already lowered levels of tolerance!
Afterall...
It is about that dollar!
And how to achieve getting it without offending dignities!

Even the gutter can become cherished,
When the status of it is upgraded!
And marketed as such!
Giving it a refurbished quality of class and snob appeal!
Everyone will want to have a piece of it!
And so the gutters too,
Were painted to induce captivating reflections of rainbows.

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George Meredith

The Old Chartist

I

Whate'er I be, old England is my dam!
So there's my answer to the judges, clear.
I'm nothing of a fox, nor of a lamb;
I don't know how to bleat nor how to leer:
I'm for the nation!
That's why you see me by the wayside here,
Returning home from transportation.

II

It's Summer in her bath this morn, I think.
I'm fresh as dew, and chirpy as the birds:
And just for joy to see old England wink
Thro' leaves again, I could harangue the herds:
Isn't it something
To speak out like a man when you've got words,
And prove you're not a stupid dumb thing?

III

They shipp'd me of for it; I'm here again.
Old England is my dam, whate'er I be!
Says I, I'll tramp it home, and see the grain:
If you see well, you're king of what you see:
Eyesight is having,
If you're not given, I said, to gluttony.
Such talk to ignorance sounds as raving.

IV

You dear old brook, that from his Grace's park
Come bounding! on you run near my old town:
My lord can't lock the water; nor the lark,
Unless he kills him, can my lord keep down.
Up, is the song-note!
I've tried it, too:- for comfort and renown,
I rather pitch'd upon the wrong note.

V

I'm not ashamed: Not beaten's still my boast:
Again I'll rouse the people up to strike.
But home's where different politics jar most.
Respectability the women like.
This form, or that form, -
The Government may be hungry pike,
But don't you mount a Chartist platform!

VI

Well, well! Not beaten-spite of them, I shout;
And my estate is suffering for the Cause. -
No,-what is yon brown water-rat about,
Who washes his old poll with busy paws?
What does he mean by't?
It's like defying all our natural laws,
For him to hope that he'll get clean by't.

VII

His seat is on a mud-bank, and his trade
Is dirt:- he's quite contemptible; and yet
The fellow's all as anxious as a maid
To show a decent dress, and dry the wet.
Now it's his whisker,
And now his nose, and ear: he seems to get
Each moment at the motion brisker!

VIII

To see him squat like little chaps at school,
I could let fly a laugh with all my might.
He peers, hangs both his fore-paws:- bless that fool,
He's bobbing at his frill now!-what a sight!
Licking the dish up,
As if he thought to pass from black to white,
Like parson into lawny bishop.

IX

The elms and yellow reed-flags in the sun,
Look on quite grave:- the sunlight flecks his side;
And links of bindweed-flowers round him run,
And shine up doubled with him in the tide.
I'M nearly splitting,
But nature seems like seconding his pride,
And thinks that his behaviour's fitting.

X

That isle o' mud looks baking dry with gold.
His needle-muzzle still works out and in.
It really is a wonder to behold,
And makes me feel the bristles of my chin.
Judged by appearance,
I fancy of the two I'm nearer Sin,
And might as well commence a clearance.

XI

And that's what my fine daughter said:- she meant:
Pray, hold your tongue, and wear a Sunday face.
Her husband, the young linendraper, spent
Much argument thereon:- I'm their disgrace.
Bother the couple!
I feel superior to a chap whose place
Commands him to be neat and supple.

XII

But if I go and say to my old hen:
I'll mend the gentry's boots, and keep discreet,
Until they grow TOO violent,-why, then,
A warmer welcome I might chance to meet:
Warmer and better.
And if she fancies her old cock is beat,
And drops upon her knees-so let her!

XIII

She suffered for me:- women, you'll observe,
Don't suffer for a Cause, but for a man.
When I was in the dock she show'd her nerve:
I saw beneath her shawl my old tea-can
Trembling . . . she brought it
To screw me for my work: she loath'd my plan,
And therefore doubly kind I thought it.

XIV

I've never lost the taste of that same tea:
That liquor on my logic floats like oil,
When I state facts, and fellows disagree.
For human creatures all are in a coil;
All may want pardon.
I see a day when every pot will boil
Harmonious in one great Tea-garden!

XV

We wait the setting of the Dandy's day,
Before that time!-He's furbishing his dress, -
He WILL be ready for it!-and I say,
That yon old dandy rat amid the cress, -
Thanks to hard labour! -
If cleanliness is next to godliness,
The old fat fellow's heaven's neighbour!

XVI

You teach me a fine lesson, my old boy!
I've looked on my superiors far too long,
And small has been my profit as my joy.
You've done the right while I've denounced the wrong.
Prosper me later!
Like you I will despise the sniggering throng,
And please myself and my Creator.

XVII

I'll bring the linendraper and his wife
Some day to see you; taking off my hat.
Should they ask why, I'll answer: in my life
I never found so true a democrat.
Base occupation
Can't rob you of your own esteem, old rat!
I'll preach you to the British nation.

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Henry and the Scheme of Things.

It was all part of the scheme
of things Henry thought and
even when the women looked
at him with that odd curiosity
he never failed (at least not in

the beginning) to make a score
usually with one of the females
less prettier than the ones who
left before and after taking her
for the drink and meal routine

and maybe to the cinema he took
her back to his place and poured
her a drink and put on a cool jazz
record on the hifi and set her down
on the sofa and she talked and he

watched her lips move the lipstick
red the kind his mother used to wear
and her nose was kind of pointed and
lifted up at the end and her words
went over his head he wasn't interested

in her philosophy of being or what
she had bought at the last sale he
studied her chin the way it rose and
fell as she spoke the words pouring
out and he said look Honey I know

you like to talk but how about you
and me going to bed? Oh she said I
haven't told you about the time I
went to New York and so Henry lay
back on the sofa closed his eyes

and let her talk a jazz saxophone
filling in behind her voice the record
turning her mouth opening and closing
and he thought of time passing and
remembering his mother's red lipstick

mouth scolding and after boredom had
set in deep he drifted off to sexless sleep.

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John Milton

Paradise Lost: Book 03

Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear"st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest ***
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace;
Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides,
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Now had the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye
His own works and their works at once to view:
About him all the Sanctities of Heaven
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd
Beatitude past utterance; on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only son; on earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of mankind in the happy garden plac'd
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,
In blissful solitude; he then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd, without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake.
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescrib'd no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now,
Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way
Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,
Directly towards the new created world,
And man there plac'd, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or, worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall
He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault?
Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all the ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail'd;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have given sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear'd,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had serv'd necessity,
Not me? they therefore, as to right belong$ 'd,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-rul'd
Their will dispos'd by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I; if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so
I form'd them free: and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
$THeir freedom: they themselves ordain'd their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: Man falls, deceiv'd
By the other first: Man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: In mercy and justice both,
Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel;
But Mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone
Substantially express'd; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure grace,
Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake.
O Father, gracious was that word which clos'd
Thy sovran command, that Man should find grace;
, that Man should find grace;
For which both Heaven and earth shall high extol
Thy praises, with the innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest.
For should Man finally be lost, should Man,
Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly? that be from thee far,
That far be from thee, Father, who art judge
Of all things made, and judgest only right.
Or shall the Adversary thus obtain
His end, and frustrate thine? shall he fulfill
His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought,
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell
Draw after him the whole race of mankind,
By him corrupted? or wilt thou thyself
Abolish thy creation, and unmake
For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be question'd and blasphem'd without defence.
To whom the great Creator thus replied.
O son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone.
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed;
Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will;
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsaf'd; once more I will renew
His lapsed powers, though forfeit; and enthrall'd
By sin to foul exorbitant desires;
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe;
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
His fallen condition is, and to me owe
All his deliverance, and to none but me.
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The incensed Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,
Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
And I will place within them as a guide,
My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear,
Light after light, well us'd, they shall attain,
And to the end, persisting, safe arrive.
This my long sufferance, and my day of grace,
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste;
But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;
And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; Man disobeying,
Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins
Against the high supremacy of Heaven,
Affecting God-head, and, so losing all,
To expiate his treason hath nought left,
But to destruction sacred and devote,
He, with his whole posterity, must die,
Die he or justice must; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.
Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?
Which of you will be mortal, to redeem
Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save?
Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?
And silence was in Heaven: $ on Man's behalf
He ask'd, but all the heavenly quire stood mute,
Patron or intercessour none appear'd,
Much less that durst upon his own head draw
The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.
And now without redemption all mankind
Must have been lost, adjudg'd to Death and Hell
By doom severe, had not the Son of God,
In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,
His dearest mediation thus renew'd.
Father, thy word is past, Man shall find grace;
And shall grace not find means, that finds her way,
The speediest of thy winged messengers,
To visit all thy creatures, and to all
Comes unprevented, unimplor'd, unsought?
Happy for Man, so coming; he her aid
Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost;
Atonement for himself, or offering meet,
Indebted and undone, hath none to bring;
Behold me then: me for him, life for life
I offer: on me let thine anger fall;
Account me Man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly die
Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage.
Under his gloomy power I shall not long
Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess
Life in myself for ever; by thee I live;
Though now to Death I yield, and am his due,
All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid,
$ thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave
His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul
For ever with corruption there to dwell;
But I shall rise victorious, and subdue
My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil.
Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop
Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed;
I through the ample air in triumph high
Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show
The powers of darkness bound. Thou, at the sight
Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,
While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes;
Death last, and with his carcase glut the grave;
Then, with the multitude of my redeemed,
Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return,
Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud
Of anger shall remain, but peace assured
And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more
Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.
His words here ended; but his meek aspect
Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love
To mortal men, above which only shone
Filial obedience: as a sacrifice
Glad to be offered, he attends the will
Of his great Father. Admiration seized
All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend,
Wondering; but soon th' Almighty thus replied.
O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace
Found out for mankind under wrath, O thou
My sole complacence! Well thou know'st how dear
To me are all my works; nor Man the least,
Though last created, that for him I spare
Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save,
By losing thee a while, the whole race lost.

Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem,
Their nature also to thy nature join;
And be thyself Man among men on Earth,
Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed,
By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam's room
The head of all mankind, though Adam's son.
As in him perish all men, so in thee,
As from a second root, shall be restored
As many as are restored, without thee none.
His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit,
Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce
Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds,
And live in thee transplanted, and from thee
Receive new life. So Man, as is most just,
Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die,
And dying rise, and rising with him raise
His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life.
So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate,
Giving to death, and dying to redeem,
So dearly to redeem what hellish hate
So easily destroyed, and still destroys
In those who, when they may, accept not grace.
Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume
Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own.
Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss
Equal to God, and equally enjoying
God-like fruition, quitted all, to save
A world from utter loss, and hast been found
By merit more than birthright Son of God,
Found worthiest to be so by being good,
Far more than great or high; because in thee
Love hath abounded more than glory abounds;
Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt
With thee thy manhood also to this throne:
Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign
Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man,
Anointed universal King; all power
I give thee; reign for ever, and assume
Thy merits; under thee, as head supreme,
Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce:
All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide
In Heaven, or Earth, or under Earth in Hell.
When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven,
Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send
The summoning Arch-Angels to proclaim
Thy dread tribunal; forthwith from all winds,
The living, and forthwith the cited dead
Of all past ages, to the general doom
Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep.
Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge
Bad Men and Angels; they, arraigned, shall sink
Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full,
Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while
The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring
New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell,
And, after all their tribulations long,
See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds,
With joy and peace triumphing, and fair truth.
Then thou thy regal scepter shalt lay by,
For regal scepter then no more shall need,
God shall be all in all. But, all ye Gods,
Adore him, who to compass all this dies;
Adore the Son, and honour him as me.
No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of Angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled
The eternal regions: Lowly reverent
Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast
Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;
Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence
To Heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,
And flowers aloft shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven
Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream;
With these that never fade the Spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams;
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.
Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took,
Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side
Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join
Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.
Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
Eternal King; the Author of all being,
Fonntain of light, thyself invisible
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st
Throned inaccessible, but when thou shadest
The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear,
Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang of all creation first,
Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,
In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud
Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.
He Heaven of Heavens and all the Powers therein
By thee created; and by thee threw down
The aspiring Dominations: Thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,
Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook
Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks
Thou drovest of warring Angels disarrayed.
Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim
Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father's might,
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes,
Not so on Man: Him through their malice fallen,
Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline:
No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man
So strictly, but much more to pity inclined,
He to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat
Second to thee, offered himself to die
For Man's offence. O unexampled love,
Love no where to be found less than Divine!
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of Men! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song
Henceforth, and never shall my heart thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin.
Thus they in Heaven, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.
Mean while upon the firm opacous globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferiour orbs, enclosed
From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old,
Satan alighted walks: A globe far off
It seemed, now seems a boundless continent
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms
Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains
Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud:
Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field.
As when a vultur on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
So, on this windy sea of land, the Fiend
Walked up and down alone, bent on his prey;
Alone, for other creature in this place,
Living or lifeless, to be found was none;
None yet, but store hereafter from the earth
Up hither like aereal vapours flew
Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had filled the works of men:
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame,
Or happiness in this or the other life;
All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
Of painful superstition and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;
All the unaccomplished works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,
Dissolved on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here;
Not in the neighbouring moon as some have dreamed;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
Translated Saints, or middle Spirits hold
Betwixt the angelical and human kind.
Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born
First from the ancient world those giants came
With many a vain exploit, though then renowned:
The builders next of Babel on the plain
Of Sennaar, and still with vain design,
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:
Others came single; he, who, to be deemed
A God, leaped fondly into Aetna flames,
Empedocles; and he, who, to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea,
Cleombrotus; and many more too long,
Embryos, and idiots, eremites, and friars
White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.
Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek
In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven;
And they, who to be sure of Paradise,
Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick,
Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised;
They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed,
And that crystalling sphere whose balance weighs
The trepidation talked, and that first moved;
And now Saint Peter at Heaven's wicket seems
To wait them with his keys, and now at foot
Of Heaven's ascent they lift their feet, when lo
A violent cross wind from either coast
Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry
Into the devious air: Then might ye see
Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tost
And fluttered into rags; then reliques, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: All these, upwhirled aloft,
Fly o'er the backside of the world far off
Into a Limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
Long after; now unpeopled, and untrod.
All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed,
And long he wandered, till at last a gleam
Of dawning light turned thither-ward in haste
His travelled steps: far distant he descries
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heaven a structure high;
At top whereof, but far more rich, appeared
The work as of a kingly palace-gate,
With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Embellished; thick with sparkling orient gems
The portal shone, inimitable on earth
By model, or by shading pencil, drawn.
These stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw
Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled
To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz
Dreaming by night under the open sky
And waking cried, This is the gate of Heaven.
Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood
There always, but drawn up to Heaven sometimes
Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flowed
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Who after came from earth, failing arrived
Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake
Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.
The stairs were then let down, whether to dare
The Fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss:
Direct against which opened from beneath,
Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,
A passage down to the Earth, a passage wide,
Wider by far than that of after-times
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large,
Over the Promised Land to God so dear;
By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behests his angels to and fro
Passed frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas, the fount of Jordan's flood,
To Beersaba, where the Holy Land
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore;
So wide the opening seemed, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave.
Satan from hence, now on the lower stair,
That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven-gate,
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at once. As when a scout,
Through dark?;nd desart ways with?oeril gone
All?might,?;t?kast by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land
First seen, or some renowned metropolis
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams:
Such wonder seised, though after Heaven seen,
The Spirit malign, but much more envy seised,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well might, where he stood
So high above the circling canopy
Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point
Of Libra to the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda far off Atlantick seas
Beyond the horizon; then from pole to pole
He views in breadth, and without longer pause
Down right into the world's first region throws
His flight precipitant, and winds with ease
Through the pure marble air his oblique way
Amongst innumerable stars, that shone
Stars distant, but nigh hand seemed other worlds;
Or other worlds they seemed, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there
He staid not to inquire: Above them all
The golden sun, in splendour likest Heaven,
Allured his eye; thither his course he bends
Through the calm firmament, (but up or down,
By center, or eccentrick, hard to tell,
Or longitude,) where the great luminary
Aloof the vulgar constellations thick,
That from his lordly eye keep distance due,
Dispenses light from far; they, as they move
Their starry dance in numbers that compute
Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or are turned
By his magnetick beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,
Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep;
So wonderously was set his station bright.
There lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb
Through his glazed optick tube yet never saw.
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compared with aught on earth, metal or stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike informed
With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seemed gold, part silver clear;
If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite,
Ruby or topaz, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breast-plate, and a stone besides
Imagined rather oft than elsewhere seen,
That stone, or like to that which here below
Philosophers in vain so long have sought,
In vain, though by their powerful art they bind
Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound
In various shapes old Proteus from the sea,
Drained through a limbeck to his native form.
What wonder then if fields and regions here
Breathe forth Elixir pure, and rivers run
Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch
The arch-chemick sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humour mixed,
Here in the dark so many precious things
Of colour glorious, and effect so rare?
Here matter new to gaze the Devil met
Undazzled; far and wide his eye commands;
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade,
But all sun-shine, as when his beams at noon
Culminate from the equator, as they now
Shot upward still direct, whence no way round
Shadow from body opaque can fall; and the air,
No where so clear, sharpened his visual ray
To objects distant far, whereby he soon
Saw within ken a glorious Angel stand,
The same whom John saw also in the sun:
His back was turned, but not his brightness hid;
Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar
Circled his head, nor less his locks behind
Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings
Lay waving round; on some great charge employed
He seemed, or fixed in cogitation deep.
Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope
To find who might direct his wandering flight
To Paradise, the happy seat of Man,
His journey's end and our beginning woe.
But first he casts to change his proper shape,
Which else might work him danger or delay:
And now a stripling Cherub he appears,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb
Suitable grace diffused, so well he feigned:
Under a coronet his flowing hair
In curls on either cheek played; wings he wore
Of many a coloured plume, sprinkled with gold;
His habit fit for speed succinct, and held
Before his decent steps a silver wand.
He drew not nigh unheard; the Angel bright,
Ere he drew nigh, his radiant visage turned,
Admonished by his ear, and straight was known
The Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the Heavens, or down to the Earth
Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land: him Satan thus accosts.
Uriel, for thou of those seven Spirits that stand
In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright,
The first art wont his great authentick will
Interpreter through highest Heaven to bring,
Where all his sons thy embassy attend;
And here art likeliest by supreme decree
Like honour to obtain, and as his eye
To visit oft this new creation round;
Unspeakable desire to see, and know
All these his wonderous works, but chiefly Man,
His chief delight and favour, him for whom
All these his works so wonderous he ordained,
Hath brought me from the quires of Cherubim
Alone thus wandering. Brightest Seraph, tell
In which of all these shining orbs hath Man
His fixed seat, or fixed seat hath none,
But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell;
That I may find him, and with secret gaze
Or open admiration him behold,
On whom the great Creator hath bestowed
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured;
That both in him and all things, as is meet,
The universal Maker we may praise;
Who justly hath driven out his rebel foes
To deepest Hell, and, to repair that loss,
Created this new happy race of Men
To serve him better: Wise are all his ways.
So spake the false dissembler unperceived;
For neither Man nor Angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth:
And oft, though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
At wisdom's gate, and to simplicity
Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems: Which now for once beguiled
Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted Spirit of all in Heaven;
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul,
In his uprightness, answer thus returned.
Fair Angel, thy desire, which tends to know
The works of God, thereby to glorify
The great Work-master, leads to no excess
That reaches blame, but rather merits praise
The more it seems excess, that led thee hither
From thy empyreal mansion thus alone,
To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps,
Contented with report, hear only in Heaven:
For wonderful indeed are all his works,
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight;
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?
I saw when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined;
Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung:
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire;
And this ethereal quintessence of Heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rolled orbicular, and turned to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each his course;
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe, whose hither side
With light from hence, though but reflected, shines;
That place is Earth, the seat of Man; that light
His day, which else, as the other hemisphere,
Night would invade; but there the neighbouring moon
So call that opposite fair star) her aid
Timely interposes, and her monthly round
Still ending, still renewing, through mid Heaven,
With borrowed light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten the Earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
That spot, to which I point, is Paradise,
Adam's abode; those lofty shades, his bower.
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires.
Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low,
As to superiour Spirits is wont in Heaven,
Where honour due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptick, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel;
Nor staid, till on Niphates' top he lights.

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Elegy On Jigar Moradabadi

INTRODUCTION

Mr. Aziz Ahmad has written an Elegy on the Poet Haji Ali Sikander, commonly known as Jigar Moradabadi. The poem is in 48 stanzas of Eight lines each followed by 48 paragraphs of notes, one for each stanza. They explain the real mood of the stanzas. This is perhaps the first time that an Elegy in English on an Urdu Poet has been attempted. Elegiac poems in Urdu are common. The marsais of Anis and Dabir are long elegiac poems of unsurpassed beauty. An Elegy is literally a song or poem of mourning. The English examples are Lycidas, Adonais and Thyrsis. They are true elegies although Gray's well-known Elegy, which was written in a country churchyard does not mourn anyone in particular and deals with 'the pathos of mortality'.

English Elegies, like Latin Elegies before, were written in a metre called elegiac. Any poem written in that metre was called an Elegy irrespective of the subject matter. Later the point about metre was dropped and any poem was considered an elegy if the subject matter was what I have described, irrespective of the metre. Today the subject and metre must coincide to make a proper elegy.

The metre must be hexameter or pentameter. A hexameter is of six measures the fifth being a dactyl and the sixth either a spondee or a trochee. The other four may be either a dactyls or spondees. An example is Longfellow's Evangeline. Homer's two epic poems and Virgil's Aeneid are in hexameter. Pentameter verse is in two parts, each of which ends with an extra long syllable. The first half consists of two metres, dactyls or spondees, the latter half must be two dactyls.

I have said this because metre-wise this poem in English will not be regarded as a proper Elegy but subject-wise it is. Perhaps Mr. Aziz Ahmad can cast the lines again. *

Subject-wise the poem is excellent. Jigar who wrote of himself:

Jigar main ne chhupaya lakh upna dard o ghum lekin
Bayan kardeen meri surat nay sub kaifiyatein dilki

Was a poet in the front rank in India and in the days when there were Iqbal, Fani and Firaq and several others. Tabassum Nizami has done a great deal to bring his life before us, and his books Daghe Jigar, Shola- e- Toor and Aatishe Gul are poetry which is seldom equaled.

No wonder Mr. Aziz Ahmad's heart bleeds at the very thought of Jigar's death in 1960. Not only has he paid his sincere homage to his memory but he has described the anguish of the family and friends. Jigar would have said:

Meri roodad e ghum who sun rahe hain
Tabassum sa labon par araha hai
Jigar hi ka na ho afsana koi
Daro devar ko hal araha hai.

Mr. Aziz Ahmad's heart-rending verses do make even the doors and walls get into ecstasy!

23rd September,1981 M. Hidayatullah
6, Maulana Azad Road, Vice- President
New Delhi-110011. of India

*AUTHOR'S CLARIFICATION

I append here for ready reference the views of the reputed critics about modern poetry, which are printed on pages 223,224 and 225 ofThe Study of Poetry” by A.R. Entwistle.

The reaction against metre in modern poetry is only another symptom of the dissatisfaction with things as they are. The movement towards “free verse” is, of course, no new thing. The experiment of Matthew Arnold, Henley, Walt Whitman and others occur readily to the mind.

Here it is useful to know how the new poetry affected Professor Churton Collins:

“If a man six feet high, of striking masculine beauty and of venerable appearance, chooses to stand on his head in the public streets….. he will at least attract attention, and create some excitement; secondly……..the law of reaction in literature, as in everything else, will assert itself, that when poetry has long attained perfection in form and has been running smoothly in conventional grooves, there is certain to be a revolt both on the part of poets themselves and in the public taste, and the opposite extreme will be affected and welcomed; and thirdly, ……… if a writer has the courage or impudence to set sense, taste, and decency at defiance and, posing sometimes as a mystic and sometimes as a mountebank, to express himself in the jargon of both, and yet has the genius to irradiate his absurdities with flashes of wisdom, beauty, and inspired insight, three things are certain to result, ……… namely, sympathy from those who favor the reaction, disgust on the part of those who belong to neither party, but who are quite willing to judge what they find on its own merits.”

For the frankly modernist view we turn to Mr. Robert Graves, who says:

“Poetry has, in a word, begun to 'go round the corner'; the straight street in which English bards have for centuries walked is no longer so attractive, now that a concealed turning has been found opening up a new street or network of streets whose existence tradition hardly suspected. Traditionalists will even say of the adventures: ' They have completely disappeared; they are walking in the suburbs of poetry called alternatively Nonsense or Madness.' But it disturbs these traditionalists that the defections from the highway are numerous, and that the poets concerned cannot be accused of ignorance of the old ways, of mental unbalance in other departments of life, or in insincerity.”

The spirit of the present generation is in marked degree anti-traditional, and it would easy, but tiresome, to show by copious quotations how welcome the spirit of revolt has become.

Similar tendency is found in modern Urdu Poetry. We should see, what Akbar Allahbadi says in connection.

Qaedon men husne mani gum karo
Sher main kehta hoon hijje tum karo

(Lose in rules beauty of meanings;
Verse I compose, you do spellings.)

Since this elegy consists of a mixture of a Urdu and English words, it is practically impossible to confine it to the conventional English metre.

Aziz Ahmad

FOREWORD

I have with interest gone through the Elegy on the death of the late Haji Ali Sikander, Jigar Moradabadi, presented to me for my comments by Mr. Aziz Ahmad, the author. I am impressed by his style and art. It shows his deep love for Jigar Moradabadi who was a poet of great genius. It seems that he has a good knowledge of the life and art of Jigar. As he has written in the Preface that no poet has so far written an elegy in English on the death of any Urdu poet is, as far as I know, correct. The endeavour is his own. Some points given in the Elegy have already become widely known, while some others are quite new. When I started reading it, I was so charmed that I could not leave it unfinished. It is a fine piece of literature and fascinates its readers. I appreciate the unity of the poem. The stanzas employed help to bind the parts of the poem together into a single whole, so that it becomes a

“Silver chain of sound
of many links, without a break.”

The choice of words and constructions are commendable. I feel that Mr. Aziz Ahmad make a very good use of rhetorical language. The poem is a rhymed product of the author's imagination. He has, no doubt, chosen a dignified subject- the death of a great poet, but the distinction lies in the fact that he has beautifully portrayed his life as well as art.

The poem is elaborate in workmanship and is long enough, with orderly development and fine descriptions. The interplay of emotion, reflection and spontaneity are commendable. At the same time he has no want of narrative force. His logical transition from one thought to another is praiseworthy. The description of scenes in the poem presents a clear picture before the eyes of the readers. The author exhibits his real respect fro Jigar and grief over his death.

In my view, the poem is great due to the following grounds: -

There is in the proposition- ' I weep for Jigar Moradabadi………'; the invocations to Jigar's dead mother and the Spirit of poetry etc.; the mourning of the relatives and friends; the procession of the mourners in concrete and abstract form;
The partaking of nature and Super-natural beings in grief; the praise of the distinctive traits of the life and art of Jigar; and the reward that the great poet has found a place in paradise and has become eternal in death. In the end, the note of personal lament shows his deep personal attachment.

While mentioning many good qualities of Jigar Sahib's personality Mr. Aziz Ahmad rightly emphasized in the last two lines of Stanza no.25 that he little bothered for money. Just to endorse his point I would like to relate one incident which vividly remember even today. In June,1947 an All India Mushaira was organized in Shahajan pur, U.P. Although a student of 10th Class, I happened to be one of the organizers of this function. Unfortunately because of extremely bad weather and sudden heavy rains, the Mushaira was a total failure. All was upset. Not a single poet could recite his poems. We lacked funds even to pay the traveling expenses of more than 12 poets who had arrived to participate in Mushaira, including such popular poets as Salam Machli Shahri and Khumar Barabankvi. Jigar Sahib was staying with one of his pupils Mr. Habab Tirmizi. The poets were demanding money and we were worries how to satisfy them. Jigar Sahib apprehended the whole situation. He got up quietly, went to the wall where his Sherwani was hanging, brought out some two hundred rupees and gave us saying, “Give it over to them.”

When in 1955 I met Jigar Sahib in Aligarh and reminded him of this incident, he smiled and pretended as if he did not remember. Many such events can be related which reveal rare moral qualities of his character.

To conclude my comments, I think it appropriate to quote a few lines from the Elegy which I like most.

The following lines remind us of Shelly's Adonais:

Ideals splendid, Desires, Adorations;
Joys blinded with Tears and Winged Persuasions;
In melancholy mood Love and Ties;
Sorrows with her family of Sighs;
With hair unbound and tears their eyes flow,
Came there in form of procession slow,
The slow moving procession might seem
Like pomp of ants in Summer near stream.

Beautiful imagination is presented subtle contrast of the following lines:

Angels waited his life-account to write;
But were dazzled, seeing him in white light.
Who knows not the reason for this light?
His body though dark, his soul was white.
The loveliest personification is found in stanzas no 12 and 13 where

Learning of his death, Wines held a meeting
To condole his death by hard breast-beating.

and where
Some Wines spirited came to his grave;
Their eyes were red, their hearts were brave.

Stanza no 19 testifies to the author's great skill in narration. Pathos is also beautifully given.

It is evident from stanza no.24 that Mr. Aziz Ahmad has been deeply influenced by Robert Frost, a famous American poet.

The superb description is found in stanza no 26 and 27 where Jigar's fondness for playing cards is shown.

In the following lines a fine smile has been used: -

His behavior was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friend intimate and free.
With his youngers reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

In stanza no.33 it seems that the author wants to say that Jigar disliked ' Ghazals' composed by ladies; but the idea has been expressed by giving a beautiful definition of 'Ghazal'.

The following lines in stanza no.44 are very befitting: -

Beauty is the base in the lays of Asghar;
But love beautifies the verses of Jigar.

The following lines, though subjective, compel me to appreciate the author: -
Risen above the waves saw I a hand;
All of a sudden, it drew me to land.
It was the hand of Jigar- a rare man
Who is born once in centuries span.

In the following stanza I find a relish of sonnet. It is filled with sincere feelings.

The void so created cannot be filled,
The Hawk of death has the 'Ghazal Bird' killed.
But the time of death is fixed by Him
Who is our Lord without doubt and whim.
The only tribute to him I pay
Is to compose this sorrowful lay.
His features shall in these lines be seen;
If they live, he shall in them be green.

May this endeavour of Mr. Aziz Ahmad be crowned with success and glory! I wish him to give us many more such wonderful poetic pieces.


Dr. Qamar Rais
Reader,
Department of Urdu
University of Delhi

OPINION I

Janab Aziz Ahmad sahib has sent me a copy of an elegy he has composed in the memory of the late lamented Haji Ali Sikandar Jigar, the Doyen of Urdu poets in the Indian sub-continent.

I have gone through this elegy with deep interest and I find that Aziz Sahib loved and admired Jigar Sahib from the core of his heart. He pours out his heart in grief for Jigar whom he considers the zenith of muses. The elegy is a fitting tribute indeed to a person who lived and died for poetry and whose verses shall for ever continue to inspire generations to come.

Some of Aziz Sahib's stanzas are sublime and worth quoting. For instance he speaks from the unexplored depth of his heart when he says: -

For Jigar I weep. And you too weep
With me, for I plunge into the deep
Of pain and sorrow, of grief and tears.
O hapless Hour chosen from all years!
I ask you to rouse your other compeers;
Then together we will weep blood fro tears.
Till future dares forget the past
His name and fame shall ever last.

In stanza no 28 he has painted a true portrait of Jigar. Of such virtues was Jigar made and of such virtues his Ghazals are the outcome. He was noble both in mind and in action.

He was cordial and hospitable most,
And was to his guests a courteous host.
His behaviour was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friends, intimate and free.
With his youngers, reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

I am sure that all those who knew and loved Jigar will enjoy the fine quality of the elegy and will realize that Aziz Sahib has for once not taken to poetic exaggeration.

Kunwar Mehender Singh Bedi

OPINION II

Mr. Aziz Ahmad' elegy on Jigar may be unconventional in metre but is wonderful in matter. The poem is the graphic account of the life, character and verse of a great Urdu poet, it has a great imaginative and emotional appeal and is remarkable for fine personification and vivid imagery. It reminds of Shelly's 'Adonais'.

B. K Kansal Ph. D
Chairman HINDU COLLEGE
Dept. of Post-graduate Studies MORADABAD
and Research in English
Banbata Ganj (Near Kamal Talkies) Dated 28th Sept.1981
Moradabad- 244001

PREFACE

The few lines I have put in this little book are nothing but a tribute I am obliged to pay to the memory of the Late Haji Ali Sikandar, Jigar Moradabadi, a relative of mine, to whom I am deeply indebted as the credit of my life's making goes to him.

He was born on 6th April 1890, in Mohalla Lal bagh, Moradabad, U.P., but from the boyhood he left his native city and roamed far and wide to make his life glorious. He was a natural poet of Urdu. If we peep into his life, we find it true that 'a poet is born, not made.'

Asghar Gondwi, a renowned poet of that time, on seeing him, understood full well that he was fated to be great. So, he owned him, guided him and showered his favors on him.

Jigar lived at Gonda, U.P., in the house of his wife, Nasim. Journey had become the part of his life. He reminded mostly out in connection with Mushairas. Whenever he returned home, he wanted us to remain with him. So, I have passed a portion of my life with him and observed him with love and reverence.

I wanted to write something about him in Urdu prose, and to get published some letters and poems written in his own hand, which I have kept safe with me like sacred things.

I started writing it, but by the force of some unknown power, my mind turned to a theme quite novel. In English, as far as I know, nobody has composed an elegy on the death of an Urdu poet. My purpose of writing in this language is that English will be a vehicle to convey my thoughts and outside this country, as English, being an international language, is read and spoken everywhere.

Jigar was acclaimed ' Ghazal King' in his lifetime. He died on September 9,1960 and was laid to rest at Gonda in the lap of his dear country.

He was truly poetic in his habits and disposition, character and conduct, thoughts and feelings, ways and manners, motions and gestures, dressing and clothing, gait and get-up. Moreover he was gifted by Nature with a throat extremely musical. I have poetized my feelings to pay him homage, as, I think, the homage paid to such a great poet should be musical. I hope that his soul will accept it.

When I was staying at Mecca after the performance of 'Haj' in the year 1975, one night I saw him in a dream. During my stay there I had not dreamed of anyone else save him. When I woke up, I felt a sort of restlessness. Then and there, I performed 'Umera' for him.

When he died, I felt a shock of grief. This Elegy is the outlet of the grief I felt then and have concealed so far.

This Elegy contains some points which are quite new, and which the lovers of Jigar Moradabadi are unaware of. Though the Elegy has parts comprising many traits of Jigar, I have tried to make it a unified whole.

I hope that for the lovers of Jigar Moradabadi, this work will be a Souvenir worth keeping.

How far my aims are fulfilled is for the readers to judge!

In the end, I express my thankfulness to Dr. B. K. Kansal, Head of the Department of English, Hindu College, Moradabad, who has been kind to me to give valuable suggestions for this composition.

I am highly grateful to Mr. M. Hidayatullah, Vice- President of India, for his very valuable and illuminating introduction, which throws sufficient light on elegy in English, Urdu and Latin literature, on its matter and metre. His judicial office he has held as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

I also express gratitude to Dr. Qamar Rais and Kunwar Mehender Singh Bedi whose high praise of the poem gave me great encouragement.

Aziz Ahmad

1

I weep for Jigar Moradabadi- he is dead!
O weep for the poet who has beautifully wed
Love and Wine with verses of new time,
And has achieved a fame so sublime!
Wailing and weeping wets the air.
How so sad is the drum of the ear.
How so sad is the whole atmosphere!
There is none who is not in despair.

2

For Jigar I weep. And you too weep
With me, for I plunge into the deep
Of pain and sorrow, of grief and tears.
O hapless Hour chosen from all years!
I ask you to rouse your other compeers;
Then together we will weep blood fro tears.
Till future dares forget the past
His name and fame shall ever last.

3

Weep, O Spirit of poetry! Weep,
For he has gone for his final sleep.
His body though motion less; his soul's brain
Listens to your weeping with woeful strain.
At his death are sorrowful many more
Thank those who loved his poetry and lore.
As a poet he was great; as a man was he sublime.
He has lived life very fine; he is uneaten by time.

4

Alas! O Noble Mother, Mother great
Who bore a poet full many a trait!
You could not see him gathering fame,
Upraising your position and name.
In your grave you might have felt charm
When he would sing his rhymings warm.
Now he has gone into the gulf of death
From where nobody returns to this earth.

5

Angels bewail him as he is mortified,
And bless his three works to be immortalized.
He could not bear when his Motherland's pride
Was being crushed by the liberticide.
Communal ghosts when raised their heads,
Poison was filled in people's heads
By professional leaders' hired men;
Then sorrowful songs flowed his pen.

6

Ideals splendid, Desires, Adorations;
Joys blinded with Tears and Winged Persuasions;
In melancholy mood Love and Ties;
Sorrows with her family of Sighs;
With hair unbound and tears their eyes flow,
Came there in form of procession slow,
The slow moving procession might seem
Like pomp of ants in Summer near stream.

7

Rooms of his house began lamenting anew.
Their weeping was silent, though heard by a few.
Such mute voices rarely poets hear;
Others remain deaf, they do not care.
They heard the sound of his amorous lay
When he would sing there in wondrous way.
To him they responded with their echo.
Oh! he is dead, leaving them in great woe

8

One day before his death, he slowly murmured,
A compartment of train for me be reserved
As life's journey has come to an end
And I have to go to Other Land.”
Some kin by him were standing silent;
Their eyes were tearful, their heads were bent.
Grief so much shattered his dear wife,
She lost all the pleasures of life.

9

When his bier was to be taken out,
Every one was weeping without doubt.
Short-lived though is general grief,
His wife's agony was not brief.
Till Nature is on its normal course,
Morning after night will nature force.
But his wife will weep, day and night,
As her dear soul has taken flight.

10

The eyes had since stopped their weeping;
Now came turn of the heart's bleeding.
The air had been filled with grief and sorrow;
People hurriedly made many a row
For the prayer with humble salutation,
They prayed to God for his soul's consolation.
Homage was paid to departed soul;
But Death was unmindful of the dole.

11

With open heart, his grave was ready
To welcome warmly his dead body.
Angels waited his life-account to write;
But were dazzled, seeing him in white light.
Who knows not the reason for this light?
His body though dark, his soul was white.
He, in dewy sleep, took his last fill
Of liquid rest, forgetful of ill.

12

Learning of his death, Wines held a meeting
To condole his death by hard breast-beating.
The meeting was attended by all the Wines
Of various colors, tastes and racial lines.
A resolution was proposed in the meeting,
And it was unanimously passed by standing.
Wines were weeping, as he was the one
Who once loved them more than any one.

13

Some Wines spirited came to his grave;
Their eyes were red, their hearts were brave.
They were the ones he had preferred once,
But later divorced them for nuisance.
They came ashamed and fully disguised;
They were by mourners not recognized.
Once he had been under the charm of wine;
Later, he broke all the bottles of wine.

14

His was not more than a twin will
Which he made known when he was ill.
He told his wife in presence of no other
Thank my mother, he anon called her thither.
“You won't break your bangles in my dole;
You won't give alms for balming my soul.”
His wife a gentle lady, told him anon
That these two conditions would not be undone.

15

A Wish lay suppressed within his heart,
Which remained unfulfilled in the last.
He desired his grave to be dug near
Those of his father and mother dear.
But once his mentor made a prophecy.
Every thing of Jigar, his house would see.
His prophecy strangely came to be true;
The dust of his grave him to Gonda drew.

16

His father, who was in paradise,
Heard the news of his son's demise.
The news proved to be dagger to his soul,
Though he was beyond the reach of the dole.
By angels there was a Naat being recited,
Composed by Jigar, the very Naat invited
God who rapt in listening to the numbers
Allotted Jigar one of heaven's chambers.

17

People were drowned in the ocean of grief;
They could not have time for nay relief.
Angels so warmly received his soul;
While Earth took his body as a whole.
Grave swore his body never to mar;
Angels wished his soul to shine like star.
God judged the situation, and then delivered
His body to Grave, and soul to heaven transferred.

18

First couplet he made, when eight years old,
Father scolded him, when he was told.
He said through he was to be a poet,
He should not poetise so early yet.
His father, an adapt in Marsia singing,
Taught him to sing verses in the beginning.
The art of singing he did well maintain;
Many a poet copied him in vain.

19

A lot to adversities came in his early teens;
After father's death, he had no sustaining means.
Kin were not ready to call him their own,
Save his step-uncle who helped him alone.
Relations condemned him; he was lorn;
Some called him poet, kin laughed in scorn.
No one knew then he would change the weather,
And would have in his cap a fine feather.

20

Compelled by the conditions, he drank wine
That gave impetus to his metres fine.
The more he drank, the more civilized;
Oft in shame he felt demoralized.
His hair was long, his beard neglected,
And by passions he was much affected.
Who can drink so much wine as the poet drank?
He was super-drinker, to be very frank.

21

What a great poet mystic was he
Who chose Jigar, and owned him dearly!
I praise his might, wisdom and insight;
He changed his life by dint of his light.
The plant dear he watered and reared
Grew to his prime and full flowered.
But alas the fruit was never given birth!
His dear is dead; and dead is the hope of mirth!

22

A land was inherited so fertile;
Some incidents sowed it, but not futile.
It was well watered by pure wine,
And was looked after eyes so fine.
There grew a garden of many plants green;
It was charming and worthy to be seen.
Colourful flowers, beautiful and fair,
Shall always lend smell to poetic air.

23

When he became the climax and crown
Of the poetic fame and renown,
A man became of him deadly jealous,
And mixed with his food something poisonous;
When caught, he confessed his crime,
And Jigar forgave him in no time.
Even such men are very very sorry.
What an exemplary character had he!

24

He was once staying with his friend,
And had enough money to spend.
He was, one night, lying on a cot;
A person smelled that he had a lot.
Presuming him asleep, he picked the pocket
Of his hanging Sherwani or his jacket.
He saw him doing this pernicious deed,
But let him go, thinking him in dire need.

25

Forgetting had been his habit since boyhood.
It is although bad, in his case was so good.
It was his habit doing for others good;
And having done it, he forgot it for good.
He recommended daily several men,
He had such wondrous power in his pen.
Who could find such a gentle friend?
He forgot money he would lend.

26

Playing cards was his hobby like rime;
In playing them he did not mind time.
He would play them till late at night
And oft forgot to take his diet.
He felt bitter when he lost his game,
And got irritated, with excuses lame.
Honesty reigned supreme over him,
So chances of win sometimes were dim.

27

His wife disliked his playing cards
With his intimate friends and bards.
How so interesting when she was angry!
And on it with him she did not agree!
He cooled her anger by burning the cards,
And swore he would never play them onwards.
But lo! The cards burnt and cremated
Were again born and animated.

28

He was cordial and hospitable most,
And was to his guests a courteous host.
His behavior was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friend intimate and free.
With his youngers, reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

29

He talked often in a roundabout way;
Listeners had to guess point of his say.
He did not know the art of oratory,
He was although in the know of poetry.
Poetry even he could not debate;
He felt it though within, without combat.
The way he advised was very attractive.
Though he is dead, he is subtly instructive.

30

Humility was his noble trait,
What though he was a poet so great.
He was not narrow, nor arrogant at all,
So his was a gradual rise, not a fall.
Oft he would say that he was nothing,
But was an outcome of some blessing.
“Respect even the elders' shoes.”
He said, and did similar dos.

31

Sycophancy did not suit his nature;
Self-respect was his special feature.
He was witty, sensitive and fair;
To talk like him very few men dare.
Ills, our beauty, spoil and mar,
We are drawn from the goal afar.
He sincerely tried to kill
With his songs the germs of ills.

32

No poet ever earned as so much as did he,
For the highest was his royalty and fee.
He gave much money out of his income
To the needy he gladly did welcome.
When at homes currency notes he hid
In pillow, book or tin with a lid.
They were meant to be given to the needy,
And kept hidden from the view of his lady.


33

Ghazal was originally meant conversation
Lover had with his lady in imagination.
But later its definition was amended;
Now the scope of it is wide and extended.
It has a number of beautiful lines;
It has themes in lovely symbols and signs.
Jigar disliked it composed by a lady;
He said strangely, “Ghazal and a lady! ”

34

The life and soul of Mushaira has flown; ”
The poets who love Jigar say and moan.
He was poet of so great a fame,
People swarmed him on hearing his name.
They came to listen to, from far and wide,
His honey-sweet rhymes; alas he has died!
The way he sang was singularly his own;
Nature had given him such bewitching tone.

35

He love much his country dear,
He did not leave it in greed or fear;
Though many a chance in his favour
In Urdu-loving Pak., India's neighbour.
He loved his country's gardens and bowers;
Thorns he bore, while leaving their flowers.
He was favourite of Indo-Pakistan;
He was moreover commended in Iran.

36

When muse goaded him, he made outlines
Of plants, flowers and the like designs.
From those shot out a natural couplet
Which was the outcome of passions' outlet.
He chose them after making his correction,
And made of them a beautiful creation.
Poems of his are wines of his liver,
We are drunk with the rhymes of Jigar.

37

His love was very pure and without lust,
Lady's-love respect for his was a must.
He gave 'love' many a colourful name;
According to him loving was no game.
He drank love from the cup of lady-love,
Then got communications from above.
Who could think then and who could judge
Such a hard drinker would do Haj?

38

He dipped in the oceans of passions,
And bathed with water of emotions.
He was so rapt in adoring the love,
Often he scaled the firmament above.
He was lost in his imagination,
He had a bliss of reciprocation.
He soared up high in versification
To have a bliss of amalgamation.

39

All the verses Jigar has wrought
Bear the stamp of what he thought.
The poetry he composed is a fine art;
Naturally it goes to the people's heart.
He had a very keen sense of beauty
Whose expression he considered his duty.
He made his critics bend so low
With poetic spells he would throw.

40

He was created by nature as a bard,
His ideas in verses are not so hard.
He did not put art for only art's sake;
He was the ‘Ghazal King’ of special make,
His poetry is made out of his life;
It belongs to life and exists for life.
He has often blended love and beauty
As if they were no separate entity.

41

He was by nature fitfully emotional;
Poems of his are novel, though conventional.
We hear the cries from within his heart;
Moods he garnered into words of art.
Concerned he was mainly with his feelings;
Oft they are filled with spiritual meanings.
He liked sorrow much more than delight
Which he viewed unstable as the night.

42

Such poetic ego he was given by Nature,
Imitation of others did not suit his nature.
As from bees, the bee-queen takes honey,
So he took much from sublime company.
Governed he was not by views of others;
If he liked, he dipped them in his colours.
If we took into his poetic glory,
We find beneath a current of Manglori.

43

On reading his poems, we find it evident,
He was influenced by many an incident.
Monetary lures could not him entice
To cease fire against political vice.
Fact and truth in them heartily we feel,
Which to young poets very much appeal.
This trend in Hasrat was just a start,
But it was Jigar's beating of heart.

44

Till then, most poets had poetized the feelings
Of lovers, their humble bowings and kneelings.
Nut now Jigar translated the feelings
Born in the hearts of the lovers' darlings.
'Loves' of common poets we do not love;
But the 'love' of Jigar who would not love?
Beauty is the base in the lays of Asghar;
But love beautifies the verses of Jigar.

45

We see the sun and shadow of realism
Blending with the dreams of romanticism
In a balanced and fine symmetry
In Jigar's beautiful poetry.
He was a love-poet over and above,
But he did not suffer from the ill of love.
The heart of his 'Love' was kind and cruel;
The role she played was double and dual.

46

He did not view life in a narrow way;
He wove his view-points in many a lay.
He was not afraid of his life's end;
Death he took for the call of his Friend.
For him, it was a meaningless thing;
He was life, so he found death nothing.
He has now reached a place of love
Where he lives life our world's above.

47

Once I was in hot water of life;
Many a hurdle came in my strife.
Risen above the waves saw I a hand;
All of a sudden, it drew me to land.
It was the hand of Jigar- a rare man
Who is born once in centuries span.
The soul of that great man, like a star,
Still guides my life when the hurdles bar.

48

The void so created cannot be filled,
The Hawk of death has the 'Ghazal Bird' killed.
But the time of death is fixed by Him
Who is our Lord without doubt and whim.
The only tribute to him I pay
Is to compose this sorrowful lay.
His features shall in these lines be seen;
If they live, he shall in them be green.

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES

Stanza 1

I mourn the death of the Reverend Poet, Jigar Moradabadi. Let all of us weep for him who has very beautifully produced couplets after couplets on Love and wine.

In fact, love is the spirit of his poetry. Wine gave him frankness to bring out feelings of his heart, but it could not make him naked in expression. He had a wineful personality from where his poems came out as intoxicants.

Stanza 2

I weep for Jigar Moradabadi. I invoke the sad Hour of his death which has been selected from all the years for this unfortunate event to weep with me. I also ask unlucky Hour to wake up his other companions (i.e. the hours that have passed) . Then we all collectively will weep blood for the poet. So long as the future continues to remember the past, his name and fame as a poet shall be passed on from age to age.

Stanza 3

Spirit of poetry has been invoked in this stanza to weep over the death of the poet whose soul listens to its painfully musical weeping.

He was a man of distinctive qualities. He had a laudable character. He was liked by men of every religion. His nature was so good that sometimes he was liked by those who had no taste for poetry. Time, therefore, cannot spoil his fame.

Stanza 4

Jigar's dead mother is worthy of praise as she gave birth to a poet who had many qualities. But it is regrettable that she had died before he became famous. I imagine that the soul of his mother might have felt comfort when he achieved fame. Now he has departed from this world to a place from where nobody returns.

Stanza 5

Even the angels are sorry about his death. They are unable to save him. So they bless to immortalize his three books; namely, 'Daghey Jigar, ' ' Shaulaey Toor' and 'Aatishe Gul'. In the last of his books he has written some poems being moved by communal riots of those days.
Such communal riots are planned by the politicians in India from time to time and their mercenaries disturb the peace.

Stanza 6

There came in the form of procession mourners: the poet's Splendid Ideals, Desires, Adorations, Joys which were blinded with tears and Persuasions (whose wings are conspicuous feature) , his Love and Ties in melancholy mood, and Sorrows accompanied by Sighs. They were all with undressed hair, and tears were flowing from their eyes. The Procession was moving slowly and slowly. The whole procession looked like a train of ants seen near a stream in the summer season.

Stanza 7

Jigar sometimes composed lines of his poems after mid-night. Only his wife was present in the room where he slept. I slept in the other room. But his singing was so enchanting that it awakened me and made me lost. I sometimes felt that the rooms were also spell-bound. The rooms responded to him with their echo when he sang his loving poems in his house. It is now really painful that he has left the world, and has also left them in great woe.

Stanza 8

The words within inverted comas “A compartment of train for me be reserved as life's journey has come to an end, and I have to go to Other Land” are the actual words spoken by Jigar in depression one day before his death.
A few relatives of Jigar were present in his house in a very sorrowful condition when he was nearing death. His wife was very much aggrieved. She was bereft of pleasures of life.

Stanza 9

In this stanza actual scene of the house is depicted when his bier was being taken out for the funeral prayer. Every one who was present at that time was weeping.

The people who come to mourn the death of a man generally leave the house after some time. Similarly, the people who came to mourn the death of Jigar were also intending to leave house after some time.

Day and night, as usual, will go on happening by turns; but for his dear wife, both day and night will be gloomy, as her joy has taken flight in the death of her husband.

Stanza 10

Actual scene of the funeral prayer (Namaze-Janaza) before the burial is depicted in this stanza. The prayer was held near his house.

The weeping is stopped when the people offer funeral prayer. But the heart is sad. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with grief. People prayed for the consolation of his soul. But death was not the least affected by the grief.

Stanza 11

When Jigar was buried, his grave felt joyous to receive his body. The Muslims believe that after the burial, angels come to ask the dead a few questions. Angels asked Jigar some questions in his grave, but they were amazed to see in the grave a white dazzling light instead of darkness. The reason for this light was that Jigar was saintly at heart though once he was wine personified. Jigar was actually dark-coloured, but his soul was supposed to be white (a striking contrast) . He enjoyed the most tranquil rest in his grave, unmindful of the worries of life.

Stanza 12

Wines in this stanza have been figuratively portrayed to hold condolence meeting on his death by hard breast-beating. All sorts of Wines (Wines of different colors, of different tastes and of different races) attended the meeting. A resolution to mourn the death of Jigar was proposed in the meeting, which was agreed upon and then passed by standing, without a single vote of dissent. The reason why Wines mourned his death was that Jigar once loved them more than any other man. He was once a record-breaker in drinking wine.

Stanza 13

Some Wines were so much spirited that they came to his grave to pay him homage. Their eyes were red and their hearts were brave. (It is to be noted that after drinking spirited wine the eyes become red and heart becomes brave) . These were the Wines Jigar once preferred to other Wines. But when he realized later that they were the cause of nuisance, he divorced them. They came fully disguised and were ashamed because they were divorced by the poet. The mourners who were present at his grave could not recognize them.

In the last two lines, the figure changes into factuality because Jigar gave up drinking in his later age.

Stanza 14

When Jigar was on the death-bed, one day he called my mother, and told his wife who was sitting beside him that, after his death, she should neither break her bangles nor give anything in charity for the peace of his soul. When he was asked the reason be his wife for forbidding her from giving alms for the consolation of his soul, he said, “I have done much for myself. You need not to do any thing for me.” His wife who was a righteous and gentle lady promised him that she would fulfill his will.

Stanza 15

In fact, Jigar wanted to be buried at Moradabad, his birth-place; but Asghar Gondwi, his mentor, once said that every thing of him (Jigar) would be done at his (Asghar's) house at Gonda. His prophecy finally came to be true. Jigar died on September 9,1960 at Gonda and was buried there.

Stanza 16

I imagine that his father was in paradise. Hearing the news of his son's sad demise, he felt a shock of grief. The paradise is the place where ordinarily the news of this world does not reach. But the angels specially delivered the news of Jigar's death to his father.

In paradise some angels were reciting the NAAT (a poem in praise of the Prophet, Mohammed which Jigar composed after the performance of 'Haj' in the year 1953) in a very sweet voice. God who loves extremely his dear prophet was attracted by the singing of the NAAT and become so much rapturous that he allotted Jigar one of heaven's chambers.

Stanza 17

People were over head and ears in grief. They could not find any relief so far.

Earth claimed that the dead body of Jigar should be given to it. Grave (a sub-ordinate of Earth) swore that it would not spoil his body. Hearing the arguments of Earth, angels, the inhabitants of the sky declared that his soul would be put in the sky to shine like a star. So, it should be given to them.

God judged the case and then ordered that the body of Jigar be given to earth and Sky has a rightful claim over his soul. By this order, angels very warmly received his soul.

Stanza 18

It is true that Jigar in his childhood was trained by his father in singing and throat- controlling. Marsias are Elegiac verses in Urdu composed on the battle of Karbala in which Hazrat Imam Husain and others were beheaded mercilessly. He spoke out first couplet at the age of eight. When his father heard his couplet, he scolded him saying that he should not make couplets too early.

Many poets tried to copy his style of singing but in vain.

Stanza 19

When Jigar was in his early age, his father died. Thereafter, he was surrounded by many difficulties. He was condemned, disowned and deemed inferior by his paternal relatives. Only Maulvi Ali Asghar, his step-uncle who was a gentle and righteous man, supported him. His relatives in the initial stage of his career did not think that he would become so great. Some of the relatives even mocked when the people said that Jigar had become a poet.

Stanza 20

He was forced by the circumstances to drink wine, but wine could not spoil the sublimity of his character. His feelings and senses were all the more awakened when he was drunk. In that condition he did not utter foul words. He realized that drinking of wine was bad. His hair was long and he often neglected the dressing of his beard. He was an abnormal drinker of wine.

Stanza 21

A famous mystic poet of those days, Asghar Gondwi, owned Jigar and guessed at first sight that he was to become great.

Jigar was taken by his admirers, was offered drinks, and his Ghazals regaled them; but he was given nothing. Then Asghar urged him not to attend the Mushaira without his consultation. Now, when people wanted to take Jigar, Asghar asked them to give him atleast Rs.50, which was initially fixed as his fee for a Mushaira. His fee began swelling with his growing fame, and it went beyond Rs.1000 (a good sun in those days) excluding travelling expenses.

Asghar Gondwi married off his sister-in-law to Jigar on her condition that Jigar would have to give up drinking. On breaking his promise not to drink, the marriage got terminated resulting in divorce. After about 15 years he remarried the same lady. Then he gave up drinking for ever, and led a good conjugal life, but, unfortunately, remained childless.

Asghar Gondwi is worthy of praise as he helped Jigar a lot and tried to uplift him.

Stanza 22

Jigar inherited poetic talents from his father, Maulvi Ali Nazar, and his grand father, Maulvi Amjad Ali, as they were also poets. He also took blessings of some spiritual men. A few incidents of his life and wine gave a push to his muse with the result that many themes came out of his heart like green plants which make a plot of land beautiful, attractive and worthy to be enjoyed. The poems of Jigar are likened to the colourful, fresh and fair flowers of the garden. They shall for ever continue to please men of poetic tastes.

Stanza 23

The incident referred to in this stanza is true. Various books written on Jigar after his death corroborate the fact that when Jigar was staying at Bhopal, a man who was jealous of his because of his extra-ordinary fame, tried to give him some poison by mixing it with his food. But it was discovered, and the man was caught & questioned. He later on confessed that he had actually committed the heinous crime. At this, Jigar at once forgave him. It shows the sublimity of his character.

Even such men as were jealous of Jigar are very sorry.

Stanza 24

Jigar was staying at his friend's in Bombay. He had two thousand rupees in his pocket which were given to him as fee of a Mushaira. He was at night lying on a cot. A person, presuming him asleep, picked the pocket of his Sherwani which was hanging on a peg. He was not sleeping at that time and was noticing all the actions of the man. But he said nothing and let the thief go. In the morning, he asked for some rupees from a friend of his, but did not disclose the name of the person who picked his pocket. This incident is mentioned in various books.

Stanza 25

Forgetting had been Jigar's habit since boyhood. He used to do good to others and after doing good, he forgot it fro ever. He wrote several recommendatory letters daily for the men who approached him and wanted to get employment somewhere. He often gave the needy some money as loan, but did not think it proper to take money back.

Stanza 26

He was very fond of playing cards. He played at a stretch for hours together, and was so much engrossed in the game that he even forgot to take food. He got irritated when he lost the game, and put forth various lame excuses. Honesty was in his nature, so he wanted to play fair game and sometimes lost it owing to his honesty.

Stanza 27

When at home, Jigar was very often reprimanded by his wife, a strict and religious lady, for playing cards. Often an interesting quarrel arose in the house between them on this score, and he was compelled to please his wife by promising that he would never play them; but when the anger of his dear wife cooled down, he forgot all his abjurations and promises, and started playing cards again. Sometimes, he burnt the cards. But getting opportunity, he managed to buy them again.

The idea in the figure used in the last two lines of this stanza has been borrowed from the belief of the Hindus that the dead after cremation is born again and again until he attains salvation.

Stanza 28

He always welcomed his guests warmly. People came from far and near, and stayed in his house. He did not let even the unwanted guests feel that he did not like them. He treated the guests properly according to their position and gradation.

Stanza 29

Jigar's way of talking or advising was very peculiar. He did not come to the point directly, but started beating about the bush. He felt and enjoyed poetry, but lacked ability to discuss it. Though he is no more in the world, his verses are a source of instruction to us.

Stanza 30

Though he was very great, he did not consider himself so. He was neither narrow nor arrogant at all. Often he used to say that he had no qualities of his own but became great because of the blessings of spiritual men. He achieved greatness step by step, and therefore it was permanent.

For the interest of the readers I write here an incident that proves his humility.

Once it so happened that a number of men were sitting with him on the carpet in his sitting room. They put their shoes outside the room. After some time, drizzling began. I was standing outside the room, but it did not come to my mind that I should remove their shoes to the shade. Jigar at once stood up and began to pick up the shoes. Seeing him doing so, some men from within the room rushed, and did not let him do so. Then turning to me, he said,

“God will give you respect,
If you respect the elders' shoes.”

Stanza 31

Jigar hated flattery. In this connection an incident of his life is given below: -

Once he was staying at Hyderabad. He was at a place busy in playing cards. He was favourite of the Nawab of Hyderabad. A man came from the Nawab and requested him to compose some poem in praise of the Nawab to be recited on the occasion of his birth-day ceremony. Jigar at once retorted that he was a poet, not a clown. The Nawab, a wise man, was not displeased to know the reply. He valued him all more. It was only the scheme of those who were jealous of him, but it fell through.

He was witty, sensitive and very fair in his dealings. He had such frankness as is rarely found in men.

He did not like ills at all, and tried to annihilate them by means of his songs.

Stanza 32

He earned so much wealth that neither the poets prior to him nor his contemporaries could earn; but he was very generous and spent his money in helping the poor. When he was at home, he kept some money out of the knowledge of his wife. He often put some rupees under the pillow, sometimes in a tin with a lid, or in some book. This money ordinarily was meant to be given to the men who visited him to seek his help. It was very interesting to se Jigar searching for the money urgently and confusedly. He was not sure about the places where he had concealed the currency notes. Sometimes turned the bed upside down, sometimes he opened the boxes, and then shut them confusedly pronouncing Lahol (cursing the Shaitan) , sometimes he turned the pages of the books. This was all done stealthily lest wife should see his perplexity. She sometimes smelt the rat and enjoyed the sight.

Stanza 33

The literal meaning of Ghazal is to converse with the lady-love or to express something about her. In other words, it can be said that generally in it are expressed such emotions and experiences of life as are concerned with beauty and love. As these emotions are universal, so the presentation of them in Ghazal helped it much in becoming favourite of the people. But if Ghazal had stayed within the narrow bounds of the above definition, it would not have reached the present place. It was, therefore, necessary for it to take up different conditions and feelings. So, even after centering on beauty and love as their favourite themes, the poets took into its domain social, cultural, political, historical, religious, mystical, philosophical and psychological aspects of the life of man. At every stage, it went on changing according to the call of time. That is why it still survives, and has a life of its own.

The structure of Ghazal proved helpful to the poet in adopting different ideas. In each of the couplets which are between the first and the last ones, the poet presents a complete thought. Therefore every couplet is itself a unit. In this way, the poet presents different thoughts in different couplets. Thus, it becomes the beautiful product of the poet's imagination.

As Ghazal is very close to human feelings softness and delicacy are sure to appear in the language. When all these aspects of Ghazal are combined with music of its words, it all the more influences the people. The reason why it is liked so much is that it is expressed in lovely symbols and signs carrying deep and hidden meanings.

After looking into the development of Ghazal, we find that at different stages of life it served as translator of the time. Thus its shape is polished and scope extended.

I write here an interesting incident that caused me to compose this stanza. Once it so happened that Saghar Nizami, an Urdu poet, came along with his wife to meet Jigar who was then staying in the house of Maulvi Mohammed Ahmad in Mohalla Lal Bagh, Moradabad. Saghar Nizami's wife recited before Jigar a Ghazal composed by her. Jigar heared it and praised it a little; but when he was coming out, he smiled and said in a strange way, “Aurat aur Ghazal” (Ghazal and a lady!) .

Stanza 34

He was really the life and spirit of Mushairas. When he was alive, he was the only poet who won the hearts of his listeners with the magic of his poem sung by a painfully sweet throat he was gifted with. Ordinarily in the Mushairas he was given the chance of reciting his poems after all the other poets had sung their poems. During the singing of other poets the audience remained unserious, but when he started singing, there was perfect silence. Nobody dared disturb the decorum of the Mushairas. The audiences were rapt and lost while he sang. Not only this, but the people also remained eager to have a glimpse of him.

Stanza 35

Jigar was truly patriotic. His love for his Motherland is fully exhibited in his poems. In Pakistan also he was very famous. He attended the Mushairas on invitation from Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan once desired him to immigrate there, and promised to give him a beautiful building with a motor car if he settled their permanently; but he flatly refused to accept the offer.

He also wrote many poems in Persian due to which he earned fame in Iran. Some poems of his were translated in his lifetime, and were sent to english0speaking countries. This translation, I remember, was made by Mr. Mohammed Ahmad who was a judge posted at Gorakhpur at a certain time.

Stanza 36

The method of his composing poems was very peculiar. Although some of his couplets were extempore; generally it was his way to compose his poems when he was in his proper mood. He began humming in loneliness and made outlines of plants with leaves, flowers and buds. All of a sudden, from the buds or flowers he drew a line either slanting or straight and then wrote a couplet. In this way, when there were some couplets, he made of them a beautiful poem. After a few corrections, the poem was complete.

He has made his poems with the extract of his liver (the equivalent word for liver in Urdu is Jigar which is also the pen-name of the poet) , and therefore they make the listeners drunk.

Stanza 37

Jigar was not sensual. He was in fact a sensuous poet. His love was pure. He had a respect for his beloved in his heart. He started his loving his lady and when he reached the climax of his love of God. He was such a drinker as remained excessively intoxicated; but his will-power was so strong that when he made abjuration, he gave up drinking for ever. The giving-up of wine had a bad effect on his health, and the result was that he suffered from various diseases. After giving up drinking, he became spiritual and performed 'Haj'.

Stanza 38

Jigar was very sensitive and emotional. He had delicate feelings which sometimes became too intense. His wonderful flight of fancy, his sincerity, his passionate intensity, his piety of soul and purity of inspiration gave sometimes a spiritual colour to his poems.

He did not pass through the stages of beauty and love carelessly, but he full well experienced the hardships of the journey. He felt it so much that he absorbed their spirit in himself. Often he is lost in them too.

He composed his poems when his feelings were intense and when his thoughts inflamed his over quick imagination.

In the beginning he enjoyed various shapes of beauty but when he reached the last rung of his love, he found that every breath of his was filled with the air of beauty.

It is a fact that beauty is unlimited but to contract and absorb it in himself is called love. Jigar has tasted the relish of this love.

Stanza 39

Jigar's views are very clear in his poetry. His poetry is the image of his life. He was not in the habit of saying one thing and doing another. As his couplets came direct from his heart, they touched the hearts of the listeners. There is a flood of passions in his poetry, but it is a craftily dammed by his art. As he was the lover of beauty, his poetry is also a product of beauty. As is the tradition that in the beginning the critics are generally antagonistic to the artists, they criticized him also; but they fell into astonishment when he was appreciated by all and sundry.

Stanza 40

Jigar was a great poet. His poetry is a thing to be enjoyed. It is not an art without substance. Educated as well as uneducated persons can enjoy his poetry, according to their understanding. This was the reason why he got commendations of all and became the favourite of the masses. Even in his lifetime the title of 'Ghazal King 'was bestowed upon him. He had seen the ups and downs of life. So, his poetry is an outcome of his own experience.

In the opinion of jigar beauty and love are one and the same thing. Apparently the words, beauty and love seem very ordinary, but these are the only words in which the secret of both the words is hidden. In the poetry of Jigar we find several ideas about these terms. Sometimes he declares that beauty is the cause and love its effect and sometimes he calls love, the cause; and beauty, the effect. At some stages he passes through a place where he finds beauty and love mixed up. In other words, when love reaches its climax, it becomes beauty and when beauty is lost in seeing itself, it becomes love. In such a state of Love, Mansoor, a great Saint yore had uttered “Anal Haque” (I am God) .

Stanza 41

He did not like unrhymed verses. His poetry is modeled on the technique of the poets of old. His couplets are proportionate and rhythmical. This conventional form of poetry suited him best because he was extremely musical when he sang his poems. Many of his poems can be interpreted in spiritual sense. The quotation “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts” comes true when we go through his poetry. He was over packed with feelings. Somebody has rightly said about him, “had he not been a poet, he would have been mad.”

Stanza 42

Jigar maintained self-respect in his life. He did not copy the ideas of the past or present poets. He was not a blind follower of any poet. He used to sit in the company of such great personages as Iqbal Suhel, Mirza Ahsan Beg, Suleman Nadvi and Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi but he did not dye himself in the color of any one of them. He put the influences he got from such august men into the glass of his own poetic wine. He had a God gifted quality to extract the essence from the views of others and drew the conclusion thereof according to his own taste. This made him all the more polished in beauty and art. If we read his poems, we find in them the influence of the blessings of his Pir (Spiritual Guide) , the late Maulana Abdul Ghani Manglori.

Stanza 43

Perhaps we can mention no other Modern Ghazal poet who was so much moved by adverse circumstances and great events as Jigar; but he remained optimistic and found hope in despair. Whatever he viewed and experienced, he poetized unhesitatingly. The Government of that time often tried to shut his mouth by monetary temptations but in vain. The young generation very much liked this tendency, which had been initiated by Hasrat (an Urdu poet) : but in Jigar we find it all the more prominent. Hasrat took it lightly, but in Jigar it is the beating of his heart. According to Prof. Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi, this is the place where character makes poetry high or low. Here we find actual difference between poetry and propaganda.

Stanza 44

Generally, it had been the tradition from yore that the poets translated the feelings of the lovers and showed them bowing before their lady-loves to invite

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Elegy on Jigar Moradabadi

ELEGY ON JIGAR MORADABADI

INTRODUCTION

Mr. Aziz Ahmad has written an Elegy on the Poet Haji Ali Sikander, commonly known as Jigar Moradabadi. The poem is in 48 stanzas of Eight lines each followed by 48 paragraphs of notes, one for each stanza. They explain the real mood of the stanzas. This is perhaps the first time that an Elegy in English on an Urdu Poet has been attempted. Elegiac poems in Urdu are common. The marsais of Anis and Dabir are long elegiac poems of unsurpassed beauty. An Elegy is literally a song or poem of mourning. The English examples are Lycidas, Adonais and Thyrsis. They are true elegies although Gray's well-known Elegy, which was written in a country churchyard does not mourn anyone in particular and deals with 'the pathos of mortality'.

English Elegies, like Latin Elegies before, were written in a metre called elegiac. Any poem written in that metre was called an Elegy irrespective of the subject matter. Later the point about metre was dropped and any poem was considered an elegy if the subject matter was what I have described, irrespective of the metre. Today the subject and metre must coincide to make a proper elegy.

The metre must be hexameter or pentameter. A hexameter is of six measures the fifth being a dactyl and the sixth either a spondee or a trochee. The other four may be either a dactyls or spondees. An example is Longfellow's Evangeline. Homer's two epic poems and Virgil's Aeneid are in hexameter. Pentameter verse is in two parts, each of which ends with an extra long syllable. The first half consists of two metres, dactyls or spondees, the latter half must be two dactyls.

I have said this because metre-wise this poem in English will not be regarded as a proper Elegy but subject-wise it is. Perhaps Mr. Aziz Ahmad can cast the lines again. *

Subject-wise the poem is excellent. Jigar who wrote of himself:

Jigar main ne chhupaya lakh upna dard o ghum lekin
Bayan kardeen meri surat nay sub kaifiyatein dilki

Was a poet in the front rank in India and in the days when there were Iqbal, Fani and Firaq and several others. Tabassum Nizami has done a great deal to bring his life before us, and his books Daghe Jigar, Shola- e- Toor and Aatishe Gul are poetry which is seldom equaled.

No wonder Mr. Aziz Ahmad's heart bleeds at the very thought of Jigar's death in 1960. Not only has he paid his sincere homage to his memory but he has described the anguish of the family and friends. Jigar would have said:

Meri roodad e ghum who sun rahe hain
Tabassum sa labon par araha hai
Jigar hi ka na ho afsana koi
Daro devar ko hal araha hai.

Mr. Aziz Ahmad's heart-rending verses do make even the doors and walls get into ecstasy!

23rd September,1981 M. Hidayatullah
6, Maulana Azad Road, Vice- President
New Delhi-110011. of India

*AUTHOR'S CLARIFICATION

I append here for ready reference the views of the reputed critics about modern poetry, which are printed on pages 223,224 and 225 ofThe Study of Poetry” by A.R. Entwistle.

The reaction against metre in modern poetry is only another symptom of the dissatisfaction with things as they are. The movement towards “free verse” is, of course, no new thing. The experiment of Matthew Arnold, Henley, Walt Whitman and others occur readily to the mind.

Here it is useful to know how the new poetry affected Professor Churton Collins:

“If a man six feet high, of striking masculine beauty and of venerable appearance, chooses to stand on his head in the public streets….. he will at least attract attention, and create some excitement; secondly……..the law of reaction in literature, as in everything else, will assert itself, that when poetry has long attained perfection in form and has been running smoothly in conventional grooves, there is certain to be a revolt both on the part of poets themselves and in the public taste, and the opposite extreme will be affected and welcomed; and thirdly, ……… if a writer has the courage or impudence to set sense, taste, and decency at defiance and, posing sometimes as a mystic and sometimes as a mountebank, to express himself in the jargon of both, and yet has the genius to irradiate his absurdities with flashes of wisdom, beauty, and inspired insight, three things are certain to result, ……… namely, sympathy from those who favor the reaction, disgust on the part of those who belong to neither party, but who are quite willing to judge what they find on its own merits.”

For the frankly modernist view we turn to Mr. Robert Graves, who says:

“Poetry has, in a word, begun to 'go round the corner'; the straight street in which English bards have for centuries walked is no longer so attractive, now that a concealed turning has been found opening up a new street or network of streets whose existence tradition hardly suspected. Traditionalists will even say of the adventures: ' They have completely disappeared; they are walking in the suburbs of poetry called alternatively Nonsense or Madness.' But it disturbs these traditionalists that the defections from the highway are numerous, and that the poets concerned cannot be accused of ignorance of the old ways, of mental unbalance in other departments of life, or in insincerity.”

The spirit of the present generation is in marked degree anti-traditional, and it would easy, but tiresome, to show by copious quotations how welcome the spirit of revolt has become.

Similar tendency is found in modern Urdu Poetry. We should see, what Akbar Allahbadi says in connection.

Qaedon men husne mani gum karo
Sher main kehta hoon hijje tum karo

(Lose in rules beauty of meanings;
Verse I compose, you do spellings.)

Since this elegy consists of a mixture of a Urdu and English words, it is practically impossible to confine it to the conventional English metre.

Aziz Ahmad

FOREWORD

I have with interest gone through the Elegy on the death of the late Haji Ali Sikander, Jigar Moradabadi, presented to me for my comments by Mr. Aziz Ahmad, the author. I am impressed by his style and art. It shows his deep love for Jigar Moradabadi who was a poet of great genius. It seems that he has a good knowledge of the life and art of Jigar. As he has written in the Preface that no poet has so far written an elegy in English on the death of any Urdu poet is, as far as I know, correct. The endeavour is his own. Some points given in the Elegy have already become widely known, while some others are quite new. When I started reading it, I was so charmed that I could not leave it unfinished. It is a fine piece of literature and fascinates its readers. I appreciate the unity of the poem. The stanzas employed help to bind the parts of the poem together into a single whole, so that it becomes a

“Silver chain of sound
of many links, without a break.”

The choice of words and constructions are commendable. I feel that Mr. Aziz Ahmad make a very good use of rhetorical language. The poem is a rhymed product of the author's imagination. He has, no doubt, chosen a dignified subject- the death of a great poet, but the distinction lies in the fact that he has beautifully portrayed his life as well as art.

The poem is elaborate in workmanship and is long enough, with orderly development and fine descriptions. The interplay of emotion, reflection and spontaneity are commendable. At the same time he has no want of narrative force. His logical transition from one thought to another is praiseworthy. The description of scenes in the poem presents a clear picture before the eyes of the readers. The author exhibits his real respect fro Jigar and grief over his death.

In my view, the poem is great due to the following grounds: -

There is in the proposition- ' I weep for Jigar Moradabadi………'; the invocations to Jigar's dead mother and the Spirit of poetry etc.; the mourning of the relatives and friends; the procession of the mourners in concrete and abstract form;
The partaking of nature and Super-natural beings in grief; the praise of the distinctive traits of the life and art of Jigar; and the reward that the great poet has found a place in paradise and has become eternal in death. In the end, the note of personal lament shows his deep personal attachment.

While mentioning many good qualities of Jigar Sahib's personality Mr. Aziz Ahmad rightly emphasized in the last two lines of Stanza no.25 that he little bothered for money. Just to endorse his point I would like to relate one incident which vividly remember even today. In June,1947 an All India Mushaira was organized in Shahajan pur, U.P. Although a student of 10th Class, I happened to be one of the organizers of this function. Unfortunately because of extremely bad weather and sudden heavy rains, the Mushaira was a total failure. All was upset. Not a single poet could recite his poems. We lacked funds even to pay the traveling expenses of more than 12 poets who had arrived to participate in Mushaira, including such popular poets as Salam Machli Shahri and Khumar Barabankvi. Jigar Sahib was staying with one of his pupils Mr. Habab Tirmizi. The poets were demanding money and we were worries how to satisfy them. Jigar Sahib apprehended the whole situation. He got up quietly, went to the wall where his Sherwani was hanging, brought out some two hundred rupees and gave us saying, “Give it over to them.”

When in 1955 I met Jigar Sahib in Aligarh and reminded him of this incident, he smiled and pretended as if he did not remember. Many such events can be related which reveal rare moral qualities of his character.

To conclude my comments, I think it appropriate to quote a few lines from the Elegy which I like most.

The following lines remind us of Shelly's Adonais:

Ideals splendid, Desires, Adorations;
Joys blinded with Tears and Winged Persuasions;
In melancholy mood Love and Ties;
Sorrows with her family of Sighs;
With hair unbound and tears their eyes flow,
Came there in form of procession slow,
The slow moving procession might seem
Like pomp of ants in Summer near stream.

Beautiful imagination is presented subtle contrast of the following lines:

Angels waited his life-account to write;
But were dazzled, seeing him in white light.
Who knows not the reason for this light?
His body though dark, his soul was white.
The loveliest personification is found in stanzas no 12 and 13 where

Learning of his death, Wines held a meeting
To condole his death by hard breast-beating.

and where
Some Wines spirited came to his grave;
Their eyes were red, their hearts were brave.

Stanza no 19 testifies to the author's great skill in narration. Pathos is also beautifully given.

It is evident from stanza no.24 that Mr. Aziz Ahmad has been deeply influenced by Robert Frost, a famous American poet.

The superb description is found in stanza no 26 and 27 where Jigar's fondness for playing cards is shown.

In the following lines a fine smile has been used: -

His behavior was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friend intimate and free.
With his youngers reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

In stanza no.33 it seems that the author wants to say that Jigar disliked ' Ghazals' composed by ladies; but the idea has been expressed by giving a beautiful definition of 'Ghazal'.

The following lines in stanza no.44 are very befitting: -

Beauty is the base in the lays of Asghar;
But love beautifies the verses of Jigar.

The following lines, though subjective, compel me to appreciate the author: -
Risen above the waves saw I a hand;
All of a sudden, it drew me to land.
It was the hand of Jigar- a rare man
Who is born once in centuries span.

In the following stanza I find a relish of sonnet. It is filled with sincere feelings.

The void so created cannot be filled,
The Hawk of death has the 'Ghazal Bird' killed.
But the time of death is fixed by Him
Who is our Lord without doubt and whim.
The only tribute to him I pay
Is to compose this sorrowful lay.
His features shall in these lines be seen;
If they live, he shall in them be green.

May this endeavour of Mr. Aziz Ahmad be crowned with success and glory! I wish him to give us many more such wonderful poetic pieces.


Dr. Qamar Rais
Reader,
Department of Urdu
University of Delhi

OPINION I

Janab Aziz Ahmad sahib has sent me a copy of an elegy he has composed in the memory of the late lamented Haji Ali Sikandar Jigar, the Doyen of Urdu poets in the Indian sub-continent.

I have gone through this elegy with deep interest and I find that Aziz Sahib loved and admired Jigar Sahib from the core of his heart. He pours out his heart in grief for Jigar whom he considers the zenith of muses. The elegy is a fitting tribute indeed to a person who lived and died for poetry and whose verses shall for ever continue to inspire generations to come.

Some of Aziz Sahib's stanzas are sublime and worth quoting. For instance he speaks from the unexplored depth of his heart when he says: -

For Jigar I weep. And you too weep
With me, for I plunge into the deep
Of pain and sorrow, of grief and tears.
O hapless Hour chosen from all years!
I ask you to rouse your other compeers;
Then together we will weep blood fro tears.
Till future dares forget the past
His name and fame shall ever last.

In stanza no 28 he has painted a true portrait of Jigar. Of such virtues was Jigar made and of such virtues his Ghazals are the outcome. He was noble both in mind and in action.

He was cordial and hospitable most,
And was to his guests a courteous host.
His behaviour was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friends, intimate and free.
With his youngers, reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

I am sure that all those who knew and loved Jigar will enjoy the fine quality of the elegy and will realize that Aziz Sahib has for once not taken to poetic exaggeration.

Kunwar Mehender Singh Bedi

OPINION II

Mr. Aziz Ahmad' elegy on Jigar may be unconventional in metre but is wonderful in matter. The poem is the graphic account of the life, character and verse of a great Urdu poet, it has a great imaginative and emotional appeal and is remarkable for fine personification and vivid imagery. It reminds of Shelly's 'Adonais'.

B. K Kansal Ph. D
Chairman HINDU COLLEGE
Dept. of Post-graduate Studies MORADABAD
and Research in English
Banbata Ganj (Near Kamal Talkies) Dated 28th Sept.1981
Moradabad- 244001

PREFACE

The few lines I have put in this little book are nothing but a tribute I am obliged to pay to the memory of the Late Haji Ali Sikandar, Jigar Moradabadi, a relative of mine, to whom I am deeply indebted as the credit of my life's making goes to him.

He was born on 6th April 1890, in Mohalla Lal bagh, Moradabad, U.P., but from the boyhood he left his native city and roamed far and wide to make his life glorious. He was a natural poet of Urdu. If we peep into his life, we find it true that 'a poet is born, not made.'

Asghar Gondwi, a renowned poet of that time, on seeing him, understood full well that he was fated to be great. So, he owned him, guided him and showered his favors on him.

Jigar lived at Gonda, U.P., in the house of his wife, Nasim. Journey had become the part of his life. He reminded mostly out in connection with Mushairas. Whenever he returned home, he wanted us to remain with him. So, I have passed a portion of my life with him and observed him with love and reverence.

I wanted to write something about him in Urdu prose, and to get published some letters and poems written in his own hand, which I have kept safe with me like sacred things.

I started writing it, but by the force of some unknown power, my mind turned to a theme quite novel. In English, as far as I know, nobody has composed an elegy on the death of an Urdu poet. My purpose of writing in this language is that English will be a vehicle to convey my thoughts and outside this country, as English, being an international language, is read and spoken everywhere.

Jigar was acclaimed ' Ghazal King' in his lifetime. He died on September 9,1960 and was laid to rest at Gonda in the lap of his dear country.

He was truly poetic in his habits and disposition, character and conduct, thoughts and feelings, ways and manners, motions and gestures, dressing and clothing, gait and get-up. Moreover he was gifted by Nature with a throat extremely musical. I have poetized my feelings to pay him homage, as, I think, the homage paid to such a great poet should be musical. I hope that his soul will accept it.

When I was staying at Mecca after the performance of 'Haj' in the year 1975, one night I saw him in a dream. During my stay there I had not dreamed of anyone else save him. When I woke up, I felt a sort of restlessness. Then and there, I performed 'Umera' for him.

When he died, I felt a shock of grief. This Elegy is the outlet of the grief I felt then and have concealed so far.

This Elegy contains some points which are quite new, and which the lovers of Jigar Moradabadi are unaware of. Though the Elegy has parts comprising many traits of Jigar, I have tried to make it a unified whole.

I hope that for the lovers of Jigar Moradabadi, this work will be a Souvenir worth keeping.

How far my aims are fulfilled is for the readers to judge!

In the end, I express my thankfulness to Dr. B. K. Kansal, Head of the Department of English, Hindu College, Moradabad, who has been kind to me to give valuable suggestions for this composition.

I am highly grateful to Mr. M. Hidayatullah, Vice- President of India, for his very valuable and illuminating introduction, which throws sufficient light on elegy in English, Urdu and Latin literature, on its matter and metre. His judicial office he has held as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

I also express gratitude to Dr. Qamar Rais and Kunwar Mehender Singh Bedi whose high praise of the poem gave me great encouragement.

Aziz Ahmad

1

I weep for Jigar Moradabadi- he is dead!
O weep for the poet who has beautifully wed
Love and Wine with verses of new time,
And has achieved a fame so sublime!
Wailing and weeping wets the air.
How so sad is the drum of the ear.
How so sad is the whole atmosphere!
There is none who is not in despair.

2

For Jigar I weep. And you too weep
With me, for I plunge into the deep
Of pain and sorrow, of grief and tears.
O hapless Hour chosen from all years!
I ask you to rouse your other compeers;
Then together we will weep blood fro tears.
Till future dares forget the past
His name and fame shall ever last.

3

Weep, O Spirit of poetry! Weep,
For he has gone for his final sleep.
His body though motion less; his soul's brain
Listens to your weeping with woeful strain.
At his death are sorrowful many more
Thank those who loved his poetry and lore.
As a poet he was great; as a man was he sublime.
He has lived life very fine; he is uneaten by time.

4

Alas! O Noble Mother, Mother great
Who bore a poet full many a trait!
You could not see him gathering fame,
Upraising your position and name.
In your grave you might have felt charm
When he would sing his rhymings warm.
Now he has gone into the gulf of death
From where nobody returns to this earth.

5

Angels bewail him as he is mortified,
And bless his three works to be immortalized.
He could not bear when his Motherland's pride
Was being crushed by the liberticide.
Communal ghosts when raised their heads,
Poison was filled in people's heads
By professional leaders' hired men;
Then sorrowful songs flowed his pen.

6

Ideals splendid, Desires, Adorations;
Joys blinded with Tears and Winged Persuasions;
In melancholy mood Love and Ties;
Sorrows with her family of Sighs;
With hair unbound and tears their eyes flow,
Came there in form of procession slow,
The slow moving procession might seem
Like pomp of ants in Summer near stream.

7

Rooms of his house began lamenting anew.
Their weeping was silent, though heard by a few.
Such mute voices rarely poets hear;
Others remain deaf, they do not care.
They heard the sound of his amorous lay
When he would sing there in wondrous way.
To him they responded with their echo.
Oh! he is dead, leaving them in great woe

8

One day before his death, he slowly murmured,
A compartment of train for me be reserved
As life's journey has come to an end
And I have to go to Other Land.”
Some kin by him were standing silent;
Their eyes were tearful, their heads were bent.
Grief so much shattered his dear wife,
She lost all the pleasures of life.

9

When his bier was to be taken out,
Every one was weeping without doubt.
Short-lived though is general grief,
His wife's agony was not brief.
Till Nature is on its normal course,
Morning after night will nature force.
But his wife will weep, day and night,
As her dear soul has taken flight.

10

The eyes had since stopped their weeping;
Now came turn of the heart's bleeding.
The air had been filled with grief and sorrow;
People hurriedly made many a row
For the prayer with humble salutation,
They prayed to God for his soul's consolation.
Homage was paid to departed soul;
But Death was unmindful of the dole.

11

With open heart, his grave was ready
To welcome warmly his dead body.
Angels waited his life-account to write;
But were dazzled, seeing him in white light.
Who knows not the reason for this light?
His body though dark, his soul was white.
He, in dewy sleep, took his last fill
Of liquid rest, forgetful of ill.

12

Learning of his death, Wines held a meeting
To condole his death by hard breast-beating.
The meeting was attended by all the Wines
Of various colors, tastes and racial lines.
A resolution was proposed in the meeting,
And it was unanimously passed by standing.
Wines were weeping, as he was the one
Who once loved them more than any one.

13

Some Wines spirited came to his grave;
Their eyes were red, their hearts were brave.
They were the ones he had preferred once,
But later divorced them for nuisance.
They came ashamed and fully disguised;
They were by mourners not recognized.
Once he had been under the charm of wine;
Later, he broke all the bottles of wine.

14

His was not more than a twin will
Which he made known when he was ill.
He told his wife in presence of no other
Thank my mother, he anon called her thither.
“You won't break your bangles in my dole;
You won't give alms for balming my soul.”
His wife a gentle lady, told him anon
That these two conditions would not be undone.

15

A Wish lay suppressed within his heart,
Which remained unfulfilled in the last.
He desired his grave to be dug near
Those of his father and mother dear.
But once his mentor made a prophecy.
Every thing of Jigar, his house would see.
His prophecy strangely came to be true;
The dust of his grave him to Gonda drew.

16

His father, who was in paradise,
Heard the news of his son's demise.
The news proved to be dagger to his soul,
Though he was beyond the reach of the dole.
By angels there was a Naat being recited,
Composed by Jigar, the very Naat invited
God who rapt in listening to the numbers
Allotted Jigar one of heaven's chambers.

17

People were drowned in the ocean of grief;
They could not have time for nay relief.
Angels so warmly received his soul;
While Earth took his body as a whole.
Grave swore his body never to mar;
Angels wished his soul to shine like star.
God judged the situation, and then delivered
His body to Grave, and soul to heaven transferred.

18

First couplet he made, when eight years old,
Father scolded him, when he was told.
He said through he was to be a poet,
He should not poetise so early yet.
His father, an adapt in Marsia singing,
Taught him to sing verses in the beginning.
The art of singing he did well maintain;
Many a poet copied him in vain.

19

A lot to adversities came in his early teens;
After father's death, he had no sustaining means.
Kin were not ready to call him their own,
Save his step-uncle who helped him alone.
Relations condemned him; he was lorn;
Some called him poet, kin laughed in scorn.
No one knew then he would change the weather,
And would have in his cap a fine feather.

20

Compelled by the conditions, he drank wine
That gave impetus to his metres fine.
The more he drank, the more civilized;
Oft in shame he felt demoralized.
His hair was long, his beard neglected,
And by passions he was much affected.
Who can drink so much wine as the poet drank?
He was super-drinker, to be very frank.


21

What a great poet mystic was he
Who chose Jigar, and owned him dearly!
I praise his might, wisdom and insight;
He changed his life by dint of his light.
The plant dear he watered and reared
Grew to his prime and full flowered.
But alas the fruit was never given birth!
His dear is dead; and dead is the hope of mirth!

22

A land was inherited so fertile;
Some incidents sowed it, but not futile.
It was well watered by pure wine,
And was looked after eyes so fine.
There grew a garden of many plants green;
It was charming and worthy to be seen.
Colourful flowers, beautiful and fair,
Shall always lend smell to poetic air.

23

When he became the climax and crown
Of the poetic fame and renown,
A man became of him deadly jealous,
And mixed with his food something poisonous;
When caught, he confessed his crime,
And Jigar forgave him in no time.
Even such men are very very sorry.
What an exemplary character had he!

24

He was once staying with his friend,
And had enough money to spend.
He was, one night, lying on a cot;
A person smelled that he had a lot.
Presuming him asleep, he picked the pocket
Of his hanging Sherwani or his jacket.
He saw him doing this pernicious deed,
But let him go, thinking him in dire need.

25

Forgetting had been his habit since boyhood.
It is although bad, in his case was so good.
It was his habit doing for others good;
And having done it, he forgot it for good.
He recommended daily several men,
He had such wondrous power in his pen.
Who could find such a gentle friend?
He forgot money he would lend.

26

Playing cards was his hobby like rime;
In playing them he did not mind time.
He would play them till late at night
And oft forgot to take his diet.
He felt bitter when he lost his game,
And got irritated, with excuses lame.
Honesty reigned supreme over him,
So chances of win sometimes were dim.

27

His wife disliked his playing cards
With his intimate friends and bards.
How so interesting when she was angry!
And on it with him she did not agree!
He cooled her anger by burning the cards,
And swore he would never play them onwards.
But lo! The cards burnt and cremated
Were again born and animated.

28

He was cordial and hospitable most,
And was to his guests a courteous host.
His behavior was like verses laboured,
Every syllable of which is measured.
Respectful with his elders was he,
And with his friend intimate and free.
With his youngers, reserved and fatherly,
He treated them kindly and politely.

29

He talked often in a roundabout way;
Listeners had to guess point of his say.
He did not know the art of oratory,
He was although in the know of poetry.
Poetry even he could not debate;
He felt it though within, without combat.
The way he advised was very attractive.
Though he is dead, he is subtly instructive.

30

Humility was his noble trait,
What though he was a poet so great.
He was not narrow, nor arrogant at all,
So his was a gradual rise, not a fall.
Oft he would say that he was nothing,
But was an outcome of some blessing.
“Respect even the elders' shoes.”
He said, and did similar dos.

31

Sycophancy did not suit his nature;
Self-respect was his special feature.
He was witty, sensitive and fair;
To talk like him very few men dare.
Ills, our beauty, spoil and mar,
We are drawn from the goal afar.
He sincerely tried to kill
With his songs the germs of ills.

32

No poet ever earned as so much as did he,
For the highest was his royalty and fee.
He gave much money out of his income
To the needy he gladly did welcome.
When at homes currency notes he hid
In pillow, book or tin with a lid.
They were meant to be given to the needy,
And kept hidden from the view of his lady.


33

Ghazal was originally meant conversation
Lover had with his lady in imagination.
But later its definition was amended;
Now the scope of it is wide and extended.
It has a number of beautiful lines;
It has themes in lovely symbols and signs.
Jigar disliked it composed by a lady;
He said strangely, “Ghazal and a lady! ”

34

The life and soul of Mushaira has flown; ”
The poets who love Jigar say and moan.
He was poet of so great a fame,
People swarmed him on hearing his name.
They came to listen to, from far and wide,
His honey-sweet rhymes; alas he has died!
The way he sang was singularly his own;
Nature had given him such bewitching tone.

35

He love much his country dear,
He did not leave it in greed or fear;
Though many a chance in his favour
In Urdu-loving Pak., India's neighbour.
He loved his country's gardens and bowers;
Thorns he bore, while leaving their flowers.
He was favourite of Indo-Pakistan;
He was moreover commended in Iran.

36

When muse goaded him, he made outlines
Of plants, flowers and the like designs.
From those shot out a natural couplet
Which was the outcome of passions' outlet.
He chose them after making his correction,
And made of them a beautiful creation.
Poems of his are wines of his liver,
We are drunk with the rhymes of Jigar.

37

His love was very pure and without lust,
Lady's-love respect for his was a must.
He gave 'love' many a colourful name;
According to him loving was no game.
He drank love from the cup of lady-love,
Then got communications from above.
Who could think then and who could judge
Such a hard drinker would do Haj?

38

He dipped in the oceans of passions,
And bathed with water of emotions.
He was so rapt in adoring the love,
Often he scaled the firmament above.
He was lost in his imagination,
He had a bliss of reciprocation.
He soared up high in versification
To have a bliss of amalgamation.

39

All the verses Jigar has wrought
Bear the stamp of what he thought.
The poetry he composed is a fine art;
Naturally it goes to the people's heart.
He had a very keen sense of beauty
Whose expression he considered his duty.
He made his critics bend so low
With poetic spells he would throw.

40

He was created by nature as a bard,
His ideas in verses are not so hard.
He did not put art for only art's sake;
He was the ‘Ghazal King’ of special make,
His poetry is made out of his life;
It belongs to life and exists for life.
He has often blended love and beauty
As if they were no separate entity.

41

He was by nature fitfully emotional;
Poems of his are novel, though conventional.
We hear the cries from within his heart;
Moods he garnered into words of art.
Concerned he was mainly with his feelings;
Oft they are filled with spiritual meanings.
He liked sorrow much more than delight
Which he viewed unstable as the night.

42

Such poetic ego he was given by Nature,
Imitation of others did not suit his nature.
As from bees, the bee-queen takes honey,
So he took much from sublime company.
Governed he was not by views of others;
If he liked, he dipped them in his colours.
If we took into his poetic glory,
We find beneath a current of Manglori.

43

On reading his poems, we find it evident,
He was influenced by many an incident.
Monetary lures could not him entice
To cease fire against political vice.
Fact and truth in them heartily we feel,
Which to young poets very much appeal.
This trend in Hasrat was just a start,
But it was Jigar's beating of heart.

44

Till then, most poets had poetized the feelings
Of lovers, their humble bowings and kneelings.
Nut now Jigar translated the feelings
Born in the hearts of the lovers' darlings.
'Loves' of common poets we do not love;
But the 'love' of Jigar who would not love?
Beauty is the base in the lays of Asghar;
But love beautifies the verses of Jigar.

45

We see the sun and shadow of realism
Blending with the dreams of romanticism
In a balanced and fine symmetry
In Jigar's beautiful poetry.
He was a love-poet over and above,
But he did not suffer from the ill of love.
The heart of his 'Love' was kind and cruel;
The role she played was double and dual.

46

He did not view life in a narrow way;
He wove his view-points in many a lay.
He was not afraid of his life's end;
Death he took for the call of his Friend.
For him, it was a meaningless thing;
He was life, so he found death nothing.
He has now reached a place of love
Where he lives life our world's above.

47

Once I was in hot water of life;
Many a hurdle came in my strife.
Risen above the waves saw I a hand;
All of a sudden, it drew me to land.
It was the hand of Jigar- a rare man
Who is born once in centuries span.
The soul of that great man, like a star,
Still guides my life when the hurdles bar.

48

The void so created cannot be filled,
The Hawk of death has the 'Ghazal Bird' killed.
But the time of death is fixed by Him
Who is our Lord without doubt and whim.
The only tribute to him I pay
Is to compose this sorrowful lay.
His features shall in these lines be seen;
If they live, he shall in them be green.

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES

Stanza 1

I mourn the death of the Reverend Poet, Jigar Moradabadi. Let all of us weep for him who has very beautifully produced couplets after couplets on Love and wine.

In fact, love is the spirit of his poetry. Wine gave him frankness to bring out feelings of his heart, but it could not make him naked in expression. He had a wineful personality from where his poems came out as intoxicants.

Stanza 2

I weep for Jigar Moradabadi. I invoke the sad Hour of his death which has been selected from all the years for this unfortunate event to weep with me. I also ask unlucky Hour to wake up his other companions (i.e. the hours that have passed) . Then we all collectively will weep blood for the poet. So long as the future continues to remember the past, his name and fame as a poet shall be passed on from age to age.

Stanza 3

Spirit of poetry has been invoked in this stanza to weep over the death of the poet whose soul listens to its painfully musical weeping.

He was a man of distinctive qualities. He had a laudable character. He was liked by men of every religion. His nature was so good that sometimes he was liked by those who had no taste for poetry. Time, therefore, cannot spoil his fame.

Stanza 4

Jigar's dead mother is worthy of praise as she gave birth to a poet who had many qualities. But it is regrettable that she had died before he became famous. I imagine that the soul of his mother might have felt comfort when he achieved fame. Now he has departed from this world to a place from where nobody returns.

Stanza 5

Even the angels are sorry about his death. They are unable to save him. So they bless to immortalize his three books; namely, 'Daghey Jigar, ' ' Shaulaey Toor' and 'Aatishe Gul'. In the last of his books he has written some poems being moved by communal riots of those days.
Such communal riots are planned by the politicians in India from time to time and their mercenaries disturb the peace.

Stanza 6

There came in the form of procession mourners: the poet's Splendid Ideals, Desires, Adorations, Joys which were blinded with tears and Persuasions (whose wings are conspicuous feature) , his Love and Ties in melancholy mood, and Sorrows accompanied by Sighs. They were all with undressed hair, and tears were flowing from their eyes. The Procession was moving slowly and slowly. The whole procession looked like a train of ants seen near a stream in the summer season.

Stanza 7

Jigar sometimes composed lines of his poems after mid-night. Only his wife was present in the room where he slept. I slept in the other room. But his singing was so enchanting that it awakened me and made me lost. I sometimes felt that the rooms were also spell-bound. The rooms responded to him with their echo when he sang his loving poems in his house. It is now really painful that he has left the world, and has also left them in great woe.

Stanza 8

The words within inverted comas “A compartment of train for me be reserved as life's journey has come to an end, and I have to go to Other Land” are the actual words spoken by Jigar in depression one day before his death.
A few relatives of Jigar were present in his house in a very sorrowful condition when he was nearing death. His wife was very much aggrieved. She was bereft of pleasures of life.

Stanza 9

In this stanza actual scene of the house is depicted when his bier was being taken out for the funeral prayer. Every one who was present at that time was weeping.

The people who come to mourn the death of a man generally leave the house after some time. Similarly, the people who came to mourn the death of Jigar were also intending to leave house after some time.

Day and night, as usual, will go on happening by turns; but for his dear wife, both day and night will be gloomy, as her joy has taken flight in the death of her husband.

Stanza 10

Actual scene of the funeral prayer (Namaze-Janaza) before the burial is depicted in this stanza. The prayer was held near his house.

The weeping is stopped when the people offer funeral prayer. But the heart is sad. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with grief. People prayed for the consolation of his soul. But death was not the least affected by the grief.

Stanza 11

When Jigar was buried, his grave felt joyous to receive his body. The Muslims believe that after the burial, angels come to ask the dead a few questions. Angels asked Jigar some questions in his grave, but they were amazed to see in the grave a white dazzling light instead of darkness. The reason for this light was that Jigar was saintly at heart though once he was wine personified. Jigar was actually dark-coloured, but his soul was supposed to be white (a striking contrast) . He enjoyed the most tranquil rest in his grave, unmindful of the worries of life.

Stanza 12

Wines in this stanza have been figuratively portrayed to hold condolence meeting on his death by hard breast-beating. All sorts of Wines (Wines of different colors, of different tastes and of different races) attended the meeting. A resolution to mourn the death of Jigar was proposed in the meeting, which was agreed upon and then passed by standing, without a single vote of dissent. The reason why Wines mourned his death was that Jigar once loved them more than any other man. He was once a record-breaker in drinking wine.

Stanza 13

Some Wines were so much spirited that they came to his grave to pay him homage. Their eyes were red and their hearts were brave. (It is to be noted that after drinking spirited wine the eyes become red and heart becomes brave) . These were the Wines Jigar once preferred to other Wines. But when he realized later that they were the cause of nuisance, he divorced them. They came fully disguised and were ashamed because they were divorced by the poet. The mourners who were present at his grave could not recognize them.

In the last two lines, the figure changes into factuality because Jigar gave up drinking in his later age.

Stanza 14

When Jigar was on the death-bed, one day he called my mother, and told his wife who was sitting beside him that, after his death, she should neither break her bangles nor give anything in charity for the peace of his soul. When he was asked the reason be his wife for forbidding her from giving alms for the consolation of his soul, he said, “I have done much for myself. You need not to do any thing for me.” His wife who was a righteous and gentle lady promised him that she would fulfill his will.

Stanza 15

In fact, Jigar wanted to be buried at Moradabad, his birth-place; but Asghar Gondwi, his mentor, once said that every thing of him (Jigar) would be done at his (Asghar's) house at Gonda. His prophecy finally came to be true. Jigar died on September 9,1960 at Gonda and was buried there.

Stanza 16

I imagine that his father was in paradise. Hearing the news of his son's sad demise, he felt a shock of grief. The paradise is the place where ordinarily the news of this world does not reach. But the angels specially delivered the news of Jigar's death to his father.

In paradise some angels were reciting the NAAT (a poem in praise of the Prophet, Mohammed which Jigar composed after the performance of 'Haj' in the year 1953) in a very sweet voice. God who loves extremely his dear prophet was attracted by the singing of the NAAT and become so much rapturous that he allotted Jigar one of heaven's chambers.

Stanza 17

People were over head and ears in grief. They could not find any relief so far.

Earth claimed that the dead body of Jigar should be given to it. Grave (a sub-ordinate of Earth) swore that it would not spoil his body. Hearing the arguments of Earth, angels, the inhabitants of the sky declared that his soul would be put in the sky to shine like a star. So, it should be given to them.

God judged the case and then ordered that the body of Jigar be given to earth and Sky has a rightful claim over his soul. By this order, angels very warmly received his soul.

Stanza 18

It is true that Jigar in his childhood was trained by his father in singing and throat- controlling. Marsias are Elegiac verses in Urdu composed on the battle of Karbala in which Hazrat Imam Husain and others were beheaded mercilessly. He spoke out first couplet at the age of eight. When his father heard his couplet, he scolded him saying that he should not make couplets too early.

Many poets tried to copy his style of singing but in vain.

Stanza 19

When Jigar was in his early age, his father died. Thereafter, he was surrounded by many difficulties. He was condemned, disowned and deemed inferior by his paternal relatives. Only Maulvi Ali Asghar, his step-uncle who was a gentle and righteous man, supported him. His relatives in the initial stage of his career did not think that he would become so great. Some of the relatives even mocked when the people said that Jigar had become a poet.

Stanza 20

He was forced by the circumstances to drink wine, but wine could not spoil the sublimity of his character. His feelings and senses were all the more awakened when he was drunk. In that condition he did not utter foul words. He realized that drinking of wine was bad. His hair was long and he often neglected the dressing of his beard. He was an abnormal drinker of wine.

Stanza 21

A famous mystic poet of those days, Asghar Gondwi, owned Jigar and guessed at first sight that he was to become great.

Jigar was taken by his admirers, was offered drinks, and his Ghazals regaled them; but he was given nothing. Then Asghar urged him not to attend the Mushaira without his consultation. Now, when people wanted to take Jigar, Asghar asked them to give him atleast Rs.50, which was initially fixed as his fee for a Mushaira. His fee began swelling with his growing fame, and it went beyond Rs.1000 (a good sun in those days) excluding travelling expenses.

Asghar Gondwi married off his sister-in-law to Jigar on her condition that Jigar would have to give up drinking. On breaking his promise not to drink, the marriage got terminated resulting in divorce. After about 15 years he remarried the same lady. Then he gave up drinking for ever, and led a good conjugal life, but, unfortunately, remained childless.

Asghar Gondwi is worthy of praise as he helped Jigar a lot and tried to uplift him.

Stanza 22

Jigar inherited poetic talents from his father, Maulvi Ali Nazar, and his grand father, Maulvi Amjad Ali, as they were also poets. He also took blessings of some spiritual men. A few incidents of his life and wine gave a push to his muse with the result that many themes came out of his heart like green plants which make a plot of land beautiful, attractive and worthy to be enjoyed. The poems of Jigar are likened to the colourful, fresh and fair flowers of the garden. They shall for ever continue to please men of poetic tastes.

Stanza 23

The incident referred to in this stanza is true. Various books written on Jigar after his death corroborate the fact that when Jigar was staying at Bhopal, a man who was jealous of his because of his extra-ordinary fame, tried to give him some poison by mixing it with his food. But it was discovered, and the man was caught & questioned. He later on confessed that he had actually committed the heinous crime. At this, Jigar at once forgave him. It shows the sublimity of his character.

Even such men as were jealous of Jigar are very sorry.

Stanza 24

Jigar was staying at his friend's in Bombay. He had two thousand rupees in his pocket which were given to him as fee of a Mushaira. He was at night lying on a cot. A person, presuming him asleep, picked the pocket of his Sherwani which was hanging on a peg. He was not sleeping at that time and was noticing all the actions of the man. But he said nothing and let the thief go. In the morning, he asked for some rupees from a friend of his, but did not disclose the name of the person who picked his pocket. This incident is mentioned in various books.

Stanza 25

Forgetting had been Jigar's habit since boyhood. He used to do good to others and after doing good, he forgot it fro ever. He wrote several recommendatory letters daily for the men who approached him and wanted to get employment somewhere. He often gave the needy some money as loan, but did not think it proper to take money back.

Stanza 26

He was very fond of playing cards. He played at a stretch for hours together, and was so much engrossed in the game that he even forgot to take food. He got irritated when he lost the game, and put forth various lame excuses. Honesty was in his nature, so he wanted to play fair game and sometimes lost it owing to his honesty.

Stanza 27

When at home, Jigar was very often reprimanded by his wife, a strict and religious lady, for playing cards. Often an interesting quarrel arose in the house between them on this score, and he was compelled to please his wife by promising that he would never play them; but when the anger of his dear wife cooled down, he forgot all his abjurations and promises, and started playing cards again. Sometimes, he burnt the cards. But getting opportunity, he managed to buy them again.

The idea in the figure used in the last two lines of this stanza has been borrowed from the belief of the Hindus that the dead after cremation is born again and again until he attains salvation.

Stanza 28

He always welcomed his guests warmly. People came from far and near, and stayed in his house. He did not let even the unwanted guests feel that he did not like them. He treated the guests properly according to their position and gradation.

Stanza 29

Jigar's way of talking or advising was very peculiar. He did not come to the point directly, but started beating about the bush. He felt and enjoyed poetry, but lacked ability to discuss it. Though he is no more in the world, his verses are a source of instruction to us.

Stanza 30

Though he was very great, he did not consider himself so. He was neither narrow nor arrogant at all. Often he used to say that he had no qualities of his own but became great because of the blessings of spiritual men. He achieved greatness step by step, and therefore it was permanent.

For the interest of the readers I write here an incident that proves his humility.

Once it so happened that a number of men were sitting with him on the carpet in his sitting room. They put their shoes outside the room. After some time, drizzling began. I was standing outside the room, but it did not come to my mind that I should remove their shoes to the shade. Jigar at once stood up and began to pick up the shoes. Seeing him doing so, some men from within the room rushed, and did not let him do so. Then turning to me, he said,

“God will give you respect,
If you respect the elders' shoes.”

Stanza 31

Jigar hated flattery. In this connection an incident of his life is given below: -

Once he was staying at Hyderabad. He was at a place busy in playing cards. He was favourite of the Nawab of Hyderabad. A man came from the Nawab and requested him to compose some poem in praise of the Nawab to be recited on the occasion of his birth-day ceremony. Jigar at once retorted that he was a poet, not a clown. The Nawab, a wise man, was not displeased to know the reply. He valued him all more. It was only the scheme of those who were jealous of him, but it fell through.

He was witty, sensitive and very fair in his dealings. He had such frankness as is rarely found in men.

He did not like ills at all, and tried to annihilate them by means of his songs.

Stanza 32

He earned so much wealth that neither the poets prior to him nor his contemporaries could earn; but he was very generous and spent his money in helping the poor. When he was at home, he kept some money out of the knowledge of his wife. He often put some rupees under the pillow, sometimes in a tin with a lid, or in some book. This money ordinarily was meant to be given to the men who visited him to seek his help. It was very interesting to se Jigar searching for the money urgently and confusedly. He was not sure about the places where he had concealed the currency notes. Sometimes turned the bed upside down, sometimes he opened the boxes, and then shut them confusedly pronouncing Lahol (cursing the Shaitan) , sometimes he turned the pages of the books. This was all done stealthily lest wife should see his perplexity. She sometimes smelt the rat and enjoyed the sight.

Stanza 33

The literal meaning of Ghazal is to converse with the lady-love or to express something about her. In other words, it can be said that generally in it are expressed such emotions and experiences of life as are concerned with beauty and love. As these emotions are universal, so the presentation of them in Ghazal helped it much in becoming favourite of the people. But if Ghazal had stayed within the narrow bounds of the above definition, it would not have reached the present place. It was, therefore, necessary for it to take up different conditions and feelings. So, even after centering on beauty and love as their favourite themes, the poets took into its domain social, cultural, political, historical, religious, mystical, philosophical and psychological aspects of the life of man. At every stage, it went on changing according to the call of time. That is why it still survives, and has a life of its own.

The structure of Ghazal proved helpful to the poet in adopting different ideas. In each of the couplets which are between the first and the last ones, the poet presents a complete thought. Therefore every couplet is itself a unit. In this way, the poet presents different thoughts in different couplets. Thus, it becomes the beautiful product of the poet's imagination.

As Ghazal is very close to human feelings softness and delicacy are sure to appear in the language. When all these aspects of Ghazal are combined with music of its words, it all the more influences the people. The reason why it is liked so much is that it is expressed in lovely symbols and signs carrying deep and hidden meanings.

After looking into the development of Ghazal, we find that at different stages of life it served as translator of the time. Thus its shape is polished and scope extended.

I write here an interesting incident that caused me to compose this stanza. Once it so happened that Saghar Nizami, an Urdu poet, came along with his wife to meet Jigar who was then staying in the house of Maulvi Mohammed Ahmad in Mohalla Lal Bagh, Moradabad. Saghar Nizami's wife recited before Jigar a Ghazal composed by her. Jigar heared it and praised it a little; but when he was coming out, he smiled and said in a strange way, “Aurat aur Ghazal” (Ghazal and a lady!) .

Stanza 34

He was really the life and spirit of Mushairas. When he was alive, he was the only poet who won the hearts of his listeners with the magic of his poem sung by a painfully sweet throat he was gifted with. Ordinarily in the Mushairas he was given the chance of reciting his poems after all the other poets had sung their poems. During the singing of other poets the audience remained unserious, but when he started singing, there was perfect silence. Nobody dared disturb the decorum of the Mushairas. The audiences were rapt and lost while he sang. Not only this, but the people also remained eager to have a glimpse of him.

Stanza 35

Jigar was truly patriotic. His love for his Motherland is fully exhibited in his poems. In Pakistan also he was very famous. He attended the Mushairas on invitation from Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan once desired him to immigrate there, and promised to give him a beautiful building with a motor car if he settled their permanently; but he flatly refused to accept the offer.

He also wrote many poems in Persian due to which he earned fame in Iran. Some poems of his were translated in his lifetime, and were sent to english0speaking countries. This translation, I remember, was made by Mr. Mohammed Ahmad who was a judge posted at Gorakhpur at a certain time.

Stanza 36

The method of his composing poems was very peculiar. Although some of his couplets were extempore; generally it was his way to compose his poems when he was in his proper mood. He began humming in loneliness and made outlines of plants with leaves, flowers and buds. All of a sudden, from the buds or flowers he drew a line either slanting or straight and then wrote a couplet. In this way, when there were some couplets, he made of them a beautiful poem. After a few corrections, the poem was complete.

He has made his poems with the extract of his liver (the equivalent word for liver in Urdu is Jigar which is also the pen-name of the poet) , and therefore they make the listeners drunk.

Stanza 37

Jigar was not sensual. He was in fact a sensuous poet. His love was pure. He had a respect for his beloved in his heart. He started his loving his lady and when he reached the climax of his love of God. He was such a drinker as remained excessively intoxicated; but his will-power was so strong that when he made abjuration, he gave up drinking for ever. The giving-up of wine had a bad effect on his health, and the result was that he suffered from various diseases. After giving up drinking, he became spiritual and performed 'Haj'.

Stanza 38

Jigar was very sensitive and emotional. He had delicate feelings which sometimes became too intense. His wonderful flight of fancy, his sincerity, his passionate intensity, his piety of soul and purity of inspiration gave sometimes a spiritual colour to his poems.

He did not pass through the stages of beauty and love carelessly, but he full well experienced the hardships of the journey. He felt it so much that he absorbed their spirit in himself. Often he is lost in them too.

He composed his poems when his feelings were intense and when his thoughts inflamed his over quick imagination.

In the beginning he enjoyed various shapes of beauty but when he reached the last rung of his love, he found that every breath of his was filled with the air of beauty.

It is a fact that beauty is unlimited but to contract and absorb it in himself is called love. Jigar has tasted the relish of this love.

Stanza 39

Jigar's views are very clear in his poetry. His poetry is the image of his life. He was not in the habit of saying one thing and doing another. As his couplets came direct from his heart, they touched the hearts of the listeners. There is a flood of passions in his poetry, but it is a craftily dammed by his art. As he was the lover of beauty, his poetry is also a product of beauty. As is the tradition that in the beginning the critics are generally antagonistic to the artists, they criticized him also; but they fell into astonishment when he was appreciated by all and sundry.

Stanza 40

Jigar was a great poet. His poetry is a thing to be enjoyed. It is not an art without substance. Educated as well as uneducated persons can enjoy his poetry, according to their understanding. This was the reason why he got commendations of all and became the favourite of the masses. Even in his lifetime the title of 'Ghazal King 'was bestowed upon him. He had seen the ups and downs of life. So, his poetry is an outcome of his own experience.

In the opinion of jigar beauty and love are one and the same thing. Apparently the words, beauty and love seem very ordinary, but these are the only words in which the secret of both the words is hidden. In the poetry of Jigar we find several ideas about these terms. Sometimes he declares that beauty is the cause and love its effect and sometimes he calls love, the cause; and beauty, the effect. At some stages he passes through a place where he finds beauty and love mixed up. In other words, when love reaches its climax, it becomes beauty and when beauty is lost in seeing itself, it becomes love. In such a state of Love, Mansoor, a great Saint yore had uttered “Anal Haque” (I am God) .

Stanza 41

He did not like unrhymed verses. His poetry is modeled on the technique of the poets of old. His couplets are proportionate and rhythmical. This conventional form of poetry suited him best because he was extremely musical when he sang his poems. Many of his poems can be interpreted in spiritual sense. The quotation “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts” comes true when we go through his poetry. He was over packed with feelings. Somebody has rightly said about him, “had he not been a poet, he would have been mad.”

Stanza 42

Jigar maintained self-respect in his life. He did not copy the ideas of the past or present poets. He was not a blind follower of any poet. He used to sit in the company of such great personages as Iqbal Suhel, Mirza Ahsan Beg, Suleman Nadvi and Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi but he did not dye himself in the color of any one of them. He put the influences he got from such august men into the glass of his own poetic wine. He had a God gifted quality to extract the essence from the views of others and drew the conclusion thereof according to his own taste. This made him all the more polished in beauty and art. If we read his poems, we find in them the influence of the blessings of his Pir (Spiritual Guide) , the late Maulana Abdul Ghani Manglori.

Stanza 43

Perhaps we can mention no other Modern Ghazal poet who was so much moved by adverse circumstances and great events as Jigar; but he remained optimistic and found hope in despair. Whatever he viewed and experienced, he poetized unhesitatingly. The Government of that time often tried to shut his mouth by monetary temptations but in vain. The young generation very much liked this tendency, which had been initiated by Hasrat (an Urdu poet) : but in Jigar we find it all the more prominent. Hasrat took it lightly, but in Jigar it is the beating of his heart. According to Prof. Rashid Ahmad Siddiqi, this is the place where character makes poetry high or low. Here we find actual difference between poetry and propaganda.

Stanza 44

Generally, it had been the tradition from yore that the poets translated the feelings of the lovers and showed them bowing before their lady-loves to invite their attention and favours; but Jigar opened a new chapter by translating the feelings of the lady-loves. He maintained equal respect of the lovers and the lady-loves. The character of the lady-love presented by the Urdu poets in general is not good. We do not like it, but the character of the lady-love presented by Jigar is so fine that we cannot help appreciate it. Urdu poetry is really grateful to him for this novelty.

Jigar is the poet of love. But he is opposed to purchase at low cost his beloved as most second rate poets do. He knows very well the delicate relation of beauty and love and wants to maintain it all costs.

Jigar's attachment with Asghar was personal, but in poetry he was quite different. In Asghar's verses, we find excess of thoughts, but lack of emotions. In Jigar's verses, we fi

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The Great Hunger

I
Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move
Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men.
If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove
Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book
Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs
And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.
Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?
Or why do we stand here shivering?
Which of these men
Loved the light and the queen
Too long virgin? Yesterday was summer. Who was it promised marriage to himself
Before apples were hung from the ceilings for Hallowe'en?
We will wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain,
Till the last soul passively like a bag of wet clay
Rolls down the side of the hill, diverted by the angles
Where the plough missed or a spade stands, straitening the way.
A dog lying on a torn jacket under a heeled-up cart,
A horse nosing along the posied headland, trailing
A rusty plough. Three heads hanging between wide-apart legs.
October playing a symphony on a slack wire paling.
Maguire watches the drills flattened out
And the flints that lit a candle for him on a June altar
Flameless. The drills slipped by and the days slipped by
And he trembled his head away and ran free from the world's halter,
And thought himself wiser than any man in the townland
When he laughed over pints of porter
Of how he came free from every net spread
In the gaps of experience. He shook a knowing head
And pretended to his soul
That children are tedious in hurrying fields of April
Where men are spanning across wide furrows.
Lost in the passion that never needs a wife
The pricks that pricked were the pointed pins of harrows.
Children scream so loud that the crows could bring
The seed of an acre away with crow-rude jeers.
Patrick Maguire, he called his dog and he flung a stone in the air
And hallooed the birds away that were the birds of the years.
Turn over the weedy clods and tease out the tangled skeins.
What is he looking for there?
He thinks it is a potato, but we know better
Than his mud-gloved fingers probe in this insensitive hair.
'Move forward the basket and balance it steady
In this hollow. Pull down the shafts of that cart, Joe,
And straddle the horse,' Maguire calls.
'The wind's over Brannagan's, now that means rain.
Graip up some withered stalks and see that no potato falls
Over the tail-board going down the ruckety pass -
And that's a job we'll have to do in December,
Gravel it and build a kerb on the bog-side. Is that Cassidy's ass
Out in my clover? Curse o' God
Where is that dog?.
Never where he's wanted' Maguire grunts and spits
Through a clay-wattled moustache and stares about him from the height.
His dream changes like the cloud-swung wind
And he is not so sure now if his mother was right
When she praised the man who made a field his bride.
Watch him, watch him, that man on a hill whose spirit
Is a wet sack flapping about the knees of time.
He lives that his little fields may stay fertile when his own body
Is spread in the bottom of a ditch under two coulters crossed in Christ's Name.
He was suspicious in his youth as a rat near strange bread,
When girls laughed; when they screamed he knew that meant
The cry of fillies in season. He could not walk
The easy road to destiny. He dreamt
The innocence of young brambles to hooked treachery.
O the grip, O the grip of irregular fields! No man escapes.
It could not be that back of the hills love was free
And ditches straight.
No monster hand lifted up children and put down apes
As here.
'O God if I had been wiser!'
That was his sigh like the brown breeze in the thistles.
He looks, towards his house and haggard. 'O God if I had been wiser!'
But now a crumpled leaf from the whitethorn bushes
Darts like a frightened robin, and the fence
Shows the green of after-grass through a little window,
And he knows that his own heart is calling his mother a liar
God's truth is life - even the grotesque shapes of his foulest fire.
The horse lifts its head and cranes
Through the whins and stones
To lip late passion in the crawling clover.
In the gap there's a bush weighted with boulders like morality,
The fools of life bleed if they climb over.
The wind leans from Brady's, and the coltsfoot leaves are holed with rust,
Rain fills the cart-tracks and the sole-plate grooves;
A yellow sun reflects in Donaghmoyne
The poignant light in puddles shaped by hooves.
Come with me, Imagination, into this iron house
And we will watch from the doorway the years run back,
And we will know what a peasant's left hand wrote on the page.
Be easy, October. No cackle hen, horse neigh, tree sough, duck quack.

II
Maguiire was faithful to death:
He stayed with his mother till she died
At the age of ninety-one.
She stayed too long,
Wife and mother in one.
When she died
The knuckle-bones were cutting the skin of her son's backside
And he was sixty-five.
O he loved his mother
Above all others.
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the bank of some summer stream;
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
And two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh.
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an appearance.
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.

III .
Poor Paddy Maguire, a fourteen-hour day
He worked for years. It was he that lit the fire
And boiled the kettle and gave the cows their hay.
His mother tall hard as a Protestant spire
Came down the stairs barefoot at the kettle-call
And talked to her son sharply: 'Did you let
The hens out, you?' She had a venomous drawl
And a wizened face like moth-eaten leatherette.
Two black cats peeped between the banisters
And gloated over the bacon-fizzling pan.
Outside the window showed tin canisters.
The snipe of Dawn fell like a whirring stone
And Patrick on a headland stood alone.
The pull is on the traces, it is March
And a cold black wind is blowing from Dundalk.
The twisting sod rolls over on her back
The virgin screams before the irresistible sock.
No worry on Maguire's mind this day
Except that he forgot to bring his matches.
'Hop back there Polly, hoy back, woa, wae,
From every second hill a neighbour watches
With all the sharpened interest of rivalry.
Yet sometimes when the sun comes through a gap
These men know God the Father in a tree:
The Holy Spirit is the rising sap,
And Christ will be the green leaves that will come
At Easter from the sealed and guarded tomb.
Primroses and the unearthly start of ferns
Among the blackthorn shadows in the ditch,
A dead sparrow and an old waistcoat. Maguire learns
As the horses turn slowly round the which is which
Of love and fear and things half born to mind
He stands between the plough-handles and he sees
At the end of a long furrow his name signed
Among the poets, prostitutes. With all miseries
He is one. Here with the unfortunate
Who for half-moments of paradise
Pay out good days and wait and wait
For sunlight-woven cloaks. O to be wise
As Respectability that knows the price of all things
And marks God's truth in pounds and pence and farthings.

IV
April, and no one able to calculate
How far it is to harvest. They put down
The seeds blindly with sensuous groping fingers
And sensual dreams sleep dreams subtly underground.
Tomorrow is Wednesday - who cares?
'Remember Eileen Farrelly? I was thinking
A man might do a damned sight worse …' That voice is blown
Through a hole in a garden wall -
And who was Eileen now cannot be known.
The cattle are out on grass
The corn is coming up evenly.
The farm folk are hurrying to catch Mass:
Christ will meet them at the end of the world, the slow and the speedier.
But the fields say: only Time can bless.
Maguire knelt beside a pillar where he could spit
Without being seen. He turned an old prayer round:
'Jesus, Mary, Joseph pray for us
Now and at the Hour.' Heaven dazzled death.
'Wonder should I cross-plough that turnip-ground.'
The tension broke. The congregation lifted it head
As one man and coughed in unison.
Five hundred hearts were hungry for life-
Who lives in Christ shall never die the death.
And the candle-lit Altar and the flowers
And the pregnant Tabernacle lifted a moment to Prophecy
Out of the clayey hours
Maguire sprinkled his face with holy water
As the congregation stood up for the Last Gospel.
He rubbed the dust off his knees with his palm, and then
Coughed the prayer phlegm up from his throat and sighed: Amen.
Once one day in June when he was walking
Among his cattle in the Yellow Meadow
He met a girl carrying a basket
And he was then a young and heated fellow.
Too earnest, too earnest! He rushed beyond the thing
To the unreal. And he saw Sin
Written in letters larger than John Bunyan dreamt of.
For the strangled impulse there is no redemption.
And that girl was gone and he was counting
The dangers in the fields where love ranted
He was helpless. He saw his cattle
And stroked their flanks in lieu of wife to handle.
He would have changed the circle if he could,
The circle that was the grass track where he ran.
Twenty times a day he ran round the field
And still there was no winning-post where the runner is cheered home.
Desperately he broke the tune,
But however he tried always the same melody lept up from the background,
The dragging step of a ploughman going home through the guttery
Headlands under an April-watery moon.
Religion, the fields and the fear of the Lord
And Ignorance giving him the coward's blow,
He dared not rise to pluck the fantasies
From the fruited Tree of Life. He bowed his head
And saw a wet weed twined about his toe.

V
Evening at the cross-roads -
Heavy heads nodding out words as wise
As the ruminations of cows after milking.
From the ragged road surface a boy picks up
A piece of gravel and stares at it-and then
Tosses it across the elm tree on to the railway.
He means nothing.
Not a damn thing
Somebody is coming over the metal railway bridge
And his hobnailed boots on the arches sound like a gong
Calling men awake. But the bridge is too narrow -
The men lift their heads a moment. That was only John,
So they dream on.
Night in the elms, night in the grass.
O we are too tired to go home yet. Two cyclists pass
Talking loudly of Kitty and Molly?
Horses or women? wisdom or folly?
A door closes on an evicted dog
Where prayers begin in Barney Meegan's kitchen :
Rosie curses the cat between her devotions;
The daughter prays that she may have three wishes -
Health and wealth and love -
From the fairy who is faith or hope or compounds of.
At the cross-roads the crowd had thinned out:
Last words were uttered. There is no to-morrow;
No future but only time stretched for the mowing of the hay
Or putting an axle in the turf-barrow.
Patrick Maguire went home and made cocoa
And broke a chunk off the loaf of wheaten bread;
His mother called down to him to look again
And make sure that the hen-house was locked. His sister grunted in bed
The sound of a sow taking up a new position.
Pat opened his trousers wide over the ashes
And dreamt himself to lewd sleepiness.
The clock ticked on. Time passes.

VI
Health and wealth and love he too dreamed of in May
As he sat on the railway slope and watched the children of the place
Picking up a primrose here and a daisy there -
They were picking up life's truth singly.
But he dreamt of the Absolute envased bouquet -
AIl or nothing. And it was nothing. For God is not all
In one place, complete
Till Hope comes in and takes it on his shoulder -
O Christ, that is what you have done for us:
In a crumb of bread the whole mystery is.
He read the symbol too sharply and turned
From the five simple doors of sense
To the door whose combination lock has puzzled
Philosopher and priest and common dunce.
Men build their heavens as they build their circles
Of friends. God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday -
A kiss here and a laugh again, and sometimes tears,
A pearl necklace round the neck of poverty.
He sat on the railway slope and watched the evening,
Too beautifully perfect to use,
And his three wishes were three stones too sharp to sit on,
Too hard to carve. Three frozen idols of a speechless muse.

VII
'Now go to Mass and pray and confess your sins
And you'll have all the luck,' his mother said.
He listened to the lie that is a woman's screen
Around a conscience when soft thighs are spread.
And all the while she was setting up the lie
She trusted in Nature that never deceives.
But her son took it as literal truth.
Religion's walls expand to the push of nature. Morality yields
To sense - but not in little tillage fields.
Life went on like that. One summer morning
Again through a hay-field on her way to the shop -
The grass was wet and over-leaned the path -
And Agnes held her skirts sensationally up,
And not because the grass was wet either.
A man was watching her, Patrick Maguire.
She was in love with passion and its weakness
And the wet grass could never cool the fire
That radiated from her unwanted womb in that metaphysical land
Where flesh was thought more spiritual than music
Among the stars - out of reach of the peasant's hand.
Ah, but the priest was one of the people too -
A farmers son - and surely he knew
The needs of a brother and sister.
Religion could not be a counter-irritant like a blister,
But the certain standard, measured and known
By which man might re-make his soul though all walls were down
And all earth's pedestalled gods thrown.

VIII
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He didn't care a damn.
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head
And inconsequently sang.
While his world withered away,
He had a cigarette to smoke and a pound to spend
On drink the next Saturday.
His cattle were fat
And his horses all that
Midsummer grass could make them.
The young women ran wild
And dreamed of a child
Joy dreams though the fathers might forsake them
But no one would take them;
No man could ever see
That their skirts had loosed buttons,
O the men were as blind as could be.
And Patrick Maguire
From his. purgatory fire
Called the gods of the Christian to prove
That this twisted skein
Was the necessary pain
And not the rope that was strangling true love.
But sitting on a wooden gate
Sometime in July
When he was thirty-four or five
He gloried in the lie:
He made it read the way it should,
He made life read the evil good
While he cursed the ascetic brotherhood
Without knowing why.
Sitting on a wooden gate
All, all alone
He sang and laughed
Like a man quite daft,
Or like a man on a channel raft
He fantasied forth his groan.
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He rode in day-dream cars.
He locked his body with his knees
When the gate swung too much in the breeze.
But while he caught high ecstasies
Life slipped between the bars.

IX
He gave himself another year,
Something was bound to happen before then -
The circle would break down
And he would carve the new one to his own will.
A new rhythm is a new life
And in it marriage is hung and money.
He would be a new man walking through unbroken meadows
Of dawn in the year of One.
The poor peasant talking to himself in a stable door
An ignorant peasant deep in dung.
What can the passers-by think otherwise?
Where is his silver bowl of knowledge hung?
Why should men be asked to believe in a soul
That is only the mark of a hoof in guttery gaps?
A man is what is written on the label.
And the passing world stares but no one stops
To look closer. So back to the growing crops
And the ridges he never loved.
Nobody will ever know how much tortured poetry the pulled weeds on the ridge wrote
Before they withered in the July sun,
Nobody will ever read the wild, sprawling, scrawling mad woman's signature,
The hysteria and the boredom of the enclosed nun of his thought.
Like the afterbirth of a cow stretched on a branch in the wind
Life dried in the veins of these women and men:
'The grey and grief and unloved,
The bones in the backs of their hands,
And the chapel pressing its low ceiling over them.
Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight,
A narrow slice of divine instruction.
Going along the river at the bend of Sunday
The trout played in the pools encouragement
To jump in love though death bait the hook.
And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes.
Stretch-legged and lingering staring -
A man might take one of them if he had the courage.
But 'No' was in every sentence of their story
Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece.
The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes
On rocks in the middle of ploughing
Was a bright spoke in the wheel
Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at -
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again.
Talk in evening corners and under trees
Was like an old book found in a king's tomb.
The children gathered round like students and listened
And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb
And was not blown.

X
Their intellectual life consisted in reading
Reynolds News or the Sunday Dispatch,
With sometimes an old almanac brought down from the ceiling
Or a school reader brown with the droppings of thatch.
The sporting results or the headlines of war
Was a humbug profound as the highbrow's Arcana.
Pat tried to be wise to the abstraction of all that
But its secret dribbled down his waistcoat like a drink from a strainer.
He wagered a bob each way on the Derby,
He got a straight tip from a man in a shop -
A double from the Guineas it was and thought himself
A master mathematician when one of them came up
And he could explain how much he'd have drawn
On the double if the second leg had followed the first.
He was betting on form and breeding, he claimed,
And the man that did that could never be burst.
After that they went on to the war, and the generals
On both sides were shown to be stupid as hell.
If he'd taken that road, they remarked of a Marshal,
He'd have … O they know their geography well
This was their university. Maguire was an undergraduate
Who dreamed from his lowly position of rising
To a professorship like Larry McKenna or Duffy
Or the pig-gelder Nallon whose knowledge was amazing.
'A treble, full multiple odds … That's flat porter …
Another oneNo, you're wrong about that thing I was telling you. .
Did you part with your filly, Jack? I heard that you sold her.…'
The students were all savants by the time of pub-close.

XI
A year passed and another hurried after it
And Patrick Maguire was still six months behind life -
His mother six months ahead of it;
His sister straddle-legged across it: -
One leg in hell and the other in heaven
And between the purgatory of middle-aged virginity -
She prayed for release to heaven or hell.
His mother's voice grew thinner like a rust-worn knife
But it cut venomously as it thinned,
It cut him up the middle till he became more woman than man,
And it cut through to his mind before the end.
Another field whitened in the April air
And the harrows rattled over the seed.
He gathered the loose stones off the ridges carefully
And grumbled to his men to hurry. He looked like a man who could give advice
To foolish young fellows. He was forty-seven,
And there was depth in his jaw and his voice was the voice of a great cattle-dealer,
A man with whom the fair-green gods break even.
'I think I ploughed that lea the proper depth,
She ought to give a crop if any land gives …
Drive slower with the foal-mare, Joe.'
Joe, a young man of imagined wives,
Smiles to himself and answered like a slave:
'You needn't fear or fret.
I'm taking her as easy, as easy as
Easy there Fanny, easy, pet.'
They loaded the day-scoured implements on the cart
As the shadows of poplars crookened the furrows.
It was the evening, evening. Patrick was forgetting to be lonely
As he used to be in Aprils long ago.
It was the menopause, the misery-pause.
The schoolgirls passed his house laughing every morning
And sometimes they spoke to him familiarly -
He had an idea. Schoolgirls of thirteen
Would see no political intrigue in an old man's friendship.
Love
The heifer waiting to be nosed by the old bull.
That notion passed too - there was the danger of talk
And jails are narrower than the five-sod ridge
And colder than the black hills facing Armagh in February.
He sinned over the warm ashes again and his crime
The law's long arm could not serve with time.
His face set like an old judge's pose:
Respectability and righteousness,
Stand for no nonsense.
The priest from the altar called Patrick Maguire's name
To hold the collecting-box in the chapel door
During all the Sundays of May.
His neighbours envied him his holy rise,
But he walked down from the church with affected indifference
And took the measure of heaven angle-wise.
He still could laugh and sing,
But not the wild laugh or the abandoned harmony now
That called the world to new silliness from the top of a wooden gate
When thirty-five could take the sparrow's bow.
Let us be kind, let us be kind and sympathetic:
Maybe life is not for joking or for finding happiness in -
This tiny light in Oriental Darkness
Looking out chance windows of poetry or prayer.
And the grief and defeat of men like these peasants
Is God's way - maybe - and we must not want too much
To see.
The twisted thread is stronger than the wind-swept fleece.
And in the end who shall rest in truth's high peace?
Or whose is the world now, even now?
O let us kneel where the blind ploughman kneels
And learn to live without despairing
In a mud-walled space -
Illiterate unknown and unknowing.
Let us kneel where he kneels
And feel what he feels.
One day he saw a daisy and he thought it
Reminded him of his childhood -
He stopped his cart to look at it.
Was there a fairy hiding behind it?
He helped a poor woman whose cow
Had died on her;
He dragged home a drunken man on a winter's night
And one rare moment he heard the young people playing on the railway stile
And he wished them happiness and whatever they most desired from life.
He saw the sunlight and begrudged no man
His share of what the miserly soil and soul
Gives in a season to a ploughman.
And he cried for his own loss one late night on the pillow
And yet thanked the God who had arranged these things.
Was he then a saint?
A Matt Talbot of Monaghan?
His sister Mary Anne spat poison at the children
Who sometimes came to the door selling raffle tickets
For holy funds.
'Get out, you little tramps!' she would scream
As she shook to the hens an armful of crumbs,
But Patrick often put his hand deep down
In his trouser-pocket and fingered out a penny
Or maybe a tobacco-stained caramel.
'You're soft,' said the sister; 'with other people's money
It's not a bit funny.'
The cards are shuffled and the deck
Laid flat for cutting - Tom Malone
Cut for trump. I think we'll make
This game, the last, a tanner one.
Hearts. Right. I see you're breaking
Your two-year-old. Play quick, Maguire,
The clock there says it's half-past ten -
Kate, throw another sod on that fire.
One of the card-players laughs and spits
Into the flame across a shoulder.
Outside, a noise like a rat
Among the hen-roosts.
The cock crows over
The frosted townland of the night.
Eleven o'clock and still the game
Goes on and the players seem to be
Drunk in an Orient opium den.
Midnight, one o'clock, two.
Somebody's leg has fallen asleep.
What about home? Maguire, are you
Using your double-tree this week?
Why? do you want it? Play the ace.
There's it, and that's the last card for me.
A wonderful night, we had. Duffy's place
Is very convenient. Is that a ghost or a tree?
And so they go home with dragging feet
And their voices rumble like laden carts.
And they are happy as the dead or sleeping …
I should have led that ace of hearts.

XII
The fields were bleached white,
The wooden tubs full of water
Were white in the winds
That blew through Brannagan's Gap on their way from Siberia;
The cows on the grassless heights .
Followed the hay that had wings -
The February fodder that hung itself on the black branches
Of the hill-top hedge.
A man stood beside a potato-pit
And clapped his arms
And pranced on the crisp roots
And shouted to warm himself.
Then he buck-leaped about the potatoes
And scooped them into a basket.
He looked like a bucking suck-calf
Whose spine was being tickled.
Sometimes he stared across the bogs
And sometimes he straightened his back and vaguely whistled
A tune that weakened his spirit
And saddened his terrier dog's.
A neighbour passed with a spade on his shoulder
And Patrick Maguire bent like a bridge
Whistled-good morning under his oxter
And the man the other side of the hedge
Champed his spade on the road at his toes
And talked an old sentimentality
While the wind blew under his clothes.
The mother sickened and stayed in bed all day,
Her head hardly dented the pillow, so light and thin it had worn,
But she still enquired after the household affairs.
She held the strings of her children's Punch and Judy, and when a mouth opened
It was her truth that the dolls would have spoken
If they hadn't been made of wood and tin -
'Did you open the barn door, Pat, to let the young calves in?'
The priest called to see her every Saturday
And she told him her troubles and fears:
'If Mary Anne was settled I'd die in peace -
I'm getting on in years.'
'You were a good woman,' said the priest,
'And your children will miss you when you're gone.
The likes of you this parish never knew,
I'm sure they'll not forget the work you've done.'
She reached five bony crooks under the tick -
'Five pounds for Masses - won't you say them quick.'
She died one morning in the beginning of May
And a shower of sparrow-notes was the litany for her dying.
The holy water was sprinkled on the bed-clothes
And her children stood around the bed and cried because it was too late for crying.
A mother dead! The tired sentiment:
'Mother, Mother' was a shallow pool
Where sorrow hardly could wash its feet …
Mary Anne came away from the deathbed and boiled the calves their gruel.
'O what was I doing when the procession passed?
Where was I looking? Young women and men
And I might have joined them.
Who bent the coin of my destiny
That it stuck in the slot?
I remember a night we walked
Through the moon of Donaghmoyne,
Four of us seeking adventure,
It was midsummer forty years ago.
Now I know
The moment that gave the turn to my life.
O Christ! I am locked in a stable with pigs and cows for ever.

XIII
The world looks on
And talks of the peasant:
The peasant has no worries;
In his little lyrical fields He ploughs and sows;
He eats fresh food,
He loves fresh women, He is his own master
As it was in the Beginning
The simpleness of peasant life.
The birds that sing for him are eternal choirs ,
Everywhere he walks there are flowers.
His heart is pure, His mind is clear,
He can talk to God as Moses and Isaiah talked
The peasant who is only one remove from the beasts he drives. '
'The travellers stop their cars to gape over the green bank into his fields: -
There is the source from which all cultures rise,
And all religions,
There is the pool in which the poet dips
And the musician.
Without the peasant base civilisation must die,
Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer's singing is useless.
The travellers touch the roots of the grass and feel renewed
When they grasp the steering wheels again.
The peasant is the unspoiled child of Prophecy,
The peasant is all virtues - let us salute him without irony
The peasant ploughman who is half a vegetable -
Who can react to sun and rain and sometimes even
Regret that the Maker of Light had not touched him more intensely.
Brought him up from the sub-soil to an existence
Of conscious joy. He was not born blind.
He is not always blind: sometimes the cataract yields
To sudden stone-falling or the desire to breed.
The girls pass along the roads
And he can remember what man is,
But there is nothing he can do.
Is there nothing he can do?
Is there no escape?
No escape, no escape.
The cows and horses breed,
And the potato-seed
Gives a bud and a root and rots
In the good mother's way with her sons;
The fledged bird is thrown
From the nest - on its own.
But the peasant in his little acres is tied
To a mother's womb by the wind-toughened navel-cord
Like a goat tethered to the stump of a tree -
He circles around and around wondering why it should be.
No crash, No drama.
That was how his life happened.
No mad hooves galloping in the sky,
But the weak, washy way of true tragedy -
A sick horse nosing around the meadow for a clean place to die.

XIV
We may come out in the October reality, Imagination,
The sleety wind no longer slants to the black hill where Maguire
And his men are now collecting the scattered harness and baskets.
The dog sitting on a wisp of dry stalks
Watches them through the shadows.
'Back in, back in.' One talks to the horse as to a brother.
Maguire himself is patting a potato-pit against the weather -
An old man fondling a new-piled grave:
'Joe, I hope you didn't forget to hide the spade .
For there's rogues in the townland.
Hide it flat in a furrow.
I think we ought to be finished by to-morrow.
Their voices through the darkness sound like voices from a cave,
A dull thudding far away, futile, feeble, far away,
First cousins to the ghosts of the townland.
A light stands in a window. Mary Anne
Has the table set and the tea-pot waiting in the ashes.
She goes to the door and listens and then she calls
From the top of the haggard-wall :
'What's keeping you
And the cows to be milked and all the other work there's to do?'
'All right, all right
We'll not stay here all night '
Applause, applause,
The curtain falls.
Applause, applause
From the homing carts and the trees
And the bawling cows at the gates.
From the screeching water-hens
And the mill-race heavy with the Lammas floods curving over the weir
A train at the station blowing off steam
And the hysterical laughter of the defeated everywhere.
Night, and the futile cards are shuffled again.
Maguire spreads his legs over the impotent cinders that wake no manhood now
And he hardly looks to see which card is trump.
His sister tightens her legs and her lips and frizzles up
Like the wick of an oil-less lamp.
The curtain falls -
Applause, applause.
Maguire is not afraid of death, the Church will light him a candle
To see his way through the vaults and he'll understand the
Quality of the clay that dribbles over his coffin.
He'll know the names of the roots that climb down to tickle his feet.
And he will feel no different than when he walked through Donaghmoyne.
If he stretches out a hand - a wet clod,
If he opens his nostrils - a dungy smell;
If he opens his eyes once in a million years -
Through a crack in the crust of the earth he may see a face nodding in
Or a woman's legs.
Shut them again for that sight is sin.
He will hardly remember that life happened to him -
Something was brighter a moment. Somebody sang in the distance
A procession passed down a mesmerized street.
He remembers names like Easter and Christmas
By colour his fields were.
Maybe he will be born again, a bird of an angel's conceit
To sing the gospel of life
To a music as flighty tangent
As a tune on an oboe.
And the serious look of his fields will have changed to the leer of a hobo.
Swaggering celestially home to his three wishes granted.
Will that be? will that be?
Or is the earth right that laughs haw-haw
And does not believe
In an unearthly law.
The earth that says:
Patrick Maguire, the old peasant, can neither be damned nor glorified:
The graveyard in which he will lie will be just a deep-drilled potato-field
Where the seed gets no chance to come through
To the fun of the sun.
The tongue in his mouth is the root of a yew.
Silence, silence. The story is done.
He stands in the doorway of his house
A ragged sculpture of the wind,
October creaks the rotted mattress,
The bedposts fall. No hope. No lust.
The hungry fiend
Screams the apocalypse of clay
In every corner of this land.

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The Garden of Years

I

I have shut fast the door, and am alone
With the sweet memory of this afternoon,
That saw my vague dreams on a sudden grown
Into fulfilment, as I oft have known
Stray notes upon a keyboard fall atune
When least persuaded. I besought no boon
Of Fate to-day; I that, since first Love came
Into my life, have been so importune.
To-day alone I did not press my claim,
And lo! all I have dreamed of is my own!

II

I have shut fast the door, for so I may
Relive that moment of the turn of tide—
That swift solution of the long delay
That clothed with silver splendor dying day;
And, with low-whispering memory for guide,
See once again your startled eyes confide
The secret of surrender; and your hand
Flutter toward mine, before you turn aside—
And the gold wings of young consent expand
Fresh from the cracking chrysalis of Nay!

III

I did not dare to speak at first. It seemed
A thing unreal, that with the air might blend—
That strange swift signal—and I feared I dreamed!
Ahead, the city’s lamps, converging, gleamed
To a thin angle at the street’s far bend,
And, as we neared, each from its column’s end
Stepped out, and past us, furtive, slipped away:
Nor could Love’s self a longer respite lend
The radiant moments of our shortening day,
That Time, the donor, one by one redeemed.

IV

We spoke of eloquently empty things;
Of younger days that were before we met,
The trivial acts to which the memory clings,
And in familiar spots unbidden brings
To mind, when graver matters we forget.
The sacred secret lay unspoken, yet
Hovered, half-veiled, between our conscious eyes,
Touched with an indefinable regret
For that swift moment of our love’s surprise—
Like a waked bird, poised upon ready wings.

V

I cannot tell how first we came to dwell
In short, shy words upon this closer theme,
Or how it was each understood so well
There was no need in clearer speech to tell
The phases of our duplicated dream.
In that sweet intimacy, it would seem
Our endless love had never been begun:
Like the twin branches of a tranquil stream
Our two hearts ran together and were one,
With no trite word to mar the perfect spell!

VI

Heart of my heart, I am no longer young:
Long have I waited for this day of days
When some small sign from you should loose my tongue—
When I should see that gate wide-open flung
That of Love’s garden screened the sunlit ways;
Long have I waited, till your hand should raise
The veil between our understanding eyes,
That you in mine, that I in yours might gaze,
While my heart shouted to the open skies
The song that long in silence it hath sung!

VII

Dear eyes of earnest brown! How well I know
Their every sadness and their every smile;
How I have watched their laughter come and go,
Or some swift shadow cloud their bonny glow
Of stingless scoffing and of guiltless guile:
How jealous grew I in an instant, while
Some thought I knew not on the mirror blew!
Forgotten, from my heaven I stood exile,
And my rose dreamings dimmed upon my view,
As sunset’s fire grays on the Alpine snow.

VIII

But each doubt fled as swift as it appeared;
And, day by day, I grew to understand
The heart of him who long his death hath feared,
And, sudden, sees the stately palms upreared
Of some oasis in a desert land.
Yet, even as that far green across the sand
Cheered the dry way of my heart’s wandering,
I hardly looked at length to plunge my hand
And thirsty lips deep in the distant spring
That step by step my feet so slowly neared.

IX

For often I had seen the broken pledge
Of far mirages, swung upon the air,
Touched with the tender green of palm and sedge,
And where a thin stream, sliding from a ledge,
Promised me hope and paid me in despair.
So, come at last, in spite of all, to where
The falling waters all the senses cool,
Is it so strange that I should hardly dare
Believe I stand in truth beside the pool
That shone so small upon the desert’s edge?

X

I have come far. If my lips cannot say
The words that younger lovers use to woo,
It is because the long and thirsty day,
The sun-baked stretches of my weary way,
Have dried their memory of the holy dew.
If I cannot at once my claim renew
To light, and perfume, music, and a smile,
It is because of discords, had in lieu
Of harmonies. Sweet, patience for a while!
I shall praise later. Grant me time to pray.

XI

Heart of my heart, blame not the arid sand:—
It has but lent the turf a deeper green.
Blame not the copper skies that overspanned
The heartless reaches of that backward land:—
For them the water shows a smoother sheen.
And blame me not if at the brink I lean
Mutely, and seem uneloquent and cold:—
Viewing the verdure of this fair demesne.
I am so young, who yesterday was old!
It is enough to try to understand.

XII

’T was in the garden, phantom-trod, of those
My younger years, when life before me lay,
That first I saw the flower of Love unclose
From fancy’s folded bud. Youth only knows
How tenderly I longed to pluck it! Nay,
I would not waken those dead hours to-day:
For Time’s consuming fire, with lambent lip,
Has kissed my fair frail flower, and so I may
Not touch with the most careful finger-tip
Its ashes, perfect as the unburnt rose.

XIII

From our Fate’s map of matters foreordained
Who of us all would rend the veil away
See the sealed shrine of destiny profaned,
And all the awful ultima explained,
Arid so lose right to hope and need to pray?
Who is there of us all who would not say
That mystery is merciful? Too soon
Our roses droop, our limpid skies go gray,
And youth’s morn glooms to age’s afternoon:—
Let the lees lie until the wine be drained.

XIV

Yet are some hours by rapture made so bright
That the sense reels before the blinding blaze
Of an effulgent radiancy, that might,
Spread through a lifetime, shed the steady light
Of calm content on twice ten thousand days.
Ah, if the jealous future would but raise
These, like white beacons on a sad sea thrown,
How patient we should be of life’s delays
That seem denials! Ah, love, had I but known
All my life long the will of Fate to-night!

XV

Close was your secret guarded, empty years!
No far horizon ever hid so well
The dreamt-of harbors of imagined spheres
From the strained eyes of ocean’s pioneers,
Until the appointed dawn from swell to swell
Leaped, and decreed discovery befel.
Had I but known, how different all had been!
To-day—to-day of which you would not tell—
Had lain upon my heart like the unseen
Familiar green of shores their native nears.

XVI

Ah, prescient day when I came down to thee,
Heart of the sea, rebellious as my own!
No other tongue could tell the tragedy
Of those boy-dreamings that were not to be;
Such eloquence was thine and thine alone.
So that fair western land, where they had grown,
Sank to a thin grey line, and so I turned
And pledged my troth unto the great unknown,
Cruel, kind world. How little had I learned
In all the years before I sought the sea!

XVII

For as a myriad bubbles on our stem
Flashed to swift life, and then as swiftly died,
My fancy saw, like them, my visions yearn
An instant on my eyes, and then return
Upon the eddies of the backward tide.
Dear hopes of youth, so youthfully allied
With one familiar comer of the world!
Dear foolish dreams, in mercy thus denied!
How little knew I what the East unfurled:—
I was so wise, and had so much to learn!

XVIII

All my life long in memory I shall guard
That slow sea-swing that lullabied the heart,
While the thin, thoughtful mast, shrouded and sparred,
Moved in and out upon the silver-starred
Midnight, as if it traced upon a chart:
And the prow forced the fluttering waves apart,
As they had been the leaves of some wise tome,
Wherefrom it read Life’s story from the start,
Set to the music of the whirling foam,
Wind-rippled cordage, and slow-straining yard.

XIX

All my life long in memory I shall know
How the slow, careful fingers of the light
Sort and shift countless jewels to and fro
On liquid velvet, when the breezes blow
After the calm that lay upon the night.
All my life long shall linger on my sight
One flower-like cloud that watched the daylight die,
Until the west-wind, pausing in its flight,
Plucked it, and idly on a turquoise sky
Scattered its petals in a crimson snow.

XX

And yet, had I but known what was to be,
The stillness sweet had been more sweetly still,
The laughter-laden singing of the sea,
That hallowed life and pledged eternity,
I should not then have understood so ill.
And, seeing how the west-wind worked its will
Upon the cloud, I should have known how you
Would one day in a myriad roses spill
My life, and give me faith and hope, in lieu
Of the black heart that you plucked out from me.

XXI

O my one love, so frail, so fair, so pure,
Had I but seen you faintly and afar,
My fluctuating faith had pointed sure
As swings the needle—slave, while worlds endure,
To the mute bidding of the northern star—
And many things had never been that are!
Had I but known what Life would bring to-day,
How had the years sung by, with naught to mar
That sweet crescendo, to our fairy-play
Hope’s eloquent, enchanted overture!

XXII

Now, from the goal of this, my heart’s fair fate,
I scan the backward way with wondering eyes,
And, in the silence of the night, debate
Upon each changing charm that lay in wait
Beneath the arch of ever stranger skies.
Like to a map the varied prospect lies
Of the long years since from your side I turned:
Fata Morgana-wise my pleasures rise,
Each in its turn sought after, squandered, spurned—
More trivial each, that treasured was of late!

XXIII

How wide a world it was that met my sight,
Whose eyes were narrowed to but childish things!
Asia lay bathed in unimagined light,
With all the splendors of her past bedight.
Work of the ages’ full-forgotten kings:
And, rocking ’twixt her summers and her springs,
The blue-robed Indian Ocean slept and sighed,
Decked with her emerald islands, looped in strings
Upon the breathing bosom of her tide:—
Slept all bronze day, and all star-studded night.

XXIV

Africa frowned across my breathless lee,
Mute, unforgetful, cursed, but unconquered still,
Sahara-hemmed in heart and destiny,
Unpardoned yet, and yet too proud for plea,
Pregnant with purpose of unaltered ill.
Distant, the swerved sirocco seemed to spill
From its black cup a plague upon the land,
And, crawling on past barren ridge and hill
Through hope-devouring endlessness of sand,
The swarthy Nile sulked northward to the sea.

XXV

Those earliest Americas of all
That, with half-lowered lids, dream on the day
Of the imperial Incas, seemed to call,
As, when their own long, languid evenings fall,
The sea calls landward from her curving bay.
Hearing, I answered, bent my aimless way
To the cool shade that nestled ’neath their palms,
And so, long nights on sloping shoreways lay,
While moons crept, silver-shod, across the calms,
And wrapped their radiance in the horizon’s pall.

XXVI

Years melted into years as still I strayed,
And Life, still searching, from her pack withdrew
More novel baubles, offered me in trade
For those unvalued days, wherewith I paid
Because with them I knew not what to do:
Till at the end, I smiled to think of you
As but a memory. Fool! How swift I found,
Like the mechanic mole, I burrowed through
Oblivion, an inch below the ground!
One touch, and all my blindness lay displayed.

XXVII

I know, should some one ask me which was best
Of all the lands wherewith our world is starred,
There could be but one answer to the test.
A rover heart had urged me on a quest
Wherein all gates of distance were unbarred,
Yet never was I able to discard
The thought of that young land that gave me birth:
Still in my memory’s holiest shrine I guard
That virgin daughter of the grim old earth,
The star-eyed White Republic of the West!

XXVIII

Yet, like some chapter of an old romance,
My heart holds one memorial morning dear,
When the gray hazes whirled, as in a dance,
Up from the rippled Channel’s wide expanse,
And sunlit shores stept, on a sudden, near.
On that chief day of that prophetic year
Some pledge I could but dimly understand,
Some subtle spell, lay on the calm and clear
Blue harbor of this mute majestic land,
And hope shone smiling in the eyes of France!

XXIX

And France it was that crushed my callow creed,
That held me like a mother to her breast;
That staunched the wounds my ignorance made bleed,
And, in the hour of that, my direst need,
Showed where my star still hung against the West.
France was the judge that put my faith to test,
Little by little lent it sturdier strength,
And schooled the rover in the rules of rest;
And now, dear heart, that you are mine at length,
I see ’t was she that taught me love indeed.

XXX

Thus, in my deepest heart must I inshrine
Her stately cliffs, patrolled by guardian seas;
Her hollowed hillsides, where the slender vine,
Pregnant with promise of the autumn wine,
Leans on its staff against the battling breeze:
And all her silver streams, that seek the seas,
Threading the dappled fabric of her lawns—
Her crimson sunsets, snared among the trees,
And all the crescent glory of her dawns,—
For I am hers for aye, and she is mine!

XXXI

The murmured secrets of her Norman firs,
Wherein at night the whisper of the air
To busy babble all the branches spurs,
Till every drowsy needle wakes and stirs,
And of the gossip speaks its little share:
Her shadowy mines, her southern gardens, where
The oval olives crowd the bending bough:
All these are mine:—but, most of all, O fair
Laughing and languid Paris, mine art thou,
Pinned like a pearl on that white brow of hers!

XXXII

Waywardest wanton of the world to woo,
Blackest of heart, of face the most sublime,
O Cleopatran city, through and through
Blazing with sin and splendor, once I knew
No star upon the black night of thy crime;
Till on the stagnant bosom of thy slime
Bloomed a white lily with a heart of gold:—
Heart of my heart, what matters it if Time
Damned this fair city in the days of old?
She stands regenerate, as the home of you!

XXXIII

As the rank refuse of the city goes
Out to the sea, that maketh all things clean,
So past your doorway all her folly flows,
Rubbish purged pure by one redeeming rose:—
Paris and Hell, but your face in between!
Upon that ground where rose the guillotine
Your slender feet, like benedictions, fall.
With this redress the grim Fates intervene:—
The past is naught, dear love, and you are all!
Paris is pure since your pure eyes she knows.

XXXIV

And it was Paris fully roused me first
From that, my torpor. Flashing on the scene
With nimble feet, this dearest dancer burst
Upon my sight, within her eyes such thirst
As dares and damns, a rose her lips between.
Girdled with jewels, crowned as is a queen,
With Lethe’s poppies dozing in her hair,
Gowned in thin stuffs of silver-dotted sheen,
Humanly sinful, and divinely fair,
She tore the mask from off my best and worst!

XXXV

I know not how it was she spun that spell
Which made me see, who had been blind so long,
Or with what kiss aroused; nor can I tell
How such a one as she contrived so well
To tempt my weakness and to leave me strong.
Some note there was in her compellant song
That made me man who had been boy till then,
And hurled the idler in among the throng,
Frontward to fight his way with other men,
Scale highest Heaven, and plumb profoundest Hell.

XXXVI

But this I know:—she flung the gauntlet true,
And at the challenge fear shrank back ashamed:
Hope, silver-armored, roused herself anew,
A blast upon the brazen trumpet blew,
And at the call my hand the gage reclaimed.
Wounded, mayhap, in earlier combats maimed,
Yet, as of old, with my escutcheon clean,
A space I sought, where red the pennants flamed,
To see the seat of Love and Beauty’s queen,—
And from the past leaned out the thought of you!

XXXVII

You stepped into my life once more, and lo!
The well-drilled steeds tore loose from every rein:
They whom the years had taught so meek to go
Felt the old breezes past their nostrils blow,
And whirled Love’s chariot to the fore again!
Afresh I knew the rapture and the pain
Of your dear voice, so kind, so unconcerned;
Despite my will, the incense, quenched in vain,
With sweeter perfume on your altars burned,
And gowned in gray the temple columns’ snow.

XXXVIII

For siren Paris with her tenderest smile
Had failed to blot the old songs from the score.
The every glamor and the every wile
Of this most sovereign sorceress of guile
But left the tempted truer than before!
Loving I lost, regaining, loved the more:—
What ne’er I learned from sweet propinquity,
My exile taught. Blindness I begged her for:—
She touched my eyes, and showed them how to see,
And how that they had been but blind erewhile.

XXXIX

Upon that day hope turned one golden grain
Of purest promise from the loam of toil,
Significant of some yet hidden vein
Beneath, and by the signal bade me gain
What lay unmined below the stubborn soil.
As if by magic, cleared of ruck and roil,
The spring of Life grew undefiled and pure,
And, limpid lying, freed of all turmoil,
Mirrored your face, immutable and sure,
And then I knew that we should meet again.

XL

Oh, clad in all a dream’s unstable guise,
And unsubstantial as the veriest air,
Thenceforward hung your presence on my eyes,
Worthy of all and any sacrifice,
Pale, but beyond my maddest memory fair!
Walked I by day, the phantom form was there;
Slept I, its radiance on my dreams was cast,
Teaching me mutely how I might prepare
To be, when we should meet again at last,
More pure, more humble, worthier,—and more wise.

XLI

No longer toy of each most idle whim,
But unto nobler aims apprentice made,
I filled my duty’s chalice to the brim,
And daily drank my portion, good or grim;—
So was Hope’s stirring summons well obeyed.
And, grew I ever of the end afraid,
Despaired I of my ultimate design,
In that dark hour, when most I needed aid,
As if my draught grew stimulant with wine,
Your promised lips hallowed the goblet’s rim.

XLII

Love, to all men that loathe their lives to-day
I fain would give of those rapt years a part;
Of all the words I dreamt I heard you say,
I could spare some to cheer the hapless way
Of every mortal who is sick at heart.
Of hope and honor all the cruel mart
I fain would have one rose relieve the gloom,
Appeasing the unutterable smart
With one sweet breath of that self-same perfume
That turned my own December into May.

XLIII

And yet—and yet—let the great world go past!
God holds within the hollow of His hand
Each scourged pariah, down-trodden, and outclassed,
Who pauses at the steep abyss, aghast;—
His will we cannot hope to understand.
Only of all good things that He hath planned,
And all that in the future He may send,
There is no further boon that I demand,
Since I have thisthat half I comprehend—
That I have held you to my heart at last!

XLIV

I know that I am worthier to-day
Of your consent than in that long ago
When first I loved you. All the winding way
Was somehow shot with an enlightening ray
That taught me things that I had need to know.
At every step there lay some sign, to show
How best to win you, where I had but lost:
The years were stern and merciless, but oh,
With you the prize, how little seems the cost:—
’T were in my heart tenfold the price to pay!

XLV

I often wondered if you ever guessed
How over leagues of sea your influence sped,
How in my every mood of vague unrest
Completest calm crept close against my breast,
Night lightened, and the dawn was mine instead:
And if, perchance, when, woven thread by thread,
My rhyme-linked thoughts lay on some printed page,
They came unto your hand, and, as you read,
You knew them birds bred in your soul’s pure cage,
That I had kissed, and given again the West.

XLVI

Rereading these, I mind me well what night
Saw each first flutter to my eager hand,
How to my heart I held the wanderer tight,
Smoothed its soft wings, all ruffled by the flight,
And strove each timid note to understand.
sweet unconscious breeder of the band,
Let others say my thoughts are all my own!
I know them nestlings of my native land,
Whose songs were taught by you and you alone:—
All I can do is note the strains aright.

XLVII

I love them all so well that I would fain
Believe you held their songs as dear as I,
That on your memory may perchance have lain
Some one or two of all the rhythmic train
That you inspired, and I taught how to fly.
Could I but know that some so softly lie
In that most silken nest, I were content!
Ah, tell me some sang true in brushing by
The only ear for which their songs were meant,
And made the meaning of my message plain.

XLVIII

For this the curse of those that tempt the pen:—
Where thousands read, one eye may never see
The thoughts that are but lifeless creatures, when
Taken into the myriad hearts of men,
If one intended ear heed not the plea.
What though I knew that, in mine own degree,
I had made lips to laugh and eyes to weep?
Rather that one unworthy word from me
Within your heart should sleep, and wake, and sleep:—
All I have done were worth the labor then.

XLIX

Heart of my heart, what all the world may do
To blot my name or keep its memory green
Is naught. I crave not to be of the few
Who, unforgotten, thread the ages through
And lordlier laurels with each cycle glean.
Grant me but this, whereon my life may lean:
As once I saw you in your bonny way
Your mirror kiss, that stood two flowers between,
Let these, my pages, the reflector play,
And kiss again what mirrors only you!

L

Dearest, to me come oftentimes at night
Pictures, wherein I find you fitly framed—
Shores of strange seas, incomparably bright,
And hill-girt landscapes, haloed with a light
Ethereal, that none hath ever named.
No ownership in these I could have claimed:
They are not of my making. Love alone
Could so blind Nature, utterly ashamed,
With beauty thus out-rivalling her own,
That seems transcendent to our mortal sight.

LI

For I am not of those who, in their dreams,
Are wont to rank their love with simple things,
With humble flowers, babble of vapid streams,
Or that rare note of rapture that redeems
The idle gossip that the blackbird sings.
The grim old earth hath seen too many springs,
Lovers enough have trapped her charm in words:
To all her flowers the mould of usage clings,
And, to the music of her weary birds,
The burden of reiterated themes.

LII

This love of ours doth wonderfully dwell
In new demesnes, born when it first arose;
Treads the young turf of some yet virgin dell,
Where novel buds miraculously swell
On trees not known before, and where unclose
Unprecedented vistas. Where it goes,
Strange birds invent unwonted melodies,
That in all earth no other lover knows
Save our two selves alone, for each of these
Sounds a fresh note, as of a new-wrought bell.

LIII

I cannot tell in words what lands these are
Through which I see you moving like a queen:
There is no earthly radiance like that star
That stands in silent majesty, afar,
The peaks of unfamiliar hills between.
Some unknown pigment turns the tender green
Of all that dreaming landscape to a hue
That never was, save in the lovely scene
That Love hath only planned for framing you,
And that no mortal hand could make or mar.

LIV

There is a sheen in those soft gowns you wear
Like water turned to opal by the moon;
A lustre in those jewels that you bear,
Twined in and out amid your dusky hair,
Like the still stars, and like the blaze of noon.
There is a perfume of some sweeter June
Than earth hath seen, that follows where you go;
And all the solemn silence is atune
With unvoiced songs, such as the angels know,
Born without breath upon the breathless air!

LV

We may not hope to find each other thus
In waking hours. Our days are too beset
With the world’s voices, shrill and clamorous:
Life is too sharply strained, too strenuous—
We are but mortal, and we may forget!
The momentary pang of some regret
May lay its hand an instant on your eyes
And mine, dear heart, and cloud our vision—yet
Remember that with earthly fears and sighs
We two have naught to do, nor they with us.

LVI

What though unbidden tears may turn us blind?
Twilight still comes, and still brings sweet release:
Merciful night, in spite of all, shall find
Us waiting each for each, for sleep is kind,
And moulds from sorrow’s clay the cup of peace.
Heart of my heart, drink deep of that surcease
That at her goblet’s rim divinely gleams:
Whate’er may be deceptive day’s caprice,
I wait you on the borderland of dreams,
Where the world stumbles and is left behind!

LVII

And, through my visions as you thread your way,
Girt with that grace my eyes alone may see,
If I make bold your noiseless steps to stay,
It is because in sleep alone I may
Be half to you of all that I would be.
It is because my longing lips, set free,
Can compass then alone each subtle phrase,
And snare in speech that magic melody
Which, since your coming, sings adown my days.
Only in sleep my lips my heart obey.

LVIII

And who shall say but what our dreams may tell
Some secret we were hardly meant to know,
As if a feather from a rapt lark fell,
To say that in high heaven all things are well,
However black the heart of man below?
If through my visions thus you nightly go,
Robed round with love, may not my dreaming mean
That some day we may wander to and fro
In unknown meadows gowned in such a green
As all the fields of earth cannot excel?

LIX

Ah, love, there is a pledge of keener bliss
In these unbidden dreams of sleeping hours,
That set all right that may have been amiss,
And lend us wings to clear whate’er abyss
Darkly across our waking pathway glowers.
There is some promise in these strange new flowers
Holier than we have dreamt of or have planned;
Some fairer fate eternally is ours:—
Only it is so hard to understand.
You love me! Are there greater things than this?

LX

I think that in the past, unheard, unseen,
All influences of the earth and air,
The gleam of water, and the forest’s green,
Have spun some cobweb sympathy between
Our hearts, now one in finding them so fair:
That every sunset taught us to prepare
For the pure dawn when Love was sure to rise;
That every cloud but made us more aware
That soon or late his sun would greet our eyes,
And all our heaven be cloudless and serene!

LXI

Else, how should we have come to understand
The perfect meaning of this perfect day?
How could this hour, unbidden and unplanned,
Bring in its train such infinite command
Of all the things we do not need to say?
It is too soon, mayhap, to trace the way
By which we came, guided by birds and flowers,
To the full knowledge of the joys of May:—
We can retrace the path in later hours,
And all our haunts revisit, hand in hand.

LXII

To-night it is enough for us to know
That we are one; to know that, if we will,
We may a bridge across the darkness throw,
Whereon our tender thoughts may come and go,
In silent love that distance cannot kill.
I only seek the heart-begotten skill
To put in simple words this truth sublime:—
That I have loved you, dearest, love you still,
And so shall love you till the end of time!
It is enough that what is so is so.

LXIII

Let me but tell you, lamely if I must,
Of how I love you; how, despite all wiles,
That tender flower, that in my boyhood thrust
Its star-eyed promise from the barren dust,
Still on my path with purest fragrance smiles;
Of how my heart returns, through weary miles,
To that song-spilling throng of birds unseen
Whose inter-rippling music so beguiles
All the long hours, the dawn and dark between.
Love, let me place the secret in your trust!

LXIV

I loved you first, I know not how or where:—
The world began upon the day we met!
Truth’s self slept in your eyes; and in your hair
The sun lay trapped, as in a silken snare:
The tinkle of some crystal fountain’s jet
Sang in your voice; a hint of violet
Slept on your breath, and dawn’s divinest glow
Flushed your soft cheek—but ah, more tender yet
The ivory of your throat’s ascending snow!
I loved you first when first I found you fair.

LXV

Could you but guess how like the dawn you grew
Upon my east, slow as such dawnings will!
Spell-bound and breathless, diademed with dew.
My sunless world its sudden sovereign knew;
And all the fern-fringed forest waited, still.
Slow spread the glory on the distant hill,
From that faint early flush grown clear and strong,
And then, with one divinely daring thrill,
A single bird unleashed its soul in song,
And swung exultant upward in the blue!

LXVI

I loved you first because, when first you stood
Upon the threshold of my world new-born,
That strange new note I dimly understood
Leapt laughing from the bosom of the wood
Straight to the arms of my supremest morn!
Because your clear eyes, innocent of scorn,
Swept infinite horizons into view;
And the gray hazes, from their moorings torn,
Revealed wide fields that thenceforth, knowing you,
It was for me to till for gain and good.

LXVII

Yet was I blind to all the better part
Of morning’s mute miraculous intent.
That spell you wove about me at the start,
Conjured to life by simple beauty’s art,
Told but a tithe of all the truth it meant:
And all the higher purpose that you lent
Unto my life, went wrapped within a veil.
Uneloquent, the message that was sent,
Wan with desire of speech, stood, proud and pale,
Outside the holiest holy of my heart.

LXVIII

The chiefest lessons Life makes clear are those
She teaches most at leisure. Sure and slow
Successive leaves of her wise book unclose;
And, day by day, the vital story grows
To consummation, till we come to know
Its perfect purport. All that lay below
The rapture of my earliest glimpse of you
Only that stoic tutor Time could show:—
Long evenings of reiterated dew
Alone perfect the perfume of the rose!

LXIX

The patient years polished with practised hand
Love’s crystal to a smooth symmetric swell,
Till the curved lens lay, accurately planned,
Flawlessly fitted to the brazen band
Within whose compass it was meant to dwell.
Then from my eyes the scales of blindness fell:
Undreamt-of planets swam into my ken.
And new-mapped heavens with stars made haste to spell
The meaning of the message that, till then,
It was not in my power to understand.

LXX

I love you now, not with the love alone
Of blind rebellious boyhood, as of old:
The blooms of mere enchantment, beauty-blown,
Lie withered, and the full fruit, slowlier grown,
Bends the slim bough beneath unmeasured gold.
The sun, of these new secrets, Time hath told—
The tempests of communicative tears—
The strong, blind winds of passion—and behold!—
The careful cultivation of the years
Hath made a harvest of what Love hath sown.

LXXI

I love you now, because that I and you
Were complements before the birth of Time;
Because our souls have come, the ages through,
Down to the moment when God’s purpose drew
The twain together in one perfect rhyme;
Because that I have made Love’s aria climb
The scales that every subtler phrase involved,
Until I struck the seventh chord sublime.
And one low word upon your lips resolved
My melody, beyond all music new!

LXXII

You are the magnet moon, and I the sea,
Cradling her face, climbing to catch more clear
The image of her pure tranquillity:
You are the west-wind, mistress of the lea,
And I the reed, that bows when she is near:
You are the spring, and I the obedient year
Whose soul awakens where her footfalls go:
You are the stream, and I a leaf, to veer
Where’er the singing current choose to flow:—
O light and breath, perfume and melody!

LXXIII

I love you for your lips the rose hath kissed—
Your cheeks, more tender than arbutus blooms;
For those half-hidden veins of amethyst
In your white throat, and for the tender mist
That clouds your eyes, as haze the autumn glooms:
For that faint subtle fragrance which perfumes
The soft bewitching tangle of your hair;
For your low laughter in the darkening rooms,
Where our instinctive hands lie linked, and where
Daylight and dark keep transitory tryst!

LXXIV

Life of my love, love of my life, in vain
I marshall every phrase that speech supplies:
The summits of my meaning yet remain
Cloud-capped, above the flat familiar plain
Of spoken thought, unsealed against the skies!
The mute interrogation of your eyes
My own must mutely meet. Ah, touch my hand,
And, like a child, instruct me in what wise
I may contrive to make you understand
The love that aught but silence must profane!

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Pharsalia - Book V: The Oracle. The Mutiny. The Storm

Thus had the smiles of Fortune and her frowns
Brought either chief to Macedonian shores
Still equal to his foe. From cooler skies
Sank Atlas' daughters down, and Haemus' slopes
Were white with winter, and the day drew nigh
Devoted to the god who leads the months,
And marking with new names the book of Rome,
When came the Fathers from their distant posts
By both the Consuls to Epirus called
Ere yet the year was dead: a foreign land
Obscure received the magistrates of Rome,
And heard their high debate. No warlike camp
This; for the Consul's and the Praetor's axe
Proclaimed the Senate-house; and Magnus sat
One among many, and the state was all.

When all were silent, from his lofty seat
Thus Lentulus began, while stern and sad
The Fathers listened: 'If your hearts still beat
With Latian blood, and if within your breasts
Still lives your fathers' vigour, look not now
On this strange land that holds us, nor enquire
Your distance from the captured city: yours
This proud assembly, yours the high command
In all that comes. Be this your first decree,
Whose truth all peoples and all kings confess;
Be this the Senate. Let the frozen wain
Demand your presence, or the torrid zone
Wherein the day and night with equal tread
For ever march; still follows in your steps
The central power of Imperial Rome.
When flamed the Capitol with fires of Gaul
When Veii held Camillus, there with him
Was Rome, nor ever though it changed its clime
Your order lost its rights. In Caesar's hands
Are sorrowing houses and deserted homes,
Laws silent for a space, and forums closed
In public fast. His Senate-house beholds
Those Fathers only whom from Rome it drove,
While Rome was full. Of that high order all
Not here, are exiles. Ignorant of war,
Its crimes and bloodshed, through long years of peace,
Ye fled its outburst: now in session all
Are here assembled. See ye how the gods
Weigh down Italia's loss by all the world
Thrown in the other scale? Illyria's wave
Rolls deep upon our foes: in Libyan wastes
Is fallen their Curio, the weightier part
Of Caesar's senate! Lift your standards, then,
Spur on your fates and prove your hopes to heaven.
Let Fortune, smiling, give you courage now
As, when ye fled, your cause. The Consuls' power
Fails with the dying year: not so does yours;
By your commandment for the common weal
Decree Pompeius leader.' With applause
They heard his words, and placed their country's fates,
Nor less their own, within the chieftain's hands.

Then did they shower on people and on kings
Honours well earned -- Rhodes, Mistress of the Seas,
Was decked with gifts; Athena, old in fame,
Received her praise, and the rude tribes who dwell
On cold Taygetus; Massilia's sons
Their own Phocaea's freedom; on the chiefs
Of Thracian tribes, fit honours were bestowed.
They order Libya by their high decree
To serve King Juba's sceptre; and, alas!
On Ptolemaeus, of a faithless race
The faithless sovereign, scandal to the gods,
And shame to Fortune, placed the diadem
Of Pella. Boy! thy sword was only sharp
Against thy people. Ah if that were all!
The fatal gift gave, too, Pompeius' life;
Bereft thy sister of her sire's bequest,
Half of the kingdom; Caesar of a crime.
Then all to arms.

While soldier thus and chief,
In doubtful sort, against their hidden fate
Devised their counsel, Appius alone
Feared for the chances of the war, and sought
Through Phoebus' ancient oracle to break
The silence of the gods and know the end.

Between the western belt and that which bounds
The furthest east, midway Parnassus rears
His double summit: to the Bromian god
And Paean consecrate, to whom conjoined
The Theban band leads up the Delphic feast
On each third year. This mountain, when the sea
Poured o'er the earth her billows, rose alone,
By one high peak scarce master of the waves,
Parting the crest of waters from the stars.
There, to avenge his mother, from her home
Chased by the angered goddess while as yet
She bore him quick within her, Paean came
(When Themis ruled the tripods and the spot)
And with unpractised darts the Python slew.
But when he saw how from the yawning cave
A godlike knowledge breathed, and all the air
Was full of voices murmured from the depths,
He took the shrine and filled the deep recess;
Henceforth to prophesy.

Which of the gods
Has left heaven's light in this dark cave to hide?
What spirit that knows the secrets of the world
And things to come, here condescends to dwell,
Divine, omnipotent? bear the touch of man,
And at his bidding deigns to lift the veil?
Perchance he sings the fates, perchance his song,
Once sung, is fate. Haply some part of Jove
Sent here to rule the earth with mystic power,
Balanced upon the void immense of air,
Sounds through the caves, and in its flight returns
To that high home of thunder whence it came.
Caught in a virgin's breast, this deity
Strikes on the human spirit: then a voice
Sounds from her breast, as when the lofty peak
Of Etna boils, forced by compelling flames,
Or as Typheus on Campania's shore
Frets 'neath the pile of huge Inarime.

Though free to all that ask, denied to none,
No human passion lurks within the voice
That heralds forth the god; no whispered vow,
No evil prayer prevails; none favour gain:
Of things unchangeable the song divine;
Yet loves the just. When men have left their homes
To seek another, it hath turned their steps
Aright, as with the Tyrians; and raised
The hearts of nations to confront their foe,
As prove the waves of Salamis: when earth
Hath been unfruitful, or polluted air
Has plagued mankind, this utterance benign
Hath raised their hopes and pointed to the end.
No gift from heaven's high gods so great as this
Our centuries have lost, since Delphi's shrine
Has silent stood, and kings forbade the gods
To speak the future, fearing for their fates.
Nor does the priestess sorrow that the voice
Is heard no longer; and the silent fane
To her is happiness; for whatever breast
Contains the deity, its shattered frame
Surges with frenzy, and the soul divine
Shakes the frail breath that with the god receives,
As prize or punishment, untimely death.

These tripods Appius seeks, unmoved for years
These soundless caverned rocks, in quest to learn
Hesperia's destinies. At his command
To loose the sacred gateways and permit
The prophetess to enter to the god,
The keeper calls Phemonoe; whose steps
Round the Castalian fount and in the grove
Were wandering careless; her he bids to pass
The portals. But the priestess feared to tread
The awful threshold, and with vain deceits
Sought to dissuade the chieftain from his zeal
To learn the future. 'What this hope,' she cried,
'Roman, that moves thy breast to know the fates?
Long has Parnassus and its silent cleft
Stifled the god; perhaps the breath divine
Has left its ancient gorge and thro' the world
Wanders in devious paths; or else the fane,
Consumed to ashes by barbarian fire,
Closed up the deep recess and choked the path
Of Phoebus; or the ancient Sibyl's books
Disclosed enough of fate, and thus the gods
Decreed to close the oracle; or else
Since wicked steps are banished from the fane,
In this our impious age the god finds none
Whom he may answer.' But the maiden's guile
Was known, for though she would deny the gods
Her fears approved them. On her front she binds
A twisted fillet, while a shining wreath
Of Phocian laurels crowns the locks that flow
Upon her shoulders. Hesitating yet
The priest compelled her, and she passed within.
But horror filled her of the holiest depths
From which the mystic oracle proceeds;
And resting near the doors, in breast unmoved
She dares invent the god in words confused,
Which proved no mind possessed with fire divine;
By such false chant less injuring the chief
Than faith in Phoebus and the sacred fane.
No burst of words with tremor in their tones,
No voice re-echoing through the spacious vault
Proclaimed the deity, no bristling locks
Shook off the laurel chaplet; but the grove
Unshaken, and the summits of the shrine,
Gave proof she shunned the god. The Roman knew
The tripods yet were idle, and in rage,
'Wretch,' he exclaimed, 'to us and to the gods,
Whose presence thou pretendest, thou shalt pay
For this thy fraud the punishment; unless
Thou enter the recess, and speak no more,
Of this world-war, this tumult of mankind,
Thine own inventions.' Then by fear compelled,
At length the priestess sought the furthest depths,
And stayed beside the tripods; and there came
Into her unaccustomed breast the god,
Breathed from the living rock for centuries
Untouched; nor ever with a mightier power
Did Paean's inspiration seize the frame
Of Delphic priestess; his pervading touch
Drove out her former mind, expelled the man,
And made her wholly his. In maddened trance
She whirls throughout the cave, her locks erect
With horror, and the fillets of the god
Dashed to the ground; her steps unguided turn
To this side and to that; the tripods fall
O'erturned; within her seethes the mighty fire
Of angry Phoebus; nor with whip alone
He urged her onwards, but with curb restrained;
Nor was it given her by the god to speak
All that she knew; for into one vast mass
All time was gathered, and her panting chest
Groaned 'neath the centuries. In order long
All things lay bare: the future yet unveiled
Struggled for light; each fate required a voice;
The compass of the seas, Creation's birth,
Creation's death, the number of the sands,
All these she knew. Thus on a former day
The prophetess upon the Cuman shore,
Disdaining that her frenzy should be slave
To other nations, from the boundless threads
Chose out with pride of hand the fates of Rome.
E'en so Phemonoe, for a time oppressed
With fates unnumbered, laboured ere she found,
Beneath such mighty destinies concealed,
Thine, Appius, who alone had'st sought the god
In land Castalian; then from foaming lips
First rushed the madness forth, and murmurs loud
Uttered with panting breath and blent with groans;
Till through the spacious vault a voice at length
Broke from the virgin conquered by the god:
'From this great struggle thou, O Roman, free
Escap'st the threats of war: alive, in peace,
Thou shalt possess the hollow in the coast
Of vast Euboea.' Thus she spake, no more.

Ye mystic tripods, guardians of the fates
And Paean, thou, from whom no day is hid
By heaven's high rulers, Master of the truth,
Why fear'st thou to reveal the deaths of kings,
Rome's murdered princes, and the latest doom
Of her great Empire tottering to its fall,
And all the bloodshed of that western land?
Were yet the stars in doubt on Magnus' fate
Not yet decreed, and did the gods yet shrink
From that, the greatest crime? Or wert thou dumb
That Fortune's sword for civil strife might wreak
Just vengeance, and a Brutus' arm once more
Strike down the tyrant?

From the temple doors
Rushed forth the prophetess in frenzy driven,
Not all her knowledge uttered; and her eyes,
Still troubled by the god who reigned within,
Or filled with wild affright, or fired with rage
Gaze on the wide expanse: still works her face
Convulsive; on her cheeks a crimson blush
With ghastly pallor blent, though not of fear.
Her weary heart throbs ever; and as seas
Boom swollen by northern winds, she finds in sighs,
All inarticulate, relief. But while
She hastes from that dread light in which she saw
The fates, to common day, lo! on her path
The darkness fell. Then by a Stygian draught
Of the forgetful river, Phoebus snatched
Back from her soul his secrets; and she fell
Yet hardly living.

Nor did Appius dread
Approaching death, but by dark oracles
Baffled, while yet the Empire of the world
Hung in the balance, sought his promised realm
In Chalcis of Euboea. Yet to escape
All ills of earth, the crash of war -- what god
Can give thee such a boon, but death alone?
Far on the solitary shore a grave
Awaits thee, where Carystos' marble crags
Draw in the passage of the sea, and where
The fane of Rhamnus rises to the gods
Who hate the proud, and where the ocean strait
Boils in swift whirlpools, and Euripus draws
Deceitful in his tides, a bane to ships,
Chalcidian vessels to bleak Aulis' shore.

But Caesar carried from the conquered west
His eagles to another world of war;
When envying his victorious course the gods
Almost turned back the prosperous tide of fate.
Not on the battle-field borne down by arms
But in his tents, within the rampart lines,
The hoped-for prize of this unholy war
Seemed for a moment gone. That faithful host,
His comrades trusted in a hundred fields,
Or that the falchion sheathed had lost its charm;
Or weary of the mournful bugle call
Scarce ever silent; or replete with blood,
Well nigh betrayed their general and sold
For hope of gain their honour and their cause.
No other perilous shock gave surer proof
How trembled 'neath his feet the dizzy height
From which great Caesar looked. A moment since
His high behest drew nations to the field:
Now, maimed of all, he sees that swords once drawn
Are weapons for the soldier, not the chief.
From the stern ranks no doubtful murmur rose;
Not silent anger as when one conspires,
His comrades doubting, feared himself in turn;
Alone (he thinks) indignant at the wrongs
Wrought by the despot. In so great a host
Dread found no place. Where thousands share the guilt
Crime goes unpunished. Thus from dauntless throats
They hurled their menace: 'Caesar, give us leave
To quit thy crimes; thou seek'st by land and sea
The sword to slay us; let the fields of Gaul
And far Iberia, and the world proclaim
How for thy victories our comrades fell.
What boots it us that by an army's blood
The Rhine and Rhone and all the northern lands
Thou hast subdued? Thou giv'st us civil war
For all these battles; such the prize. When fled
The Senate trembling, and when Rome was ours
What homes or temples did we spoil? Our hands
Reek with offence! Aye, but our poverty
Proclaims our innocence! What end shall be
Of arms and armies? What shall be enough
If Rome suffice not? and what lies beyond?
Behold these silvered locks, these nerveless hands
And shrunken arms, once stalwart! In thy wars
Gone is the strength of life, gone all its pride!
Dismiss thine aged soldiers to their deaths.
How shameless is our prayer! Not on hard turf
To stretch our dying limbs; nor seek in vain,
When parts the soul, a hand to close our eyes;
Not with the helmet strike the stony clod:
Rather to feel the dear one's last embrace,
And gain a humble but a separate tomb.
Let nature end old age. And dost thou think
We only know not what degree of crime
Will fetch the highest price? What thou canst dare
These years have proved, or nothing; law divine
Nor human ordinance shall hold thine hand.
Thou wert our leader on the banks of Rhine;
Henceforth our equal; for the stain of crime
Makes all men like to like. Add that we serve
A thankless chief: as fortune's gift he takes
The fruits of victory our arms have won.
We are his fortunes, and his fates are ours
To fashion as we will. Boast that the gods
Shall do thy bidding! Nay, thy soldiers' will
Shall close the war.' With threatening mien and speech
Thus through the camp the troops demand their chief.

When faith and loyalty are fled, and hope
For aught but evil, thus may civil war
In mutiny and discord find its end!
What general had not feared at such revolt?
But mighty Caesar trusting on the throw,
As was his wont, his fortune, and o'erjoyed
To front their anger raging at its height
Unflinching comes. No temples of the gods,
Not Jove's high fane on the Tarpeian rock,
Not Rome's high dames nor maidens had he grudged
To their most savage lust: that they should ask
The worst, his wish, and love the spoils of war.
Nor feared he aught save order at the hands
Of that unconquered host. Art thou not shamed
That strife should please thee only, now condemned
Even by thy minions? Shall they shrink from blood,
They from the sword recoil? and thou rush on
Heedless of guilt, through right and through unright,
Nor learn that men may lay their arms aside
Yet bear to live? This civil butchery
Escapes thy grasp. Stay thou thy crimes at length;
Nor force thy will on those who will no more.

Upon a turfy mound unmoved he stood
And, since he feared not, worthy to be feared;
And thus while anger stirred his soul began:
'Thou that with voice and hand didst rage but now
Against thine absent chief, behold me here;
Here strike thy sword into this naked breast,
To stay the war; and flee, if such thy wish.
This mutiny devoid of daring deed
Betrays your coward souls, betrays the youth
Who tires of victories which gild the arms
Of an unconquered chief, and yearns for flight.
Well, leave me then to battle and to fate!
I cast you forth; for every weapon left,
Fortune shall find a man, to wield it well.
Shall Magnus in his flight with such a fleet
Draw nations in his train; and not to me as
My victories bring hosts, to whom shall fall
The prize of war accomplished, who shall reap
Your laurels scorned, and scathless join the train
That leads my chariot to the sacred hill?
While you, despised in age and worn in war,
Gaze on our triumph from the civic crowd.
Think you your dastard flight shall give me pause?
If all the rivers that now seek the sea
Were to withdraw their waters, it would fail
By not one inch, no more than by their flow
It rises now. Have then your efforts given
Strength to my cause? Not so: the heavenly gods
Stoop not so low; fate has no time to judge
Your lives and deaths. The fortunes of the world
Follow heroic souls: for the fit few
The many live; and you who terrified
With me the northern and Iberian worlds,
Would flee when led by Magnus. Strong in arms
For Caesar's cause was Labienus; now
That vile deserter, with his chief preferred,
Wanders o'er land and sea. Nor were your faith
One whit more firm to me if, neither side
Espoused, you ceased from arms. Who leaves me once,
Though not to fight against me with the foe,
Joins not my ranks again. Surely the gods
Smile on these arms who for so great a war
Grant me fresh soldiers. From what heavy load
Fortune relieves me! for the hands which aimed
At all, to which the world did not suffice,
I now disarm, and for myself alone
Reserve the conflict. Quit ye, then, my camp,
`Quirites', Caesar's soldiers now no more,
And leave my standards to the grasp of men!
Yet some who led this mad revolt I hold,
Not as their captain now, but as their judge.
Lie, traitors, prone on earth, stretch out the neck
And take th' avenging blow. And thou whose strength
Shall now support me, young and yet untaught,
Behold the doom and learn to strike and die.'

Such were his words of ire, and all the host
Drew back and trembled at the voice of him
They would depose, as though their very swords
Would from their scabbards leap at his command
Themselves unwilling; but he only feared
Lest hand and blade to satisfy the doom
Might be denied, till they submitting pledged
Their lives and swords alike, beyond his hope.
To strike and suffer holds in surest thrall
The heart inured to guilt; and Caesar kept,
By dreadful compact ratified in blood,
Those whom he feared to lose.

He bids them march
Upon Brundusium, and recalls the ships
From soft Calabria's inlets and the point
Of Leucas, and the Salapinian marsh,
Where sheltered Sipus nestles at the feet
Of rich Garganus, jutting from the shore
In huge escarpment that divides the waves
Of Hadria; on each hand, his seaward slopes
Buffeted by the winds; or Auster borne
From sweet Apulia, or the sterner blast
Of Boreas rushing from Dalmatian strands.

But Caesar entered trembling Rome unarmed,
Now taught to serve him in the garb of peace.
Dictator named, to grant their prayers, forsooth:
Consul, in honour of the roll of Rome.
Then first of all the names by which we now
Lie to our masters, men found out the use:
For to preserve his right to wield the sword
He mixed the civil axes with his brands;
With eagles, fasces; with an empty word
Clothing his power; and stamped upon the time
A worthy designation; for what name
Could better mark the dread Pharsalian year
Than 'Caesar, Consul'? Now the famous field
Pretends its ancient ceremonies: calls
The tribes in order and divides the votes
In vain solemnity of empty urns.
Nor do they heed the portents of the sky:
Deaf were the augurs to the thunder roll;
The owl flew on the left; yet were the birds
Propitious sworn. Then was the ancient name
Degraded first; and monthly Consuls,
Shorn of their rank, are chosen to mark the years.
And Trojan Alba's god (since Latium's fall
Deserving not) beheld the wonted fires
Blaze from his altars on the festal night.

Then through Apulia's fallows, that her hinds
Left all untilled, to sluggish weeds a prey
Passed Caesar onward, swifter than the fire
Of heaven, or tigress dam: until he reached
Brundusium's winding ramparts, built of old
By Cretan colonists. There icy winds
Constrained the billows, and his trembling fleet
Feared for the winter storms nor dared the main.
But Caesar's soul burned at the moments lost
For speedy battle, nor could brook delay
Within the port, indignant that the sea
Should give safe passage to his routed foe:
And thus he stirred his troops, in seas unskilled,
With words of courage: 'When the winter wind
Has seized on sky and ocean, firm its hold;
But the inconstancy of cloudy spring
Permits no certain breezes to prevail
Upon the billows. Straight shall be our course.
No winding nooks of coast, but open seas
Struck by the northern wind alone we plough,
And may he bend the spars, and bear us swift
To Grecian cities; else Pompeius' oars,
Smiting the billows from Phaeacian coasts,
May catch our flagging sails. Cast loose the ropes
From our victorious prows. Too long we waste
Tempests that blow to bear us to our goal.'

Now sank the sun to rest; the evening star
Shone on the darkening heaven, and the moon
Reigned with her paler light, when all the fleet
Freed from retaining cables seized the main.
With slackened sheet the canvas wooed the breeze,
Which rose and fell and fitful died away,
Till motionless the sails, and all the waves
Were still as deepest pool, where never wind
Ripples the surface. Thus in Scythian climes
Cimmerian Bosphorus restrains the deep
Bound fast in frosty fetters; Ister's streams
No more impel the main, and ships constrained
Stand fast in ice; and while in depths below
The waves still murmur, loud the charger's hoof
Sounds on the surface, and the travelling wheel
Furrows a track upon the frozen marsh.
Cruel as tempest was the calm that lay
In stagnant pools upon the mournful deep:
Against the course of nature lay outstretched
A rigid ocean: 'twas as if the sea
Forgat its ancient ways and knew no more
The ceaseless tides, nor any breeze of heaven,
Nor quivered at the image of the sun,
Mirrored upon its wave. For while the fleet
Hung in mid passage motionless, the foe
Might hurry to attack, with sturdy stroke
Churning the deep; or famine's deadly grip
Might seize the ships becalmed. For dangers new
New vows they find. 'May mighty winds arise
And rouse the ocean, and this sluggish plain
Cast off stagnation and be sea once more.'
Thus did they pray, but cloudless shone the sky,
Unrippled slept the surface of the main;
Until in misty clouds the moon arose
And stirred the depths, and moved the fleet along
Towards the Ceraunian headland; and the waves
And favouring breezes followed on the ships,
Now speeding faster, till (their goal attained)
They cast their anchors on Palaeste's shore.

This land first saw the chiefs in neighbouring camps
Confronted, which the streams of Apsus bound
And swifter Genusus; a lengthy course
Is run by neither, but on Apsus' waves
Scarce flowing from a marsh, the frequent boat
Finds room to swim; while on the foamy bed
Of Genusus by sun or shower compelled
The melted snows pour seawards. Here were met
(So Fortune ordered it) the mighty pair;
And in its woes the world yet vainly hoped
That brought to nearer touch their crime itself
Might bleed abhorrence: for from either camp
Voices were clearly heard and features seen.
Nor e'er, Pompeius, since that distant day
When Caesar's daughter and thy spouse was reft
By pitiless fate away, nor left a pledge,
Did thy loved kinsman (save on sands of Nile)
So nearly look upon thy face again.

But Caesar's mind though frenzied for the fight
Was forced to pause until Antonius brought
The rearward troops; Antonius even now
Rehearsing Leucas' fight. With prayers and threats
Caesar exhorts him. 'Why delay the fates,
Thou cause of evil to the suffering world?
My speed hath won the major part: from thee
Fortune demands the final stroke alone.
Do Libyan whirlpools with deceitful tides
Uncertain separate us? Is the deep
Untried to which I call? To unknown risks
Art thou commanded? Caesar bids thee come,
Thou sluggard, not to leave him. Long ago
I ran my ships midway through sands and shoals
To harbours held by foes; and dost thou fear
My friendly camp? I mourn the waste of days
Which fate allotted us. Upon the waves
And winds I call unceasing: hold not back
Thy willing troops, but let them dare the sea;
Here gladly shall they come to join my camp,
Though risking shipwreck. Not in equal shares
The world has fallen between us: thou alone
Dost hold Italia, but Epirus I
And all the lords of Rome.' Twice called and thrice
Antonius lingered still: but Caesar thought
To reap in full the favour of the gods,
Not sit supine; and knowing danger yields
To whom heaven favours, he upon the waves
Feared by Antonius' fleets, in shallow boat
Embarked, and daring sought the further shore.

Now gentle night had brought repose from arms;
And sleep, blest guardian of the poor man's couch,
Restored the weary; and the camp was still.
The hour was come that called the second watch
When mighty Caesar, in the silence vast
With cautious tread advanced to such a deed
As slaves should dare not. Fortune for his guide,
Alone he passes on, and o'er the guard
Stretched in repose he leaps, in secret wrath
At such a sleep. Pacing the winding beach,
Fast to a sea-worn rock he finds a boat
On ocean's marge afloat. Hard by on shore
Its master dwelt within his humble home.
No solid front it reared, for sterile rush
And marshy reed enwoven formed the walls,
Propped by a shallop with its bending sides
Turned upwards. Caesar's hand upon the door
Knocks twice and thrice until the fabric shook.
Amyclas from his couch of soft seaweed
Arising, calls: 'What shipwrecked sailor seeks
My humble home? Who hopes for aid from me,
By fates adverse compelled?' He stirs the heap
Upon the hearth, until a tiny spark
Glows in the darkness, and throws wide the door.
Careless of war, he knew that civil strife
Stoops not to cottages. Oh! happy life
That poverty affords! great gift of heaven
Too little understood! what mansion wall,
What temple of the gods, would feel no fear
When Caesar called for entrance? Then the chief:
'Enlarge thine hopes and look for better things.
Do but my bidding, and on yonder shore
Place me, and thou shalt cease from one poor boat
To earn thy living; and in years to come
Look for a rich old age: and trust thy fates
To those high gods whose wont it is to bless
The poor with sudden plenty.' So he spake
E'en at such time in accents of command,
For how could Caesar else? Amyclas said,
''Twere dangerous to brave the deep to-night.
The sun descended not in ruddy clouds
Or peaceful rays to rest; part of his beams
Presaged a southern gale, the rest proclaimed
A northern tempest; and his middle orb,
Shorn of its strength, permitted human eyes
To gaze upon his grandeur; and the moon
Rose not with silver horns upon the night
Nor pure in middle space; her slender points
Not drawn aright, but blushing with the track
Of raging tempests, till her lurid light
Was sadly veiled within the clouds. Again
The forest sounds; the surf upon the shore;
The dolphin's mood, uncertain where to play;
The sea-mew on the land; the heron used
To wade among the shallows, borne aloft
And soaring on his wings -- all these alarm;
The raven, too, who plunged his head in spray,
As if to anticipate the coming rain,
And trod the margin with unsteady gait.
But if the cause demands, behold me thine.
Either we reach the bidden shore, or else
Storm and the deep forbid -- we can no more.'

Thus said he loosed the boat and raised the sail.
No sooner done than stars were seen to fall
In flaming furrows from the sky: nay, more;
The pole star trembled in its place on high:
Black horror marked the surging of the sea;
The main was boiling in long tracts of foam,
Uncertain of the wind, yet seized with storm.
Then spake the captain of the trembling bark:
'See what remorseless ocean has in store!
Whether from east or west the storm may come
Is still uncertain, for as yet confused
The billows tumble. Judged by clouds and sky
A western tempest: by the murmuring deep
A wild south-eastern gale shall sweep the sea.
Nor bark nor man shall reach Hesperia's shore
In this wild rage of waters. To return
Back on our course forbidden by the gods,
Is our one refuge, and with labouring boat
To reach the shore ere yet the nearest land
Way be too distant.'

But great Caesar's trust
Was in himself, to make all dangers yield.
And thus he answered: 'Scorn the threatening sea,
Spread out thy canvas to the raging wind;
If for thy pilot thou refusest heaven,
Me in its stead receive. Alone in thee
One cause of terror just -- thou dost not know
Thy comrade, ne'er deserted by the gods,
Whom fortune blesses e'en without a prayer.
Break through the middle storm and trust in me.
The burden of this fight fails not on us
But on the sky and ocean; and our bark
Shall swim the billows safe in him it bears.
Nor shall the wind rage long: the boat itself
Shall calm the waters. Flee the nearest shore,
Steer for the ocean with unswerving hand:
Then in the deep, when to our ship and us
No other port is given, believe thou hast
Calabria's harbours. And dost thou not know
The purpose of such havoc? Fortune seeks
In all this tumult of the sea and sky
A boon for Caesar.' Then a hurricane
Swooped on the boat and tore away the sheet:
The fluttering sail fell on the fragile mast:
And groaned the joints. From all the universe
Commingled perils rush. In Atlas' seas
First Corus lifts his head, and stirs the depths
To fury, and had forced upon the rocks
Whole seas and oceans; but the chilly north
Drove back the deep that doubted which was lord.
But Scythian Aquilo prevailed, whose blast
Tossed up the main and showed as shallow pools
Each deep abyss; and yet was not the sea
Heaped on the crags, for Corus' billows met
The waves of Boreas: such seas had clashed
Even were the winds withdrawn; Eurus enraged
Burst from the cave, and Notus black with rain,
And all the winds from every part of heaven
Strove for their own; and thus the ocean stayed
Within his boundaries. No petty seas
Rapt in the storm are whirled. The Tuscan deep
Invades th' Aegean; in Ionian gulfs
Sounds wandering Hadria. How long the crags
Which that day fell, the Ocean's blows had braved!
What lofty peaks did vanquished earth resign!
And yet on yonder coast such mighty waves
Took not their rise; from distant regions came
Those monster billows, driven on their course
By that great current which surrounds the world.
Thus did the King of Heaven, when length of years
Wore out the forces of his thunder, call
His brother's trident to his help, what time
The earth and sea one second kingdom formed
And ocean knew no limit but the sky.
Now, too, the sea had risen to the stars
In mighty mass, had not Olympus' chief
Pressed down its waves with clouds: came not from heaven
That night, as others; but the murky air
Was dim with pallor of the realms below;
The sky lay on the deep; within the clouds
The waves received the rain: the lightning flash
Clove through the parted air a path obscured
By mist and darkness: and the heavenly vaults
Re-echoed to the tumult, and the frame
That holds the sky was shaken. Nature feared
Chaos returned, as though the elements
Had burst their bonds, and night had come to mix
Th' infernal shades with heaven.

In such turmoil
Not to have perished was their only hope.
Far as from Leucas point the placid main
Spreads to the horizon, from the billow's crest
They viewed the dashing of th' infuriate sea;
Thence sinking to the middle trough, their mast
Scarce topped the watery height on either hand,
Their sails in clouds, their keel upon the ground.
For all the sea was piled into the waves,
And drawn from depths between laid bare the sand.
The master of the boat forgot his art,
For fear o'ercame; he knew not where to yield
Or where to meet the wave: but safety came
From ocean's self at war: one billow forced
The vessel under, but a huger wave
Repelled it upwards, and she rode the storm
Through every blast triumphant. Not the shore
Of humble Sason, nor Thessalia's coast
Indented, not Ambracia's scanty ports
Dismay the sailors, but the giddy tops
Of high Ceraunia's cliffs.

But Caesar now,
Thinking the peril worthy of his fates:
'Are such the labours of the gods?' exclaimed,
'Bent on my downfall have they sought me thus,
Here in this puny skiff in such a sea?
If to the deep the glory of my fall
Is due, and not to war, intrepid still
Whatever death they send shall strike me down.
Let fate cut short the deeds that I would do
And hasten on the end: the past is mine.
The northern nations fell beneath my sword;
My dreaded name compels the foe to flee.
Pompeius yields me place; the people's voice
Gave at my order what the wars denied.
And all the titles which denote the powers
Known to the Roman state my name shall bear.
Let none know this but thou who hear'st my prayers,
Fortune, that Caesar summoned to the shades,
Dictator, Consul, full of honours, died
Ere his last prize was won. I ask no pomp
Of pyre or funeral; let my body lie
Mangled beneath the waves: I leave a name
That men shall dread in ages yet to come
And all the earth shall honour.' Thus he spake,
When lo! a tenth gigantic billow raised
The feeble keel, and where between the rocks
A cleft gave safety, placed it on the shore.
Thus in a moment fortune, kingdoms, lands,
Once more were Caesar's.

But on his return
When daylight came, he entered not the camp
Silent as when he parted; for his friends
Soon pressed around him, and with weeping eyes
In accents welcome to his ears began:
'Whither in reckless daring hast thou gone,
Unpitying Caesar? Were these humble lives
Left here unguarded while thy limbs were given,
Unsought for, to be scattered by the storm?
When on thy breath so many nations hang
For life and safety, and so great a world
Calls thee its master, to have courted death
Proves want of heart. Was none of all thy friends
Deserving held to join his fate with thine?
When thou wast tossed upon the raging deep
We lay in slumber! Shame upon such sleep!
And why thyself didst seek Italia's shores?
'Twere cruel (such thy thought) to speak the word
That bade another dare the furious sea.
All men must bear what chance or fate may bring,
The sudden peril and the stroke of death;
But shall the ruler of the world attempt
The raging ocean? With incessant prayers
Why weary heaven? is it indeed enough
To crown the war, that Fortune and the deep
Have cast thee on our shores? And would'st thou use
The grace of favouring deities, to gain
Not lordship, not the empire of the world,
But lucky shipwreck!' Night dispersed, and soon
The sun beamed on them, and the wearied deep,
The winds permitting, lulled its waves to rest.
And when Antonius saw a breeze arise
Fresh from a cloudless heaven, to break the sea,
He loosed his ships which, by the pilots' hands
And by the wind in equal order held,
Swept as a marching host across the main.
But night unfriendly from the seamen snatched
All governance of sail, parting the ships
In divers paths asunder. Like as cranes
Deserting frozen Strymon for the streams
Of Nile, when winter falls, in casual lines
Of wedge-like figures first ascend the sky;
But when in loftier heaven the southern breeze
Strikes on their pinions tense, in loose array
Dispersed at large, in flight irregular,
They wing their journey onwards. Stronger winds
With day returning blew the navy on,
Past Lissus' shelter which they vainly sought,
Till bare to northern blasts, Nymphaeum's port,
But safe in southern, gave the fleet repose,
For favouring winds came on.

When Magnus knew
That Caesar's troops were gathered in their strength
And that the war for quick decision called
Before his camp, Cornelia he resolved
To send to Lesbos' shore, from rage of fight
Safe and apart: so lifting from his soul
The weight that burdened it. Thus, lawful Love.
Thus art thou tyrant o'er the mightiest mind!
His spouse was the one cause why Magnus stayed
Nor met his fortunes, though he staked the world
And all the destinies of Rome. The word
He speaks not though resolved; so sweet it seemed,
When on the future pondering, to gain
A pause from Fate! But at the close of night,
When drowsy sleep had fled, Cornelia sought
To soothe the anxious bosom of her lord
And win his kisses. Then amazed she saw
His cheek was tearful, and with boding soul
She shrank instinctive from the hidden wound,
Nor dared to rouse him weeping. But he spake:
'Dearer to me than life itself, when life
Is happy (not at moments such as these);
The day of sorrow comes, too long delayed,
Nor long enough! With Caesar at our gates
With all his forces, a secure retreat
Shall Lesbos give thee. Try me not with prayers.
This fatal boon I have denied myself.
Thou wilt not long be absent from thy lord.
Disasters hasten, and things highest fall
With speediest ruin. 'Tis enough for thee
To hear of Magnus' peril; and thy love
Deceives thee with the thought that thou canst gaze
Unmoved on civil strife. It shames my soul
On the eve of war to slumber at thy side,
And rise from thy dear breast when trumpets call
A woeful world to misery and arms.
I fear in civil war to feel no loss
To Magnus. Meantime safer than a king
Lie hid, nor let the fortune of thy lord
Whelm thee with all its weight. If unkind heaven
Our armies rout, still let my choicest part
Survive in thee; if fated is my flight,
Still leave me that whereto I fain would flee.'

Hardly at first her senses grasped the words
In their full misery; then her mind amazed
Could scarce find utterance for the grief that pressed.
'Nought, Magnus, now is left wherewith to upbraid
The gods and fates of marriage; 'tis not death
That parts our love, nor yet the funeral pyre,
Nor that dread torch which marks the end of all.
I share the ignoble lot of vulgar lives:
My spouse rejects me. Yes, the foe is come!
Break we our bonds and Julia's sire appease! --
Is this thy consort, Magnus, this thy faith
In her fond loving heart? Can danger fright
Her and not thee? Long since our mutual fates
Hang by one chain; and dost thou bid me now
The thunder-bolts of ruin to withstand
Without thee? Is it well that I should die
Even while you pray for fortune? And suppose
I flee from evil and with death self-sought
Follow thy footsteps to the realms below --
Am I to live till to that distant isle
Some tardy rumour of thy fall may come?
Add that thou fain by use would'st give me strength
To bear such sorrow and my doom. Forgive
Thy wife confessing that she fears the power.
And if my prayers shall bring the victory,
The joyful tale shall come to me the last
In that lone isle of rocks. When all are glad,
My heart shall throb with anguish, and the sail
Which brings the message I shall see with fear,
Not safe e'en then: for Caesar in his flight
Might seize me there, abandoned and alone
To be his hostage. If thou place me there,
The spouse of Magnus, shall not all the world
Well know the secret Mitylene holds?
This my last prayer: if all is lost but flight,
And thou shalt seek the ocean, to my shores
Turn not thy keel, ill-fated one: for there,
There will they seek thee.' Thus she spoke distraught,
Leaped from the couch and rushed upon her fate;
No stop nor stay: she clung not to his neck
Nor threw her arms about him; both forego
The last caress, the last fond pledge of love,
And grief rushed in unchecked upon their souls;
Still gazing as they part no final words
Could either utter, and the sweet Farewell
Remained unspoken. This the saddest day
Of all their lives: for other woes that came
More gently struck on hearts inured to grief.
Borne to the shore with failing limbs she fell
And grasped the sands, embracing, till at last
Her maidens placed her senseless in the ship.

Not in such grief she left her country's shores
When Caesar's host drew near; for now she leaves,
Though faithful to her lord, his side in flight
And flees her spouse. All that next night she waked;
Then first what means a widowed couch she knew,
Its cold, its solitude. When slumber found
Her eyelids, and forgetfulness her soul,
Seeking with outstretched arms the form beloved,
She grasps but air. Though tossed by restless love,
She leaves a place beside her as for him
Returning. Yet she feared Pompeius lost
To her for ever. But the gods ordained
Worse than her fears, and in the hour of woe
Gave her to look upon his face again.

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Orlando Furioso Canto 17

ARGUMENT
Charles goes, with his, against King Rodomont.
Gryphon in Norandino's tournament
Does mighty deeds; Martano turns his front,
Showing how recreant is his natural bent;
And next, on Gryphon to bring down affront,
Stole from the knight the arms in which he went;
Hence by the kindly monarch much esteemed,
And Gryphon scorned, whom he Martano deemed.

I
God, outraged by our rank iniquity,
Whenever crimes have past remission's bound,
That mercy may with justice mingled be,
Has monstrous and destructive tyrants crowned;
And gifted them with force and subtlety,
A sinful world to punish and confound.
Marius and Sylla to this end were nursed,
Rome with two Neros and a Caius cursed;

II
Domitian and the latter Antonine;
And, lifted from the lowest rabble's lees,
To imperial place and puissance, Maximine:
Hence Thebes to cruel Creon bent her knees,
Mezentius ruled the subject Agiline,
Fattening his fields with blood. To pests like these
Our Italy was given in later day,
To Lombard, Goth, and Hun a bleeding prey.

III
What shall I of fierce Attila, what say
Of wicked Ezzeline, and hundreds more?
Whom, because men still trod the crooked way,
God sent them for their pain and torment sore.
Of this ourselves have made a clear assay,
As well as those who lived in days of yore;
Consigned to ravening wolves, ordained to keep
Us, his ill-nurturing and unuseful sheep;

IV
Who, as if having more than served to fill
Their hungry maw, invite from foreign wood
Beyond the mountain, wolves of greedier will,
With them to be partakers of their food.
The bones which Thrasymene and Trebbia fill,
And Cannae, seem but few to what are strewed
On fattened field and bank, where on their way
Adda and Mella, Ronco and Tarro stray.

V
Now God permits that we should feel the spite
Of people, who are haply worse than we,
For errors multiplied and infinite,
And foul and pestilent iniquity.
The time will come we may such ill requite
Upon their shores, if we shall better be,
And their transgressions ever prove above
The long endurance of AETERNAL LOVE.

VI
The Christian people then God's placid front
Must have disturbed with their excesses sore;
Since them with slaughter, rape, and rapine hunt,
Through all their quarters, plundering Turk and Moor:
But the unsparing rage of Rodomont
Proves worse than all the ills endured before.
I said that Charlemagne had made repair
In search of him towards the city square.

VII
Charles, by the way, his people's butchery
Beholds - burnt palaces and ruined fanes -
And sees large portion of the city lie
In unexampled wreck. - 'Ye coward trains,
Whither in heartless panic would ye fly?
Will none his loss contemplate? what remains
To you, - what place of refuge, say, is left,
If this from you so shamefully be reft?

VIII
'Then shall one man alone, a prisoned foe,
Who cannot scale the walls which round him spread,
Unscathed, unquestioned, from your city go,
When all are by his vengeful arm laid dead?'
Thus Charlemagne, whose veins with anger glow,
And shame, too strong to brook, in fury said;
And to the spacious square made good his way,
Where he beheld the foe his people slay.

IX
Thither large portion of the populace,
Climbing the palace roof, had made resort;
For strongly walled, and furnished was the place
With ammunition, for their long support.
Rodomont, mad with pride, had, in his chace
Of the scared burghers, singly cleared the court,
He with one daring hand, which scorned the world,
Brandished the sword; - his other wildfire hurled;

X
And smote and thundered, 'mid a fearful shower,
At the sublime and royal house's gate.
To their life's peril, crumbling roof and tower
Is tost by them that on the summit wait:
Nor any fears to ruin hall or bower;
But wood and stone endure one common fate,
And marbled column, slab, and gilded beam,
By sire and grandsire held in high esteem.

XI
Rodomont stands before the portal, bright
With steel, his head and bust secured in mail,
Like to a serpent, issued into light,
Having cast off his slough, diseased and stale:
Who more than ever joying in his might,
Renewed in youth, and proud of polished scale,
Darts his three tongues, fire flashing from his eyes;
While every frighted beast before him flies.

XII
Nor bulwark, stone, nor arbalest, nor bow,
Nor what upon the paynim smote beside,
Sufficed to arrest the sanguinary foe;
Who broke and hewed, and shook that portal wide,
And in his fury let such day-light through,
'Twas easy to espy - and might be spied -
In visages o'ercast in death-like sort,
That full of people was the palace court.

XIII
Through those fair chambers echoed shouts of dread,
And feminine lament from dame distrest;
And grieving, through the house, pale women fled,
Who wept, afflicted sore, and beat their breast.
And hugged the door-post and the genial bed,
Too soon to be by stranger lords possest.
The matter in this state of peril hung
When thither came the king, his peers among.

XIV
Charles turned him round to these, of vigorous hand,
Whom he had found in former peril true.
'Are you not those that erst with me did stand
'Gainst Agolant in Aspramont? In you
Is vigour now so spent, (he said), the band,
Who him, Troyano, and Almontes slew,
With hundreds more, that you now fear to face
One of that very blood, that very race?

XV
'Why should I now in contest with the foe
Less strength in you behold than them? Your might
Upon this hound (pursued the monarch) show;
This hound who preys on man. - A generous sprite
The thought of death - approach he fast or slow -
So that he dies but well, holds cheap and light.
But where you are, I doubt my fortune ill,
For by your succour, have I conquered still.'

XVI
This said, he spurred his courser, couched his spear,
And charged the paynim; nor of life less free,
Sir Ogier joined the king in his career;
Namus and Oliver; and, with the three,
Avino, Avolio, Otho, and Berlinghier:
(For one without the rest I never see)
And on the bosom, flanks, and on the front,
All smote together at King Rodomont.

XVII
But let us, sir, for love of Heaven, forego
Of anger and of death the noisome lore;
And be it deemed that I have said enow,
For this while, of that Saracen, not more
Cruel than strong; 'tis time in trace to go
Of Gryphon, left with Origille, before
Damascus' gate, and him who with her came,
The adulterer, not the brother of the dame.

XVIII
Of all the cities under eastern skies,
Most wealthy, populous, and fairly dight,
'Tis said, Damascus is; which distant lies
From Salem seven days' journey; its fair site,
A fertile plain, abundant fruits supplies,
Winter and summer, sojourn of delight.
Shading the city from the dawning day,
A mountain intercepts its early ray.

XIX
Two crystal streams the wealthy city scower;
Whose currents, parted into many a rill,
Infinite gardens, never bare of flower,
Or stript of leaf, with grateful murmur fill:
'Tis said the perfumed waters are of power
(So plenteously they swell) to turn a mill;
And that whoever wander through the streets,
Scent, issuing from each home, a cloud of sweets.

XX
Then the high-street gay signs of triumph wore,
Covered with showy cloths of different dye,
Which deck the walls, while sylvan leaves in store,
And scented herbs upon the pavement lie.
Adorned is every window, every door,
With carpeting and finest drapery;
But more with ladies fair, and richly drest,
In costly jewels and in gorgeous vest.

XXI
Within the city gates in frolic sport,
Many are seen to ply the festive dance;
And here the burghers of the better sort
Upon their gay and well-trapt coursers prance.
A fairer show remains; the sumptuous court
Of barons bold and vassals, who advance,
Garnished with what could be procured, of ore
And pearl, from Ind and Erythraean shore.

XXII
Forward Sir Gryphon pricked, with his array,
Surveying, here and there, the whole at ease;
When them a knight arrested by the way,
And (such his wont and natural courtesies)
Obliged beneath his palace-roof to stay;
Where he let nought be wanting which might please;
And chearfully the guests, with bath restored,
Next welcomed at his costly supper-board;

XXIII
And told how he, who, Norandino hight,
Damascus and all Syria's kingdom swayed,
Native and foreigner had bade invite,
On whom the sword of knighthood had been laid,
To a fair joust, which at the morrow's light,
Ensuing, in the square was to be made.
Where they might show, and without further faring,
If they had valour equal to their bearing.

XXIV
Gryphon, though he came not that joust to see,
Accepts the challenge of the cavalier;
For when occasion serves, it cannot be
An evil use to make our worth appear:
Then questioned more of that solemnity;
- If 'twere a wonted feast, held every year,
Or new emprise; by which, in martial course,
The monarch would assay his warriors' force. -

XXV
'The gorgeous feast our monarch will display
Each fourth succeeding moon,' the baron said;
'This is the first that you will now survey;
None have been held beside. The cause which bred
The solemn usage is, that on such day
The king from sovereign peril saved his head,
After four months, consumed in doleful wise,
'Mid tears and groans, with death before his eyes.

XXVI
'Our monarch, who is named king Norandine
(Fully to you the matter to recite),
Through many and many a year for her did pine,
Above all other damsels fair and bright,
The king of Cyprus' daughter; whom, in fine,
Espoused, he, with his bride, and dame, and knight,
To wait upon her home, a fair array,
Towards his Syrian realm had shaped his way.

XXVII
'But as we scoured the fell Carpathian sea,
With flowing sheet, at distance from the shore,
A storm assailed us, of such cruelty,
The tempest even scared our pilot hoar.
Drifting three days and nights at random, we
Our devious course 'mid threatening waves explore;
Then, wet and weary, land 'mid verdant hills,
Between well-shaded and refreshing rills.

XXVIII
'We our pavilions pitch, and, 'mid those groves,
Joyfully strain our awnings overhead;
And kitchens there construct, and rustic stoves,
And carpets for the intended banquet spread.
Meanwhile through neighbouring vale the monarch roves,
And secret wood, scarce pervious to the tread,
Seeking red deer, goat, fallow-buck, and doe;
And, following him, two servants bear his bow.

XXIX
'While, with much solace, seated in a round,
We from the chace expect our lord's return,
Approaching us along the shore, astound,
The orc, that fearful monster, we discern.
God grant, fair sir, he never may confound
Your eyesight with his semblance foul and stern!
Better it is of him by fame to hear,
Than to behold him by approaching near.

XXX
'To calculate the griesly monster's height,
(So measureless is he) exceeds all skill;
Of fungus-hue, in place of orbs of sight,
Their sockets two small bones like berries fill.
Towards us, as I say, he speeds outright
Along the shore, and seems a moving hill.
Tusks jutting out like savage swine he shows,
A breast with drivel foul, and pointed nose.

XXXI
'Running, the monster comes, and bears his snout
In guise of brach, who enters on the trail.
We who behold him fly (a helpless rout),
Wherever terror drives, with visage pale.
'Tis little comfort, that he is without
Eye-sight, who winds his plunder in the gale,
Better than aught possest of scent and sight:
And wing and plume were needed for our flight.

XXXII
'Some here, some there make off, but little gain
By flying him; for swifter is the pest
Than the south wind. Of forty, ten, with pain,
Swimming aboard the bark in safety rest.
Under his arm some wretches of our train
He packed, nor empty left his lap or breast:
And loaded a capacious scrip beside,
Which, like a shepherd's, to his waist was tied.

XXXIII
'Us to his den the sightless monster carried,
Hollowed within a rock, upon the shore;
Of snowy marble was that cavern quarried,
As white as leaf, unstained by inky score.
With him within the cave a matron tarried,
Who marked by grief and pain a visage wore.
With her were wife and maid, a numerous court,
Both fair and foul, of every age and sort.

XXXIV
'Large as the other, and that grotto near,
Almost upon the summit of the rock,
Another cavern was contrived, to rear,
And from the weather fend his woolly flock,
Which he still herded through the changeful year;
So numerous, it were hard to count his stock:
Wont in due season these to pen or loose,
And play the shepherd more for sport than use.

XXXV
'The flesh of man he savoured more than sheep,
And this, before he reached the cave, was seen.
Three youths of ours, ere yet he climbed the steep,
He are alive, or rather swallowed clean;
Then moved the stone, which closed that cavern deep,
And lodged us there. With that, to pasture green
His flock he led, as wont, the meads among,
Sounding the pipe which at his neck was hung.

XXXVI
'Our lord, meanwhile, returning to the strand,
The loss which he had suffered comprehends;
For in deep silence, upon every hand,
Through empty tent and hut the monarch wends:
Nor who has robbed him can be understand;
And full of terror to the beach descends;
Whence he his sailors in the offing sees
Unmoor and spread their canvas to the breeze.

XXXVII
'As soon as Norandino was in view,
They launched and sent their pinnace to convey
The monarch thence: but he no sooner knew
Of the fell orc, and those he made his prey,
Then he, without more thought, would him pursue
And follow, wheresoe'er he bent his way.
To lose Lucina is such cruel pain,
That life is loathsome save he her regain.

XXXVIII
'When on the newly printed sand his eyes
Norandine fixt, he with the swiftness sped
With which the rage of love a man supplies,
Until he reached the cave of which I said,
Where we, enduring greater agonies
Than e'er were suffered, there await in dread
The orc, and deem at every sound we hear,
The famished brute about to re-appear.

XXXIX
'The monarch to the cave did Fortune guide,
When the orc's wife alone was in the lair.
Seeing the king: `Fly! - Woe to thee!' (she cried)
`Should the orc take thee!' - `Woeful every where
I cannot choose but be,' (the king replied)
`Whether be take or miss me, kill or spare.
Not hither I by chance have wandered, I
Come with desire beside my wife to die.'

XXX
'He afterwards the dame for tidings pressed
Of those the orc had taken on the shore;
And of Lucina above all the rest;
If slain or prisoner kept. With kindly lore,
She Norandino, in return, addressed;
And said Lucina lived, nor need he more
Have of her future safety any dread,
For the orc on flesh of woman never fed.

XLI
' `Of this you may behold the proof in me,
And all these other dames who with me dwell;
Nor me, nor them the orc offends, so we
Depart not ever from this caverned cell.
But vainly who would from her prison flee,
Hopes peace or pardon from our tyrant fell:
Buried alive, or bound with griding band,
Of, in the sun, stript naked on the sand.

XLII
' `When hither he to-day conveyed your crew,
The females from the males he severed not;
But, as he took them, in confusion threw
All he had captive made, into that grot.
He will scent out their sex; not tremble, you,
Lest he the women slay: the others' lot
Is fixt; and, of four men or six a-day,
Be sure the greedy orc will make his prey.

XLIII
' `I have no counsel for you how to free
The lady; but content thyself to hear,
She in no danger of her life will be,
Who will our lot, in good or evil, share.
But go, for love of Heaven, my son, lest thee
The monster smell, and on thy body fare;
For when arrived, he sniffs about the house,
And, such his subtle scent, can wind a mouse.'

XLIV
'To her the amorous monarch made reply,
That he the cave would not abandon, ere
He saw Lucina, and near her to die,
Than to live far from her, esteemed more dear.
- Seeing that she can nothing more supply
Fitted to shake the purpose of the peer,
Upon a new design the matron hits.
Pursued with all her pains, with all her wits.

XLV
'With slaughtered sheep and goat was evermore
The cavern filled, the numerous flock's increase,
Which served her and her household as a store;
And from the ceiling dangled many a fleece.
The dame made Norandino from a hoar
And huge he-goat's fat bowels take the grease,
And with the suet all his members pay,
Until he drove his natural scent away.

XLVI
'And when she thought he had imbibed the smell
Which the rank goat exhales, she took the hide,
And made him creep into the shaggy fell;
Who was well covered by that mantle wide.
Him in this strange disguise she from the cell
Crawling (for such was her command) did guide,
Where, prisoned by a stone, in her retreat,
Was hid his beauteous lady's visage sweet.

XLVII
'Kin Norandine, as bid, took up his ground
Before the cavern, on the greensward laid,
That he might enter with the flock who wound
Homeward; and longing sore, till evening stayed.
At eve he hears the hollow elder's sound,
Upon whose pipes the wonted tune was played,
Calling his sheep from pasture to their rock,
By the fell swain who stalked behind his flock.

XLVIII
'Think if his heart is trembling at its core,
When Norandino hears the approaching strains;
And now advancing to the cavern door,
The sight of that terrific face sustains!
But if fear shook him, pity moved him more:
You see if he loves well or only feigns!
The orc removed the stone, unbarred the cote,
And the king entered, amid sheep and goat.

XLIX
'His flock so housed, to us the orc descended,
But first had care the cavern door to close:
Then scented all about, and having ended
His quest, two wretches for his supper chose.
So is remembrance by this meal offended,
It makes me tremble yet: this done, he goes;
And being gone, the king his goatish vest
Casts off, and folds his lady to his breast.

L
'Whereas she him with pleasure should descry,
She, seeing him, but suffers grief and pain.
She sees him thither but arrived to die,
Who cannot hinder her from being slain.
` 'Twas no small joy 'mid all the woes, that.'
To him exclaimed Lucina, 'here sustain.
That thou wert not among us found to-day,
When hither I was brought, the monster's prey.

LI
' `For though to find myself about to leave
This life be bitter and afflict me sore,
Such is our common instinct, I should grieve
But for myself; but whether thee, before
Of after me, the orc of life bereave,
Assure thyself thy death will pain me more
Than mine.' And thus the dame persists to moan
More Norandino's danger than her own.

LII
' `A hope conducts me here,' the monarch said,
`To save thee and thy followers every one;
And, if I cannot, I were better dead,
Than living without light of thee, my sun!
I trust to scape, as hither I have spied;
As ye shall all, if, as ourselves have done,
To compass our design, you do not shrink
To imbue your bodies with the loathsome stink.'

LIII
'The trick he told, wherewith the monster's smell
To cheat, as first to him the wife had told:
In any case to cloathe us in the fell,
That he may feel is issueing from the fold.
As many men as women in the cell,
We slay (persuaded by the monarch bold)
As many goats as with our number square,
Of those which stink the most and oldest are.

LIV
'We smeared our bodies with the fruitful grease
Which round about the fat intestines lay,
And cloathed our bodies with the shaggy fleece:
This while from golden dwelling broke the day.
And now, his flock returning to release,
We viewed the shepherd, with the dawning ray;
Who, giving breath to the sonorous reeds,
Piped forth his prisoned flock to hill and meads.

LV
'He held his hand before the opened lair,
Lest with the herd we issued from the den,
And stopt us short; but feeling wool or hair
Upon our bodies, let us go again.
By such a strange device we rescued were,
Cloathed in our shaggy fleeces, dames and men:
Nor any issuing thence the monster kept,
Till thither, sore alarmed, Lucina crept.

LVI
'Lucina - whether she abhorred the scent,
And, like us others, loathed herself to smear,
- Or whether with a slower gait she went
Than might like the pretended beast's appear,
- Or whether, when the orc her body hent,
Her dread so mastered her, she screamed for fear,
- Or that her hair escaped from neck or brow,
Was known; nor can I well inform you how.

LVII
'So were we all intent on our own case,
We for another's danger had no eyes:
Him, turning at the scream. I saw uncase
Already her whom he had made his prize,
And force her to the cavern to retrace
Her steps: we, couching in our quaint disguise,
Wend with the flock, where us the shepherd leads,
Through verdant mountains, into pleasant meads.

LVIII
'There we awaited, till beneath the shade
Secure, we saw the beaked orc asleep;
When one along the shore of ocean made,
And one betook him to the mountain steep.
King Norandine his love alone delayed;
Who would return disguised among the sheep,
Nor from the place depart, while life remained,
Unless his faithful consort he regained.

LIX
'For when before, on the flock issuing out,
He saw her prisoned in the cave alone,
Into the orc's wide throat he was about
To spring; so grief had reason overthrown,
And he advanced even to the monster's snout,
And, but by little, scaped the grinding stone:
Yet him the hope detained amid the flock,
Trusting to bear Lucina from the rock.

LX
'The orc, at eve, when to the cave again
He brings the herd, nor finds us in the stall,
And knows that he must supperless remain,
Lucina guilty of the whole does call,
Condemned to stand, fast girded with a chain,
In open air, upon the summit tall.
The king who caused her woes, with pitying eye
Looks on, and pines, - and only cannot die.

LXI
'Morning and evening, her, lamenting sore,
Ever the unhappy lover might survey;
What time he grieving went afield before
The issuing flock, or homeward took his way.
She, with sad face, and suppliant evermore,
Signed that for love of Heaven he would not stay;
Since there he tarried at great risk of life.
Nor could in any thing assist his wife.

LXII
'So the orc's wife, as well upon her side,
Implored him to depart, but moved him nought;
To go without Lucina he denied,
And but remained more constant in his thought.
In this sad servitude he long was tried,
By Love and Pity bound: till Fortune brought
A pair of warriors to the rocky won,
Gradasso, and Agrican's redoubted son:

LXIII
'Where, with their arms so wrought the champions brave,
They freed Lucina from the chains she wore,
(Though he Wit less than Fortune served in save)
And running to the sea their burden bore:
Her to her father, who was there, they gave.
This was at morn, when in the cavern hoar,
Mixt with the goats, king Norandino stood,
Which ruminating, chewed their grassy food:

LXIV
'But when, at day-light, 'twas unbarred, and now
He was instructed that his wife was gone;
For the orc's consort told the tale, and how,
In every point, the thing rehearsed was done;
He thanked his God, and begged, with promised vow,
That, since 'twas granted her such ill to shun,
He would direct his wife to some repair,
Whence he might free her, by arms, gold, or prayer.

LXV
'Together with the flat-nosed herd his way
He took, and for green meads rejoicing made.
He here expected, till the monster lay
Extended, underneath the gloomy shade:
Then journeyed all the night and all the day;
Till, of the cruel orc no more afraid,
He climbed a bark on Satalia's strand,
And, three days past, arrived on Syrian land.

LXVI
'In Cyprus, and in Rhodes, by tower and town,
Which in near Egypt, Turkey, or Afric lay,
The king bade seek Lucina up and down,
Nor could hear news of her till the other day.
The other day, his father-in-law made known
He had her safe with him. What caused her stay
In Nicosia was a cruel gale
Which had long time been adverse to her sail.

LXVII
'The king, for pleasure of the tidings true,
Prepares the costly feast in solemn state;
And will on each fourth moon that shall ensue
Make one, resembling this we celebrate.
Pleased of that time the memory to renew,
That he, in the orc's cavern, had to wait,
- For four months and a day - which is to-morrow;
When he was rescued from such cruel sorrow.

LXVIII
'The things related I in part descried,
And from him, present at the whole, heard more;
From Norandine, through calend and through ide,
Pent, till he changed to smiles his anguish sore:
And if from other you hear aught beside,
Say, he is ill instructed in his lore.'
The Syrian gentleman did thus display
The occasion of that feast and fair array.

LXIX
Large portion of the night, in like discourse,
Was by those cavaliers together spent,
Who deemed that Love and Pity's mickle force
Was proved in that so dread experiment;
Then rising, when the supper's sumptuous course
Was cleared, to good and pleasant lodgings went;
And, as the ensuing morning fairly broke,
To sounds of triumph and rejoicing woke.

LXX
The circling drums' and trumpets' echoing strain
Assemble all the town within the square;
And now, when mixt with sound of horse and wain,
Loud outcries through the streets repeated are,
Sir Gryphon dons his glittering arms again,
A panoply of those esteemed most rare;
Whose mail, impassable by spear or brand,
She, the white fay, had tempered with her hand.

LXXI
The man of Antioch in his company,
Armed him (a recreant worse than he was none),
Provided by their landlord's courtesy
With sturdy spears and good, the course to run;
Who with his kindred, a fair chivalry,
To bring the warriors to the square is gone;
With squires afoot and mounted upon steeds,
Whom he bestowed, as aptest for their needs.

LXXII
They in the square arrived and stood aside,
Nor of themselves awhile would make display;
Better to see the martial gallants ride
By twos and threes, or singly, to the fray.
One told, by colours cunningly allied,
His joy or sorrow to his lady gay;
One, with a painted Love on crest or shield,
If she were cruel or were kind, revealed.

LXXIII
It was the Syrians' practise in that age
To arm them in this fashion of the west.
Haply this sprung out of their vicinage
And constant commerce with the Franks, possest
In those days of the sacred heritage,
That God incarnate with his presence blest;
Which now, to them abandoned by the train
Of wretched Christians, heathen hounds profane.

LXXIV
God's worshippers, where they should couch the lance,
For furtherance of his holy faith and true,
Against each other's breast the spear advance,
To the destruction of the faithful few.
You men of Spain, and you, ye men of France,
And Switzers, turn your steps elsewhere , and you,
Ye Germans, worthier empire to acquire;
For that is won for Christ, which you desire.

LXXV
If verily most Christian you would be,
- I speak to you, that catholic are hight -
Why slain by you Christ's people do I see?
Wherefore are they despoiled of their right?
Why seek you not Jerusalem to free
From renegades? By Turkish Moslemite
Impure, why is Byzantium, with the best
And fairest portion of the world, possest?

LXXVI
Thou Spain, hast thou not fruitful Afric nigh?
And has she not in sooth offended more
Than Italy? yet her to scathe, that high,
And noble, enterprize wilt thou give o'er.
Alas! thou sleepest, drunken Italy,
Of every vice and crime the fetid sewer!
Nor grievest, as a hand-maid, to obey,
In turn, the nations that have owned thy sway.

LXXVII
If fear of famishing within thy cave,
Switzer, does thee to Lombardy convey,
And thou, among our people, dost but crave
A hand to give thee daily bread, or slay, -
The Turk has ready wealth; across the wave,
Drive him from Europe or from Greece away:
So shalt thou in those parts have wherewithal
To feed thy hunger, or more nobly fall.

LXXVIII
I to the German neighbour of thy lair
Say what I say to thee; the wealth o' the west,
Which Constantine brought off from Rome, is there -
Brought off the choicest, gave away the rest -
There golden Hermus and Pactolus are,
Mygdonia and Lydia: nor that country blest,
Which many tales for many praises note,
If thou wouldst thither wend, is too remote.

LXXIX
Thou mighty Lion, that art charged to keep
The keys of Paradise, a weighty care,
Oh! let not Italy lie plunged in sleep,
If thy strong hand is planted in her hair.
To thee, his shepherd, God, to guide his sheep,
Has given that wand and furious name to bear;
That thou may'st roar, and wide thine arms extend,
And so from greedy wolves thy flock defend.

LXXX
But whither have I roved! who evermore
So from one topic to the other stray?
Yet think not I the road I kept before
To have missed so far, but I can find my way.
I said, the Syrians then observed the lore
Or arming like the Christians of that day.
So that Damascus' crowded square was bright
With corslet, plate, and helm of belted knight.

LXXXI
The lovely ladies from their scaffolds throw
Upon the jousters yellow flowers and red;
While these, as loud the brazen trumpets blow,
Make their steeds leap and wheel and proudly tread.
Each, rode he well or ill, his art would show,
And with the goring spur his courser bled.
Hence this good cavalier earns fame and praise,
While others scornful hoots and laughter raise.

LXXXII
A suit of arms was prize of the assay,
Presented to the king some days before;
Which late a merchant found upon the way
Returning from Armenia; this the more
To grace, a vest, with noblest tissue gay,
The Syrian king subjoined, so powdered o'er
With jewels, gold, and pearls in rich device,
They made the meed a thing of passing price.

LXXXIII
If the good king had known the panoply,
This he had held above all others dear;
Nor this had given, as full of courtesy,
To be contented for with sword and spear.
'Twere long to tell who so unworthily
Had erst mistreated thus the goodly gear,
That lay the way the harness had been strowed,
A prey to whosoever past the road.

LXXXIV
Of this you more in other place shall hear.
Of Gryphon now I tell, who at the just
Arrived, saw broken many a knightly spear,
And more than one good stroke and one good thrust.
Eight were there who made league together, dear
To Norandine, and held in sovereign trust;
Youths quick in arms and practised in the shock:
All lords, or scions of illustrious stock.

LXXXV
At open barriers, one by one, the place
They kept against all comers for a day;
At first with lance, and next with sword or mace,
While them the king delighted to survey.
Ofttimes they pierce the corslet's iron case,
And every thing in fine perform in play,
Which foemen do that deadly weapons measure,
Save that the king may part them at his pleasure.

LXXXVI
That witless Antiochite, who, worthily,
By name was cowardly Martano hight,
Thinking, because his comrade, he must be
Partaker of the noble Gryphon's might,
Into the martial press rides valiantly,
Then stops; and the issue of a furious fight,
Which had begun between two cavaliers,
To wait, retiring from the strife, appears.

LXXXVII
Seleucia's lord, of those companions one,
Combined in that emprize to keep the place,
Who then a course with bold Ombruno run,
Wounded the unhappy warrior in mid-face,
So that he slew him; mourned by every one,
Who as a worthy knight the warrior grace,
And over and above his worth, before
All others, hold him for his courteous lore.

LXXXVIII
When vile Martano from his place discerned
The fate which might be his with fearful eye,
Into his craven nature be returned,
And straight began to think how he might fly:
But him from flight the watchful Gryphon turned,
And, after much ado, with act and cry,
Urged him against a knight upon the ground,
As at the ravening wolf men slip the hound.

LXXXIX
Who will pursue the brindled beast for ten,
Or twenty yards, and, after, stop to bay;
When he beholds his flashing eyes, and when
He sees the griesly beast his teeth display.
'Twas thus, before those valiant gentlemen
And princes, present there in fair array,
Fearful Martano, seized with panic dread,
Turned to the right his courser's rein and head.

XC
Yet he who would excuse the sudden wheel,
Upon his courser might the blame bestow:
But, after, he so ill his strokes did deal,
Demosthenes his cause might well forego.
With paper armed he seems, and not with steel,
So shrinks he at the wind of every blow:
At length he breaks the ordered champions through,
Amid loud laughter from the circling crew.

XCI
Clapping of hands, and cries, at every turn,
Were heard from all that rubble widely spread.
As a wolf sorely hunted makes return
To earth, to his retreat Martano fled.
Gryphon remained, and sullied with the scorn
Esteemed himself, which on his mate was shed;
And rather than be there, he, in his ire,
Would gladly find himself i' the midst of fire.

XCII
With burning heart, and visage red with shame,
He thinks the knight's disgrace is all his own,
Because by deeds like his with whom he came,
He weens the mob expects to see him known.
So that it now behoves his valour flame
More clear than light, or they, to censure prone,
- Errs he a finger's breadth - an inch - will swell
His fault, and of that inch will make an ell.

XCIII
Already he the lance upon his thigh
Has rested, little used to miss the foe:
Then makes with flowing rein his courser fly,
And next, somedeal advanced, directs the blow;
And, smiting, puts to the last agony
Sidonia's youthful lord, by him laid low.
O'ercome with wonder each assistant rises,
Whom sore the unexpected deed surprises.

XCIV
Gryphon returned, and did the weapon wield.
Whole and recovered, which he couched before,
And in three pieces broke it on the shield
Which bold Laodicea's baron bore.
Thrice of four times about to press the field
He seemed, and lay along the crupper, sore
Astound; yet rose at length, unsheathed his blade,
Wheeled his good courser, and at Gryphon made.

XCV
Gryphon, who in his saddle sees the peer
Advancing towards him, nor unseated by
The encounter, says: 'The failure of the spear
In a few strokes the sabre shall supply;'
And on his temples smote a stroke so shear,
It seemed that it descended from the sky;
And matched it with another, and again
Another, till he stretched him on the plain.

XCVI
Here two good brothers of Apamia were,
In tourney wont to have the upper hand:
Corimbo named and Thyrsis was the pair;
Both overturned by Gryphon on the land.
One at the encounter left his saddle bare,
On the other Gryphon used his trenchant brand:
This valiant knight, was, in the common trust,
Sure to obtain the honours of the just.

XCVII
Bold Salinterno, mid the warlike train,
Was in the lists, vizier and marshal hight,
Who had the government of all that reign,
And was, withal, a puissant man of might:
The tourney's prize he sees, with much disdain,
About to be borne off by foreign knight.
A lance he snatches, and to Gryphon cries,
And him with many menaces defies.

XCVIII
But he makes answer with a massy spear,
Out of ten others chosen as the best;
And levelling at the buckler of the peer,
For greater surety, pierces plate and breast.
'Twixt rib and rib, it bored the cavalier,
Issuing a palm behind. To all the rest,
The king excepted, welcome was the blow:
For each was greedy Salinterno's foe.

XCIX
Two of Damascus next Sir Gryphon sped,
Hermophilo and Carmondo. This, arraid
Under his flag, the king's militia led;
That was as lord high admiral obeyed.
This lightly at the shock on earth was shed,
And that, reversed, upon the ground o'erlaid
By his weak horse, too feeble to withstand
Sir Gryphon's mighty push and puissant hand.

C
Yet in the field remained Seleucia's knight,
The best of all the other seven at need;
And one who well accompanied his might
With perfect armour and a gallant steed.
Both at the helmet, where it locks, take sight,
And with their spears to the encounter speed:
But Gryphon hardest smote, whose paynim foe
Lost his left stirrup, staggered by the blow.

CI
They cast the truncheons down, their coursers wheel,
And, full of daring, with drawn falchions close.
Sir Gryphon was the first a stroke to deal,
Which might have split an anvil; at the blow's
Descent, the shield is splintered - bone and steel -
This had its lord mid thousand others chose;
And, but 'twas double, and the coat as well,
The sword had cleft the thigh on which it fell.

CII
He of Seleucia at Sir Gryphon's casque,
At the same time, so fell a blow addrest,
It would have rent and torn the iron mask,
Had it not been enchanted like the rest.
The paynim's labour is a fruitless task,
Of arms so hard Sir Gryphon is possest;
Who has the foe's already cleft and broke
In many parts, nor thrown away a stroke.

CIII
Each one might see how much Seleucia's lord
Was overmatched by Gryphon, and that day,
The worsted men had perished by the sword,
Had not the monarch quickly stopt the fray.
To his guard king Norandino spake the word,
And bade them enter, and the duel stay:
They part the knight, whom they asunder bear,
And much the king is lauded for his care.

CIV
The eight, who had to keep the field pretended
From all the world, nor yet their part had done
On a sole knight, - their quarrel ill defended, -
Had vanished from the tilt-yard one by one.
The others, who with them should have contended,
Stood idle; for to answer them was none.
Since Gryphon had forestalled, in the debate,
What they should all have done against those eight;

CV
And, for such little time endured the play,
Less than an hour sufficed to finish all.
But Norandine, the pastime to delay,
And to continue it till even-fall,
Descending from his place, bade clear the way;
And the huge squad divided, at his call,
Into two troops, whom, ranked by blood and might,
The monarch formed, and marched for other fight.

CVI
Sir Gryphon, during this, had made return
Homeward, with anger and with fury stung;
Less thinking of his honours that the scorn
Which on the vile Martano had been flung.
Hence, from himself the opprobrious shame to turn,
Martano now employs his lying tongue;
And she, the false and cunning courtezan,
Assists him in his scheme as best she can.

CVII
Whether the youth believed the tale or no,
He the excuse received, like one discreet;
And deemed it best for them at once to go,
And secretly and silently retreat,
For fear, that if the populace should know
Martano base, they him might ill entreat.
So, by short ways and close, they quit the abode,
And issue from the gates upon their road.

CVIII
Sir Gryphon, was he or his horse foredone
With toil, or was it sleep his eyes down weighed,
Ere yet the troop beyond two miles had gone,
At the first inn upon the highway stayed.
He doffed his armour all, and morion,
And had the steeds of trappings disarrayed;
And next alone he to a chamber sped,
Locked himself in, undrest, and went to bed.

CIX
No sooner he his head had rested there,
Than, with deep sleep opprest, he closed his eye:
So heavily, no badgers in their lair,
Or dormice, overcome with slumber, lie.
Martano and Origille, to take the air,
Entered this while a garden which was nigh;
And there the strangest fraud together bred,
Which ever entered into mortal head.

CX
Martano schemed to take away the steed
And gear, in which Sir Gryphon had been dight,
And stand before the monarch, in the weed
Of him who had in joust so proved his might.
As he had shaped in thought, he did the deed:
He took away the warrior's horse, more white
Than milk, his buckler, surcoat, arms, and crest;
In all Sir Gryphon's knightly ensigns drest.

CXI
He, who was clad in trappings not his own,
Like the ass mantled in the lion's hide,
As he expected, to the king, unknown,
Was called in place of Gryphon: when descried
Or Norandine, he rising from his throne,
Embraced and kissed, and placed him by his side:
Nor deems enough to praise and hold him dear,
But wills that all around his praise should hear:

CXII
And bids them the sonorous metal blow,
Proclaiming him the conqueror of that day:
And round about loud voices, high and low,
The unworthy name throughout the lists convey.
He wills that, side by side, with him shall go
The knight, when homeward he shall take his way;
And him such favour shows, intent to please,
As might have honoured Mars or Hercules.

CXIII
Him lodgings fair he gave, wherein to dwell
At court; and she who with the peer did ride
Was honoured by the courteous king as well,
- False Origille, - with knight and page supplied.
But it is time that I of Gryphon tell;
Who unsuspecting, she, or wight beside,
Him would with treacherous stratagem deceive,
Had fallen asleep, nor ever waked till eve.

CXIV
When he how late it was, awaking, knew,
With speed he from the chamber did withdraw;
And hastened where he, with the other crew,
Left Origille and her false brother-in-law:
And when, nor these, nor, upon better view,
His armour nor his wonted clothes he saw,
Suspicious waxed; and more suspicion bred
The ensigns of his comrade left instead.

CXV
The host, arriving, him at full possest
Of every thing, - and how, in white array,
That warrior, with the lady and the rest,
Had to the city measured back their way.
By little and by little, Gryphon guessed
What love from him had hidden till that day;
And knew, to his great sorrow, in the other
Origille's paramour, and not her brother.

CXVI
Now he lamenting for his folly stood,
That having heard the truths the pilgrim said,
He should have let her story change his mood,
Who him before so often had betrayed.
He might have venged himself, nor did: - now wou'd,
Too late, inflict the punishment delaid;
Constrained (a crying error!) in his need
To take that wily treachour's arms and steed.

CXVII
He better would have gone like naked man,
Than braced the unworthy cuirass on his breast;
Or hastened the detested shield to span,
Or place upon his helm the scorned crest.
But of the lover, and that courtezan,
He, passion mastering reason, took the quest:
And bending to Damascus' gate his way,
Arrived an hour before the close of day.

CXVIII
On the left hand a castle richly dight
Stood nigh the gate, to which Sir Gryphon rode.
Besides, that it was strong and armed for fight,
Filled with rare chambers was the rich abode.
The first of Syria, king, and lord, and knight,
And lady, in a gentle group bestowed,
There in an open gallery fairly met,
Were at their glad and costly supper set.

CXIX
With the high tower the beauteous gallery, clear
Beyond the city-wall, projected out,
From whence might be discovered, far and near,
The spacious fields and different roads about.
When Gryphon now, in his opprobrious gear,
And arms, dishonoured by the rabble's flout,
Makes, by ill fortune, to the gate resort,
He by the king is seen, and all his court;

CXX
And, taken for the man whose crest he wears,
In dame and knight moves laughter, through the ring.
The vile Martano, as a man who shares
The royal grace, sits next below the king;
And next, she, whom her love so fitly pairs;
Whom Norandino gaily questioning.
Demands of them, who is the coward knight,
That of his honour makes so passing light;

CXXI
Who, after feat so base and foul, anew
Approaches, with such front and shameless cheer,
- And cries, 'It seems a thing unheard, that you,
An excellent and worthy cavalier,
Should take this man for your companion, who
Has not in all our wide Levant his peer.
Did you with him for contrast-sake combine,
That so your valour might more brightly shine?

CXXII
'- But did not love for you my will restrain,
By the eternal gods, I truly swear,
He should endure such ignominious stain,
As I am wont to make his fellows share:
Him would I make of my long-nursed disdain
Of cowardice perpetual record bear.
To you, by whom he hither was conveyed,
If now unpunished, let his thanks be paid.'

CXXIII
That vessel of all filthy vices, he,
Made answer: 'Mighty sir, I cannot say
Who is the stranger, that fell in with me
Journeying from Antioch hither, by the way:
But him I worthy of my company
Deemed, by his warlike semblance led astray.
I nothing of his deeds have heard or seen,
Save what ill feats to-day have witnessed been;

CXXIV
'Which moved me so, it little lacked but I,
For punishment of his unworthy fear,
Had put him out of case again to ply,
In martial tournament, the sword or spear;
And, but in reverence to your majesty
And presence, I forbore by hand to rear,
Not for his sake: - nor by thy mercy showed
On him, as my companion on the road;

CXXV
'Whose former fellowship appears a stain;
And ever 'twill sit heavy at my heart,
If I, uninjured, see the wretch again
'Scape, to the scandal of the warlike art.
'Twere better he from tower, a worthy pain,
Were gibbeted, than suffered to depart:
Hung as a beacon for the coward's gaze.
Such were a princely deed, and worthy praise.'

CXXVI
A voucher he in Origilla had,
Who well, without a sign, his purpose read.
'I deem not,' cried the king, 'his works so bad,
That they should cost the stranger knight his head:
Enough that he again the people glad,
For penance of his weighty sin.' This said,
He quickly called a baron of his crew,
And him enjoined the deed he was to do.

CXXVII
With many armed men that baron fares,
And to the city-gate descending, here
Collects his troop, and for the attempt prepares,
Waiting the coming of the cavalier;
And him surprises so at unawares,
He, softly, 'twixt two bridges, takes the peer;
And him detains, with mockery and scorn,
In a dark chamber, till returning morn.

CXXVIII
The early sun had scarce his golden hair
Uplifted from his ancient nurse's breast,
Beginning, upon Alpine regions bare,
To chase the shades and gild the mountain-crest,
When Martan', fearing Gryphon might declare
His wrong, and to the king the truth attest,
Retorting upon him the slander cast,
Took leave, and thence upon his journey past.

CXXIX
His ready wit a fit excuse supplies
Why he stays not, to see the recreant shown.
He is with other gifts, beside the prize,
Rewarded for the victory, not his own,
And letters patent, drawn in ample wise,
Wherein his lofty honours wide are blown.
Let him depart; I promise he shall meet
A guerdon worthy of his treacherous feat.

CXXX
Gryphon is brought with shame into the square,
When it is fully thronged with gazing wight,
Whom they of cuirass and of helmet bare,
And leave in simple cassock, meanly dight;
And, as to slaughter he conducted were,
Place on a wain, conspicuous to the sight;
Harnessed to which two sluggish cows are seen,
Weary and weak, and with long hunger lean.

CXXXI
Thronging about the ignoble car, appear
Brazen-faced boy and girl of evil fame,
Who, each in turn, will play the charioteer,
And all assail the knight with bitter blame.
The boys might be a cause of greater fear,
For, joined to mocks and mows, and words of shame,
The warrior they with volleyed stones would slay,
But that the wiser few their fury stay.

CXXXII
That which of his disgrace had been the ground,
Though no true evidence of guilt, his mail
And plate, are dragged in due dishonour round,
Suspended at the shameful waggon's tail.
The wain is stopt, and to the trumpet's sound,
Heralds, in front of a tribunal's pale,
His shame, before his eyes, amid the crowd,
(Another's evil deed) proclaim aloud.

CXXXIII
They take their prisoner thence, and so repair
In front of temple, dwelling-house, and store;
Nor any cruel name of mockery spare,
Nor leave unsaid a word of filthy lore;
And him at last without the city bear:
The foolish rabble, trusting evermore
Their thrall to banish to the sound of blows,
Who passing little of its prisoner knows.

CXXXIV
The warrior's gyves no sooner they undo,
And from their manacles free either hand,
Than Gryphon seizes shield and sword, and, through
The rabble, makes long furrows with his brand.
With pike and spear unfurnished was the crew,
Who without weapons came, a witless band.
The rest for other canto I suspend,
For, sir, 'tis time this song should have an end.

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Beowulf (Episode 28-30)

HASTENED the hardy one, henchmen with him,
sandy strand of the sea to tread
and widespread ways. The world's great candle,
sun shone from south. They strode along
with sturdy steps to the spot they knew
where the battle-king young, his burg within,
slayer of Ongentheow, shared the rings,
shelter-of-heroes. To Hygelac
Beowulf's coming was quickly told, --
that there in the court the clansmen's refuge,
the shield-companion sound and alive,
hale from the hero-play homeward strode.
With haste in the hall, by highest order,
room for the rovers was readily made.
By his sovran he sat, come safe from battle,
kinsman by kinsman. His kindly lord
he first had greeted in gracious form,
with manly words. The mead dispensing,
came through the high hall Haereth's daughter,
winsome to warriors, wine-cup bore
to the hands of the heroes. Hygelac then
his comrade fairly with question plied
in the lofty hall, sore longing to know
what manner of sojourn the Sea-Geats made.
"What came of thy quest, my kinsman Beowulf,
when thy yearnings suddenly swept thee yonder
battle to seek o'er the briny sea,
combat in Heorot? Hrothgar couldst thou
aid at all, the honored chief,
in his wide-known woes? With waves of care
my sad heart seethed; I sore mistrusted
my loved one's venture: long I begged thee
by no means to seek that slaughtering monster,
but suffer the South-Danes to settle their feud
themselves with Grendel. Now God be thanked
that safe and sound I can see thee now!"
Beowulf spake, the bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"'Tis known and unhidden, Hygelac Lord,
to many men, that meeting of ours,
struggle grim between Grendel and me,
which we fought on the field where full too many
sorrows he wrought for the Scylding-Victors,
evils unending. These all I avenged.
No boast can be from breed of Grendel,
any on earth, for that uproar at dawn,
from the longest-lived of the loathsome race
in fleshly fold! -- But first I went
Hrothgar to greet in the hall of gifts,
where Healfdene's kinsman high-renowned,
soon as my purpose was plain to him,
assigned me a seat by his son and heir.
The liegemen were lusty; my life-days never
such merry men over mead in hall
have I heard under heaven! The high-born queen,
people's peace-bringer, passed through the hall,
cheered the young clansmen, clasps of gold,
ere she sought her seat, to sundry gave.
Oft to the heroes Hrothgar's daughter,
to earls in turn, the ale-cup tendered, --
she whom I heard these hall-companions
Freawaru name, when fretted gold
she proffered the warriors. Promised is she,
gold-decked maid, to the glad son of Froda.
Sage this seems to the Scylding's-friend,
kingdom's-keeper: he counts it wise
the woman to wed so and ward off feud,
store of slaughter. But seldom ever
when men are slain, does the murder-spear sink
but briefest while, though the bride be fair!
"Nor haply will like it the Heathobard lord,
and as little each of his liegemen all,
when a thane of the Danes, in that doughty throng,
goes with the lady along their hall,
and on him the old-time heirlooms glisten
hard and ring-decked, Heathobard's treasure,
weapons that once they wielded fair
until they lost at the linden-play
liegeman leal and their lives as well.
Then, over the ale, on this heirloom gazing,
some ash-wielder old who has all in mind
that spear-death of men, -- he is stern of mood,
heavy at heart, -- in the hero young
tests the temper and tries the soul
and war-hate wakens, with words like these: --
Canst thou not, comrade, ken that sword
which to the fray thy father carried
in his final feud, 'neath the fighting-mask,
dearest of blades, when the Danish slew him
and wielded the war-place on Withergild's fall,
after havoc of heroes, those hardy Scyldings?
Now, the son of a certain slaughtering Dane,
proud of his treasure, paces this hall,
joys in the killing, and carries the jewel
that rightfully ought to be owned by thee!_
Thus he urges and eggs him all the time
with keenest words, till occasion offers
that Freawaru's thane, for his father's deed,
after bite of brand in his blood must slumber,
losing his life; but that liegeman flies
living away, for the land he kens.
And thus be broken on both their sides
oaths of the earls, when Ingeld's breast
wells with war-hate, and wife-love now
after the care-billows cooler grows.
"So I hold not high the Heathobards' faith
due to the Danes, or their during love
and pact of peace. -- But I pass from that,
turning to Grendel, O giver-of-treasure,
and saying in full how the fight resulted,
hand-fray of heroes. When heaven's jewel
had fled o'er far fields, that fierce sprite came,
night-foe savage, to seek us out
where safe and sound we sentried the hall.
To Hondscio then was that harassing deadly,
his fall there was fated. He first was slain,
girded warrior. Grendel on him
turned murderous mouth, on our mighty kinsman,
and all of the brave man's body devoured.
Yet none the earlier, empty-handed,
would the bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of bale,
outward go from the gold-decked hall:
but me he attacked in his terror of might,
with greedy hand grasped me. A glove hung by him
wide and wondrous, wound with bands;
and in artful wise it all was wrought,
by devilish craft, of dragon-skins.
Me therein, an innocent man,
the fiendish foe was fain to thrust
with many another. He might not so,
when I all angrily upright stood.
'Twere long to relate how that land-destroyer
I paid in kind for his cruel deeds;
yet there, my prince, this people of thine
got fame by my fighting. He fled away,
and a little space his life preserved;
but there staid behind him his stronger hand
left in Heorot; heartsick thence
on the floor of the ocean that outcast fell.
Me for this struggle the Scyldings'-friend
paid in plenty with plates of gold,
with many a treasure, when morn had come
and we all at the banquet-board sat down.
Then was song and glee. The gray-haired Scylding,
much tested, told of the times of yore.
Whiles the hero his harp bestirred,
wood-of-delight; now lays he chanted
of sooth and sadness, or said aright
legends of wonder, the wide-hearted king;
or for years of his youth he would yearn at times,
for strength of old struggles, now stricken with age,
hoary hero: his heart surged full
when, wise with winters, he wailed their flight.
Thus in the hall the whole of that day
at ease we feasted, till fell o'er earth
another night. Anon full ready
in greed of vengeance, Grendel's mother
set forth all doleful. Dead was her son
through war-hate of Weders; now, woman monstrous
with fury fell a foeman she slew,
avenged her offspring. From Aeschere old,
loyal councillor, life was gone;
nor might they e'en, when morning broke,
those Danish people, their death-done comrade
burn with brands, on balefire lay
the man they mourned. Under mountain stream
she had carried the corpse with cruel hands.
For Hrothgar that was the heaviest sorrow
of all that had laden the lord of his folk.
The leader then, by thy life, besought me
(sad was his soul) in the sea-waves' coil
to play the hero and hazard my being
for glory of prowess: my guerdon he pledged.
I then in the waters -- 'tis widely known --
that sea-floor-guardian savage found.
Hand-to-hand there a while we struggled;
billows welled blood; in the briny hall
her head I hewed with a hardy blade
from Grendel's mother, -- and gained my life,
though not without danger. My doom was not yet.
Then the haven-of-heroes, Healfdene's son,
gave me in guerdon great gifts of price.

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The Prioress’s Tale [from Chaucer]

'Call up him who left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold.'

I

'O LORD, our Lord! how wondrously,' (quoth she)
'Thy name in this large world is spread abroad!
For not alone by men of dignity
Thy worship is performed and precious laud;
But by the mouths of children, gracious God!
Thy goodness is set forth; they when they lie
Upon the breast thy name do glorify.

II

'Wherefore in praise, the worthiest that I may,
Jesu! of thee, and the white Lily-flower
Which did thee bear, and is a Maid for aye,
To tell a story I will use my power;
Not that I may increase her honour's dower,
For she herself is honour, and the root
Of goodness, next her Son, our soul's best boot.

III

'O Mother Maid! O Maid and Mother free!
O bush unburnt! burning in Moses' sight!
That down didst ravish from the Deity,
Through humbleness, the spirit that did alight
Upon thy heart, whence, through that glory's might,
Conceived was the Father's sapience,
Help me to tell it in thy reverence!

IV

'Lady! thy goodness, thy magnificence,
Thy virtue, and thy great humility,
Surpass all science and all utterance;
For sometimes, Lady! ere men pray to thee
Thou goest before in thy benignity,
The light to us vouchsafing of thy prayer,
To be our guide unto thy Son so dear.

V

'My knowledge is so weak, O blissful Queen!
To tell abroad thy mighty worthiness,
That I the weight of it may not sustain;
But as a child of twelvemonths old or less,
That laboureth his language to express,
Even so fare I; and therefore, I thee pray,
Guide thou my song which I of thee shall say.

VI

'There was in Asia, in a mighty town,
'Mong Christian folk, a street where Jews might be,
Assigned to them and given them for their own
By a great Lord, for gain and usury,
Hateful to Christ and to his company;
And through this street who list might ride and wend;
Free was it, and unbarred at either end.

VII

'A little school of Christian people stood
Down at the farther end, in which there were
A nest of children come of Christian blood,
That learned in that school from year to year
Such sort of doctrine as men used there,
That is to say, to sing and read also,
As little children in their childhood do.

VIII

'Among these children was a Widow's son,
A little scholar, scarcely seven years old,
Who day by day unto this school hath gone,
And eke, when he the image did behold
Of Jesu's Mother, as he had been told,
This Child was wont to kneel adown and say
'Ave Marie,' as he goeth by the way.

IX

'This Widow thus her little Son hath taught
Our blissful Lady, Jesu's Mother dear,
To worship aye, and he forgat it not;
For simple infant hath a ready ear.
Sweet is the holiness of youth: and hence,
Calling to mind this matter when I may,
Saint Nicholas in my presence standeth aye,
For he so young to Christ did reverence.

X

'This little Child, while in the school he sate
His Primer conning with an earnest cheer,
The whilst the rest their anthem-book repeat
The 'Alma Redemptoris' did he hear;
And as he durst he drew him near and near,
And hearkened to the words and to the note,
Till the first verse he learned it all by rote.

XI

'This Latin knew he nothing what it said,
For he too tender was of age to know;
But to his comrade he repaired, and prayed
That he the meaning of this song would show,
And unto him declare why men sing so;
This oftentimes that he might be at ease,
This child did him beseech on his bare knees.

XII

'His Schoolfellow, who elder was than he,
Answered him thus:--'This song, I have heard say,
Was fashioned for our blissful Lady free;
Her to salute, and also her to pray
To be our help upon our dying day:
If there is more in this, I know it not;
Song do I learn,--small grammar I have got.'

XIII

''And is this song fashioned in reverence
Of Jesu's Mother?' said this Innocent;
'Now, certes, I will use my diligence
To con it all ere Christmas-tide be spent;
Although I for my Primer shall be shent,
And shall be beaten three times in an hour,
Our Lady I will praise with all my power.'

XIV

'His Schoolfellow, whom he had so besought,
As they went homeward taught him privily
And then he sang it well and fearlessly,
From word to word according to the note:
Twice in a day it passed through his throat;
Homeward and schoolward whensoe'er he went,
On Jesu's Mother fixed was his intent.

XV

'Through all the Jewry (this before said I)
This little Child, as he came to and fro,
Full merrily then would he sing and cry,
O 'Alma Redemptoris!' high and low:
The sweetness of Christ's Mother pierced so
His heart, that her to praise, to her to pray,
He cannot stop his singing by the way.

XVI

'The Serpent, Satan, our first foe, that hath
His wasp's nest in Jew's heart, upswelled--'O woe,
O Hebrew people!' said he in his wrath,
'Is it an honest thing? Shall this be so?
That such a Boy where'er he lists shall go
In your despite, and sing his hymns and saws,
Which is against the reverence of our laws!'

XVII

'From that day forward have the Jews conspired
Out of the world this Innocent to chase;
And to this end a Homicide they hired,
That in an alley had a privy place,
And, as the Child 'gan to the school to pace,
This cruel Jew him seized, and held him fast
And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast.

XVIII

'I say that him into a pit they threw,
A loathsome pit, whence noisome scents exhale;
O cursed folk! away, ye Herods new!
What may your ill intentions you avail?
Murder will out; certes it will not fail;
Know, that the honour of high God may spread,
The blood cries out on your accursed deed.

XIX

'O Martyr 'stablished in virginity!
Now may'st thou sing for aye before the throne,
Following the Lamb celestial,' quoth she,
'Of which the great Evangelist, Saint John,
In Patmos wrote, who saith of them that go
Before the Lamb singing continually,
That never fleshly woman they did know.

XX

'Now this poor widow waiteth all that night
After her little Child, and he came not;
For which, by earliest glimpse of morning light,
With face all pale with dread and busy thought,
She at the School and elsewhere him hath sought
Until thus far she learned, that he had been
In the Jews' street, and there he last was seen.

XXI

'With Mother's pity in her breast enclosed
She goeth, as she were half out of her mind,
To every place wherein she hath supposed
By likelihood her little Son to find;
And ever on Christ's Mother meek and kind
She cried, till to the Jewry she was brought,
And him among the accursed Jews she sought.

XXII

'She asketh, and she piteously doth pray
To every Jew that dwelleth in that place
To tell her if her child had passed that way;
They all said--Nay; but Jesu of his grace
Gave to her thought, that in a little space
She for her Son in that same spot did cry
Where he was cast into a pit hard by.

XXIII

'O thou great God that dost perform thy laud
By mouths of Innocents, lo! here thy might;
This gem of chastity, this emerald,
And eke of martyrdom this ruby bright,
There, where with mangled throat he lay upright,
The 'Alma Redemptoris' 'gan to sing,
So loud, that with his voice the place did ring.

XXIV

'The Christian folk that through the Jewry went
Come to the spot in wonder at the thing;
And hastily they for the Provost sent;
Immediately he came, not tarrying,
And praiseth Christ that is our heavenly King,
And eke his Mother, honour of Mankind:
Which done he bade that they the Jews should bind.

XXV

'This Child with piteous lamentation then
Was taken up, singing his song alway;
And with procession great and pomp of men
To the next Abbey him they bare away;
His Mother swooning by the body lay:
And scarcely could the people that were near
Remove this second Rachel from the bier.

XXVI

'Torment and shameful death to every one
This Provost doth for those bad Jews prepare
That of this murder wist, and that anon:
Such wickedness his judgments cannot spare;
Who will do evil, evil shall he bear;
Them therefore with wild horses did he draw,
And after that he hung them by the law.

XXVII

'Upon his bier this Innocent doth lie
Before the altar while the Mass doth last:
The Abbot with his convent's company
Then sped themselves to bury him full fast;
And, when they holy water on him cast,
Yet spake this Child when sprinkled was the water,
And sang, 'O Alma Redemptoris Mater!'

XXVIII

'This Abbot, for he was a holy man,
As all Monks are, or surely ought to be,
In supplication to the Child began
Thus saying, 'O dear Child! I summon thee
In virtue of the holy Trinity
Tell me the cause why thou dost sing this hymn
Since that thy throat is cut, as it doth seem.'

XXIX

''My throat is cut unto the bone, I trow,'
Said this young Child, 'and by the law of kind
I should have died, yea many hours ago;
But Jesus Christ, as in the books ye find,
Will that his glory last, and be in mind;
And, for the worship of his Mother dear,
Yet may I sing 'O Alma!' loud and clear.

XXX

''This well of mercy, Jesu's Mother sweet,
After my knowledge I have loved alway;
And in the hour when I my death did meet
To me she came, and thus to me did say,
'Thou in thy dying sing this holy lay,'
As ye have heard; and soon as I had sung
Methought she laid a grain upon my tongue.

XXXI

''Wherefore I sing, nor can from song refrain,
In honour of that blissful Maiden free,
Till from my tongue off-taken is the grain;
And after that thus said she unto me;
'My little Child, then will I come for thee
Soon as the grain from off thy tongue they take:
Be not dismayed, I will not thee forsake!'

XXXII

'This holy Monk, this Abbot--him mean I,
Touched then his tongue, and took away the grain;
And he gave up the ghost full peacefully;
And, when the Abbot had this wonder seen,
His salt tears trickled down like showers of rain;
And on his face he dropped upon the ground,
And still he lay as if he had been bound.

XXXIII

'Eke the whole Convent on the pavement lay,
Weeping and praising Jesu's Mother dear;
And after that they rose, and took their way,
And lifted up this Martyr from the bier,
And in a tomb of precious marble clear
Enclosed his uncorrupted body sweet.--
Where'er he be, God grant us him to meet!

XXXIV

'Young Hew of Lincoln! in like sort laid low
By cursed Jews--thing well and widely known,
For it was done a little while ago--
Pray also thou for us, while here we tarry
Weak sinful folk, that God, with pitying eye,
In mercy would his mercy multiply
On us, for reverence of his Mother Mary!'

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King Billy's Skull.

THE scene is the Southern Hemisphere;
The time — oh, any time of the year
Will do as well as another; say June,
Put it down likewise as the full of the moon,
And midnight to boot, when churchyards, they say,
Yawn in a most unmannerly way;
And restless ghosts in winding-sheets
Go forth and gibber about the streets,
And rehearse old crimes that were better hid
In the darkness beneath the coffin-lid.
Observe, that I merely say, on dit;
But though it never happened to me
To encounter, either in-doors or out,
A posthumous gentleman walking about,
In regulation sepulchral guise,
Or in shirt, Crimean or otherwise,
Or in hat and boots and usual wear,
Or, save for a cloud, unbecomingly bare,
Or in gaseous form, with the stars shining through him,
Beckoning me to interview him —
On mission of solemnest import bound,
Or merely a constitutional round,
Beginning at twelve as books declare,
And ending at first sniff of morning air; —
Though all such things, you will understand,
Have reached me only at second-hand,
Or third, or fourth, as the case may be,
Yet there really did occur to me
Something which I perforce must call
Ultra-super-natural; —
In fact trans-ultra-super-preter-
Natural suits both truth and metre.
There is an Island, I won't say where,
For some yet live who mightn't care
To have the address too widely known;
Suffice it to say: South Temperate Zone.
In that same Isle, thus precisely set down,
There's a certain township, and also a town —
(For, to ears colonial, I need not state
That the two do not always homologate). —
And in that same town there's a certain street;
And in that same street, the locals to complete,
There's a certain Surgery, trim and neat,
Kept by —— well, perhaps it were rash
To call him other than Doctor Dash.
At midnight, then, in the month of June
(And don't forget the full of the moon),
I sat in that Surgery, writhing with pain,
Having waited fully two hours in vain
For Doctor Dash, who, I understood,
Was engaged in the questionable good
Of adding one to the sum of woe
That includes all creatures here below, —
Especially those whose particular dolour,
As mine was then, is a rotten molar!
Have you noted that midnight's final stroke
Has a way of solemnizing folk?
Though, goodness knows, in my special case,
With a cheek that was quite a three-quarter face,
There needed no solemnizing power,
No eerie vibration of midnight hour,
Chilling through heart, and thrilling through limb,
To put me en rapport with all things grim,
With all things dreary and dismal and dim,
The whole Night side of Nature (see Crow — not Jim).
Hardly was tolled the day's decease
From the ormolu clock on the mantelpiece,
When a running fire of perplexing knocks
Seemed to proceed from a rosewood box,
That stood on a table whereon were laid
The horrible tools of the surgical trade.
Somewhat slowly the notes began
With minims, and then into crotchets ran, —
From crotchets to quavers, then faster they grew,
Galloping, galloping, thirty-two
Beats to the semibreve — doubling once more
To a semibreve split into sixty-four,
Till failing to follow so rapid a rate,
I gave in at a hundred and twenty-eight.
I was scared, I confess, but the wish to know
Was stronger than terror of ghostly foe;
And stealthily, stealthily nearing the knocks,
I pressed my ear on the rosewood box,
And fancied I could discern beneath
The peculiar rattle of chattering teeth;
Which, as need hardly be said or penned,
Set each particular hair on end,
Froze all my young blood in a moment of time,
And curdled my bile, and my chyle, and my chyme!
But though terror undoubtedly gained the day,
Yet curiosity too had its way,
And the first had no sooner sung out Avaunt!
When the second cried Stay! what the deuce do you want?
Often as I have told the tale,
This particular part is so 'like a whale,'
That I always feel an apology due
For insisting upon it as perfectly true,
This is what followed, — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
And I heard these words (on my honour, I did),
'Hi! . . . Cooey! . . . You fella . . . Open 'm lid!'
Trembling all over from foot to head,
'How shall I open it, Spirit?' I said;
'Lies there, oh lies there no key about?
For how can I open the coffer without?'
A kind of an audible ossified grin,
A gnashing of laughter, came from within,
And little by little I understood,
'You fella. . . . new chum. . . . You no good;
White fella. . . . crawler. . . . you no go,
Key in 'm lock. . . . my word. . . . 'tis so.'
It was so indeed. I opened, and lo!
An afrit? A goblin? A bottle-imp?. . . . No;
Simply a Human Skull, enshrined
In rosewood, padded and velvet-lined, —
A low type of skull, as one could see
From the brutish depression where forehead should be;
Yet surely precious in some degree
To judge from the case, not to mention the key
And the lock by a well-known patentee.
All was still for three minutes at least;
Knocks and voices alike had ceased;
There lay the skull as silent and dumb
As Lot's wife's salted cranium.
Had it been all a gross mistake
In the frenzy begotten of molar-ache?
Was the whole affair but a fancy freak,
Forged in the heat of a throbbing cheek?
Was it allbut rather than wait the event,
I determined to make the experiment.
So summoning courage a query to frame,
I boldly inquired, 'You there, what name?'
Which, to supply explanation due,
Is the Lingua-Nigra for 'Who are you?'
This is what followed — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
And a slight elevation I certainly saw
Of the skull as if raised on the under jaw;
And this time beyond the chance of mistake,
My senses about me, and wide-awake,
No victim of frenzy, no fancy's gull,
I heard the words — 'Me King Billy's Skull!'
Alas, poor Billy, I knew him well,
In his full corporeal personnel,
But a man might give his own father the go-by,
Were there only his brain-pan left to know by.
And this was Billy! the last of his race!
That sightless mask was his regal face!
How oft from the cavity within
Those fangs now set in ghastly grin,
Had I seen the curling smoke proceed
Of the eleemosynary weed —
A cavity even now displayed
Through a gap for his pipe expressly made!
Here, where the Kingly glance shot through,
Two eyeless sockets appal the view;
And where flourished the fibre of Cocoa-nut
Is an utterly towless occiput! —
But scant was the time to moralize,
For soon a light in the place of the eyes,
A wild-looking, diabolical spark,
Like the eye of an angry cat in the dark,
Came and went, and went and came
The spirit of Billy, perhaps, aflame:
And deeming it such, 'What would you, pray?'
I asked in a stammering, tremulous way;
'What is your will, oh, William, say?
William, rex dei gratia!'
This is what followed, — a grinding noise,
A friction of bones that grew to a voice;
'You take me out. . . . go long o'street. . . .
You come place where three road meet. . . .
S'pos'n keep middle till come to bridge. . . .
Cross over creek, an' go up ridge. . . .
Up on 'im top lie down hollow tree. . . .
Lift up big sheet o' bark. . . . you see
Bones of brother belongin' to me. . . .
Take 'im up head. . . . put mine fella down. . . .
You fetch 'im brother head back to town. . . .
Put 'im in box. . . . lock 'im up like o' here. . . .
Dash no do me!. . . . my oath!. . . . No fear!'
What COULD it all mean? — Three days ago
I had seen this monarch in earth laid low:
How had his fleshless skull returned
From the grave where I saw him so 'quietly inurned?'
And what upon earth was the drift of the dark
Allusion to Dash in his closing remark?
And what could import a mission so strange —
This visit to death, this mysterious exchange?
And wherefore of all men should I be selected
To. . . . pending an answer I did as directed,
And in less than an hour the exchange was effected.
King Billy supplanted, the box closed once more,
And myself fleeing forth from the surgery door!
Time and the hour, as Shakespeare says,
Run through the very roughest of days: —
(Forgive misquotation — the letter kills;
The spirit, at all events, is Will's)
Time and the hour having run their race,
I found myself back in the self-same place,
Dash standing by with a smiling face,
Wiping his weapon with dainty grace,
Myself no longer a surgical case,
But relieved (to the tune of twenty bo,
With the molar transferred to my trouser fob.
I could now look around me; the box was there,
Done up in canvas, and labelled 'with care;'
And Dash, beholding my steadfast stare,
Said with Mephistophelian grin,
That looked like the very triumph of Sin,
'Bet you twenty to one in gold,
You never will guess what that box doth hold . . .
Not bet? . . . Well, listen while I unfold
A neat little tale of a neat little prank,
Played by myself upon Doctor Blank,
The Hospital Surgeon, who, as you know,
Is my open friend, but my secret foe,
Well, to begin ab initio,
King Billy, whom we saw laid low
In his mother earth some days ago,
The last of the Aborigines,
Had long been dying of lung disease.
The melancholy fact was known
To Doctor Blank and myself alone,
And each of us watched with wary eye,
Patiently waiting till Billy should die.'
(Here I ventured to ask him the reason why.)
'Why? Don't you see? this man, as the last
Of a great island race of the perished past —
(Save one old gin, from whom can be
No further scion, as all can see)
Is a wonderful curiosity:
And Blank and myself had sworn an oath,
Secret from each, yet known to both,
To achieve some scientific note
In catalogue or anecdote,
By the munificent presentation
Of King Billy's Skull to the British Nation!
Fancy the honour, the kudos, the fame!
A whole museum athrill with one's name.
Fancy the thousands all crowding to see
‘Skull of the last Aborigine,
Presented by Asterisk Dash, M.D.’!!
A couple of men not sufficing to fix
The numbers on all the umbrellas and sticks,
And every voice in the eager crowd
Pronouncing the name of Dash aloud!
Fancy the honour, the kudos, the fame!
But fancy the everlasting shame,
If in place of Dash the name should be Blank!
The Quack! the Charlatan! Mountebank!
'But to proceed. To daily view
Weaker and weaker His Majesty grew.
I tended him kindly, went out of my way
To see how he fared from day to day:
But all my kindness, in pill or potion,
Showed small by the side of Blank's devotion;
All my kindness in potion and pill
Only made Blank show kinder still.
Well, one dark day (which ill betide)
Returning home from a country ride,
I found, to my sore astonishment,
That Blank had had the patient sent
To the Hospital Nigger-ward — to die
Beneath my antagonist's very eye!
(Knew you ever such treachery?) —
I owe him one, to myself I said;
Let him have the body, I'll have the head,
By hook or by crook, let what will come —
By fair or by foul, I'll have my thumb
On that potentate's caput mortuum!
I bribed a wardsman to let me know
When the patient should be in articulo;
And, accordingly, one afternoon I got
A letter to say King Billy was not.
I suddenly found I had been remiss
In my social duties to Blank, and this
Induced me to write him to give us to tea
The pleasure of his company.
Blank took the bait, came, found — not me,
But himself alone with Mrs. D.,
Who very much regretted to say
How the Doctor was suddenly called away,
Much, to be sure, against his will,
But Mrs. . . a . . Harris was very ill: —
In an hour or so he would return: —
Edith, tell Mary to bring the urn.
'Ere Blank sat down with my woman-kind,
I had slit Billy's head above and behind.
When Blank was requested to say a grace,
There was no skull behind Billy's face.
When Blank was just about to begin,
One skull was out and another skull in.
Ere Blank had buttered a morsel of toast,
The job was three-quarters through almost.
Ere Blank had sipped of his second cup,
The flesh was spliced, and the head tied up:
And before he had drunk it to the dregs,
I had done him, as sure as eggs are eggs!
'And he knows it too; but, all the same,
He hasn't blown it as yet for shame.
Let him publish it now as soon as he may,
He will find himself rather late in the day,
For this very night the treasure will be
Severed from Blank by leagues of sea.
Think of it, Sir, and congratulate me —
‘Skull of the last Aborigine,
Presented by Asterisk Dash, M.D.’!!'
* * * * *
In a certain Museum, I won't say where,
But it's not very far from Russell Square,
Should the gentle Reader e'er happen to see
'Skull of the last Aborigine,' —
And find, perchance, some poetical gull
Crooning the theme of a Monarch's skull,
Tell him to lay his theme on a shelf,
On peril of being a numskull himself;
Or to modulate his Parnassian whim
To the tune of 'Brother belongin' to him'!!

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William Butler Yeats

The Wanderings of Oisin: Book I

S. Patrick. You who are bent, and bald, and blind,
With a heavy heart and a wandering mind,
Have known three centuries, poets sing,
Of dalliance with a demon thing.

Oisin. Sad to remember, sick with years,
The swift innumerable spears,
The horsemen with their floating hair,
And bowls of barley, honey, and wine,
Those merry couples dancing in tune,
And the white body that lay by mine;
But the tale, though words be lighter than air.
Must live to be old like the wandering moon.

Caoilte, and Conan, and Finn were there,
When we followed a deer with our baying hounds.
With Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
And passing the Firbolgs' burial-motmds,
Came to the cairn-heaped grassy hill
Where passionate Maeve is stony-still;
And found On the dove-grey edge of the sea
A pearl-pale, high-born lady, who rode
On a horse with bridle of findrinny;
And like a sunset were her lips,
A stormy sunset on doomed ships;
A citron colour gloomed in her hair,

But down to her feet white vesture flowed,
And with the glimmering crimson glowed
Of many a figured embroidery;
And it was bound with a pearl-pale shell
That wavered like the summer streams,
As her soft bosom rose and fell.

S. Patrick. You are still wrecked among heathen dreams.

Oisin. 'Why do you wind no horn?' she said
'And every hero droop his head?
The hornless deer is not more sad
That many a peaceful moment had,
More sleek than any granary mouse,
In his own leafy forest house
Among the waving fields of fern:
The hunting of heroes should be glad.'

'O pleasant woman,' answered Finn,
'We think on Oscar's pencilled urn,
And on the heroes lying slain
On Gabhra's raven-covered plain;
But where are your noble kith and kin,
And from what country do you ride?'

'My father and my mother are
Aengus and Edain, my own name
Niamh, and my country far
Beyond the tumbling of this tide.'

'What dream came with you that you came
Through bitter tide on foam-wet feet?
Did your companion wander away
From where the birds of Aengus wing?'
Thereon did she look haughty and sweet:
'I have not yet, war-weary king,
Been spoken of with any man;
Yet now I choose, for these four feet
Ran through the foam and ran to this
That I might have your son to kiss.'

'Were there no better than my son
That you through all that foam should run?'

'I loved no man, though kings besought,
Until the Danaan poets brought
Rhyme that rhymed upon Oisin's name,
And now I am dizzy with the thought
Of all that wisdom and the fame
Of battles broken by his hands,
Of stories builded by his words
That are like coloured Asian birds
At evening in their rainless lands.'

O Patrick, by your brazen bell,
There was no limb of mine but fell
Into a desperate gulph of love!
'You only will I wed,' I cried,
'And I will make a thousand songs,
And set your name all names above,
And captives bound with leathern thongs
Shall kneel and praise you, one by one,
At evening in my western dun.'

'O Oisin, mount by me and ride
To shores by the wash of the tremulous tide,
Where men have heaped no burial-mounds,
And the days pass by like a wayward tune,
Where broken faith has never been known
And the blushes of first love never have flown;
And there I will give you a hundred hounds;
No mightier creatures bay at the moon;
And a hundred robes of murmuring silk,
And a hundred calves and a hundred sheep
Whose long wool whiter than sea-froth flows,
And a hundred spears and a hundred bows,
And oil and wine and honey and milk,
And always never-anxious sleep;
While a hundred youths, mighty of limb,
But knowing nor tumult nor hate nor strife,
And a hundred ladies, merry as birds,
Who when they dance to a fitful measure
Have a speed like the speed of the salmon herds,
Shall follow your horn and obey your whim,
And you shall know the Danaan leisure;
And Niamh be with you for a wife.'
Then she sighed gently, 'It grows late.
Music and love and sleep await,
Where I would be when the white moon climbs,
The red sun falls and the world grows dim.'

And then I mounted and she bound me
With her triumphing arms around me,
And whispering to herself enwound me;
He shook himself and neighed three times:
Caoilte, Conan, and Finn came near,
And wept, and raised their lamenting hands,
And bid me stay, with many a tear;
But we rode out from the human lands.
In what far kingdom do you go'
Ah Fenians, with the shield and bow?
Or are you phantoms white as snow,
Whose lips had life's most prosperous glow?
O you, with whom in sloping vallcys,
Or down the dewy forest alleys,
I chased at morn the flying deer,
With whom I hurled the hurrying spear,
And heard the foemen's bucklers rattle,
And broke the heaving ranks of battle!
And Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
Where are you with your long rough hair?
You go not where the red deer feeds,
Nor tear the foemen from their steeds.

S. Patrick. Boast not, nor mourn with drooping head
Companions long accurst and dead,
And hounds for centuries dust and air.

Oisin. We galloped over the glossy sea:
I know not if days passed or hours,
And Niamh sang continually
Danaan songs, and their dewy showers
Of pensive laughter, unhuman sound,
Lulled weariness, and softly round
My human sorrow her white arms wound.
We galloped; now a hornless deer
Passed by us, chased by a phantom hound
All pearly white, save one red ear;
And now a lady rode like the wind
With an apple of gold in her tossing hand;
And a beautiful young man followed behind
With quenchless gaze and fluttering hair.
'Were these two born in the Danaan land,
Or have they breathed the mortal air?'

'Vex them no longer,' Niamh said,
And sighing bowed her gentle head,
And sighing laid the pearly tip
Of one long finger on my lip.

But now the moon like a white rose shone
In the pale west, and the sun'S rim sank,
And clouds atrayed their rank on rank
About his fading crimson ball:
The floor of Almhuin's hosting hall
Was not more level than the sea,
As, full of loving fantasy,
And with low murmurs, we rode on,
Where many a trumpet-twisted shell
That in immortal silence sleeps
Dreaming of her own melting hues,
Her golds, her ambers, and her blues,
Pierced with soft light the shallowing deeps.
But now a wandering land breeze came
And a far sound of feathery quires;
It seemed to blow from the dying flame,
They seemed to sing in the smouldering fires.
The horse towards the music raced,
Neighing along the lifeless waste;
Like sooty fingers, many a tree
Rose ever out of the warm sea;
And they were trembling ceaselessly,
As though they all were beating time,
Upon the centre of the sun,
To that low laughing woodland rhyme.
And, now our wandering hours were done,
We cantered to the shore, and knew
The reason of the trembling trees:
Round every branch the song-birds flew,
Or clung thereon like swarming bees;
While round the shore a million stood
Like drops of frozen rainbow light,
And pondered in a soft vain mood
Upon their shadows in the tide,
And told the purple deeps their pride,
And murmured snatches of delight;
And on the shores were many boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns, and fish-eating stoats,
And swans with their exultant throats:
And where the wood and waters meet
We tied the horse in a leafy clump,
And Niamh blew three merry notes
Out of a little silver trump;
And then an answering whispering flew
Over the bare and woody land,
A whisper of impetuous feet,
And ever nearer, nearer grew;
And from the woods rushed out a band
Of men and ladies, hand in hand,
And singing, singing all together;
Their brows were white as fragrant milk,
Their cloaks made out of yellow silk,
And trimmed with many a crimson feather;
And when they saw the cloak I wore
Was dim with mire of a mortal shore,
They fingered it and gazed on me
And laughed like murmurs of the sea;
But Niamh with a swift distress
Bid them away and hold their peace;
And when they heard her voice they ran
And knelt there, every girl and man,
And kissed, as they would never cease,
Her pearl-pale hand and the hem of her dress.
She bade them bring us to the hall
Where Aengus dreams, from sun to sun,
A Druid dream of the end of days
When the stars are to wane and the world be done.

They led us by long and shadowy ways
Where drops of dew in myriads fall,
And tangled creepers every hour
Blossom in some new crimson flower,
And once a sudden laughter sprang
From all their lips, and once they sang
Together, while the dark woods rang,
And made in all their distant parts,
With boom of bees in honey-marts,
A rumour of delighted hearts.
And once a lady by my side
Gave me a harp, and bid me sing,
And touch the laughing silver string;
But when I sang of human joy
A sorrow wrapped each merry face,
And, patrick! by your beard, they wept,
Until one came, a tearful boy;
'A sadder creature never stept
Than this strange human bard,' he cried;
And caught the silver harp away,
And, weeping over the white strings, hurled
It down in a leaf-hid, hollow place
That kept dim waters from the sky;
And each one said, with a long, long sigh,
'O saddest harp in all the world,
Sleep there till the moon and the stars die!'

And now, still sad, we came to where
A beautiful young man dreamed within
A house of wattles, clay, and skin;
One hand upheld his beardless chin,
And one a sceptre flashing out
Wild flames of red and gold and blue,
Like to a merry wandering rout
Of dancers leaping in the air;
And men and ladies knelt them there
And showed their eyes with teardrops dim,
And with low murmurs prayed to him,
And kissed the sceptre with red lips,
And touched it with their finger-tips.
He held that flashing sceptre up.
'Joy drowns the twilight in the dew,
And fills with stars night's purple cup,
And wakes the sluggard seeds of corn,
And stirs the young kid's budding horn,
And makes the infant ferns unwrap,
And for the peewit paints his cap,
And rolls along the unwieldy sun,
And makes the little planets run:
And if joy were not on the earth,
There were an end of change and birth,
And Earth and Heaven and Hell would die,
And in some gloomy barrow lie
Folded like a frozen fly;
Then mock at Death and Time with glances
And wavering arms and wandering dances.

'Men's hearts of old were drops of flame
That from the saffron morning came,
Or drops of silver joy that fell
Out of the moon's pale twisted shell;
But now hearts cry that hearts are slaves,
And toss and turn in narrow caves;
But here there is nor law nor rule,
Nor have hands held a weary tool;
And here there is nor Change nor Death,
But only kind and merry breath,
For joy is God and God is joy.'
With one long glance for girl and boy
And the pale blossom of the moon,
He fell into a Druid swoon.

And in a wild and sudden dance
We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance
And swept out of the wattled hall
And came to where the dewdrops fall
Among the foamdrops of the sea,
And there we hushed the revelry;
And, gathering on our brows a frown,
Bent all our swaying bodies down,
And to the waves that glimmer by
That sloping green De Danaan sod
Sang, 'God is joy and joy is God,
And things that have grown sad are wicked,
And things that fear the dawn of the morrow
Or the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

We danced to where in the winding thicket
The damask roses, bloom on bloom,
Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom.
And bending over them softly said,
Bending over them in the dance,
With a swift and friendly glance
From dewy eyes: 'Upon the dead
Fall the leaves of other roses,
On the dead dim earth encloses:
But never, never on our graves,
Heaped beside the glimmering waves,
Shall fall the leaves of damask roses.
For neither Death nor Change comes near us,
And all listless hours fear us,
And we fear no dawning morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

The dance wound through the windless woods;
The ever-summered solitudes;
Until the tossing arms grew still
Upon the woody central hill;
And, gathered in a panting band,
We flung on high each waving hand,
And sang unto the starry broods.
In our raised eyes there flashed a glow
Of milky brightness to and fro
As thus our song arose: 'You stars,
Across your wandering ruby cars
Shake the loose reins: you slaves of God.
He rules you with an iron rod,
He holds you with an iron bond,
Each one woven to the other,
Each one woven to his brother
Like bubbles in a frozen pond;
But we in a lonely land abide
Unchainable as the dim tide,
With hearts that know nor law nor rule,
And hands that hold no wearisome tool,
Folded in love that fears no morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

O Patrick! for a hundred years
I chased upon that woody shore
The deer, the badger, and the boar.
O patrick! for a hundred years
At evening on the glimmering sands,
Beside the piled-up hunting spears,
These now outworn and withered hands
Wrestled among the island bands.
O patrick! for a hundred years
We went a-fishing in long boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns and fish-eating stoats.
O patrick! for a hundred years
The gentle Niamh was my wife;
But now two things devour my life;
The things that most of all I hate:
Fasting and prayers.

S. Patrick. Tell on.

Oisin. Yes, yes,
For these were ancient Oisin's fate
Loosed long ago from Heaven's gate,
For his last days to lie in wait.
When one day by the tide I stood,
I found in that forgetfulness
Of dreamy foam a staff of wood
From some dead warrior's broken lance:
I tutned it in my hands; the stains
Of war were on it, and I wept,
Remembering how the Fenians stept
Along the blood-bedabbled plains,
Equal to good or grievous chance:
Thereon young Niamh softly came
And caught my hands, but spake no word
Save only many times my name,
In murmurs, like a frighted bird.
We passed by woods, and lawns of clover,
And found the horse and bridled him,
For we knew well the old was over.
I heard one say, 'His eyes grow dim
With all the ancient sorrow of men';
And wrapped in dreams rode out again
With hoofs of the pale findrinny
Over the glimmering purple sea.
Under the golden evening light,
The Immortals moved among thc fountains
By rivers and the woods' old night;
Some danced like shadows on the mountains
Some wandered ever hand in hand;
Or sat in dreams on the pale strand,
Each forehead like an obscure star
Bent down above each hooked knee,
And sang, and with a dreamy gaze
Watched where the sun in a saffron blaze
Was slumbering half in the sea-ways;
And, as they sang, the painted birds
Kept time with their bright wings and feet;
Like drops of honey came their words,
But fainter than a young lamb's bleat.

'An old man stirs the fire to a blaze,
In the house of a child, of a friend, of a brother.
He has over-lingered his welcome; the days,
Grown desolate, whisper and sigh to each other;
He hears the storm in the chimney above,
And bends to the fire and shakes with the cold,
While his heart still dreams of battle and love,
And the cry of the hounds on the hills of old.

But We are apart in the grassy places,
Where care cannot trouble the least of our days,
Or the softness of youth be gone from our faces,
Or love's first tenderness die in our gaze.
The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
She limps along in an aged whiteness;
A storm of birds in the Asian trees
Like tulips in the air a-winging,
And the gentle waves of the summer seas,
That raise their heads and wander singing,
Must murmur at last, "Unjust, unjust";
And "My speed is a weariness," falters the mouse,
And the kingfisher turns to a ball of dust,
And the roof falls in of his tunnelled house.
But the love-dew dims our eyes till the day
When God shall come from the Sea with a sigh
And bid the stars drop down from the sky,
And the moon like a pale rose wither away.'

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An Ode - Humbly Inscribed To The Queen, On the Glorious Success of Her Majesty's Arms

When great Augustus govern'd ancient Rome,
And sent his conquering bands to foreign wars,
Abroad when dreaded, and beloved at home,
He saw his fame increasing with his years,
Horace, great bard, (so fate ordain'd) arose,
And, bold as were his countryman in fight,
Snatch'd their fair actions from degrading prose,
And set their battles in eternal light:
High as their trumpets tune his lyre he strung,
And with his prince's arms he moralized his song.

When bright Eliza ruled Britannia's state,
Widely distributing her high commands,
And, boldly wise and fortunately great,
Freed the glad nations from tyrannic bands,
An equal genius was in Spenser found;
To the high theme he match'd his noble lays;
He travelled England o'er on fairy ground,
In mystic notes to sing his monarch's praise:
Reciting wondrous truths in pleasing dreams
He deck'd Eliza's head with Gloriana's beams.

But, greatest Anna! while thy arms pursue
Paths of renown, and climb ascents of fame,
Which nor Augustus nor Eliza knew,
What poet shall be found to sing thy name?
What numbers shall record, what tongue shall say
Thy wars on land, thy triumphs on the main?
O fairest model of imperial sway!
What equal pen shall write thy wondrous reign?
Who shall attempts and feats of arms rehearse,
Nor yet by story told, nor parallel'd by verse?

Me all too mean for such a task I weet;
Yet if the sovereign Lady designs to smile
I'll follow Horace with impetuous heat,
And clothe the verse in Spenser's native style:
By these examples rightly taught to sing,
And smit with pleasure of my country's praise,
Stretching the plumes of an uncommon wing,
High as Olympus I my flight will raise,
And latest times shall in my numbers read
Anna's immortal fame and Marlborough's hardy deed.

As the strong eagle in the silent wood,
Mindless of warlike rage and hostile care,
Plays round the rocky cliff or crystal flood,
Till by Jove's high behests call'd out to war,
And charged with thunder of his angry king,
His bosom with the vengeful message glows,
Upward the noble bird directs his wing,
And towering round his master's earth-born foes,
Swift he collects his fatal stock of ire,
Lifts his fierce talon high, and darts the forked fire.

Sedate and calm thus victor Marlborough sate,
Shaded with laurels, in his native land,
Till Anna calls him from his soft retreat,
And gives her second thunder to his hand:
Then leaving sweet repose and gentle ease,
With ardent speed he seeks the distant foe,
Marching o'er hills and vales, o'er rocks and seas,
He meditates and strikes the wondrous blow.
Our thought flies slower than our General's fame;
Grasps he the bolt? (we ask) when he has hurl'd the flame.

When fierce Bavar on Judoign's spacious plain
Did from afar the British chief behold,
Betwixt despair, and rage, and hope, and pain,
Something within his warring bosom roll'd:
He views that favourite of indulgent Fame,
Whom whilom he had met on Ister's shore;
Too well, alas! the man he knows the same
Whose prowess there repell'd the Boyan power,
And sent them trembling thro' the frighted lands,
Swift as the whirlwind drives Arabia's scatter'd sands.

His former losses he forgets to grieve;
Absolves his fate with a kinder ray
It now would shine, and only give him leave
To balance the account of Blenheim's day.
So the fell lion, in the lonely glade,
His side still smarting with the hunter's spear,
Though deeply wounded, no way yet dismay'd,
Roars terrible, and meditates new war,
In sullen fury traverses the plain
To find the venturous foe, and battle him again.

Misguided prince, no longer urge thy fate,
Nor tempt the hero to unequal war;
Famed in misfortune, and in ruin great,
Confess the force of Malbro's stronger star.
Those laurel groves (the merits of thy youth)
Which thou from Mahomet didst greatly gain,
While, bold assertor of resistless truth,
Thy sword did godlike Liberty maintain.
Must from thy brow their falling honours shed,
And their transplanted wreaths must deck a worthier head.

Yet cease the ways of Providence to blame,
And human faults with human grief confess;
'Tis thou art changed, while Heaven is still the same;
From thy ill counsels date thy ill success:
Impartial Justice holds her equal scales,
Till stronger virtue does the weight incline;
If over thee thy glorious foe prevails,
He now defends the cause that once was thine.
Righteous the war, the champion shall subdue,
For Jove's great handmaid, Power, must Jove's decrees pursue.

Hark! the dire trumpets sound their shrill alarms!
Auverqueque, branch'd from the renown'd Nassaus,
Hoary in war, and bent beneath his arms,
His glorious sword with dauntless courage draws.
When anxious Britain mourn'd her parting lord,
And all of William that was mortal died,
The faithful hero had received his sword
From his expiring master's much-loved side:
Oft from its fatal ire has Louis flown,
Where'er great William led or Maese and Sambre run.

But brandish'd high, in an ill-omen'd hour
To thee, proud Gaul, behold thy justest fear,
The master-sword, disposer of thy power:
'Tis that which Caesar gave the British peer.
He took the gift: Nor ever will I sheath
This steel (so Anna's high behests ordain)
The General said, unless by glorious death
Absolved, till conquest has confirm'd your reign.
Returns like these our mistress bids us make,
When from a foreign prince a gift her Britons take.

And now fierce Gallia rushes on her foes,
Her force augmented by the Boyan bands;
So Volga's stream, increased by mountain snows,
Rolls with new fury down through Russia's lands.
Like two great rocks against the raging tide
(If Virtue's force with Nature's we compare)
Unmoved the two united chiefs abide,
Sustain the impulse, and receive the war:
Round their firm sides in vain the tempest beats,
And still the foaming wave with lessen'd power retreats.

The rage dispersed, the glorious pair advance,
With mingled anger and collected might,
To turn the war, and tell aggressing France
How Britain's sons and Britain's friends can fight.
On conquest fix'd, and covetous of fame,
Behold them rushing through the Gallic host;
Through standing corn so runs the sudden flame,
Or eastern winds along Sicilia's coast.
They deal their terrors to the adverse nation:
Pale Death attends their arms, and ghastly Desolation.

But while with fiercest ire Bellona glows,
And Europe rather hopes than fears her fate,
While Britain presses her afflicted foes,
What horror damps the strong and quells the great?
Whence look the soldier's cheeks dismay'd and pale?
Erst ever dreadful, know they now to dread?
The hostile troops, I ween, almost prevail,
And the pursuers only not recede.
Alas! their lessen'd rage proclaims their grief!
For anxious, lo! they crowd around their falling chief.

I thank thee, Fate, exclaims the fierce Bavar;
Let Boya's trumpet graceful Io's sound;
I saw him fall, their thunderbolt of war; -
Ever to Vengeance sacred be the ground -
Vain wish! short joy! the hero mounts again
In greater glory, and with fuller light;
The evening star so falls into the main,
To rise at morn more prevalently bright.
He rises safe, but near, too near his side,
A good man's grievous loss, a faithful servant died.

Propitious Mars! the battle is regain'd';
The foe with lessen'd wrath disputes the field:
The Briton fights, by favoring gods sustain'd;
Freedom must live, and lawless power must yield.
Vain now the tales which fabling poets tell,
That wavering Conquest still desires to rove!
In Marlbro's camp the goddess knows to dwell;
Long as the hero's life remains her love.
Again France flies, again the Duke pursues,
And on Ramilia's plains he Blenheim's fame renews.

Great thanks, O Captain, great in arms! receive
From thy triumphant country's public voice;
Thy country greater thanks can only give
To Anne, to her who made those arms her choice.
Recording Schellenberg's and Blenheim's toils,
We dreaded lest thou should'st those toils repeat:
We view'd the palace charged with Gallic spoils,
And in those spoils we thought thy praise complete.
For never Greek we deem'd, nor Roman knight,
In characters like these did e'er his acts indite.

Yet, mindless still of ease, thy virtue flies
A pitch to old and modern times unknown:
Those goodly deeds, which we so highly prize,
Imperfect seem, great Chief, to thee alone.
Those heights, where William's virtue might have staid,
And on the subject world look'd safely down,
By Marlbro's pass'd, the props and steps were made
Sublimer yet to raise his Queen's renown:
Still gaining more, still slighting what he gain'd,
Nought done the hero deem'd while ought undone remain'd.

When swift-wing'd Rumour told the mighty Gaul
How lessen'd from the field Bavar was fled,
He wept the swiftness of the champion's fall,
And thus the royal treaty-breaker said:
And lives he yet, the great, the lost Bavar,
Ruin to Gallia in the name of friend?
Tell me how far has Fortune been severe?
Has the foe's glory of our grief an end?
Remains there, of the fifty thousand lost,
To save our threaten'd realm, or guard our shatter'd coast?

To the close rock the frighted raven flies,
Soon as the rising eagle cuts the air
The shaggy wolf unseen and trembling lies,
When the hoarse roar proclaims the lion near:
Ill starr'd did we our forts and lines forsake,
To dare our British foes to open fight:
Our conquest we by stategem should make:
'Tis ours by craft and by surprise to gain:
'Tis theirs, to meet in arms, and battle in the plain.

The ancient father of this hostile brood,
Their boasted Brute, undaunted snatch'd his gods
From burning Troy, and Xanthus red with blood,
And fix'd on silver Thames his dire abodes:
And this be Trynovante, he said, the seat
By Heaven ordain'd, my sons, your lasting place:
Superior here to all the bolts of fate
Live, mindful of the author of your race,
Whom neither Greece, nor war, nor want, nor flame,
Nor great Pelides' arm, nor Juno's rage, could tame.

Their Tudors hence, and Stuart's offspring flow:
Hence Edward, dreadful with his sable shield,
Talbot to Gallia's power eternal foe,
And Seymour, famed in council or in field:
Hence Nevel, great to settle or dethrone,
And Drake, and Ca'ndish, terrors of the sea:
Hence Butler's sons, o'er land and ocean known,
Herbert's and Churchill's warring progeny:
Hence the long roll which Gallia should conceal:
For, oh! who, vanquish'd, loves the victor's fame to tell?

Envy'd Britannia, sturdy as the oak,
Which on her mountain top she proudly bears,
Eludes the axe, and sproutes against the stroke;
Strong from her wounds, and greater by her wars.
And as those teeth, which Cadmus sow'd in earth,
Produced new youth, and furnish'd fresh supplies;
So with young vigour, and succeeding birth,
Her losses more than recompensed arise;
And every age she with a race is crown'd,
For letters more polite, in battles more renown'd.

Obstinate power, whom nothing can repel;
Not the fierce Saxon, nor the cruel Dane,
Nor deep impression of the Norman steel,
Nor Europe's force amass'd by envious Spain.
Nor France on universal sway intent,
Oft breaking leagues, and oft renewing wars;
Nor (frequent bane of weaken'd government)
Their own intestine feuds and mutual jars;
Those feuds and jars, in which I trusted more,
Than in my troops, and fleets, and all the Gallic power.

To fruitful Rheims, or fair Lutetia's gate,
What tidings shall the messenger convey?
Shall the loud herald our success relate,
Or mitred priest appoint the solemn day?
Alas! my praises they no more must sing;
They to my statue now must bow no more;
Broken, repulsed is their immortal king:
Fall'n, fall'n for ever, is the Gallic power.-
The woman chief is master of the war:
Earth she has freed by arms, and vanquish'd Heaven by prayer.

While thus the ruin'd foe's despair commends
Thy council and thy deed, victorious queen,
What shall thy subjects say, and what thy friends;
How shall thy triumphs in our joy be seen?
Oh! deign to let the eldest of the nine
Recite Britannia great and Gallia free;
Oh! with her sister Sculpture let her join
To raise, great Anne, the monument to thee;
To thee, of all our good the sacred spring;
To thee, our dearest dread; to thee, our softer king.

Let Europe, saved, the column high erect,
Than Trojan's higher, or than Antonine's,
Where sembling art may carve the fair effect
And full achievement of thy great designs,
In a calm heaven and a serener air
Sublime the queen shall on the summit stand,
From danger far, as far removed from fear,
And pointing down to earth her dread command.
All winds, all storms, that threaten human wo
Shall sink beneath her feet, and spread their rage below.

There fleets shall strive, by winds and waters tost,
Till the young Austrian on Iberia's strand,
Great as AEneas on the Latian coast
Shall fix his foot: And this, be this the land,
Great Jove, where I for ever will remain,
(The empire's other hope shall say) and here
Vanquish'd, intomb'd I'll lie, or crown'd I'll reign -
O Virtue, to thy British Mother dear!
Like the famed Trojan suffer and abide:
For Anne is thine, I ween, as Venus was his guide.

There, in eternal characters engraved,
Vigo, and Gibraltar, and Barcelone,
Their force destroy'd, their privileges saved,
Shall Anna's terrors and her mercies own:
Spain, from the usurper Bourbon's arms retrieved,
Shall with new life and grateful joy appear,
Numbering the wonders which that youth achieved
Whom Anna clad in arms and sent to war,
Whom Anna sent to claim Iberia's throne,
And made him more than king in calling him her son.

There Isther, pleased by Blenheim's glorious field,
Rolling, shall bid his eastern waves declare
Germania saved by Britain's ample shield,
And bleeding Gaul afflicted by her spear;
Shall bid them mention Marlbro', on that shore
Leading his islanders renown'd in arms,
Through climes where never British chief before
Or pitch'd his camp, or sounded his alarms;
Shall bid them bless the queen, who made his streams
Glorious as those of Boyne, and safe as those of Thames.

Brabantia, clad with fields, and crown'd with towers,
With decent joy shall her deliverer meet,
Shall own thy arms, great queen, and bless thy powers,
Laying the keys beneath thy subject's feet.
Flandria, by plenty made the home of war,
Shall weep her crime, and bow to Charles restored,
With double vows shall bless thy happy care
In having drawn and having sheathed the sword,
From these their sister provinces shall know
How Anne supports a friend, and how forgives a foe.

Bright swords, and crested helms, and pointed spears,
In artful piles around the work shall lie;
And shields indented deep in ancient wars,
Blazon'd with signs of Gallic heraldry;
And standards with distinguish'd honours bright,
Marks of high power and national command,
Which Valois' sons, and Bourbon's bore in fight,
Or gave to Foix', or Montmorancy's hand;
Great spoils, which Gallia must to Britain yield,
From Cressy's battle saved to grace Ramilia's field.

And, as fine art the spaces may dispose,
The knowing thought and curious eye shall see
Thy emblem, gracious queen, the British rose,
Type of sweet rule and gentle majesty:
The northern thistle, whom no hostile hand
Unhurt too rudely may provoke, I ween;
Hibernia's harp, device of her command,
And parent of her mirth shall there be seen:
Thy vanquish'd lilies, France, decay'd and torn,
Shall with disorder'd pomp the lasting work adorn.

Beneath, great queen, oh! very far beneath,
Next to the ground and on the humble base,
To save herself from darkness and from death,
That muse desires the last, the lowest place;
Who, though unmeet, yet touch'd the trembling string,
For the fair fame of Anne and Albion's land,
Who durst of war and martial fury sing;
And when thy will, and when thy subject's hand,
Had quell'd those wars, and bid that fury cease,
Hangs up her grateful harp to conquest, and to peace.

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Tale III

THE GENTLEMAN FARMER.

Gwyn was a farmer, whom the farmers all,
Who dwelt around, 'the Gentleman' would call;
Whether in pure humility or pride,
They only knew, and they would not decide.
Far different he from that dull plodding tribe
Whom it was his amusement to describe;
Creatures no more enliven'd than a clod,
But treading still as their dull fathers trod;
Who lived in times when not a man had seen
Corn sown by drill, or thresh'd by a machine!
He was of those whose skill assigns the prize
For creatures fed in pens, and stalls, and sties;
And who, in places where improvers meet,
To fill the land with fatness, had a seat;
Who in large mansions live like petty kings,
And speak of farms but as amusing things;
Who plans encourage, and who journals keep,
And talk with lords about a breed of sheep.
Two are the species in this genus known;
One, who is rich in his profession grown,
Who yearly finds his ample stores increase,
From fortune's favours and a favouring lease;
Who rides his hunter, who his house adorns;
Who drinks his wine, and his disbursements scorns;
Who freely lives, and loves to show he can, -
This is the Farmer made the Gentleman.
The second species from the world is sent,
Tired with its strife, or with his wealth content;
In books and men beyond the former read
To farming solely by a passion led,
Or by a fashion; curious in his land;
Now planning much, now changing what he plann'd;
Pleased by each trial, not by failures vex'd,
And ever certain to succeed the next;
Quick to resolve, and easy to persuade, -
This is the Gentleman, a farmer made.
Gwyn was of these; he from the world withdrew
Early in life, his reasons known to few;
Some disappointments said, some pure good sense,
The love of land, the press of indolence;
His fortune known, and coming to retire,
If not a Farmer, men had call'd him 'Squire.
Forty and five his years, no child or wife
Cross'd the still tenour of his chosen life;
Much land he purchased, planted far around,
And let some portions of superfluous ground
To farmers near him, not displeased to say
'My tenants,' nor 'our worthy landlord,' they.
Fix'd in his farm, he soon display'd his skill
In small-boned lambs, the horse-hoe, and the drill;
From these he rose to themes of nobler kind,
And show'd the riches of a fertile mind;
To all around their visits he repaid
And thus his mansion and himself display'd.
His rooms were stately, rather fine than neat,
And guests politely call'd his house a Seat;
At much expense was each apartment graced,
His taste was gorgeous, but it still was taste;
In full festoons the crimson curtains fell,
The sofas rose in bold elastic swell;
Mirrors in gilded frames display'd the tints
Of glowing carpets and of colour'd prints:
The weary eye saw every object shine,
And all was costly, fanciful, and fine.
As with his friends he pass'd the social hours,
His generous spirit scorn'd to hide its powers;
Powers unexpected, for his eye and air
Gave no sure signs that eloquence was there;
Oft he began with sudden fire and force,
As loth to lose occasion for discourse;
Some, 'tis observed, who feel a wish to speak,
Will a due place for introduction seek;
On to their purpose step by step they steal,
And all their way, by certain signals, feel;
Others plunge in at once, and never heed
Whose turn they take, whose purpose they impede;
Resolved to shine, they hasten to begin,
Of ending thoughtless--and of these was Gwyn.
And thus he spake: -
'It grieves me to the soul,
To see how man submits to man's control;
How overpower'd and shackled minds are led
In vulgar tracks, and to submission bred;
The coward never on himself relies,
But to an equal for assistance flies;
Man yields to custom, as he bows to fate,
In all things ruled--mind, body, and estate;
In pain, in sickness, we for cure apply
To them we know not, and we know not why;
But that the creature has some jargon read,
And got some Scotchman's system in his head;
Some grave impostor, who will health ensure,
Long as your patience or your wealth endure,
But mark them well, the pale and sickly crew,
They have not health, and can they give it you?
These solemn cheats their various methods choose,
A system fires them, as a bard his muse:
Hence wordy wars arise; the learn'd divide,
And groaning patients curse each erring guide.
'Next, our affairs are govern'd, buy or sell,
Upon the deed the law must fix its spell;
Whether we hire or let, we must have still
The dubious aid of an attorney's skill;
They take a part in every man's affairs,
And in all business some concern is theirs;
Because mankind in ways prescribed are found
Like flocks that follow on a beaten ground.
Each abject nature in the way proceeds,
That now to shearing, now to slaughter leads.
Should you offend, though meaning no offence,
You have no safety in your innocence;
The statute broken then is placed in view,
And men must pay for crimes they never knew;
Who would by law regain his plunder'd store,
Would pick up fallen merc'ry from the floor;
If he pursue it, here and there it slides,
He would collect it, but it more divides;
This part and this he stops, but still in vain,
It slips aside, and breaks in parts again;
Till, after time and pains, and care and cost,
He finds his labour and his object lost.
But most it grieves me (friends alone are round),
To see a man in priestly fetters bound;
Guides to the soul, these friends of Heaven

contrive,
Long as man lives, to keep his fears alive:
Soon as an infant breathes, their rites begin;
Who knows not sinning, must be freed from sin;
Who needs no bond, must yet engage in vows;
Who has no judgment, must a creed espouse:
Advanced in life, our boys are bound by rules,
Are catechised in churches, cloisters, schools,
And train'd in thraldom to be fit for tools:
The youth grown up, he now a partner needs,
And lo! a priest, as soon as he succeeds.
What man of sense can marriage-rites approve?
What man of spirit can be bound to love?
Forced to be kind! compell'd to be sincere!
Do chains and fetters make companions dear?
Pris'ners indeed we bind; but though the bond
May keep them safe, it does not make them fond:
The ring, the vow, the witness, licence, prayers,
All parties known! made public all affairs!
Such forms men suffer, and from these they date
A deed of love begun with all they hate:
Absurd! that none the beaten road should shun,
But love to do what other dupes have done.
'Well, now your priest has made you one of

twain,
Look you for rest? Alas! you look in vain.
If sick, he comes; you cannot die in peace,
Till he attends to witness your release;
To vex your soul, and urge you to confess
The sins you feel, remember, or can guess;
Nay, when departed, to your grave he goes -
But there indeed he hurts not your repose.
'Such are our burthens; part we must sustain,
But need not link new grievance to the chain:
Yet men like idiots will their frames surround
With these vile shackles, nor confess they're

bound;
In all that most confines them they confide,
Their slavery boast, and make their bonds their

pride;
E'en as the pressure galls them, they declare
(Good souls!) how happy and how free they are!
As madmen, pointing round their wretched cells,
Cry, 'Lo! the palace where our honour dwells.'
'Such is our state: but I resolve to live
By rules my reason and my feelings give;
No legal guards shall keep enthrall'd my mind,
No Slaves command me, and no teachers blind.
Tempted by sins, let me their strength defy,
But have no second in a surplice by;
No bottle-holder, with officious aid,
To comfort conscience, weaken'd and afraid:
Then if I yield, my frailty is not known;
And, if I stand, the glory is my own.
'When Truth and Reason are our friends, we seem
Alive! awake!--the superstitious dream.
Oh! then, fair truth, for thee alone I seek,
Friend to the wise, supporter of the weak;
From thee we learn whate'er is right and just:
Forms to despise, professions to distrust;
Creeds to reject, pretensions to deride,
And, following thee, to follow none beside.'
Such was the speech: it struck upon the ear
Like sudden thunder none expect to hear.
He saw men's wonder with a manly pride,
And gravely smiled at guest electrified.
'A farmer this!' they said, 'Oh! let him seek
That place where he may for his country speak;
On some great question to harangue for hours,
While speakers, hearing, envy nobler powers!'
Wisdom like this, as all things rich and rare,
Must be acquired with pains, and kept with care;
In books he sought it, which his friends might

view,
When their kind host the guarding curtain drew.
There were historic works for graver hours,
And lighter verse to spur the languid powers;
There metaphysics, logic there had place;
But of devotion not a single trace -
Save what is taught in Gibbon's florid page,
And other guides of this inquiring age.
There Hume appear'd, and near a splendid book
Composed by Gay's 'good lord of Bolingbroke:'
With these were mix'd the light, the free, the

vain,
And from a corner peep'd the sage Tom Paine;
Here four neat volumes Chesterfield were named,
For manners much and easy morals famed;
With chaste Memoirs of females, to be read
When deeper studies had confused the head.
Such his resources, treasures where he sought
For daily knowledge till his mind was fraught:
Then, when his friends were present, for their use
He would the riches he had stored produce;
He found his lamp burn clearer when each day
He drew for all he purposed to display;
For these occasions forth his knowledge sprung,
As mustard quickens on a bed of dung:
All was prepared, and guests allow'd the praise
For what they saw he could so quickly raise.
Such this new friend; and when the year came

round,
The same impressive, reasoning sage was found:
Then, too, was seen the pleasant mansion graced
With a fair damsel--his no vulgar taste;
The neat Rebecca--sly, observant, still,
Watching his eye, and waiting on his will;
Simple yet smart her dress, her manners meek,
Her smiles spoke for her, she would seldom speak:
But watch'd each look, each meaning to detect,
And (pleased with notice) felt for all neglect.
With her lived Gwyn a sweet harmonious life,
Who, forms excepted, was a charming wife:
The wives indeed, so made by vulgar law,
Affected scorn, and censured what they saw,
And what they saw not, fancied; said 'twas sin,
And took no notice of the wife of Gwyn:
But he despised their rudeness, and would prove
Theirs was compulsion and distrust, not love;
'Fools as they were! could they conceive that rings
And parsons' blessings were substantial things?'
They answer'd 'Yes;' while he contemptuous spoke
Of the low notions held by simple folk;
Yet, strange that anger in a man so wise
Should from the notions of these fools arise;
Can they so vex us, whom we so despise?
Brave as he was, our hero felt a dread
Lest those who saw him kind should think him led;
If to his bosom fear a visit paid,
It was, lest he should be supposed afraid:
Hence sprang his orders; not that he desired
The things when done: obedience he required;
And thus, to prove his absolute command,
Ruled every heart, and moved each subject hand;
Assent he ask'd for every word and whim,
To prove that he alone was king of him.
The still Rebecca, who her station knew,
With ease resign'd the honours not her due:
Well pleased she saw that men her board would

grace,
And wish'd not there to see a female face;
When by her lover she his spouse was styled,
Polite she thought it, and demurely smiled;
But when he wanted wives and maidens round
So to regard her, she grew grave and frown'd;
And sometimes whisper'd--'Why should you respect
These people's notions, yet their forms reject?'
Gwyn, though from marriage bond and fetter free,
Still felt abridgment in his liberty;
Something of hesitation he betray'd,
And in her presence thought of what he said.
Thus fair Rebecca, though she walk'd astray,
His creed rejecting, judged it right to pray,
To be at church, to sit with serious looks,
To read her Bible and her Sunday-books:
She hated all those new and daring themes,
And call'd his free conjectures 'devil's dreams:'
She honour'd still the priesthood in her fall,
And claim'd respect and reverence for them all;
Call'd them 'of sin's destructive power the foes,
And not such blockheads as he might suppose.'
Gwyn to his friends would smile, and sometimes say,
''Tis a kind fool; why vex her in her way?'
Her way she took, and still had more in view,
For she contrived that he should take it too.
The daring freedom of his soul, 'twas plain,
In part was lost in a divided reign;
A king and queen, who yet in prudence sway'd
Their peaceful state, and were in turn obey'd.
Yet such our fate, that when we plan the best,
Something arises to disturb our rest:
For though in spirits high, in body strong,
Gwyn something felt--he knew not what--was wrong,
He wish'd to know, for he believed the thing,
If unremoved, would other evil bring:
'She must perceive, of late he could not eat,
And when he walk'd he trembled on his feet:
He had forebodings, and he seem'd as one
Stopp'd on the road, or threaten'd by a dun;
He could not live, and yet, should he apply
To those physicians--he must sooner die.'
The mild Rebecca heard with some disdain,
And some distress, her friend and lord complain:
His death she fear'd not, but had painful doubt
What his distemper'd nerves might bring about;
With power like hers she dreaded an ally,
And yet there was a person in her eye; -
She thought, debated, fix'd--'Alas!' she said,
'A case like yours must be no more delay'd;
You hate these doctors; well! but were a friend
And doctor one, your fears would have an end:
My cousin Mollet--Scotland holds him now -
Is above all men skilful, all allow;
Of late a Doctor, and within a while
He means to settle in this favoured isle:
Should he attend you, with his skill profound,
You must be safe, and shortly would be sound.'
When men in health against Physicians rail,
They should consider that their nerves may fail;
Who calls a Lawyer rogue, may find, too late,
On one of these depends his whole estate;
Nay, when the world can nothing more produce,
The Priest, th' insulted priest, may have his use;
Ease, health, and comfort lift a man so high,
These powers are dwarfs that he can scarcely spy;
Pain, sickness, langour, keep a man so low,
That these neglected dwarfs to giants grow:
Happy is he who through the medium sees
Of clear good sense--but Gwyn was not of these.
He heard and he rejoiced: 'Ah! let him come,
And till he fixes, make my house his home.'
Home came the Doctor--he was much admired;
He told the patient what his case required;
His hours for sleep, his time to eat and drink,
When he should ride, read, rest, compose, or think.
Thus join'd peculiar skill and art profound,
To make the fancy-sick no more than fancy-sound.
With such attention, who could long be ill?
Returning health proclaim'd the Doctor's skill.
Presents and praises from a grateful heart
Were freely offer'd on the patient's part;
In high repute the Doctor seem'd to stand,
But still had got no footing in the land;
And, as he saw the seat was rich and fair,
He felt disposed to fix his station there:
To gain his purpose he perform'd the part
Of a good actor, and prepared to start;
Not like a traveller in a day serene,
When the sun shone and when the roads were clean;
Not like the pilgrim, when the morning gray,
The ruddy eve succeeding, sends his way;
But in a season when the sharp east wind
Had all its influence on a nervous mind;
When past the parlour's front it fiercely blew,
And Gwyn sat pitying every bird that flew,
This strange physician said--'Adieu! Adieu!
Farewell!--Heaven bless you!--if you should--but

no,
You need not fear--farewell! 'tis time to go.'
The Doctor spoke; and as the patient heard,
His old disorders (dreadful train!) appear'd;
'He felt the tingling tremor, and the stress
Upon his nerves that he could not express;
Should his good friend forsake him, he perhaps
Might meet his death, and surely a relapse.'
So, as the Doctor seem'd intent to part,
He cried in terror--'Oh! be where thou art:
Come, thou art young, and unengaged; oh! come,
Make me thy friend, give comfort to mine home;
I have now symptoms that require thine aid,
Do, Doctor, stay:'--th' obliging Doctor stay'd.
Thus Gwyn was happy; he had now a friend,
And a meek spouse on whom he could depend:
But now possess'd of male and female guide,
Divided power he thus must subdivide:
In earlier days he rode, or sat at ease
Reclined, and having but himself to please;
Now if he would a fav'rite nag bestride,
He sought permission--'Doctor, may I ride?'
(Rebecca's eye her sovereign pleasure told) -
'I think you may, but guarded from the cold,
Ride forty minutes.'--Free and happy soul,
He scorn'd submission, and a man's control;
But where such friends in every care unite
All for his good, obedience is delight.
Now Gwyn a sultan bade affairs adieu,
Led and assisted by the faithful two;
The favourite fair, Rebecca, near him sat,
And whisper'd whom to love, assist, or hate;
While the chief vizier eased his lord of cares,
And bore himself the burden of affairs:
No dangers could from such alliance flow,
But from that law that changes all below.
When wintry winds with leaves bestrew'd the

ground,
And men were coughing all the village round;
When public papers of invasion told,
Diseases, famines, perils new and old;
When philosophic writers fail'd to clear
The mind of gloom, and lighter works to cheer;
Then came fresh terrors on our hero's mind -
Fears unforeseen, and feelings undefined.
'In outward ills,' he cried, 'I rest assured
Of my friend's aid; they will in time be cured;
But can his art subdue, resist, control
These inward griefs and troubles of the soul?
Oh! my Rebecca! my disorder'd mind
No help in study, none in thought can find;
What must I do, Rebecca?' She proposed
The Parish-guide; but what could be disclosed
To a proud priest?--'No! him have I defied,
Insulted, slighted--shall he be my guide?
But one there is, and if report be just,
A wise good man, whom I may safely trust;
Who goes from house to house, from ear to ear,
To make his truths, his Gospel-truths, appear;
True if indeed they be, 'tis time that I should

hear:
Send for that man; and if report be just,
I, like Cornelius, will the teacher trust;
But if deceiver, I the vile deceit
Shall soon discover, and discharge the cheat.'
To Doctor Mollet was the grief confess'd,
While Gwyn the freedom of his mind expressed;
Yet own'd it was to ills and errors prone,
And he for guilt and frailty must atone.
'My books, perhaps,' the wav'ring mortal cried,
'Like men deceive; I would be satisfied; -
And to my soul the pious man may bring
Comfort and light: --do let me try the thing.'
The cousins met, what pass'd with Gwyn was told:
'Alas!' the Doctor said, 'how hard to hold
These easy minds, where all impressions made
At first sink deeply, and then quickly fade;
For while so strong these new-born fancies reign,
We must divert them, to oppose is vain:
You see him valiant now, he scorns to heed
The bigot's threat'nings or the zealot's creed;
Shook by a dream, he next for truth receives
What frenzy teaches, and what fear believes;
And this will place him in the power of one
Whom we must seek, because we cannot shun.'
Wisp had been ostler at a busy inn,
Where he beheld and grew in dread of sin;
Then to a Baptists' meeting found his way,
Became a convert, and was taught to pray;
Then preach'd; and, being earnest and sincere,
Brought other sinners to religious fear:
Together grew his influence and his fame,
Till our dejected hero heard his name:
His little failings were a grain of pride,
Raised by the numbers he presumed to guide;
A love of presents, and of lofty praise
For his meek spirit and his humble ways;
But though this spirit would on flattery feed,
No praise could blind him and no arts mislead: -
To him the Doctor made the wishes known
Of his good patron, but conceal'd his own;
He of all teachers had distrust and doubt,
And was reserved in what he came about;
Though on a plain and simple message sent,
He had a secret and a bold intent:
Their minds at first were deeply veil'd; disguise
Form'd the slow speech, and oped the eager eyes;
Till by degrees sufficient light was thrown
On every view, and all the business shown.
Wisp, as a skilful guide who led the blind,
Had powers to rule and awe the vapourish mind;
But not the changeful will, the wavering fear to

bind:
And should his conscience give him leave to dwell
With Gwyn, and every rival power expel
(A dubious point), yet he, with every care,
Might soon the lot of the rejected share;
And other Wisps he found like him to reign,
And then be thrown upon the world again:
He thought it prudent then, and felt it just,
The present guides of his new friend to trust:
True, he conceived, to touch the harder heart
Of the cool Doctor, was beyond his art;
But mild Rebecca he could surely sway,
While Gwyn would follow where she led the way:
So to do good, (and why a duty shun,
Because rewarded for the good when done?)
He with his friends would join in all they plann'd,
Save when his faith or feelings should withstand;
There he must rest sole judge of his affairs,
While they might rule exclusively in theirs.
When Gwyn his message to the teacher sent,
He fear'd his friends would show their discontent;
And prudent seem'd it to th' attendant pair,
Not all at once to show an aspect fair:
On Wisp they seem'd to look with jealous eye,
And fair Rebecca was demure and shy;
But by degrees the teacher's worth they knew,
And were so kind, they seem'd converted too.
Wisp took occasion to the nymph to say,
'You must be married: will you name the day?'
She smiled,--''Tis well: but should he not comply,
Is it quite safe th' experiment to try?' -
'My child,' the teacher said, 'who feels remorse,
(And feels not he?) must wish relief of course:
And can he find it, while he fears the crime! -
You must be married; will you name the time?'
Glad was the patron as a man could be,
Yet marvell'd too, to find his guides agree;
'But what the cause?' he cried; ''tis genuine love

for me.'
Each found his part, and let one act describe
The powers and honours of th' accordant tribe: -
A man for favour to the mansion speeds,
And cons his threefold task as he proceeds;
To teacher Wisp he bows with humble air,
And begs his interest for a barn's repair:
Then for the Doctor he inquires, who loves
To hear applause for what his skill improves,
And gives for praise, assent--and to the Fair
He brings of pullets a delicious pair;
Thus sees a peasant, with discernment nice,
A love of power, conceit, and avarice.
Lo! now the change complete: the convert Gwyn
Has sold his books, and has renounced his sin;
Mollet his body orders, Wisp his soul,
And o'er his purse the Lady takes control;
No friends beside he needs, and none attend -
Soul, body, and estate, has each a friend;
And fair Rebecca leads a virtuous life -
She rules a mistress, and she reigns a wife.

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Vision Of Columbus - Book 8

And now the Angel, from the trembling sight,
Veil'd the wide world–when sudden shades of night
Move o'er the ethereal vault; the starry train
Paint their dim forms beneath the placid main;
While earth and heaven, around the hero's eye,
Seem arch'd immense, like one surrounding sky.
Still, from the Power superior splendors shone,
The height emblazing like a radiant throne;
To converse sweet the soothing shades invite,
And on the guide the hero fix'd his sight.
Kind messenger of Heaven, he thus began,
Why this progressive labouring search of man?
If man by wisdom form'd hath power to reach
These opening truths that following ages teach,
Step after step, thro' devious mazes, wind,
And fill at last the measure of the mind,
Why did not Heaven, with one unclouded ray,
All human arts and reason's powers display?
That mad opinions, sects and party strife
Might find no place t'imbitter human life.
To whom the Angelic Power; to thee 'tis given,
To hold high converse, and enquire of heaven,
To mark uncircled ages and to trace
The unfolding truths that wait thy kindred race.
Know then, the counsels of th'unchanging Mind,
Thro' nature's range, progressive paths design'd,
Unfinish'd works th'harmonious system grace,
Thro' all duration and around all space;
Thus beauty, wisdom, power, their parts unroll,
Till full perfection joins the accordant whole.
So the first week, beheld the progress rise,
Which form'd the earth and arch'd th'incumbant skies.
Dark and imperfect first, the unbeauteous frame,
From vacant night, to crude existence came;
Light starr'd the heavens and suns were taught their bound,
Winds woke their force, and floods their centre found;
Earth's kindred elements, in joyous strife,
Warm'd the glad glebe to vegetable life,
Till sense and power and action claim'd their place,
And godlike reason crown'd the imperial race.
Progressive thus, from that great source above,
Flows the fair fountain of redeeming love.
Dark harbingers of hope, at first bestow'd,
Taught early faith to feel her path to God:
Down the prophetic, brightening train of years,
Consenting voices rose of different seers,
In shadowy types display'd the accomplish'd plan,
When filial Godhead should assume the man,
When the pure Church should stretch her arms abroad,
Fair as a bride and liberal as her God;
Till warm benevolence and truth refined,
Pervade the world and harmonize mankind.
And thus fair Science, of celestial birth,
With times long circuit, treads the gladsome earth;
By gradual steps to mark the extended road,
That leads mankind to reason and to God.
In elder times, when savage tribes began,
A few strong passions sway'd the wayward man;
Envy, revenge and sateless lust of power
Fired the dark soul and stain'd the fields with gore.
By jarring strife, all milder joys supprest,
Lost their soft influence on the furious breast
No friendly ties the barbarous feuds assuage,
And ceaseless carnage, feeds the brutal rage.
When different tribes, in social bands combined,
Their local views the joyless soul confined,
Eternal bickerings brutal strength supply'd,
Cities are wall'd and warring hosts divide.
When infant arts, in growing nations, rose,
They lured the envy of surrounding foes;
The savage bands united sieze the prey,
Destroy the learning and obstruct the sway.
Thus, at the Muse's call, when Thebes arose,
And science sway'd where nurt'ring Nilus flows,
Rich with the spoils of art, fair structures blazed,
And barb'rous nations envy'd as they gazed;
The tempting pyramid, the growing store,
The charm of conquest and the grasp of power
Lured the dark world, with envious pride esate,
To whelm fair Science in the wrecks of state.
Till Thebes and Memphis nameless ruins lie,
And crush'd the power that raised them to the sky.
O'er bright Chaldea's plains her vot'ries stray,
Described the stars and fix'd their wandering way,
The unclouded skies the shepherd learn'd to read,
His loves to cherish and his flocks to feed;
Till haughty Babel stretch'd an envy'd sway,
And furious millions warr'd the arts away,
Ilissus' banks display'd a happier seat,
Where every Muse and all the graces meet;
Parnassian heights she soars; then, steering far,
Driven by the close pursuit of vengeful war,
She wings her flight, a western region gams,
And moves in majesty o'er Latian plains.
But pride and conquest follow where she leads,
Her eagle flies, the untutor'd savage bleeds,
Rome's haughty Genius, taught by her to soar,
With pride of learning swells the pride of power;
From Brits, from Scythians plucks the laurel crown,
And deems, by right, the unletter'd world his own.
Till, fired by insult, vengeful myriads rose,
And all the north pours forth the swarming foes,
Like sweeping tempests in embattled heaven,
When fire and blackness streak the sails of even,
The dark-red hosts of painted warriors roll,
Rome's thoughtless capitol the tempting goal;
Nor arts they need nor order points thier way,
For arts and order swell the Roman sway;
Spain, Latium, Afric feed the furious flame,
And hapless Science mourns her buried name.
As when the sun moves o'er the flaming zone,
Careering clouds attend his servid throne,
Superior splendors, in his course display'd,
Proclaim the progress of a heavier shade;
Thus where the Power her ancient circuit held,
Her shining course succeeding darkness veil'd.
Fear, interest, envy bound her laurel'd reign,
A coast her walk, the Hellespont her main,
Ere Goya's trembling steel could point the pole,
Or heavens inverted taught thy bark to roll.
At length the scene a nobler pomp assumes,
A milder beam dispels the Gothic glooms;
In sober majesty, and charms of peace,
The goddess moves, and cheers her filial race,
Lifts bolder wings, with happier flight to soar,
No more to rest till heavens illume no more.
At once, consenting nations rise to fame;
Here Charles's genius wakes the Gallic name,
There Alfred aids the universal cause,
And opes the source of liberty and laws;
Here Greece invites her to her ancient home,
There in rough greatness heaves her Gothic dome,
Wide spreads her sway o'er blest Arabian plains,
Where her own Caliph, liberal Rachid reigns,
O'er all the climes extends the rising Power,
From farthest Ganges to the Atlantic shore.
Even horrid war, that erst her course withstood,
And whelm'd, so oft, her peaceful shrines in blood,
Now leads thro' paths unseen her glorious way,
Extends her limits and confirms her sway.
See, from all Europe's bounds, the warriors pour,
In crouding millions to the Asian shore;
Mankind their prey, the unmeaning Cross their pride,
And sacred vengeance their delusive guide.
Zeal points their way, thro' famine, toil and blood,
To aid with arms the imagin'd cause of God;
Till fields of slaughter whelm the broken host,
Their pride appall'd, their countless myriads lost,
The sad remains to peaceful toils return,
Skill'd in the arts, that eastern climes adorn;
O'er Europe's changing shores, the charms display
And wasted realms with happier fruits repay,
The rival barons, whom ambition draws,
Their wealth to lavish in the holy cause,
In peace retiring, yield the regal crown,
And blend their counsels to exalt the throne.
While slaves, no longer purchased with the soil,
Waked into freemen, ply the cheerful toil,
Assert their rights, extend the royal reign,
And mutual terrors break the feudal chair.
Now growing commerce in firm compact joins
Surrounding nations and their force combines;
From rich Ausonia, bold advent'rers rise,
Trace midland currents tow'rd the northern skies,
Enlarge their navies, and with wealthier train,
Roll with the Rhine and widen with the main;
Then tempt a broader flight, extend the sail,
Point the sure compass, call a foreign gale,
For spicy fruits the orient surges brave,
And load with sparkling gems the liberal wave.
See Rome once more the unfolding arts attend,
Her groves rewarble and her walls ascend;
Bologna's learned towers arise to fame,
And thine, fair Paris, nobler honours claim;
In rival splendor, bright Oxonia, smiles,
And spreads her blessings o'er the British isles;
There, like the star that leads the orient day,
Chaucer directs his tuneful sons their way.
See hapless Gallileo's daring soul
Explore the stars and point their orbs to roll;
And, happier Faustus, thy inventive mind
Awakes the unbounded genius of mankind:
O'er wondering climes thy letter'd types display
The works of science and extend her sway.
Bold chivalry romantic aids her cause;
In honour's name the knight his falchion draws;
Lured by the charms that grace the guardless fair,
To suffering virtue bends his generous care,
Thro' toil and pain in quest of glory roves,
Braves death and danger for the maid he loves;
While fired by gallantry, the generous art,
Improves the manners and amends the heart.
When pride and rapine held their vengeful sway,
And praise pursued where conquest led the way,
Fair nature's mildest grace, the female mind,
By rough-brow'd power neglected and confined,
Unheeded sigh'd, mid empire's rude alarms,
Unknown its virtues and enslaved its charms.
So the lone wild-rose opes the sweetest bloom,
To scent the unconscious thorn, and wither round the tomb.
Blest Science then, to rugged toils confined,
Rose but to conquer and enslave mankind,
O'er gentle passions spread a harsh controul,
And waked the glare of grandeur in the soul,
She taught the lance to thirst for human gore,
She taught pale avarice to swell the store,
Taught milder arts the peaceful prize to yield,
Her Muse to thunder thro' the embattled field;
In ruin'd realms to build the shrine of fame,
And call celestial aid to raise a tyrant's name.
In chains and darkness mourn'd the hapless fair,
The price of gold, the insulted prize of war,
While sires, unfeeling, claim'd the sordid dower,
And nymphs were sold the slaves of lust and power.
A happier morn now brightens in the skies,
Superior arts, in peaceful glory, rise;
While softer virtues claim their guardian care,
And crowns of laurel grace the rising fair.
With all the raptures of celestial fire,
Each rival sex the rival arts inspire;
This bids bold commerce load the labouring main,
Or swells the peaceful harvest of the plain,
That leads the hours of calm, domestic toil,
And cheers the houshold with an evening smile,
While states and empires, policies and laws
Lure the firm patriot in the bolder cause,
To stem the tide of power or guide the war,
Like thee to suffer and like thee to dare–
With equal honour, as with softer grace,
The matron virtues guide the rising race.
On this broad base while Science rears her fane,
New toils and triumphs fill her glorious train,
Thro' fairer fields she leads the expanding mind,
Glads every clime and dignifies mankind.
Contending kings their views harmonious blend,
With temper'd force their arts and arms extend;
The opposing hosts beneath their liberal reign,
Croud the vast wave and glitter o'er the plain,
With thundering engines rend the harmless air,
And lose the horrors in the pomp of war.
See the glad sage to useful labours soar,
Tempt other seas and unknown worlds explore,
Bid feeble tribes display their powers abroad,
And regions smile without the waste of blood.
Then, while the daring Muse, from heavenly quires,
With life divine the raptured bard inspires,
With bolder hand he strikes the trembling string,
Virtues and loves and deeds like thine to sing.
No more with vengeful chiefs and furious gods,
Old Ocean crimsons and Olympus nods,
Nor heavens, convulsive, rend the dark profound,
Nor Titans groan beneath the heaving ground;
But milder themes shall wake the peaceful song,
Life in the soul and rapture on the tongue;
To moral beauties bid the world attend,
And distant lands their social ties extend,
Thro' union'd realms the rage of conquest cease,
War sink in night, and nature smile in peace.
Then shall he soar sublimer heights, and rove
O'er brighter walks, and happier climes of love;
Rapt into vision of the blest abode,
From Angel-harps to catch the inspiring God;
Thro' heavens o'ercanopy'd by heavens behold
New suns ascend and other skies unfold,
Seraphs and system'd worlds around him shine,
And lift his mortal strains to harmony divine.
To these superior flights, the chief rejoin'd,
If happier years shall raise the roving mind;
Progressive arts exalt the soul on high,
Peace rule the earth and faith unfold the sky;
Say, how shall truths like these to man be given?
Or science find the limits mark'd by Heaven?
In every age since reasoning pride began,
And heaven's dread Sire reveal'd himself to man,
What different faiths the changing race inspire!
What blind devotions and unhallow'd fire!
What gods of human form and savage power
Cold fear could fashion or mad zeal adore!
These croud their temples, those their names despise,
In each dire cause the exulting martyr dies;
Till, sense renounced, and virtue driven afar,
Rage fires the realms, religion sounds to war;
And the first blessing, Heaven for earth design'd,
Seems the severest curse that waits mankind.
Say then, my guide, if heavenly wisdom gave
To erring man a life beyond the grave–
If one creative Power, one living soul
Produced all beings and preserves the whole;
Who, throned in light, with full perfection blest,
Mid changing worlds, enjoys eternal rest;
While man, still grovling, passionate and blind,
Wars with his neighbour and destroys his kind
Say, what connecting chain, in endless line,
Links earth to heaven, and mortal with divine?
Applies alike to every age and clime,
And lifts the soul beyond the bounds of time;
And when shall science trace the immortal way,
And hail religion in her native day?
The Power return'd. Thy race shall soon behold
Reason refined, and moral lights unroll'd,
While science rises, freed from pedant pride,
Of truth the standard and of faith the guide.
The passions wild, that sway the changing mind,
The reasoning powers, her watchful guides design'd
Each, unrestrain'd, alike subvert the plan,
Mislead the judgment and betray the man.
Hence raging zeal, or sceptic scorn prevails,
And arms decide the faith, where wisdom sails.
Of human passions, one above the rest,
Fear, love, or envy, rules in every breast;
And, while it varies with the changing clime,
Now stoops to earth, now lifts the soul sublime,
Forms local creeds of superstitious lore,
Creates the God, and bids the world adore.
Lo! at the Lama's feet, as lord of all,
Age, following age, in dumb devotion fall!
The youthful God, mid suppliant kings inshrined,
Dispensing fate and ruling half mankind,
Sits, with contorted limbs, a silent slave,
An early victim of a secret grave.
And, where the mosk's dim arches bend on high,
See the dead prophet mount the mimic sky;
While pilgrim hosts, o'er trackless deserts come,
Croud the deep shrine, and worship round his tomb.
See Memphian altars reek with human gore,
Gods hiss from caverns, or in cages roar,
Nile pours from heaven a tutulary flood,
And vales produce the vegetable Gods.
Two rival Powers the Magian faith inspire,
The sire of darkness and the source of fire:
Evil and good, in these contending rise,
And each, by turns, the sovereign of the skies.
Sun, stars and planets round the earth behold
Their fanes of marble and their shrines of gold;
The sea, the grove, the harvest and the vine
Spring from their Gods, and claim a source divine;
While heroes, kings and sages of their times,
Those Gods on earth, are Gods in happier climes;
Minos in judgment sits, and Jove in power,
And Odin's friends are feasted still with gore.
Yet wisdom's eye with just contempt descries
These rites absurd, and bids the world despise:
Then reasoning powers o'er passion gain the sway,
And shroud in deeper glooms the mental ray.
See the proud sage, with philosophic eye,
Rove thro' all climes, and trace the starry sky,
The systems mark, their various laws pursue,
The God still rising to his raptured view;
But what this God? and what the great design,
Why creatures live or worlds around him shine?
If all perfection dwelt in him alone,
If power, he cries, and wisdom were his own,
No pain, no guilt, no variance could annoy
The realm of peace, the universe of joy.
Yet reason here with homeward ken, descries
From jarring parts what dark disorders rise;
From frost and fire what storms untemper'd rave!
What plagues, what earthquakes croud the gaping grave!
Pain, toil and torture give the infant breath,
His life is misery and his portion death.
From moral ills a like destruction reigns,
War sounds the trump, and slaughter dyes the plains;
While wrath divine proclaims a heavier doom,
And guilt, astonish'd, looks beyond the tomb.
Whence these unnumber'd causeless ills, he cries,
Could wisdom form them? or could love devise?
No love, no wisdom, no consistent plan,
No God in heaven, nor future life to man!
While thus, thro' nature's walks he soars on high,
Acquits all guilt, dispeoples all the sky,
Denies unseen existence, and believes
No form beyond what human sense perceives,
An anxious search impels the curious mind,
Its own bright essence and its powers to find.
From conscious thought his reasoning force he plies,
And deep in search the active soul descries;
Yet sense and substance no relation claim,
That dupes the reason, this exists a name:
All matter, mind, sense, knowledge, pleasure, pain,
Seem the wild phantoms of the vulgar brain;
Reason, collected sits above the scheme,
Proves God and nature but an idle dream,
In one great learned doubt invelopes all,
And whelms it's own existence in the fall,
These wide extremes of passion and of pride
A while on earth thy changing race divide;
That man may find his limits and his laws,
Where zeal inflames, or coward caution awes;
And learn, by these, the happier course to steer,
Nor sink too low, nor mount beyond his sphere.
And soon, that happier course thy race shall gain,
And zealots rave, and sceptics doubt, in vain;
While reason, sense and passion aid the soul,
Science her guide and truth the eternal goal.
First, his own powers the man, with care, descries,
What nature gives, and various art supplies;
Rejects the ties of controversial rules,
The pride of names, the prejudice of schools;
The sure foundation lays, on which to rise,
To look thro' earth and meditate the skies:
And finds some general laws in every breast,
Where ethics, faith and politics may rest.
Of human powers, the Senses always chief,
Produce instruction or inforce belief;
Reason, as next in sway, the balance bears,
Receives their tidings, and with skill compares,
Restrains wild fancy, calms the impassion'd soul,
Illumes the judgment and refines the whole.
Sense, the great source of knowledge, ever just,
High in command, but faithful to its trust,
Aid of this life, and suited to its place,
Given to secure, but not exalt the race;
Descries no God, nor claims superior birth,
And knows no life beyond the bounds of earth.
Reason, tho' taught by sense to range on high,
To trace the stars and measure all the sky;
Tho' fancy, memory, foresight fill her train,
And o'er the beast she lifts the pride of man,
Yet, still to matter, form and space confined,
Or moral truths, or laws that rule mankind,
Could ne'er unaided pierce the mental gloom,
Explore new scenes beyond the closing tomb,
Reach with immortal hope the blest abode,
Or raise one thought of spirit, or of God.
Yet names of God, and powers of heavenly strain
All nations reverence and all tongues contain;
Thro' every age the conscious mind perceives,
Reason pronounces and the sense believes.
What cause mysterious could the thought impart,
Not taught by nature nor acquired hy art?
It speaks of nature's God–no matter when
The name was caught, 'tis never lost by men;
From clime to clime, from age to age it flies,
Sounds thro' the world and echos to the skies.
It proves him, self-reveal'd; and all the plan
On this connexion rests of God and man.
Observe, in man, desires immortal given,
To range o'er earth and climb a happier heaven;
Yet fear and conscious guilt his flight restrain,
His God offended, and his wishes vain:
The wrath divine impending on his breast
Precludes the hope of refuge and of rest;
He seeks the fane, obtests the avenging skies,
Pours the full tear, and yields the sacrifice;
Some foreign aid, some mediating grace,
He seeks to shield him from his Maker's face.
All forms of worship, that engage mankind,
In different climes to various Powers confined,
Require of suppliants some external aid,
Some victim offer'd, or some penance paid,
Some middle name, or reconciling plan,
To soothe the Godhead and redeem the man.
This thought, so wide diffused thro' all mankind,
Rose not from earth, or force of human mind;
From heaven reveal'd, it shows some sov'reign scheme,
To link this nature with the Power supreme.
From guilt and pain to lift the soul on high,
And ope a happier scene, a world beyond the sky.
From clime to clime while rove the sage's eyes,
Books croud on Books, and creeds on creeds arise.
Reason refined with liberal eye surveys
The opposing faiths and various modes of praise;
Yet finds in all, what nature might approve,
A God of justice reconciled by love;
With joy beholds the accordant scheme of heaven,
Dire vengeance sooth'd, a mediation given,
Man freed from pain, the stains of guilt removed,
To angels liken'd and by Heaven approved;
Death bound in chains from his old empire hurl'd,
And peace and pardon promised to the world.
Here ends the toilsome search; in this may rest
The doubts and fears that move the labouring breast;
These few fair truths, to common feeling plain,
The work unfold, and every part sustain.
As, on an arch of stone, some temple stands,
Raised to the clouds, and shines to distant lands;
The firm foundations, open to the sight,
Croud, as it grows, and strengthen with the weight;
Thus, on the characters of God and man,
By Heaven reveal'd in this conformant plan,
The beauteous system rests; and tho' awhile,
Mad zeal o'erload it, and cold scorn revile,
Stands, self-exalted, fill'd with native light,
Firm to the faith, and growing on the sight.
It speaks one simple, universal cause,
Which time and space from one great centre draws;
Whence this unfolded, that began its flight,
Worlds fill'd the skies, and nature roll'd in light;
Whither all beings tend; and where, at last,
Their progress, changes, imperfections, past,
Matter shall turn to light, to pleasure pain,
Strife end in union, angel form in man;
From stage to stage, from life to life, refined,
All centre, whence they sprang, in one eternal Mind.
In this harmonious round, united rise,
Power to create, and wisdom to devise;
While Love supreme, before all action, stood,
The first, the last, the chain of general good;
Through nature's range t'extend the sway divine,
And heaven and earth in mild accordance join,
To one great moral Sense, all sense to draw,
Strong as necessity, and fixt as law.
This branch of Godhead, thro' the system known,
Image and brightness of the Eternal throne;
By whom all wisdom shines, all power extends,
God stands reveal'd and Heaven with nature blends,
Thro' earth and skies proclaim'd the indulgent plan,
And spoke the law to Angel and to man;
In man's clear view display'd the ethereal road,
To love the neighbour and adore the God.
Yet, firm in justice as in mercy great,
His sovereign power directs the scenes of sate,
Wide o'er the world with guardian care extends,
Curbs the proud nations and the weak defends;
That feeble faith and boasting scorn may prove
The frown of vengeance, or the smile of love,
Holds, in his own right hand, the dreadful doom
Of woes unnumber'd here, and death beyond the tomb
Fill'd with his fire, and guided by his hand,
See the long train of white-robed prophets stand!
Thro' opening heaven, their eyes sublimely roll,
Peace on their tongue, and rapture in their soul;
The past records, the deeds of unborn time
Flame in their page, and shine to every clime:
There, nations read their fate, and kings, to come,
Find, in the leaves, their glory or their doom.
There unborn Cyrus, preordain'd to fame,
On Babel's ruins, builds the Persian name;
The chief of Macedon, the realm of Greece,
The Latian grandeur, and the Prince of peace,
In order ranged their song prophetic grace,
And time stands pointing to the destined place.
When now, with rolling years these deeds of fame
Rise into light and faith of nations claim.
Behold, on earth the promised Prince bestow'd!
The Virgin's offspring and the filial God;
The appointed star its rapid course suspends,
The skies unfold, the mystic dove descends,
Glad songs attend him, heaven and earth combine,
To hail the new-born babe, and speak his birth divine.
See nature's laws suspended by his power!
Unclosing graves their slumbering dead restore,
Winds rise to waft him, storms, to lull him, sleep,
He walks the wave, and triumphs o'er the deep;
He dies, he conquers death, ascends on high,
And rising saints attend him thro' the sky.
Thus, all the mystic scheme, design'd by heaven,
With clearest light to stedfast faith is given;
Here the great moral Sense, the God conceal'd,
To human sense in earthly form reveal'd,
Suffers in open day, to teach mankind
His secret sufferings in the opposer's mind;
To teach how pain and death and endless woes,
From wayward strife, and breach of order, rose;
How each discordant wish, the soul that swells,
'Gainst human bliss and heavenly power rebels,
Weakens the chain of love, subverts the plan,
While nature drives the vengeance back on man.
Here all religion rests, and soon thy race
Her purest lights, by wisdom's eye shall trace.
Here the last flights of science shall ascend,
To look thro' heaven, and sense with reason blend;
View the great source of love, that flows abroad,
Spreads to all creatures, centres still in God,
Lives thro' the whole, from nature's compact springs,
Orders, reverses, fills the sum of things;
In law constrains, in gospel reconciles,
In judgment frowns, in gentle mercy smiles,
Commands all sense to feel, all life to prove
The attracting force of universal love.

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Pharsalia - Book X: Caesar In Egypt

When Caesar, following those who bore the head,
First trod the shore accursed, with Egypt's fates
His fortunes battled, whether Rome should pass
In crimson conquest o'er the guilty land,
Or Memphis' arms should ravish from the world
Victor and vanquished: and the warning shade
Of Magnus saved his kinsman from the sword.

First, by the crime assured, his standards borne
Before, he marched upon the Pharian town;
But when the people, jealous of their laws,
Murmured against the fasces, Caesar knew
Their minds were adverse, and that not for him
Was Magnus' murder wrought. And yet with brow
Dissembling fear, intrepid, through the shrines
Of Egypt's gods he strode, and round the fane
Of ancient Isis; bearing witness all
To Macedon's vigour in the days of old.
Yet did nor gold nor ornament restrain
His hasting steps, nor worship of the gods,
Nor city ramparts: but in greed of gain
He sought the cave dug out amid the tombs.
The madman offspring there of Philip lies
The famed Pellaean robber, fortune's friend,
Snatched off by fate, avenging so the world.
In sacred sepulchre the hero's limbs,
Which should be scattered o'er the earth, repose,
Still spared by Fortune to these tyrant days:
For in a world to freedom once recalled,
All men had mocked the dust of him who set
The baneful lesson that so many lands
Can serve one master. Macedon he left
His home obscure; Athena he despised
The conquest of his sire, and spurred by fate
Through Asia rushed with havoc of mankind,
Plunging his sword through peoples; streams unknown
Ran red with Persian and with Indian blood.
Curse of all earth and thunderbolt of ill
To every nation! On the outer sea
He launched his fleet to sail the ocean wave:
Nor flame nor flood nor sterile Libyan sands
Stayed back his course, nor Hammon's pathless shoals;
Far to the west, where downward slopes the world
He would have led his armies, and the poles
Had compassed, and had drunk the fount of Nile:
But came his latest day; such end alone
Could nature place upon the madman king,
Who jealous in death as when he won the world
His empire with him took, nor left an heir.
Thus every city to the spoiler's hand
Was victim made: Yet in his fall was his
Babylon; and Parthia feared him. Shame on us
That eastern nations dreaded more the lance
Of Macedon than now the Roman spear.
True that we rule beyond where takes its rise
The burning southern breeze, beyond the homes
Of western winds, and to the northern star;
But towards the rising of the sun, we yield
To him who kept the Arsacids in awe;
And puny Pella held as province sure
The Parthia fatal to our Roman arms.

Now from the stream Pelusian of the Nile,
Was come the boyish king, taming the rage
Of his effeminate people: pledge of peace;
And Caesar safely trod Pellaean halls;
When Cleopatra bribed her guard to break
The harbour chains, and borne in little boat
Within the Macedonian palace gates,
Caesar unknowing, entered: Egypt's shame;
Fury of Latium; to the bane of Rome
Unchaste. For as the Spartan queen of yore
By fatal beauty Argos urged to strife
And Ilium's homes, so Cleopatra roused
Italia's frenzy. By her drum she called
Down on the Capitol terror (if to speak
Such word be lawful); mixed with Roman arms
Coward Canopus, hoping she might lead
A Pharian triumph, Caesar in her train;
And 'twas in doubt upon Leucadian waves
Whether a woman, not of Roman blood,
Should hold the world in awe. Such lofty thoughts
Seized on her soul upon that night in which
The wanton daughter of Pellaean kings
First shared our leaders' couches. Who shall blame
Antonius for the madness of his love,
When Caesar's haughty breast drew in the flame?
Who red with carnage, 'mid the clash of arms,
In palace haunted by Pompeius' shade,
Gave place to love; and in adulterous bed,
Magnus forgotten, from the Queen impure,
To Julia gave a brother: on the bounds,
Of furthest Libya permitting thus
His foe to gather: he in dalliance base
Waited upon his mistress, and to her
Pharos would give, for her would conquer all.

Then Cleopatra, trusting to her charms,
Tearless approached him, though in form of grief;
Her tresses loose as though in sorrow torn,
So best becoming her; and thus began:
'If, mighty Caesar, aught to noble birth
Be due, give ear. Of Lagian race am I
Offspring illustrious; from my father's throne
Cast forth to banishment; unless thy hand
Restore to me the sceptre: then a Queen
Falls at thy feet embracing. To our race
Bright star of justice thou! Nor first shall I
As woman rule the cities of the Nile;
For, neither sex preferring, Pharos bows
To queenly governance. Of my parted sire
Read the last words, by which 'tis mine to share
With equal rights the kingdom and the bed.
And loves the boy his sister, were he free;
But his affections and his sword alike
Pothinus orders. Nor wish I myself
To wield my father's power; but this my prayer:
Save from this foul disgrace our royal house,
Bid that the king shall reign, and from the court
Remove this hateful varlet, and his arms.
How swells his bosom for that his the hand
That shore Pompeius' head! And now he threats
Thee, Caesar, also; which the Fates avert!
'Twas shame enough upon the earth and thee
That of Pothinus Magnus should have been
The guilt or merit.'

Caesar's ears in vain
Had she implored, but aided by her charms
The wanton's prayers prevailed, and by a night
Of shame ineffable, passed with her judge,
She won his favour.

When between the pair
Caesar had made a peace, by costliest gifts
Purchased, a banquet of such glad event
Made fit memorial; and with pomp the Queen
Displayed her luxuries, as yet unknown
To Roman fashions. First uprose the hall
Like to a fane which this corrupted age
Could scarcely rear: the lofty ceiling shone
With richest tracery, the beams were bound
In golden coverings; no scant veneer
Lay on its walls, but built in solid blocks
Of marble, gleamed the palace. Agate stood
In sturdy columns, bearing up the roof;
Onyx and porphyry on the spacious floor
Were trodden 'neath the foot; the mighty gates
Of Maroe's throughout were formed,
He mere adornment; ivory clothed the hall,
And fixed upon the doors with labour rare
Shells of the tortoise gleamed, from Indian seas,
With frequent emeralds studded. Gems of price
And yellow jasper on the couches shone.
Lustrous the coverlets; the major part
Dipped more than once within the vats of Tyre
Had drunk their juice: part feathered as with gold;
Part crimson dyed, in manner as are passed
Through Pharian leash the threads. There waited slaves
In number as a people, some in ranks
By different blood distinguished, some by age;
This band with Libyan, that with auburn hair
Red so that Caesar on the banks of Rhine
None such had witnessed; some with features scorched
By torrid suns, their locks in twisted coils
Drawn from their foreheads. Eunuchs too were there,
Unhappy race; and on the other side
Men of full age whose cheeks with growth of hair
Were hardly darkened.

Upon either hand
Lay kings, and Caesar in the midst supreme.
There in her fatal beauty lay the Queen
Thick daubed with unguents, nor with throne content
Nor with her brother spouse; laden she lay
On neck and hair with all the Red Sea spoils,
And faint beneath the weight of gems and gold.
Her snowy breast shone through Sidonian lawn
Which woven close by shuttles of the east
The art of Nile had loosened. Ivory feet
Bore citron tables brought from woods that wave
On Atlas, such as Caesar never saw
When Juba was his captive. Blind in soul
By madness of ambition, thus to fire
By such profusion of her wealth, the mind
Of Caesar armed, her guest in civil war!
Not though he aimed with pitiless hand to grasp
The riches of a world; not though were here
Those ancient leaders of the simple age,
Fabricius or Curius stern of soul,
Or he who, Consul, left in sordid garb
His Tuscan plough, could all their several hopes
Have risen to such spoil. On plates of gold
They piled the banquet sought in earth and air
And from the deepest seas and Nilus' waves,
Through all the world; in craving for display,
No hunger urging. Frequent birds and beasts,
Egypt's high gods, they placed upon the board:
In crystal goblets water of the Nile
They handed, and in massive cups of price
Was poured the wine; no juice of Mareot grape
But noble vintage of Falernian growth
Which in few years in Meroe's vats had foamed,
(For such the clime) to ripeness. On their brows
Chaplets were placed of roses ever young
With glistening nard entwined; and in their locks
Was cinnamon infused, not yet in air
Its fragrance perished, nor in foreign climes;
And rich amomum from the neighbouring fields.
Thus Caesar learned the booty of a world
To lavish, and his breast was shamed of war
Waged with his son-in-law for meagre spoil,
And with the Pharian realm he longed to find
A cause of battle.

When of wine and feast
They wearied and their pleasure found an end,
Caesar drew out in colloquy the night
Thus with Achoreus, on the highest couch
With linen ephod as a priest begirt:
'O thou devoted to all sacred rites,
Loved by the gods, as proves thy length of days,
Tell, if thou wilt, whence sprang the Pharian race;
How lie their lands, the manners of their tribes,
The form and worship of their deities.
Expound the sculptures on your ancient fanes:
Reveal your gods if willing to be known:
If to th' Athenian sage your fathers taught
Their mysteries, who worthier than I
To bear in trust the secrets of the world?
True, by the rumour of my kinsman's flight
Here was I drawn; yet also by your fame:
And even in the midst of war's alarms
The stars and heavenly spaces have I conned;
Nor shall Eudoxus' year excel mine own.
But though such ardour burns within my breast,
Such zeal to know the truth, yet my chief wish
To learn the source of your mysterious flood
Through ages hidden: give me certain hope
To see the fount of Nile -- and civil war
Then shall I leave.'

He spake, and then the priest:
'The secrets, Caesar, of our mighty sires
Kept from the common people until now
I hold it right to utter. Some may deem
That silence on these wonders of the earth
Were greater piety. But to the gods
I hold it grateful that their handiwork
And sacred edicts should be known to men.

'A different power by the primal law,
Each star possesses: these alone control
The movement of the sky, with adverse force
Opposing: while the sun divides the year,
And day from night, and by his potent rays
Forbids the stars to pass their stated course.
The moon by her alternate phases sets
The varying limits of the sea and shore.
'Neath Saturn's sway the zone of ice and snow
Has passed; while Mars in lightning's fitful flames
And winds abounds' beneath high Jupiter
Unvexed by storms abides a temperate air;
And fruitful Venus' star contains the seeds
Of all things. Ruler of the boundless deep
The god Cyllenian: whene'er he holds
That part of heaven where the Lion dwells
With neighbouring Cancer joined, and Sirius star
Flames in its fury; where the circular path
(Which marks the changes of the varying year)
Gives to hot Cancer and to Capricorn
Their several stations, under which doth lie
The fount of Nile, he, master of the waves,
Strikes with his beam the waters. Forth the stream
Brims from his fount, as Ocean when the moon
Commands an increase; nor shall curb his flow
Till night wins back her losses from the sun.

'Vain is the ancient faith that Ethiop snows
Send Nile abundant forth upon the lands.
Those mountains know nor northern wind nor star.
Of this are proof the breezes of the South,
Fraught with warm vapours, and the people's hue
Burned dark by suns: and 'tis in time of spring,
When first are thawed the snows, that ice-fed streams
In swollen torrents tumble; but the Nile
Nor lifts his wave before the Dog star burns;
Nor seeks again his banks, until the sun
In equal balance measures night and day.
Nor are the laws that govern other streams
Obeyed by Nile. For in the wintry year
Were he in flood, when distant far the sun,
His waters lacked their office; but he leaves
His channel when the summer is at height,
Tempering the torrid heat of Egypt's clime.
Such is the task of Nile; thus in the world
He finds his purpose, lest exceeding heat
Consume the lands: and rising thus to meet
Enkindled Lion, to Syene's prayers
By Cancer burnt gives ear; nor curbs his wave
Till the slant sun and Meroe's lengthening shades
Proclaim the autumn. Who shall give the cause?
'Twas Parent Nature's self which gave command
Thus for the needs of earth should flow the Nile.

'Vain too the fable that the western winds
Control his current, in continuous course
At stated seasons governing the air;
Or hurrying from Occident to South
Clouds without number which in misty folds
Press on the waters; or by constant blast,
Forcing his current back whose several mouths
Burst on the sea; -- so, forced by seas and wind,
Men say, his billows pour upon the land.
Some speak of hollow caverns, breathing holes
Deep in the earth, within whose mighty jaws
Waters in noiseless current underneath
From northern cold to southern climes are drawn:
And when hot Meroe pants beneath the sun,
Then, say they, Ganges through the silent depths
And Padus pass: and from a single fount
The Nile arising not in single streams
Pours all the rivers forth. And rumour says
That when the sea which girdles in the world
O'erflows, thence rushes Nile, by lengthy course,
Softening his saltness. More, if it be true
That ocean feeds the sun and heavenly fires,
Then Phoebus journeying by the burning Crab
Sucks from its waters more than air can hold
Upon his passage -- this the cool of night
Pours on the Nile.

'If, Caesar, 'tis my part
To judge such difference, 'twould seem that since
Creation's age has passed, earth's veins by chance
Some waters hold, and shaken cast them forth:
But others took when first the globe was formed
A sure abode; by Him who framed the world
Fixed with the Universe.

'And, Roman, thou,
In thirsting thus to know the source of Nile
Dost as the Pharian and Persian kings
And those of Macedon; nor any age
Refused the secret, but the place prevailed
Remote by nature. Greatest of the kings
By Memphis worshipped, Alexander grudged
To Nile its mystery, and to furthest earth
Sent chosen Ethiops whom the crimson zone
Stayed in their further march, while flowed his stream
Warm at their feet. Sesostris westward far
Reached, to the ends of earth; and necks of kings
Bent 'neath his chariot yoke: but of the springs
Which fill your rivers, Rhone and Po, he drank.
Not of the fount of Nile. Cambyses king
In madman quest led forth his host to where
The long-lived races dwell: then famine struck,
Ate of his dead and, Nile unknown, returned.
No lying rumour of thy hidden source
Has e'er made mention; wheresoe'er thou art
Yet art thou sought, nor yet has nation claimed
In pride of place thy river as its own.
Yet shall I tell, so far as has the god,
Who veils thy fountain, given me to know.
Thy progress. Daring to upraise thy banks
'Gainst fiery Cancer's heat, thou tak'st thy rise
Beneath the zenith: straight towards the north
And mid Bootes flowing; to the couch
Bending, or to the risings, of the sun
In sinuous bends alternate; just alike
To Araby's peoples and to Libyan sands.
By Seres first beheld, yet know they not

Whence art thou come; and with no native stream
Strik'st thou the Ethiop fields. Nor knows the world
To whom it owes thee. Nature ne'er revealed
Thy secret origin, removed afar.
Nor did she wish thee to be seen of men
While still a tiny rivulet, but preferred
Their wonder to their knowledge. Where the sun
Stays at his limit, dost thou rise in flood
Untimely; such try right: to other lands
Bearing try winter: and by both the poles
Thou only wanderest. Here men ask thy rise
And there thine ending. Meroe rich in soil
And tilled by swarthy husbandmen divides
Thy broad expanse, rejoicing in the leaves
Of groves of ebony, which though spreading far
Their branching foliage, by no breadth of shade
Soften the summer sun -- whose rays direct
Pass from the Lion to the fervid earth.
Next dost thou journey onwards past the realm
Of burning Phoebus, and the sterile sands,
With equal volume; now with all thy strength
Gathered in one, and now in devious streams
Parting the bank that crumbles at thy touch.
Then by our kingdom's gates, where Philae parts
Arabian peoples from Egyptian fields
The sluggish bosom of thy flood recalls
Try wandering currents, which through desert wastes
Flow gently on to where the merchant track
Divides the Red Sea waters from our own.
Who, gazing, Nile, upon thy tranquil flow,
Could picture how in wild array of foam
(Where shelves the earth) thy billows shall be plunged
Down the steep cataracts, in fuming wrath
That rocks should bar the passage of thy stream
Free from its source? For whirled on high the spray
Aims at the stars, and trembles all the air
With rush of waters; and with sounding roar
The foaming mass down from the summit pours
In hoary waves victorious. Next an isle
In all our ancient lore 'untrodden' named
Stems firm thy torrent; and the rocks we call
Springs of the river, for that here are marked
The earliest tokens of the coming flood.
With mountain shores now nature hems thee in
And shuts thy waves from Libya; in the midst
Hence do thy waters run, till Memphis first
Forbids the barrier placed upon thy stream
And gives thee access to the open fields.'

Thus did they pass, as though in peace profound,
The nightly watches. But Pothinus' mind,
Once with accursed butchery imbued,
Was frenzied still; since great Pompeius fell
No deed to him was crime; his rabid soul
Th' avenging goddesses and Magnus' shade
Stirred to fresh horrors; and a Pharian hand
No less was worthy, as he deemed, to shed
That blood which Fortune purposed should bedew
The conquered fathers: and the fell revenge
Due to the senate for the civil war
This hireling almost snatched. Avert, ye fates,
Far hence the shame that not by Brutus' hand
This blow be struck! Shall thus the tyrant's fall
Just at our hands, become a Pharian crime,
Reft of example? To prepare a plan
(Fated to fail) he dares; nor veils in fraud
A plot for murder, but with open war
Attacks th' unconquered chieftain: from his crimes
He gained such courage as to send command
To lop the head of Caesar, and to join
In death the kinsmen chiefs.

These words by night
His faithful servants to Achillas bear,
His foul associate, whom the boy had made
Chief of his armies, and who ruled alone
O'er Egypt's land and o'er himself her king:
'Now lay thy limbs upon the sumptuous couch
And sleep in luxury, for the Queen hath seized
The palace; nor alone by her betrayed,
But Caesar's gift, is Pharos. Dost delay
Nor hasten to the chamber of thy Queen?
Thou only? Married to the Latian chief,
The impious sister now her brother weds
And hurrying from rival spouse to spouse
Hath Egypt won, and plays the bawd for Rome.
By amorous potions she has won the man:
Then trust the boy! Yet give him but a night
In her enfondling arms, and drunk with love
Thy life and mine he'll barter for a kiss.
We for his sister's charms by cross and flame
Shall pay the penalty: nor hope of aid;
Here stands adulterous Caesar, here the King
Her spouse: how hope we from so stern a judge
To gain acquittal? Shall she not condemn
Those who ne'er sought her favours? By the deed
We dared together and lost, by Magnus' blood
Which wrought the bond between us, be thou swift
With hasty tumult to arouse the war:
Dash in with nightly band, and mar with death
Their shameless nuptials: on the very bed
With either lover smite the ruthless Queen.
Nor let the fortunes of the Western chief
Make pause our enterprise. We share with him
The glory of his empire o'er the world.
Pompeius fallen makes us too sublime.
There lies the shore that bids us hope success:
Ask of our power from the polluted wave,
And gaze upon the scanty tomb which holds
Not all Pompeius' ashes. Peer to him
Was he whom now thou fearest. Noble blood
True, is not ours: what boots it? Nor are realms
Nor wealth of peoples given to our command.
Yet have we risen to a height of power
For deeds of blood, and Fortune to our hands
Attracts her victims. Lo! a nobler now
Lies in our compass, and a second death
Hesperia shall appease; for Caesar's blood,
Shed by these hands, shall give us this, that Rome
Shall love us, guilty of Pompeius' fall.
Why fear these titles, why this chieftain's strength?
For shorn of these, before your swords he lies
A common soldier. To the civil war
This night shall bring completion, and shall give
To peoples slain fit offerings, and send
That life the world demands beneath the shades.
Rise then in all your hardihood and smite
This Caesar down, and let the Roman youths
Strike for themselves, and Lagos for its King.
Nor do thou tarry: full of wine and feast
Thou'lt fall upon him in the lists of love;
Then dare the venture, and the heavenly gods
Shall grant of Cato's and of Brutus' prayers
To thee fulfilment.'

Nor was Achillas slow
To hear the voice that counselled him to crime.
No sounding clarion summoned, as is wont,
His troops to arms; nor trumpet blare betrayed
Their nightly march: but rapidly he seized
All needed instruments of blood and war.
Of Latian race the most part of his train,
Yet to barbarian customs were their minds
By long forgetfulness of Rome debased:
Else had it shamed to serve the Pharian King;
But now his vassal and his minion's word
Compel obedience. Those who serve in camps
Lose faith and love of kin: their pittance earned
Makes just the deed: and for their sordid pay,
Not for themselves, they threaten Caesar's life.
Where finds the piteous destiny of the realm
Rome with herself at peace? The host withdrawn
From dread Thessalia raves on Nilus' banks
As all the race of Rome. What more had dared,
With Magnus welcomed, the Lagean house?
Each hand must render to the gods their due,
Nor son of Rome may cease from civil war;
By Heaven's command our state was rent in twain;
Nor love for husband nor regard for sire
Parted our peoples. 'Twas a slave who stirred
Afresh the conflict, and Achillas grasped
In turn the sword of Rome: nay more, had won,
Had not the fates adverse restrained his hand
From Caesar's slaughter.

For the murderous pair
Ripe for their plot were met; the spacious hall
Still busied with the feast. So might have flowed
Into the kingly cups a stream of gore,
And in mid banquet fallen Caesar's head.
Yet did they fear lest in the nightly strife
(The fates permitting) some incautious hand --
So did they trust the sword -- might slay the King.
Thus stayed the deed, for in the minds of slaves
The chance of doing Caesar to the death
Might bear postponement: when the day arose
Then should he suffer; and a night of life
Thus by Pothinus was to Caesar given.

Now from the Casian rock looked forth the Sun
Flooding the land of Egypt with a day
Warm from its earliest dawn, when from the walls
Not wandering in disorder are they seen,
But drown in close array, as though to meet
A foe opposing; ready to receive
Or give the battle. Caesar, in the town
Placing no trust, within the palace courts
Lay in ignoble hiding place, the gates
Close barred: nor all the kingly rooms possessed,
But in the narrowest portion of the space
He drew his band together. There in arms
They stood, with dread and fury in their souls.
He feared attack, indignant at his fear.
Thus will a noble beast in little cage
Imprisoned, fume, and break upon the bars
His teeth in frenzied wrath; nor more would rage
The flames of Vulcan in Sicilian depths
Should Etna's top be closed. He who but now
By Haemus' mount against Pompeius chief,
Italia's leaders and the Senate line,
His cause forbidding hope, looked at the fates
He knew were hostile, with unfaltering gaze,
Now fears before the crime of hireling slaves,
And in mid palace trembles at the blow:
He whom nor Scythian nor Alaun had dared
To violate, nor the Moor who aims the dart
Upon his victim slain, to prove his skill.
The Roman world but now did not suffice
To hold him, nor the realms from furthest Ind
To Tyrian Gades. Now, as puny boy,
Or woman, trembling when a town is sacked,
Within the narrow corners of a house
He seeks for safety; on the portals closed
His hope of life; and with uncertain gait
He treads the hails; yet not without the King;
In purpose, Ptolemaeus, that thy life
For his shall give atonement; and to hurl
Thy severed head among the servant throng
Should darts and torches fail. So story tells
The Colchian princess with sword in hand,
And with her brother's neck bared to the blow,
Waited her sire, avenger of his realm
Despoiled, and of her flight. In the imminent risk
Caesar, in hopes of peace, an envoy sent
To the fierce vassals, from their absent lord
Bearing a message, thus: 'At whose command
Wage ye the war?' But not the laws which bind
All nations upon earth, nor sacred rights,
Availed to save or messenger of peace,
Or King's ambassador; or thee from crime
Such as befitted thee, thou land of Nile
Fruitful in monstrous deeds: not Juba's realm
Vast though it be, nor Pontus, nor the land
Thessalian, nor the arms of Pharnaces,
Nor yet the tracts which chill Iberus girds,
Nor Libyan coasts such wickedness have dared,
As thou, with all thy luxuries. Closer now
War hemmed them in, and weapons in the courts,
Shaking the innermost recesses, fell.
Yet did no ram, fatal with single stroke,
Assail the portal, nor machine of war;
Nor flame they called in aid; but blind of plan
They wander purposeless, in separate bands
Around the circuit, nor at any spot
With strength combined attempt to breach the wall.
The fates forbad, and Fortune from their hands
Held fast the palace as a battlement.
Nor failed they to attack from ships of war
The regal dwelling, where its frontage bold
Made stand apart the waters of the deep:
There, too, was Caesar's all-protecting arm;
For these at point of sword, and those with fire
He forces back, and though besieged he dares
To storm th' assailants: and as lay the ships
Joined rank to rank, bids drop upon their sides
Lamps drenched with reeking tar. Nor slow the fire
To seize the hempen cables and the decks
Oozing with melting pitch; the oarsman's bench
All in one moment, and the topmost yards
Burst into flame: half merged the vessels lay
While swam the foemen, all in arms, the wave;
Nor fell the blaze upon the ships alone,
But seized with writhing tongues the neighbouring homes,
And fanned to fury by the Southern breeze
Tempestuous, it leaped from roof to roof;
Not otherwise than on its heavenly track,
Unfed by matter, glides the ball of light,
By air alone aflame.

This pest recalled
Some of the forces to the city's aid
From the besieged halls. Nor Caesar gave
To sleep its season; swifter than all else
To seize the crucial moment of the war.
Quick in the darkest watches of the night
He leaped upon his ships, and Pharos seized,
Gate of the main; an island in the days
Of Proteus seer, now bordering the walls
Of Alexander's city. Thus he gained
A double vantage, for his foes were pent
Within the narrow entrance, which for him
And for his aids gave access to the sea.

Nor longer was Pothinus' doom delayed,
Yet not with cross or flame, nor with the wrath
His crime demanded; nor by savage beasts
Torn, did he suffer; but by Magnus' death,
Alas the shame! he fell; his head by sword
Hacked from his shoulders. Next by frauds prepared
By Ganymede her base attendant, fled
Arsinoe from the Court to Caesar's foes;
There in the absence of the King she ruled
As of Lagean blood: there at her hands,
The savage minion of the tyrant boy,
Achillas, fell by just avenging sword.
Thus did another victim to thy shade
Atone, Pompeius; but the gods forbid
That this be all thy vengeance! Not the king
Nor all the stock of Lagos for thy death
Would make fit sacrifice! So Fortune deemed;
And not till patriot swords shall drink the blood
Of Caesar, Magnus, shalt thou be appeased.
Still, though was slain the author of the strife,
Sank not their rage: with Ganymede for chief
Again they rush to arms; in deeds of fight
Again they conquer. So might that one day
Have witnessed Caesar's fate; so might its fame
Have lived through ages.

As the Roman Chief,
Crushed on the narrow surface of the mole,
Prepared to throw his troops upon the ships,
Sudden upon him the surrounding foes
With all their terrors came. In dense array
Their navy lined the shores, while on the rear
The footmen ceaseless charged. No hope was left,
For flight was not, nor could the brave man's arm
Achieve or safety or a glorious death.
Not now were needed for great Caesar's fall,
Caught in the toils of nature, routed host
Or mighty heaps of slain: his only doubt
To fear or hope for death: while on his brain
Brave Scaeva's image flashed, now vainly sought,
Who on the wall by Epidamnus' fields
Earned fame immortal, and with single arm
Drove back Pompeius as he trod the breach....

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Guilt and Sorrow

I

A traveller on the skirt of Sarum's Plain
Pursued his vagrant way, with feet half bare;
Stooping his gait, but not as if to gain
Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air
Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn with care
Both of the time to come, and time long fled:
Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair;
A coat he wore of military red
But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch and shred.

II

While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
That welcome in such house for him was none.
No board inscribed the needy to allure
Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor
And desolate, "Here you will find a friend!"
The pendent grapes glittered above the door;--
On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend,
Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines extend.

III

The gathering clouds grow red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
That inn he long had passed; the distant spire,
Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye,
Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank sky.
Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around,
And scarce could any trace of man descry,
Save cornfields stretched and stretching without bound;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.

IV

No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green,
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be near;
And so he sent a feeble shout--in vain;
No voice made answer, he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain,
Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurrowed plain.

V

Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn
And rest; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne.
Thus warned he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head,
But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn,
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread;
The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his only bed.

VI

And be it so--for to the chill night shower
And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared;
A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour
Hath told; for, landing after labour hard,
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
He to an armed fleet was forced away
By seamen, who perhaps themselves had shared
Like fate; was hurried off, a helpless prey,
'Gainst all that in 'his' heart, or theirs perhaps, said nay.

VII

For years the work of carnage did not cease,
And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed,
Death's minister; then came his glad release,
And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made
Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw
Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could know.

VIII

Vain hope! for frand took all that he had earned.
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood
Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned,
Bears not to those he loves their needful food.
His home approaching, but in such a mood
That from his sight his children might have run.
He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood;
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to shun.

IX

From that day forth no place to him could be
So lonely, but that thence might come a pang
Brought from without to inward misery.
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang
A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
A human body that in irons swang,
Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.

X

It was a spectacle which none might view,
In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain;
Nor only did for him at once renew
All he had feared from man, but roused a train
Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
The stones, as if to cover him from day,
Rolled at his back along the living plain;
He fell, and without sense or motion lay;
But, when the trance was gone, feebly pursued his way.

XI

As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires
Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed
Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost,
Left his mind still as a deep evening stream.
Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed,
Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem
To traveller who might talk of any casual theme.

XII

Hurtle the clouds in deeper darkness piled,
Gone is the raven timely rest to seek;
He seemed the only creature in the wild
On whom the elements their rage might wreak;
Save that the bustard, of those regions bleak
Shy tenant, seeing by the uncertain light
A man there wandering, gave a mournful shriek,
And half upon the ground, with strange affright,
Forced hard against the wind a thick unwieldy flight.

XIII

All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye--which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms--at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every side.

XIV

Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would gain.

XV

Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through storm
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam,
Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led;
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.

XVI

No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome;
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms beneath night's starless gloom;
No gipsy cowered o'er fire of furze or broom;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room;
Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.

XVII

At length, though hid in clouds, the moon arose;
The downs were visible--and now revealed
A structure stands, which two bare slopes enclose.
It was a spot, where, ancient vows fulfilled,
Kind pious hands did to the Virgin build
A lonely Spital, the belated swain
From the night terrors of that waste to shield:
But there no human being could remain,
And now the walls are named the "Dead House" of the plain.

XVIII

Though he had little cause to love the abode
Of man, or covet sight of mortal face,
Yet when faint beams of light that ruin showed,
How glad he was at length to find some trace
Of human shelter in that dreary place.
Till to his flock the early shepherd goes,
Here shall much-needed sleep his frame embrace.
In a dry nook where fern the floor bestrows
He lays his stiffened limbs,--his eyes begin to close;

XIX

When hearing a deep sigh, that seemed to come
From one who mourned in sleep, he raised his head,
And saw a woman in the naked room
Outstretched, and turning on a restless bed:
The moon a wan dead light around her shed.
He waked her--spake in tone that would not fail,
He hoped, to calm her mind; but ill he sped,
For of that ruin she had heard a tale
Which now with freezing thoughts did all her powers assail;

XX

Had heard of one who, forced from storms to shroud,
Felt the loose walls of this decayed Retreat
Rock to incessant neighings shrill and loud,
While his horse pawed the floor with furious heat;
Till on a stone, that sparkled to his feet,
Struck, and still struck again, the troubled horse:
The man half raised the stone with pain and sweat,
Half raised, for well his arm might lose its force
Disclosing the grim head of a late murdered corse.

XXI

Such tale of this lone mansion she had learned
And, when that shape, with eyes in sleep half drowned,
By the moon's sullen lamp she first discerned,
Cold stony horror all her senses bound.
Her he addressed in words of cheering sound;
Recovering heart, like answer did she make;
And well it was that, of the corse there found,
In converse that ensued she nothing spake;
She knew not what dire pangs in him such tale could wake.

XXII

But soon his voice and words of kind intent
Banished that dismal thought; and now the wind
In fainter howlings told its 'rage' was spent:
Meanwhile discourse ensued of various kind,
Which by degrees a confidence of mind
And mutual interest failed not to create.
And, to a natural sympathy resigned,
In that forsaken building where they sate
The Woman thus retraced her own untoward fate.

XXIII

"By Derwent's side my father dwelt--a man
Of virtuous life, by pious parents bred;
And I believe that, soon as I began
To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
And in his hearing there my prayers I said:
And afterwards, by my good father taught,
I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought,
And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.

XXIV

"A little croft we owned--a plot of corn,
A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme,
And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn
Plucked while the church bells rang their earliest chime.
Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime;
The swans that with white chests upreared in pride
Rushing and racing came to meet me at the water-side.

XXV

"The staff I well remember which upbore
The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honied sycamore
Where the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire;
When market-morning came, the neat attire
With which, though bent on haste, myself I decked;
Our watchful house-dog, that would tease and tire
The stranger till its barking-fit I checked;
The red-breast, known for years, which at my casement pecked.

XXVI

"The suns of twenty summers danced along,--
Too little marked how fast they rolled away:
But, through severe mischance and cruel wrong,
My father's substance fell into decay:
We toiled and struggled, hoping for a day
When Fortune might put on a kinder look;
But vain were wishes, efforts vain as they;
He from his old hereditary nook
Must part; the summons came;--our final leave we took.

XXVII

"It was indeed a miserable hour
When, from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed,
Peering above the trees, the steeple tower
That on his marriage day sweet music made!
Tilt then, he hoped his bones might there be laid
Close by my mother in their native bowers:
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed;--
I could not pray:--through tears that fell in showers
Glimmered our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!

XXVIII

"There was a Youth whom I had loved so long,
That when I loved him not I cannot say:
'Mid the green mountains many a thoughtless song
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May;
When we began to tire of childish play,
We seemed still more and more to prize each other;
We talked of marriage and our marriage day;
And I in truth did love him like a brother,
For never could I hope to meet with such another.

XXIX

"Two years were passed since to a distant town
He had repaired to ply a gainful trade:
What tears of bitter grief, till then unknown!
What tender vows, our last sad kiss delayed!
To him we turned:--we had no other aid:
Like one revived, upon his neck I wept;
And her whom he had loved in joy, he said,
He well could love in grief; his faith he kept;
And in a quiet home once more my father slept.

XXX

"We lived in peace and comfort; and were blest
With daily bread, by constant toil supplied.
Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast;
And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed,
And knew not why. My happy father died,
When threatened war reduced the children's meal:
Thrice happy! that for him the grave could hide
The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel,
And tears that flowed for ills which patience might not heal.

XXXI

"'Twas a hard change; an evil time was come;
We had no hope, and no relief could gain:
But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum
Beat round to clear the streets of want and pain.
My husband's arms now only served to strain
Me and his children hungering in his view;
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain:
To join those miserable men he flew,
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, we drew.

XXXII

"There were we long neglected, and we bore
Much sorrow ere the fleet its anchor weighed;
Green fields before us, and our native shore,
We breathed a pestilential air, that made
Ravage for which no knell was heard. We prayed
For our departure; wished and wished--nor knew,
'Mid that long sickness and those hopes delayed,
That happier days we never more must view.
The parting signal streamed--at last the land withdrew.

XXXIII

"But the calm summer season now was past.
On as we drove, the equinoctial deep
Ran mountains high before the howling blast,
And many perished in the whirlwind's sweep.
We gazed with terror on their gloomy sleep,
Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue,
Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap,
That we the mercy of the waves should rue:
We reached the western world, a poor devoted crew.

XXXIV

"The pains and plagues that on our heads came down,
Disease and famine, agony and fear,
In wood or wilderness, in camp or town,
It would unman the firmest heart to hear.
All perished--all in one remorseless year,
Husband and children! one by one, by sword
And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear
Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board
A British ship I waked, as from a trance restored."

XXXV

Here paused she of all present thought forlorn,
Nor voice nor sound, that moment's pain expressed,
Yet Nature, with excess of grief o'erborne,
From her full eyes their watery load released.
He too was mute; and, ere her weeping ceased,
He rose, and to the ruin's portal went,
And saw the dawn opening the silvery east
With rays of promise, north and southward sent;
And soon with crimson fire kindled the firmament.

XXXVI

"O come," he cried, "come, after weary night
Of such rough storm, this happy change to view."
So forth she came, and eastward looked; the sight
Over her brow like dawn of gladness threw;
Upon her cheek, to which its youthful hue
Seemed to return, dried the last lingering tear,
And from her grateful heart a fresh one drew:
The whilst her comrade to her pensive cheer
Tempered fit words of hope; and the lark warbled near.

XXXVII

They looked and saw a lengthening road, and wain
That rang down a bare slope not far remote:
The barrows glistered bright with drops of rain,
Whistled the waggoner with merry note,
The cock far off sounded his clarion throat;
But town, or farm, or hamlet, none they viewed,
Only were told there stood a lonely cot
A long mile thence. While thither they pursued
Their way, the Woman thus her mournful tale renewed.

XXXVIII

"Peaceful as this immeasurable plain
Is now, by beams of dawning light imprest,
In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main;
The very ocean hath its hour of rest.
I too forgot the heavings of my breast.
How quiet 'round me ship and ocean were!
As quiet all within me. I was blest,
And looked, and fed upon the silent air
Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair.

XXXIX

"Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke;
The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,
The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke,
The shriek that from the distant battle broke,
The mine's dire earthquake, and the pallid host
Driven by the bomb's incessant thunderstroke
To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish tossed,
Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost!

XL

"Some mighty gulf of separation past,
I seemed transported to another world;
A thought resigned with pain, when from the mast
The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,
And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled
The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home
And from all hope I was for ever hurled.
For me--farthest from earthly port to roam
Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.

XLI

"And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)
That I, at last, a resting-place had found;
'Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long,
Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned,
And end my days upon the peaceful flood.'--
To break my dream the vessel reached its bound;
And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.

XLII

"No help I sought; in sorrow turned adrift,
Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock;
Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift,
Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.
I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock
From the cross-timber of an out-house hung:
Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock!
At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,
Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my tongue.

XLIII

"So passed a second day; and, when the third
Was come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.
--In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,
Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort;
There, pains which nature could no more support,
With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall;
And, after many interruptions short
Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl:
Unsought for was the help that did my life recall.

XLIV

"Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory;
I heard my neighbours in their beds complain
Of many things which never troubled me--
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee,
Of looks where common kindness had no part,
Of service done with cold formality,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart,
And groans which, as they said, might make a dead man start.

XLV

"These things just served to stir the slumbering sense,
Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
With strength did memory return; and, thence
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed.
The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed,
The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired,
And gave me food--and rest, more welcome, more desired.

XLVI

"Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly
With panniered asses driven from door to door;
But life of happier sort set forth to me,
And other joys my fancy to allure--
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor
In barn uplighted; and companions boon,
Well met from far with revelry secure
Among the forest glades, while jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon.

XLVII

"But ill they suited me--those journeys dark
O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch!
To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch.
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match,
The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill:
Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding still.

XLVIII

"What could I do, unaided and unblest?
My father! gone was every friend of thine:
And kindred of dead husband are at best
Small help; and, after marriage such as mine,
With little kindness would to me incline.
Nor was I then for toil or service fit;
My deep-drawn sighs no effort could confine;
In open air forgetful would I sit
Whole hours, with idle arms in moping sorrow knit.

XLIX

"The roads I paced, I loitered through the fields;
Contentedly, yet sometimes self-accused.
Trusted my life to what chance bounty yields,
Now coldly given, now utterly refused.
The ground I for my bed have often used:
But what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth,
Is that I have my inner self abused,
Foregone the home delight of constant truth,
And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth.

L

"Through tears the rising sun I oft have viewed,
Through tears have seen him towards that world descend
Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude:
Three years a wanderer now my course I bend--
Oh! tell me whither--for no earthly friend
Have I."--She ceased, and weeping turned away;
As if because her tale was at an end,
She wept; because she had no more to say
Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.

LI

True sympathy the Sailor's looks expressed,
His looks--for pondering he was mute the while.
Of social Order's care for wretchedness,
Of Time's sure help to calm and reconcile,
Joy's second spring and Hope's long-treasured smile,
'Twas not for 'him' to speak--a man so tried,
Yet, to relieve her heart, in friendly style
Proverbial words of comfort he applied,
And not in vain, while they went pacing side by side.

LII

Ere long, from heaps of turf, before their sight,
Together smoking in the sun's slant beam,
Rise various wreaths that into one unite
Which high and higher mounts with silver gleam:
Fair spectacle,---but instantly a scream
Thence bursting shrill did all remark prevent;
They paused, and heard a hoarser voice blaspheme,
And female cries. Their course they thither bent,
And met a man who foamed with anger vehement,

LIII

A woman stood with quivering lips and pale,
And, pointing to a little child that lay
Stretched on the ground, began a piteous tale;
How in a simple freak of thoughtless play
He had provoked his father, who straightway,
As if each blow were deadlier than the last,
Struck the poor innocent. Pallid with dismay
The Soldier's Widow heard and stood aghast;
And stern looks on the man her grey-haired Comrade cast.

LIV

His voice with indignation rising high
Such further deed in manhood's name forbade;
The peasant, wild in passion, made reply
With bitter insult and revilings sad;
Asked him in scorn what business there he had;
What kind of plunder he was hunting now;
The gallows would one day of him be glad;--
Though inward anguish damped the Sailor's brow,
Yet calm he seemed as thoughts so poignant would allow.

LV

Softly he stroked the child, who lay outstretched
With face to earth; and, as the boy turned round
His battered head, a groan the Sailor fetched
As if he saw--there and upon that ground--
Strange repetition of the deadly wound
He had himself inflicted. Through his brain
At once the griding iron passage found;
Deluge of tender thoughts then rushed amain,
Nor could his sunken eyes the starting tear restrain.

LVI

Within himself he said--What hearts have we!
The blessing this a father gives his child!
Yet happy thou, poor boy! compared with me,
Suffering not doing ill--fate far more mild.
The stranger's looks and tears of wrath beguiled
The father, and relenting thoughts awoke;
He kissed his son--so all was reconciled.
Then, with a voice which inward trouble broke
Ere to his lips it came, the Sailor them bespoke.

LVII

"Bad is the world, and hard is the world's law
Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece;
Much need have ye that time more closely draw
The bond of nature, all unkindness cease,
And that among so few there still be peace:
Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes
Your pains shall ever with your years increase?"--
While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows,
A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes.

LVIII

Forthwith the pair passed on; and down they look
Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene
Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook,
That babbled on through groves and meadows green;
A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between;
The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,
And melancholy lowings intervene
Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,
Some amid lingering shade, some touched by the sun's rays.

LIX

They saw and heard, and, winding with the road,
Down a thick wood, they dropt into the vale;
Comfort, by prouder mansions unbestowed,
Their wearied frames, she hoped, would soon regale.
Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale:
It was a rustic inn;--the board was spread,
The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail,
And lustily the master carved the bread,
Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort fed.

LX

Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must part;
Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees.
She rose and bade farewell! and, while her heart
Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease,
She left him there; for, clustering round his knees,
With his oak-staff the cottage children played;
And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees
And banks of ragged earth; beneath the shade
Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed.

LXI

A cart and horse beside the rivulet stood;
Chequering the canvas roof the sunbeams shone.
She saw the carman bend to scoop the flood
As the wain fronted her,--wherein lay one,
A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.
The carman wet her lips as well behoved;
Bed under her lean body there was none,
Though even to die near one she most had loved
She could not of herself those wasted limbs have moved.

LXII

The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain
And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced
Far as the cottage. "A sad sight is here,"
She cried aloud; and forth ran out in haste
The friends whom she had left but a few minutes past.

LXIII

While to the door with eager speed they ran,
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised
Her bony visage--gaunt and deadly wan;
No pity asking, on the group she gazed
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed;
Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.
Fervently cried the housewife--"God be praised,
I have a house that I can call my own;
Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone!"

LXIV

So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
And busily, though yet with fear, untie
Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh
She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear;
Then said--"I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear;
Till now I did not think my end had been so near.

LXV

"Barred every comfort labour could procure,
Suffering what no endurance could assuage,
I was compelled to seek my father's door,
Though loth to be a burthen on his age.
But sickness stopped me in an early stage
Of my sad journey; and within the wain
They placed me--there to end life's pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain;
For I shall never see my father's door again.

LXVI

"My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthensome;
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek
May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb:
Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.--
Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,
My husband served in sad captivity
On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set him free.

LXVII

"A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,
Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed;
Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers
Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread;
Till one was found by stroke of violence dead,
Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie;
A dire suspicion drove us from our shed;
In vain to find a friendly face we try,
Nor could we live together those poor boys and I;

LXVIII

"For evil tongues made oath how on that day
My husband lurked about the neighbourhood;
Now he had fled, and whither none could say,
And 'he' had done the deed in the dark wood--
Near his own home!--but he was mild and good;
Never on earth was gentler creature seen;
He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.
My husband's lovingkindness stood between
Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however keen."

LXIX

Alas! the thing she told with labouring breath
The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness
His hand had wrought; and when, in the hour of death,
He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless
With her last words, unable to suppress
His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive;
And, weeping loud in this extreme distress,
He cried--"Do pity me! That thou shouldst live
I neither ask nor wish--forgive me, but forgive!"

LXX

To tell the change that Voice within her wrought
Nature by sign or sound made no essay;
A sudden joy surprised expiring thought,
And every mortal pang dissolved away.
Borne gently to a bed, in death she lay;
Yet still while over her the husband bent,
A look was in her face which seemed to say,
"Be blest; by sight of thee from heaven was sent
Peace to my parting soul, the fulness of content."

LXXI

'She' slept in peace,--his pulses throbbed and stopped,
Breathless he gazed upon her face,--then took
Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped,
When on his own he cast a rueful look.
His ears were never silent; sleep forsook
His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead;
All night from time to time under him shook
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed;
And oft he groaned aloud, "O God, that I were dead!"

LXXII

The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot,
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care
Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter brought,
Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer
He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair.
The corse interred, not one hour heremained
Beneath their roof, but to the open air
A burthen, now with fortitude sustained,
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet reigned.

LXXIII

Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared
For act and suffering, to the city straight
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared:
"And from your doom," he added, "now I wait,
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate."
Not ineffectual was that piteous claim:
"O welcome sentence which will end though late,"
He said, "the pangs that to my conscience came
Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour! is in thy name!"

LXXIV

His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
(Reader, forgive the intolerable thought)
They hung not:--no one on 'his' form or face
Could gaze, as on a show by idlers sought;
No kindred sufferer, to his death-place brought
By lawless curiosity or chance,
When into storm the evening sky is wrought,
Upon his swinging corse an eye can glance,
And drop, as he once dropped, in miserable trance.

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The King of the Vasse

A LEGEND OF THE BUSH.


MY tale which I have brought is of a time
Ere that fair Southern land was stained with crime,
Brought thitherward in reeking ships and cast
Like blight upon the coast, or like a blast
From angry levin on a fair young tree,
That stands thenceforth a piteous sight to see.
So lives this land to-day beneath the sun,—
A weltering plague-spot, where the hot tears run,
And hearts to ashes turn, and souls are dried
Like empty kilns where hopes have parched and died.
Woe's cloak is round her,—she the fairest shore
In all the Southern Ocean o'er and o'er.
Poor Cinderella! she must bide her woe,
Because an elder sister wills it so.
Ah! could that sister see the future day
When her own wealth and strength are shorn away,
A.nd she, lone mother then, puts forth her hand
To rest on kindred blood in that far land;
Could she but see that kin deny her claim
Because of nothing owing her but shame,—
Then might she learn 'tis building but to fall,
If carted rubble be the basement-wall.

But this my tale, if tale it be, begins
Before the young land saw the old land's sins
Sail up the orient ocean, like a cloud
Far-blown, and widening as it neared,—a shroud
Fate-sent to wrap the bier of all things pure,
And mark the leper-land while stains endure.
In the far days, the few who sought the West
Were men all guileless, in adventurous quest
Of lands to feed their flocks and raise their grain,
And help them live their lives with less of pain
Than crowded Europe lets her children know.
From their old homesteads did they seaward go,
As if in Nature's order men must flee
As flow the streams,—from inlands to the sea.

In that far time, from out a Northern land,
With home-ties severed, went a numerous band
Of men and wives and children, white-haired folk:
Whose humble hope of rest at home had broke,
As year was piled on year, and still their toil
Had wrung poor fee from -Sweden's rugged soil.
One day there gathered from the neighboring steads,
In Jacob Eibsen's, five strong household heads,—
Five men large-limbed and sinewed, Jacob's sons,
Though he was hale, as one whose current runs
In stony channels, that the streamlet rend,
But keep it clear and full unto the end.
Eight sons had Jacob Eibsen,—three still boys,
And these five men, who owned of griefs and joys
The common lot; and three tall girls beside,
Of whom the eldest was a blushing bride
One year before. Old-fashioned times and men,
And wives and maidens, were in Sweden then.
These five came there for counsel: they were tired
Of hoping on for all the heart desired;
And Jacob, old but mighty-thewed as youth,
In all their words did sadly own the truth,
And said unto them, 'Wealth cannot be found
In Sweden now by men who till the ground.
I've thought at times of leaving this bare place,
And holding seaward with a seeking face
For those new lands they speak of, where men thrive.
Alone .I've thought of this-; but now you five—
Five brother men of Eibsen blood—shall say
If our old stock from here must wend their way,
And seek a home where anxious sires can give
To every child enough whereon to live.'

Then each took thought in silence. Jacob gazed
Across them at the pastures worn and grazed
By ill-fed herds; his glance to corn-fields passed,
Where stunted oats, worse each year than the last,
And blighted barley, grew amongst the stones,
That showed ungainly, like earth's fleshless bones.
He sighed, and turned away. 'Sons, let me know
What think you?'

Each one answered firm, 'We go.'
And then they said, 'We want no northern wind
To chill us more, or driving hail to blind.
But let us sail where south winds fan the sea,
And happier we and all our race shall be.'
And so in time there started for the coast,
With farm and household gear, this Eibsen host;
And there, with others, to a good ship passed,
Which soon of Sweden's hills beheld the last.

I know not of their voyage, nor how they
Did wonder-stricken sit, as day by day,
'Neath tropic rays, they saw the smooth sea swell
And heave; while night by night the north-star fell,
Till last they watched him burning on the sea;
Nor how they saw, and wondered it could be,
Strange beacons rise before them as they gazed:
Nor how their hearts grew light when southward blazed
Five stars in blessed shape,—the Cross! whose flame
Seemed shining welcome as the wanderers came.

My story presses from this star-born hope
To where on young New Holland's western slope
These Northern-farming folk found homes at last,
And all their thankless toil seemed now long past.
Nine fruitful years chased over, and nigh all
Of life was sweet. But one dark dropp of gall
Had come when first they landed, like a sign
Of some black woe; and deep in Eibsen's wine
Of life it hid, till in the sweetest cup
The old man saw its shape come shuddering up.
And first it came in this wise: when their ship
Had made the promised land, and every lip
Was pouring praise for what the eye did meet,—
For all the air was yellow as with heat
Above the peaceful sea and dazzling sand
That wooed each other round the beauteous land,
Where inward stretched the slumbering forest's green,—
When first these sights from off the deck were seen,
There rose a wailing stern wards, and the men
Who dreamt of heaven turned to earth agen,
And heard the direful cause with bated breath,—
The land's first gleam had brought the blight of death!

The wife of Eibsen held her six-years' son,
Her youngest, and in secret best-loved one,
Close to her lifeless: his had been the cry
That first horizonwards bent every eye;
And from that opening sight of sand and tree
Like one deep spell-bound did he seem to be,
And moved by some strange phantasy; his eyes
Were wide distended as in glad surprise
At something there he saw; his arms reached o'er
The vessel's side as if to greet the shore,
And sounds came from his lips like sobs of joy.

A brief time so; and then the blue-eyed boy
Sank down convulsed, as if to him appeared
Strange sights that they saw not; and all afeard
Grew the late joyous people with vague dread;
And loud the mother wailed above her dead.
The ship steered in and found a bay, and then
The anchor plunged aweary-like: the men
Breathed breaths of rest at treading land agen.

Upon the beach by Christian men untrod
The wanderers kneeling offered up to God
The land's first-fruits; and nigh the kneeling band
The burdened mother sat upon the sand,
And still she wailed, not praying.

'Neath the wood
That lined the beach a crowd of watchers stood:
Tall men spear-armed, with skins like dusky night,
And aspect blended of deep awe and fright.
The ship that morn they saw, like some vast bird,
Come sailing toward their country; and they heard
The voices now of those strange men whose eyes
Were turned aloft, who spake unto the skies!

They heard and feared, not knowing, that first prayer,
But feared not when the wail arose, for there
Was some familiar thing did not appall,—
Grief, common heritage and lot of all.
They moved and breathed more freely at the cry,
And slowly from the wood, and timorously,
They one by one emerged upon the beach.
The white men saw, and like to friends did reach
Their hands unarmed; and soon the dusky crowd
Drew nigh and stood where wailed the mother loud.
They claimed her kindred, they could understand
That woe was hers and theirs; whereas the band
Of white-skinned men did not as brethren seem.
But now, behold! a man, whom one would deem
From eye and mien, wherever met, a King,
Did stand beside the woman. No youth's spring
Was in the foot that naked pressed the sand;
No warrior's might was in the long dark hand
That waved his people backward; no bright gold.
Of lace or armor glittered; gaunt and old,—
A belt, half apron, made of emu-down,
Upon his loins; upon his head no crown
Save only that which eighty years did trace
In whitened hair above his furrowed face.
Nigh nude he was: a short fur boka hung
In toga-folds upon his back, but flung
From his right arm and shoulder,—ever there
The spear-arm of the warrior is bare.

So stood he nigh the woman, gaunt and wild
But king-like, spearless, looking on the child
That lay with livid face upon her knees.
Thus long and fixed he gazed, as one who sees
A symbol hidden in a simple thing,
And trembles at its meaning: so the King
Fell trembling there, and from his breast there broke
A cry, part joy, part fear; then to his folk
With upraised hands he spoke one guttural word,
And said it over thrice; and when they heard,
They, too, were stricken with strange fear and joy.

The white-haired King then to the breathless boy
Drew closer still, while all the dusky crowd
In weird abasement to the earth were bowed.
Across his breast the aged ruler wore
A leathern thong or belt; whate'er it bore
Was hidden 'neath the boka. As he drew
Anigh the mother, from his side he threw
Far back the skin that made his rich-furred robe,
And showed upon the belt a small red globe
Of carven wood, bright-polished, as with years:
When this they saw, deep grew his people's fears,
And to the white sand were their foreheads pressed.

The King then raised his arms, as if he blest
The youth who lay there seeming dead and cold;
Then took the globe and oped it, and behold!
Within it, bedded in the carven case,
There lay a precious thing for that rude race
To hold, though it as God they seemed to prize, —
A Pearl of purest hue and wondrous size!

And as the sunbeams kissed it, from the dead
The dusk King looked, and o'er his snowy head
With both long hands he raised the enthroned gem,
And turned him toward the strangers: e'en on them
Before the lovely Thing, an awe did fall
To see that worship deep and mystical,
That King with upraised god, like rev' rent priest
With elevated Host at Christian feast.

Then to the mother turning slow, the King
Took out the Pearl, and laid the beauteous Thing
Upon the dead boy's mouth and brow and breast,
And as it touched him, lo! the awful rest
Of death was broken, and the youth uprose!

* * * * * * *

Nine years passed over since on that fair shore
The wanderers knelt,—but wanderers they no more.
With hopeful hearts they bore the promise-pain
Of early labor, and soon bending grain
And herds and homesteads and a teeming soil
A thousand-fold repaid their patient toil.

Nine times the sun's high glory glared above,
As if his might set naught on human love,
But yearned to scorn and scorch the things that grew
On man's poor home, till all the forest's hue
Of blessed green was burned to dusty brown;
And still the ruthless rays rained fiercely down,
Till insects, reptiles, shriveled as they lay,
And piteous cracks, like lips, in parching clay
Sent silent pleadings skyward,—as if she,
The fruitful, generous mother, plaintively
Did wail for water. Lo! her cry is heard,
And swift, obedient to the Ruler's word,
From Southern Iceland sweeps the cool sea breeze,
To fan the earth and bless the suffering trees,
And bear dense clouds with bursting weight of rain
To soothe with moisture all the parching pain.

Oh, Mercy's sweetest symbol! only they
Who see the earth agape in burning day,
Who watch its living things thirst-stricken lie,
And turn from brazen heaven as they die,—
Their hearts alone, the shadowy cloud can prize
That veils the sun,—as to poor earth-dimmed eyes
The sorrow comes to veil our joy's dear face,
All rich-in mercy and in God's sweet grace!

Thrice welcome, clouds from seaward, settling down
O'er thirsting nature! Now the trees' dull brown
Is washed away, and leaflet buds appear,
And youngling undergrowth, and far and near
The bush is whispering in her pent-up glee,
As myriad roots bestir them to be free,
And drink the soaking moisture; while bright heaven
Shows clear, as inland are the spent clouds driven;
And oh! that arch, that sky's intensate hue!
That deep, God-painted, unimagined blue
Through which the golden sun now smiling sails,
And sends his love to fructify the vales
That late he seemed to curse! Earth throbs and heaves
With pregnant prescience of life and leaves;
The shadows darken 'neath the tall trees' screen,
While round their stems the rank and velvet green
Of undergrowth is deeper still; and there,
Within the double shade and steaming air,
The scarlet palm has fixed its noxious root,
And hangs the glorious poison of its fruit;
And there, 'mid shaded green and shaded light,
The steel-blue silent birds take rapid flight
From earth to tree and tree to earth; and there
The crimson-plumaged parrot cleaves the air
Like flying fire, and huge brown owls awake
To watch, far down, the stealing carpet snake,
Fresh-skinned and glowing in his changing dyes,
With evil wisdom in the cruel eyes
That glint like gems as o'er his head flits by
The blue-black armor of the emperor-fly;
And all the humid earth displays its powers
Of prayer, with incense from the hearts of flowers
That load the air with beauty and with wine
Of mingled color, as with one design
Of making there a carpet to be trod,
In woven splendor, by the feet of God!

And high o'erhead is color: round and round
The towering gums and tuads, closely wound
Like cables, creep the climbers to the sun,
And over all the reaching branches run
And hang, and still send shoots that climb and wind
Till every arm and spray and leaf is twined,
And miles of trees, like brethren joined in love,
Are drawn and laced; while round them and above,
When all is knit, the creeper rests for days
As gathering might, and then one blinding blaze
Of very glory sends, in wealth and strength,
Of scarlet flowers o'er the forest's length!

Such scenes as these have subtile power to trace
Their clear-lined impress on the mind and face;
And these strange simple folk, not knowing why,
Grew more and more to silence; and the eye,
The quiet eye of Swedish gray, grew deep
With listening to the solemn rustling sweep
From wings of Silence, and the earth's great psalm
Intoned forever by the forest's calm.

But most of all was younger Jacob changed:
From morn till night, alone, the woods he ranged,
To kindred, pastime, sympathy estranged.
Since that first day of landing from the ship
When with the Pearl on brow and breast and lip
The aged King had touched him and he rose,
His former life had left him, and he chose
The woods as home, the wild, uncultured men
As friends and comrades. It were better then,
His brethren said, the boy had truly died
Than they should live to be by him denied,
As now they were. He lived in somber mood,
He spoke no word to them, he broke no food
That they did eat: his former life was dead,—
The soul brought back was not the soul that fled!
'Twas Jacob's form and feature, but the light
Within his eyes was strange unto their sight.

His mother's grief was piteous to see;
Unloving was he to the rest, but she
Held undespairing hope that deep within
Her son's changed heart was love that she might win
By patient tenderness; and so she strove
For nine long years, but won no look of love!

At last his brethren gazed on him with awe,
And knew untold that from the form they saw
Their brother's gentle mind was sure dispelled,
And now a gloomy savage soul it held.
From that first day, close intercourse he had
With those who raised him up,—fierce men, unclad,
Spear-armed and wild, in all their ways uncouth,
And strange to every habit of his youth.
His food they brought, his will they seemed to crave,
The wildest bushman tended like a slave;
He worked their charms, their hideous chants he sung;
Though dumb to all his own, their guttural tongue
He often spoke in tones of curt command,
And kinged it proudly o'er the dusky band.

And once each year there gathered from afar
A swarming host, as if a sudden war
Had called them forth, and with them did they bring
In solemn, savage pomp the white-haired King,
Who year by year more withered was and weak;
And he would lead the youth apart and speak
Some occult words, and from the carven case
Would take the Pearl and touch the young man's face,
And hold it o'er him blessing; while the crowd,
As on the shore, in dumb abasement bowed.
And when the King had closed the formal rite,
The rest held savage revelry by night,
Round blazing fires, with dance and orgies base,
That roused the sleeping echoes of the place,
Which down the forest vistas moaned the din,
Like spirits pure beholding impious sin.

Nine times they gathered thus; but on the last
The old king's waning life seemed well-nigh past.
His feeble strength had failed: he walked no more,
But on a woven spear-wood couch they bore
With careful tread the form that barely gasped,
As if the door of death now hung unhasped,
Awaiting but a breath to swing, and show
The dim eternal plain that stretched below.

The tenth year waned: the cloistered bush was stilled,
The earth lay sleeping, while the clouds distilled
In ghostly veil their blessing. Thin and white,
Through opening trees the moonbeams cleft the night,
And showed the somber arches, taller far
Than grandest aisles of built cathedrals are.
And up those dim-lit aisles in silence streamed
Tall men with trailing spears, until it seemed,
So many lines converged of endless length,
A nation there was gathered in its strength.

Around one spot was kept a spacious ring,
Where lay the body of the white-haired King,
Which all the spearmen gathered to behold
Upon its spear-wood litter, stiff and cold.
All naked, there the dusky corse was laid
Beneath a royal tuad's mourning shade;
Upon the breast was placed the carven case
That held the symbol of their ancient race,
And eyes awe-stricken saw the mystic Thing
That soon would clothe another as their King!
The midnight moon was high and white o'erhead,
And threw a ghastly pallor round the dead
That heightened still the savage pomp and state
In which they stood expectant, as for Fate
To move and mark with undisputed hand
The one amongst them to the high command.
And long they stood unanswered; each on each
Had looked in vain for motion or for speech:
Unmoved as ebon statues, grand and tall,
They ringed the shadowy circle, silent all.

Then came a creeping tremor, as a breeze
With cooling rustle moves the summer trees
Before the thunder crashes on the ear;
The dense ranks turn expectant, as they hear
A sound, at first afar, but nearing fast;
The outer crowd divides, as waves are cast
On either side a tall ship's cleaving bow,
Or mold is parted by the fearless plow
That leaves behind a passage clear and broad:
So through the murmuring multitude a road
Was cleft with power, up which in haughty swing
A figure stalking broke the sacred ring.
And stood beside the body of the King!

'Twas Jacob Eibsen, sad and gloomy-browed,
Who bared his neck and breast, one moment bowed
Above the corse, and then stood proud and tall,
And held the carven case before them all!
A breath went upward like a smothered fright
From every heart, to see that face, so white,
So foreign to their own, but marked with might
From source unquestioned, and to them divine;
Whilst he, the master of the mystic sign,
Then oped the case and took the Pearl and raised,
As erst the King had done, and upward gazed,
As swearing fealty to God on high!

But ere the oath took form, there thrilled a cry
Of shivering horror through the hush of night;
And there before him, blinded by the sight
Of all his impious purpose, brave with love,
His mother stood, and stretched her arms above
To tear the idol from her darling's hand;
But one fierce look, and rang a harsh command
In Jacob's voice, that smote her like a sword.
A thousand men sprang forward at the word,
To tear the mother from the form of stone,
And cast her forth; but, as he stood alone,
The keen, heart-broken wail that cut the air
Went two-edged through him, half reproach, half prayer.

But all unheeding, he nor marked her cry
By sign or look within the gloomy eye;
But round his body bound the carven case,
And swore the fealty with marble face.

As fades a dream before slow-waking sense,
The shadowy host, that late stood fixed and dense,
Began to melt; and as they came erewhile,
The streams flowed backward through each moonlit aisle;
And soon he stood alone within the place,
Their new-made king,—their king with pallid face,
Their king with strange foreboding and unrest,
And half-formed thoughts, like dreams, within his breast.
Like Moses' rod, that mother's cry of woe
Had struck for water; but the fitful flow
That weakly welled and streamed did seem to mock
Before it died forever on the rock.

The sun rose o'er the forest, and his light
Made still more dreamlike all the evil night.
Day streamed his glory down the aisles' dim arch,
All hushed and shadowy like a pillared church;
And through the lonely bush no living thing
Was seen, save now and then a garish wing
Of bird low-flying on its silent way.

But woeful searchers spent the weary day
In anxious dread, and found not what they sought,—
Their mother and their brother: evening brought
A son and father to the lonesome place
That saw the last night's scene; and there, her face
Laid earthward, speaking dumbly to her heart,
They found her, as the hands that tore apart
The son and mother flung her from their chief,
And with one cry her heart had spent its grief.

They bore the cold earth that so late did move
In household happiness and works of love,
Unto their rude home, lonely now; and he
Who laid her there, from present misery
Did turn away, half-blinded by his tears,
To see with inward eye the far-off years
When Swedish toil was light and hedgerows sweet;
Where, when the toil was o'er, he used to meet
A simple gray-eyed girl, with sun-browned face,
Whose love had won his heart, and whose sweet grace
Had blessed for threescore years his humble life.
So Jacob Eibsen mourned his faithful wife,
And found the world no home when she was gone.
The days that seemed of old to hurry on
Now dragged their course, and marred the wish that grew,
When first he saw her grave, to sleep there too.
But though to him, whose yearning hope outran
The steady motion of the seasons' plan,
The years were slow in coming, still their pace
With awful sureness left a solemn trace,
Like dust that settles on an open page,
On Jacob Eibsen's head, bent down with age;
And ere twice more the soothing rains had come,
The old man had his wish, and to his home,
Beneath the strange trees' shadow where she lay,
They bore the rude-made bier; and from that day,
When round the parent graves the brethren stood,
Their new-made homesteads were no longer good,
But marked they seemed by some o'erhanging dread
That linked the living with the dreamless dead.
Grown silent with the woods the men were all,
But words were needed not to note the pall
That each one knew hung o'er them. Duties now,
With straying herds or swinging scythe, or plow,
Were cheerless tasks: like men they were who wrought
A weary toil that no repayment brought.
And when the seasons came and went, and still
The pall was hanging o'er them, with one will
They yoked their oxen teams and piled the loads
Of gear selected for the aimless roads
That nature opens through the bush; and when
The train was ready, women-folk and men
Went over to the graves and wept and prayed,
Then rose and turned away, but still delayed
Ere leaving there forever those poor mounds.

The next bright sunrise heard the teamsters' sounds
Of voice and whip a long day's march away;
And wider still the space grew day by day
From their old resting-place: the trackless wood
Still led them on with promises of good,
As when the mirage leads a thirsty band
With palm-tree visions o'er the arid sand.

I Snow not where they settled down at last:
Their lives and homes from out my tale have passed,
And left me naught, or seeming naught, to trace
But cheerless record of the empty place,
Where long unseen the palm-thatched cabins stood,
And made more lonely still the lonesome wood.
Long lives of men passed over; but the years
That line men's faces with hard cares and tears,
Pass lightly o'er a forest, leaving there
No wreck of young disease or old despair;
For trees are mightier than men, and Time,
When left by cunning Sin and dark-browed Crime
To work alone, hath ever gentle mood.
Unchanged the pillars and the arches stood,
But shadowed taller vistas; and the earth,
That takes and gives the ceaseless death and birth,
Was blooming still, as once it bloomed before
When sea-tired eyes beheld the beauteous shore.

But man's best work is weak, nor stands nor grows
Like Nature's simplest. Every breeze that blows,
Health-bearing to the forest, plays its part
In hasting graveward all his humble art.

Beneath the trees the cabins still remained,
By all the changing seasons seared and stained;
Grown old and weirdlike, as the folk might grow
In such a place, who left them long ago.

Men came, and wondering found the work of men
Where they had deemed them first. The savage then
Heard through the wood the axe's death watch stroke
For him and all his people: odorous smoke
Of burning sandal rose where white men dwelt,
Around the huts; but they had shuddering felt
The weird, forbidden aspect of the spot,
And left the place untouched to mold and rot.
The woods grew blithe with labor: all around,
From point to point, was heard the hollow sound,
The solemn, far-off clicking on the ear
That marks the presence of the pioneer.
And children came like flowers to bless the toil
That reaped rich fruitage from the virgin soil;
And through, the woods they wandered fresh and fair,
To feast on all the beauties blooming there.
But always did they shun the spot where grew,
From earth once tilled, the flowers of rarest hue.
There wheat grown wild in rank luxuriance spread,
And fruits grown native; but a sudden tread
Or bramble's fall would foul goanos wake,
Or start the chilling rustle of the snake;
And diamond eyes of these and thousand more
Gleamed out from ruined roof and wall and floor.
The new-come people, they whose axes rung
Throughout the forest, spoke the English tongue,
And never knew that men of other race
From Europe's fields had settled in the place;
But deemed these huts were built some long-past day
By lonely seamen who were cast away
And thrown upon the coast, who there had built
Their homes, and lived until some woe or guilt
Was bred among them, and they fled the sight
Of scenes that held a horror to the light.

But while they thought such things, the spell that hung,
And cast its shadow o'er the place, was strung
To utmost tension that a breath would break,
And show between the rifts the deep blue lake
Of blessed peace,—as next to sorrow lies
A stretch of rest, rewarding hopeful eyes.
And while such things bethought this 'new-come folk,
That breath was breathed, the olden spell was broke:
From far away within the unknown land,
O'er belts of forest and o'er wastes of sand,
A cry came thrilling, like a cry of pain
From suffering heart and half-awakened brain;
As one thought dead who wakes within the tomb,
And, reaching, cries for sunshine in the gloom.

In that strange country's heart, whence comes the breath
Of hot disease and pestilential death,
Lie leagues of wooded swamp, that from the hills
Seem stretching meadows; but the flood that fills
Those valley-basins has the hue of ink,
And dismal doorways open on the brink,
Beneath the gnarled arms of trees that grow
All leafless to the top, from roots below
The Lethe flood; and he who enters there
Beneath their screen sees rising, ghastly-bare,
Like mammoth bones within a charnel dark,
The white and ragged stems of paper-bark,
That drip down moisture with a ceaseless drip,
From lines that run like cordage of a ship;
For myriad creepers struggle to the light,
And twine and mat o'erhead in murderous fight
For life and sunshine, like another race
That wars on brethren for the highest place.
Between the water and the matted screen,
The baldhead vultures, two and two, are seen
In dismal grandeur, with revolting face
Of foul grotesque, like spirits of the place;
And now and then a spear-shaped wave goes by,
Its apex glittering with an evil eye
That sets above its enemy and prey,
As from the wave in treacherous, slimy way
The black snake winds, and strikes the bestial bird,
Whose shriek-like wailing on the hills is heard.

Beyond this circling swamp, a circling waste
Of baked and barren desert land is placed,—
A land of awful grayness, wild and stark,
Where man will never leave a deeper mark,
On leagues of fissured clay and scorching stones,
Than may be printed there by bleaching bones.
Within this belt, that keeps a savage guard,
As round a treasure sleeps a dragon ward,
A forest stretches far of precious trees;
Whence came, one day, an odor-laden breeze
Of jam-wood bruised, and sandal sweet in smoke.
For there long dwelt a numerous native folk
In that heart-garden of the continent,—
There human lives with aims and fears were spent,
And marked by love and hate and peace and pain,
And hearts well-filled and hearts athirst for gain,
And lips that clung, and faces bowed in shame;
For, wild or polished, man is still the same,
And loves and hates and envies in the wood,
With spear and boka and with manners rude,
As loves and hates his brother shorn and sleek,
Who learns by lifelong practice how to speak
With oily tongue, while in his heart below
Lies rankling poison that he dare not show.

Afar from all new ways this people dwelt,
And knew no books, and to no God had knelt,
And had no codes to rule them writ in blood;
But savage, selfish, nomad-lived and rude,
With human passions fierce from unrestraint,
And free as their loose limbs; with every taint
That earth can give to that which God has given;
Their nearest glimpse of Him, o'er-arching heaven,
Where dwelt the giver and preserver,—Light,
Who daily slew and still was slain by Night.

A savage people they, and prone to strife;
Yet men grown weak with years had spent a life
Of peace unbroken, and their sires, long dead,
Had equal lives of peace unbroken led.
It was no statute's bond or coward fear
Of retribution kept the shivering spear
In all those years from fratricidal sheath;
But one it was who ruled them,—one whom Death
Had passed as if he saw not,—one whose word
Through all that lovely central land was heard
And bowed to, as of yore the people bent,
In desert wanderings, to a leader sent
To guide and guard them to a promised land.
O'er all the Austral tribes he held command,—
A man unlike them and not of their race,
A man of flowing hair and pallid face,
A man who strove by no deft juggler's art
To keep his kingdom in the people's heart,
Nor held his place by feats of brutal might
Or showy skill, to please the savage sight;
But one who ruled them as a King of kings,
A man above, not of them,—one who brings,
To prove his kingship to the low and high,
The inborn power of the regal eye.
Like him of Sinai with the stones of law,
Whose people almost worshiped when they saw
The veiled face whereon God's glory burned;
But yet who, mutable as water, turned
From that veiled ruler who had talked with God,
To make themselves an idol from a clod:
So turned one day this savage Austral race
Against their monarch with the pallid face.
The young men knew him not, the old had heard
In far-off days, from men grown old, a word
That dimly lighted up the mystic choice
Of this their alien King,—how once a voice
Was heard by their own monarch calling clear,
And leading onward, where as on a bier
A dead child lay upon a woman's knees;
Whom when the old King saw, like one who sees
Far through the mist of common life, he spoke
And touched him with the Pearl, and he awoke,
And from that day the people owned his right
To wear the Pearl and rule them, when the light
Had left their old King's eyes. But now, they said,
The men who owned that right were too long dead;
And they were young and strong and held their spears
In idle resting through this white King's fears,
Who still would live to rule them till they changed
Their men to puling women, and estranged
To Austral hands the spear and coila grew.
And so they rose against him, and they slew
The white-haired men who raised their hands to warn,
And true to ancient trust in warning fell,
While o'er them rang the fierce revolters' yell.
Then midst the dead uprose the King in scorn,
Like some strong, hunted thing that stands at bay
To win a brief but desperate delay.
A moment thus, and those within the ring
'Gan backward press from their unarmed King,
Who swept his hand as though he bade them fly,
And brave no more the anger of his eye.
The heaving crowd grew still before that face,
And watched him take the ancient carven case,
And ope it there, and take the Pearl and stand
As once before he stood, with upraised hand
And upturned eyes of inward worshiping.

Awe-struck and dumb, once more they owned him King,
And humbly crouched before him; when a sound,
A whirring sound that thrilled them, passed o'erhead,
And with a spring they rose. a spear had sped
With aim unerring and with deathful might,
And split the awful center of their sight,—
The upraised Pearl! A moment there it shone
Before the spear-point,—then forever gone!

* * * * * * *
The spell that long the ruined huts did shroud
Was rent and scattered, as a hanging cloud
In moveless air is torn and blown away
By sudden gust uprising; and one day
When evening's lengthened shadows came to hush
The children's voices, and the awful bush
Was lapt in somber stillness, and on high
Above the arches stretched the frescoed sky,—
When all the scene such chilling aspect wore
As marked one other night long years before,
When through the reaching trees the moonlight shone
Upon a prostrate form, and o'er it one
With kingly gesture. Now the light is shed
No more on youthful brow and daring head,
But on a man grown weirdly old, whose face
Keeps turning ever to some new-found place
That rises up before him like a dream;
And not unlike a dreamer does he seem,
Who might have slept, unheeding time's sure flow,
And woke to find a world he does not know.
His long white hair flows o'er a form low bowed
By wondrous weight of years: he speaks aloud
In garbled Swedish words, with piteous wist,
As long-lost objects rise through memory's mist.
Again and once again his pace he stays,
As crowding images of other days
Loom up before him dimly, and he sees
A vague, forgotten friendship in the trees
That reach their arms in welcome; but agen
These olden glimpses vanish, and dark men
Are round him, dumb and crouching, and he stands
With guttural sentences and upraised hands,
That hold a carven case,—but empty now,
Which makes more pitiful the aged brow
Full-turned to those tall tuads that did hear
A son's fierce mandate and a mother's prayer.

Ah, God! what memories can live of these,
Save only with the half-immortal trees
That saw the death of one, the other lost!

The weird-like figure now the bush has crost
And stands within the ring, and turns and moans,
With arms out-reaching and heart-piercing tones,
And groping hands, as one a long time blind
Who sees a glimmering light on eye and mind.
From tree to sky he turns, from sky to earth,
And gasps as one to whom a second birth
Of wondrous meaning is an instant shown.
Who is this wreck of years, who all alone,
In savage raiment and with words unknown,
Bows down like some poor penitent who fears
The wrath of God provoked?—this man who hears
Around him now, wide circling through the wood,
The breathing stillness of a multitude?
Who catches dimly through his straining sight
The misty vision of an impious rite?
Who hears from one a cry that rends his heart,
And feels that loving arms are torn apart,
And by his mandate fiercely thrust aside?
Who is this one who crouches where she died,
With face laid earthward as her face was laid,
And prays for her as she for him once prayed?

'Tis Jacob Eibsen, Jacob Eibsen's son,
Whose occult life and mystic rule are done,
And passed away the memory from his brain.
'Tis Jacob Eibsen, who has come again
To roam the woods, and see the mournful gleams
That flash and linger of his old-time dreams.

The morning found him where he sank to rest
Within the mystic circle: on his breast
With withered hands, as to the dearest place,
He held and pressed the empty carven case.

That day he sought the dwellings of his folk;
And when he found them, once again there broke
The far-off light upon him, and he cried
From that wrecked cabin threshold for a guide
To lead him, old and weary, to his own.
And surely some kind spirit heard his moan,
And led him to the graves where they were laid.
The evening found him in the tuads' shade,
And like a child at work upon the spot
Where they were sleeping, though he knew it not.
Next day the children found him, and they gazed
In fear at first, for they were sore amazed
To see a man so old they never knew,
Whose garb was savage, and whose white hair grew
And flowed upon his shoulders; but their awe
Was changed to love and pity when they saw
The simple work he wrought at; and they came
And gathered flowers for him, and asked his name,
And laughed at his strange language; and he smiled
To hear them laugh, as though himself a child.
Ere that brief day was o'er, from far and near
The children gathered, wondering; and though fear
Of scenes a long time shunned at first restrained,
The spell was broken, and soon naught remained
But gladsome features,, where of old was dearth
Of happy things and cheery sounds of mirth.
The lizards fled, the snakes and bright-eyed things
Found other homes, where childhood never sings;
And all because poor Jacob, old and wild,
White-haired and fur-clad, was himself a child.
Each day he lived amid these scenes, his ear
Heard far-off voices growing still more clear;
And that dim light that first he saw in gleams
Now left him only in his troubled dreams.

From far away the children loved to come
And play and work with Jacob at his home.
He learned their simple words with childish lip,
And told them often of a white-sailed ship
That sailed across a mighty sea, and found
A beauteous harbor, all encircled round
With flowers and tall green trees; but when they asked
What did the shipmen then, his mind was tasked
Beyond its strength, and Jacob shook his head,
And with them laughed, for all he knew was said.

The brawny sawyers often ceased their toil,
As Jacob with the children passed, to smile
With rugged pity on their simple play;
Then, gazing after the glad group, would say
How strange it was to see that snowy hair
And time-worn figure with the children fair.

So Jacob Eibsen lived through years of joy,—
A patriarch in age, in heart a boy.
Unto the last he told them of the sea
And white-sailed ship; and ever lovingly,
Unto the end, the garden he had made
He tended daily, 'neath the tuads' shade.

But one bright morning, when the children came
And roused the echoes calling Jacob's name,
The echoes only answered back the sound.
They sought within the huts, but nothing found
Save loneliness and shadow, falling chill
On every sunny searcher: boding ill,
They tried each well-known haunt, and every throat
Sent far abroad the bush man's cooing note.
But all in vain their searching: twilight fell,
And sent them home their sorrowing tale to tell.
That night their elders formed a torch-lit chain
To sweep the gloomy bush; and not in vain,—
For when the moon at midnight hung o'erhead,
The weary searchers found poor Jacob—dead!

He lay within the tuad ring, his face
Laid earthward on his hands; and all the place
Was dim with shadow where the people stood.
And as they gathered there, the circling wood
Seemed filled with awful whisperings, and stirred
By things unseen; and every bushman heard,
From where the corse lay plain within their sight,
A woman's heart-wail rising on the night.
For over all the darkness and the fear
That marked his life from childhood, shining clear,

An arch, like God's bright rainbow, stretched above,
And joined the first and last,—his mother's love.

They dug a grave beneath the tuads' shade,
Where all unknown to them the bones were laid
Of Jacob's kindred; and a prayer was said
In earnest sorrow for the unknown dead,
Hound which the children grouped.

Upon the breast
The hands were folded in eternal rest;
But still they held, as dearest to that place
Where life last throbbed, the empty carven case.

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William Butler Yeats

Narrative And Dramatic The Wanderings Of Oisin

BOOK I

S. Patrick. You who are bent, and bald, and blind,
With a heavy heart and a wandering mind,
Have known three centuries, poets sing,
Of dalliance with a demon thing.

Oisin. Sad to remember, sick with years,
The swift innumerable spears,
The horsemen with their floating hair,
And bowls of barley, honey, and wine,
Those merry couples dancing in tune,
And the white body that lay by mine;
But the tale, though words be lighter than air.
Must live to be old like the wandering moon.

Caoilte, and Conan, and Finn were there,
When we followed a deer with our baying hounds.
With Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
And passing the Firbolgs' burial-motmds,
Came to the cairn-heaped grassy hill
Where passionate Maeve is stony-still;
And found On the dove-grey edge of the sea
A pearl-pale, high-born lady, who rode
On a horse with bridle of findrinny;
And like a sunset were her lips,
A stormy sunset on doomed ships;
A citron colour gloomed in her hair,

But down to her feet white vesture flowed,
And with the glimmering crimson glowed
Of many a figured embroidery;
And it was bound with a pearl-pale shell
That wavered like the summer streams,
As her soft bosom rose and fell.

S. Patrick. You are still wrecked among heathen dreams.

Oisin. 'Why do you wind no horn?' she said
'And every hero droop his head?
The hornless deer is not more sad
That many a peaceful moment had,
More sleek than any granary mouse,
In his own leafy forest house
Among the waving fields of fern:
The hunting of heroes should be glad.'

'O pleasant woman,' answered Finn,
'We think on Oscar's pencilled urn,
And on the heroes lying slain
On Gabhra's raven-covered plain;
But where are your noble kith and kin,
And from what country do you ride?'

'My father and my mother are
Aengus and Edain, my own name
Niamh, and my country far
Beyond the tumbling of this tide.'

'What dream came with you that you came
Through bitter tide on foam-wet feet?
Did your companion wander away
From where the birds of Aengus wing?'
Thereon did she look haughty and sweet:
'I have not yet, war-weary king,
Been spoken of with any man;
Yet now I choose, for these four feet
Ran through the foam and ran to this
That I might have your son to kiss.'

'Were there no better than my son
That you through all that foam should run?'

'I loved no man, though kings besought,
Until the Danaan poets brought
Rhyme that rhymed upon Oisin's name,
And now I am dizzy with the thought
Of all that wisdom and the fame
Of battles broken by his hands,
Of stories builded by his words
That are like coloured Asian birds
At evening in their rainless lands.'

O Patrick, by your brazen bell,
There was no limb of mine but fell
Into a desperate gulph of love!
'You only will I wed,' I cried,
'And I will make a thousand songs,
And set your name all names above,
And captives bound with leathern thongs
Shall kneel and praise you, one by one,
At evening in my western dun.'

'O Oisin, mount by me and ride
To shores by the wash of the tremulous tide,
Where men have heaped no burial-mounds,
And the days pass by like a wayward tune,
Where broken faith has never been known
And the blushes of first love never have flown;
And there I will give you a hundred hounds;
No mightier creatures bay at the moon;
And a hundred robes of murmuring silk,
And a hundred calves and a hundred sheep
Whose long wool whiter than sea-froth flows,
And a hundred spears and a hundred bows,
And oil and wine and honey and milk,
And always never-anxious sleep;
While a hundred youths, mighty of limb,
But knowing nor tumult nor hate nor strife,
And a hundred ladies, merry as birds,
Who when they dance to a fitful measure
Have a speed like the speed of the salmon herds,
Shall follow your horn and obey your whim,
And you shall know the Danaan leisure;
And Niamh be with you for a wife.'
Then she sighed gently, 'It grows late.
Music and love and sleep await,
Where I would be when the white moon climbs,
The red sun falls and the world grows dim.'

And then I mounted and she bound me
With her triumphing arms around me,
And whispering to herself enwound me;
He shook himself and neighed three times:
Caoilte, Conan, and Finn came near,
And wept, and raised their lamenting hands,
And bid me stay, with many a tear;
But we rode out from the human lands.
In what far kingdom do you go'
Ah Fenians, with the shield and bow?
Or are you phantoms white as snow,
Whose lips had life's most prosperous glow?
O you, with whom in sloping vallcys,
Or down the dewy forest alleys,
I chased at morn the flying deer,
With whom I hurled the hurrying spear,
And heard the foemen's bucklers rattle,
And broke the heaving ranks of battle!
And Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
Where are you with your long rough hair?
You go not where the red deer feeds,
Nor tear the foemen from their steeds.

S. Patrick. Boast not, nor mourn with drooping head
Companions long accurst and dead,
And hounds for centuries dust and air.

Oisin. We galloped over the glossy sea:
I know not if days passed or hours,
And Niamh sang continually
Danaan songs, and their dewy showers
Of pensive laughter, unhuman sound,
Lulled weariness, and softly round
My human sorrow her white arms wound.
We galloped; now a hornless deer
Passed by us, chased by a phantom hound
All pearly white, save one red ear;
And now a lady rode like the wind
With an apple of gold in her tossing hand;
And a beautiful young man followed behind
With quenchless gaze and fluttering hair.
'Were these two born in the Danaan land,
Or have they breathed the mortal air?'

'Vex them no longer,' Niamh said,
And sighing bowed her gentle head,
And sighing laid the pearly tip
Of one long finger on my lip.

But now the moon like a white rose shone
In the pale west, and the sun'S rim sank,
And clouds atrayed their rank on rank
About his fading crimson ball:
The floor of Almhuin's hosting hall
Was not more level than the sea,
As, full of loving fantasy,
And with low murmurs, we rode on,
Where many a trumpet-twisted shell
That in immortal silence sleeps
Dreaming of her own melting hues,
Her golds, her ambers, and her blues,
Pierced with soft light the shallowing deeps.
But now a wandering land breeze came
And a far sound of feathery quires;
It seemed to blow from the dying flame,
They seemed to sing in the smouldering fires.
The horse towards the music raced,
Neighing along the lifeless waste;
Like sooty fingers, many a tree
Rose ever out of the warm sea;
And they were trembling ceaselessly,
As though they all were beating time,
Upon the centre of the sun,
To that low laughing woodland rhyme.
And, now our wandering hours were done,
We cantered to the shore, and knew
The reason of the trembling trees:
Round every branch the song-birds flew,
Or clung thereon like swarming bees;
While round the shore a million stood
Like drops of frozen rainbow light,
And pondered in a soft vain mood
Upon their shadows in the tide,
And told the purple deeps their pride,
And murmured snatches of delight;
And on the shores were many boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns, and fish-eating stoats,
And swans with their exultant throats:
And where the wood and waters meet
We tied the horse in a leafy clump,
And Niamh blew three merry notes
Out of a little silver trump;
And then an answering whispering flew
Over the bare and woody land,
A whisper of impetuous feet,
And ever nearer, nearer grew;
And from the woods rushed out a band
Of men and ladies, hand in hand,
And singing, singing all together;
Their brows were white as fragrant milk,
Their cloaks made out of yellow silk,
And trimmed with many a crimson feather;
And when they saw the cloak I wore
Was dim with mire of a mortal shore,
They fingered it and gazed on me
And laughed like murmurs of the sea;
But Niamh with a swift distress
Bid them away and hold their peace;
And when they heard her voice they ran
And knelt there, every girl and man,
And kissed, as they would never cease,
Her pearl-pale hand and the hem of her dress.
She bade them bring us to the hall
Where Aengus dreams, from sun to sun,
A Druid dream of the end of days
When the stars are to wane and the world be done.

They led us by long and shadowy ways
Where drops of dew in myriads fall,
And tangled creepers every hour
Blossom in some new crimson flower,
And once a sudden laughter sprang
From all their lips, and once they sang
Together, while the dark woods rang,
And made in all their distant parts,
With boom of bees in honey-marts,
A rumour of delighted hearts.
And once a lady by my side
Gave me a harp, and bid me sing,
And touch the laughing silver string;
But when I sang of human joy
A sorrow wrapped each merry face,
And, patrick! by your beard, they wept,
Until one came, a tearful boy;
'A sadder creature never stept
Than this strange human bard,' he cried;
And caught the silver harp away,
And, weeping over the white strings, hurled
It down in a leaf-hid, hollow place
That kept dim waters from the sky;
And each one said, with a long, long sigh,
'O saddest harp in all the world,
Sleep there till the moon and the stars die!'

And now, still sad, we came to where
A beautiful young man dreamed within
A house of wattles, clay, and skin;
One hand upheld his beardless chin,
And one a sceptre flashing out
Wild flames of red and gold and blue,
Like to a merry wandering rout
Of dancers leaping in the air;
And men and ladies knelt them there
And showed their eyes with teardrops dim,
And with low murmurs prayed to him,
And kissed the sceptre with red lips,
And touched it with their finger-tips.
He held that flashing sceptre up.
'Joy drowns the twilight in the dew,
And fills with stars night's purple cup,
And wakes the sluggard seeds of corn,
And stirs the young kid's budding horn,
And makes the infant ferns unwrap,
And for the peewit paints his cap,
And rolls along the unwieldy sun,
And makes the little planets run:
And if joy were not on the earth,
There were an end of change and birth,
And Earth and Heaven and Hell would die,
And in some gloomy barrow lie
Folded like a frozen fly;
Then mock at Death and Time with glances
And wavering arms and wandering dances.

'Men's hearts of old were drops of flame
That from the saffron morning came,
Or drops of silver joy that fell
Out of the moon's pale twisted shell;
But now hearts cry that hearts are slaves,
And toss and turn in narrow caves;
But here there is nor law nor rule,
Nor have hands held a weary tool;
And here there is nor Change nor Death,
But only kind and merry breath,
For joy is God and God is joy.'
With one long glance for girl and boy
And the pale blossom of the moon,
He fell into a Druid swoon.

And in a wild and sudden dance
We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance
And swept out of the wattled hall
And came to where the dewdrops fall
Among the foamdrops of the sea,
And there we hushed the revelry;
And, gathering on our brows a frown,
Bent all our swaying bodies down,
And to the waves that glimmer by
That sloping green De Danaan sod
Sang, 'God is joy and joy is God,
And things that have grown sad are wicked,
And things that fear the dawn of the morrow
Or the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

We danced to where in the winding thicket
The damask roses, bloom on bloom,
Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom.
And bending over them softly said,
Bending over them in the dance,
With a swift and friendly glance
From dewy eyes: 'Upon the dead
Fall the leaves of other roses,
On the dead dim earth encloses:
But never, never on our graves,
Heaped beside the glimmering waves,
Shall fall the leaves of damask roses.
For neither Death nor Change comes near us,
And all listless hours fear us,
And we fear no dawning morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

The dance wound through the windless woods;
The ever-summered solitudes;
Until the tossing arms grew still
Upon the woody central hill;
And, gathered in a panting band,
We flung on high each waving hand,
And sang unto the starry broods.
In our raised eyes there flashed a glow
Of milky brightness to and fro
As thus our song arose: 'You stars,
Across your wandering ruby cars
Shake the loose reins: you slaves of God.
He rules you with an iron rod,
He holds you with an iron bond,
Each one woven to the other,
Each one woven to his brother
Like bubbles in a frozen pond;
But we in a lonely land abide
Unchainable as the dim tide,
With hearts that know nor law nor rule,
And hands that hold no wearisome tool,
Folded in love that fears no morrow,
Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'

O Patrick! for a hundred years
I chased upon that woody shore
The deer, the badger, and the boar.
O patrick! for a hundred years
At evening on the glimmering sands,
Beside the piled-up hunting spears,
These now outworn and withered hands
Wrestled among the island bands.
O patrick! for a hundred years
We went a-fishing in long boats
With bending sterns and bending bows,
And carven figures on their prows
Of bitterns and fish-eating stoats.
O patrick! for a hundred years
The gentle Niamh was my wife;
But now two things devour my life;
The things that most of all I hate:
Fasting and prayers.

S. Patrick. Tell On.

Oisin. Yes, yes,
For these were ancient Oisin's fate
Loosed long ago from Heaven's gate,
For his last days to lie in wait.
When one day by the tide I stood,
I found in that forgetfulness
Of dreamy foam a staff of wood
From some dead warrior's broken lance:
I tutned it in my hands; the stains
Of war were on it, and I wept,
Remembering how the Fenians stept
Along the blood-bedabbled plains,
Equal to good or grievous chance:
Thereon young Niamh softly came
And caught my hands, but spake no word
Save only many times my name,
In murmurs, like a frighted bird.
We passed by woods, and lawns of clover,
And found the horse and bridled him,
For we knew well the old was over.
I heard one say, 'His eyes grow dim
With all the ancient sorrow of men';
And wrapped in dreams rode out again
With hoofs of the pale findrinny
Over the glimmering purple sea.
Under the golden evening light,
The Immortals moved among thc fountains
By rivers and the woods' old night;
Some danced like shadows on the mountains
Some wandered ever hand in hand;
Or sat in dreams on the pale strand,
Each forehead like an obscure star
Bent down above each hooked knee,
And sang, and with a dreamy gaze
Watched where the sun in a saffron blaze
Was slumbering half in the sea-ways;
And, as they sang, the painted birds

Kept time with their bright wings and feet;
Like drops of honey came their words,
But fainter than a young lamb's bleat.

'An old man stirs the fire to a blaze,
In the house of a child, of a friend, of a brother.
He has over-lingered his welcome; the days,
Grown desolate, whisper and sigh to each other;
He hears the storm in the chimney above,
And bends to the fire and shakes with the cold,
While his heart still dreams of battle and love,
And the cry of the hounds on the hills of old.

But We are apart in the grassy places,
Where care cannot trouble the least of our days,
Or the softness of youth be gone from our faces,
Or love's first tenderness die in our gaze.
The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
She limps along in an aged whiteness;
A storm of birds in the Asian trees
Like tulips in the air a-winging,
And the gentle waves of the summer seas,
That raise their heads and wander singing,
Must murmur at last, ''Unjust, unjust';
And ''My speed is a weariness,' falters the mouse,
And the kingfisher turns to a ball of dust,
And the roof falls in of his tunnelled house.
But the love-dew dims our eyes till the day
When God shall come from the Sea with a sigh
And bid the stars drop down from the sky,
And the moon like a pale rose wither away.'


BOOK II


NOW, man of croziers, shadows called our names
And then away, away, like whirling flames;
And now fled by, mist-covered, without sound,
The youth and lady and the deer and hound;
'Gaze no more on the phantoms,' Niamh said,
And kissed my eyes, and, swaying her bright head
And her bright body, sang of faery and man
Before God was or my old line began;
Wars shadowy, vast, exultant; faeries of old
Who wedded men with rings of Druid gold;
And how those lovers never turn their eyes
Upon the life that fades and flickers and dies,
Yet love and kiss on dim shores far away
Rolled round with music of the sighing spray:
Yet sang no more as when, like a brown bee
That has drunk full, she crossed the misty sea
With me in her white arms a hundred years
Before this day; for now the fall of tears
Troubled her song.
I do not know if days
Or hours passed by, yet hold the morning rays
Shone many times among the glimmering flowers
Woven into her hair, before dark towers
Rose in the darkness, and the white surf gleamed
About them; and the horse of Faery screamed
And shivered, knowing the Isle of Many Fears,
Nor ceased until white Niamh stroked his ears
And named him by sweet names.
A foaming tide
Whitened afar with surge, fan-formed and wide,
Burst from a great door matred by many a blow
From mace and sword and pole-axe, long ago
When gods and giants warred. We rode between
The seaweed-covered pillars; and the green
And surging phosphorus alone gave light
On our dark pathway, till a countless flight
Of moonlit steps glimmered; and left and right
Dark statues glimmered over the pale tide
Upon dark thrones. Between the lids of one
The imaged meteors had flashed and run
And had disported in the stilly jet,
And the fixed stars had dawned and shone and set,
Since God made Time and Death and Sleep: the other
Stretched his long arm to where, a misty smother,
The stream churned, churned, and churned -- his lips apart,
As though he told his never-slumbering heart
Of every foamdrop on its misty way.
Tying the horse to his vast foot that lay
Half in the unvesselled sea, we climbed the stair
And climbed so long, I thought the last steps were
Hung from the morning star; when these mild words
Fanned the delighted air like wings of birds:
'My brothers spring out of their beds at morn,
A-murmur like young partridge: with loud horn
They chase the noontide deer;
And when the dew-drowned stars hang in the air
Look to long fishing-lines, or point and pare
An ashen hunting spear.
O sigh, O fluttering sigh, be kind to me;
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea,
And shores the froth lips wet:
And stay a little while, and bid them weep:
Ah, touch their blue-veined eyelids if they sleep,
And shake their coverlet.
When you have told how I weep endlessly,
Flutter along the froth lips of the sea
And home to me again,
And in the shadow of my hair lie hid,
And tell me that you found a man unbid,
The saddest of all men.'

A lady with soft eyes like funeral tapers,
And face that seemed wrought out of moonlit vapours,
And a sad mouth, that fear made tremulous
As any ruddy moth, looked down on us;
And she with a wave-rusted chain was tied
To two old eagles, full of ancient pride,
That with dim eyeballs stood on either side.
Few feathers were on their dishevelled wings,
For their dim minds were with the ancient things.

'I bring deliverance,' pearl-pale Niamh said.

'Neither the living, nor the unlabouring dead,
Nor the high gods who never lived, may fight
My enemy and hope; demons for fright
Jabber and scream about him in the night;
For he is strong and crafty as the seas
That sprang under the Seven Hazel Trees,
And I must needs endure and hate and weep,
Until the gods and demons drop asleep,
Hearing Acdh touch thc mournful strings of gold.'
'Is he So dreadful?'
'Be not over-bold,
But fly while still you may.'
And thereon I:
'This demon shall be battered till he die,
And his loose bulk be thrown in the loud tide.'
'Flee from him,' pearl-pale Niamh weeping cried,
'For all men flee the demons'; but moved not
My angry king-remembering soul one jot.
There was no mightier soul of Heber's line;
Now it is old and mouse-like. For a sign
I burst the chain: still earless, neNeless, blind,
Wrapped in the things of the unhuman mind,
In some dim memory or ancient mood,
Still earless, netveless, blind, the eagles stood.

And then we climbed the stair to a high door;
A hundred horsemen on the basalt floor
Beneath had paced content: we held our way
And stood within: clothed in a misty ray
I saw a foam-white seagull drift and float
Under the roof, and with a straining throat
Shouted, and hailed him: he hung there a star,
For no man's cry shall ever mount so far;
Not even your God could have thrown down that hall;
Stabling His unloosed lightnings in their stall,
He had sat down and sighed with cumbered heart,
As though His hour were come.
We sought the patt
That was most distant from the door; green slime
Made the way slippery, and time on time
Showed prints of sea-born scales. while down through it
The captive's journeys to and fro were writ
Like a small river, and where feet touched came
A momentary gleam of phosphorus flame.
Under the deepest shadows of the hall
That woman found a ring hung on the wall,
And in the ring a torch, and with its flare
Making a world about her in the air,
Passed under the dim doorway, out of sight,
And came again, holding a second light
Burning between her fingers, and in mine
Laid it and sighed: I held a sword whose shine
No centuries could dim, and a word ran
Thereon in Ogham letters, 'Manannan';
That sea-god's name, who in a deep content
Sprang dripping, and, with captive demons sent
Out of the sevenfold seas, built the dark hall
Rooted in foam and clouds, and cried to all
The mightier masters of a mightier race;
And at his cry there came no milk-pale face
Under a crown of thorns and dark with blood,
But only exultant faces.
Niamh stood
With bowed head, trembling when the white blade shone,
But she whose hours of tenderness were gone
Had neither hope nor fear. I bade them hide
Under the shadowS till the tumults died
Of the loud-crashing and earth-shaking fight,
Lest they should look upon some dreadful sight;
And thrust the torch between the slimy flags.
A dome made out of endless carven jags,
Where shadowy face flowed into shadowy face,
Looked down on me; and in the self-same place
I waited hour by hour, and the high dome,
Windowless, pillarless, multitudinous home
Of faces, waited; and the leisured gaze
Was loaded with the memory of days
Buried and mighty. When through the great door
The dawn came in, and glimmered on the floor
With a pale light, I journeyed round the hall
And found a door deep sunken in the wall,
The least of doors; beyond on a dim plain
A little mnnel made a bubbling strain,
And on the runnel's stony and bare edge
A dusky demon dry as a withered sedge
Swayed, crooning to himself an unknown tongue:
In a sad revelry he sang and swung
Bacchant and mournful, passing to and fro
His hand along the runnel's side, as though
The flowers still grew there: far on the sea's waste
Shaking and waving, vapour vapour chased,
While high frail cloudlets, fed with a green light,
Like drifts of leaves, immovable and bright,
Hung in the passionate dawn. He slowly turned:
A demon's leisure: eyes, first white, now burned
Like wings of kingfishers; and he arose
Barking. We trampled up and down with blows
Of sword and brazen battle-axe, while day
Gave to high noon and noon to night gave way;
And when he knew the sword of Manannan
Amid the shades of night, he changed and ran
Through many shapes; I lunged at the smooth throat
Of a great eel; it changed, and I but smote
A fir-tree roaring in its leafless top;
And thereupon I drew the livid chop
Of a drowned dripping body to my breast;
Horror from horror grew; but when the west
Had surged up in a plumy fire, I drave
Through heart and spine; and cast him in the wave
Lest Niamh shudder.

Full of hope and dread
Those two came carrying wine and meat and bread,
And healed my wounds with unguents out of flowers
That feed white moths by some De Danaan shrine;
Then in that hall, lit by the dim sea-shine,
We lay on skins of otters, and drank wine,
Brewed by the sea-gods, from huge cups that lay
Upon the lips of sea-gods in their day;
And then on heaped-up skins of otters slept.
And when the sun once more in saffron stept,
Rolling his flagrant wheel out of the deep,
We sang the loves and angers without sleep,
And all the exultant labours of the strong.
But now the lying clerics murder song
With barren words and flatteries of the weak.
In what land do the powerless turn the beak
Of ravening Sorrow, or the hand of Wrath?
For all your croziers, they have left the path
And wander in the storms and clinging snows,
Hopeless for ever: ancient Oisin knows,
For he is weak and poor and blind, and lies
On the anvil of the world.
S. Patrick. Be still: the skies
Are choked with thunder, lightning, and fierce wind,
For God has heard, and speaks His angry mind;
Go cast your body on the stones and pray,
For He has wrought midnight and dawn and day.
Oisin. Saint, do you weep? I hear amid the thunder
The Fenian horses; atmour torn asunder;
Laughter and cries. The armies clash and shock,
And now the daylight-darkening ravens flock.
Cease, cease, O mournful, laughing Fenian horn!

We feasted for three days. On the fourth morn
I found, dropping sea-foam on the wide stair,
And hung with slime, and whispering in his hair,
That demon dull and unsubduable;
And once more to a day-long battle fell,
And at the sundown threw him in the surge,
To lie until the fourth morn saw emerge
His new-healed shape; and for a hundred years
So watred, so feasted, with nor dreams nor fears,
Nor languor nor fatigue: an endless feast,
An endless war.

The hundred years had ceased;
I stood upon the stair: the surges bore
A beech-bough to me, and my heart grew sore,
Remembering how I had stood by white-haired Finn
Under a beech at Almhuin and heard the thin
Outcry of bats.

And then young Niamh came
Holding that horse, and sadly called my name;
I mounted, and we passed over the lone
And drifting greyness, while this monotone,
Surly and distant, mixed inseparably
Into the clangour of the wind and sea.

'I hear my soul drop
And Mananna's dark tower, stone after stone.
Gather sea-slime and fall the seaward way,
And the moon goad the waters night and day,
That all be overthrown.

'But till the moon has taken all, I wage
War on the mightiest men under the skies,
And they have fallen or fled, age after age.
Light is man's love, and lighter is man's rage;
His purpose drifts and dies.'

And then lost Niamh murmured, 'Love, we go
To the Island of Forgetfulness, for lo!
The Islands of Dancing and of Victories
Are empty of all power.'

'And which of these
Is the Island of Content?'

'None know,' she said;
And on my bosom laid her weeping head.

BOOK III


FLED foam underneath us, and round us, a wandering and milky smoke,
High as the Saddle-girth, covering away from our glances the tide;
And those that fled, and that followed, from the foam-pale distance broke;
The immortal desire of Immortals we saw in their faces, and sighed.

I mused on the chase with the Fenians, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair,
And never a song sang Niamh, and over my finger-tips
Came now the sliding of tears and sweeping of mist-cold hair,
And now the warmth of sighs, and after the quiver of lips.

Were we days long or hours long in riding, when, rolled in a grisly peace,
An isle lay level before us, with dripping hazel and oak?
And we stood on a sea's edge we saw not; for whiter than new-washed fleece
Fled foam underneath us, and round us, a wandering and milky smoke.

And we rode on the plains of the sea's edge; the sea's edge barren and grey,
Grey sand on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away,
Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.

But the trees grew taller and closer, immense in their wrinkling bark;
Dropping; a murmurous dropping; old silence and that one sound;
For no live creatures lived there, no weasels moved in the dark:
Long sighs arose in our spirits, beneath us bubbled the ground.
And the ears of the horse went sinking away in the hollow night,
For, as drift from a sailor slow drowning the gleams of the world and the sun,
Ceased on our hands and our faces, on hazel and oak leaf, the light,
And the stars were blotted above us, and the whole of the world was one.

Till the horse gave a whinny; for, cumbrous with stems of the hazel and oak,
A valley flowed down from his hoofs, and there in the long grass lay,
Under the starlight and shadow, a monstrous slumbering folk,
Their naked and gleaming bodies poured out and heaped in the way.

And by them were arrow and war-axe, arrow and shield and blade;
And dew-blanched horns, in whose hollow a child of three years old
Could sleep on a couch of rushes, and all inwrought and inlaid,
And more comely than man can make them with bronze and silver and gold.

And each of the huge white creatures was huger than fourscore men;
The tops of their ears were feathered, their hands were the claws of birds,
And, shaking the plumes of the grasses and the leaves of the mural glen,
The breathing came from those bodies, long warless, grown whiter than curds.

The wood was so Spacious above them, that He who has stars for His flocks
Could fondle the leaves with His fingers, nor go from His dew-cumbered skies;
So long were they sleeping, the owls had builded their nests in their locks,
Filling the fibrous dimness with long generations of eyes.

And over the limbs and the valley the slow owls wandered and came,
Now in a place of star-fire, and now in a shadow-place wide;
And the chief of the huge white creatures, his knees in the soft star-flame,
Lay loose in a place of shadow: we drew the reins by his side.

Golden the nails of his bird-clawS, flung loosely along the dim ground;
In one was a branch soft-shining with bells more many than sighs
In midst of an old man's bosom; owls ruffling and pacing around
Sidled their bodies against him, filling the shade with their eyes.
And my gaze was thronged with the sleepers; no, not since the world began,
In realms where the handsome were many, nor in glamours by demons flung,
Have faces alive with such beauty been known to the salt eye of man,
Yet weary with passions that faded when the sevenfold seas were young.

And I gazed on the bell-branch, sleep's forebear, far sung by the Sennachies.
I saw how those slumbererS, grown weary, there camping in grasses deep,
Of wars with the wide world and pacing the shores of the wandering seas,
Laid hands on the bell-branch and swayed it, and fed of unhuman sleep.

Snatching the horn of Niamh, I blew a long lingering note.
Came sound from those monstrous sleepers, a sound like the stirring of flies.
He, shaking the fold of his lips, and heaving the pillar of his throat,
Watched me with mournful wonder out of the wells of his eyes.

I cried, 'Come out of the shadow, king of the nails of gold!
And tell of your goodly household and the goodly works of your hands,
That we may muse in the starlight and talk of the battles of old;
Your questioner, Oisin, is worthy, he comes from the Fenian lands.'

Half open his eyes were, and held me, dull with the smoke of their dreams;
His lips moved slowly in answer, no answer out of them came;
Then he swayed in his fingers the bell-branch, slowdropping a sound in faint streams
Softer than snow-flakes in April and piercing the marrow like flame.

Wrapt in the wave of that music, with weariness more than of earth,
The moil of my centuries filled me; and gone like a sea-covered stone
Were the memories of the whole of my sorrow and the memories of the whole of my mirth,
And a softness came from the starlight and filled me full to the bone.

In the roots of the grasses, the sorrels, I laid my body as low;
And the pearl-pale Niamh lay by me, her brow on the midst of my breast;
And the horse was gone in the distance, and years after years 'gan flow;
Square leaves of the ivy moved over us, binding us down to our rest.
And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot
How the fetlocks drip blocd in the battle, when the fallen on fallen lie rolled;
How the falconer follows the falcon in the weeds of the heron's plot,
And the name of the demon whose hammer made
Conchubar's sword-blade of old.

And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot
That the spear-shaft is made out of ashwood, the shield out of osier and hide;
How the hammers spring on the anvil, on the spearhead's burning spot;
How the slow, blue-eyed oxen of Finn low sadly at evening tide.

But in dreams, mild man of the croziers, driving the dust with their throngs,
Moved round me, of seamen or landsmen, all who are winter tales;
Came by me the kings of the Red Branch, with roaring of laughter and songs,
Or moved as they moved once, love-making or piercing the tempest with sails.

Came Blanid, Mac Nessa, tall Fergus who feastward of old time slunk,
Cook Barach, the traitor; and warward, the spittle on his beard never dry,
Dark Balor, as old as a forest, car-borne, his mighty head sunk
Helpless, men lifting the lids of his weary and deathmaking eye.

And by me, in soft red raiment, the Fenians moved in loud streams,
And Grania, walking and smiling, sewed with her needle of bone.
So lived I and lived not, so wrought I and wrought not, with creatures of dreams,
In a long iron sleep, as a fish in the water goes dumb as a stone.

At times our slumber was lightened. When the sun was on silver or gold;
When brushed with the wings of the owls, in the dimness they love going by;
When a glow-worm was green on a grass-leaf, lured from his lair in the mould;
Half wakening, we lifted our eyelids, and gazed on the grass with a sigh.

So watched I when, man of the croziers, at the heel of a century fell,
Weak, in the midst of the meadow, from his miles in the midst of the air,
A starling like them that forgathered 'neath a moon waking white as a shell
When the Fenians made foray at morning with Bran, Sceolan, Lomair.
I awoke: the strange horse without summons out of the distance ran,
Thrusting his nose to my shoulder; he knew in his bosom deep
That once more moved in my bosom the ancient sadness of man,
And that I would leave the Immortals, their dimness, their dews dropping sleep.
O, had you seen beautiful Niamh grow white as the waters are white,
Lord of the croziers, you even had lifted your hands and wept:
But, the bird in my fingers, I mounted, remembering alone that delight
Of twilight and slumber were gone, and that hoofs impatiently stept.
I died, 'O Niamh! O white one! if only a twelve-houred day,
I must gaze on the beard of Finn, and move where the old men and young
In the Fenians' dwellings of wattle lean on the chessboards and play,
Ah, sweet to me now were even bald Conan's slanderous tongue!
'Like me were some galley forsaken far off in Meridian isle,
Remembering its long-oared companions, sails turning to threadbare rags;
No more to crawl on the seas with long oars mile after mile,
But to be amid shooting of flies and flowering of rushes and flags.'
Their motionless eyeballs of spirits grown mild with mysterious thought,
Watched her those seamless faces from the valley's glimmering girth;
As she murmured, 'O wandering Oisin, the strength of the bell-branch is naught,
For there moves alive in your fingers the fluttering sadness of earth.
'Then go through the lands in the saddle and see what the mortals do,
And softly come to your Niamh over the tops of the tide;
But weep for your Niamh, O Oisin, weep; for if only your shoe
Brush lightly as haymouse earth's pebbles, you will come no more to my side.
'O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?'
I saw from a distant saddle; from the earth she made her moan:
'I would die like a small withered leaf in the autumn, for breast unto breast
We shall mingle no more, nor our gazes empty their sweetness lone
'In the isles of the farthest seas where only the spirits come.
Were the winds less soft than the breath of a pigeon who sleeps on her nest,
Nor lost in the star-fires and odours the sound of the sea's vague drum?
O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?'
The wailing grew distant; I rode by the woods of the wrinkling bark,
Where ever is murmurous dropping, old silence and that one sound;
For no live creatures live there, no weasels move in the dark:
In a reverie forgetful of all things, over the bubbling' ground.
And I rode by the plains of the sea's edge, where all is barren and grey,
Grey sand on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away',
Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.
And the winds made the sands on the sea's edge turning and turning go,
As my mind made the names of the Fenians. Far from the hazel and oak,
I rode away on the surges, where, high aS the saddlebow,
Fled foam underneath me, and round me, a wandering and milky smoke.
Long fled the foam-flakes around me, the winds fled out of the vast,
Snatching the bird in secret; nor knew I, embosomed apart,
When they froze the cloth on my body like armour riveted fast,
For Remembrance, lifting her leanness, keened in the gates of my heart.
Till, fattening the winds of the morning, an odour of new-mown hay
Came, and my forehead fell low, and my tears like berries fell down;
Later a sound came, half lost in the sound of a shore far away,
From the great grass-barnacle calling, and later the shore-weeds brown.
If I were as I once was, the strong hoofs crushing the sand and the shells,
Coming out of the sea as the dawn comes, a chaunt of love on my lips,
Not coughing, my head on my knees, and praying, and wroth with the bells,
I would leave no saint's head on his body from Rachlin to Bera of ships.
Making way from the kindling surges, I rode on a bridle-path
Much wondering to see upon all hands, of wattles and woodwork made,
Your bell-mounted churches, and guardless the sacred cairn and the mth,
And a small and a feeble populace stooping with mattock and spade,
Or weeding or ploughing with faces a-shining with much-toil wet;
While in this place and that place, with bodies un, glorious, their chieftains stood,
Awaiting in patience the straw-death, croziered one, caught in your net:
Went the laughter of scorn from my mouth like the roaring of wind in a wood.
And before I went by them so huge and so speedy with eyes so bright,
Came after the hard gaze of youth, or an old man lifted his head:
And I rode and I rode, and I cried out, 'The Fenians hunt wolves in the night,
So sleep thee by daytime.' A voice cried, 'The Fenians a long time are dead.'
A whitebeard stood hushed on the pathway, the flesh of his face as dried grass,
And in folds round his eyes and his mouth, he sad as a child without milk-
And the dreams of the islands were gone, and I knew how men sorrow and pass,
And their hound, and their horse, and their love, and their eyes that glimmer like silk.
And wrapping my face in my hair, I murmured, 'In old age they ceased';
And my tears were larger than berries, and I murmured, 'Where white clouds lie spread
On Crevroe or broad Knockfefin, with many of old they feast
On the floors of the gods.' He cried, 'No, the gods a long time are dead.'
And lonely and longing for Niamh, I shivered and turned me about,
The heart in me longing to leap like a grasshopper into her heart;
I turned and rode to the westward, and followed the sea's old shout
Till I saw where Maeve lies sleeping till starlight and midnight part.
And there at the foot of the mountain, two carried a sack full of sand,
They bore it with staggering and sweating, but fell with their burden at length.
Leaning down from the gem-studded saddle, I flung it five yards with my hand,
With a sob for men waxing so weakly, a sob for the Fenians' old strength.
The rest you have heard of, O croziered man; how, when divided the girth,
I fell on the path, and the horse went away like a summer fly;
And my years three hundred fell on me, and I rose, and walked on the earth,
A creeping old man, full of sleep, with the spittle on his beard never dry'.
How the men of the sand-sack showed me a church with its belfry in air;
Sorry place, where for swing of the war-axe in my dim eyes the crozier gleams;
What place have Caoilte and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair?
Speak, you too are old with your memories, an old man surrounded with dreams.
S. Patrick. Where the flesh of the footsole clingeth on the burning stones is their place;
Where he demons whip them with wires on the burning stones of wide Hell,
Watching the blessed ones move far off, and the smile on God's face,
Between them a gateway of brass, and the howl of the angels who fell.
Oisin. Put the staff in my hands; for I go to the Fenians,
O cleric, to chaunt
The war-songs that roused them of old; they will rise, making clouds with their Breath,
Innumerable, singing, exultant; the clay underneath them shall pant,
And demons be broken in pieces, and trampled beneath them in death.
And demons afraid in their darkness; deep horror of eyes and of wings,
Afraid, their ears on the earth laid, shall listen and rise up and weep;
Hearing the shaking of shields and the quiver of stretched bowstrings,
Hearing Hell loud with a murmur, as shouting and mocking we sweep.
We will tear out the flaming stones, and batter the gateway of brass
And enter, and none sayeth 'No' when there enters the strongly armed guest;
Make clean as a broom cleans, and march on as oxen move over young grass;
Then feast, making converse of wars, and of old wounds, and turn to our rest.
S. Patrick. On the flaming stones, without refuge, the limbs of the Fenians are tost;
None war on the masters of Hell, who could break up the world in their rage;
But kneel and wear out the flags and pray for your soul that is lost
Through the demon love of its youth and its godless and passionate age.
Oisin. Ah me! to be Shaken with coughing and broken with old age and pain,
Without laughter, a show unto children, alone with remembrance and fear;
All emptied of purple hours as a beggar's cloak in the rain,
As a hay-cock out on the flood, or a wolf sucked under a weir.
It were sad to gaze on the blessed and no man I loved of old there;
I throw down the chain of small stones! when life in my body has ceased,
I will go to Caoilte, and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan, Lomair,
And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in flames or at feast.

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